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Scattered Shots: Hunter trinkets

Brian Wood

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.

Trinkets fill a very special slot in our gear selection. Rather than just a collection of stats, trinkets are the one gear slot we can pretty much count on doing something special, be it crazy procs or on-use abilities. Of course because they aren't just piles of stats, trying to compare one trinket to another can sometimes be difficult. Worse yet, they are some of the most difficult slots to fill, and we don't want to waste our time (or DKP) with a subpar trinket.

In the past we've looked at the ICC hunter loot, and more ICC hunter loot. Today we're going to look beyond just ICC and examine all of the top hunter trinket choices, from Greatness to Deathbringer's WIll. Furthermore, I'm going to go out on a limb and rank all the trinkets from best to worst for each hunter spec. So join me after the cut to see if that limb can hold up against some solid dwarven weight.

Evaluating Trinkets

Before we get into the trinket list, it's worth taking a moment to explain exactly how we evaluate trinkets. For most gear we use spreadsheets to determine the comparative benefit of each stat. So perhaps we find out that 1 agility is equal to 2.4 attack power. We then add up the total value of all of the stats to get a number that we can compare to the total value of all the stats on a different piece of gear.

The problem with trinkets is they almost always have abilities, either procs or on-use, that are not always active. So what we do here is average the proc portion of the trinket. The key here is to find out what the typical uptime of a special ability is -- and generally this is done by spending a crazy amount of time testing it on a target dummy -- usually over a couple thousand shots.

So for example we know that Greatness gives us 90 passive agility, and we can use spreadsheets to find the value of that agility. But the proc gives us another 300 agility for 15 seconds, with a 45 second internal cooldown. We know that the uptime of the trinket -- or the percentage of time that we have the effect up -- is around 33%. Thus we can take 300 * .33 = 99. So we'll get the static 90 agility from the trinket, and another 99 agility on average from the proc. So when evaluating Greatness, we say it's the equivalent of about 189 agility.

Of course, we also need to sprinkle some common sense in there as well. We pay attention to what procs will stack well and reliably with our hunter cooldowns, what stats we may not get full use out of (haste won't help us as much on kiting fights like Saurfang or Valithria), and we have to keep an eye out for stats that can cap out, like hit rating.

So that's the basics on evaluating trinkets. If you have EAP or PAWN stat values for your character, it makes it easy to theorycraft the advantages for yourself. Now on to the trinkets!

Darkmoon Card: Greatness

Crafted by inscribers and purchasable on the AH. Proc has about a 33% uptime.

Greatness is one of the longest-lived hunter trinkets in the game. Vast quantities of hunters picked this up for small fortunes back in the very beginning of WotLK. We carried in Naxx, in Ulduar, and many carried it through TotC and even into ICC. Its proc goes off like clockwork every 45-48 seconds and the large agility boost stacks incredibly well with our other controllable cooldowns, and is timed almost ideally to match with Furious Howl.

Probably the most remarkable thing about Greatness is how a mere ilvl 200 trinket was so good that many hunters today are still carrying it. However, now that we're at the end of the expansion, many better trinkets have come along and Greatness is finally outdated. Whether you raid 10-man or 25-man, there are better options for you.

Mjolnir Runestone

Drops in 10-man Ulduar from Thorim hardmode. Proc has about a 22% uptime.

Mjolnir Runestone was the original holy grail of armor pen MM hunters, and frustrated the masses by dropping only in 10-man, and only in a hardmode at that. Mjolnir Runestone enjoys an excellent proc rate despite having only a 10 second uptime on proc.

While this was once the BiS for ArP builds, the ArP hunters have now abandoned ArP trinkets and instead are pursuing hardcapping (after all, why be hardcapped 22% of the time when you can be capped 100% of the time?) and as such this once desirable trinket is not nearly as sought-after.

Needle-Encrusted Scorpion

Drops in 5-man Forge of Souls heroic from the Devourer of Souls. Proc has about a 19% uptime.

When this trinket was first seen on loot lists for the new ICC 5-mans, hunters everywhere were ecstatic. Finally a good ArP trinket for those who don't have access to Thorim hardmode! And with more ArP too! Those hunters were soon to be disappointed.

Ignoring the fact that hardcapping has become the way to go, I hate this trinket with the kind of burning passion normally reserved for elves and bows. Needle-Encrusted Scorpion has the same 45 second internal cooldown as Mjolnir, but the proc rate is horrible. You can easily go 10 - 20 seconds after the internal cooldown is done before you see a proc, and the result is a statistically significant lowering of the average uptime. In fact, even though it procs more ArP than Mjolnir, the lower uptime means that Mjolnir Runestone actually has a higher average ArP than Needle-Encrusted Scorpion.

But don't let my seething hatred and dark dreams of scorpion-squishing bias you too much. Despite the garbage procs and crazy randomness, it's a pretty okay trinket for those soft-capping ArP.

Mark of Supremacy

Purchasable with 50 Emblems of Triumph. The on-use has about a 16.66% uptime if used at every opportunity.

There is one reason, and one reason only, to use this trinket: massive hit rating. While the on-use ability to get a bunch of attack power is certainly something that you'll use, you really care about the hit rating. Hit rating is the most important single stat for hunters behind only ranged DPS. And the better your gear gets, the better hit rating becomes.

In fact, hit rating is such a big deal, and this trinket has so much of it, that by the numbers it technically tops just about any trinket list for any spec. But only if you're using all of the hit rating from the trinket. Most hunters will have no problem getting all the hit they need from other gear, and the massive 128 hit on Supremacy would put them way over the cap of 263 hit rating. Once you aren't using a chunk of the hit, this trinket suddenly plummets in desirability.

It's also worth mentioning that most hunters would rather get some hit gems or put a point or two in Focused Aim to prop up their hit rating and take some of the more badass trinkets. In general while Mark of Supremacy looks phenomenal on paper, you are better off getting your hit elsewhere if you can.

Death's Verdict / Death's Choice

Drops in 25-man TotC from Twin Valkyr. Better version available on heroic mode. Proc has about a 33% uptime.

This trinket is what happens when you power Greatness with Goblin Rocket Fuel. Where Mjolnir Runestone once had ArP MM hunters crying for their inability to take down Thorim hardmode, Death's Verdict had every hunter without a TotC 25-man raid team crying in their beer. Worse still, lesser classes also found it filled with awesomesauce and so tried to deny hunters our rightful loot.

With the crazy crit rates we hunters have in endgame gear the proc rate on Death's Verdict is almost the same as Greatness and you can rely on it proccing withing a few seconds of the internal cooldown finishing up. Even with ICC trinkets being available, this remains a top choice for most hunters. I suspect many raid teams will still be blowing through TotC each week just to get a shot at the couple of great trinkets there. I know mine is.

Whispering Fanged Skull

Drops in 10-man ICC from Lady Deathwhisper. Better version available on heroic mode. Proc has about a 33% uptime.

Finally we see a trinket that 10-man raid teams can gloat over. An excellent choice to fill a trinket slot that is only available in 10-man (not that 25-man raiders are crying, with Deathbringer's Will exclusive to them). Whispering Fanged Skull is straight up a very good trinket with a good proc rate that drops from one of the easiest bosses in ICC. For many hunters Whispering Fanged Skull will be one of the best options they have available, and for BM hunters it actually makes their BiS list.

Herkuml War Token

Purchasable for 60 Emblems of Frost. Proc has about a 100% uptime in most fights.

The Herkuml War Token is a trinket that has many hunters scratching their beards. It's a ilvl 264 with a stacking AP bonus similar to the old Fury of the Five Flights... but it's loaded down with haste. We hunters aren't really that fond of haste -- we're more into thoughtful and carefully calculated devastation rather than the rash actions associated with rogues. Haste isn't a great stat even if we aren't at the soft cap, and we know that we won't get the full benefit of it if we're moving a lot, or managing our movement poorly.

To make matter more complicated, our new tier 10 bonus is a proc off our auto-shots, causing some hunters to think that stacking haste may be a good idea (it's not). In general this trinket ranks surprisingly well against other trinkets in the endgame. It's not going to make any BiS list, but it will certainly be a good choice to replace your Greatness.

Deathbringer's Will

Drops in 25-man ICC from Saurfang. Better version available on heroic mode. Proc has about a 29% uptime.

And finally we get to the grandaddy of hunter trinkets. Deathbringer's Will is not just a great trinket, it's an incredibly fun trinket. You change shape! The proc is random! Will you get 600 crit? 600 agility? 1,200 attack power? Who knows!

Each class gets a different three possible procs from Deathbringer's Will, and to the great dismay of hunters everywhere they changed some classes' procs to make the trinket more desirable for them. So we no longer get to take priority over dirty feral druids, for example. Though we should probably have priority anyway just because we're so uncommonly good looking.

Deathbringer's Will is certainly great for all hunters, however ArP hunters and MM in general are going to see the most benefit from the passive 155 ArP on this trinket. SV hunters actually prefer Death's Verdict because they love agility so much, and we only have a one in three chance of getting an agility proc off of Deathbringer's Will.

Ranking the Trinkets by Spec

Now that we've taken a look at each of the trinkets, let's get down to ranking them from best to worst. With this list you can easily pick out what trinkets you want to pursue for the content that you have access to.

Keep in mind that this list is evaluating purely on the average stat uptime. This means Supremacy will be always be ranked high, but it's only good if you're using all of the hit rating -- and you may want to get your hit elsewhere and get other trinkets anyway. You're actually better off getting your hit from your other gear or gems and pursuing a different trinket. Also note that the difference between two trinkets is sometimes small, and you won't always see a statistically significant difference moving one step up the list.

Also if you're going for a MM ArP softcap, you may prefer ArP proc trinkets, putting them ahead of Herkuml.

MM Trinkets From Best to Worst

  • Mark of Supremacy (but only if you're using all of the hit rating)
  • Deathbringer's Will (ranks #1 for ArP builds)
  • Death's Verdict
  • Whispering Fanged Skull (at some gear levels may be better than Death's Verdict)
  • Herkuml War Token
  • Mjolnir Runestone
  • Needle-Encrusted Scorpion
  • Darkmoon Card: Greatness
SV Trinkets From Best to Worst
  • Mark of Supremacy (but only if you're using all of the hit rating)
  • Death's Verdict
  • Deathbringer's Will
  • Herkuml War Token
  • Whispering Fanged Skull
  • Darkmoon Card: Greatness
  • Mjolnir Runestone
  • Needle-Encrusted Scorpion
BM Trinkets From Best to Worst
  • Mark of Supremacy (but only if you're using all of the hit rating)
  • Deathbringer's Will
  • Whispering Fanged Skull
  • Death's Verdict
  • Herkuml War Token
  • Mjolnir Runestone
  • Needle-Encrusted Scorpion
  • Darkmoon Card: Greatness

You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you improve your Heroic DPS, understand the impact of Skill vs. Gear, and get started with Beast Mastery 101.

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