This is a look at the skills that I’ve lost and gained on my 85 hunter as a result of the Helm’s Deep class changes, plus my thoughts on what it all means for me and my playstyle.
Some of these skills are gone from the game, others lost to me because although they exist, I spent my points elsewhere. In the latter case, by the time I get to the new cap at level 95 I will have enough points to get one or more back depending on how I choose to spend the points.
These are based on my initial builds, and things could change with more practical experience. I had 55 points to spend, which is the max that a level 85 can have if they have done all their class quests and deeds.
- Hunters Art. It’s gone from the game, but I didn’t use it anyway. I think few hunters did.
- Heart Seeker. It has its uses and is still available, but I didn’t prioritize it as other things are more important to my playstyle.
- Strength of the Earth. Still exists, chose not to prioritize it.
- Cry of the Predator. Gone from the game. Was occasionally useful esp at lower levels, but at 85 I won’t miss it much.
- Split Shot. Still exists, but I never used it that much. Though I do like to have AoEs, the mix of narrow target area and inductions does not fit well for the times I really need AoEs. I also build to generate lots of focus, so chaining Rain of Arrows is usually an option when I want an AoE.
- Blood Arrow. Still exists, I never used it much. For similar reasons to Split Shot, I build in a way that gives me better options than this. I rarely have power problems, so there is no need to spend morale instead of power.
- Burn Hot. Still available and useful for the times when you need to do a big burst. But I usually build for sustained damage rather than burst, so I passed it up for other things I needed more.
- Set Snare. A similar skill is avail in one of my tree setups, so it is only lost when I’m running with the more straight DPS set up.
- The traps consumables are gone, so I can’t set triple traps or drop quick traps in a red line config. I wonder what will happen to the traps we have. Can we recover the mats? Use them in some way? Or are they now wasted?
- Fleetness and Needful Haste are gone as skills, but can appear as buffs that randomly proc, and you can affect the chances of it happening with your build. But they are not something you can choose to use on purpose to suit the situation. I think fleetness is not available unless you specialize blue, but I could be misremembering.
- Swift Stroke is gone from the game. You can get a somewhat similar effect from hopping into endurance stance and firing quickshot. Stances give a 10s buff as well, so stance dancing is going to be more common I guess.
- Agile Rejoinder is gone. Endurance stance quickshot gives you some heals though, and Press Onwards can be used more often than before. So maybe Agile Rejoinder won’t be as sorely missed as we thought at first.
- Scourging Blow. It still exists, but I never used it much. I used Barbed Arrow for fire DoT at range sometimes on mobs with big health, esp if they have poor fire mitigation. But I don’t often use Barbed Arrow in a melee situation, so Scourging Blow was not very useful to me.
Overall this is not too bad at all, as I’ve mostly lost things that I didn’t use often. Except for Agile Rejoinder and Swift Stroke, which were melee staples.
Gained Skills – Config 1 – Red Specialization
- Explosive Arrow. Spreads its damage, so it can deliver a biggish hit to a single target or smaller hits to a bunch of mobs.
- Pinning Shot. A 5s root with an 8s cooldown.
- Upshot. The Bowmaster capstone, a big hitter with 25s cooldown, eats all focus.
I’ll have to figure out how to best use them, but on the whole they seem useful without offering any radically new possibilities for hunter playstyle.
Gained Skills – Config 2 – Yellow Specialization
- Piercing Trap. Somewhat similar to the now gone Set Snare.
- Explosive Arrow. I picked it in both configs.
- Deadly Decoy. Interesting skill! Creates a temporary tank for you that aggros mobs away from you for a short while before it explodes and does some damage. 45s cooldown, so can use a few times during a tough fight if needed.
- Lingering Wound. It’s biggish DoT. Not much more to say about it.
- Tripwire. In effect a 5s stun.
- The One Trap. The Trap of Doom! The Trapper of Foes capstone, it does big damage and slows target.
One thing to note is that setting traps becomes a ranged skill. (If you spend your points in a way to make it so.) This has some important consequences. Less chance of traps being wasted because the mobs took a different path than you expected, you can wait and drop it in front of them as they arrive. Or even right on top of them, which in effect makes them ranged attacks, much like Rain of Thorns say.
Again it’ll take time to work out the best ways to use these skills. The Trapper of Foes line looks a lot more viable now, and could add some fun new ways to play a hunter.
What does it all mean?
Firstly, before Helm’s Deep I used to play the blue line! I didn’t put a single point into the blue line with either of my configs. I might try that later, but at first look what you can get by going blue didn’t seem worth the sacrifices. (Very little option for heals, AoE or CC, which are things I’ve always turned to in the more interesting tactical scenarios.)
Some of the most important parts of the old blue line have moved over to red now. If I’m remembering right, Deadly Precision, Arrow Storm and Strong Draw were blue, but now are red. So I am actually keeping a lot of my blue line playstyle intact by going red, and still running Precision stance mainly.
Overall the changes don’t seem to make the game radically better or worse. It still looks playable and enjoyable enough, and I can replicate my old playstyle pretty well.
I ran a couple of skirms, once with my red config and then with yellow. My feeling is both times they were a fair bit easier and quicker to do than with the old RoR skills. So hopefully there is still challenging stuff to do out there somewhere when I want to do that.
I haven’t yet checked how things work out at lower levels or on my other classes. I suspect around level 50-60 we’ll have a lot less skills than we used to, and at level 20 skills could be really thin on the ground. So leveling alts might be even duller, but maybe burning through mobs faster will help alleviate the tedium there.
Also I haven’t yet looked much at how to lay out my toolbars, or worked out how to have skills not move around when I swap configs. From what I’ve seen that won’t be hard to figure out though.
In summary… Helm’s Deep class changes are not as big a deal as I feared. There’s still quite a bit of scope to build how you like, and with the added bonus that the yellow line might be a fun alternative to try now.