When World of Warcraft dropped all of the class changes with 7.0, it was both a heady time — and an era of dealbreakers. Literally overnight, my Shaman became an unplayable mess, my Demo Warlock a bizarre challenge, and my Beast Master Hunter a disappointment. All of this funneled me into playing a Death Knight for most of the expansion so far.
But I can’t quite abandon or stay away from my Hunter. Sure, I know that everyone plays one and has since time immemorial, but there’s so much of what I look for in a class right here: pets, pew-pew from range, rifles, leather gear, and a relaxing rotation. I’ve always enjoyed playing a Hunter going all of the way back to 2004’s launch (dang, has it been THAT long?), and I spent a lot of time prepping mine during Draenor for the new expansion.
Unfortunately, there’s the big issues with the new BM that makes it a hard row to hoe. Marksman, golden child as it may be right now, is definitely not my playstyle (plus, no rifles!), and the new melee-only Survival Hunter has to be one of the dumbest and most unpopular design decisions to come out of Blizzard… this year, at least. So for me it’s either BM or go away. I went away, for months now, but I always felt bad that my Wrath-era Hunter was still hanging out on the character select screen.
What irked me about 7.0 is that BM was in such a good place in Draenor. I loved the feel and rotation, the talents and the skills. Then everything got shuffled around, and while on paper it looks like we still have most of what we had before, there’s something slightly broken now. Before there was a good balance between your own weapon skills and skills involving pets; now it’s just pets, pets, and more pets with a bare nod to rifle skills. The rotation doesn’t feel good any more, as most of it involves long cooldowns and mindless button-mashing (instead of a tight, clicky rotation that came before). I hated having to choose between A Murder of Crows and Barrage, as I used to have both and life was good.
Inch by inch, I’ve started to make peace with the BM Hunter in Legion. It’s been a very slow go, partially hampered by the fact that I only play this character on occasion. Things started to look up when I decided to make her a Gnome (yay Gnome Hunters) and took advantage of the taming mechanical skill to go off and find a giant robot squirrel to be my new main companion. With my mechanical squirrel pet also running behind me, I feel like I’m paying homage to Squirrel Girl in a big way.
I went with Barrage, even though it’s a sloppy and somewhat derided skill, because I simply needed to have another rifle skill on my toolbar. And I’ve been forcing myself to play through a handful of quests at a time, getting a feel for this new build — unlearning the old rotation and adapting to the new. I try to look for the positives, such as how nice it is to have a tank pet again (my DK pets are not tanks in the least) or how barrage and stampede can do some serious AoE damage to packs of mobs.
I transmoged that ugly artifact rifle into one of my favorite models, something that looks big and colorful and steampunky and totally gnome-like. And off to the races we go, seeing if this new “class fantasy” can eventually win me over — or at least convince me that there’s a comfortable point of acceptance.