I have always liked the Hunter class, especially with the awesome Cata revamp. But what has always kept me from maining it is one thing — I hate pets. Like, it's my least favorite thing in all of RPGdom: managing pets. Even simple pets. I can't stand them.
In previous RPGs the 'Ranger' type could always go petless. WoW started a trend of forcing pets down your throat if you want to be the 'Ranged Weapon' class. Much sadness. So as a thought exercise, maybe there's a way to do what MoP did for Warlocks — make playing by your lonesome self an option? This idea has been tossed around forever on WoW forums. But with the current state of Talents, Specs, and Glyphs, it seems like a really optimal time to actually make it possible.
So as a thought exercise, here's my proposed idea. I'd like feedback about it.
1. Glyph of the Lone Wolf
Requires Marksmanship, Survival
Teaches you the ability Lone Wolf. Replaces Dismiss Pet.
2. Lone Wolf
Requires Marksmanship, Survival
Sends your current pet into the wilderness to hunt. While you fight alone, you gain Lone Wolf, which [BUFFS YOU IN SOME FAIR WAY THAT SOMEONE BETTER AT MATH CAN DECIDE]. You also channel your companion's spirit, granting you one of the beast's abilities.
Lone Wolf ends when you Call any of your pets back to your side, and activating Lone Wolf causes a 5 minute cooldown on your Calls.
3. Clarifications about Lone Wolf
So, for example, if you dismiss your Cat pet, you would gain a buff (similar to Grimoire of Sacrifice), and then passively apply the Roar of Courage Mastery buff to your raid.
I'm not sure about pets with active abilities; being able to gain something like Shell Shield could be way too OP and make Lone Wolf feel mandatory on some fights. So that would have to be sorted out in testing.
The cast time and cooldown are designed to try to stop "Pet Twisting" before it even starts. :p
Finally, it has to be a Glyph — not a Talent — because of BM spec. And because it's so controversial, it can't be made baseline, where people might feel obligated to do it just because it's part of the class.
4. Clarifications about other abilities:
A few Talents would need to be tweaked:
Exhilaration: Probably no change necessary. Pet section disappears from tooltip if Lone Wolf glyphed.
Spirit Bond: While your pet or Lone Wolf is active...
Fervor: Probably no change necessary. Pet section disappears from tooltip if Lone Wolf glyphed.
Lynx Rush: If you have no pet, a wild beast will attack instead.
And Blink Strike, which could have gone the Lynx Rush way but instead I think it'd be more interesting to have its purpose radically change when Lone Wolf is active:
Blink Strike: The Hunter instantly leaps to an enemy target up to 40 yards away and inflicts X% weapon damage. Reverse Disengage!
As for Glyphs, it should be pretty obvious not to Glyph things like Mend Pet or Fetch if you're running Lone Wolf. :p
Finally, a few baseline abilities:
Mend Pet: I think this should just be a useless button under Lone Wolf. If it converted to something like Mend Self, it could again pressure people to glyph Lone Wolf in situations where self-healing would be tempting.
Master's Call: I don't do enough PvP to understand the balance implications of letting this ability be used without a pet active. So, I would leave this in the hands of feedback and testing.