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Regional Flag[Feedback] Marksmanship in 7.1.5Source
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#1 - 2016/12/08 03:40:00 AM
Update 12/24/16 - See https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20752625124?page=52#post-1032 for a TL;DR of Blizzard Responses and summation of the 52 pages of the thread thus far.

As you should know if you have been reading feedback threads for 7.1.5 (or 7.1, or 7.0, or beta, or alpha), Marksmanship has some serious core design issues that need to be addressed before the spec is enjoyable for many longtime MM Hunters, myself included. There is one major issues that is in immediate need of a fix, and several other important issues, though none are as urgent.

Core Issue: Vulnerable, Hunter's Mark, and Marking Targets
Important Issues: Resource management, talent disparity, utility/mobility

Vulnerable, Hunter's Mark, and Marking Targets

Vulnerable is the defining mechanic of Marksmanship in Legion. For those unfamiliar with the mechanic, you apply Vulnerable to the target with Marked Shot (which requires Hunter's Mark, applied by Arcane Shot/Multi-Shot/Sidewinders after a Marking Targets proc), Windburst (with the corresponding Artifact Trait) on a 20 second cooldown, or Sidewinders (if talented) on a 12 second recharge.

Vulnerable increase the target's damage taken from Aimed Shot and Marked Shot. Neither ability deals acceptable damage to non-Vulnerable targets.

Vulnerable is improved by two talents: Patient Sniper (which increases the Focus cap and improves the Vulnerable effect but reduces duration), and Sidewinders (which replaces Arcane and Multi, generates 50 Focus, and applies Vulnerable directly to all targets hit, with no proc requirement, increasing uptime). With both of these talents, you have a cyclical rotation: Sidewinders, Aimed Shot, Marked Shot, Aimed Shot, Aimed Shot.

Overall, this is not a terrible rotation. You are encouraged to use Windburst on cooldown, as it is our strongest damage ability, and other than that, you use Aimed Shot during Vulnerable windows when Focus permits, use Sidewinders to apply Vulnerable, apply Marking Targets (allowing Marked Shot), and generate Focus, and you use Marked Shot to maintain Vulnerable after it has been applied by Sidewinders or Windburst.

The problem here is that you are pigeonholed into these two specific talents in order to have any consistency in dealing reasonable damage. If you remove Patient Sniper, your Vulnerable is up constantly, but its effectiveness is drastically reduced. If you remove Sidewinders, your Vulnerable uptime drops drastically, as it is entirely beholden to RNG procs outside of the 6 second window created by Windburst. If you remove both talents, you maintain constant Vulnerable, but your Focus cap and generation are so drastically reduced as to prevent any burst DPS.

Currently on PTR, Marked Shot no longer benefits from Vulnerable, baseline Vulnerable has been changed to a single stack at 100% increased damage, and Patient Sniper has been redesigned. Assuming Marked Shot and Aimed Shot baseline damage is properly tuned to make the reduction from 150% to 100% increased damage a net neutral change, this is a positive change. That said, it does not resolve the core issue with Vulnerable:

When Vulnerable is tied to an RNG mechanic, Marksmanship Hunters have little control in when they are able to deal acceptable damage, particularly in single target situations.

There is one clear solution here - remove or lessen the impact of RNG on applying Vulnerable to the target. There are a myriad of ways this could be achieved.

Non-RNG applications:
- Firing Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot twice in a row applies Vulnerable to all targets hit.
- Remove Marking Targets entirely, move Marked Shot to a 12 second cooldown.
- Remove the RPPM from Marking Targets, and simply make it a buff that automatically effects every 4th Auto Shot.
- Add a new shot, let's call it Steady Shot. It should deal damage equivalent to one Arcane Shot, have a 6 second cooldown, have a low (or no) Focus cost, and apply Vulnerable.

Semi-RNG application:
- Allow Marking Targets and Hunter's Mark to stack. Firing Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot, or Sidewinders would consume one stack of Marking Targets on the Hunter. Firing Marked Shot would consume one stack of Hunter's Mark on any affected targets. Ideally, buff uptime should be increased to facilitate stacking.

Less-Impactful-RNG application:
- Nerf Vulnerable to a lower percentage increased damage (say 10%), and increase baseline damage of Aimed Shot to compensate.
- Remove Vulnerable as a mechanic entirely, bake the damage into Aimed Shot directly.

Game Designer
Target Source
#38 - 2016/12/08 09:15:00 PM
12/07/2016 07:41 PMPosted by Adreaver
This is further exacerbated in 7.1.5. Patient Sniper no longer provides an increased Focus pool, and Sidewinders generates only 35 Focus. With that in mind, and considering the passive Focus generation of 15 per GCD, Hunters are required to maintain 21.5% Haste in order to generate enough Focus to fire 3 Aimed Shots during Vulnerable. Firing a 3rd Aimed Shot during Vulnerable, especially with the new Patient Sniper design, is a huge DPS increase. 21.5% Haste will essentially be required for MM. This is a hard breakpoint, and should be eliminated before 7.1.5 goes live.

There's a lot to discuss here--some we agree with and some we don't--but I want to swing by at least on this specific observation. We agree we don't want a major breakpoint between 2 and 3 Aimed Shots after a Marked Shot (at least, not at a middling amount like 21% haste that will affect gear choice throughout the expansion). We're not decided on a fix yet; in particular, whether the standard amount should be two Aimed Shots after a Marked Shot, or three (if two, it would still be okay to have three during Bloodlust and similar situations). The ability would be tuned around whichever option. Two has some advantages like concentrating the Vulnerable burst more, requiring standing still for less time to fully utilize it, and potentially having enough leeway for an instant before one of the Aimed Shots.

Game Designer
Target Source
#181 - 2016/12/10 03:57:00 AM
We definitely understand that Marksmanship Hunters were used to a version of Vulnerable on live that was, for all practical purposes, full uptime (i.e. it could be up for every or virtually every Aimed Shot). Skilled players will still be able to have a great majority of their Aimed Shots affected by Vulnerable even in 7.1.5, albeit with a higher demand on focus management and good use of Windburst. That is intended, even if it involves losing a degree of comfort in essentially never being without a Vulnerable when you want it. The debuff is less diluted and has more significance when it requires that sort of attention, and it is not without payoff: the damage of an Aimed Shot with Vulnerable is significantly higher than in 7.1, and can be further increased with the new Patient Sniper. The ability to use Piercing Shot with Vulnerable (and potentially Patient Sniper) is an example of a new option allowing a very strong burst.

While the fundamental mechanic driving it is a proc, the proc rate is quite high, and our goal is to make sure it is the sort of randomness that provides variation to a rotation while allowing responsive gameplay and room for mastery. The ability to wait on a Hunter's Mark while pooling focus to get full value from the Vulnerable will be more important than before. Windburst, as well as the talent options Sidewinders and Sentinel, allow on-demand Vulnerables as a resource to deal with situations where you have focus but not a Mark (or simply to make sure you have one for a key burst moment without having to react to a proc). Finally, removing the Vulnerable requirement for Marked Shot to do strong damage removes a reliance on multiple rapid procs and/or Sidewinders in order to use consistent buffed Marked Shots.

As the PTR goes on, we welcome feedback on what problems turn up when you try to put this into practice, but I wanted to explain a bit more what our expectation was.

Game Designer
Target Source
#872 - 2016/12/22 03:56:00 AM
An upcoming PTR hotfix will increase the proc rate of Marking Targets significantly. Our expectation is that in stationary situations, it should be straightforward to have a Vulnerable ready when you need or want to spend Focus on Aimed Shot, and the primary factor in full or near-full Aimed Shot effectiveness is good Focus management. In addition, a Vulnerable window that's ineffective due to movement, freshly spawned targets, or similar issues will be much less punishing.

We are also testing a subtle change that should address one of the flow issues that's been discussed. If Marking Targets appears very shortly (a split-second) before an Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot cast, it will no longer be consumed by the cast. When you're using Arcane Shot to build focus on a target that's Marked, if Marking Targets lights up, you will more reliably be able to react and cast Marked Shot, rather than overwriting the Mark with a new one.

Game Designer
Target Source
#957 - 2016/12/23 03:38:00 AM
12/22/2016 06:32 PMPosted by Adreaver
Still would like to know when these hotfixes are being rolled out so I can test them.

These should be on PTR now.

We'll look into the point about Marked Shot being lower damage per Focus than Aimed Shot. Both Marked Shot and Aimed Shot could probably do something closer to their live damage (assuming Patient Sniper/Sidewinders setup) to ensure Marked Shot is always high priority. Lower Focus cost on Marked Shot is also a possibility. Overall, the rotation should remain similar for a player who continues using Patient Sniper and Sidewinders, with the main caveat being that using Sidewinders in all situations will have more downsides than it does in 7.1.