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Scattered Shots: Picking the right hunter loot, part 1


Welcome back to the Scattered Shots, the weekly hunter class column. This week we begin our series "Picking the right hunter loot." Where we will review what truly makes something qualify as hunter loot, and not just loot hunters can use. We'll also review the drops off of each major raids starting with Naxxrammas and ending with the PTR Patch 3.3 raid, Ice Crown. So join me, Eddie Carrington, aka Brigwyn from The Hunting Lodge, as we explore what loot we should put on our watch lists.

Things on the patch 3.3 PTR are getting closer and closer to wrapping up, so I thought it might be a good idea to review hunter stats and how they help you select the right gear for you. In the past we have talked about how to use iLevel to do a gear check. Also, we've talked about how to use the different hunter tools and resources out there to select an upgrade for your hunter.

What we really haven't talked about was what makes up good hunter gear, and in each of the different raids in Wrath of The Lich King makes up some good hunter gear. And a recent comment on the Damage Dealing forum from Ghostcrawler got me thinking that it might be a good idea to make sure to first review how stats impact our gear choices, and how they impact both our and our pet's raid performance.

Just like the hunter leveling guide, I'd like to set a few discussion guidelines.

  • All of the advice in this guide is to help with attacking bosses in raids that are recognized as being level 83 in WoTLK.
  • This is not a guide to determine which spec is the most optimal and should be used. It's to help identify how each stat impacts all specs and help them perform at their best.
  • References to Attack Power or Ranged Attack Power can be used interchangeably for hunters.
  • The gear identified drops within 10/25 modes of each dungeon. We will discuss badge gear in a different guide.
  • This guide is not to be used to determine what "Best in Slot" is but how each individual piece and set bonuses impact your hunter and pet's performance.
With those guidelines set, let's take a look at what makes up "Hunter Stats" and how they impact a hunter and their pet.

If you've played a hunter for any length of time, you've heard the mantra that hunters should always, "Stack Hit until capped. Then stack Agility, followed by either Critical Strike or Armor Penetration." That's solid advice, but the choices presented really depend on you being Marksmanship or Survival.

Unfortunately, we tend not to explain why or how they help your spec of choice. And forget it if you're a Beast Master, you might never learn how to improve your pet's performance to help increase your own raid performance. (Okay, I'll admit to having a bit of a bias for letting people raid the spec of their choice instead of whatever is today's maximum dps darling.)

Anyways, let's take a look at what we call hunter stats and how they impact your hunter.

Hit Rating

Hit rating is probably the single most important stat you need to track as a hunter. So important it's even one of the few stats that Ghostcrawler has opened up and said hunters would need to stack even in Cataclysm.

You can check WoWWiki and it'll give a long explanation on how Hit is defined as the percentage chance you will miss a target. I don't know about you, but talking about reducing your chance of missing as a definition of hit is a bit confusing. So let's make it a bit simpler.

With each percentage of Hit you achieve, the better the chance you'll hit your target. Simply put, you can't hurt it if you can't hit it. So you stack Hit to make sure you hit the raid bosses.

Also, keep in mind that Hit impacts your pet also. Based on the patch notes of 3.2.0, your pet receives 100% of your hit. Meaning, every 1% below Hit cap the hunter is your pet will be 1% under cap also. So if you're at 8% Hit, you're pet will be capped and can't miss.

Now let's talk about what we need for our hunter and our pets to reach our Hit cap.
  • 32.79 Hit rating: 1 % Hit
  • Base Hit Cap: 263 Hit Rating or 8% Hit
  • Draenei Hit Cap: 230 Hit Rating or 7% Hit
  • Hunter Pets: Hunters need to reach 263 Hit Rating (8% Hit) unless Draenei. Draenei hunters need to have a 230 Hit Rating (7% Hit)

Agility has always been known as the main stat to stack for hunters. This is still true for hunters that raid as Survival and the same for Marksman until they switch to stacking Armor Penetration. Beast Masters take heart, you still get benefits from using Agility it just doesn't transfer to your pet like Attack Power does. Of course when Cataclysm is eventually released we'll probably see that change some.

Let's take a quick look at what Agility gives us and why it's makes such a great stat for hunters.
  • 1 Agility = 1 Ranged Attack Power (This will change to 1:2 with Cataclsym)
  • 1 Agility = .552 Critical Strike (83.33 Agility = 1% Crit)
  • 1 Agility = 2 Armor
  • 79 Agility = 1% Dodge
That's a ton of benefit from a single stat. You get two critical bonuses from Agility that is key for both Survival and Marksmanship hunters. First for every point in Agility you get a point of added Attack power. The next major bonus is increasing your Critical Strike Rating and having more consistent crits mean doing consistently more damage.
This is why even today some of the recognized theorycrafters out there will still recommend stacking Agility over Armor Penetration for Marksman hunters today.

Attack Power

Now that we've talked about the "King Hunter Stat" Agility, let's talk a little about another base stat, Attack Power.

Attack power is often overlooked as a primary stat for hunters. Mostly because stacking Attack Power is more beneficial for Beast Mastery than Survival or Marksman hunters. That being said, and with BM starting to be be recognized as viable in raids, let's look at Attack Power a little more and see how AP can help a hunter and their pet.

The nice thing about Attack Power is how you can easily convert your Attack Power directly into DPS. You can calculate your base DPS by converting each point of Attack Power into 14 DPS. Just remember this is your base DPS and it doesn't take into consideration any modifiers like Critical Strike, Hit, or Armor Penetration. But it is a good rule of thumb when comparing gear and want to check to see if it's potential upgrade or not.

Now, for Beast Mastery hunters we see that Attack Power also transfers to our pets. This is where Attack Power shines as a preferred stat for BM hunters.

Let's take a look at how Attack Power helps our Hunter.
  • 14 AP = 1 DPS
  • Hunter Pets: At the base, 1 Attack Power gives the pet 0.22 AP and 0.1287 spell damage. If you spec your pet with 2/2 Wild Hunt 1 Attack Power gives your pet 0.338 AP and 0.18 spell damage.
Critical Strike Rating

The higher your Critical Strike Rating the higher the chance you'll score a Critical Strike and do double the damage. This is another core component of Survival and Marksman hunters. Typically, when choosing gear, SV or MM hunters will look for the combination of added Agility and Critical Strike Rating. And BM hunters will look to see a combination of Attack Power and Critical Strike Rating.

So how does it help with your hunter?
  • 22.08 CSR = 1% Critical Strike
  • 83.3 Agility = 1% Critical Strike
When do you reach the cap for Crit? You don't. You might hear people saying when you reach 35% (772.8 CSR) or even higher. I guess the real cap would be reaching 100% crit. Others might argue that point and say there really is one. But this isn't so for hunters because our shots can't miss if we're at our Hit cap.

Armor Penetration

And now finally the most confusing stat that has become the darling of Marksman Hunters out there, Armor Penetration.
Armor Penetration is the stat that tells you what percentage of your targets armor will be ignored. How this happens is more complicated than I'll go over here, but you can feel free to check out some of the more detailed analysis done by Euripides of OutDPS! or Drotara of Less QQ, More Pew Pew.

But really, the easiest thing to remember is that Armor Penetration reduces a percentage of the bosses' armor so your attacks are more effective.

The major point of confusion is how much Armor Penetration you need to make it worth ignoring Agility and stacking ArPen exclusively. (This is a tactic I personally don't fully agree with, but it is a very viable and accepted stat choice.)
  • 13.99 ArPen = 1% Armor Ignore
  • Minimum ArPen Rating Target = 400-500 (28%-30% Armor Ignore)
  • Minimum ArPen to Ignore Agility = 850 (61% Armor Ignore)
  • Armor Penetration Cap = 1,400 (100%)
Personally, I think MM hunters that decide to stack some ArPen have a solid strategy. However, I'm not one to support the current trend of stacking ArPen to the exclusion of Agility. Mostly because I know that we're going to see it fade away come Cataclysm.

There you have it. We've discussed the different stats and how they impact your gear selection.

First, we talked about how and why every hunter needs to strive for the Hit Cap. Then we discussed how Agility and Critical Strike is typically chosen by Survival. And Marks tend to look at Agility and Critical Strike mixed with ArPen. And finally, we talked how Beast Mastery hunters can help increase the combined damage from Attack Power and Critical Strike Rating.

Join us next week as we start reviewing the loot tables of each WoTLK raid from Naxxramas, through Ulduar, and ending with the PTR Patch 3.3 release of Ice Crown to help you make sure to pick the right hunter loot.

(Thank you Dawg and velutina for helping to spot the typos on the ratios.)

You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. Scattered Shots is the one column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you Fix Your DPS, Choosing the Right Spec, Gear Selection, Macros and Pet Selection, Pet Specs and Management.

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