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Scattered Shots: Pre-heroic hunter gear in Cataclysm

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.

Cataclysm is just around the corner, and it's time to put away the shiny new pets and start planning for level 85. We've already discussed optimizing our 80 to 85 leveling, so now we'll focus on our level 85 gear. To that end, we have a massive info dump for you today. We are going to start by looking at our pre-heroic gear options and save the pre-raid gear for a next Thursday. Unlike Wrath, Cataclysm heroics promise to be actually challenging.

When we first step into the new heroics after reaching level 85, they'll be much harder than Wrath heroics were when we first hit 80. Heroics will absolutely be wiping groups and giggling madly while doing so, so you don't want to go into them with just whatever gear you happened to end up with when you finished leveling. In fact, the dungeon finder will have a minimum gear requirement to queue for the heroics (in the beta, it was ilvl 329), so even if you want to be an underperforming anchor to your group, the game won't let you. (Well, it will -- there's still no cure for idiocy -- but it won't let you in without at least being geared for it.)

So join me after the cut for the massive list of all the gear you're going to be aiming to collect to start slaughtering heroics. This should help you plan which instances you want to run while leveling and which reputations to pursue.

Best pre-heroic hunter gear

This gear list includes gear available from quests, crafting, reputation rewards up to revered, justice points, and normal-mode dungeons. It does not include any gear from heroics, craftable gear requiring heroic mats, profession-specific gear, exalted rep gear, or PvP rewards. I've tried to include several options for each slot, and in general, the items in each slot are listed from best to worst, so the first item (or two) in each slot is your absolute best DPS option. That said, these items are all good, and the difference between the top and bottom of each slot on the short list is small.

The Wowhead databases still have gaps and sometimes buggy information in them, so if you see something that looks out of place, drop a note in the comments.

We'll discuss some specifics about deciding which pieces to go after later, but first let's get right into gear list.

Slot Item ilvl Source Additional Notes
Head Snarling Helm ** 346 Reputation Dragonmaw - Revered (Horde)

Windhome Helm ** 346 Reputation Wildhammer - Revered (Alliance)

Willow Mask ** 346 Justice Points 2,200 Justice Points

Wildhammer Riding Helm 333 Drop Grim Batol - Umbriss
Neck Brazen Elementium Medallion ** 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Entwined Elementium Choker ** 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Amulet of Dull Dreaming ** 346 Justice Points 1,250 Justice Points

Acorn of the Daughter Tree 346 Reputation Guardians of Hyjal - Revered

Pendant of Victorious Fury 333 Quest Battle of Life and Death
Shoulders Wrap of the Valley Glades ** 346 Justice Points 1,650 Justice Points

Mantle of Moss 333 Reputation Earthen Ring - Honored

Bloodpetal Mantle 333 Drop Halls of Origination - Ammunae
Back Softwind Cape ** 346 Reputation The Earthen Ring - Revered

Cloak of Beasts 333 Crafted Leatherworking

Kaleki Cloak 333 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam
Chest Vest of the True Companion ** 346 Justice Points 2,200 Justice Points

Razorshell Chest 333 Crafted Leatherworking
Wrist Eradicator's Bracers 333 Quest Closing a Dark Chapter

Bloodied Dragonscale Bracers 333 Crafted Leatherworking
Hands Gloves of the Passing Night ** 346 Justice Points 1,650 Justice Points

Coulton's Crushers 333 Quest Skullcrusher the Mountain

Treasure Hunter's Gloves 333 Quest Doing it the Hard Way
Waist Belt of the Dim Forest ** 346 Justice Points 1,650 Justice Points

Belt of the Stargazer 333 Reputation Ramkahen - Honored

Nightscale Girdle 318 Quest Blackout
Legs Hillside Striders ** 346 Justice Points 2,200 Justice Points

Balkar's Waders 333 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Barim

Aerial Assault Legguards 333 Quest Krazz Works! (Horde)

Gryphon-Grip Leggings 333 Quest Doing it Like a Dunwald (Alliance)
Feet Treads of the Neferset 333 Quest The Source of Their Power

Red Scale Boots 333 Drop Grim Batol - Drahga
Ring Elementium Destroyer's Ring ** 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Band of Blades ** 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Terrath's Signet of Balance ** 346 Reputation Therazane - Revered

Ring of Dun Algaz 333 Drop Grim Batol - Throngus

Ring of Blinding Stars 333 Drop Halls of Origination - Isiset

Mirage Ring 333 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - zone
Trinket Tia's Grace 333 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Siamat

Skardyn's Grace 333 Drop Grim Batol - Umbriss

Key to the Endless Chamber 316 Drop Stonecore - Corborus
2H Weapon
Seliza's Spear 333 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam

Staff of Draconic Pacification 333 Quest Narkrall, The Drake-Tamer (Alliance)
Torth-Slayer's Staff 333 Quest Fury Unbound (Horde)

Darkling Staff 316 Drop Stonecore - Azil
Ranged Weapon Kickback 5000 ** 346 Crafted Engineering (gun)

Overpowered Chicken Splitter ** 346 Crafted Engineering (bow)

Finely-Tuned Throat Needler 333 Crafted Engineering (crossbow)

Volatile Thunderstick 333 Crafted Engineering (gun)

** Starred items may also be among the best in slot items for heroic-level gear.

A note on heroic gear

The goal with this gear is to enable us to enter and be successful in heroics. Once we start heroics, much of this gear will be replaced, and you certainly don't need to have your pre-heroic best in slot for every single slot to be successful. I've gone through and compared this gear with all of the heroic-level gear; if any gear on this list also made it to the top of the heroic-level gear, I've marked it with two red stars (**). Those are items that you can safely hold onto until you begin raiding, and as such, they're the ones that are likely worth extra effort or cost to acquire.

If an item is a difficult grind or a troublesome drop and it's not starred, it might be worth just taking the easiest item to get elsewhere on this list for that slot, since it'll be replaced once you're running heroics anyway.

As with this gear list, the list of heroic gear that has been datamined is not entirely complete, so it's always possible that we'll discover a new item that will knock one of the starred items off the top of the list. I wouldn't worry about it too much -- the loot lists are very close to complete, and starred items will probably still be on the short list.

Justice points

Most of us are going to hit level 85 with 4,000 justice points (and if you don't have 4k yet, that's something to work on before Cataclysm launch). This means we can purchase one or two items immediately. There isn't a right answer to what to buy with them first. Generally, you want to use the justice points to prop up slots for which you've been unlucky on the drops, or where it saves you from needing to grind out an entire reputation.

You're usually pretty safe with justice point purchases, as those items also make the short list for best heroic-level gear.

Crafted items

It's worth noting that there's an entire leatherworking craftable set that is the introductory PvP set. In almost all cases, these items are significantly worse than what you could get from several other sources (except for the wrist slot, where we have shockingly few options). However, if you just need to fill in one or two slots to make your ilvl minimum, it may be worth having a couple of these made to fill in those slots, since they're all ilvl 333 items.

There are several jewelcrafting items that are very good indeed and are surprisingly BoE (unless the databases are wrong). However, these all require the Chimera's Eye -- the Cataclysm version of the Dragon's Eye, and likely to be very, very expensive. Horrendously expensive, in those first couple of weeks. These are really options for people with deep pockets.

Head slot

I strongly recommend trying to get one of the top three helms on this list, not the fourth (though the fourth can tide you over). You really want a helm with a meta-gem slot, which means grinding out Wildhammer rep for Alliance and Dragonmaw for Horde -- or dumping a bunch of justice points on the next best helm.

Ranged weapon

All of the ilvl 346 ranged weapons are very, very close to each other in DPS. The Kickback 5000 is technically the best, with that lovely red socket. If you're a troll, however, you'll net more DPS from the Overpowered Chicken Splitter and taking advantage of your racial.

Update: Whoops! The ilvl 346 ranged require heroic mats -- so we'll have to start off with the Volatile Thunderstick. Thanks for the catch commenters.

Gemming and enchanting

As a general rule of thumb, only use the best gems and enchants for your ilvl 346 gear -- thus stuff you'll be hanging on to. You still want to gem your lower level gear, but use the cheap gems for that stuff. We'll get into gems and enchants in more detail in the future, but when in doubt go for agility.


There are a lot of reps that provide rewards that we can use, and in a perfect world, we'll find ways to avoid having to grind all of them up to revered.

Keep in mind, however, that you will need to get rep with Therazane for the new shoulder enchant (Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal) and with Ramkahen for the new helm enchant (Arcanum of the Ramkahen). We are not going to be able to avoid grinding rep with these guys, so we may as well plan on grabbing their other rep rewards as well. Also both Guardians of Hyjal and Earthen Ring have exalted rep rewards (ilvl 359) that we're probably going to want.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. We're keeping up with the very latest hunter news with patch 4.0.3 changes, 80-85 leveling, optimizing your pet for leveling, and pre-heroic loot lists.

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