It's on the PTR, patch 4.2, and it's coming soon to a Cataclysm near you! And with a new tier of raid content, we have (of course!) new hunter gear (as well as some other gear so the support classes can continue their role of supporting hunters).
The big hunter news in the new gear is that we finally have a raiding PVE gun: the Lava Bore Blunderbuss. This thing is a beauty. No more will we be forced to use PVP weapons simply in order to bring finely engineered instruments of death to raids. No more shall we be tempted by useless contraptions of twig and twine. Now we can all have a weapon worthy of hunters.
[Update: The WoW Insider editors, who clearly do not play dwarves, inform me that this observation is insufficient for a whole column, so I'm adding some other gear notes below. Hop past the patch if you have interest in anything other than guns. Yeah, that means you, elves.]
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!
It's pretty safe to assume, however, that you want the set piece here.
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.
- Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher
- Arbalest of Erupting Fury
- Lava Bore Blunderbuss
- Arathar, the Wings of Flame
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!
[Update: 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.]
Scope 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.