We are still likely to use the design that hunters, especially Beastmaster hunters, can fill in for missing buffs or debuffs by using certain pets.
I'm warning you now, I may be talking a bit about hunters in the coming weeks. It's not because one is my Main, or that I currently have seven dotted about (four at L80 or above) either, thought this should give some indicator that I'm quite keen on them. I'm hoping, that come Cataclysm, I can legitimately play all three specs without a penalty, and the above statement from the Crawlermeister regarding BM pets makes me HOPE that finally it might not have to be about taking the best DPS spec to a raid.
There are those who will tell you Hunters are awesome regardless of the disparities between specs, and although I love all of the guys I play, I am well aware that speccing them all differently won't mean they all do comparable damage. This subject's become a bit of a Holy Grail since the game began, and there are days when I miss just having one spec to deal with... but they are few and far between. Hunter specs are now pretty much approaching that optimal point, what is now needed is the ability for everyone else not to just simply focus on raw damage and consider utility.
When you bring a tank to a raid, there are certain expectations, as is the case with healers. There appears to be two overriding criteria for damage dealers (at least in the places I frequent) and they are simple: the ability not to stand in s&!* and to do as much damage as possible. Utility is not an issue when it's only ten of you and everyone needs to be putting 25k into the boss. In 25 man, it should become acceptable for another player to provide a 5k boost so you can bring a pet that provides the raid a buff it doesn't have. I watched a LFR PuG-gee berating a BM hunter who pointed out their pet was providing utility earlier in the week, and that overall dps was more important than a utility buff. This is the attitude that needs to be addressed, and it's got nothing to do with theorycrafting and everything to do with player attitude. When someone asks in Trade 'What's the best dps spec for (insert class here)?' it shouldn't be bad to be able to reply 'it's not just about dps, it's about utility' This is a dangerous mindset we find ourselves in, and it's really about time it was addressed.
Part of the problem with needing huge numbers to kill bosses is, of course, wrapped around the Stat Inflation issue, and hopefully if we are to see a return to low numbers on gear the need for huge output may yet diminish. A lot of this is also likely to rotate around boss mechanics: Dragon Soul shows us that fights with complexity are here to stay, but there are also fights that require movement plus maximised damage output. What we now need (I think) are situations where (as a Hunter) I would be required to bring (let's say) two specs to a raid and be encouraged to actively switch between the two depending on the fight I was involved in. The default state is one spec and comfort in familiarity, of course, but as dps it might be an idea to start being pushed outside our comfort zones by specific encounters. If I could do that and a) not be carried by anyone else and b) give a positive contribution to a Raid then I think it's a situation that needs to be pushed and advocated. Maybe the days of saying to people 'play x spec' are over, and it should not simply be about one set of numbers. It should become fitting the right set of numbers to each specific fight.
|WTB [Fresh Field], PST.|
A lot of this then hinges on Blizzard sending the right cues to the player base via design. The last couple of weeks has seen the Devs going to great lengths to dissect what was right (and wrong) about the current content, and it seems to me that the ground could be being prepared for some significant changes. All I can hope is that this is the case, and that this mentality is taught to players from Level 1 onwards. If you come to the game to do damage, let it be about understanding what else you can provide in your role, not simply a number. Let utility be as important as your damage.
It's time for a change in attitude towards damage dealers, not just Hunters. Let's see if Mr G. Crawler Esq and his associates can bring that to the table next week... ^^