With this patch, I went for a heavy Marksmanship build. I abandoned the Improved Concussive Shot I've had for a year and a half and all the exciting beast mastery talents. But I did pick up the new Improved Hunter's Mark, which is really quite a nice improvement at last.
Hunter math changed so that agility now only contributes 1 ranged attack power per agility instead of 2. Hunter gear was adjusted to compensate, and agility contributes more crit percentage than it used to. In general, I agree with the reasons for the changes--but it's a crying shame that the Bone Slicing Hatchet I got in Stratholme the weekend before the patch is scarcely better for DPS than the Vanquisher's Sword I got from Razorfen Downs.
Likewise, there's no fabulous weapon enchantment for hunters now, which is disappointing.
The Eastern Kingdoms were down on the day of the patch. So to test my abilities, I went to Un'goro to hunt devilsaurs.
It turns out that Mazumok can now solo devilsaurs without even healing his pet. He can solo Stone Guardians with normal levels of pet healing, not frenetic kiting.
Pet growling seems a lot stronger--I can't pull aggro off my pet, even with leading off with an Aimed Shot critical hit followed by Distracting Shot.
Amalefica has more or less the same pure-frost build that she did before, with the addition of Summon Water Elemental. (I decided that in-character, she regards it as an ephemeral magical construct instead of a creature with a mind of its own. But then, the same may be true of her attitude towards people.)
The water elemental is nice, but somewhat tricky to use; I lose valuable seconds getting it focused on my target. It's nice to have a ranged freeze for Shatter, though. I think I would prefer it if it were more obviously a spirit of cold.
Druids (especially feral druids) got a lot of love with the new talent trees. Marendyn was able to get a lot more of the talents that she wanted, with no talents that were just filler en route to the good stuff. And because of the way talents have been restructured to give more benefit per talent point, not only did I get stronger at tanking and more damaging in cat form, but my healing got a little better too (because the talent that gives bonus melee damage now also speeds up Healing Wave).
Her one tough choice was between Mangle and Omen of Clarity; I went with Mangle for novelty. (Though I expect to get Omen of Clarity again at level 61.)
The simple strategy for using Mangle in cat form is very clear: it is better than Claw in every way, so I replaced Claw with Mangle on my action bar. (There are further ramifications, because I want to use the bonus 25% to bleed effects, so I use Rake and Rip more often. But just replacing Claw with Mangle increases DPS.)
The strategy for using Mangle in bear form is less obvious, because it costs more in Rage and it has a cooldown. So far, I've been using Maul usually, and just using Mangle when I have an excess of rage to burn.
In the course of fiddling around with a warrior friend to test out the new talents on Wednesday, we determined that we could each solo one of the first elite skeletons in Scholomance, at about the same speed. With another hunter joining the party, we were able to get to and kill Kirtonos the Herald with just three party members.
Another evening, Marendyn was able to kill the 60 elite Duskwing, by repeated use of Entangling Roots and Starfire. She died once or twice, because Duskwing's silence can be a real problem with frantically reapplying Entangling Roots, but it was still pretty straightforward.
Thursday night, Marendyn, a hunter, and a restoration shaman were able to three-man into Blackrock Depths far enough to kill General Angerforge and the named targets in the bar.
Sunday morning, I was asked very politely to run someone through Scarlet Monastery, and I said yes, for 5g plus all the bind-on-equip blue drops. The escortee wasn't much fun; there were some arguments about whether a blue pattern was mine by the terms of our agreement, because it didn't say "Bind on Equip". But soloing through Scarlet Monastery was a blast; none of the crusaders could harm me much at all, so whenever I got down to two or three crusaders facing me, I'd charge on to the next group to maintain rage generation. Much fun.
Sunday evening, I managed to stealth my way into the service entrance of Stratholme (by resetting the instance until there were the right types of monsters in the key places) and go look for Hearthsinger Forresten. I got lucky: he was in the right place to be pulled into the tunnel, and after I killed him, he dropped the Songbird Blouse. The Songbird Blouse is extremely balanced, with +13 to every stat. It's also extremely fuschia.
I've been working on soloing Emberstrife (a 61 elite dragon) for the UBRS key. On my first try, I managed to Hibernate and Starfire it around to about 20% health until it broke sleep early and killed me while I was trying to re-sleep. It was a very long fight, though--I innervated myself three times during the fight.
Monday evening, logged on to find that there was a raid set up for Battle of Darrowshire. So I finally managed to do that (Lori cheered at redeeming Captain Redpath) and finish the Scarlet Oracle quest for Nathanos Blightcaller's chain. (Mazumok has done neither of those quests, though he's had them for a long time. Another way Marendyn has passed Mazumok.)