It was sort of a bitter-sweet raid night for me last night. I mean for sure mostly sweet, and the bitterness was kind of that appealing hint of bitterness you get from pouring hot espresso over ice cream, but it was there nonetheless. We cleared out BoT in just under two hours, which was wonderful. I love, love, love having a raid of farm content go smoothly and quickly, just collecting the few drops we still need and melting the rest to get to the more exclusive stuff from the last boss. Cho'gall himself continues to be a total dick and drops only Conqueror tokens. I'm serious, we've gotten zero Protector or Vanquisher tokens. Screw you, Cho'gall. Getting 4-piece of tier has been a sort of bugbear for me since T5, and it looks like that's likely to continue, since we've got one more raid week with T11 as current content before Firelands is likely to come out, and I'm pretty sure we're just going to head straight there.
But anyway, I'm wandering off track. The point is that last night's raid went really smoothly and in our last half-hour we went to 50% with Al'akir. We've certainly got the DPS to get through P2, we just need to make it through P1 without losing 1 or 2 people to those awesome moments where two squall lines are converging on you at the same time as wind burst is casting and he floods an area with chain lightning. Those moments are of course possible to navigate, but it's also way easy to lose someone. I do like how Al'akir is good for making it feel pretty pro to be a hunter, since if you have to eat a wind burst you can just turn around and disengage mid-air to hop right back on the platform. Not that I came up with that or anything, but it's still pretty cool.
The bitter part comes from uploading the logs and looking at my own damage done on each of the bosses. I think the reality is that, although I have pretty decent situational awarenes and I do ok damage, I'm not playing the MM spec particularly well. On my best fight of the night, Valiona and Theralion, I came in at 19.1k DPS with an abysmal ISS uptime of 76%. Halfus and Council both had worse uptimes. On V&T I should really have an uptime on ISS of close to 95%. That 76% uptime would have been pretty good if I'd had it on Council, but instead I had it at around 63%. Maintaining the ISS buff on myself is the single most important element of the MM damage priority and I'm doing a pretty terrible job of it, costing the raid hundreds of DPS. I'm not so worried about my low DPS on Cho'gall, as I'm Survival for the encounter and I think of my principal responsibility as add management (misdirecting adherents and trapping slimes), but still, I think I could do better there as well.
I think that what I'm going to have to do to address the deficit here is re-think my bindings again. Specifically I need to be able to swap fluidly from aspect of the hawk to fox and back again, because what's happening is that every time there's a lot of movement I'm just moving, instead of moving and casting steadies. My aspect binds are alt 1-5 right now, and there's just no way to hit that while simultaneously hitting Q or E to strafe out of fire. I wonder if, now that I think about it, making a macro to toggle between fox and hawk and binding it to my middle mouse button (which is to say, clicking down on the mouse wheel) would work. I'll have to experiment with that.
I also just might need to upgrade my mouse. I've had my current one for a long time - since before WoW came out, in fact - and although it's an excellent mouse I might just need a couple more buttons. It would be nice to have steady on a bind on my mouse as well, for example, to make it easier to do things while cast that while on the move, something that's pretty difficult right now since my movement-key fingers are also my DPS-key fingers.
I actually think it's pretty cool how this game and other games ask players to really go back to fundamentals if they want to improve. At the end of the day, things like understanding the mathematical underpinnings of the class are important, but if you want to really get better you have to consider the physicality of how you play and fix your issues there. These sorts of things are, taken in aggregate, the real differences between players like me and players in world-first guilds, not things like hours per week spent raiding. Those really high-level players could raid the same six hours a week I do and they'd probably have cleared 13/13 by now: that extra time spent raiding is just to ensure that they do it first, not that they do it at all.