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Scattered Shots: 4.0.1 hunter gems, glyphs and stat weights

Brian Wood

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.

On Thursday, we discussed hunter talents and rotations for 4.0.1, and today we're going to get into gems and glyphs, as well as talking a bit about stat weights. But before we get into all that, a word of caution about rotations.

Many hunters have been playing around with rotations focusing on Arcane Shot only and ignoring the signature shot for the spec. I have to recommend against this. It is certainly much easier, and for some specs (like BM) may actually be a bit more DPS, but it is a bad habit to get into! Expect to see a slight boost to the damage of all hunter signature shots in the very near future that makes these shots clearly worthwhile. It is well worth your while to learn the correct rotation now rather than spending your time developing lazy habits. Be a hunter, not an elf.

With that out of the way, join me after the cut for more info on how to customize your hunter to optimize raid performance in the brief window before Cataclysm hits.

4.0.1 hunter glyphs

Our glyph choices for patch 4.0.1 are going to be different than they will be when we finally get to level 85. Most particularly because we don't yet have access to Cobra Shot, the BM and SV rotations are substantially different than they will become.

As a result of this, our prime glyph choices are surprisingly uniform across the specs. I avoided the new Glyph of Serpent Sting here, but that glyph may be surprisingly good combined with Improved Serpent Sting; however, I have not yet tested this thoroughly enough to recommend it.

Our major glyph slots seem to be mostly focused toward PvP and soloing, with very few options that even tangentially improve our DPS. I'm a big believer in the benefits of using Disengage and jump-disengage for movement, and it's because of those benefits that I recommend the Glyph of Disengage. If you don't make use of this skill to minimize movement, than the glyph will certainly not benefit you at all. Generally, you can choose whatever major glyphs you think will improve your quality of life the most.

Minor glyphs offer is far fewer choices, and it's easier to choose three that are likely to have the most impact (however minor that may be). Again, feel free to swap whatever you'd like here, though I do highly recommend the Mend Pet glyph -- you'll never have to feed your pet again.

Beast Mastery glyphs

Marksmanship glyphs Survival glyphs The great mystery of stat weights

Stat weights could be argued to be at the very heart of theorycrafting, and it's very complicated to get precise stat weights. When we're talking about stat weights, we're talking about exactly how much DPS do we get from one crit rating or haste rating. How many haste rating is one agility worth? Only by answering these questions can we know with some precision which piece of gear is better or which gem is more desirable.

Of course, there are a lot of problems with stat weights -- more, in fact, than I have room to get into here. Suffice it to say it is complicated to calculate without an actual model of every aspect of hunter DPS (i.e., spreadsheets or simulators) and currently, we still haven't even sorted out exactly how some of the new shot equations actually work. In addition, stat weights are specific to not just your talents but also your gear. In general, by testing a lot of configurations we can usually make some broad recommendations by spec, but even then the "best" gem for your spec sometimes changes as your gear changes.

Right now, no one has created a mathematical model of the 4.0.1 hunter that is close to accurate. Therefore, we cannot calculate exact stat weights.

As I said, even the basic shot equations are behaving in strange ways we're still working out, so there are some questions that we cannot definitively answer. With some stats, like mastery, it's relatively easy to calculate the benefit under any given circumstance. With others -- most notably that dirty hippie, elf-lovin' stat haste -- it's incredibly complicated to calculate the full benefits.

I cannot tell you that you'll get 1.57 DPS per point of mastery rating or that 1 mastery rating is worth 1.12 crit rating. No one can yet. But we can calculate less precise weights.

Stat priority and reforging

Doing some calculations from both raid parses and extensive dummy tests, we can say with great confidence that 1 mastery is better than 1 crit (thus 1 mastery rating is better than 1 crit rating, as they both scale at about 45.91/point). Thus, if you reforge crit into mastery, your DPS will improve.

Because haste is monumentally complex to calculate without a complete mathematical model (because it affects your number of auto-shots, Steady Shots, Arcane Shots, and possibly Explosive Shots and procs of Wild Quiver and Aimed Shot), we have to resort to exhaustive, controlled testing, which is less precise because there are an insane number of variables contributing to our margin of error. However, a series of half-hour tests under identical conditions (with no one else at the dummy) combined with far less-precise parses suggests with pretty good confidence that 1 mastery rating is better than 1 haste rating. Thus, if you reforge haste into mastery, your DPS will improve.

Haste is a bit complex in another way, because there are certain haste plateaus where you hit a "magic" spot in your rotation, and dropping just a couple percent suddenly removes an entire shot from your rotation. Still, the general rule seems to apply in most situations.

Another important factor to consider, however, is that while haste seems to be the lowest DPS stat for hunters in a 4.0.1 world, it takes less haste rating to get 1 percent haste than it does crit rating to get 1 percent crit. You will have to drop your crit by 1 percent to get 1 mastery, but you'd have to drop your haste by 1.4 percent to get the same 1 mastery.

Ultimately, it looks like mastery is our best secondary stat after hit rating. So reforge to hit until you're at the hit cap, then reforge to mastery. Take it away from either haste or crit -- I'm sure there'll be endless debate about which is best (everyone's reporting different numbers, most within the margin of error). I don't suspect we'll ever settle which is best for level 80 -- we're too busy working on those complicated models for level 85.

Whether you take from crit or haste, the difference will be small enough that it'll be lost in the mess of RNG, so don't stress about it too much.

Gemming your 4.0.1 hunter

Gemming is a pretty easy discussion to have. In the vast majority of situations, you want to use agility gems; agility remains our best stat, aside possibly from hit rating. If the socket bonus is a nice agility bonus, go ahead and use agility/crit gems for yellow sockets. You'll want to use one blue or purple gem for your meta socket requirement, which will most likely be a hit rating gem.

If you are below the hit cap, you still do not want to use more than one hit gem! Get your hit rating by reforging!

If you reach the hit cap via reforging, you're sacrificing either haste or crit rating to get the superior hit rating. If you do it via gemming, you're effectively sacrificing the agility you could otherwise put in that socket. You're better off getting your hit through reforging and stacking as much agility into your gem sockets as is reasonable.

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.

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