So I've been leading quite a few Kara/ZA raids lately, and I've been experimenting heavily on when to use each aspect. I still prefer keeping up viper, as it forces me to drink less during near constant trash pulls.
However, for boss fights, I've started using only hawk while chugging mana pots to see if I could tell a noticeable difference in DPS. Wow.. I had a couple people in the raid ask me what I did differently on some boss fight attempts (Prince Malchazar and Hex Lord Malacrass come to mind), when I did the first couple attempts using viper, and the next with hawk because the damage difference was very, very noticeable.
So this makes me wonder... if hawk + chugging mana pots every chance we can get, using a 1:1.5 marks shot rotation is our best way to do DPS, and never weave viper aspect into our method... what's the point of it (viper)? Strictly PvP? I can't use hawk in PvP really, cause mana issues are much, much more constrained and more important that typically trying to burst someone down.
Also, unless I'm grouped with a shadowpriest, it's still very difficult not to go oom using a 1:1.5 marks shot rotation while chugging mana pots using hawk 100% of the time.
It just doesn't feel right at all.
You know what I want? Combat Experience: This talent grants the hunter X MP/5 mana regen for every Y points of RAP the hunter has.
Yes, every build relies on using hawk for max raid DPS, but marks is the tree that focuses mostly on RAP: Careful Aim, Master Marksmen, Trueshot Aura...
I guess the intention was that Careful Aim would sort of let my mana regen scale as my int does, but we currently get crap for int on our gear, and not nearly enough MP/5. BM spec has less mana issues than marks, since you really only use steady/auto 99% of the time.
I just think it makes sense to change combat experience (which is a SORELY lacking talent as is) to focus more on mana regen that scales with the most prominent and focused stat in the tree: RAP.
On another somewhat related note: I've found that aimed shot is more BM friendly than MM, which is odd considering it resides in the MM tree. It's cast time is shorter due to serpents swiftness, whereas no additional bonus is provided for it in the MM tree. I'm still not sure how I feel about this, although I do feel some additional improvements to the talent could be implemented to make it better. It is MUCH harder to get on a desired target in the arena in some situations (not all, obviously), due to it having a cast time and people loving to LoS hunters than mortal strike. Taking this into consideration, it's not always reliable to get off on the target you want to, when you want to. This means that I sometimes feel pressured or forced into dpsing the target I can get it on, to actually make the MS effect useful (in that I'd be forcing them to dump healing mana to keep the perceived focus target alive).
That being said, I think adding aimed shot into the improved barrage talent would be a start, but possible dropping the bonus of imp barrage down to 4/7/10% increased crit chance.
I find myself really questioning myself as to whether I should bother taking imp barrage anymore, since the "burst" of multishot isn't really what wins games, but consistent, constant damage is. With my current gear, and specced to silencing shot, each point into Careful Aim nets me about 39 RAP, or 117RAP for 3 points. That's a pretty significant increase, almost the difference of using viper vs aspect of the hawk, and it's constant.
I just feel that imp barrage is actually a pretty weak arena talent in its current form, and that if you added aimed shot, but possibly toned down the bonus chance a tad to compensate, this would be a much more attractive talent.