I’ve been waiting to chime in on this thread until I had more experience with 8.1 marksman, as the change to trueshot really changed how the whole marksman talent set worked together. Now that I’ve been using it for a while, mostly in world PVP during assaults, but also in PVE instances and battlegrounds, I feel like I can provide feedback that may be useful in 8.1.5.
First, as much as I really hate to say this, I think we have to give up for now on the idea of being an effective kiting class in PVP. As long as Blizzard thinks warriors’ complaints about not being able to catch up are as legitimate as hunters’ complaints about not being able to kite, kiting is not going to be a viable strategy. For kiting to be reasonable, Blizzard has to realize that being kited is a choice, and answer melee complaints with “you can just stop following”. That will require a complete revamp of multiple classes, not just Hunter, so it’s not going to happen 8.1.5, if ever.
Instead, we should concentrate on something close to the “sniper” class fantasy, which Blizzard seems more amenable to.
While we’re not going to get one shot kills, trueshot does now give us somewhat reasonable “burst” as long as no one interferes with us. For example, in world PVP, if we can find a target who is busy with a mob and oblivious to all else, we can do our double tap trueshot rotation, and get a kill in 10-15 seconds. All it takes is a target that fails to notice it’s being attacked while taking half a dozen aimed shots. Granted targets that oblivious are the exception rather than the rule, but it does happen, and anyone that oblivious can hardly argue that they died because “hunterz overpowered” rather than because of their own inattention.
With competent opposition, trueshot is much less useful, since pretty much any CC will largely negate the chance of its producing a kill. For arenas, an initial burst DPS team might have some success - I understand there’s a marksman double boxer that tries for kills at the beginning of the arena - but once we’re out of camo, all surprise is lost, so we don’t get a second chance. Still, this is closer to a workable strategy for us than anything else at the moment.
I’d suggest a couple of key changes to get us out of the basement and into the “almost competitive category”:
Restore double tap to full 100% effect in PVP. This will accelerate our burst by a fraction of a second, which could help make burst kills in arenas and elsewhere a more realistic possibility. It will also help reduce jarring differences between PVE play and PVP play.
Change the scatter shot effect to a stun. This will provide us with some utility for arenas, and also make ice trap a little less useless since it will be on a different diminishing returns timer.
The other advantage to these changes is that they don’t significantly affect our sustained PVE damage rate, which seems to be already adequate.
Regarding the rest of the thread, I also have a few comments:
Making Streamline a buff to the rapid fire damage rate, rather than to the duration, is a great idea. Streamline has been largely useless in 8.1, since that other ability that buffed rapid fire damage for the duration was removed - I don’t even remember whether it was a talent or Azerite trait - making rapid fire produce less than the long term sustained damage rate, rather than more. In fact, with the duration increase, streamline actively interferes with the Azerite trait that happens when streamline completes.
The change to sniper shot, which was supposed to be a buff, ended up being a flat out nerf, as the additional cast time gives the target too much warning of an impending attack. I haven’t used it since 8.1 dropped. Switch it to “sniper stance”, taking it off GCD and making it increase the range of all other shots for 6 seconds, instead of making it a shot of its own.
I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of helping to mislead Blizzard’s statistical analysis on these two, as I haven’t bothered to change them due to the lack of compelling alternatives.
I think we need to be careful about the ideas which involve switching talents from one tier to another, as they may mess up existing combinations that work. Well, except the streamline tier - go ahead and create or move one talent that’s actually useful into that tier, but leave the other tiers alone to avoid competing with talents that are already useful.