(Update 10/27/10 - I just want to crow a little bit about this. I pretty much nailed it. /toothorn)
On other fronts, there was a recent Hunter Q&A (Which really isn't as ... spontaneous ... as one might suppose from the title) posted at Blizzard's website that is an interesting read. I have thoughts. I am no BRK, and will never make such claims. These are my private views and nobody else's. You have to remember that I'm still pure BM despite empirical evidence that Survival is the Sleek New Hawtness. Unsolicited these opinions are, and likely unwanted.
They are also inevitable. :)
- Ammunition - The idea of removing ammo as a consumable was a good idea. We are already there with throwing weapons. They certainly have a map showing one model to follow. But they failed to follow through due to fears of blowing up the database (talk about touchy-feely development), so what we got was all bonuses removed from quivers and ammo pouches, and x1000 stacks of ammo. It would be nice to get that bonus back, to be honest, as I don't see where it went. But I doubt we're going to see anything further on this because of the database fears. I also predict that there will be no changes on warlock bags for the same reasons. Though they might surprise me. The hunter changes require movement of data structures. Changes to warlocks might cause it to just ignore a certain structure. But I have strong doubts in that direction. I also suspect that means that X3 is closer than anyone imagines - otherwise they'd not want to wait another 12-18 months to solve this little issue.
- Auto-shoot while running - I can't believe they actually talked about this, it's just silly. There are very few things that anyone can do while running, and none automatic that I am aware of. Moving stops auto attacks of all kinds. That's a core mechanic. There are exceptions but they are just that. Move on.
- Mana vs something else - GC pretty much punted and said this would be a blizzcon topic, which immediately implies that something else actually is being contemplated. TL;DR: I agree. More below.
- Stings == Curses - I would buy that for a dollar. My greatest fear is that there will be more of a one to one mapping between the two as we go forward - "Bring the player, not the class" (To which I reply: nuts!) which makes the game less attractive overall (Though it will help on keymapping between me and Flora).
- "Beast Mastery falls behind Marksmanship and Survival in regards to DPS, especially when the pet dies, due to how much damage comes from the pet when specialized in the Beast Mastery talent tree." - Duh. Hello, "Beast mastery"? That's what we do. Make it so our DPS doesn't suffer when our pet dies, and it's what, again? That's a huge chunk of what this spec's about. There are two ways to help here: (1) Hunters keep the pet alive, and (2) raid healers heal raid pets. #2 is my favored because it acknowledges what a BM hunter brings to the raid, such as buffs and so forth. Damage is damage, people.
- Regarding GC's response to that question: "Getting the pet out of trouble" isn't going t resolve anything. Whether the pet is running back to me, or dead, it still isn't doing any damage. The only net difference is my DPS loss when I am rezzing my pet if it dies. Really, if buffing Arcane Shot (Of course, if they drop Mana as our "resource" then Arcane Shot makes little sense since it is no longer rooted on a mana-based class. Arcane, Mana, dig?) deep in the tree is the only answer, then carry on.
- Pet Survivability - to the point of the above two, pet survivability does not resolve the actual current issue, which is that BM hunters are the DPS Tail-end Charlies of the hunter world these days. Survivability only addresses the status quo, and the status is not "quo", as it were.
- Pet Action Bars - More? Groovy!
- Number of Pet Slots - I am content with five + one slots, and GC claims that this is a good number that forces a choice. Allow me to be pessimistic. If the crybabies are loud enough (and when are they not?), we will see that expanded.
More on Mana
The Mana topic is an interesting one. I personally don't feel that it is at all an appropriate resource for Hunters, so I am completely behind changing all that. It would be such a fundamental change that it would have to be an Expansion that brought it.
If not Mana, then what? Energy? Rage? Something else?
I personally lean towards Energy, the same as Rogues use. Hunters do physical damage rather than magical, which is why I find Mana ill-advised for us. However, for me it is more a matter of aesthetics than anything else theory-craftish. There is no compelling reason to shift from mana to anything else. Mana is a deeper pool that recharges more slowly. Energy, a shallow pool that refills quickly. Depending on how you tweak abilities, the two come out pretty much on an even footing. It's just a matter of scale. So, in this regard, it's really immaterial except in one respect.
Down time. When playing a rogue, you see quickly that other than for bandaging and buff food, you have no real down time. You're back to 100% pretty much by the time you're done looting. Mana based classes occasionally have to stop and drink. This to me does not fit the Hunter lifestyle.
Consistency. Pets use an energy-ish resource system. In fact, I imagine it was a big fat headache to bolt the pet system to a mana-using class. Hunters using energy, however, would allow for more direct linkage between the two resource systems.
Bonus - Why stop at resource type? Rogues also have "combo points". Want to make the class more interesting? Maybe you can make combo-linked skills and talents. Maybe that's the answer to the BM issue.
Finally; there are a lot of people that look at Hunters as if they're more or less heavy-armored Rogues with combat pets. Some, like Gweryc, take it to the extreme and make it work. There are very good reasons behind the natural assumptions some people make, as well as the very real results that some post (Of course, Gweryc also makes a good argument for Hunter / Warrior mechanics crossover). And yet, few people would make the argument that Hunters are more like Shaman with guns and pets, much less tougher versions of Warlocks. What I'm saying is that the similarities between Hunters and non-mana classes are greater than those between Hunters and other mana classes.
A mana-using class that does primarily physical damage is a very, very odd thing.
Not that that has ever been a detriment to us. :)