Enjoy BM now because in WotLK from 70-80 you’re going to want to be MM. That is of course if nothing changes, and we all know with an expansion, everything changes. Actually, there’s only 2 things that could reverse this: more talents/items that enhance PAP or they actually change growl.
Let me tell you about last night.
I went over to IF to respec, dropped my 15g and started down the MM tree. When I hit Aimed Shot, I got all 7 ranks back. I though that was still ‘in the works,’ but I guess not. Nice surprise. To be honest I felt kind of dirty going MM. BM makes being a hunter a real partnership, since your DPS is split with your pet. I consider MM probably the most selfish there is. I picture the soup nazi yelling ‘No DPS for you’ at my pets.
That selfish feeling went away pretty quickly:
You’re welcome for the extra 200 PAP :)
I knew my RAP was going to go up, but a 300 or so point jump was crazy. Now to test. I did my first few dailies without any issue. So much that I decided to do an actual growl threat test. I cast the first 1400 heal, then a Rank 1, and another, and another, and another… I think I got to 10 of them before my pet died because the mob was hitting for more than I was healing. Time to use a higher rank. Just to get a feel for how much growl was helping, I decided to just use rank 6. Same procedure: Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, AGRO! Great Turnips! A full 4200 damage healed before pulling agro compared to my previous highest test of 2125~. That would put growl somewhere between 1508 and 1615 threat. I didn’t bother with another test. We’re talking twice as much threat as the best I could do while BM even while popping trinkets.
Theorycrafting is all well and good, but how does it play. When I let my level 69 pet get a growl off before opening up, he lost agro exactly once. It was resisted by a level 71 mob. Folks, this is a serpent. No focus dump. No bonus to DPS at all. It was like he was some kind of catnip for mobs. I only ran into issues when getting 2-3 adds which meant I needed to heal. There’s no stopping pulling agro there, and the huge growl meant, I could open up on the add as soon as it went off even with the higher initial threat.
Downsides? When I started out, I didn’t change my 1:1 macro and had no mana issues with Mark of Conquest and AotV up. The longer SS cast time and lower weapon speed felt really slow. I decided to crank up the damage and throw Arcane shot in there (Auto, Steady, Arcane, Auto, Steady). There were mana issues then and the 6s (rather than 5s) cooldown on Arcane would cause the macro to hang there after the first rotation lowering DPS quite a bit. Enough that it was basically the same DPS as a 1:1. I’m only 10k exp from the serpent dinging 70 which will mean a respec back to BM, but or the next pet I will go for Imp Arcane Shot instead of IHM and let the mana flow where it may.
[EDIT] One more downside – I broke OMEN. The pet would growl and OMEN would only show the 664 threat. I’d crit (or even just DPS) and exceed Kite’s shown threat by more than 30%, at which point OMEN would just hang there waiting for the mob to agro on me. It never did. It would just sit there with Kite at 900 or so and me at 500 with my TPS jumping to 2-3k often and Kite’s staying at 2-400.[/EDIT]
Honestly, it’s going to be hard to go back to BM to finish testing now. It will definitely be the spec I level the remaining pets with. Any hunter above level 40 that primarily solos/levels should consider respecing MM. My only hesitation in trying to get the word out on this is that Bliz could wise up and realize growl still scales with PAP and change it for WotLK (or even 2.4.2 possibly). For now: