PSA: Havoc, Macros, and You

I’m going to attempt to answer as many FAQs about how Havoc works in BfA as I can in one fell swoop. I have been getting inundated with the same several questions since the pre-patch came out, and after spending hours working with the community, spectating other players as they play, and playtesting by myself and with some dedicated playtesters I have come up to a few conclusions I will address here and now.
I will be answering the following questions:

-Targeting melee enemies (or the “all I do is use CDs and not Demon’s Bite/Chaos Strike” complaint)
-Eye Beam and how to use it
-Fury, why is it so easy to cap, why aren’t we spending it all? (class changes and why you don’t want to spend all your Fury or design a macro to do so)
-The definition of perfection

Now, this first point might sound condescending, but it’s a problem that I see in my gameplay and is probably one of the biggest pitfalls I saw others get into when I watched them play. Targeting in BfA isn’t very different than in Legion, but there is a notable difference: Auto-targeting functions, such as the macro has, now only trigger if an ability needs a target. For example, Eye Beam and Blade Dance do not require a target to be used. You can press the button, and assuming you have the Fury, activate both abilities while not targeting anything and being miles away from any potential hostile target.

This is significant because you can start a fight, or have moved from one fight into the next, and lead with either of these abilities and not have targeted anything, and then Chaos Strike is attempted, which does require a target, and automatically select the furthest enemy in the group. If you do not notice this, then you will stand next to an enemy you think you are targeting and hammer away while doing basically nothing.

Now, this isn’t a problem with the macro, the targeting command, or anything else we can do from our perspective. You can get the same behavior by walking up to a group of enemies just out of aggro range and hitting Tab. Chances are you will target the one you want, but chances are also good that you will target one off to the side, or one in the back of the group. It’s important to notice this because almost every player I spectated did not see this and pointed to their unused skills asking why the macro locked up. It didn’t. You were just not in range.

Eye Beam
In Legion, especially mid-to-late Legion, the argument was that Eye Beam should only be used in AoE situations and bosses, especially with specific legendary items that took a lot of effectiveness out of Eye Beam or put emphasis on other abilities. This is not Legion, however. Eye Beam has undergone a few, but significant changes in BfA that change its playstyle completely.

“Eye Beam has been reduced to a 30 Fury cost baseline, its cooldown has dropped to 30 seconds, and deals 50% additional damage to your current target.”

With these changes, an effort was put into the ability to bring it back into the standard rotation. The question is now not if you should use Eye Beam, but when. The when is simple: Will you be AoEing in the next 30 seconds? If yes, hold Eye Beam until then. If no, use Eye Beam now.

Eye Beam is your single strongest ability in your kit, and it should be used as liberally as possible. If you are holding it back, it should only be because you know you are going to use it on a pack of enemies within one cooldown span of the ability. If not, then you should use it. Don’t handicap yourself by thinking Eye Beam use should be restricted in any other way.

By far the most vocal complaint about Havoc and macros is that either there is too much Fury, or too little. I’ll address the concept of perfection later, but right now I want to highlight a few more changes to the spec that muddle how Fury works.

First, let me draw your attention to Chaos Strike. “Slice your target for X Chaos damage. Chaos Strike has a 40% chance to refund 20 Fury.” Refund Fury? Yes, it’s an actual refund. This means that when you use Chaos Strike, you will see your Fury drain by 40, and then sometimes instantly refill by 20, as though you just used Demon’s Bite.

This causes a lot of confusion. People who see a constant flow of Fury will assume that Demon’s Bite is being used too much, and on the surface that’s exactly what it looks like, but when you drill into the DPS ratios it becomes clear that’s not what’s happening. Since the refund is RNG, you might be very lucky and refund every Chaos Strike in a fight, or very unlucky and refund none. Refunding a lot is great for you, refunding none is bad. Both are headaches for macro writers.

Because of Chaos Strike alone, it is now impossible to predict the amount of Fury you will have at any given moment.

But that’s not all. Secondly, talents like First Blood or Azerite traits like Revolving Blades, and many others, further augment the Fury cost of core abilities. These two reduce Fury cost, others increase your Haste, and still, others increase your Critical Strike (which some theorize plays into Chaos Strike’s Fury refund chances).

Anywhere where we have to account for RNG in our macros means we have to make choices that allow the macro to function in the worst case scenario and risk performance loss in the best case scenario.

“Okay, sure,” I hear you say, “Fury becomes impossible to predict. But surely you can have us spend more of it whenever we happen to have it, right?”

Yes. I could. In fact, going into the expansion that’s going to be more of an emphasis on any further changes I make to my own macro, but simply adding another Chaos Strike isn’t always going to fix it. And for any other Havoc macro makers out there, you are going to run into a significant problem if you think you can just dump all your Fury whenever you have more than you think.

Unlike other builder/spender classes, Havoc Demon Hunters are unique in that you are expected to have a number of resources on hand at all times. None of our abilities are free, we either generate or consume. Those that generate are either tied to cooldowns or are the worst-damaging spell we could cast, and those that consume is literally everything else.

No other builder/spender spec relies on their resource the way we do. Rogues build Energy, but they also have Combo points. DKs build Runic Power, but also have Runes. Warriors build Rage. Feral Druids…

Demon Hunters, however, only have the one resource and a very limited way of building it. That means a choice has to be made on when to use Fury and how. Just like with Eye Beam, I’ll simplify this choice as much as possible: Your cooldowns will always take precedence over any other ability. Is one about to come off CD? Don’t spend Fury on anything else, spend it on the cooldown. Are all abilities on CD and none are about to come off cooldown? Then use Chaos Strike.

This is the same no matter what form you are in.

Since I made it pretty clear that accurately predicting the amount of Fury you might have in a given moment is impossible, then hopefully you can see that when a macro is designed to be used by as many people as possible choices will be made not to starve you of your needed resources. Otherwise, we will get the other complaint: “My X cooldown wasn’t used on cooldown!” Well, yeah, because there wasn’t enough Fury to use it.

Not having enough Fury for a cooldown is the worst possible position you could be in, ever. So let’s be okay with having more than you think you need.

Chaos Striking Enough
Okay, I’m going to let my frustration out on this one a bit, because this complaint is like the last holdout of every complainer who refuses to go back and check their DPS ratios, sim their characters, or otherwise gather the information they need in order to accurately judge whether or not a macro is performing well enough for them.

“I’m not using Chaos Strike enough.”

Are you sure you’re not? Because you probably are.

First of all, Chaos Strike looks different now. You no longer have a weapon glow when you use it, it has a strike animation that’s slightly longer than your GCD when you have decent haste, and so it gets cut off by other animations, and as your “main Fury spender,” it gets a reputation of being the bulk of your DPS.

I feel like Chaos Strike should be written with an * whenever you see it. Chaos Strike*. Where * is the fine print that reads: May be mistaken for Demon’s Bite, is a filler and not the main DPS spender in any form, and known in the State of California to cause cancer.

Okay, stop typing your replies. Yes, I said, “not the main DPS spender in any form.” Yes, I’m aware that while in Metamorphosis Chaos Strike becomes Annihilation and becomes a huge DPS gain. But if you focus too much on that, then you miss that Blade Dance becomes Death Sweep and will still do more DPS. Or that Eye Beam’s damage is directly tied to the increased haste and will do more ticks the more haste you have (baseline 10 ticks, Blind Fury brings it to 15, and you get one more per 1.25 [25%, with diminishing returns] haste). This makes Chaos Strike the third most damaging thing you can do while in Metamorphosis. Add to it that you still need to generate Fury via Immolation Aura or Demon’s Bite and you find yourself back in the same rotation as you were while you were not in Metamorphosis, just faster.

Havoc changed from Legion. It’s a lot of small, subtle tweaks that when taken all together both simplify and streamline the rotation, but also add in a ton of complications for macro writers. Now, the deceptively simple and straight-forward abilities Demon Hunters have are less on display in a macro, which makes everywhere a macro doesn’t perform up to your specifications that much more obvious. But just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it bad.

The definition of perfection
This won’t apply to just my own work, but every macro you will find on this site or write for yourself.

There’s no such thing as perfect.

It’s simply said, and yet not understood. If anything, everything I’ve written above should illustrate how when writing a macro that not only I can use, but you can, your brother can, your sister can, and your dog can mean that there are going to be concessions on variables we can’t predict. Did you stack haste in your all-Mythic 20+ gear? Did you boost your DH just before the expansion’s launch? Did you meticulously deliberate over every piece of gear throughout Legion and used no less than four sim programs to optimize it all and have a quick-change macro for your gear and talents for every encounter type?

Well, guess what, I didn’t write a macro for you. Rather, I wrote a macro for all of you, and some of you are going to see better results than others.

As macro makers, we can either spend time trying to write a macro that works for as many people as possible or simply post a macro that we know would only work for us right now but maybe you can get some use out of it, too. In either case, we’ll have to field the responses and complaints from the community because it didn’t work for them for some reason. That will never change, but you can help us out by trying your best to highlight the why in the what’s not working for you.

Referencing my own macros, I use a baseline to judge its performance. I run AskMrRobot and Raidbots to sim my character. I sim my character in AMR’s optimized gear, as well as gear I think is more or less better. I have a handful of dedicated playtesters who do the same simulations. And with all that, I have a goal, a bar I’ve set for macro performance.

If a sim is the most perfect representation of your class being used in the most optimal way, using your gear, abilities, and movement (or lack of it) to their full effect in expert fashion, ran over a thousand times a pop and averaged (or algorithmically checked) against millions of other sims from thousands of other players, then the number they spit out is the very definition of perfect, wouldn’t you agree?

I strive to come as close as possible to that number with my macros. I have a personal goal to come within 3% of that number or better. And in the case of my Havoc macro, I’m within 1%.

This isn’t a boast. It’s a testament to what a macro is capable of. But it should also serve to show you that despite my dedication in building a macro that, for me, performs as well as an expert doing everything right on the best day of their life, other users of my macro will still complain that something isn’t working for them. That it doesn’t look right or feel right. Or that it straight up doesn’t perform as well.

And there will always be that dissenting voice.

But that voice means nothing without knowing the why of it. So, please, if you experience a problem with my macros, or with anyone else’s, take the time to figure out why it’s not working for you. Run the sims (they’re free). Deep dive your DPS meters and look at the ratios. Tweak the macro to make use of your personal character’s stats and gear. Report bugs, breaks, freezes, and lockups.

But above all else, please understand the class you are playing. A macro can only queue up the abilities for you; it cannot play for you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a game to play. Enjoy.

Excellent post my friend! I never had issues with targetting but even I found the read about it very informational. Thanks again for all your dedication to the community and time you have help myself and others.

For me, the bottom line is you don’t ALL of this like every one of the other creators on the kindness of your heart. No money, no perks, nothing…So I thank you for being a part of this great community.