This article is now out of date, please refer to the tier 12 post for information on the current tier.
At the end of Wrath of the Lich King there was only one viable hunter spec and only one gearing choice; Marksman and full-on Armor Penetration stacking. Now with Cataclysm we are far less restricted in our gear choices. Agility as a stat is so strong and so much better than any other stat that all we really need to focus on is maximizing Agility, which means maximizing socket slots.
When it comes to secondary stats such as hit, crit, haste and mastery it gets very easy as well. Get hit all the way up to the cap and then focus on getting Crit. Haste and Mastery are both just sorta “meh”-stats. Neither of them are all that great compared to Crit.
Currently the hunter community isn’t really done with valuing haste and it’s thresholds, but it is believed to be about as valuable as mastery or slightly less valuable.
So, picking the best-in-slot gear becomes a fairly easy exercise:
DPS > Agility > Hit (under cap) > Crit > Mastery > Haste
Note: As usual, I spend most of my time on the trinkets. This is because they are the most interesting items in general and the difference between them is much bigger than when it comes to any other items.
Also, keep in mind that the difference in DPS-increase between these items is so minute that you really shouldn’t be trying to save for that one best-in-slot item to drop… I’m serious! The difference between the items in some slots is below 0.01% dps. And that’s not even taking reforging into account. Remember that every crap stat you pick up can have a large chunk of it converted to a good stat.
Your strategy when gearing up should be to grab anything you can, reforge the crap stat out of it and wear it proudly. Then when you have every slot covered in epics you should consider grabbing a replacement with another +0.0004% dps.
The tier 11 set bonuses
(2) Set: Increases the critical strike chance of your Serpent Sting ability by 5%.
(4) Set: Reduces the cast time of your Steady Shot and Cobra Shot by 0.2 sec.
Our 2-piece set bonus is currently weaker than a moist tomato, for comparison, a proper flask is roughly twenty times better than this set bonus. However, for Survival hunters this does give a fair dps boost when it comes to AOE, which could come in handy.
The 4-piece set bonus on the other hand provides a massive dps boost and should be attained at all cost. Keep in mind that when you have gotten this extra piece of gear, your Cobra/Steadies will be cast much faster than you are used to. Make sure you adjust to this and if possible, fit more shots into your rotation.
The items slot by slot
- Lightning-Charged Headguard – Nefarian (Blackwing Descent)
- Deadly Bio-Optic Killshades – Engineering-only (crafted)
- Arion’s Crown – Ascendant Council (Bastion of Twilight)
One of the rare cases where one item is clearly better than the others, the tier headpiece offers much more Agility and it has Crit.
- Don Rodrigo’s Fabulous Necklace – BOE World drop
- Necklace of Strife – Valiona and Theralion (Bastion of Twilight)
- Spaulders of the Scarred Lady – Nefarian (Blackwing Descent)
- Lightning-Charged Spaulders – Cho’gall (Bastion of Twilight)
Spaulders of the Scarred Lady is slightly better due to having Crit as a secondary stat, it doesn’t provide the tier set bonus though. Is it worth losing the set-bonus over this item? Definitely not. However, this is your weakest tier slot. So if you can get the 4-piece set bonus from all the other slots you should get the off-set piece for this slot.
- Cloak of Biting Chill – Maloriak (Blackwing Descent)
- Dory’s Finery – BOE World drop
- Viewless Wings – Valor point vendor
Minimal difference. Both Dory’s Finery and Viewless Wings have Crit and Hit, while Cloak of Biting Chill has Crit and Mastery.
- Lightning-Charged Tunic – Valor point vendor
- Tunic of Failed Experiments – Maloriak (Blackwing Descent)
- Voltage Source Chestguard – Omnotron Defense System (Blackwing Descent)
- Dragonkiller Tunic – Crafted by Leatherworkers *
You get the most Agility with the tier piece and Tunic of Failed Experiments, you don’t get the set bonus with the latter though. Therefor the tier piece is recommended.
- Chimaron Armguards – Chimaeron (Blackwing Descent)
Yeah… that’s it. :)
- Lightning-Charged Gloves – Valor point vendor, Argaloth (Baradin Hold)
- Proto-Handler’s Gauntlets – Halfus Wyrmbreaker (Bastion of Twilight)
Tier gloves are slightly better due to more Crit.
- Coil of Ten-Thousand Screams – Cho’gall (Bastion of Twilight)
- Star Chaser Belt – Conclave of Wind (Throne of the Four Winds) **
- Corded Viper Belt – Crafted by Leatherworkers *
Star Chaser Belt with a very lucky random enchant could be the best, but the enchants are random and therefor in general Coil of Ten-Thousand Screams will be the best.
- Lightning-Charged Legguards – Valor point vendor, Argaloth (Baradin Hold)
- Arrowsinger Legguards – BOE World drop
- Leggings of Lethal Force – Magmaw (Blackwing Descent)
- Star Chaser Legguards – Al’Akir (Throne of the Four Winds) **
Again, the tier piece looks to be the strongest and again, by a small margin.
- Moccasins of Verdurous Glooms – Valor point vendor
- Treads of Malorne – Reputation reward from Guardians of Hyjal
- Boots of Vertigo – Atramedes (Blackwing Descent)
Moccasins of Verdurous Glooms comes out on top due to having Crit and a red socket.
- Lightning Conductor Band – Omnotron Defense System (Blackwing Descent)
- Mistral Circle – Conclave of Wind (Throne of the Four Winds) **
- Signet of the Elder Council – Reputation reward from Earthen Ring
- Gilnean Ring of Ruination – BOE World drop
Lightning Conductor Band is the best, due to Crit. The next best would be Mistral Circle if it you’re lucky and get it with Crit.
- Fluid Death – Valor point vendor
- Key to the Endless Chamber – Corburus (The Stonecore, heroic)
- Prestor’s Talisman of Machination – Nefarian (Blackwing Descent)
- Essence of the Cyclone – Halfus Wyrmbreaker (Bastion of Twilight)
- Darkmoon Card: Hurricane – Crafted by Scribes
- Tia’s Grace – Siamat (Lost City of the Tol’Vir, heroic)
- Grace of the Herald – Corla (Blackrock Caverns, heroic)
- Unsolvable Riddle – Reputation reward from Tol Barad
As long as you’re not wasting the hit rating on Fluid Death and Key to the Endless Chamber, these two looks like the best trinkets to get. If you don’t need all the hit, reforge as much as you can to Crit and balance the rest of you gear around that.
Below follows an explanation of how this was determined. Assuming these stat weights:
Fluid Death: (38*10*3) + (321*2.5) = 1942,5 dps Fluid Death (reforged): (38*10*3) + (193*2.5) + (128*1) = 1750,5 dps Key to the Endless Chamber: (342*3) + (285*2.5) = 1738,5 dps Key to the Endless Chamber (reforged): (342*3) + (171*2.5) + (114*1) = 1567,5 dps Prestor's Talisman of Machination: (321*3) + ((1926*15*0.7)/60) = 1300,05 dps Essence of the Cyclone: (321*3) + ((1926*10*1)/60) = 1284 dps ? Darkmoon Card: Hurricane: (321*3) + 295? = 1258 dps Tia's Grace: (285*0.7) + (34*10*3) = 1219,5 dps Grace of the Herald: (285*3) + ((1710*10*1)/60) = 1140 dps Unsolvable Riddle: (321*0.7) + ((1605*20*3)/120) = 1027,2 dps
? – The data for the Darkmoon Card: Hurricane procc comes from several raid parses of some hunters I know that have this trinket. On average it provides an extra 1.5-2% damage which comes out as about 295 dps. Do note that this is not precise, at all. It’s just the best sources of information that I could find and it serves as a rough number to help us compare this trinket to the others.
Please do note that these are simplified models using some base stat weights that I believe are accurate at the moment. I did this instead of using femaledwarf because the stat weights jump around from 0.2 to 3.0 seemingly random at the moment. In reality, the value of Agility and hit are most likely higher and the value of haste and mastery are most likely a bit lower. And if that’s the case then the ranking order for these trinkets would be the same.
- Malevolence – Halfus Wyrmbreaker (Bastion of Twilight)
Yep, that’s it. The only 2-hander available for us in this tier.
What, you want 1-handers? Well, that’s silly. A combo of 1h weapons provide us with in general 15% less stats than the 2h weapons and we can’t put a super sexy +130 Agility enchant on 1-handers.
- Themios the Darkbringer – Atramedes (Blackwing Descent)
- Dragonheart Piercer – Valiona and Theralion (Bastion of Twilight)
- Vicious Gladiator’s Heavy Crossbow / Longbow / Rifle – Conquest point vendor
First off, the two proper PvE ranged weapons are superior to the PvP by a fair margin. But they are insignificantly close to each other, so just grab one, either one. One comes with Mastery and the other with Haste.
Now for the interesting bit, how much worse are the PvP weapons than the PvE weapons? This is a very legitimate question since all you need to do to get them is to lose in arena matches for 2-3 weeks to get them and you get to choice what type of weapon to use. The stats on all three are identical, but due to their racial bonuses (+1% Crit), Dwarves will find the rifle more appealing and Trolls will find the bow more appealing.
Well, here it is. All the stats, DPS, Agility, Stamina and Crit are the same on all these five weapons. The only thing separating them is the secondary stat. If Mastery / Haste remains at the 0.7 stat weight that means that the PvP weapons are only 50 dps lower than the PvE weapons. Which in turn means that if you play Troll or Dwarf you will do 130 dps more with a PvP weapon than with a PvE weapon.
Also, compared to the available item level 346 blue ranged weapons, the PvP weapons are far better.
* These items are being upgraded in 4.0.6 with at least one socket slot, they’ll be reevaluated then.
** All the items from Throne of the Four Winds have random secondary stats on them. The items named here will all come with Agility and Stamina and then a random mix of Crit, Hit, Haste or Mastery.
I shall end this simple gear guide by stating that I am merely a humble college drop-out and thus might have made mistakes in my calculations that other mathematical geniuses would easily have spotted and therefor I shall not declare any of this to be in any way accurate. Even though, it’s probably pretty close.