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Scattered Shots: Pre-raid gear for Cataclysm hunters

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.

Last week we covered our pre-heroic gear lists, bringing us up to at least ilvl 329 gear. A bit of grinding, a bit of questions, a sprinkling of gold and a few good drops and we're ready to graduate from normal-mode dungeons to the new, harder-hitting Cataclysm heroics.

We want to be a lot more careful about selecting our ilvl 349 gear than we were with pre-heroic gear. This is the gear that is going to enable us to start killing raid bosses, and in raiding, the small nuances of optimization really start to add up. You absolutely want to enchant and gem this gear with the best possible gems and enchants. You may also want to evaluate your own stat weights using a tool like Zeherah's DPS Analyzer combined with a hefty dose of logic and common sense. That said, the difference between gear of the same ilvl is smaller than ever, thanks to reforging.

So join me after the cut for the complete list of the best gear we can get outside of raids.

Best hunter pre-raid gear

This gear list includes gear available from quests, crafting, reputation rewards, justice points, and heroic mode dungeons. It does not include any profession-specific 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, especially with reforging.

The Wowhead and other 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 and we'll get it fixed (well, after I hit level 85, I'll get to it). In particular, there are a couple of pieces of gear that are listed in the databases without letting us know where they drop.

All of the dungeons referred to here are the heroic versions of those dungeons.

Slot Item ilvl Source Additional Notes
Head Snarling Helm 346 Rep Dragonmaw - Revered (horde)

Windhome Helm 346 Rep Wildhammer - Revered (alliance)

Willow Mask 346 Justice Points 2,200 Justice Points

Worgen Hunter's Helm 346 Drop Shadowfang Keep - Godfrey
Neck Brazen Elementium Medallion 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Entwined Elementium Choker 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Pendant of the Lightless Grotto 346 Drop Stonecore - Ozruk

Amulet of Dull Dreaming 346 Purchased 1,250 Justice Points
Shoulders Bloodpetal Mantle 346 Drop Halls of Origination - Ammunae

Wrap of the Valley Glades 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points
Back Cloak of Thredd 346 Drop Deadmines - Gearbreaker

Twitching Shadows 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus

Softwind Cape 346 Rep Earthen Ring - Revered
Chest Wentletrap Vest 346 Drop Throne of Tides - Ozumat

Dragonkiller Tunic 359 Crafted Leatherworking

Vest of the True Companion 346 Purchased 2,200 Justice Points
Wrist Bracers of Some Consequence 346 Drop Deadmines - VanCleef

Elementium Scale Bracers 346 Drop Stonecore - Ozruk
Hands Gloves of the Passing Night 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points

Xariona's Spectral Claws 346 Drop Xariona - Deepholm Rare Spawn

Wrasse Handwraps 346 Drop Throne of Tides - Naz'jar
Waist Corded Viper Belt 359 Crafted Leatherworking

Belt of the Dim Forest 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points
Legs Balkar's Waders 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Barim

Hillside Striders 346 Purchased 2,200 Justice Points
Feet Treads of Malorne 359 Rep Guardians of Hyjal - Exalted

Red Scale Boots 346 Drop Grim Batol - Drahga

Boots of Crumbling Ruin 346 Drop Halls of Origination - Anraphet
Signet of the Elder Council 359 Rep Earthen Ring - Exalted

Elementium Destroyer's Ring 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Band of Blades 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Ring of Dun Algaz 346 Drop Grim Batol - Throngus

Skullcracker Ring 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Rom'ogg

Nautilus Ring 346 Drop Throne of Tides - Ozumat

Terrath's Signet of Balance 346 Rep Therazane - Revered
Trinket Tia's Grace 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Siamat

Grace of the Herald 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Corla

Key to the Endless Chamber 346 Drop Stonecore - Corborus
2H Melee Rockslicer 346 Drop Deadmines - Ripsnarl

Berto's Staff 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - zone drop

Seliza's Spear 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam/Barim
Ranged Amber Messenger (bow) 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus

Lightningflash (gun) 346 Drop Vortex Pinnacle - Asaad

Kickback 5000 (gun) 346 Crafted Engineering

Overpowered Chicken Splitter (bow) 346 Crafted Engineering

Ranged weapons

The DPS difference between all of our ilvl 346 ranged weapons is very, very small, and really any of these should suit you just fine as you enter the raiding scene. As always, trolls will want to use bows and dwarves will want to use real ranged weapons -- which is to say guns.

Don't forget to toss on the awesome new Gnomish X-Ray Scope.

Use your justice points

The gear that you can purchase with justice points is always a perfectly acceptable item for that slot; they all made it to the top of the short list, even if there's something that might technically be a tiny bit better. In general, you'll want to use your justice points to prop up gear slots where you've been unlucky with drops. So rather than spending all of your justice points as soon as you get them, instead save them up (without capping out on them), and use them for the slots for which you haven't been getting the good drops.

You'll definitely want to pursue those slots without a justice point option first. After all, if you don't get Balker's Waders to drop for your leg slot, you can always purchase equivalent legs. But if you don't get your trinket drops, you just won't have ilvl 346 trinkets to use as you enter raid content.

Tol Barad

You might also want to consider some Tol Barad rep items. This is technically a PvP reward; however, they also have a bunch of daily quests you can do while your faction controls Tol Barad (and others available whether you hold it or not). These are available through the Baradin's Wardens (alliance) or Hellscream's Reach (horde) factions.

Tol Barad offers some nice rewards, including a 2-handed weapon, a trinket, and a crossbow. However, none of them are superior to the items on this list (sadly the epic trinket reward averages worse than the top couple of ilvl 346 trinkets), though they are certainly comparable. So this isn't a faction that you should feel the need to grind, but if you're into PvP and doing the Tol Barad fight when it comes up anyway, it's an alternative source of items for some slots.

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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