The 4.2 patch notes say “Traps now scale with hunter stats such as hit, expertise, spell penetration and attack power as intended.” Will this change the way we dps?
The short answer for PVE hunters is, no, it won’t. Here’s what is actually happening to our dps traps:
Explosive Trap: The change to Explosive Trap rests in its initial explosion (its dot remains the same). On Live the intial blast does not scale with AP and appears to have no crit chance. On the PTR it scales with AP, can crit, and is actually on the physical crit modifier (200%). The dot remains on the spell crit modifier (150%).
Immolation Trap: Its tics crit by the spell crit modifier on the PTR, and that’s an improvement since they won’t crit at all on Live, at least in my experience. And, providing that (1) I wasn’t just lucky on the PTR and that (2) the hunter is hit capped, the trap will not miss its target anymore.
The first question for me is whether the improvement to ET puts it ahead of BA for SV. Mid-fight, Black Arrow remains the best choice for the ‘fire trap’ cooldown. Without crits, the new Explosive Trap would actually deal more damage. However, because Black Arrow is on the physical crit modifer (200%) while Explosive Trap’s dot is on the spell crit modifier (150%), a 20% crit chance is enough to put Black Arrow ahead of Explosive Trap on single targets. Its other advantage of being a simple ranged instant cast is just icing on the cake. [Edit: As Zeherah points out in a comment below, I wasn’t thinking about the increased LnL chance or the saved Focus from using an Explosive Trap over a Black Arrow. These additional factors may indeed push ET ahead of Black Arrow on single targets.]
Another question is whether Immolation Trap’s improvements put it ahead of ET on single targets. The answer is a resounding no. Immolation Trap is weak whether it crits and scales with hit or not. There’s really no comparison. If you pretrap before a pull, stick with Explosive Trap unless some mechanic forbids AoE damage.
In sum, the roles and advantages of our dps traps remain the same. The patch change appears aimed more at getting traps to work as intended rather than to alter their uses. Despite being small, this tweaking will be quite welcome in pvp. A longstanding complaint about traps in pvp is their too-high chance at failing owing to misses and/or resists. Hopefully the new stat scaling will put that complaint to rest.