My load at work was fairly light (and also stupefyingly boring) today, so over the course of the day I tip-tapped out this little text file that's pretty much my understanding of How to Raid as a Survival Hunter. And since "how does X class/spec work?" is a pretty regularly asked question here, I thought maybe I'd post it. Keep in mind that I'm just another player, my guild has only killed the first 7 bosses in heroic Ulduar, etc. That said, I also feel pretty confident in my understanding of the class and spec. This is incredibly long, so you'll have to look behind the cut if you're interested.
As is often the case with DPS specs, I would contend that the current SV raiding spec has very little wiggle room in where to put your points. Not everyone agrees with me on this. For example, even though our pets are now getting hit from our talents as well as our gear, I don't think anyone should be taking FA. There are two excellent hit enchants (Precision to gloves and Icewalker for boots) as well as 16-hit gems and, honestly, lots of hit available on our gear. Putting points in FA amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul, and I can only see it resulting in a net DPS loss.
Ironic, then, that the spec I favor does differ from the 0/15/56 spec you'll find on EJ or whereever. I'm dropping a point from Master Tactican in order to pick up Aimed Shot; most raiding SV hunters are going to drop a point from Hunting Party to get it. Assuming 60% uptime on MT (which is the uptime I'm seeing on bosses I can just stand and shoot), that last talent point averages out to about .12% crit chance throughout the entire boss fight, compared with the 12-14 extra agility from the last point in HP. The difference is pretty small, and I prefer the extra raid utility of guaranteed replenishment uptime to the DPS edge, especially now that we're in Ulduar. Personally, I had to drop to viper for a bit on our first Assembly of Iron kill, which I really hate doing.
That brings me to flasks vs. elixirs. In BC, elixirs of major agility + mp5 elixirs were unquestionably better than assault flasks. That's no longer necessarily the case, and I've been flasking for progression because mana has mostly not been a problem for me on most fights so far. The AP gain from rage flasks is roughly equivalent to the agility/ap gain from using the new agility/intellect elixirs, and in most boss fights, DPS will be equivalent (someone else has done the math for me here). On extremely long fights, however, agility/intellect will let you stay out of viper longer and net higher DPS.
If Fish Feasts are available, there's certainly nothing wrong with the 80 AP buff from it. I've also purchased the agility food recipe, which sadly requires fish as well. Pets should be getting the 30 strength/30 stam food.
Enchants and gems are pretty straightforward. A hat without a meta is not worth wearing. The correct metagem is the relentless earthsiege, 21 agi+ 3% extra crit damage. Gem priorities are as follows:
1) activate meta
2) between 258-263 hit
Don't gem crit rating, or AP, or mp5, or anything else. If you've got a good socket bonus somewhere (agility or hit, for example) dependent on a blue socket, use your one green gem for meta activation to get that bonus. Use your hit gems to get other bonuses, if possible. If not possible, ignore socket bonuses and socket straight agility. There are a couple options for the green gem. If you're gemming for hit (and you probably are), the hit/stam gem is the obvious choice. If you've got all your hit elsewhere, I could see going with either crit/stam or int/stam. Personally, I'd pick int/stam, since the int scales with kings and provides AP and replenishment.
Arcanum of Torment on your hat.
Inscription of the Axe on your shoulders.
Stats on your chest (8 for an interim piece, 10 for a really good piece).
Agility to cloak.
AP to bracers.
Precision or agility to gloves.
Eternal belt buckle in your belt.
Icewalker or Agility are both fine boot enchants. Agility to boots isn't really worth it vs. Icewalker for our BM and MM cousins, but our talents make it worthwhile, if you've got the hit elsewhere.
As with the boot enchants, our talents make dual-weilding more viable for us than for BM/MM, for whom the 110AP enchant is always better. But the agility enchants on two 1H weapons would, with talents and kings, come out to 67 agility, which should actually edge out the 110 AP enchant on a 2H weapon. On the other hand, I really love the way a good spear looks on a hunter.
40 crit or 40 haste scope to ranged weapon.
For the non-base stats on gear, the things you're looking for are crit rating, haste, and AP. AP is on everything ever, so you don't really need to think about it. A lot of people for some reason think haste is bad for SV hunters, and this is emphatically not true. The haste cap to reach a 1.5s steadyshot cast is 523 haste rating, and you should be trying to get as close to this as possible. Aside from the obvious benefits of haste (more autoshot damage and more steadies between each explosive shot), the faster your steady casts, the easier a tight rotation gets. Right now, for example, when I get a Lock and Load proc, I can only use the space between explosives for instant abilities. I.e.: aimed/kill shots or refreshing serpent/black arrow/hunter's mark. If I was at or near the haste cap, I'd be able to sneak a steady in there. Outside of LnL procs, you're going to spend less time either canceling steadies to use something better or waiting for a steady to finish casting to use aimed/ES/whatever.
Avoid armor penetration as much as possible. Your top damaging ability is explosive shot, and the most efficient way to increase DPS is to buff your best thing. ArP does not affect explosive at all. It buffs your autoshot, steady shot, and aimed shot, true, but so does crit rating, and haste buffs the first two.
Once you're wearing all kinds of purples, what buttons do you press to hurt the bad things? I think of the SV rotation is actually more of a decision tree. You've got three debuffs you can put on the boss that all increase or multiply your damage:
1) hunter's mark, for AP
2) serpent sting, extra 3% damage, plus 10% buff to steadies from steady shot glyph
3) black arrow, extra 6% damage
Every time the GCD finishes, you check to make sure that all three of those things are up on the boss (unless BA is on cooldown). Then, if explosive is available, use it. If ES is on CD but aimed is up, use aimed. If both ES and aimed are on CD, use steady. Repeat. I use quartz to monitor debuffs on the buss and DoTimer to help with cooldowns (although I also stare at bars).
Use AP trinkets in coordination with haste buffs to get the most out of them. As a troll with two AP-on-use trinks currently, I pop rapid fire with one and berserking with the other. If there's guaranteed party-wide damage (like Kologarn's thing where he slams the raid for a few thousand), I'll save the 'zerking for one of those. Or if I know a bloodlust is coming, I'll pop rapid fire trinkless beforehand, feign, and trinket at the start of the 'lust.
FD doesn't seem to work as seamlessly as it did in BC: you should hit the button, watch the threat meter until your threat clears, and then resume DPS. If you just tap the button and then resume attacks, threat won't clear.
If you just hit 80 with your hunter, making the pre-raid gear list can be intimidating, so here are my suggestions:
Plunderer's Helmet - this is sadly the only real option, so you'll be running H-UK a lot
Necklace of the Arcane Spheres (H-VH)
Necklace of the Chrono Lord (H-CS)
The Severed Noose of Westwind (Icecrown quest reward)
Cloak of the Gushing Wound (H-VH)
Ice Striker's Cloak (Crafted)
Embrace of Sorrow (HoL)
Spaulders of the Abomination (H-CoS)
Spaulders of Lost Secrets (HoL quest reward)
Polished Regimental Hauberk (Argent rep)
Linked Armor of the Spheres (HoS)
Aviary Guardsman's Hauberk (BoE)
Assault Hauberk (Coldarra quest reward)
Eaglebane Bracers (crafted)
Grips of the Beast God (H-Gun'drak)
Tear-Linked Gauntlets (UP)
Cord of Swirling Winds (H-HoS)
Giant Ring Belt (Sons of Hodir rep)
Belt of Tasseled Lanterns (BoE)
Hollowed Mandible Legplates (H-AN)
Leather-Braced Chain Legguards (HoL)
Dragon Slayer's Sabatons (H-Nexus) - These are worth getting, they are seriously better than most of the purple boots in the game
Bjarngrim Family Signet (HoL)
Mobius Band (H-VH)
Signet of Bridenbrad (Icecrown quest reward)
Jagged Ice Band (Storm Peaks quest reward)
Sphere of Red Dragon's Blood (H-Nexus) - also very worth getting. And H-Nex is both easy and easy to get a group for! Very worth farming.
Figurine - Emerald Boar (decent trinket JCs can make themselves)
Mighty Alchemist's Stone (similar, but for alchemists)
Mirror of Truth (emblems of heroism, easy to farm 40 of these, although I'd spend them on the T7 chest first)
Chuchu's Tiny Box of Horrors (Icecrown quest reward)
Staff of Trickery (H-VH)
Fang of Truth (Wyrmrest rep)
Ymiron's Blade (UP)
Whale-Stick Harpoon (Kalu'ak rep)
Icier Barbed Spear (100% More Chilling)
Drake-Mounted Crossbow (H-UK)
Titanium Compound Bow (H-OK) - Volazj's Insanity can be difficult to learn