You Play a What!?!

When I roll a character I have a vision.  Before I have chosen the perfect nose ring accessory, before I have adjusted my hair for the last and final time, before my character enters Azeroth, I already know what she is going to specialize in for the rest of her days.  My characters always start their careers with a very stable self-image, including their talents.

Which is why I was so flabbergasted by the Scattered Shots post this week suggesting that BM hunters should not be allowed a raid spot because it is a sub-optimal specialization.


While hunters aren’t hybrids, hybrid classes used to go on raids because they brought cool buffs that made up for their dps lackage.  With the standardization of buffs, hybrids no longer have that additional utility and for the most part, do less dps than their pure cousins.  Does that mean all the elemental shamans, shadow priests, retribution paladins–I could go on and on–sit on the sideline?  Nope.

Even high-end guilds take a wide swatch of players including classes or specs known to be sitting poorly in the current WoW cycle.  You wanna know why?   It’s because specs and classes tend to ride the seas of buffage and nerfage, yet the player is worth hanging on to.

Let’s face it, I can’t be the only player who refuses to respec my tree unless Blizzard refunds my talent points… can I? I know it’s technically possible to pop over to my trainer and change my spec from retribution to holy, but frankly… it feels funny.

The best way to know a character is to play one.  Respeccing at 80 has always been difficult for me because I feel overwhelmed by the multitudes of new buttons across my screen.  I invariably am forced to rely on clicking manually on spells again.  I haven’t had the experience of testing my limits while soloing, so I tend to be even worse about using specialized abilities that may prove life-savers in a raid.

I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with Frostheim’s post.

The title was the first clue that I wasn’t going to enjoy this article.  Can Beast Mastery Raid?

You betcha they can.  Well, some of them can and some of them are huntards.  But there are huntard Survival and MM specs too.  Everyone, including the lol tri-tree DK can raid… it’s whether or not they should.

Frostheim is obviously comfortable changing his character around to fit his raiding needs.

I’m not!  Never have been, never will be.  I’m sure plenty of people are like Frost, and just as many are like me, with some in between.  You know what?  I will never, ever, ever play a Survival hunter.  They’re perfectly viable right now, strong tree and all that, but I just don’t like them.  However, this did tell me that Frost thinks it is normal for players to respec every time the WoW favor-sea rises or falls.  Obviously, he is not like me with a firm outline of his character and how that matches his talents–Frost is purely about being a dps machine.

Frostheim makes it very clear that you feel BM is easiest to play in terms of rotation, movement forgiveness and latency issues.

So my hunter is going to raid–I’ve turned off all my add-ons, cleaned out my cache, and generally tried to get the best out of my old system.  I’m still running with red latency (stupid ping!) and my fps is complete crap.  On a good day, I see myself start to move by the time I need to stop.  So, wouldn’t it be reasonable for me, as a dps character, to talent for the best possible dps for my current situation?  If I go to a less forgiving talent tree, chances are my dps will be worse than my current spec… which means I’m just switching back… only now I’m being ridiculed daily because said BM was bad =(

Frost blows off the idea that a player might need to be in a sub-optimal spec to achieve their greatest dps and suggests that those players just need to l2play (loosely paraphrased… see, no quotation marks!).  To me, this is a sidestep of a legitimate concern that may impact a player’s decision to be specced into beast mastery.  Blaming the player isn’t cool!

Silly recount–that’s not for analysis.  WoM though, now that’s real data.

Really?  How big was the sampling?  Shouldn’t you have realistically looked at top 20, 20 from mid-pile, and 20 from the end?  Let’s face it, how often do the top 20 people change?

I understand you were going on the assumption that the top 20 players are the best, and therefore, the data for each talent tree would be more controlled.  However, most people aren’t the top 20.  Most of us aren’t even close–therefore, it would have made more sense to have a wider sampling to see if the variations were as pronounced for hunters of every skill level.

Everyone likes proof, but without more information, it isn’t data, it’s just numbers.

Raiding is a Team Sport

Ya know, I could have survived the rest of the post until we got to this section.  Raiding is a term sport, and raiders are generally quite capable of making the correct decision with little or no harassment from their officer core.  However, until someone’s spec is making them consistently low on the content, people should be able to talent as they wish.

This might be the type of guilds I choose to run with, but there always seems to be the poor kid in the back who keeps losing his spell components and spends the fight searching between everyone’s legs for his bat guanoˆ. By the time he has found it, he only has time for a couple of fireballs, and then it’s all over.  He’s 23rd of 25 on the dps meter and cheering over our great victory.

Most raiding guilds I’ve been in expected that 2 or 3 of their regular raiders were really enthusiastic about raiding, and frankly, really bad at it.  Frostheim really gets under my skin when he claims that some all BM hunters are worse than the mage* I just described because they are choosing failure.

Apparently he didn’t think his ‘Bob argument’ was quite fair, because he tells us this immediately prior:

Without question a very good and very geared BM hunter can pull their weight in raids. The best BM hunters out there are pulling over 9k DPS on Festergut. They are not just pulling their own weight but they’re able to carry lower DPSers as well. With good enough gear and enough skill, a BM hunter can pass any metric required of normal ICC.

So… I should only take good BM’s, right?

The only time I would expect anyone to change their spec is if their performance is noticeably lagging in a raid setting.  I have talked frosty mages into giving arcane a try, and holy priests into disc-o, but only when I saw that they were struggling in comparison to the rest of the guild.

This article sent out highly mixed messages, and I think it would have been served better with a title of: Why I Don’t Want Beast Masters in My Raid. That way, myself and others in the hunting community could have been prepared for this obviously highly editorial piece.

ˆFor those who might have missed the reference, bat guano is a spell component (in conjunction with sulfur) needed to cast fireball in Dungeons and Dragons.

*Frostheim’s analogy compared a BM hunter to “Bob,” a role-player°, who wears green quality gems, no pants, and refuses flasks or food (he’s obviously fasting).

°Just in case role-players weren’t vilified enough by non role-players.


30 thoughts on “You Play a What!?!

  1. I didn't even catch that roleplayrt comment. Lovely.

    I love pet classes. I always play one. I played a mage/necro/beastmaster, I played a bio-engineer, I played a whatever-the-hell-it-was-called-in-every-other-MMO, and I play a hunter. A BM hunter. The only reason I don't regularly raid with my hunter is because we have, no joke, about 20 in the guild.

    I've respec'd before, I admit that. My BM DPS was abysmal, so the few times I raided with my hunter, I wanted to not make a complete fool of myself. But then I re-tooled my spec, put my heart into re-learning the optimization of BM, and dropped SV like a bad habit. Yeah, if I put that much work into SV I could probably be doing 7k to my current 5k. But. I. Can't. Stand. Survival.

    Currently I am spec'd BM/BM. I have four spirit beasts and a devilsaur. Screw you, BM haters.

  2. I don't play a hunter, but that article got to me too.

    When I was raiding, the other warlock in our guild raided as demonology while destruction was the top DPS spec (I was destro so our raid could have replenishment), and he would frequently do as good DPS, if not better than I while he was demo. But if he'd switch to destro or affliction he'd lag really far behind.

    The way I see it, if you're having fun with that spec, and aren't a hindrance to the raid, then play that spec.

    • Same here. The attempt to appear impartial on the subject is what really got under my skin–I know some people truly believe you are wasting everyone's time if you are not min/maxed to the best of your ability–but if that's the case, then just say so from the start and save me some reading!

  3. I refuse to be a flavor-of-the-minute spec and I would never force anyone in my guild into playing a role/spec they don't like or aren't comfortable with. If you love a spec and playstyle and it works for you, I'm all for that.

    A good raid team is all about good people playing how they want and making it work together. If you really believe that raiding is a team sport then you understand that teams are about give and take. Some days you're the MVP, some days you're not, and sometimes it's that person in the back who consistently does an awesome job at the support role that makes it all work.

    Fight the spec nazis!!!

  4. *cheers* I agree with everything you've said here, Windsoar although I admit I only read the article you linked to in the first place because you, err, linked to it.

    I suppose it all comes down to your conception of the game – what you want out of it, and what you expect from others. I mean, there's nothing per se wrong with changing your spec at the whim of the nerf/buff bat *if that's what you want* or if it's the sort of thing the sort of guild you're in demands from its raider (i.e. the sort of guild neither you or I would join).

    But equally it is most assuredly Not Okay to set this up as not only an expectation but as a requirement to be considered a good, viable or acceptable player. I mean, shadow was horrific for DPS for a long time but you didn't see people telling spriest to roll a mage lol (I know that's a slightly unfair analogy but it's the next logical step).

    Also for God's sake there's nowt run with wanting to play a BM hunter because you love your pet. Grrr.

    Anyway, yes, this was a very long comment to basically say "I agree." *sheepish*

    • Well to be entirely honest I didn't read it until the hunter community started to explode on twitter. Good thing I had it in my reader for easy retrieval!

      However, once I read it I just had to write this…BM are good enough to raid, just not with me…. if that's what you mean–just say it!

  5. I think the article really pissed me off, because I'm a raid leader with a BM hunter in my raid. She loves being a BM hunter, and she's been given quite a bit of crap about it… so I get very defensive and protective of her. I think she does just fine, and her pets have become like our raid mascots.

    And in addition to all those things you pointed out, Frostheim also suggests that any raid leader worth their weight in frost emblems wouldn't accept a BM hunter in their raid. So not only is he saying that my hunter needs to l2play but that I need to l2lead. Screw that.

    I love Syla (BM Hunter's wolf) in Lady Deathwhisper. The extra physical DPS on the adds is crucial. I love that Syla can stay on DBS while the hunter herself deals with the beasts. I love that BM makes my hunter friend happy, gives her a good challenge, and makes raiding fun for her. If she's not having fun, then she's not going to raid – and she's an amazing player and i wouldn't want to lose her, even if it DID mean a 30% DPS increase.

    I raid with my friends so that I can… well, raid with my friends. If that's how she enjoys playing her hunter, and she can do it in a way that works well for the rest of the raid, then I'm happy with it.

    • I am definitely like your hunter friend: I want to play my class my way, and if I can't, then I don't raid. I'm surprised prot paladins and other hybrids aren't running to the rescue for the BM bashin. I think most hybrids have been in a position where they really wanted to play a class a specific way, it was technically feasible, and a whacky raid leader let 'em in to try it out!

      Now, hunters aren't a hybrid. I get that. But what's the point of three trees if you can only use 2 in a pve environment… and it's even more sucky when those 'viable' trees change from patch to patch.

    • "I raid with my friends so that I can… well, raid with my friends."

      YAY!!! I wish there were more of this. This is the essence of what WoW is to me.

  6. It all comes down to a comment that a former raid leader (and all around asshat) said to me once, in a raid.

    "I finally figured out the difference between you and me, Rubi. You play this game because you like it."

    He meant that in all seriousness. Like there was something wrong with me because I enjoyed playing the game, and I enjoyed playing my class/spec. (Boomkin)

    When I roll a hunter, he's BM. I like the concept. I changed Rubi over to Balance from Feral, and never looked back. I like playing Arms warriors, even when they weren't the best. If I had any skill at all in tanking, I'd play a Prot paladin.

    Frankly, what's wrong with playing the game and enjoying it? *smile*

    • And let down your team with your sorry dps! For shame!

      I think the problem with Frostheim's post isn't so much that he doesn't want to raid with a BM hunter, but that he attempts to cloak himself in the robes of an impartial observer while clearly coming across as extremely biased on the subject. He didn't even address the buffs that BM can bring to the table–later commentators scoffed at them–but I know in our guild we've been without a warrior, rogue OR ret paladin for the evening.

      Different guilds call for different classes, and surely, many of those raiding find it more beneficial to have happy players instead of min/maxed ones.

  7. I’ll let you have your own opinion on the subject as we all do. I’ll follow with the other side. I’m in ICC to down bosses and progress. A well played hunter will do more dps as SV/MM therefore I’d rather have one of them. I mean if your guild doesn’t care then have fun, but if the guild cares then it’s their choice. That’s why I say people read up on guilds before joining. Can’t ask a hardcore guild to change to fit a casual’s enjoyment. =) Good luck!

    • If the title of the post or even the content of the post had been handled differently, I wouldn't have written this post at all.

      • You can't jump all over an article over its title. Titles are misleading in too many cases to do that. And handled differently? These guys on write much out of opinion. Do you expect them to leave their opinions at the door on every subject? That's very hard. You just voiced yours. I'll disagree with you again.

        • The reason that his post bothered me was that 1) the title was misleading. Titles don't have to be indicative, but judging by the content of the article, and his conclusions, he clearly thought it was! 2) The author sets himself up as impartial because he has 'no favorite spec.' 3) Other than a short benefits and one-liner 'yes they can' spends the entire article explaining how BM hunters are SOOO bad, that only people who don't understand that gear=good would play one.

          When you're attempting to make a fair judgement based on facts, you don't generally compare your test group to mold slime. Again, this post would not have been written if the title had been "BM's shouldn't raid" and gone on to explain why. I'd have postmarked that article… I might have even considered doing more reading on hunter-ing because of it.

          • What bothered me about the article was that it wasn’t presented as ‘you could do more DPS by doing this’, it was ‘if you don’t do this then you are a selfish ass who doesn’t care about being a valuable part of your raid team and you are responsible for their lack of success’ and that’s BS.

            Could an individual hunter do more DPS as SV or MM? Currently, yes. Does that mean that EVERY raiding hunter should be SV or MM and that BM is useless for raiding? No.

            Sometimes you make a choice as a team that you want/need a specific buff and someone makes the sacrifice to get it (I was the holy paladin with enough points in prot in vanilla to get Blessing of Sanctuary, it wasn't optimal for my personal performance, but it helped my team). Raid teams do that all the time. But it's a choice, not a mandate from outside your guild.

            What the article did was make it harder for BM hunters to PUG, put them down, and make it easier for other people to put them down without ever actually seeing them perform. Your DPS is a factor of your spec, your gear, your skill, the individual fight dynamics, and the buffs you have from your group. One player does not make a raid and one spec does not kill it.

            • Thank you for saying this a different way. Players > Class > Spec and there is no such thing as a cookie cutter raid composition.

              • And you won't do any reading now because you're upset? And there are cookie cutter raid comps. There are raid compositions that work better than others. The deal here is content has become accessible to all so on average you see very few of the same compositions. If class trumps spec then any priest will do healing right? Even a shadow spec'ed one?

                • I read pretty regularly on a multitude of classes already, so one post isn't going to make me burn my feed-reader ^^

                  There are cookie cutter everything, that doesn't mean they're the best thing for every situation, or even viable for every group of people. Just because someone assumes you will always have a warrior/rogue/ret pally available doesn't make it so–and then what happens to the model? It's not accurate, and hey, maybe I do want that BM.

                  Apples to oranges much? You wanna compare hunters to mages, I'd follow you. Frost mages have the same issues in that frost dps is significantly lower than arcane and fire specs. However, I would not make a blanket statement that frost mages should never raid either. Frost mages can provide good utility in certain fights, and, for some players, frost is much simpler–arcane would kill their dps. Why would I want them to switch?

                  All I am trying to advocate here is that spec changes for an individual in your raid should be based on your raid's needs, not on a theoretical model of a potential dps contribution.

                  • And considering the average BM hunter I'll let them go else where. =p I've been in enough raids to see that most BM hunters don't out dps most SV or MM hunters. Plus finding a decent hunter period is hard. Overall, I'd keep most BM hunters far away. Why put someone in a raid if they can't handle the simple rotations and play style of a class? If the person can barely play the easy spec then there's no point bringing them in the type of raiding I enjoy until they learn it. Again it comes down to the type of guild you are in. Casual guilds, sure fine…keep the BM. Hardcore raiding guilds? The BM may as well not apply.

                    • Can Beastmasters raid? Good ones can. So it all depends on the player. So it a potential dps contribution if you ask your current BM to spec.

                      I am not addressing the needs of any one particular guild or any one individual player. Guild applicants must generally meet several guidelines including a dps min. If a BM can meet all your requirements, including a dps min. both Frost and you are saying a guild would be brain-damaged to take them–that's what I find ludicrous.

                      I think you've made your point–you don't think a BM is capable of performing at a hardcore raiding level, because, well, there's no such good thing as a good bm based on your experiences. I've had enough good experiences with "bad" specs before, that I'm willing to evaluate an individual on his performance, and not on his spec. This is going to be a divide that we just cannot abridge =) Thank you for the lively conversation.

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  10. I completely agree! Down with the dictators! Really, I think that I have looked at a spec maybe once, just to see what others were choosing. I also think that when you choose your talents while leveling you can see what most benefits you and your playstyle. I mean really, if I use so-N-so spell why wouldn't I take the talent that matches up with that spell and not what the cookie cutter spec looks like. I love my BM hunter. Yes I recently choose to dual spec but only because I wanted to try and do some PVP and wanted to be able to hopefully kill faster tahn I die. 🙂 Besides, Exotic pets ROCK!

    • I understand the reasoning, but I don't see the need for every person in the game to have the same exact spec. Dungeons are not so inflexible that a well-geared BM hunter is not going to fall in line with a bevy of other classes/specs available. As long as your hunter is/can do his job with his spec, why would you require that he change? I thought it was hysterically funny that shortly thereafter the mage column featured Frost DPS as a raid spec.

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