Rakan messaged me on MSN earlier and made the statement that, "SV isn't really SV any more."
Although I'm still going to be here post-WoTLK, I agreed with that statement. It won't be the same, in terms of EW having been made self-only, and the duration talent to Freezing Trap having been removed. In addition, I've felt myself ever since first reading about them, that Explosive Shot, and particularly Lock and Load, are fundamentally contrary to what I anyway thought Survival was about. They're threat generators, and will change things; not in a good way.
It's funny, though. I've experienced something in the last few days, that a lot of people would tell me is impossible. Namely that after using both 41/20/0, and my current and favourite spec, 0/21/40, my measured DPS (I'm running a meter myself now) with the latter spec is greater; close to 100 greater in some cases. I can only assume that that is because my gear and experience are still far more heavily in the direction of Surv than Beast Mastery. I don't know any other explanation for it.
That, however, was one of the single main defining characteristics of Survival as a tree; that it was greater than the sum of its' parts. That somehow, contrary to the opinion of a great many people, it worked, and it did so in a manner that fell outside of anyone's ability to completely explain it in genuinely quantifiable, empirical, atheistic terms. Alumatine made a very valiant attempt to explain it, but I'm still not convinced that he entirely succeeded.
In the last couple of days, I also remembered something else Alumatine wrote to me once, and that is that it's possible for Survival to be a completely pet independent spec; that once your damage reaches a certain point, if you stay out at maximum range, you can literally put the pet away, and kill mobs before they reach you.
This morning, while farming earlier, I tried it out and experienced it for myself. It made me realise, that when you get to a certain point with Surv, you go back to where, as a Hunter, you began. It's like before level 10 again.
I'm becoming emotional now as I write, and am beginning to realise just how much this is affecting me. The emotion is an old, familiar one. I'm genuinely grieving.
The only consolation I have is what I've already been able to experience; the joy I've had using the tree. Additionally, while there are some truly great Hunters who've used the tree, I am in all honesty not among them, but one other thing this experience has given me is perhaps a greater sense of quiet competence and satisfaction than I've had from virtually anything else, whether online or off.
I still have Brad, my old boar, stabled; I nearly got rid of him just the other day, actually, because I needed an extra stable slot for a ravager, but couldn't bring myself to do it.
I think if I can find out the date when WoTLK will be released, the night before, I'm going to take him with me out to Desolace. We'll do some farming and centaur hunting, and then after that I'll go to the Charred Vale, my favourite place in this game, and that which most closely resembles Survival's background image as well, coincidentally enough. I'll light a fire, the boar at my side, and sit, and look up at the stars. I think I'd like that.
Mater genuit, Survival...