'Decided to pull a side discussion out of the DPS Problem thread since the OP there preferred to discuss the issue of Hunter Legacies and Gear and how they relate to our dmg output problems.
The point of the discussion here is to look at our stances. Some of us (myself included) feel that a large part of the problem is a lack of clarity around the intended purpose of each stance.
Hunter Stances Today
As things stand right now, and CStats parses bear this out, the only way we Hunters can even get close to matching the sustained DPS of other classes is through the use of Stance:Strength. However, that stance incurs aggro and power penalties that make it unusable for the vast majority of group boss-mob combat scenarios.
Stance:Endurance has the appropriate aggro and power level characteristics needed to use in a boss fight, but its low damage output make it currently very damage/time innefficient. To the point that most of wonder why we are even there ...
Stance:Precision tries to be the middle ground - more damage (through fewer misses and a +crit buff to QS) than Endurance, but not quite the aggro and power problems of Strength. But it does use more power than Endurance and doesn't seem to result in quite as much dmg as Strength. It also lacks that most-useful of side-effects for solo work - the QS snare that Strength provides. The problem is that, because it is in the middle ground, it isn't really ideal for solo OR group work. Its mostly a stance right now that you toggle to situationally, such as when fighting higher-level mobs or in a group fight after the tank locks aggro but before its safe to go to Strength.
So in summation we currently have one stance that is ideal for solo work, but dangerous and inappropriate for group boss fights. Another stance that is safe to use for group boss fights but basically inneffective at delivering dmg. And a third stance that is sort of so-so for either. We do not have a stance that makes us ideally suited for delivering sustained dmg in a group boss fight.
Oh yeah, then there is Fleet stance .... ugh. Not sure what to say about that. i'll let somebody else beat up that horse. At any rate, it is even less designed around group boss fights.
Group vs Solo - Other Classes
Now, if you look at the way other classes are designed, many of them have different stances or 'modes' that tune them one way or another between solo or group work. For example, 'non-DPS' classes, like Minstrels and Guardians, they each have a mode (War Speech and Overpower, respectively) that makes them more appropriate for solo work by increasing their DPS over what they normally need in groups to be effective. In group setting, these classes' primary roles are about other things than DPS so it is not needed there, but they do need it in order to solo effectively.
On the other hand, the 'DPS' classes, for example, RKs and Champs, actually go the other way. They decrease their DPS when in solo mode, but gain in survivability. This makes sense because while in a group setting, other classes provide survivability benefits for DPS classes (tanking, healing, CC) so that these classes can concentrate on delivering maximum DPS). When solo, they need additional survival skills (avoidance, healing) so their DPS output is actually decreased when in solo mode.
So basically, most other classes have a solo mode that decreases their primary group role yet provides survivability benefits that compensate for not being in a group. Or conversely, they have a group mode that INCREASES THEIR PRIMARY ROLE AT THE COST OF SURVIVABILITY - since in a group, they have others providing those other skills that help them survive.
Group vs Solo - Hunters
Hunters, of course, are all screwed up. Our solo mode is fine - Strength stance produces pretty close to the right amount of DPS for most of our solo work (or it would if the ISB problem and Barbed Arrow were both fixed) and provides a nifty survivability helper in the form of the QS slow debuff. But when we get in groups, where others should be tanking mobs off of us or healing us, or using CC to keep mobs off of us, we strangely don't have a mode that results in us able to output maximum damage.
When in groups, Hunters only have a mode (Stance:Endurance) that DECREASES THEIR PRIMARY PURPOSE (it reduces dps output relative to the other two stances).
Proposition: Hunters should have a mode that, just like the other DPS classes, trades away survivability in favor of higher DPS when in group boss fights. This mode should NOT be an aggro magnet and should NOT be a power black hole. It should be a mode that legitimately works for sustained DPS in a group boss fight.
I believe that this could be done by doing the following (copied/updated from the earlier thread):
First off, our base, unstanced, dmg output needs to be tweaked overall just a smidge. Roughly to where S:Precision currently is. How exactly this is accomplished is irrelevant. The Devs have access to the data and can use that to do the adjustment. It could be through increased dmg numbers, decreased miss rate, fixing specific skills whatever. In particular, ISB and Barbed Arrow desperately need to be fixed. Note that changing our Legacies to actually boost our DPS could effectively contribute to this adjustment.
Now, to address the problem described above to create distinct solo versus group modes for the Hunter class that trade survivability.
1) Keep Strength dmg, aggro & power costs the same as it is. It remains our primary solo stance. Fix the QS slow legacy, of course. Give us a slight +Parry & +Evade buff while in this stance.
2) Raise the damage of Precision stance to the same as Strength but also keep the current crit bonus. Yes, this means that Precision would now become our max dmg stance. Keep its power costs the same as now but reduce the aggro. But nerf our Evade and Parry tremendously while using this stance. The idea is that we are concentrating so much on precision shooting that we can't dodge/parry as easily. The evade / parry reductions will make this stance impractical for solo use except in rare exceptions.
3) Endurance, because it is unmodified from 'unstanced' base, is implicitely moved (see above) to where Precision currently is. Leave the aggro and power as they currently are. It does not modify Evade/Parry. This is still the long-term power saving mode for either solo or group work.
From a game mechanics, standpoint, these changes are very low development cost to make. Yet they would represent a fundamental shift that I believe would directly address the problem that we are struggling with. This would greatly increase our DPS output in groups without changing our soloability much. The only change to the latter would be a slight buff to our defenses - the point there is to add further incentive to use Strength stance when solo.
While Precision would now be by far the best dmg output, the absence of defenses would make it dangerous for on-level solo work (it could be used for grey mob grinding, of course, but that is hardly game-unbalancing). The power costs would still be high enough that at times you would need to use endurance, but not so high that its unusable for sustained output (like Strength currently is). The intent of the stance would be that you have either a tank or CC available to keep mobs off you while you shoot.
Precision stance becomes analogous to the Champion's Fervor stance - high damage, but no avoidance.
I welcome thoughts and discussion on this idea.