Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How come survival has explosive shot, anyway?

I really do like huntering. And despite the name of the blog, my conceptually favorite tree has always been survival. I've always ended up speccing whatever tree does the most damage, but my abiding love is for the "ranger" tree. In pretty much every fantasy game ever, single player or multi, videogame or pen and paper, I roll a "ranger" type character. I love the skill and beauty of archery, I love the aesthetic of the lanky independent traveller, skilled in the ways of the wild, I even love the story of Agincourt - although to say one loves a story wherein a lot of real people died is kind of bizarre. I suppose I simply mean that it gave me an appreciation for the elegance and power of the bow as a weapon. Bows as art are also compelling: the bowyer's craft is intricate and involved and somewhat mysterious, from the selection of source woods to the shaping and steaming and lamination processes.
I just think they're neat.
So you can see why I am drawn to the survival tree conceptually, while at the same time I'm disappointed by its reality. Tying a bomb to an arrow is, in addition to being unlikely to work, something of an exemplar of inelegance. Black arrow makes very little sense, and certainly has nothing to do with having a connection to nature and being able to perform extraordinary feats thereby. It's just not satisfying.
By the same token, the Marksmanship tree is lacking. I like that it's the tree that focuses on physical damage. That makes sense to me. But why, then, is its top-level shot chimera shot, which does nature damage and refreshes serpent sting? And how or why does said chimera shot cause the piercing shots bleed? Again, it's just not satisfying.
So I was thinking about this the other day, and it seems like some of the flavor issues with the class could be fixed by simply shifting things around for a little bit. I would move explosive shot over to the marksmanship tree and rename it aimed shot, for continuity. Instead of being a 3-second fire damage dot, I would make it a 3-second powerful bleed with crittable ticks (complete with an animated gout of blood every tick). What is now lock and load (again, inappropriate for what I'd imagine survival to be) would move over to Marks as well, perhaps being renamed to something like "Uncommon Precision". I'd proc this buff off of regular old auto-shots instead of the weird and unpleasant juggling between black arrow and a variety of traps that it works off of right now. I'm unsure if I'd even want to see Marks hunters continuing to use serpent sting, but if I did perhaps I'd tie a talented bleed damage increase to it.
The survival tree would of course get chimera shot. What is now the "improved steady shot" buff (and what does that even mean?) would be renamed serpent's swiftness - the 20% haste talent that lived in the old BM tree but is now gone. Proccing serpent's swiftness off of cobra shot makes a lot more sense to me than "improved steady shot". Chimera shot would probably not refresh serpent sting but instead consume it for additional damage, which would hopefully make for a fun resource management game as well as be fruitful for theorycrafting. How long should one extend one's serpent sting with cobra shots before eating it with chimera shot? Is it better to keep chimera on cooldown or try to manage your chimera use situationally?
This would all be a pain to re-balance of course, and I'm quite certain nothing of the sort will ever happen. It's fun to think about how things would be better If Only They Put Me In Charge, though.

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