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Scattered Shots: Best-in-slot hunter gear for Cataclysm

Brian Wood

Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. 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.

Loot week continues here at Scattered Shots, and in Cataclysm, all loot is hunter loot! Whether it's a brand new gun to blow the face off of dragons or a decorative mace to put over your hearth, anything purple was put in the game for hunters to claim.

On Monday, we discussed hunter trinkets in depth. Today, we're going to take a broader view and look at our best loot options slot by slot. We're going to be considering everything that drops from current normal-mode raid content, as well as what we can purchase with our valor points.

As always, we are not going to consider PvP options. With the massive increase in the value of agility that Cataclysm brought to us, the PvP set is shockingly attractive; however, the agility it provides is being nerfed on the PTR right now. Clearly, Blizzard doesn't want you to have to run arenas or rated battlegrounds just to build your optimal raid set (we'll see how successful they are at that).

Join me after the cut as we dig into the giant pile of loot available to us and mourn the lack of any hunter gun drops in raids.

Lightning-Charged tier 11 set

The new hunter set continues the theme of breaking the "stalker" theme, and one of the first questions we always have is whether the set is worth going for. Typicall,y what we see with set armor is that each individual piece is slightly worse than the alternative raid drops; however, the set bonus usually makes the set worth going for.

Not so in Cataclysm. For most slots, our set pieces are actually better than the alternative drops for that slot, even without the set bonus. This is primarily because our set pieces are giving us a better socket bonus (agility) and better-colored sockets. So while the generic raid drop might have a blue socket with a 20 haste socket bonus, the set piece has a yellow socket with a 20 agility bonus.

Of course, we're also benefiting from socket bonus as well, as we've discussed before. Note that Blizzard is experimenting with a change to the four-piece set bonus on the PTR right now (currently the PTR version favors BM/MM).

For most slots, our set piece is the best choice. There are a couple of slots for which it's up in the air, depending on your hit balance, and I'll be pointing those out. However, you do want to pursue your four-piece set bonus, so that means of the five Lightning-Charged set pieces, you only want to skip one. However, it's not a bad thing if you end up with all five set pieces, unlike expansions past.

What to buy first?

More than any other right now, the question that is filling my inbox is "What should I buy first with my valor points?" Alas, the answer is that you should get whatever is the largest upgrade per valor point. I can't tell you what the largest upgrade is for you!

While our set bonus is nice, it's not such a huge thing that we really want to get it as soon as we can. It can wait. So if you have a particularly low ilvl piece of gear, replace that first. If you like the look of the shoulders, replace that first. But your best bet is to go for the biggest upgrade per valor point, with an eye to eventually completing the set.


Our head slot has one of our delightful set pieces, the Lightning-Charged Headguard. To get this piece, you actually need the token drop from Nefarian himself, but it is well worth it. We are sharing a token with warriors and shamans, so that is your competition. For the engineers out there it's worth noting that yes, this is better than your engineering goggles.


Our best neck item is the Necklace of Strife that drops from Theralion and Valiona, the second boss encounter in the Bastion of Twilight.


We have two options for the shoulder slot, depending on our hit balance. The Lightning-Charged Spaulders are going to be the best shoulder slot item for any hunters needing the hit rating, and we get them from an armor token dropped by Cho'gal, the fourth boss encounter in the Bastion of Twilight. However, if you don't need the hit -- and you probably do not -- then you'll prefer the Spaulders of the Scarred Lady that drop from Nefarian.

Happily, with reforging, even if you don't need the hit, you won't necessarily be wasting that itemization.


The best hunter cloak is the Viewless Wings that can be purchased for the low price of 1,250 valor points. Interestingly, there is also another cloak with exactly identical stats, Dory's Finery, which looks like a world drop from any heroic or raid instance. Dory's Finery is BoE, so you may be able to pick it up on the AH for an outrageous sum and save your valor points for something else.


Our chest slot is the second place where we may not want to go with the set piece. Our Lightning-Charged Tunic is still a good choice, and in this case, we can just purchase it for 2,200 valor points. However, if you need more hit rating, you can pursue the Tunic of Failed Experiments and its 228 hit, which drops from Maloriak in Blackwing Descent.


The Chimaron Armguards are our best, and in fact our only, wrist drop. They drop off of Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent, so you're really depending on your healers to get them for you.


Nothing will protect our hands quite so well as our Lightning-Charged Gloves, available from your friendly valor vendor for 1,650 valor points.


The best hunter waist option is the brilliantly named Coil of Ten-Thousand Screams, dropping from Cho'gall in the Bastion of Twilight. The gem socket makes it a better choice than the leatherworking-craftable Corded Viper Belt, but if you have the funds, the Corded Viper Belt can certainly carry you over until you get the drop.


Once again, we're sticking with our trusty set piece, the Lightning-Charged Legguards, available for purchase for 2,200 valor points.


Interestingly, the most fashionable footware for hunters doesn't come from a raid, but instead is actually the Treads of Malorne from exalted reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal.


Hunters are a bit boned on the ring front. We do not have a valor point ring option, unlike every other class, as far as I can tell. Our ring choices are a bit odd, actually. Certainly for one of our ring slots, we want the Lightning Conductor Band that drops from the Omnotron Defense System in Blackwing Descent.

Our second choice is the Mistral Circle, which drops from the Conclave of Four Winds in the Throne of Four Winds. If and when Mistral Circle drops, it has one of four random stat combinations. All of them have 190 agility and then 126 of two random secondary stats. Ideally, we probably wan the hit/crit version (Mistral Circle of the Stormblast), but any version with crit will work fine for us. We do not want the haste/mastery version (Mistral Circle of the Zephyr).


We discussed trinkets in detail on Monday. Suffice to say here that our best trinkets are the amazing Fluid Death, available for 1,650 valor points, and Essence of the Cyclone, which drops from Halfus Wyrmbreaker in the Bastion of Twilight.


Interestingly, Cataclysm does not have a whole lot of two-handed agility options for us in raid content, and those two-handers remain superior to dual-wielding one-handers for us. Malevolence from Halfus Wyrmbreaker is the melee weapon of choice that all the fashion-forward hunters will be sporting this season.


Our ranged weapon choices is an appalling atrocity against an entire race -- there are no hunter gun drops in the entire tier of raid content. Silly bows? Sure. Crossbows? Yup. Guns? Only for tanks. This is a tragedy, my friends.

If you are race that doesn't care what kind of ranged weapon you use, the best option is the Dragonheart Piercer crossbow that drops from the Theralion and Varliona encounter in the Bastion of Twilight. If you're a troll, you will prefer the Themios the Darkbringer bow dropping from Atramedes in Blackwing Descent.

Finally, if you are a dwarf -- and this is so sad, yet again -- your best ranged weapon is the Crossfire Carbine heroic ilvl 372 version. It's a BoE, so you don't need to be doing heroic content to get it; just keep looking for it on the AH. Yes, it's a tank weapon with strength on it, and yes, it's much faster -- but it's still going to increase a dwarf's DPS more than any other ilvl 359 or lower ranged. That said, if you don't have the cash for it, the Dragonheart Piercer is your next best bet. The Piercer is better than the engineering gun and better than the non-heroic version of the Crossfire Carbine, even though we lose our racial bonus. It's also worth noting that the Vicious Galdiator's Rifle is better than anything for dwarves, but it does require arena or rated battleground play to acquire.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter in Cataclysm. From leveling your hunter to optimizing for heroics to gearing up with pre-heroic loot and pre-raid loot, we've got you covered.

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