Monday, October 18, 2010

Focus on Survival

Oh man check out that post title. I am so clever, just like a journalist!

Ok, not actually clever, but you know. You've got to title the posts something. Anyway, I just wanted to reiterate that I'm really, really enjoying the new focus-based survival.

I was thinking about this last night (as well as talking about it a bit with the BF), and I think there are two things going on that make me like it a great deal.

First: you're still using a lot of things with cooldowns. BM really gets most of its damage from its pet and from arcane shot, and those are both always available. Survival gets most of its damage from Explosive Shot, a short-cooldown ability, as well as watching two dots. So what you end up doing is planning your focus usage around when those two dots are coming up for re-application and how close to that time your next explosive shot is. If serpent sting, black arrow, and an explosive shot are all coming up at roughly the same time, you're going to need to save up a lot of focus (but be careful not to cap it out).

On the other hand, if you're looking at a lot of open time before you next need to fire explosive and your dots are both fresh, then you can find an occasional opportunity to sneak in an arcane shot. Those little moments are my favorite, as I feel like I'm finding space in the resource system to eke out a little extra damage.

Second: survival's proc is just way more entertaining. BM has an ability that eats your pet's focus and gives you haste, but there's not too much interaction happening with that. When the built-in power auras go off, you use the ability. That's it. You also have the proc that makes the occasional kill command hit harder, but you're using KC on cooldown as BM anyway, so it doesn't change your behavior at all. Lock and Load is still pretty much the same talent/proc that it used to be, but that's a fundamentally satisfying proc. You have a chance to proc two free, no-cooldown explosives off of black arrow damage ticks. When you get 'em, you need to drop whatever else you're doing to fire three explosives, but you need to make sure not to clip the last tick of the dot.


So in summary, new survival involves the fundamental decision making of wanting to always keep explosive shot on cooldown but also wanting to keep your dots up and finding spaces for an extra arcane here and there. This is made more fun by reacting to a proc that requires you to alter your ability use to react to it properly.

I've done a little thinking about gear as well. I have to say the changes make me happy, because they mean I don't have to feel embarrassed by my crit/haste cloak from heroic beasts any more, and they make things like the JP-purchasable belt a much more attractive gear option now. It'll take roughly a zillion heroics to really gear my chicka up, but that's ok - and maybe I'll pug an ICC or something here and there.

In general, I think I'm going to hitcap again by shuffling gems a little, then reforge haste for mastery. Haste is certainly good now, but I think crit is still a more generally valuable stat, so I'd rather keep that. Other than that, the downside to "the bad gear is good now," is that gear priorities pretty much amount to "lay your claws on the highest item-level crap you can." There's really just not a whole lot of comparison worth doing. I'm assuming that will change with the cataclysm raids, though, with things like mastery appearing on gear without needing to reforge it. Until then my little inner excel nerd can nap, I guess.

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