Still no live realms up /sigh. I am sure it’s all very complicated, but you’d think there’d be some way of foreseeing whatever glitch has caused their complete failure to get their game working on this, one of the most anticipated game days since the launch of WOTLK.
Edit (The morning after): I was able to play a little last night – I kept getting thrown off – but I managed to sort out my dual-spec. I’ve thrown in a couple of edits here noting some of the current bugs I encountered.
Anyway, while we are waiting, I have be whiling away the hours writing a couple of articles. In my previous article, I looked at my main spec Survival Hunter – round 3 – patch 3.1 for raiding. In this one, I consider my off-spec.
Any character level 40 or over with 1,000G to spend can visit their class trainer and learn the ability to dual spec. The new talent window will allow you to assign both specs, and will also allow you to plan you proposed spec, and confirm it before you buy (Edit: this is what was promised anyway, when I assigned my talents yesterday, I didn’t see anywhere to change them if they were wrong. I did put a talent point in the wrong place on my Raptor and had to respec him, which didn’t cost anything, but didn’t try that with my hunter to see whether they had wavered the 50G respec fee).
It each of your pets will have one spec, however you will be able to access your stable remotely. If you are not changing spec this has a 30min cooldown. This means that if I want to swap my cat for my raptor whilst remaining a survival hunter, I can do so anywhere in the world without having to find a stablemaster (so long as I am out of combat), but I have to wait another 30 mins before I can swap them back again. However, the 30min cooldown resets when you respec to your dual-spec. So if I am raiding and need to be SV with my raptor for one fight, and then BM with my bear for the next (as an extra off-tank is needed), I can switch specs and grab my bear from the remote stable, then I can switch back again after the fight and grab my raptor again, even though it is less than 30 mins since I summoned my bear.
Edit: The stable seems buggy, both the remote stable and visiting a stablemaster. I lost my beloved bear (major panic!) and got two copies of my raptor. To get my bear back I had to stable both raptors and get another pet out of the stable, then the second raptor disappears and some hokey-kokey swapping pets in and out of the stable (at a stablemaster) made the bear reappear. Happened again with my gorilla. I am a bit worried that I could still lose a pet altogether (I seem to remember BRK mentioning a bug like this on the PTR, will need to go back and check what it was). I am wary about using my black lion in case I lose him (those elite wolvar guarding him don’t like me very much), and would be even more worried if I had a really rare pet. I think I will also avoid the remote stable for now. Also, each time you switch specs, using dual-spec, your pets talent points seems to be wiped and you have to reassign them. 😦
I intend to go with the following Beastmaster spec, with its emphasis on pet survivability and damage as my off-spec. It is not a raid spec. It loses a couple of points in talents such as mortal shot to pick up points in cobra reflexes. It also picks up endurance training and thick hide in preference to Improved Aspect of the Hawk. A beastmaster spec for raiding would look something more like this. (You could argue a point or two, but the latter is more aimed at DPS, the former at pet tanking.)
For my pet I am thinking of this spec on my bear. Silverback (your pets growl heals it for 2% of its total health) should be a great new talent for pet tanking. I decided to spend my final point in the new Wild Hunt instead of in Avoidance or Greater Resistance, but am not sure what is better.
I will be saying goodbye to my gorilla now that all tenacity pets can get thunderstomp. The Gorilla’s new family skill Pummel is not an AOE skill, whereas the bears swipe combined with thunderstomp makes it one of the most powerful tanking pets in the game, especially for multiple mobs.
To fill my empty stable slot, I will go get Hamfast my wolf back, he’s a level 80 Cavedweller Worg from Stormpeaks, the kind that changes color between white and grey. Every time my stable is full he gets released into the wild for a time, with my knowing I can pick him up again without having to level him back up. I wish Blizz would introduce more level 80 trainable pets like this.
I intend to use my off-spec when soloing and grinding. I also hope to run some easier instances solo or with Anelf. We previously duoed Nexus (which was pretty simple as a BM hunter and resto druid pair), we are even better geared now, and the new option for a tanking spec should open up more options for soloing and duoing. I might also go back and grind some old world rep for those Argent Champion, Guardian of Cenarius and other titles, as well as mount grinding for some rare mounts. Heck, I might even spy me an exotic pet! There’s the new spirit beast or the purple parrot. Though I guess I better get in line for those two.