Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Hunter Volley, and a digression

There are many reports from the Beta Expeditionary Force that was sent ahead to Northrend. I had mentioned before that we hunters will be given an opportunity for free refresher training for our abilities and talents, but some of the more exciting and, in some cases, disappointing news are those about changes in how our powers and abilities work. I had mentioned before how disappointed I was that we of the school of marksmanship will no longer be issued Scatter Shots unless we took up more Survival training, but one bit of news from the beastmaster BRK got me excited—it was that we would learn the skills necessary to deliver a better volley (he mentioned it in passing while he extoled the virtues and strengths of his new tamed primate).

So, after that little trouble I had with Naxxramas (which my daughter Myrrh and my banker Mr. Vault helped get me out of), I went with no small amount of haste to Regnus to sign up for some training. I was fortunate, that after being instructed in the basics of the new technique I learned that, a week from that time, a certain Borgoff Marcus would be holding a public demonstration.

And this is what I have to say: The new volley is now one of the more powerful tools in a hunter's arsenal in the fight against the Scourge and their Lich King. I will explain shortly why this is so, the demonstration I witnessed from the Borgoff Marcus, and my own use of the technique when the Burning Dragoons tested ourselves in the Caverns of Time versus the most plentiful supply of undead we can find in straight battle.

The first difference between the old way I used to perform this technique and the new way is that I can now keep the volley up now for as long as I am able to, whereas before I can probably only do it once every minute or so. What does this mean? When I first saw BRK's demonstration with his ape, it seemed more like a tool to be used for hunting and grinding in the wild—nothing an adventurer can actually use in the war on the undead. How little I really knew.

Then the scourge started its own invasion into the allied and horde cities, and it came at no better time. Borgoff demonstrated the new volley in Darkshire just as a group of zombies headed for us—it was a massacre. Those who were no longer alive, yet undead were brutally laid to rest.

When the Burning Dragoons went to test themselves in the past at the Battle of Mt. Hyjal five days ago, I tested this new technique for the first time for myself. Let me tell you that I was astounded at how effective they were against massed groups of undead, using what used to be their very strength (massed attacks focused on one position) against them, as there was nowhere to run. (Let me take this opportunity to note, however, that hunters were by no means the only class that became more powerful since Patch Day—I was especially impressed by the new power wielded by the Paladins!) I have never done this much damage before—and I wasn't the only one (1,2,3). My fellow hunters, one each from the other schools of beastmastery and survival, did more than well: we totally dominated the battlefield.

This happened again two days later, when we came back to try and finish the job (1,2,3). For the first time, I felt that hunters can hold their head high as useful members of a raid. Granted, we would never be like this on a one-target fight, but at least we shall no longer be perceived as relatively useless anymore.

The only thing that mars this success is the disdain that others have for it. "The Devas have nerfed them," they would say. "You are not powerful... not really. These bosses you face are crippled bosses, which can be taken down by anyone."

It is true, however, that the Blizzard Devas had declared a "nerf" on the evil elements faced by adventurers (making them easier to kill by taking away 30% of their life). But I feel that this was only done so that those left behind by adventurers leaving for Northrend shall not be discouraged or overwhelmed; those who come after us will no longer be able to "farm" dungeons for Badges of Justice or the rare drop of gear or weaponry. But Illidan, Vashj and Kael'thas must still be challenged and defeated. Or at least, thanks to the Devas, there is now a chance that those draped in quest rewards can fulfill their mission.

Nevertheless, I shall still insist that we have become powerful. Even with their lives shortened, it still takes skill, teamwork and perseverance to defeat these. I was once picked up by a raid of random adventurers to defeat Vashj—though we were powerful enough to injure her badly, we cannot defeat her because there was no coordination and no team experience. I reflected that if a unit of Burning Dragoons was on hand, it would have been a different story. But it would be a different story only because the Burning Dragoons were a more disciplined fighting unit that would have eventually challenged Kil'jaeden himself given enough time and resources.

Yet, I say we have also become weaker. Too many things we can no longer do: draenic heroism is no longer tenacious as it used to be, my combat drums no longer as persistent, and a number of other factors. We had been weakened. We had been nerfed, and all the Devas are doing is making sure that we would not fail because of these weaknesses.

It is therefore a blessing (despite what elitist adventuring jerks think).

Still, those who have been adventuring against more terrible odds have my greatest respect. However, permit us (especially marksmen) to rejoice in what little power bestowed on us... for as long as we can wield it before it is nerfed from us.