Challenging assumptions, making impressions

I’ve attended a few raids now on my Hunter. My Druid is distracted by shinies, gathering non-combat pets and studying Archaeology on far-off planets, so my Hunter is getting all the raid face time.

I hope to improve my Druid to be raid ready someday, but it’s hard to prioritize when you’ve got one character already set and ready to go. I acquired epics while raiding with my guild, so I should put them to use in progression when they ask, isn’t that how it works?

What I want to talk about comes from who I am, and where this blog comes from.

I spend my free time doing what I find enjoyable. Playing World of Warcraft is a big part of my free time, and an integral part of my enjoyment in WoW is playing how I like to play. 

My blog is called the Big Bear Butt, and it began with my adventures as a feral Druid, because feral Druids weren’t cool so there was some stuff to talk about. Blizzard didn’t approve of us for serious things. Old ground, won’t go over it again, if you’re not sure what I mean, check out the Tier itemization for Druids in Molten Core. Those feral pieces are pretty awesome… oh wait, there weren’t any. Druids were supposed to stand back, shut up, and heal.

I didn’t play a feral Druid to be cool or fill a niche, or to be a rebel. Nobody wanted me and there was no support for me. What I did was in spite of the mechanics, not because of them. I played feral because I loved it. I loved transforming from a person to a sleek panther to chew the faces off my adversaries, I liked transforming into a massive bear to maul all those that would challenge my authority.

I especially liked figuring out ways to use what WAS implemented in the game, the gear and the mechanics, to work out how to come as close as possible to being a ‘real’ tank. I loved being a furry bear tank, plain and simple. It wasn’t pixelicious, it was a big old furry bear butt filling my screen, and it was great. The day when furry Bear tanks stormed Karazhan successfully was a wonderful day for me.

I thought that I could write a blog sharing some of the stuff I’d done so others with the same wacky mindset could have the same fun bear tanking and loving it. That’s all. I also like to rant and ramble a bit. 🙂

Blizzard has long since taken bear tanking mainstream, it’s a recognized aspect of the class, and they work hard at balancing the class function with other tanks. How well they succeed or not isn’t the point; the point is, bear tanks have gone mainstream, but even if Blizzard announced they really were serious about the Druids only allowed to heal thing, I’d still be a feral Druid. Nerf ’em to the ground, I’d be unhappy, but I’m not going to change my preference. I have played tree healing and like it, but that’s not why I roll or HOW I roll. It’s just a fun bonus.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that I play my Hunter as a Beastmaster because I love the concept of the Beastmaster. That concept was what drew me to the class, and it is my concept of the class, the things about it that excites my imagination, that are the reasons I keep loving it.

The core of my love for Beastmaster is that it is the spec that fulfills the dream I had at the beginning; you and your pet, together against the world, fighting side by side, each a valued team member.

Over the years, Beastmaster has undergone a lot of changes. Sometimes it has been weak, other times strong, most often right in the middle. During most of Wrath, it was pretty weak in raids in comparison to the other two specs.

A lot of people dutifully followed the DPS, looking for maximized raid performance. There were a lot of arguments back and forth, and valid points were made. Do you go on a raid with what is known to be a spec that does not perform as well as, or does not have the same potential as, another spec? If you do, regardless of how you are performing, if there is potential that is lost, aren’t you screwing the rest of the raid?

It’s a big discussion.

With my Hunter, I’m the same as with my Druid. If my blog wasn’t Big Bear Butt, it could have been “From BM with Love”. I am a Beastmaster. I’ve always been a Beastmaster, and I imagine I always will be.

I am also someone that likes to do the best I can with what I have when in groups with other people.

What that means is, if I have chosen to play as a Beastmaster to satisfy my own need for fun, and if I choose to bring the pet that I want to bring for my own fun, then that leaves me responsible to do everything else I can to drag the most performance out of Beastmaster when I’m grouped.

With that in mind, I read the wonderful BM Hunter thread at Elitist Jerks, where I was delighted as always to see that there are other freaks like me that love Beastmaster and are sticking with it. I used Zeherah’s Hunter DPS Analyzer (the online updated version of Shandara’s DPS Spreadsheet), I spent LOTS of time on Ask Mr. Robot disagreeing with optimizing results but studying the gear recommendations, and in general delved into all that study we love so much.

World of Warcraft. For some, a game. For others, a replacement for our doctoral thesis. You ever hear the joke, God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world? Yeah, the modern version should read God created MMOs to keep geeks from ruling the world

Oh, what was my bone of contention with Ask Mr. Robot? Mr. Robot seems to think that Mastery as a stat comes far below everything else. Everything. I tried some tests, and I swear if there was Mastery on something, it wanted it gone. On the other hand, Elitist Jerks seemed to think that Mastery was somewhat on par with Haste, and a little below Crit. I’ve always been a fan of a teeny bit of balance, so having any gear with Mastery on it thrown out the ranking window felt, to me, to be twisting the recommendations a bit. Then again, I modified things my own way and I’m happy with it, and isn’t that JUST what we love to do? Read everything everybody else recommends, study up, analyze, and then in the end do our own damn thing regardless?

At least that’s better than, who still hasn’t bothered to update their BM or Marksman settings for Cataclysm. If I was a newly 85 Hunter and went by that, I’d assume Survival was the only possible way to go.

Well, so here I am. Raiding on a Beastmaster Hunter.

Beastmaster Hunters got shit on a lot in Wrath of the Lich King, in terms of raid performance and reputation. It seemed like every other tweak, Survival got top, then Marksman, then Survival again, but no matter which was the chosen one, BM got a rock. 

The trade off, I think, was the Exotic pets. It was like Blizzard was saying, if you get to have the Exotic pets, then you can’t expect to do good DPS too, otherwise why would anyone play anything else?

My answer to that, of course, is why design things so the only reason you play a spec is because that’s the one with the biggest numbers, or because you bribe them with pretty toys? You should play a spec because you like the playstyle or core concept first and foremost, not because you’re a numbers whore.

But fine, if that was the tradeoff, I took it quite happily. Spirit Beast Bears, and Devilsaurs, and Core Hounds, oh my.

I’ve done a few randoms with my pet Devilsaur in heroics in Cataclysm. You know what reception I get?

I’ve had more than a few BMlolz, Huntard lrn2MM, Moron, and, I’ll admit, a few “lol love the pet name” for AnnCoulter.

I don’t play for accolades from the pug group, but I’m quite happy that my DPS is consistently in the 16k range now, plus I’ve got my CC trapping and my Misdirection. It tends to shut up the “BMlolz” crap. Very few people continue to talk shit when their DPS is less than yours. There are still some, though, there are still some.

I’ve been to guild raids, and I don’t feel that my DPS is holding anyone back. My IGNORANCE may be holding the guild back, but not my DPS.

The most telling thing for me, though, is how often I hear the following after a run, both after guild raids and from random heroic pugs.

“Wow, I’m amazed at the DPS you can get out of BM, that’s amazing.”

It’s a nice thing to hear as a player, but I hate what it continues to say about Beastmaster.

Thanks to Wrath of the Lich King, a large portion of the player base has the assumption that BM damage inherently sucks, and even this late into Cataclysm, over 6 months now, the characterization is still going strong.

Most people do not want to bring a sub-optimal spec to raids, of course. If the perception is that BM is bad, then people won’t bother trying it. They’ll wait for Frostheim to tell them what his results are, and that will be that. Or read up about it on Elitist Jerks, of course.

Until something comes along to challenge the assumptions, the legacy of Wrath of the Lich King is going to linger like a bad cheese. If you don’t suck, people will be surprised. If you have a fancy pet, people will assume you don’t raid, or are on your off spec.

That’s pretty sad.

Me, I’m happy exactly where I am. Maybe my DPS would be higher if I was Marksman or Survival, but then again I probably wouldn’t handle the flow right and my DPS would drop. My own preconceptions would get in the way.

Maybe I’m screwing my buddies every time I zone into a raid as BM, and deny them an extra potential 500 DPS.


But I’m doing all right, and when the Firelands hit, I know that while everyone else is polishing their guns and bows, I’m gonna be hunting those 8 new exotic BM only pets, hunting them down and taming them, and having a wild old time.

Whatever assumptions other people make about BM, whatever impression people have of our DPS potential, whatever attitude people want to have about BMlolz, when it comes to awesome exotic pet fun, this expansion is OURS!

The time of the Beastmaster is come, and woe unto those that love cool pets that forsake it!

29 thoughts on “Challenging assumptions, making impressions

  1. I know I am a few days late (behind on my reading >.<) but this is the same mentality that I have with my warlock. I raid as affliction. Except for a short stint as demo in ICC I have always raided as affliction. In the beginning of this tier I was asked to go Demo because it was head and tails above affliction. I bitched and complained but I made my offspec demo. I did my research and did one boss fight as demo. I was soooooooooooooooooo bad at it. I think I did like 4-5k dps LESS than in my affliction spec. My RL was convinced to let me stay in affliction.


    • I’ve got to agree with you there Freddy. My little Xerks the corehound is reason enough for me to want to play BM. I’ve loved the spec since I first started playing, but he’s the main reason I stay in the spec 100% of the time now. And I love my Shale Spider for PvP too. I may not be max/min’d but, man do I love when he webs someone that’s running away from me. 🙂


  2. lol, brought a smile to my face. I remember in Litch King doing a pug when some wisenhiemer began berating me for being BM. Strange, come the next pug (and after) the puggettes liked me. When the warrior ran ahead, trigger the boss fight (I just cant remember which, right now) and locked me out of it, the group died. All told him to “slow down, wait for the hunter, for he is out dps’ing us all”. After that, I havent let any bozo make me feel small again. I can play MM as well as BM, but I like my shale spider “Annie” (BM only 😛 ) – and so I am BM most of the time!

    So, BM to your hearts content everybody (besides inside every MM or SS hunter is a BM hunter waiting to get out! 😀 ).

    PS – haste, agility, mastery, it’s all good. 🙂

    Good Hunting to you all!


  3. Remember during BC when BM was the only way to go and it was MM and SV with the stigma? Still seems weird to think back to those days, with the way things were during Wrath.

    I don’t play anymore but I’m somewhat distressed to hear that BM is still behind. I was staunchly BM throughout WotLK, with my guild encouraging me to raid as such, and I imagine I would’ve remained so in Cata. Just once, it’d be great if there was an expansion where all three hunter specs were similar enough in theoretical DPS to avoid this whole mess.


  4. Good article. I agree. Play the class you want to play. I read an article several months ago (can’t remember where) about a player/raid leader listing reasons why it was “selfish” not to play the spec with the highest dps, aggro, healing, etc. He said doing so was supposedly bad for the raid and that one should simply follow trends/recommendations and play the “best” spec. I just remember thinking how ironic – to be called selfish by someone that’s oblivious to other player’s experiences.


  5. It’s funny, last night during our guild 10 man raid our main hunter asked me if I wouldn’t mind to switch back to BM for the buff. We’re both MM/SV, in some fights he’s in the number one slot and myself either in the number two or three DPS slot. I’ve always love the BM spec and will gladly going back to a BM spec if my raid team needs it. I think if you enjoy the spec you like and do well in then so be it.

    My only big issue about switching back to BM is having the Healers not healing my pet. I’ve been in raids where the healers are focusing more on the tank/s and forget about our pets that when our pets down there goes half my DPS as a BM which in turn could wipe the raid. thats my only fear


  6. I’m a huge feral Druid fan and BM Hunter nut… at least, as far as I play the game at all. Those are really the only classes that click for me; the flexibility of the Druid and the fun of the Hunter.


  7. I love BM too…
    I have a Red, Black, White and Green Devilsaurs

    My red one is named DONTazeMEbro – You go right on playing BM and loving it. It is the coolest spec and remember Bestial Wrath IS the original I WIN button.

    I personally hated playing MM and SV during Wrath… It just was not as fun as having a big stomping dino running around. I loved being able to get all my ICC purples spec as BM and still run around stomping in randoms.


  8. If you’re not happy with the stat weights for you can always manually change them yourself. I’ve found that helpful in some cases.

    And as a raid leader I’m always happy to bring someone along in the spec they want to play. Trying to shoehorn someone into something they don’t want is just painful for everyone.


  9. The Hunter specs are more balanced than ever. I took a similar ride with Paladin tanks that you did with Feral, so I know where you are coming from. Nowadays I’m an SV hunter. I really love the spec. Something about it really spoke to the former tank in me. When MM became the ‘best’ spec in Cata, I switched over, but I found that I, personally, did less dps as MM. So I said to heck with the spreadsheet. I’m going back to SV.


  10. I happen to love MM. Always hated SV but do it now because it is needed sometimes. I really miss having a BM spec because BM was a fun spec to play. BM however, just as SV, is my secondary spec. I am MM because I like that style of game play.

    All specs are within a reasonable percentage of each other so they are all raid viable.

    As someone else mentioned, there are fights that being BM will put you at a disadvantage but they seemed to neglect that there are also some fights that a BM hunter has a huge advantage. It equals out really.

    I personally say if you are doing the best you can as well as following the mechanics of the fight then no one, with a brain at least, will have a problem with you being BM unless you are in a realm first type of guild.

    Most people will not switch specs for 720 extra DPS and personally I would never ask someone to switch specs for 720 DPS because if you are failing on a boss by missing out on 720 DPS then your over all problem is not the DPS, it is something else, because nothing in normal mode should be that hard that 720 extra DPS is needed unless everyone else is messing up.

    The BMlol people will always be that way because they only know what they heard in the past, they don’t know what is happening now. BM is not a bad spec at all. Not the best, but definitely not bad at all.

    I too am looking forward to the new tames and will be switching back to BM when 4.2 comes just to get them.


  11. The hunter spec I enjoy most is Marks, and have played it most of the time even when BM or Survival happened to top the meters. Still, there are fights when a spec is at a disadvantage, and it’s often easier to switch to another spec, especially on progression fights – e.g. Atramedes, where a BM’s pet is not attacking half of the time, or Cho’Gall, where Surv’s AoE damage and rooting traps are a great bonus on the slimes.


    • I’m very happy to have someone that is a big fan of one of the other Hunter specs speak out, Smoky. That’s the way I’d love the game; every spec has it’s fans, because each one speaks to something different.

      I appreciate your point on different specs having different strengths, and I think most players would agree with you that it’s best to be as useful and contributing as possible when situations change.

      Having done Atramedes as BM, I know what you mean about the pet not getting a little face time in… but as a contrary view, the dragon isn’t really in the air all that long, and I’m still shootin’ and scootin’ so it’s not a period of ‘no DPS at all’ while he’s airborne. I’m more of the opinion that playing the spec I know and am familiar with, I’m doing better overall even with the aerial phase than I would if I switched specs just to increase DPS during that slice of time.

      Your point about increasing AoE effectiveness is WELL made, though. That is the one lack I really feel during some fights, and it has me using my Explosive Trap and Misdirect/Multi-Shot and wishing I could do better.


  12. the spreadsheets lie. they have always had problems modeling haste with hunters.

    I play wow for the fun of messing with specs, gear, and button mashing. I hardly ever use the “pure” cookie spec. My spec choices are driven by the 10 man group I play with. To be honest blizzard has given hunter a lot of choice here. I have always believed that hunters can be valued by more than the dps we bring to the fight.

    Our pets can intercept damage that would wipe a raid.
    You can taunt and kite bosses so a tank can come back from the dead
    saved countless mages with a quick md
    the list goes on and on

    As a hunter we give it our best, and when the raid wipes we “feign death” and wait for them to walk back!!!!


  13. Very few people continue to talk shit when their DPS is less than yours.

    That’s why I look forward to the day I can once again tank heroics in my cat gear. Don’t nobody post meters when the tank is on top.


  14. I love BM and have been a strong ‘pusher’ for it to be accepted as a valid spec.
    Its good that its finally got to similar levels as MM/surv.

    Back in LK i could get up to about 7k in only badge gear, but as MM was always able to eek out an extra 300-500dps. Still had more fun as BM though, and make more than one sarcastic leet player eat his uber 6k deeps.

    If you like playing substandard/munted specs, you should try doing dps as a subtlety rogue 🙂

    Elli @ Khazgoroth.


  15. Bear, it truly is amazing how a guy with a spreadsheet can manipulate public opinion! All he has to do is say “In perfect laboratory conditions with all available buffs, the best gear available, an error free rotation and no movement, spec “X” will produce 500 DPS more than spec “Y”. Then a lot of people who will never have a perfect buff composition, never have the best gear available, never achieve an error free rotation and never encounter a fight without movement will form a religion around spec “X” and chastise the heretics. I think a lot of people see that 500 DPS extra and think “crap! I only do 6500! that’s effing huge!” not knowing that we’re talking about 25k versus 25.5k. I love your persistence not because I idolize hardheadedness (though I do) but because I think you are effing correct. Liking what you are doing begets paying attention and paying attention begets performance. Choosing to play the flavor of the month and then going complacent expecting your store-bought spec to carry you begets only misery and failure. One of my favorite spreadsheet induced hysterias is ranking trinkets. They will tell you about built in cooldowns and proc rates and uptime and how it averages over a 5 or 10 minute fight and totally miss the point that sometimes having an overall inferior “push to click” trinket makes all the difference in a raid where every boss has critical phases that occur on a timer. I think the number compilers know they are misleading people but like the attention and sponsors.


  16. This is the type of stuff that makes me keep coming back. This site is the reason I made a bear. it also has guided me towards “know how you class work” is the key to being a great player. So thanks BBB

    As for going against the the norm my current project is leveling an enchantment shammy to be a tank, thats right 2 expacs after axing shammy tanking. The potential is there so I’m going to try my damnedest to make it work.


  17. What seams a life time ago or just plain old back in the day i was a Warlock.

    And the “top ” spec changes were constant.

    The theoretical “min / maxing “.

    Every patch someone would be winning by 500 dps or so.

    But that takes no “player skill” in to account .

    Or rather what you are good at play or used to playing . Or even in Bears case love playing.

    Never had any worrys about gear .

    It was soooo long between drops for me everything was an upgrade !

    Im playing World of tanks at the moment

    And there are huge differences in tanks .

    But the ones i like i usually get better results in , not the “topguns ”

    You might like it Bear.


    • I’ve heard very good things about World of Tanks. I’ve been wondering if Manny was going to get into it or not.


  18. As someone who has always been BM and has never considered switching, not even during those dark Wrath days when “lol BM” and “y u BM” were everyday occurrence…BESTIAL WRATH FISTBUMP. ❤ It really is telling, the immediate disdain people show when they see you zone in with an exotic pet. I mean, perhaps back in Wrath the prejudice was understandable, if still frustrating. But things are a lot more balanced now, so all it does is instantly point out that player's ignorance or airs of superiority when they mock your gameplay choices before even seeing you in action.

    I think my favorite change in Cataclysm was the equalization of the pet trees, since I could now actually use a Devilsaur, Spirit Beast or Core Hound instead of my generic Wolf and SHOUT TO THE WORLD that I was BM.

    Still, some of my fondest memories were pugging ToC as BM, getting loudly denounced by the other Hunters in the raid for not being MM or SV, and then systematically mopping the floor with them every single time. I tell you, the snap of the mouths closing as they hastily shut up were positively delicious.


    • Yeah, but you’re actually GOOD. It makes a difference when someone like me can do some reasonable numbers with BM.


      • You did awesome numbers on that raid you wrote about a while back! Plus you have actual raid skills/awareness/experience. I’d invite Ann Coulter (and you) to any raid. 😉


  19. I was on my BM hunter yesterday in Garadar and encountered another BM hunter fighting the guards in Hala. He was better geared than I, he had epic Zandalar weapons and some gear. We were both hit capped but our biggest difference was I had more haste and he had stacked agility. Anyway my dps was 2.5k over his. I did not give it any thought until he asked me why I had chose haste over stacking agi. I sent him to EJ forums and MrRobot.
    My main is a feral druid, but like you I enjoy playing my hunter.


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