Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Each week, Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.
Last week we covered our pre-heroic gear lists, bringing us up to at least ilvl 329 gear. A bit of grinding, a bit of questions, a sprinkling of gold and a few good drops and we're ready to graduate from normal-mode dungeons to the new, harder-hitting Cataclysm heroics.
We want to be a lot more careful about selecting our ilvl 349 gear than we were with pre-heroic gear. This is the gear that is going to enable us to start killing raid bosses, and in raiding, the small nuances of optimization really start to add up. You absolutely want to enchant and gem this gear with the best possible gems and enchants. You may also want to evaluate your own stat weights using a tool like Zeherah's DPS Analyzer combined with a hefty dose of logic and common sense. That said, the difference between gear of the same ilvl is smaller than ever, thanks to reforging.
So join me after the cut for the complete list of the best gear we can get outside of raids.
Best hunter pre-raid gear
This gear list includes gear available from quests, crafting, reputation rewards, justice points, and heroic mode dungeons. It does not include any profession-specific gear or PvP rewards. I've tried to include several options for each slot, and in general, the items in each slot are listed from best to worst, so the first item (or two) in each slot is your absolute best DPS option. That said, these items are all good, and the difference between the top and bottom of each slot on the short list is small, especially with reforging.
The Wowhead and other databases still have gaps and sometimes buggy information in them, so if you see something that looks out of place, drop a note in the comments and we'll get it fixed (well, after I hit level 85, I'll get to it). In particular, there are a couple of pieces of gear that are listed in the databases without letting us know where they drop.
All of the dungeons referred to here are the heroic versions of those dungeons.
|Head||Snarling Helm||346||Rep||Dragonmaw - Revered (horde)|
|Windhome Helm||346||Rep||Wildhammer - Revered (alliance)|
|Willow Mask||346||Justice Points||2,200 Justice Points|
|Worgen Hunter's Helm||346||Drop||Shadowfang Keep - Godfrey|
|Neck||Brazen Elementium Medallion||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Entwined Elementium Choker||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Pendant of the Lightless Grotto||346||Drop||Stonecore - Ozruk|
|Amulet of Dull Dreaming||346||Purchased||1,250 Justice Points|
|Shoulders||Bloodpetal Mantle||346||Drop||Halls of Origination - Ammunae|
|Wrap of the Valley Glades||346||Purchased||1,650 Justice Points|
|Back||Cloak of Thredd||346||Drop||Deadmines - Gearbreaker|
|Twitching Shadows||346||Drop||Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus|
|Softwind Cape||346||Rep||Earthen Ring - Revered|
|Chest||Wentletrap Vest||346||Drop||Throne of Tides - Ozumat|
|Vest of the True Companion||346||Purchased||2,200 Justice Points|
|Wrist||Bracers of Some Consequence||346||Drop||Deadmines - VanCleef|
|Elementium Scale Bracers||346||Drop||Stonecore - Ozruk|
|Hands||Gloves of the Passing Night||346||Purchased||1,650 Justice Points|
|Xariona's Spectral Claws||346||Drop||Xariona - Deepholm Rare Spawn|
|Wrasse Handwraps||346||Drop||Throne of Tides - Naz'jar|
|Waist||Corded Viper Belt||359||Crafted||Leatherworking|
|Belt of the Dim Forest||346||Purchased||1,650 Justice Points|
|Legs||Balkar's Waders||346||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Barim|
|Hillside Striders||346||Purchased||2,200 Justice Points|
|Feet||Treads of Malorne||359||Rep||Guardians of Hyjal - Exalted|
|Red Scale Boots||346||Drop||Grim Batol - Drahga|
|Boots of Crumbling Ruin||346||Drop||Halls of Origination - Anraphet|
||Signet of the Elder Council||359||Rep||Earthen Ring - Exalted|
|Elementium Destroyer's Ring||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Band of Blades||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Ring of Dun Algaz||346||Drop||Grim Batol - Throngus|
|Skullcracker Ring||346||Drop||Blackrock Caverns - Rom'ogg|
|Nautilus Ring||346||Drop||Throne of Tides - Ozumat|
|Terrath's Signet of Balance||346||Rep||Therazane - Revered|
|Trinket||Tia's Grace||346||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Siamat|
|Grace of the Herald||346||Drop||Blackrock Caverns - Corla|
|Key to the Endless Chamber||346||Drop||Stonecore - Corborus|
|2H Melee||Rockslicer||346||Drop||Deadmines - Ripsnarl|
|Berto's Staff||346||Drop||Blackrock Caverns - zone drop|
|Seliza's Spear||346||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam/Barim|
|Ranged||Amber Messenger (bow)||346||Drop||Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus|
|Lightningflash (gun)||346||Drop||Vortex Pinnacle - Asaad|
|Kickback 5000 (gun)||346||Crafted||Engineering|
|Overpowered Chicken Splitter (bow)||346||Crafted||Engineering|
The DPS difference between all of our ilvl 346 ranged weapons is very, very small, and really any of these should suit you just fine as you enter the raiding scene. As always, trolls will want to use bows and dwarves will want to use real ranged weapons -- which is to say guns.
Don't forget to toss on the awesome new Gnomish X-Ray Scope.
Use your justice points
The gear that you can purchase with justice points is always a perfectly acceptable item for that slot; they all made it to the top of the short list, even if there's something that might technically be a tiny bit better. In general, you'll want to use your justice points to prop up gear slots where you've been unlucky with drops. So rather than spending all of your justice points as soon as you get them, instead save them up (without capping out on them), and use them for the slots for which you haven't been getting the good drops.
You'll definitely want to pursue those slots without a justice point option first. After all, if you don't get Balker's Waders to drop for your leg slot, you can always purchase equivalent legs. But if you don't get your trinket drops, you just won't have ilvl 346 trinkets to use as you enter raid content.
You might also want to consider some Tol Barad rep items. This is technically a PvP reward; however, they also have a bunch of daily quests you can do while your faction controls Tol Barad (and others available whether you hold it or not). These are available through the Baradin's Wardens (alliance) or Hellscream's Reach (horde) factions.
Tol Barad offers some nice rewards, including a 2-handed weapon, a trinket, and a crossbow. However, none of them are superior to the items on this list (sadly the epic trinket reward averages worse than the top couple of ilvl 346 trinkets), though they are certainly comparable. So this isn't a faction that you should feel the need to grind, but if you're into PvP and doing the Tol Barad fight when it comes up anyway, it's an alternative source of items for some slots.
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. Our Scattered Shots Resource Guide takes aim at everything from improving your heroic DPS, understanding the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.