This is still the PTR, and everything's subject to change at a moment's notice. Most of the details on this gear is datamined and also subject to not rightness. We don't yet know where most of this drops. Different stats benefit different hunters in different amounts, depending on your spec, and all the rest of your gear. This is especially true for haste, the benefit of which can vary wildly depending on your position in the haste plateaus. Blah blah blah.
Flamewaker's T12 set
The first thing to address, before we get into slot-by-slot notes, is the new hunter tier 12 set, Flamewaker's Battlegear. Please note this is "Flamewaker," as in waking the flame from a restful nap so that we can punch it in the face, not Flamewalker, which would be walking on or in flame ... which is just silly, unless you're really drunk.
The new T12 set is very nice, in this dwarf's opinion. The two-piece set bonus rocks, granting around a 350 DPS bonus to BM and MM hunters and over 400 DPS to SV hunters. Compare this to the T11 two-piece bonus, which is like half the DPS of your pet's auto-attacks from level 60 vanilla (which is to say, virtually non-existent).
The four-piece bonus looks like it will be a bit weaker than the two-piece for BM and SV hunters but incredibly good (more like 600-700 DPS) for MM hunters who are using the proc for hardcasting Aimed Shot.
It is impossible to say when you should switch from your four-piece T11 over to T12; it depends too much on your exact circumstances. If you're getting a big DPS boost from the T11 set bonus (hitting a new haste plateau), then you'll probably want to wait until you can replace it with two pieces of T12 and two non-set pieces. If you aren't getting much of a boost from the T11 four-piece, you can start replacing right away.
Just remember not to have any emotional attachment to the T11 two-piece bonus. If you act like it isn't even there, you won't be too far from the truth.
Okay, on to the loot!
For the head slot, we're definitely going to want to use our T12 set piece, since it comes with that lovely +30 agility bonus that skinning the Bandit Prince didn't net us.
The Necklace of Smoke Signals will be purchasable for 1,250 valor points.
Our two new 4.2 shoulder options are darned near identical, down to the red socket with a +10 mastery socket bonus. While some hunters may prefer the Chitin Shoulders crit to the haste provided by the Flamewaker's, I suspect most hunters will end up with the T12 set shoulders in the end.
The Sleek Flamewrath Cloak comes from friendly rep with the new Avengers of Hyjal faction, and this cloak exists just as a stepping stone to a real cloak. The Dreadfire Drape with its two red sockets is clearly far superior to the sad rep cloak.
In the chest slot, the non-set item offers us a whopping dose of hit along with crit; however, our T12 set chest offers an agility socket bonus, which is far more desirable. It's entirely possible that you may prefer to go with the Flaming Core Chestguard, however, as one of your sources of hit rating.
The choice between these two bracers pretty much comes down to whether or not you'll want the hit rating of the Hide-Bound Chains. I suspect most hunters will prefer the hit/haste of the Hide-Bound Chains. I know I will.
The new Dragonfire Gloves will be craftable with leatherworking; however, they are not as good as the two alternatives, because the Dragonfire Gloves are lacking a gem socket. The Grips of Unerring Precision come out on top of the gloves DPS race with a red socket, but using the Flamewaker's instead is not a very significant loss.
The Firearrow Belt is available when you become honored with the new Avengers of Hyjal faction.
Both of our leg options are packed with hit rating and have identical sockets and socket bonuses. The Flamewaker's Legguards are going to be the better option for most hunters, offering haste instead of mastery; however, as always, haste is highly dependent on your position in the haste plateaus.
It's pretty safe to assume, however, that you want the set piece here.
The Viridian Signet of the Avengers is available from the new Avengers of Hyjal faction rep, at exalted.
The Ancient Petrified Seed is a rep reward for being revered with the Avengers of Hyjal faction, and it is certainly the worst of the trinkets, offering far less agility on average. For the time being, we have to assume a 25% uptime of the Matrix Restabilizer proc (since that's what the other two 4.2 trinkets have, and Blizzard usually keeps these pretty consistent), which means that both of these trinkets are clear upgrades from anything that came before.
It's worth noting, however, that Fluid Death remains shockingly close to these trinkets -- comparing particularly well to the Matrix Restabilizer (which gives mastery, which is usually among our worst stats). Fluid Death's 380 agility is nearly the same as the 383 agility from the new trinkets. Once you are able to move on to the heroic versions of the new trinkets, however, Fluid Death will finally fall behind.
On the stat stick front, we're probably going to prefer the Ranseur of Hatred, since crit/haste is usually a better combination than crit/mastery; however, these two are incredibly similar.
Ah, now the good stuff! We have the new engineering-craftable Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher gun. This is only an ilvl 365 gun and really exists just for those who didn't participate in the previous tier of raid content. It'll get you started, but it's not a real raiding gun for tier 12 raiding.
Once we get into raid drops, we have the Lava Bore Blunderbuss and Arbalest of Erupting Fury. Both have identical stats; thus, the gun is clearly superior. Even the trolls can finally use a gun, since their alternative is a crossbow. The Lava Bore Blunderbuss is a bit of a puzzle at the moment. The datamined information lists it as BoE; however, there's also a heroic version listed. In general, it's either a BoE trash drop with no heroic version, or it's a BoP boss drop with a heroic version. We don't know for certain which way this will fall, but I'm betting on a boss drop with a heroic version.
The final ranged weapon of the raid tier is Arathar, the Wings of Flame, which is a half a tier higher than the other ranged weapons and no doubt drops from Ragnaros himself. Technically, it does more damage and everyone should be using it -- that is, if you don't mind looking like a big sissy with your bow and butterfly hairclips.
But real dwarves at least have a raiding gun this time. And next tier, I think we'll see a gun finally be on top for the first raid tier since ToC!
: the Lava Bore Blunderbuss seems to have suddenly vanished from the WoWhead datamined files, to be replaced with yet another crossbow. No word yet on what's going on there -- but it seems unlikely that they would make two crossbows of the same ilvl with identical stats.]
I have yet to see the animation for Flintlocke's Woodchucker, but I cannot wait and hope they really have a rabid woodland creature mauling your opponent's face. Our new best scope is an homage to Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth
webcomic by Dave Kosak (who left the webcomic to work for Blizzard), but the comic holds up today as a fantastic look into true dwarven culture.
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter through optimizing for heroics, pre-heroic loot and pre-raid loot, then on to choosing the right spec for the right job and how to "aspect dance" to maximize your DPS, we've got you covered.