So I came home from a miserable medsci examination experience and decided that I really needed some WoW time. Once the computer was vacated I jumped on and gamed for a few hours, contrary to all the promises I’d made to myself about taking a break until the end of exams. One reason for this is that I really wanted to test out some new stuff, Darksentinel has been only a Beast Master since the patch (51/10/0 and 50/11/0) and Beathooven has mostly been resto in order to heal random stuff (with a quick stint as Balance to test the new Spell Power changes. I wanted to test out Marksman and Survival, retry Balance and go Feral for the first time since hitting 70. So, prepared to spend a couple hundred gold, I headed to the training dummies. Well, actually first I did a couple of quick BGs, 1 AB and an AV, and concluded that one BM hunter can beat one arcane mage, and can almost beat 2 arcane mages. And ret still does way too much damage. But BM doesn't quite seem to be able to blow stuff up as it seemed to a few days after the patch when I did some druid/hunter arena and gibbed stuff.
First I tested Darksentinel, as the basic BM build he had (50/11/0), with just my current level 68 (69 now) Gorilla pet. Obviously this pet isn’t ideal for dps but then it turned out that a lot of the time he refused to hit the [training] dummy anyway. Oh yeah, here’s a comic about target dummies.
With a pet that refused to hit stuff, BM pulled in at around 700 dps (hunter only), which is pretty pathetic, really (using no cooldowns and only using a simple Steady Shot spam-based rotation).
MM topped out at 850 or so pet-less DPS, opening with Serpent Sting (omg), use Chimera Shot (why is the shot called 'chimera' but the beast is 'chimaera'?) whenever it's up, then spam Steady Shot and if Improved Steady Shot procs, use Arcane Shot (unless Chimera is about to come off cooldown). So probably on par with BM, or slightly ahead, depending on what pet is being used. I think MM scales better with crit than BM, thanks to Marked for Death (and I have a lot of crit, thanks to PvP gear).
SV has a whole bunch of nifty talents such as Lock and Load and some massive boosts to crit chance, but seems lacking in straight-up single-target dps (seriously, Point of No Escape and Sniper Training, how does that work?). It's pet-less dps was around 700, so presumably lower than BM (since the pet will deal less damage). But the mana regen is really sweet, especially when you get Thrill of the Hunt returns from free Lock and Load procs.
I will try to do more testing later (try a different pet, see if it will attack the dummy), although with Wrath only a week away it's not really worth it.
Basically the hunter is a bit meh now (except for Gorilladin grinding), too much PvP gear (10.5k hp, 27% crit, but only 1600 unbuffed AP), or I just really suck at playing the class.
So then it was Beathooven’s turn. First, I tried Balance. Hmmm. So many talents, and then there’s stuff in resto as well. Now how do I effectively rotate Wrath, Starfire, Insect Swarm and Moonfire, all the while taking into account Eclipse procs (which will also be Nature’s Grace procs)? I muddled around a bit, and seemed to do ok and ended up with a dps of 1000-1200, which is basically on par with my hunter (slightly higher, even, pet or no pet), who should be a lot better geared and is also the highest PvE dps class in the game. Hmmm. But after dragging the Moonkin into AV I decided that while it’s a powerful spec, I wanted to try Feral, cos it’s been a few months since I’ve been a proper cat or bear spec. New emphasis on the or, since some talents are pretty much good for only one form, cat or bear. I ended up with a 0/54/7 spec or something similar, focusing heavily on the tanking talents.
After that I spent a good 30 minutes sorting out gear for cat and bear, since I’d picked up a lot of off-spec pieces while resto. I ended up having 14k hp, 33% dodge and 14k armour. Now when I’d last been a bear I had 13.5k hp, 22% dodge and 22k armour, and my items were quite a bit worse. Numerically I actually seemed worse off, but with Protector of the Pack and a full group, my mitigation and avoidance were quite a bit higher (although it’s really annoying, now that stuff is 3 man-able, that you need a full group to have optimal Bear form mitigation).
So, I was a tank. Now to find something to tank. I joined a pug for Gruul with Arianwyn, but it quickly became obvious that this was going to end badly (by the time we had 20 people we only had two healers, one of whom was a Shadow priest, and while I don’t know exactly what tanks are needed for HKM, I’m pretty sure we didn’t have all of them either). Instead I convinced four guildies to run Heroic Magister’s Terrace, something I’ve never done before.
We ended up as retadin, feral tank, rogue, enhance and resto druid. And it turns out that I’m still a pretty terrible tank, especially where casters are involved. In my defense I’ve only tanked a handful of times, and the most recent of those was Durnholde Keep as a 66 bear back in August. Also, Growl was only working around half the time (although 20 yards IS nice). We wiped once on a trash pull where I pulled a pat slightly early so his friends came along, otherwise the massive amounts of dps carried us through (hence the title: more spank than tank), although I did pull off a cool battle res during the gravity distortion phase on Kael. All up it was a lot easier than the runs I’d done on my hunter in normal difficulty, back in the days of 2.3 and 2.4. Oh and just to show that the loot gods don’t reward excellent performances (but rather have their own sense of humour, see: Sonic Spear), the Priestess dropped Commendation of Kael’Thas, and since we didn’t have a mage I got it (anyone else see the article where a mage outrolled a tank on this, shortly after 2.4 came out?).
After the run (which took just over an hour) Darksentinel, still Survival spec, headed out to go see what all the fuss with the scourge is about, and collected some Necrotic Runes for the Paladin-on-a-Stick. No mail dropped, but with S2 shoulders and legs, S3 chestpiece and S4 gloves, it didn’t really matter (plus the non-S4 PvP gear looks a lot better). And that was it for last night (i.e. this morning).
A lot of today was spent killing scourge on Beathooven, healing a retadin tank (including a 4-shadow pull), and then getting down on all fours and doing it bear style. After clearing two spawn areas I ended up with a full 4-piece set of leather, and a full 4-piece set of cloth, plus the trinkets, the Burning Steppes flight path (first time I’ve ever been in that region on any character), and a few bits of Thorium. The leather was really nice and the new druid has 15.3k hp, 16k armour and 32% dodge. A bit of target dummy testing put cat dps at ~500, which is a bit low, but there's a few more buttons to press now that Rake and Tiger's Fury are actually useful, so I'm probably not using an optimal rotation.
The rest of today’s wow-time was spent getting my paladin to 52, tanking the last boss of OHB for a guildie and doing Gorilladin-stylez as Survival. Oh and drooling over BRK’s mammoth movie.
So in conclusion, I think Darksentinel will level as a Beast Master, and Beathooven as a Moonkin. And it's really nice that a lot of abilities that were previously pretty useless are now very useful, even if it does add complexity to my already over-taxed brain (this happens easily). Now I just wish someone would explain Gore to me (WHY? It does less damage than Bite).
Servers have just gone down, so enjoy doing whatever it is that you do during this period (sleeping, probably, you need at least 8 hours a week to survive ;) ).