Editors Note: Another big hand for Pherra, the guy who is thanklessly coding that stupid hunter DPS addon idea.
Blizzard’s announced design changes give the hunter community a lot to absorb in the months leading up to Cataclysm. The biggest change was the “ranged rogue” change from mana to focus that was announced at Blizzcon. This post looks at the various smaller changes around the haste stat and hastily concludes that haste will be a lot more relevant to Cataclysm hunters. [Edit 2010-04-12: added links below about preventing DoT clipping]
Haste and Focus Regeneration
The first new effect of haste is to improve our focus regeneration rates. How important is focus regeneration? Well, we have 100 focus and it regenerates at 6 focus per second. That means we can completely recover our focus in just under 17 seconds. How fast can we spend our focus? How much do our shots cost?
- Aimed Shot, Multi Shot: 60 focus cost
- Arcane Shot, Chimera Shot, Explosive Shot: 45 focus cost
- Steady Shot, Cobra Shot: 9 focus gain
Suppose we are Survival specced and the GCD is still 1.5s. We might start a fight as follows.
- Start of 1st GCD – cast Explosive Shot, down to 55 focus.
- End of 1st GCD – regenerated, up to 64 focus.
- Start of 2nd GCD – cast Aimed Shot, down to 4 focus.
- End of 2nd GCD – regenerated, up to 13 focus.
- Start of 3rd GCD – cast Steady Shot, up to 22 focus.
- End of 3rd GCD – regenerated, up to 31 focus.
- Start of 4th GCD – cast Steady Shot, up to 40 focus.
- End of 4th GCD – regenerated, up to 49 focus.
- Start of 5th GCD – cast Explosive Shot again…
Now, that example totally ignores Black Arrow and Serpent Sting, both of which are still likely to be early in our rotations, but the take home message is that we will be running out of focus very quickly. In that example, we had no choice but Steady or Cobra Shot after two shots. That’s about 3 seconds, well under the 17 seconds to completely recover. Without significant boosts to our focus regeneration, we’ll be casting Steady or Cobra Shot most of the time. Haste is currently the only known way of improving focus, so it will likely remain important as talents and glyphs are revealed to help our focus management.
Haste and Damage over Time Spells
The second new effect of haste is to increase the tic rate of DoTs such as Serpent Sting or Black Arrow. Hasted DoTs will have the same duration, but the time between damage tics will be decreased and more tics may occur. As Euripides noted [ed: after Pherra told me about it], this benefit from haste will not give a smooth benefit as you add more haste since you only gain tics passing particular tic rates. I’d like to add a few observations here.
- The Glyph of Serpent Sting will decrease the amount of haste needed to squeeze in more tics, since each additional tic is a smaller percentage increase. For example, to increase from the unglyphed 5 tics to 6 tics, 20% haste is necessary. With the Glyph of Serpent Sting, the first gain is from 6 tics to 7 tics, which only requires 17% haste.
- Without the glyph, Black Arrow and Serpent Sting gain tics at the same haste levels. With the glyph, they are staggered so the gains are somewhat more regular.
- Unless your last point of haste added a tic, there will be a dead time at the end of the DoT debuff. You can safely clip the DoT at this point without a DPS loss. Supposing all you did was refresh your DoTs as the last tics hit, then haste would scale their DPS perfectly linearly without a stair step pattern. Practically, you might reapply the DoT a second or two earlier, but you won’t see the smooth linear benefits with your full rotation.
- Warlocks will have it easier since they’ll always extend the duration instead instead of clipping the last tic. [Edit: Here is the warlock preview announcing this change. Also, in a comment below, Jodalpho points out a blue post following the priest preview where Ghostcrawler says they want to prevent DoT clipping in general.]
- Marksman hunters will have it even easier since Chimera Shot will take care of refreshing Serpent Sting. Serpent Sting gains from haste will always be linear for Marksman hunters.
- All these issues are particularly interesting for Explosive Shot and high haste levels. Around 33% haste, the last tic is within the same GCD, so you can’t clip it. This would make the debate over Lock and Load rotations moot. At 50% haste, you would get a 4th damage tic, which would be a 33% boost to Survival’s strongest general use shot.
As a historical aside, this haste change is a followup on a 3.3 experiment by Blizzard. Blizzard wanted to test reducing the time between tics for all damage and healing over time spells using haste. In 3.3, this became optional for Corruption and Rejuvenation by means of Glyph of Quick Decay and Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation. With those glyphs, the time between tics was reduced by haste, but the number of tics stayed the same and the duration decreased. My understanding is that these glyphs were great for warlocks and very situational for druids — some fights were better served by longer lasting HoTs. A similar issue would exist for Survival hunters would be wanting to keep the Serpent Sting uptime high for the Noxious Stings damage bonus. Keeping the duration fixed avoids such pitfalls and improves the damage or healing per cast.
We really know very little about the new hunter mechanics to be released with Cataclysm. There will certainly be similarities to rogue energy use, but we’ve already seen plenty of hints that our game play will remain quite different from just being ranged rogues. In this post, we’ve looked at a few released details and seen a surprising importance to the haste stat. At this point, we are ready to conclude that hunters should stack as much haste as possible in their Cataclysm builds. Or that just might be hasty.