I think I shall start with the pets. First of all, my main solo pve pet is a Gorilla named Viagrilla. This guy is a serious Tankrilla. Boasting 11k+ hp and nearly 15k armor at one point I had every single mob Scarlet Monastery on him and with Mend Pet, he never dipped below 70%. His main AOE aggro hold is Thunderstomp, basically hits anyone in his range for around 300-500 damage. This can also crit and I've been witnessing it hit for around 1100-1500 to all surrounding mobs. I basically insert a line into my shot macro that will assist off him to ensure whoever I'm single targeting he is also growling/taunting. I have no fear tanking a room of 6 lvl 70 mobs, where before I'd fear to have any more than 2 at a time on a pet. Honestly by the time I get to mob #6, Thunderstomp has almost killed said mob anyway. Awesomeness. This week also marked the start of the Hollow’s Eve events and as a true testament to his tanking ability, we downed the headless horseman 4 times with my pet as MT. Group composition was Hunter/pet Mage, Priest, Shaman, Pally. No one even neared him on the aggro table.
My raid pet is still my black and white tiger. She's has been putting out massive amounts of dps just like a good kitty should. Skill wise there is some good with the bad. First of all - they now give us more skills than button space so it's impossible to have all your pet abilities out on the bar. This would be fine [as I don't use all the skills my pet has] except certain skills that I do not like/want to use seem to be glitched. Example, before Prowl was a learned skill from training certain cats. Now it's standard equipment. I do not like prowl, sure the 50% opening attack bonus is nice, but I prefer not to have her take forever to get to her target. For some reason every time I log or switch pets, prowl gets turned back on and is auto selected. Given that there are not enough pet spaces on the bar, I have to open my spellbook, go to pet, find prowl and deselect - turn off. Wow, I liked it more when I just never taught her the skill in the first place. I hope this is resolved. On to the good. Heart of the Phoenix is amazing simply put! Basically once every 10 minutes you can revive your pet instantly with full health and happiness. Essentially if you have to revive your pet more than once in most raid boss fights you are noobtasic - go play "Hello Kitty Island Adventure". Given that, this is your freebie in the event it happens once. Your pet is now back up, full health, ready to get back in there and get punched in the mouth. What an awesome skill. The best part is there is no % chance - if it's off cooldown, full revive. Finally the skill that seem to increase happiness as my pet is dealing damage - I shouldn't even have to post anything about how awesome that is. I have not carried food in my bag since the patch. 'nuff said.
Mechanically there are a few changes both good and bad that I've noticed so far. Long gone are the days of mashing a shot rotation button. We actually have to pay attention now. First of all Steady Shot will not clip auto shot so a shot rotation macro is mainly useless, but I still use it to cast SS/Rapid Fire. Here is where the problem arises - the "improvements" to the tab targeting system. Essentially you can still mash that macro or SS button but once your target is dead, another target is automatically acquired. If you keep mashing, a autoshot/SS will be fired off at said target. Pray to GOD that is not a CC'd target or one in a new group that has yet to be pulled. In solo pve situations this has been less bothersome, but in raid situations this can be a raid wiper. My solution thus far has been to stay out of range of any new groups [as to not shoot one], also as the mob nears dying I lay off my macro mashing routine want wait to see what is newly acquired. I've been playing around with game settings to see if there is a way to turn this off - so far nothing. There have been a few changes that I actually do like. First, if your pet is set to defensive [mainly what I use in solo pve situations] and you begin autoshot or cast any kind of special shot on a mob, your pet will automatically begin to attack your target. No longer do you have to command your pet attack first then start shooting. Of course, if your pet is set on passive he will just stand there next to you. Now, I use a macro for casting Hunter's Mark / Pet Attack so this is mainly used by me for evasive situations. Still nice improvement in my opinion.
Skill wise the talk on the street is Hunter's improved AOE and trust me - it' warranted. Volley is now an instant cast, plus the attack scales with attack power and can crit. Combined with my Tankrilla's Thunderstomp, I can decimate groups of lowbie enemies plus Volley alone can cause a fair amount of havoc in battlegrounds. With the changes to the amount of interrupt that damage does to a channel/cast volley has been extremely successful for me in the last week. AOT Viper was something that I was not looking forward to [given the damage reduction debuff when used] but honestly - I was dead wrong. The biggest difference I've noticed personally is more fluctuation in mana reserve but totally worth it given the insane speed at which I can regen mana now. In essence instead of adding a variable amount of mp5 depending on current intellect and mana level, the new AOT Viper regens mana based on the speed of your weapon. With my current set up, I'm usually in AOT Hawk and as a result slaughter 5-6 mobs with ease and quickness, then switch to AOT Viper and kill one mob to regen the lost mana. This mob might not go down as quickly but the trade off is a full mana supply. I'll switch back over to AOT Hawk to down 5-6 mobs, then rinse & repeat. Before I would mainly stay in AOT Viper and combined with other variables [Efficiency, Mana Oil] rarely have my mana reserve dip below 50%. The new style is very easy to get used to and I'm enjoying it immensely. The word is Blizzard will be nerfing AOT Viper, unfortunately I can see that coming a mile away - my only hope is they forget! [yeah right] The last thing I want to talk about is Disengage. For those unfamiliar it was a melee attack used to lower your threat and exit combat when used. The thought was to have a target in your melee range turn back to your pet/tank and leave you alone when used! The new skill will do that as well as rocket you back about 10-15 yards. One thumbs up on the actual improvement and a second thumb up for it's fun factor. Woot.
As for the blizzard nerf on raid bosses, good idea but perhaps a little too late in my opinion. The basic idea was to reduce the HP of raid bosses by 30% to allow for players who are very casual players to see the content and get the loot. Given the closeness to the expansions release many small guilds and causal puggers will not have time to read and formulate the strats. My guild had strats prepared on many raid bosses short of SWP so I feel like guilds such as ours are the real benefactors - maybe that was truly Blizzards intention. Regardless my first venture into Karazahn was a jokefest - it was no harder than a regular 5 man. In fact, I also ran Heroic MgT and had more difficulty in there, than in Kara. Karazahn was fully cleared [all bosses] in 3 hours. I was very impressed.
All in all this seems to be a very exciting time and I'm looking forward to seeing the expansion.