4.1 is out and it brought with it the usual tumult of a content patch: broken addons, disconnections, bugs, login problems, AH shortages (read: opportunities), and rampant qq. In my guild the biggest concern on the night of the release seemed to be getting Recount to work properly before the raid. Of course, there were so many DCs and surprise wipes that being able to watch the stats on Recount just made things more painful. That was one initial impression of 4.1: struggle. After there break there are some more.
The New Multi-Shot
The buff to Multi-Shot is impressive. It made MM and BM AoE damage, well, not as embarassing as it used to be. The burst AoE from those specs is particularly nice, given a full Focus bar and the new one-second global on MS. At the same time, the 250% buff and the reduced global made SV AoE even better than it already was.
The New Dungeons
ZA and ZG are a step above current heroics in difficulty. They will play the same role in 4.2 that the older heroics held in 4.0: a required and reasonably challenging layer of content sufficient for gearing up for the current raid tier. They’ll make gearing for raiding easier than running older raids, which was the gear progression model in vanilla WoW. At the same time, they won’t make previous content mere badge farms, as was the model in Wrath. With the remarkably strict gear and skill requirements for both the baseline heroics (ilvl 329) and ZA/ZG (ilvl 346), Blizzard have stepped closer toward their goal of having 5mans serve as meaingful, progressive stepping stones for endgame play: normal dungeons > baseline heroics > ZA/ZG > raiding. It’s almost the vanilla model wrought small. Of course, time may change and undermine this. It’s also true there are ways to leap over or at least speed up some of the steps. Rich players can buy BoEs. Players with generous friends can get carried through raids.
One of the more annoying bugs that I’ve come across since the patch release is this one. I’d queue Trap Launcher for an Ice Trap on Magmaw parasites, mouseover the parasites and, poof, the targeting reticle disappears, as if it had been toggled off. The trap launcher remains active, there’s just no reticle attached the cursor and the trap does not launch. If you run into this issue yourself in a raid (it only seems to happen in raids, which can make it a bit of a surprise), I’d recommend doing what you can to place traps without the launcher. Incidentally, we need a term for trap placement without a launcher. Drop traps?
Pets still spawn (after summons, dismounts, etc.) with initially low health. Pets with single-stack debuffs (Wind Serpents, Ravagers, Hyenas and so on) still are not refreshing their debuffs before they expire and continue to wait a seemingly random number of seconds after their debuffs expire to reapply them.
Currencies and Commodities
The possibility of directly exchanging Valor points for Conquest points at Valor gear vendors on a one-for-one basis will make considerations of PVP gear in PVE even more pressing. Even if you do not pvp at all, you will still want to weigh whether it will be better for you to spend your Valor Points on Valor PVE gear or, say, on a high ilvl pvp ranged weapon. In my opinion, the smart choice will be spending Valor Points on Valor gear directly in 4.2 and running arenas or rated BGs once the new arena season starts so that you are earning and spending both currencies rather than having to choose between the two. Note that the current Valor and Conquest points will be converted to Justice and Honor points, respectively, once 4.2 and the new arena season are introduced.
The dramatically increased availability of Maelstrom Crystals will make high-end enchants, like +20 stats to chest and Assassin’s Step to boots, much cheaper. If you haven’t already taken the plunge on those enchants, consider doing so in the coming weeks.
Currently there is high demand for item enchancements for the new ZA and ZG gear. Now is a good time to do farming and it’s also a decent time to dig stockpiled mats out of your bank and sell them off in some way. I’ve made tens of thousands of gold on meta gems alone since the patch came out, and I know that miners are making plenty of gold too. Also, new achievements have made companion pets a nice market.
One last thing on economics: vendors in the main cities now sell top-end crafting recipes. It means that crafting alts will no longer have to level to 84 and quest through the beginning of the Twighlight Highlands.
Now that pets match the hunter’s level when tamed there really is no excuse for not having a full complement of raid pets. At a minimum I’d recommend having a Cat, a Wolf, a Raptor, a Hyena, a Ravager and a Wind Serpent or Dragonhawk. Even in 25mans a full set of pets is good to have for raid and personal dps considering how raids are often divided between targets, leaving hunters missing some debuffs on their targets. I often bring out a Ravager on Council, for example, because the 4% physical damage taken debuff provided by the melee is only being applied to Ignacious and Terrastra, and not my targets, Feludius and Arion.
The removal of the happiness system was nice, but it was so far out the door already that I barely noticed it. The only thing that actually drew my attention to the change in game was my automatically and needlessly casting Mend Pet on my Ravager after a summon.