For Marksmanship, there are a few more changes coming our way. Piercing Shots is being redesigned to add a bleed effect to your Aimed Shot, Steady Shot and Chimera Shot abilities. Previously, this three point talent increased your armor penetration on Steady and Aimed Shot by up to 6% at Rank 3. Now, however, this talent may actually prove useful (since armor penetration definitely left something to be desired). At Rank 3, the new Piercing Shots will cause your target to bleed for up to 30% of the damage dealt over 8 seconds, giving the talent much more bang for its buck. For example, if your Steady Shot deals 750 damage, it will apply a 225 damage bleed effect on the target for 8 seconds. Same goes for Aimed and Chimera Shot. With this effect being applied to two heavily used Marksmanship rotation shots, keeping this bleed effect up constantly should be no problem, and will certainly provide a boost to overall damage.
Another change for the Marksmanship tree is a switcheroo for our old pal Ranged Weapon Specialization. This five point talent is getting dropped to a three point talent that, when maxed, will still provide the same 5% damage bonus. This will free up a couple points to make use of the buffed Piercing Shots talent, for example. Also, Wild Quiver is seeing some buffs as well. This three point talent that provides a chance to fire an additional shot when dealing damage with your Auto Shot which deals Nature damage is getting an increase from a 10% chance at Rank 3 to a 12% chance, and the damage of the Wild Quiver shot itself is getting a buff up from 50% of Auto Shot damage to 80% damage. It may not be a huge change, but for those already spending points in Wild Quiver the damage increase and increased proc chance is definitely good news.
The Survival tree has plenty of changes in store for it in patch 3.1 as well. For example, Hunting Party, formerly a five point talent, is being reduced to a three point talent that will also increase your Agility by 3% at Rank 3, giving this talent more luster in the eyes of Survival hunters. The changes to this talent will give it a lot more synergy with other talents of the tree such as Lightning Reflexes and Expose Weakness and will finally provide hunters with a reason to take the talent other than to play replacement mana battery for a night.
The changes to Lock and Load, however, are not quite as nice at first glance as some of the other changes we've seen so far. Previously, the key factor in favor of Lock and Load was its chance to give you two "free" Arcane or Explosive Shots when dealing periodic damage with Serpent Sting (which with the advent of Wrath became a cornerstone of any shot rotation). The new version of Lock and Load will have a reduced chance (6% at Rank 3, down from 10%) to proc off periodic damage, and that effect is now only triggered by the use of Immolation Trap or Black Arrow. Black Arrow is being added as a 9th Tier talent in the Survival tree that fires a Black Arrow at the target, increasing all damage done by you to the target by 6% and applies a debuff that deals 10% of your RAP plus 785 Shadow damage over 15 seconds. This ability will cost 6% of our base mana, it has a 5-35 yard range, and it will be instant cast and have a 30 second cooldown. The switch on Lock and Load to a dependence on Serpent Sting to Black Arrow will be a tough adjustment at first, but this is really an opportunity for Survival hunters to weave a new shot into their rotation that will deal a significant amount of damage. Change isn't always a bad thing, my friends.
T.N.T. is seeing some changes as well. Instead of increasing your chance to critically hit with Explosive Shot and a chance to stun on your Immolation and Explosive Traps, T.N.T. will now give a flat damage increase to your Explosive Shot, Explosive Trap and Immolation Trap – 6% at Rank 3 – as well as a 100% chance at Rank 3 to refresh the duration of those two traps on the target. Now, the increased critical strike chance for Explosive Shot from the previous version of this talent was great, but a constant, scaling damage increase will provide more reliable results. Sure, the more frequent big crits on Explosive Shot were awesome, don't get me wrong, but a scaling damage increase to the shot should at the very least even out the change.
There are a couple more minor changes coming to the Survival tree as well. Trap Mastery is being moved closer to the top of the tree, giving hunters of other specs a chance to make use of some solid trapping utility and Wyvern Sting's duration is being increased from 12 seconds to 30 seconds for PvE making it a more reliable form of CC. Unfortunately, the bad news for all you PvPers out there that are fans of Wyvern Sting is that the PvP duration of this ability is being reduced from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.