Ok, so I gave it a good shot. I spent a few days practicing on the dummy, running 5 mans, LFR a few times, and even soloed some old content (while looking for elders for the Lunar Festival) to get used to the Survival spec.
Long story short, it hasn’t really payed off for me… yet.
I tried in my raid last night, but I just didn’t pull the numbers, not even close. I usually pull ~33k on Ultraxion in Marksmanship, but I was doing 22k in Survival…. just 22k! An 11k DPS loss is completely unacceptable on Ultragearchexion, so I switched right back to my MM spec. With the reforge I’d done for SV (mastery > haste), I only did 31k, so that was a shame, but I’m going to reforge back into haste > mastery for my next raid.
So I’ve got five theories here on why I didn’t see the improvement I expected:
1) The apparent power of Survival is an illusion. Survival is a proccy RNG dependant spec. As such, if SV, MM and BM were all very very close in terms of average damage, Survival would appear more often in the top 100 parses. Why? Well, it’s about the spread of the data. The more your spec is prone to RNG, the wider the range of damage the same person doing the same thing in the same gear on the same fight will do. This is one of the inherent problems with looking at the top 100 parses, although there are a great number of benefits to it as well. I may go into this in more detail in another post, one day.
2) I’ve chosen gear well optimised for Marksmanship, and poorly itemised for Survival. With the 2 piece tier 13 set cobra shot is cast so infrequently haste has lost significant value for Surival, with it’s many instant cast spells, however haste is still quite good for Marksmanship hunters who have a hard cast Aimed Shot rotation (which is still optimal). This means mastery is a lot more valuable to an SV Hunter. Now, I’ve got an awful lot of haste sitting on my gear, and I simply can’t reforge enough of it away into mastery. I started this patch in MM and have been basing my gear choices on that spec. I’d be curious to see how the gear choices of some of the top Survival Hunters varies from what I’ve chosen.
3) I suck balls and need to lern2play. I made a lot of mistakes, I’ll admit it. I am clumsy with Survival. I didn’t always hit Explosive Shot on cooldown. Sometimes I clipped my Explosive Shot ticks with another right after it. Sometimes I would hit Black Arrow when I should have hit Explosive Trap, and vice versa. Sometimes I forgot my Serpent Sting. Sometimes I would even be in the wrong Aspect, even though I should be used to this bread and butter Hunter mechanic. The fact is this is new to me and I still have a lot of learning to do. I know the theory, but I haven’t practised nearly enough. It’ll just take time. I need to get used to it, to get comfortable, to build up that muscle memory, and that doesn’t happen overnight.
4) I messed up the build. I doubt it, I really did my research, but it’s possible I missed some crucial talent point or glyph somewhere, I suppose.
5) All of the above! It’d be silly just to blame one of the above, it’s almost certainly a combination of all four, and probably other factors I just didn’t take into account.
So where does this leave me? Well, I’ll be working on a second set of gear, one high in crit and mastery as opposed to crit and haste, and I’ll keep training away at the new spec, but for the mean time I’m going to be raiding in MM.