Legion - Survival First Impressions

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The prior wave of Legion Alpha rolled out to a lot of players this past week - I'd like to thank Blizzard for being so bold with the invitation counts and hope that the large amounts of feedback they're bound to get now will help them put finishing touches on many class changes. 

Back in November I wrote feedback regarding the Hunter Preview released on the Blizzard website - a written dialogue describing their goals for class identity and their new Legion design. In this post I am going to harken back to what was said then, and give new impressions regarding Survival's class identity, core combat design, talents, artifact and the leveling experience from 100-106. 
Note that I will be talking core mechanics and not damage expectations. When I refer to an abilities "damage", I'm talking about it relative to other abilities, not in actual fine tuning.
edit; there is now a post for feedback regarding Marksmanship.

Apologies. Further feedback will likely be in addition to this, and therefore much smaller. I've included a navigable table of contents so this post can be read in chunks at leisure. 
If the WoWhead links don't load the first time, refresh the page.



This post will consist of,
( clickable table of contents ; use keyboard home to return to this )
  1.  prelude introduction, did Survival meet expectations from the preview?
  2.  first impressions and go-over of all its core ability spells,
  3.  then impressions of the talents (in regards to its core kit),
  4.  then the artifact and its traits, along with specialization expectations,
  5.  a "too long; didn't read" summary and highlighting changes I'd like to see.


Survival is seeing the most change in Legion from a magical range to a physical melee. The class preview told us it was to be a, "reflection of brutality with an unrelenting ferocity, accompanied by merciless bloodshed. They are instinctive and crafty on the prowl, laying deceptive traps. They snare and bleed, fighting in close quarters with a trustworthy companion for the brutality of the hunt."

My concerns with this description involved confusion over where prowling and traps would come to play, and how difficult it would be to balance a fighting companion with the profound bond Beast Mastery promised. I was concerned how survival would play out focusing on snares and bleeds, and how it was to be "deceptive" while focusing on direct brutality. More importantly, I was worried Survival would be generic melee combat spec #532. It sounded like Survival would be a fast, proc based, RNG bonanza with high burst. So what was it really? 

Did Survival meet expectations set forth by the Legion Preview?
Brutality, ferocity, merciless bloodshed, instinctive and crafty, deceptive traps, snaring and bleeding, fighting in close quarters with a pet. These were the keywords given by the Legion Preview. The core combat abilities presented were Harpoon, Raptor Strike, Laceration, Mongoose Bite, Flanking Strike and Wing Clip. 

My concern about generic melee spec #532 remains valid. What I thought would be a fast, proc based, RNG bonanza with high burst turned out to be a slower, controlled sequence of debuffs and buff-stack management. Ironically, it played a bit how I would expect Marksmanship to play. The 1.5s GCD proved a completely different feel from the classic hunter, which shouldn't be a surprise since the hunter class has had a 1.0s GCD for quite a number of years. The inability to control focus regeneration on the players end furthered this purposeful feeling of restriction. Not necessarily bad, but different.

I enjoyed using Harpoon to leap into groups of mobs, disengage to more, and toss axes to gather a crowd in which to AoE. It was similar to playing Beast Mastery with Beast Cleave, except I was the one cleaving. It didn't feel wholly unique (though that's probably impossible), and I don't feel Survival has anything to do with traps. The traps we did have felt shoehorned in. We have three to chose from, which change form based on talent selections, but can only use one at a time. For the most part they seemed irrelevant. Use one for AoE, or one for single target, don't think about them otherwise.
Survival was greatly enjoyable for me while leveling - a guilty pleasure of AoE - but it did not meet expections set forth by the preview. It just needs refinement.

Forward I will discuss my impressions of the core kit, the talents that augment them, and what I would do differently both to polish the specialization and realize the fantasy put forth by the preview. 


Survival has five core abilities I would consider part of its damage arsenal:
Carve, Laceration, Mongoose Bite, Flanking Strike and Raptor Strike.
I also consider the Artifacts' first unlocked ability a sixth core damage spell:
Fury of the Eagle.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=187708/carve -

 This one is interesting. The artifact can be leveled to make it deal more damage based on the number of targets it hits, and two talent options augment Carve to spread DoTs in the form of http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=199539/butchery or http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=87935/serpent-sting. Carve is an instant cast, 40 focus ability that says it sweeps targets in front of you for 90% damage. But that's not what it does. 

Carve is a frontal cone with an animation that does not reflect its actual radius. It's possible to be in melee range of something, slightly off to your side but still in front of you, and entirely miss the target. In fact, the closer you are to your enemies the harder it is to fit them in Carves radius (as is the nature of all frontal cones - they get wider farther out from its center). 

Here's an example at the training dummies in Thunder Bluff. The target is to my front right, the animation for carve goes straight through the entire target hitbox, but I do not hit the dummy nor is my serpent sting refreshed.
On the flip side, here is an example standing at Carve's maximum range with the target aimed to my front left. My character is no where near the dummy, not pointed at it, and the animation is clearly not passing by. However, I do hit the dummy, and the sting is refreshed.
If you would like to see the full video testing of Carve's radius, [you can find it at this link]
I would like Carve to remain a frontal cone. In tandem with slowing traps, I think this is a good way to make Survival be about snares and bleeds. Combining Carves extended range with a slowing trap and butchery would allow Survival to group and kite mobs without being in danger. In other words, slicking the ground, running in a circle to keep mobs inside the trap, and poking the enemies from outside their radius with our spear, spreading Laceration with Butchery. 

Nonetheless the radius for the frontal cone needs to be greatly widened so it is not hampered in melee range. I would like to see something more matching the animation range, so around 260 degrees. In order to effectively "sweep" a large group of mobs, as the tooltip of Carve insinuates with 'sweep', the hunter must actually back up. In some cases this brings us out of the 5-8y melee range. And, frankly, this is just another one of a large list of reasons I believe Survival should have been the specialization to get a larger melee range (12-18y). The salt is going to be everlasting about rogues getting it instead. Rogues. Instead of the polearm users. With a frontal cone and snare traps. Truly unfathomable. Who else would be comfortable working at melee from range than a group that used to exclusively be ranged?

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185855/laceration -

Our keystone bleed. This is nice because it's useful while leveling even as a DoT, dealing a good amount of damage every second for just the right amount of time (12s) with a cooldown making it possible to keep up indefinitely (10s). Beyond its talent synergy with Carve the ability itself is not very interesting, but it is useful, it is reliable and it is easy to maintain so long as you're paying attention to it. Which you should, because in between cycles of Mongoose Bites, this is the piece that keeps our damage sustained. Do I think it should be called Lacerate instead of Laceration? Yes. It feels like such an oversight to tell us "Lacerate is back, and we promise it will do damage," only to have it named after a warriors ability with Survival game-play much more similar to past Warriors'. A big deal? No, probably not. 
I liked Laceration. I felt I understood it and its purpose was clear and there was proper option for talent synergy. As a piece of core kit, it's straight forward, and that's what a core kit needs. 

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=190928/mongoose-bite -

The main component for Survivals (interactive) damage. While leveling, it was sufficient enough to just toss these out for a bit of extra burst. Focusing on buff maintenance or optimal use was irrelevant, but it became clear on single target testing that there's room for some timer tweaks to get this just right. I'm wondering if it might not be worth it to make subsequent successful Mongoose Bites provide additional boosts to Mongoose Fury - rather than a linear improvement per Mongoose Bite done within the 12 second sequence. IE, #1-3 deal 50% more, but #4-6 deal 5% extra per stack.

This is another example where I believe the 1.5s GCD is unpopular with Survival hunters. 6 stacks seems manageable in a 12 second sequence, especially with http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=201078/snake-hunter. Except that 6 stacks equates to 9 seconds of time (6 * 1.5), and 12 subtracted from 9 leaves 2 GCDs of wiggle room. This is assuming you do get 6 stacks, and a timer regeneration or proc waste doesn't leave you with 5. One of these GCDs will belong to http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=185855/laceration, meaning we actually only have 1 remaining. Now, obviously there isn't any damage balancing done for us to properly theorycraft the damage sequence most optimal for survival hunters, but I'm going to warrant a guess here and say that this GCD is going to be reserved for a Raptor Strike maintaining a 5 stack on http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=201082/way-of-the-moknathal. If that GCD doesn't exist, one of the former abilities doesn't get used, or a buff falls off.  So let's say we're working in a 10s cycle with intentions to use Laceration, Flanking Strike and Raptor Strike. That's 35 focus + 50 + 25 = 110. Then reduce this by 1.5 * 3 GCD worth of focus regen (45). We're left at 65 used, meaning the cycle is only manageable once if at full focus. So we are to intentionally cap focus, and cap mongoose stacks? 

That's an extremely tight rotation, and while I like tight rotations, I can't help but wonder how it will actually play out. How will burst work without Snake Hunter? What happens when our Mongoose Bite regeneration is high enough to fully benefit from high uptime of the 6 stack? Will the 12 second cycle of a disjointed Mongoose Bite rotation not be in direct conflict with a 6 second cycle on Flanking Strike, and a 10-12 second cycle duration on Laceration? Do we drop Flanking Strike (and can we afford to with it having a higher chance of proccing the extra mongoose bite from our mastery)?
More importantly, how does this set us up to use an 8 second cycle as seen in Way of the Mok'Nathal, and doesn't this tight of a cycle mean we don't have any room for other random utility button presses?  I'll need to see this in a more finished state to understand it better, but at that point it will be too late to make large changes. I can only hope that the developers are keeping in mind how all these pieces fit together ahead of time. As it stands now, I can't say if I think a 1.0s GCD would solve anything.
However, I would be interested in seeing haste reduce our GCD, and I would definitely like to see one or more of our core abilities taken off the GCD entirely. You probably saw that one coming.

I do like that Mongoose Fury is capped at 12 seconds, not increasing the duration. I feel in an actual rotation this will properly encourage us to pool opportunistic stacks, while using free ones as we're able. I don't like that Mongoose Bite becomes the "obvious answer" over other focus using abilities like Flanking Strike or Raptor Strike (or talents). It becomes the obvious answer because of its high damage, and the ability to waste stacks if it gets capped at 3. Let's say I'm getting a lot of Mongoose Bite stacks. I have Steel Trap coming off CD, Sticky Bombs, Murder of Crows, Spitting Cobra and a 5 stack of Way of the Mok'Nathal to maintain. Way of the Mok'Nathal in of itself is an 8 second cycle, meaning in order to keep it up I have to use a Raptor Strike every 5 GCDs (7.5 / 1.5). 5 GCDs is not a lot when you consider in the line above I listed 4 miscellaneous extra button presses, along with the desire to burst Mongoose Bites in sequence. Then we have to remember about Survival's core abilities: Laceration and Flanking Strike. Is this simply too much to fit in on a 1.5s GCD sequence? Does our 8s cycle timer need to become 12s (mok'nathal), and 12s become 18s (mongoose fury)?
In terms of Mongoose being used to manage focus, I'm not sure I agree. Yes, it can, to a point, but it's too important a piece of kit to ignore for too long or use frivolously. Instead I found myself yearning for http://www.wowhead.com/spell=82726/fervor, and a reverse-Fervor. 

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=202800/flanking-strike -

Kill Command. Let's face it, that's what this will be in a raid environment. In a leveling environment I actually greatly enjoyed this ability. That's a good thing - leveling we will have a trustworthy fighting companion, and then in a real fight his importance fades to the background and highlights the hunters melee prowess. Whether Beast Mastery outdoes the Survival leveling experience is yet to be seen.

Along with Growl it allowed me to split large groups of AoE mobs into two smaller groups with pet micro-manangement, sharing incoming damage between myself and my pet, or juggling my aggro with my pet as a defensive maneuver. Is this enough to make Survival as viable a solo specialization as Beast Mastery with a pet tank, or Marksmanship as a slowing kiter? No, I don't think so. Juggling aggro almost seemed like a happy coincidence of Growl and Mongooses' burst, tied with Flanking Strikes additional damage boost. The small range was a bit annoying, but having my pet charge in to complete the action was satisfying. If I had a group of 5 mobs, I could have the pet Growl one, Flanking Strike another, then move with 3 of my own. After 6 seconds I could make the pet take another one off me. 

Here's the thing. I've thought about what abilities I would take off the GCD for Survival. Carve is one I'd love to see. Raptor Strike makes sense as a tie in to Carve. But the abilities with cooldowns, so they can't be spammed, probably make the most sense. Is there a reason for Flanking Strike to be on the GCD? I don't think there is. A 6 second cycle is quite limiting on a specialization that seems to be built upon managing buffs and debuffs in tight burst cycles, with an awkward 1.5s GCD to boot (6 / 1.5 = 4).

Part of the "unrelenting ferocity" and "brutality" I feel is missing in Survival comes from the lack of abilities off the GCD. I'm OK with being slow, controlled, weaving stacks and bleeds purposefully, but I want to come in from left field with a huge hook of WHARGLBRLGHLGHLR [for lack of a better term]. To me, that's something off the GCD. Flanking Strike and Laceration, or maybe Mongoose Bite itself. Carve. Something. Just something.

Furthermore, I found Flanking Strike limited in several ways.  
  • One, the 400% threat was often not enough to give aggro back to my pet. If a mob is on me, Flanking Strike should be a sure-thing aggro swap, and similarly, it should bring me to aggro threshold if I need to rescue my pet. Maybe "400% or more threat" is not the proper way to handle this dynamic. Perhaps it needs to fully transfer.
  • Two, even if Flanking Strike took aggro, my pet would then waste Growl meaning it did not have any AI added to prevent this overlap. Perhaps this can be solved by having the pet only cast Growl if it is at a certain threshold of aggro, or does not have aggro at all. Or making us keybind another button.. OK, OK.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly of all, is that Flanking Strike felt extremely limited when I was trying to manage large groups of mobs. Which was 90% of how I leveled Survival. Whenever I pressed Flanking Strikes, I wanted the ability to morph itself into Flanking Sweep. And every time I did this I would look at all my trap talents, blissfully wishing I could throw them in the trash and trade them for Flanking Sweep. I wouldn't even mind it having an infuriatingly small frontal cone, if only it could be used to aggro more mobs off of me and back onto my pet (or vice versa). 

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186270/raptor-strike -

To be perfectly frank, I almost never touched this while leveling. Between Flanking Strike, Laceration and Mongoose Bite, it felt like a burdened extra button. Why use this when I could grab another mob or two and use Carve? The only times I did use it was when I was testing Way of the Mok'Nathal, or when I was not fighting a large group of mobs and needed to dump focus. 

And that's my gripe with it. The GCD is 1.5s, which is exceptionally costly for Survival. I would say time is its greatest cost. Raptor Strike did not do enough damage and did not dump enough focus to justify using it when I had extra time. Or, it used too much time. In fact, five stacks of Mok'Nathal is 7.5s. How does that work with a 6s Flanking Strike cycle, AND a 10s Laceration cycle, AND a 6s-12s Mongoose cycle? 
On the rare times I did not have the option of refreshing Laceration, or using Flanking Strike, or dumping Mongoose, I found myself instead wishing I had an ability similar to Marksmanships Head Shot. Something that would use my extra focus when I was at risk of capping, but wouldn't be unusable if I didn't have quite enough focus. Something to just use while waiting for passive regen and cooldowns to come up - something with impact.
I wanted Carve to gain stacks of Mok'Nathal so I could ignore Raptor Strike and its inferior single target build.  Ultimately, Raptor Strike costs 1.5s of time and uses 25 focus, meaning it uses a measly 10 focus (25 - [1.5 * 10]). Hardly a tool to manage focus. If I had to rename this ability it would be Pigeon Strike or Hamster Nibble. Something annoying to use every once in a while, nibble nibble nibble.


Words cannot describe the love I felt for this after playing with Marksmanships Windburst spell. Combined with the AoE-centric way I was playing Survival, Fury of the Eagle found a special place in my heart while leveling. On Marks I almost never used Windburst. On Survival I used Fury every chance. The animation was unimpressive, and when I had scrolling combat text disabled I wasn't entirely sure the spell was actually doing anything. All other spells had a satisfying, obvious spell animation and a sudden chunk of damage that it dealt. But once I realized the Channel on Fury of the Eagle allowed me to continue using other spells... Ah yes, it felt very, very right. 

Two observations. Fury of the Eagle should remain as a channel that lets us use other abilities during its channel. It should also continue channeling while Aspect of the Turtle is up, which it currently does. These greatly add to its appeal and make it feel special. It was nice that Mongoose Bite buffed it, but I couldn't tell if that was actually working or if the empowerment of Mongoose stacks wasn't overly noticeable. On one hand it's nice that it's not punishing, on the other hand it felt a bit annoying to work into the already tight rotation cycle to 'benefit' while not noticeably benefiting. I was left wondering if I should just use it as it came up, along with Mongoose Bites, and stop trying to pool bursts of 3 or more Bites to align with Fury of the Eagle. Only damage tuning will answer this one.

The animation was a let down. Don't get me wrong: I liked the ghostly spear prods flashing like mad as I continued my AoE rotation. But it didn't feel impactful, and my character doing the Windwalker Fists of Fury air punch didn't make sense or line up with spear jabs. I'd like to see this reworked into a two-handed animation on the character, rather than punching both hands as if I broke the Eagle Spear in half. I'd also like to see a large ghostly Eagle join in the Fury of the spear jabs.

Here's a short clip of Fury of the Eagle continuing its channel through Turtle at low level. I also almost get myself killed, but nevermind that part.

Finally, Survival has a few miscellaneous spells in its core kit.
I have less to say about them (besides traps; get a coffee for that one).
Four utility spells - Muzzle, Harpoon, Hatchet Toss and Wing Clip.
Four survival spells - Exhilaration, Mend Pet, Aspect of the Turtle and Survivalist (technically the last is a passive).
Three trap spells, all that morph with talents - Tar Trap (ice), Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap.
And one cooldown - Aspect of the Eagle. 

Four utility spells - Muzzle, Harpoon, Hatchet Toss and Wing Clip.
I have nothing to say about http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=187707/muzzle, except to note that it locks out spellcasting for 3 seconds instead of 4 but has a range of 8 instead of 5. Other than this, it is a direct copy of http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=6552/pummel. I don't think this will cause any conflicts and think the extra range on Survival makes sense.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=190925/harpoon is as fun as it sounds. I greatly enjoyed using it on several of the large quest mobs in tandem with disengage to get out of a ground effect and back in ASAP. However, I don't find it snappy enough. First you cast Harpoon, then it travels through the air to the target, then it pulls you through the air, until finally you're at the mob. This is two cases of travel time, where I think there should only be one. Perhaps either remove the initial travel time of Harpoon entirely, or increase the initial travel time to 100y/s or 120y/s similar to how Kill Shot and Aimed Shot were in Warlords. It will still retain its secondary travel time with the player, which can probably remain how it is if the first one is addressed. I also never noticed it was rooting targets. Was it? Probably just the nature of leveling.
Could not tell if it was ruining my Camouflage 10% damage bonus. I think it was. Prevent auto-attacks on Harpoon, perhaps.

The second issue I took with Harpoon was its inability to bring me up to targets. Harpoon, as it stands, is already an awkward grappling hook and heroic leap. Because it is this way and NOT like a death grip pull, I'm expecting my character to move with the harpoon. When I throw my spear at a harpy in the air and I remain stationary, I assume the harpoon has failed. That sucks, especially since it eats the CD. Instead, please throw the player with our spears, even if the mob is in the air. If that means we throw our spear as a mob is flying over a ledge, and suddenly we're left suspended in mid-air about to fall to our deaths, so be it. Maybe we can disengage out of the situation. Feed us Red Bull, give us wings.

Nothing much to say on http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=193265/hatchet-toss either. It's the warriors "Shoot" of old. For the most part I used this to gather extra mobs to AoE, which is one reason I'd be in favour of a 1.0s GCD. Alternatively, Hatchet Toss off the GCD, and given a 0.5 or 1.0s CD. Heh. Charges? Bueller?

Finally, http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=195645/wing-clip. I never used this. I don't know if you gave it a new animation. Any time I saw it on my action bar I laughed. I don't know why it's here. In the past I used Wing Clip for one thing: getting away, gaining distance. In Vanilla I'd spam it for Improved Wing Clip's immobilize proc to escape PvP. Or to slow something and disengage / cheetah away to shoot again if I failed with Concussive Shot. Maybe I need to PvP in Legion with this against a Marksman hunter to understand. But I have to wonder why it's in the core arsenal, and more importantly, why Improved Wing Clip is in the PvE arsenal in the form of the http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=200108/rangers-net talent.
Maybe I should be able to Harpoon up to a harpy in the sky, then use a real Wing Clip on it as a knock down to bring it to the ground.

Four survival spells - Exhilaration, Mend Pet, Aspect of the Turtle and Survivalist (technically the last is a passive).
Great decision giving us http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=109304/exhilaration as standard kit. Helped survivability feel right and had a lot of use, especially considering I'd often be face-tanking as Survival with a large group of mobs. Also liked that the Survival version retained its pet heal, even though I was primarily using it on myself. In that regard I'd like you to consider giving the player a portion of the overheal done to the pet.

An interesting decision to give us http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=136/mend-pet while insinuating we should stance dance taunts with our pet. But given the pets lower HP pool, this is a standard piece of kit. I almost wish I had a talent to get me in on that healing action too. Maybe 1% if we're within 3y? Bueller...?
Our version is http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186265/aspect-of-the-turtle, of course. Unlike others, I have no qualms with the Turtle. I like it and think it was a good way to incorporate the Aspects. The visual is obvious and clear. In fact, I'd like the other Aspects to be as visually obvious.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=164856/survivalist was the defensive I found lacking. Part of this is probably because of the way the specialization was encouraging me to play and pull mobs. In a pinch I often found myself bursting one target down to activate Survivalist, then popping Aspect of the Turtle to wait out some HP regeneration. If Survivalist stacked to 3-4 for a very short duration  (1-2s) to allow quicker recovery from AoE groups, or even if it had a very small burst heal on the killing strike before the HoT, it may have felt more stable.

Three trap spells, all that morph with talents - Tar Trap (ice), Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap.
Traps - Get the coffee. I'm going to be forthright with you here, I would have deleted traps. I do not think they were successful, and I think the only traps in the hunters arsenal that were ever successful were not traps at all.  The best traps I have seen were Freezing Arrow (barely; in its time), Binding Shot, Scatter Shot and the recently revived Bursting Shot. The best trap in the game was not even a hunter trap - it was Ring of Frost. If Freezing Trap was Caterpie, Ring of Frost was Dragonite. In fact, the PvP infamous "scatter-trapping" was so coined because Freezing Trap was so inferior on its own, Scatter Shot had to hold its hand.
But enough of that. Let's talk Survival traps in Legion, and what I'd change.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=187698/tar-trap -

The reincarnation of Ice Trap. In terms of name, I think this is far better than Ice. With the http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=199543/expert-trapper talent we see the maintenance of Survival trap classics with rooting Ice Traps, though I am not a fan of the term chance. If we're getting a Mass Entanglement then do it right. Or will this "root" not break on damage?
We can replace Tar Trap entirely with the talent http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=194277/caltrops. OK, so we can talent it to do damage. I really hope that expert trapper root doesn't break on damage. Ah, wait, http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=199543/expert-trapper says nothing about Caltrops. Are Caltrops still a trap? Are we just not expert enough to improve caltrops?
What did I use Ice Trap for as a hunter? Crowd control - corralling up a lot of Gluth's skeletons and kiting them in a circle with Multi-Shot. Or doing the same with a group of mobs to spread Serpent Sting and kill them with Multi-Shot and Barrage or Volley. In raids it was an inferior slow, overwriting any other slow then allowing the mob to run full speed again once off the slick. It was inferior to http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=121253/keg-smash and http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=50041/chilblains. As a melee survival hunter, without an extended 12-18y melee range, why do I have this?
Leveling as Survival 100-106 I used Tar Trap once or twice. I used it after I was dismounted running through mobs and I didn't feel like feigning or disengaging. But I wound up feigning or fighting anyway, because the reaction was always, "Wow. These traps are insanely underwhelming and pathetic. Was that a tar slick or  did I drop a glue bottle."

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=191433/explosive-trap - 

The same. When I saw this and tar trap, I was like hell yeah - let's see some tar trap and explosive trap interaction. Let's make some real explosions! Yes I was let down. But I did use Explosive Trap with my AoE leveling, so at least it's got that going for it.
  If the damage is not relevant enough to press this, it will have the same fate it has had for many years: use it on the pull for a little something extra, ignore it entirely otherwise.
There was a brief period in Explosive Traps history where you could weave it with Survival's Black Arrow in order to gain one extra proc of Lock and Load. This was extremely micro-niche min-max at the start and middle of Mists of Pandaria, later removed that same expansion when Lock and Load was streamlined to only proc on Black Arrow. I really liked trap weaving and felt it finally gave traps purpose, even if it was a limited use where not very many people even knew about it. So what is this? Just an extra AoE DoT when I'm not Butchery or Sting cleaving? Why would I ever use Caltrops instead of this?
Just to be clear here, Explosive Trap is not a trap. It's a throwing explosive. This is a grenade.
http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=194855/dragonsfire-trap replaces Explosive Trap in a different talent row than Caltrops. Why would I ever take both? I can only use one at a time. More importantly, let's look at http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=199543/expert-trapper again. I can improve Explosive Traps damage,  but not Dragonsfire? Talenting Explosive Trap makes it merge with Tar Trap? What? I thought we finally put the Chimaera out of its misery.
Explosive Trap already hits nearby enemies, what is this nonsense about Dragonsfire spreading? I get it, the mass fear thing didn't work. We'll have to leave fears and melting faces to the Shadow Priests. So maybe just axe this morph entirely.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=187650/freezing-trap - 

Oh freezing trap, my old friend. I remember its purpose in Vanilla Alterac Valley. Freeze your 1v1 opponent, feign and drink to restore mana. Or in five mans, pulling casters around corners with line of sight. You know, if there wasn't a class around with superior crowd control, like polymorph or hex. The briefly lived era where it morphed into Freezing Arrow and had instant, glorious feedback without arming times.
If Freezing Trap was the mother of Ring of Frost, Ice Trap was the mother of Keg Smash. And at the core, I suppose it can still have its small niche crowd controlling something in a solo situation if the Survival hunter doesn't feel much up to being the reflection of brutality. In that brief glimpse of calm during the Survival hunters unrelenting ferocity, it can put a snack in the freezer for later. Okay Jade, we get it, you don't like survival traps.
http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=162488/steel-trap replaces Freezing Trap on the same talent row as Caltrops. This is Bear Trap. But you took our single target crowd control. Please explain traps to me, I don't understand traps.
Why is it not "STEEL TRAP = SINGLE TARGET DPS" or "EXPLOSIVE TRAP = AOE DPS", pick one, and here's your single target crowd control on the side? Why do we have Freezing Trap, Steel Trap, Explosive Trap, Dragonsfire Trap, Tar Trap and Caltrops, and we can only use one? If someone told me to name one negative thing about Survival my answer would be traps. You can literally remove Tar Trap, Caltrops and Explosive Trap, because together they are Dragonsfire.
Here's the thing. I liked Steel Trap. I used it at the start of single target encounters. I did not use it any other time because I was using Explosive Trap, and for some reason I cannot combine trap usage, but I did at least use it. I'm only expert enough to use one. Apparently.
Tell it to us straight. Will Steel Trap do enough damage to warrant itself as a 1min damage CD? Will I use it in raids to increase my burst? Can I fit it in my tight rotation? Or will I use it once at the start of the encounter and never look at it, or any of the other traps, again?

Traps. If I have to bring Hemet in here to tell you you're torturing these animals to death I'll do it. If I have to give them all to Sylvanas to dissect and rebuild so they have purpose for her, I'll do that too. Traps are the biggest failure I can point out in Survivals design, and ultimately it feels like they're forced. Shoehorned for the sake of saying hunters still have traps, they're super unique for Survival.  Please don't. Survival deserves better.

Here are my arm chair suggestions:
Reserve Traps for crowd control. Allow use of all our available traps - if we have three, then let us use three. If you remove one or two then let us use one or two. On their own cooldown. Not a shared one. Either I have three traps or one. Make up your mind. These are the real button bloat. I don't know how traps survived MoP.
Limit the amount of talents dedicated to improving Traps. Right now there are five - five talents for abilities I almost never used and found extremely underwhelming. If there are talents for traps, they should be amazing, either tacking on double utility, merging the powers of the traps onto one GCD or adding a good, useful damage component. I felt ripped off by the talents. Give me something to control my focus in their stead, such as http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=82726/fervor, because I don't think traps are successful.

For example, let's keep Tar Trap. Let's make it as big as traditional vanilla Ice Trap, and have the artifact make it 10% larger so it's cooler, not so that it's functional.
Now let's take Explosive Trap for what it is - a grenade. It's no longer a trap, it's an Explosive Grenade. It will do the same thing it always has, unless we throw it on top of a Tar Trap. If we do that, it does extra damage with a bigger explosion. Maybe it consumes the tar. Now we have reason to use both, and the option to give it extra set up for extended sustain. Good trap. Good setup. Good combo.
And you know what -- I think an Expert Trapper would have the foresight to get with an alchemist about infusing that tar with something to irritate bleeds. Bleeds like Lacerate, spread by Butchery, or Serpent Sting. I bet Sticky Bomb would like Tar Trap too. I bet an Expert Trapper would have Sticky Bombs explode with Shrapnel, periodically rooting targets on a Tar Trap, or slowing them off Tar Trap. Now I'm using Tar Trap to improve my other abilities. Ones that can reach into Tar Trap beyond basic melee range, because Carve is a frontal cone. Now I'm not confused why I have Marksmanships kiting slow trap. Or maybe I am...

But, you know, that's a lot of set up for a single target encounter. So for raids, let's keep Steel Trap around, and let's make sure we're not using Explosive Grenades or Sticky Bombs with infused Tar Traps for anything other than AoE. Steel Trap doesn't make sense to me, I feel like I'd rather just have a reliable crowd control. But that's fine. Let's assume we can use the traps and grenades for AoE, so we can also use the traps for single target if we augment them as a talent. Steel Trap is kind of like Wyvern Sting anyway, another (unsuccessful) Survival classic. If Expert Trappers Tar Trap will increase bleed and fire damage, it'll increase Steel Trap too - which means it should do as much or slightly more to boost that damage as http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=191384/aspect-of-the-beast.

And if you really want to do something more with traps, maybe http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=191241/sticky-bomb shouldn't exist. Maybe it should be a Trip Wire. It can snare, bleed and trip (knockdown). Make it Barbed Wire and now we're acting a little more brutal.
Let's take the scattered ideas of traps and fine tune them into purpose. My example was grouping AoE mobs into a Tar Trap to keep them in range of my pets, explosives, bleeds and spear(!!), but out of range of hurting me. You can do better than I can though.

And one cooldown - Aspect of the Eagle
I just put this in here to ground the post after that Traps rant. I have nothing to say about http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=186289/aspect-of-the-eagle. If it's increasing Mongoose charges it might be nice if we could say, "Bird-Jesus, take the wheel!" and let Mongoose Bite refresh our buffs and debuffs for the duration: Laceration, Mok'Nathal, etc. Maybe that's too much.


The previous section took up the bulk of this post and covered most of my concerns and observations about Survival. However, to be more clear and to address talents more traditionally, I'm including this section to go over them tier by tier. This will include my impressions, experiences leveling with them and how they paired together.
My understanding of this talent system is that they are to augment our core kits for various situations: single target, AoE, burst, sustain, etc, and do so in a variety of methods ranging from easy (passive), to hard (more engaged). This is how I'll evaluate.


Wary of Throwing Axes, but like the tier.
Easy to use, passive talent. Didn't notice it much, but nice to have. I like it - will wait to see final numbers.
Our weird form of Shuriken Toss. A niche talent, I assume for when our melee range is compromised and we're crying. Cruel.
Harder to use, engaging talent. Really want to see this on Carve as well, and maybe for 10 or 12s instead of 8. 

Movement. Like the tier.
Movement tier. Love that this stacks with Aspect of the Cheetah, thank you. This and Cheetah were a godsend for leveling, enjoyed it more than Dash.
Irrelevant. Might pair nicely with the artifact Thar She Blows. Want to see this work with DoT crits as well. 
It was okay. Seemed lacklustre compared to the pairing of Cheetah and Posthaste. Maybe Cheetah and this should be 4s, not 3, to compete. 

Do not like this tier.
Feel cheated by all of these.
I hate it. I can't make it better with Expert Trapper. Damage is inferior to Explosive. Slow doesn't help me kill things in melee. What is its purpose?
If I could use all three of my traps, this might be nice. But I can't. Using my trap every 15s? I don't even use one every 30s. What purpose do traps serve for Survival? 
This entire tier is disappointing, but this one is the most useful. You know, for my snack later. Or for throwing under Mannoroth waiting for him to wake up.

Conflicted tier. Not sure about these. Needs refinement.
Interesting, but feels like an inferior version of Bursting Shot. The nice thing about knockdowns and stuns is they're quick and reactionary, not timed. Damage is a waste of a GCD. Feels like a button for the sake of giving us a button.
Can actually see this being useful as a ranged root, followed up by Harpoons melee root, in very niche situations. Would've expected it to be AoE. Neither Sticky Bombs nor this compare remotely to Camouflage, they are weak. This entire tier is weak, random niche utility.
This seems so out of place on this tier. An explosive, delayed knockdown, a weird melee root, and then complete stealth that heals with a 10% damage boost? Huh? This is insanely stronger than the rest. Frankly, let us use this in combat and make the other talents worthy.

Conflicted tier. Scrap Dragonsfire. Needs refinement.
This was not resetting upon mob death for me, so I did not spend much time with it. Would be wary of another button for buttons sake. How does it compare to Laceration? Easier CD to use than Snake Hunter, as a passive DoT.
I hate it. I can't make its damage better with Expert Trapper, like its prior-morph Explosive. Slow doesn't help me kill things in melee. It's the same as Caltrops except magical. What purpose do traps serve for Survival? And why on Earth is it paired with MoC and Snake Hunter?
Again, out of place on this tier. Dragonsfire is a complete joke next to this. Snake Hunter is a real cooldown. Easy to waste charges of Mongoose Bite with the cap at 3 - would like to see these be extra charges, not just refill charges. Like Maelstrom.

Perfect. Like the tier. Mild refinement.
This is the first tier I feel is complete. Love butchery. Pure AoE goodness. Insanely strong sustain. Savage. Would like to see Lacerate synergy with Fury of the Eagle somehow. 
Butchery is pure AoE, Mortal Wounds is pure Single Target. I like it. A good way to gain Mongoose charges. Until we're flooded, I suppose.
Butchery pure AoE, Mortal wounds pure ST, and then Sting as a careful balance between both worlds. Brilliant, perfect. May be hard to balance between the other two. 

Conflicted tier. Feels underwhelming. Needs one with shizam.
I used it once then put it away. Typical turret. Didn't see anything  wrong with it. Range niche like axes/bomb. It's a shaman totem, which is odd. Cobra Projection incoming?
f o r  t h e  s a k e  o f  m y  s a n i t y  l e t ' s  p r e t e n d  t h i s  i s  n o t  h e r e
See, I knew Flanking Strike was Kill Command. This is fine. A passive bleed is fine. Easy to use. Now where's my hard to master but high reward tier 100 talent? There's an empty spot to the left.
I did not feel like I could customize my gameplay with the talents proposed. The best tiers were T15 between the Passive Animal Instincts and the Active Mok'Nathal, and T90 between pure AoE Butchery, pure ST Mortal Wounds, and a balance of both with Serpent Sting. T90 were all about equal in difficulty, so would like to see Butchery AoE improved somehow with Fury of the Eagle synergy for more engaging play, and perhaps something more than just "here's even more Mongoose charges" on Mortal Wounds.
Survival had way more buttons than Marksmanship. Both rotational and utility. I did not feel the 'extra button' talents proposed here brought much more to the table. Throwing Axes, Sticky Bomb, Murder of Crows and Spitting Cobra specifically. They seemed like unrefined ranged options, for when we wistfully wish to be Marks.

Would like to see combat gameplay enunciated better with options from T100 especially. Would like to see a complete rehaul of T45 traps and T60 randomness. Would like to see something worthy replace Dragonsfire on T75. Please seriously revisit traps.


Survival went through a lot of changes recently. Not just Legion. I've seen every iteration of Survival, and it has always been a lost soul. It was a laughing stock in Vanilla, a support tree throughout much of its existence meant to bolster Beast Mastery or Marksmanship builds, and only really seemed to have any time in the limelight when it was purposefully shoehorned in balance.
I may have never been favourable to Survival, but I did support my guilds' token vanilla Survival hunter. I did use the survival builds in WotLK and so forth to bolster my raid specs.  And even when I was describing Survivals play style through Cataclysm, MoP and WoD as "tape your keyboard to the wall and punch it repeatedly," I still used it during those fleeting moments where it was tuned to be superior.
Except Beast Lord Darmac. You didn't trick me there. I used Marksmanship ;) 

But I want to see Survival treated better than that. I don't want it to be good because you tuned the numbers that way. I don't want it to be a laughing stock, or only seen in niche PvP scenarios. 
The one time I saw Survival come into its own was early Throne of Thunder. It was the token AoE spec for the hunter class. We picked Beast Mastery or Marksmanship as our single target, then paired them with Survival for AoE. Part of this was good raid design - there were ST fights and AoE fights. BM/SV hunters used SV for Jikun. Everyone used SV for Horridon. It had purpose.

Currently, I see nothing that marks Survival as its own. I see no reason a raid will want a token Survival hunter. Between the core kit, the talents and the artifact, it just seems like you decided to make Survival melee because the spec icon was an axe. It's a perfect all rounder - it does well in AoE. Better than all the other classes? Better than Beast Cleave? Will it provide the best crowd control for those odd raid encounters? I don't know what it is and I don't think anyone else sees what it is yet either. We'll hold out and see what cards you still have to play.


The Eagle Spear. Even though we seem to be very careful about not calling it the Eagle Spear, or having quest mobs refer to the Eagle Spear as Talonclaw. To be honest, it felt like none of the quest mobs recognized the Eagle Spear for what it was. It was disheartening to see Highmountain quests refer to Huln's spear as the Eagle Spear, as if it were pointedly trying not to associate with the inferiority of Survival and Talonclaw. Like brutal, unrelenting foreshadowing to Survivals inevitable fate. You are not worthy of this mountain.
In stark contrast, Alleria's bow. It was so important we didn't even have to refer to it as Thas'dorah. If the Marks' artifact was projected as, "Alleria's Bow," the Survival artifact was, "anything but Huln's Spear." 

Here's how I'm going to speed up feedback about the Artifact traits: by Golden Dragon, with each paired by their own connectors. In a table like the talents.

Fury of the  Eagle

Addressed in the core kit section. Greatly enjoy that it can see regular use. Would like to incorporate it even more via talents.
Perfect starter. Clarifies Mongoose as our signature.
Nice early option to specialize single target or AoE. Less impressive than the AoE option, but that's normal.


Wow. Please let this make it to live. Cap it if you have to, but leveling was incredible with this.
Good synergy with all the procs Flanking gives with critical strikes. 
Clear cut and beautiful - an increase to all the previous traits' abilities. Does it also affect bleeds?
ZONE 2: Aspect of the Skylord

Might address my AoE fears via Survivalist. Will pair insanely well in AoE. Good defensive trait.
I'm still reeling that this is barred behind a trap trait. But this will make for an incredibly strong cooldown, I like it. Burst eagles.
ZONE 3: From Behind

Good defensive trait. Not as interesting as Skylords, but clear cut like strength of the mountain. Iron Hawk.
Ensuring we can disengage out of bad, and get back in to dish the damage ASAP. Cool. Also my reaction to Hunter's Guile.
Trading crit rate with My Beloved Monster? What a pal. Do our pets get this crit as well?
ZONE 4: Hunter’s Fortune

Not sure how this pairs against Fluffy, Go. I would compare this to Sharpened Beak. Strong trait.
Fluffy and soft, just like this trait. Why do we care about our pets haste? It's just auto attacks, isn't it?
Please leave a message after the beep.
How does this affect Steel Trap? Please address traps.


Interesting. Is it a bleed, a poison? Is it enhanced by physical damage? Will there be any way to give this synergy too? As a golden, would like interactivity.


Reading Time
5 min
All of this will have been covered in better detail above. It also, obviously, doesn't cover everything above.

Survival was really enjoyable leveling from about 102 - 106, after building my talents and the artifact for AoE. The damage rotation felt strong enough for leveling, with enough "under the hatches" to provide an engaging play style focusing on buff and debuff maintenance. It may be difficult to avoid 'overflowing' the player with Mongoose charges, causing an oversimplification of this play style as we scale. 

The main concern for me (and many others) is Survival being generic melee build #532, bringing nothing to the table to justify a raids token Survival slot. It is fun to play solo, but that does not mean it won't be trumped in AoE by Beast Mastery or in ST by Marksmanship - all while failing to bring the versatility of ranged. In fact, I could not solo as effectively as with Marksmanship and its many slows for kiting. Beast Mastery will likely outshine both in that niche. Where does this leave Survival?

Many of the talents provide us good options between passive or engaging play style augments, and I felt there were enough build paths for single target or AoE. It seems Survival will be a very good all rounder, focusing on burst with its Eagle cooldown and Mongoose weaving synergy, sustain with high damage DoTs like Lacerate, and performing exceptionally as single target or AoE by spreading those DoTs. 

Many talents provided problems for me. There were plenty 'random extra button' talents that provided no interaction or synergy. Most were ranged talents - buttons to use from ranged, as if to tell us we should've just played a ranged class to begin with. A vast amount of talents focused heavily on traps, while traps were consistently irrelevant in every aspect of gameplay, if not inferior to our other damaging abilities from the core kit. Traps feel like lost ranged crowd control utility providing nothing for a melee brawler.

Requested Highlights
The GCD: A few people have brought up the issue of Survival being on a 1.5s GCD versus 1.0s. Hunters have traditionally been 1.0s, but I don't feel like reducing the 1.5s GCD will solve any of Survivals woes. While it is an option, I would instead look at taking certain abilities off the GCD entirely. IE [ Flanking Strike + Laceration ] or [ Carve + Raptor Strike ]. The first would be easier on account of their inherent cooldowns. Additionally, I would consider reducing the GCD with haste, and providing us some sort of synergy with our abilities to take advantage of this haste reduction. 

Harpoon: Extremely enjoyable, but not responsive. Would like to reduce the travel time of Harpoon, as it currently has two phases of travel. [ Shooting the Harpoon ], and [ Pulling the Player ]. I believe the first phase should have a velocity of 100 - 120y/s, if not more, or entirely removed. The second half seems fine, especially if the first is addressed.

Carve: I believe this should stack the Mok'Nathal talent buff. Currently a frontal cone, not a sweeping cleave. I like the cone, but it needs a wider range. I believe the radius should be increased to 260°. The current radius makes the range very narrow by the player, such that mobs slightly left or right of us - while still being in front - do not get hit by Carve or the talents that spread our DoTs. I like that the longer frontal range encourages the use of 'poking' mobs we are trying to control with slowing traps, even if .......

Range: Our melee range is currently 5y, as per normal, except on specific abilities that state a larger range (our interrupt at 8y, etc). I believe Survival Hunters should have been the recipients of a longer melee range, approximately 12-15 yards. This benefit was given to rogues instead. To me this doesn't make sense thematically given our weapon choice, and is detrimental to our potential of being able to use traps to group melee mobs then 'poke' them with our spear out of range. Carve's radius implies this. Tar Trap implies this. As a result, identity feels scattered, and traps are hurt the most.

Traps: There did not seem to be a purpose for traps. So many buttons, so much time, so many talents, so many traits were put into traps, but they seem to have retained their niche as something a ranged player would use to maintain distance and control. I would like traps to be heavily revisited. I believe traps need to be completely overhauled. I believe if we have three traps, we should be able to use three traps in combat. Right now we make decisions between 6 different types of traps, with 3 traps active for use, but can only use 1 at a time. I disagree. These are button bloat to me. I believe they should be axed or re-designed. Talents should be reinvested in more dynamic, synergistic play, instead of so many for traps. One talent could have handled all the trap-morph choices.

Timers: Many of our abilities are on short timer cycles. Flanking Strike is 6s, Mongoose's buff is 12s, Mok'Nathal is 8s, etc. These all line up and are all in conflict with our 1.5s GCD. If the GCD is not adjusted, or some abilities taken off the GCD, I believe many of these timers should be increased by 1.5x. 8 seconds would become 12s, 10s to 15s, etc. These seem in conflict with our 'button bloat' traps and random ranged talents.

Regarding Identity [talents]: The class preview insinuated brutality and unrelenting ferocity. Survival seems calm and controlled. Certain spells off the GCD would help "bring brutality from warhblrghrlb left field." Traps are not brutal. Would like to see certain Talents reintroduced to help this identity crisis: a form of Fervor, for downtime. A way to have more than 3 stacks of Mongoose. A way to use more than 1 charge of Mongoose at a time. A way to bleed extra focus all at once, ie Headshot. A way to make Flanking Strike into AoE, as Flanking Sweep.

Pets: The pet is a loyal DoT. Leveling up it's possible to share its health pool by splitting mobs. It is less effective than Marks kiting and less effective in AoE situations. Improvements to Flanking Strike can help this. Would also like to see improvements to Survivalist, maybe Mend Pet, and Exhilaration. I believe we should gain a portion of the overheal done to the pet from Exhilaration. I would like more reliable control while soloing over splitting incoming damage between myself and my pet.


  1. Awesome write-up there! I read everything and it's great to see some real feedback like this.

    I don't have access to the Alpha, but I'm really keen on the idea of going main-spec Survival in Legion. So this has been invaluable information for me and just gets me even more hyped!

    Hopefully Blizzard see this and take some of your suggestions on board.

    Must admit, the gif made me laugh!

    Varimon - Turalyon EU

  2. Agree with above, just finished reading through and a really interesting insight for someone not in beta, thank you.

    Hope you will do one for MM too :)

  3. Great write-up! I hope Blizzard reads this