Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Case for Windserpents

At the risk of sounding horribly banal, I do really like cat pets. Perhaps not as much as The Kitty Collector does, but I still like them a lot. They're classy, come in a lot of varieties of color and overall "type", and they're cute when they stretch and yawn.

But when it comes down to it, I think my favorite pet family may very well be...

The Windserpent.

Windserpents are sleek. They're mystical. They have the whole Quetzalcoatl thing going on. They're sort of like dragons, but sort of like snakes, both of which fall into the "Things I Like" category.

They are tamable by hunters, and each of my "main" hunters has one: Lunapike tamed Arikara, summonable by a quest in Thousand Needles, who retains a lovely quality to bamf in with a poof of smoke when summoned. And Tawyn solo-tamed a ZG Soulflayer in what was quite a little adventure-- I then painstakingly leveled this pet up from 61 to 70 mostly via the Quel'danas dailies.

One thing I have noticed, though, is the amount of people who will ask me why I use Windserpents. I have had comments and e-mails to this effect, and people who approach me in game and, like a parent giving their kid "the talk", gently tell me I should be using a cat or ravager instead.

So I'm here to tell you some stuff about Windserpents and why I use them. There are two big reasons.

1.) I like them. And come on, why are you a hunter? So you can get a pet you like, foshizzle. I do not judge hunters on pet type. You should be using what appeals to you, first and foremost.

2.) There is a point where Windserpents start to out-DPS cats/ravagers/raptors.

"...hold the phone! What did you just say?"

You heard me. I don't know how many of you watched SK-Gaming's Kil'Jaeden Kill Video but you may have noticed that two of the hunter pets in that movie were Windserpents. You may have similarly noticed that a lot of these Black Temple/Sunwell/super-endgame movies involve Windserpent pets. Why do you think this is?

Let's look a little deeper.

The reason why cats/ravagers/raptors do lots of DPS in a raid, is because a.) they have a naturally high damage output, and b.) they have an easily spammable focus dump move in the form of either Claw or Gore, each of which costs 25 focus. Gore has a chance to do double damage on occasion, which is why if you are a min/maxer, ravagers are superior to cats and raptors.

Now let's look at Windserpents. They come with a high natural DPS, but not quite as high as cats/ravagers/raptors. And their focus dump move, Lightning Breath, costs 50 focus rather than 25. So this, at first, puts Windserpents at a distinct disadvantage.

But wait, Lightning Breath does a lot of damage. A lot more than Claw or Gore. And you should see it when it crits.

And if you have points in both Bestial Discipline and Go for the Throat, and you are critting enough, you will reach a point where you will, on average, be feeding your Windserpent enough focus for him to keep spamming Lightning Breath and that is when your Windserpent will begin to out-DPS a ravager.

When you reach this point is somewhat hazy and gear-dependent but it is generally accepted that somewhere between 30%-35% crit your Windserpent should start to pull ahead. If you are a newer or still-leveling hunter, you might think that sounds like a rather forbiddingly high crit chance for a non-Survival hunter. But it's definitely not hard to obtain even in the early raids.

This is me, fully-raid buffed, in my latest Karazhan run:

And that's without a feral druid (extra 5% crit) and without a shaman's Grace of Air totem.

Now, I don't have any numbers or hard proof, but I can tell you that going to Karazhan with Eltanin the Windserpent certainly feels like I am doing a little more DPS than I usually do with Locke the Kitty. Am I really? I don't know, and it's hard to say. A DPS test like this would require much repetition like any science experiment to hammer out some nice solid number averages.

But I do know that Windserpents do a lot of DPS.

And I do know that if you ask me in-game or in an e-mail why on Azeroth I'm using a Winserpent... if it's on Tawyn, it's because when I'm raid-buffed, my Windserpent does just as much DPS as my kitty, if not more, and if it's on one of my lowbie-hunters, it's cause I just plain like Windserpents.

And that, as they say, is that.

(Closing notes: If you are seriously interested in trying out the Windserpent-goodness for yourself, keep a couple things in mind: Firstly, some Windserpents have undesirable "caster" stats, so stay away from those-- Petopia will tell you which is which. Secondly, you may notice certain Macros that include Lightning Breath, you may want to look into those if you are into the whole Macro thing-- it makes it so your Windserpent does not move to cast it. Thirdly, Lightning Breath has been shown to interfere with certain elemental Shaman things, so if you run with one of those, you may want to bring your kitty/bug instead.)


Rilgon Arcsinh said...

Hey, my bug is cute, thank you very much. :(

Pike said...

Bugs ARE cute =O I'm going to get one someday.

Muron said...

Windserpents do surpass ravagers in dps for 2 reasons.
1. Lightning breath costs 50 focus and does more damage, therefore being a better focus dump once your well past the focus cap for ravagers.
2. Lightning breath scales with AP. So while gore does the same damage for sunwell hunter and a hunter in greens, lightning breath will scale (poorly) with hunter AP.

I threw the math up on my blog to calculate if your at the gear point to switch from a ravager to a wind serpent.

Paedolos said...

And the day people chose pets by their DPS is the day some pets became really sad :(

On the bright side, at least they're free in the nature and not hanging their time in some temple ;)

Ellis (Eonar) said...

When I got to outland and saw a ravager for the first time, the very first thing in my skull was "I gotta get one of these."

10 more Warlock levels later, and it was the Hunter's turn. First opportunity I had, I grabbed one. I didn't actually find out that they were the most awesome dps pet in the game at the time until sometime later.

Cynra said...

There is absolutely no shame in choosing to maximize your performance by selecting a pet better-suited to that role. Some people enjoy raiding and the competitive nature that occurs, as well as the number-crunching required to figure out why one pet is superior over another.

People play the hunter class for a variety of reasons. Likewise, some people consider their pets in a variety of ways. Some hunters maintain that they have a bond with their pets; others treat them like tools (I had a friend that called his pet "Fodder"). Neither is wrong; they've chosen to do what they enjoy with the game and maintain an attitude that is aligned with obtaining their goals.

/endrant on tangent

That said, windserpents have one further benefit. Their attack is ranged, meaning that they often avoid a lot of the splash damage that occurs around mobs and bosses. For example, mobs that might cleave or maintain a painful aura have occassionally killed over hunters' pets; a hunter with a windserpent, however, can attack with impunity without worrying about taking that splash damage.

A pet that attacks from a distance also reduces the likelihood of soaking up a Chain Heal tick that would otherwise hit a melee DPSer or tank. This can be considered either good or bad, depending on whose perspective you use.

MW said...

This makes me want to try a windserpent a lot. For more than five minutes, I mean. The ones in the Blade's Edge Mountains are really cool looking. I've gotten destroyed in PVP by a couple of hunters with them, too.

MW said...

And thanks for the link. :-D

Josh said...

The "elemental shaman things" that Pike refers to are as follows:

Enhancement Shaman use Stormstrike on cooldown, which is an instant strike that leaves a debuff increase nature damage done to the target. Elemental Shamans spam nature attacks and depend on gobbling up the Stormstrike debuff from their Enhancer buddies. The Windserpent's Lightning Breath attack will eat the Stormstrike debuff charges, making Elemental Shamans sad pandas.


Brajana said...

I've never given the wind serpent a try - but I've been wanting to try something new... as much as I love Fiddlesticks (my kitty), it's never bad to have another friend. Although that means I'll have to release Yoshii, the raptor I tamed to go along with my in-game Super Mario Halloween costume! If only those stable slots got here sooner...

Also, I appreciate your use of my WoW Word of the Week! Major props for that. :D

Tzia said...

Windserpents... would be great for me, except for the fact they go flappity flap. I cannot stand flapping pets. I've tried and it just doesn't work.

I'll stick to my favorites (cat and boar).

Pike? Its your pet, your play time, your money. You play with whatever makes you happy... even if its in a dress, with flowers in your hands and a bucktoothed bunny as a pet. :)

mister adequate said...

The best reason to go with a windserpent though, of course, is simply that they look awesome.

And they have that whole Nahuatl thing going on and you KNOW I'm down with that :D

Sev said...

Wow fist off, nice gear/stats...*green*

I always wanted to try out a windserpent as i thing they are gorgous pets, but I wasn't sure about the aggro dump,if they could hold aggro or not.. I will have to look into this, but alas i have all 3 slots used, a kitty, an owl, and a ravager.. which do I dump?? its to painful to pick....although the ravager is named Fugly for a reason, but his DPS is good.. hmm decisions..

Sev said...

Follow up for myself, on my last comment..

Hooked on phonics does not work.. wow I need to start proof reading my comments 3 times before I post. Sorry for the spelling mistakes.


Armond said...

And this is why a 5-25 damage, 1.00 speed weapon will always outclass a 10-20 damage, 1.00 speed weapon! (Well, at least, in most games I know. I don't really know enough about WoW to guarantee that higher max damage always = higher crits, or if crit bonus damage is a multiplier as it seems to be.)

Mithrilina said...

Another reason why Wind Serpents do so well is that Lightning Breath ignores armour. That is really, really significant.

As much as I would love to try a Wind Serpent though, I would simply die if I had to play without Pyjamas. :-(