Monday, November 29, 2010

The Perfect Resource

I was sitting in English class today, bored, and so my mind started to wander and i bet you can imagine the topic that i started thinking about. I assume that many of you had the very same thing happen today.

Anyway, I started to think about my hunter and how focus has changed the way he plays significantly and how i am not sure that i like the way it plays. My mind then wandered to how the different resources affect the way all the different classes play and i came to a realization:

Energy is the perfect resource.

Think about it. When you play a class with energy, you are never starved for your resource and you are never swimming in too much of it. Sure, you can hit 0 energy but you know that you wait for a couple seconds and you will have enough energy for another attack. You can also be full on energy, but you can only do 2-3 consecutive attacks without running out of energy and having to wait again. and when you are running around killing monsters you can watch as your energy comes back instead of watching your rage tick away or the water in your bags disappear.

You could flip my argument and say that you are always starved for energy but i would disagree. When i think of being starved, I think of being without my resource for a long period of time when i should be hitting something. When you run out of energy, you are given a small portion of time in which to pause and look at your surroundings, plan your next move, and then use it. I never feel that when i am out of energy, I am not doing anything.

Blizzard has stated that they dont want classes to be GCD capped and always be hitting a button. The moderate regen that energy has seems to remove that GCD cap while at the same time making it so you always have that next ability incoming. There are talents that give you instant energy or make things cost no energy and they add the unpredictability to the rotation. Combo points, which are perfectly tied to energy also make the rotation and the game play less predictable.

It seems to me that energy is the only resource system that is immune to starvation and excess just by its nature (or is easily tuned that way). It seems to me that mana using classes are always in excess. They always have way more mana than they need. That is, until they run out, then they are completely starved for mana and they must resort to potions or CD's in order to get more mana. Yes, the good players will conserve mana well and will be able to go for a very long time, but not indefinitely; However, when you are casting a spell for 250 mana and you have 35k mana, you have an excess.

Rage seems to have the largest swings between having too much and having too little. Because rage is tied to hitting things or being hit by things, it is preone to very steep swings between 0 and 100. The new rage system has improved this, but a bad string of misses, dodges or parries can gimp your rage income. Yes you can become hit capped and soft capped for expertise for a dps class and you will not get these really low points but then you may get the really high rage situations that led to inflated dps in wrath. But there is always that situation where you hit the wrong button and drop really low again.

Focus, oh focus. The redheaded step-child of resources imo. I always feel like i am starved for focus when i play my hunter. The regen is not high enough on purpose so that you must use steady shot in order to get that focus back up. This has led me, in my short time playing my hunter after 4.0.1, to always be thinking, "ah crap i need to SS again." I think it sucks. You may disagree with me, you may love focus, but i always feel like i need more in order to develop any sort of rotation or priority.

I think energy and combo points allows for the most interesting and dynamic rotations or priorities in the game thanks to its unpredictable nature and its almost perfect regen rate/ability cost ratio. But what do you think?


  1. I'll put my ex-raiding Hunter hat for a sec. If you take a look at the damage, Arcane and Steady shots are pretty close.

    Back in the BC days, Steady Shot was THE shot. If a Hunter wasn't using it, he generally was /kicked of groups before even realizing what was happening. I raided all the way to Illidan as a BM Hunter during BC. Immediately after a Steady Shot, during the ~1 sec before the next Autoshot, I threw an Arcane Shot, Kill Command or any other instant shot. MM had pretty much the same rotation.

    I think the old BC rotations will probably be back with Cata. Focus with Arcane Shot is great because you can dump all of your Focus in a very short time doing a pretty good burst. However, most of the time, you can't just dump your Focus right at the start of a fight. You have to think about the next shots you want to fire and make sure you have enough Focus without clipping your Autoshot while casting your Steady Shot. Think of Arcane Shot as your finishing move after building combo points. As a Cat, you have to Shred/Mangle/Other up to 5 pts then throw your finishing move. The same thing goes for Hunters but our "finishing" shot does not have any requirement beside the Focus cost. I'll have to test it for myself but I'm pretty confident that the Focus-starved Hunter spamming Arcane will do less DPS than the Hunter using less Arcane Shots but manages to better control his/her Focus usage rate.

    All in all, Hunters won't be able to "button mash" their way through combats. They'll have to carefully time their attacks and choose the right shot to maximize DPS, like we used to in BC.

  2. I generally agree with you especially at the end where you point out that focus starving yourself will probably do less damage than good use of focus but i think you are partially making my argument for me.

    The fact is that you can gimp yourself pretty bad by using a shot at the wrong time with regards to focus amounts because the regen rate is a lot slower. I do think that it makes hunters more interesting but i havent played mine enough to get used to it so naturally i dont like it as much. It will be good to have something else besides chain trapping and threat management that will move the class away from being huntards.

    I am probably just not managing my focus well which is my i hate it so much.

    regardless of all that i still think energy is better because it seems to limit the starvation and excess problem while giving you a large ability to screw it up by using the wrong finisher or wasting combo points.

  3. There will always be Huntards. However, the class will change from "Push any button and you'll do great" to "Think about what you're doing and you'll do great". Screwing a shot up won't have such a big impact on your overall DPS. But you won't be able mindlessly use any ability and hope it turns out well. It will now take skill to master the class. Not anyone will be able to be a great hunter. Some good WotLK Hunters might end up on the Cata Huntards list because they won't be able to change the way they play their class to use the full potential of the new resource.

    I know for a fact that Focus changes the way you play the class. Hell! I've killed raid bosses all around the world with my 80 Hunter and the first time I used Focus I was like "WTF IS THAT??? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PLAY NOW???" I threw almost all my old macros out the window and created new one to better suit the new resource/rotation. I found it pretty hard to change 5 years of habits on the class I knew so much about. That's why I started my other Horde hunter 2 weeks ago. I wanted to relearn how to play the class from the start. And from what I've experienced so far, even though we do not have mana anymore, my old BC rotations were doing a LOT better in terms of DPS then the one I used during WotLK. I almost never ran out of focus. I had to adapt a few things of course but not much. I had to plan my moves ahead a bit more than what I used to. I think Focus will, in the end, be a better resource than mana for Hunters.

    I do feel that, with my previous comment as well as this one, I haven't really answered your question. So, what is the best resource? For classes doing Physical damage, I have to agree that Energy/Combo points is a better resource, followed by Focus then Rage. This last one usually isn't an issue for tanks but for DPS, I would prefer Focus.

  4. I think we generally agree based on this last comment. And i think that there could quite possibly be more huntards with the change to focus from mana but i think those people that were held back by the class being too easy because they had mana will be the people who improve so i think there will be more people per huntard playing at a higher level. The ones who will benefit fromt he focus change will be the new ones leveling and the ones who get worse will be the already bad hunters who just get worse because they cant adapt to focus. Completely unrelated but that is what i think.

    I will probably change my opinion as i level my hunter from 80 to 85 in cata but for now i am just not used to it.