Tooth & Arrows: Dual Specing The RIGHT Way…

Monday, June 27, 2011

These days, when I make a new character on Wow, I bookmark talent builds that I want them to have and I spend time focusing on their talents and glyphs so that they maximize their DPS for leveling, and their other abilities for dungeoning (in the case of my tanks – Reyune the DK, Kalitri and Ionaria the feral druids, and Betamus the warrior).

However, somehow, my main got lost in the rotation. I wasn’t as diligent when I created her. Heck, I didn’t even KNOW you could look up/emulate talent builds. I didn’t know what Glyphs were until I was high enough level to use six of them. I focused on her story and living my little in-game life. Now, this didn’t work too badly for her chosen primary spec – Beast Mastery. My pet did hells of damage, kept stuff off of me, and I got a lot of compliments and shock at him and how powerful he was (speaking specifically about Hatari the hyena, now, who’s praises I have extolled in earlier blogs), and therefore how much damage I did. So I thought I was doing awesome.

My brother, though, does his research. And as we were planning to repeatedly, as a guild, run Obsidian Sanctum to get achievements and to get each of our guildies the Black Drake mount, one at a time, he suggested I dual spec and pick up Marksmanship. Marksmanship is supposedly the highest DPS Hunter Spec, and ideal for high end raids.

I, however, have far too much pride. I couldn’t believe that a simple spec change could improve on what I’d already proven that I excel at. But, I’m in a place in my life where I’m trying to accept people’s advice without question unless in action I prove them wrong. So, knowing we had a raid last night, I looked up a good Marksmanship raiding talent distribution, and dual spec’d for the first time on my Hunter.

Here’s the thing – I went to the Stormwind Training Dummies, hit off a few shots and organized my action bars, then logged right back off the game. I didn’t do a Recount evaluation of my DPS, I didn’t bother to try and find out the most focus economical rotation of shots… I just set up my action bars as close to my BM bars as possible so I’d know where things were, and logged off.

When I logged on next, it was Raid time. I went in just like always, confident in my DPS.

I kept running out of focus. I kept having issues with firing while moving and line-of-sight problems. I kept forgetting to trigger Kill Command, so even Hatari’s DPS failed me.

The Tank in our Raid did more damage than me.

And, largely because I wasn’t pulling the DPS numbers I should’ve been, we failed the Raid.

Now, here’s the difference between the way I’m handling things now, and the way I used to. If this had happened even a couple of weeks ago, I would’ve said, “Well, I guess Marksmanship just isn’t what I need for it to be!” And I would’ve given up on the talent tree. But the new me accepts people’s suggestions and tries harder to achieve goals she thinks might even be impossible. SO! Today, I went to a training dummy in Ironforge, and, for the first time, pulled up the Recount add on’s Real Time DPS meter. I went at the dummy for awhile in MS spec, and finally figured out a rotation that was pulling between 7300 and 10000 DPS. I thought, “Oh, that’s good.” Then I thought, “Well, can I make it better?”

So I went off to the auction house and spent about 300 gold on Glyphs to power up the shots I found I was using the most in that rotation. I applied the glyphs, then returned to the training dummy.

It was only then that I realized I had no idea how much damage I normally did in BM spec. So I activated my primary spec, pulled up the DPS meter, reset recount, and slammed that target with the rotation that I’ve built up over 85 levels of Beast Mastery experience.

And I stared in shock at the DPS meter.

I was pulling, on average, between 3900 and 6900 DPS. On the high end, when I was able to slam with Kill Command multiple times and Arcane Shot/Multishot repeatedly, it slid up to almost 9000 DPS, but then crashed right back down as I blew all my cool downs at once and had to rely on Steady Shot to rebuild my focus while Hatari became my main DPS generator. And while his numbers are impressively high, mine were depressingly LOW. Though I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t already tried it in MS spec and scored so much higher. Though even I know that 3900 DPS is low for an 85. I should be averaging 5k. An undergeared Balance Druid could out preform me in DPS if I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t get off as many high DPS items as I could.

I called Hatari off the training dummy and dropped my threat on it. I reset Recount, waited for my DoT’s to wear off and the meter to flatline, switched to MS spec… and then let loose on it with the rotation I’d worked out earlier.

My meter lit up, shooting up into the 12000 + range repeatedly, and only dropping below 9500 when I forgot to trigger Rapid Shot or Readiness in sequence. But there was no doubt about it – I was doing nearly TWICE the DPS, reliably, in MS that I had been in BM. And I’d fixed my focus regen issues – by factoring in a pair of Steady Shots every few shots, I could easily keep my focus on actually fighting rather than waiting for cooldowns and focus regeneration.

However, Recount also allows you to see the damage you do versus the damage your PET does, and suddenly, despite the higher DPS, I discovered why BM is still a better spec for me, who spends most of my time soloing PVE.

See, in Beast Mastery, your pet is about 70% of your DPS, + your threat generation. As a result, during PVE combat, the enemy remains focused on your pet. However, in Marksmanship, your weapons are over 70% of your damage, and the pet is barely 30% on the high end. Which means that *I* am generating a massive amount of threat, and nothing will stay on my pet, so I get flattened.

However, this is exactly how Dual Spec is supposed to work. One spec for one thing, in my case – BM for solo play, and one spec for another – MM, for raids and dungeons. Something that I’m already doing on all of my other dual spec’d characters… But for some reason, I’d never done it on my main.

I feel far more confident in my playing of my Hunter, now, and I’m ready to be the best I can be when we try that Raid again next week – and every week until we all have the Black Drake Mount.