(Warning:- In hindsight, I realise I've been a tad confrontational in this post. If, after reading it, you discover that your own feathers are among those that have been ruffled, then please allow me to apologise in advance. My intent is not at all to deliberately or gratuitously offend people, but this is a can of worms which I've felt needed to be opened for a while)
The title probably sounds really lame, but it describes how I'm feeling.
I really miss Surv. My overall DPS (including the pet) has gone up by around 130 according to Recount. (In the Hellfire Ramparts this morning I maxed out at 440 DPS, including pet...My highest with Survival was 310, including pet)
I also had a surreal experience yesterday morning where I took the BKP "Sparrow" Smallbore with Ironbite Shells into the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral, and experienced the use of a ranged weapon with 172 base DPS at a 1.25 sec attack speed. (0.9 sec with Imp Hawk)
The Sparrow is a level 33 weapon, and 172 is 14 DPS more than what my base was at 60 with Survival. Presumably because of the mobs' lower armour, inside the Cathedral, according to Recount I was able to still clear an overall total of more than 400 DPS with the Sparrow, as well. I used a Rapid Fire/Bestial Wrath combo on Mograine, and he literally lasted less than 3 seconds.
However, here's the problem. I'm missing this game having any real challenge for me now, even at my own character level. I'm missing the problem solving aspects of Survival. I'm missing the sense of excitement during, and satisfaction after, a scenario in which my character genuinely could die, and where I have to work in order to ensure that that doesn't happen. That has never happened with me with BM so far. If things get bad, the most I have to do is maybe swallow a potion, and hit Bestial Wrath. It gets me out of pretty much any otherwise potentially challenging situation that I might be in.
I'm aware that damage wise, Survival actually is a handicap. There; I've said it. It's something which BRK has shown in his own testing, and which I've long known to be true; Survival is the most difficult of the three specs to use effectively. Survival's inherent level of difficulty is the dinosaur in the Hunter's living room; that thing which we all know is there, but which it's not considered politically correct to talk about.
Let me say that again. If anyone who reads this blog, is, as a player of the Hunter class, looking for a free lunch, then you need to play one of the other two specs, because even more than the other two, you're not going to get it with Surv. The single main reason why no more than 7% or so of the playerbase choose it is because it genuinely is difficult to the point of being unpalatable for most. If, as BRK has said, BM Hunters can derive a sense of superiority from being the highest damage output spec, the Survival superiority complex is derived from the fact that Surv is a spec where virtually nothing is done for you by the tree itself. It therefore logically follows that a competent Survival Hunter is not merely good; they are by definition awesome at the game, because they have to be. In my experience anyway, Survival is the closest this game gets to being genuinely challenging to play.
That, however, is the one thing that I'm having a lot of trouble with. I feel that as a spec, BM does way too much of the work for me, to the point where I'm now having difficulty deriving a sense of challenge from the game. I will admit that I've worried about that possibility in the past, which is also actually the main reason why I've gone Survival. I like the comparitive degree of difficulty that is inherent in effectively playing Survival...psychologically, I need that. I need that far more than I need a spec which is going to give me an inherently larger degree of damage output than the others, purely on its' own.
That, then, is a question I would ask BRK and any other BM hunters who might read this. How could a player stay specced Beast Mastery and overcome the above problem? Given that a BM hunter is as powerful as they are, how do they still manage to find a sense of genuine challenge within the game?