Saturday, December 11, 2010

Welcome to 85: The Hunter Pre-raid Gear List and How to Make It

Updated December 18, 2011!

One of the lesser-known facts about this game is that it can make spreadsheets fun.

No I'm serious, making gear lists is one of my favorite parts of the game. And since "what gear should I wear?" is such a common question for every class, let's walk through how I go about making these lists. The first thing any DPS player has to do is figure out their hit cap. A quick stroll through the EJ Cataclysm hunter FAQ thread yielded the following two numbers:

  • General hit cap is 960 hit rating
  • Draenei hit cap is 840 hit rating

I annotate those numbers on my spreadsheet near the bottom, and then I'll use that same file throughout the expansion. Any time I forget what my hitcap is, I just open up my gear sheet and there it is. Then I format my spreadsheet with 5 columns: slot, item, hit, hastesockets, and source. Slot is where the item goes, item is the item's actual name, hit is how much hit it has, haste is the amount of haste rating on it, sockets is the number of gem sockets it has, and source is where it comes from: JP vendor, rep, or boss it drops from and instance or raid that the boss lives in.

Then I go to wowhead and navigate into the appropriate part of the database. Armor, for example, lives in database -> items -> armor -> mail -> chest (or hands or waist or whatever body part you're looking to gird). Non-mail items are under the broader "armor" menu, while the various weapons are, of course, in the "weapons" menu. Once I've chosen a category of item, I set up the following filters:

  • Wearable by: alliance, hunter
  • Agility > 0
  • Expertise <= 0
  • Resilience <= 0

Here's what these filters do, in the order that I've listed them:

  • "Wearable by alliance" means that I won't see anything that's Horde-only. I'm also not picking the "Wearable only by alliance" option because most items in the game can be worn by both.
  • "Wearable by hunter" just keeps the shaman tier gear out of the list
  • "Agility > 0" means "agility greater than 0," because frankly, armor without agility is useless to us.
  • "Expertise <= 0" means "expertise less than or equal to 0," which keeps all the non-tier shaman gear and rogue/feral druid jewelry and cloaks out of our list. Expertise, if you're wondering, is a stat that reduces the chance your melee attacks will be dodged or parried. Not so useful for a ranged class.
  • Setting resilience to zero just keeps the PvP gear out of the list.

There's only one real exception to these filters, and that's trinkets. For trinkets I pretty much look at everything that's out, since their equip effects and procs vary so widely. Setting those aside, however, once I've applied all my filters I click the "Level" column header, which sorts the list from highest item level to lowest item level. This means you're always looking at the most recent stuff. Then you just go down the column until you find an item you like and copy it into your spreadsheet, along with the relevant information (amount of hit, number of sockets, and where it comes from). I've also got my spreadsheet set up to calculate the sum of the numbers I've got in my "hit" column, so I always know how much hit rating I've got with my current list.

The release of the successive content patches in Cataclysm has made maintenance of this gear list increasingly complex. I think that now, with the release of patch 4.3 and the gear reset that accompanied it, I have to split this into four different sections. The first section will be all the gear that's easiest to obtain for a brand new 85 hunter, which at this point means farming heroics for thousands and thousands of justice points. Don't just blow off the 346 blues that drop while you're farming JP! If you're wearing 317 green bracers and Van'cleef drops her 346 blue bracers, roll need and put 'em on. I wouldn't suggest enchanting them since they'll be replaced with a 378 item in a week or two, but make use of what's there.

Your rule of thumb for drops should be: if it's mail (if applicable) and has more agility than what you've got and doesn't have expertise, equip it! Don't worry about crit vs. haste vs. mastery or reforging or whatever. If it has more agility, take it. If it has sockets, throw some green-quality gems in those. Then go back to farming heroics.

The second section will be a gear list of what stuff to look for once you've raised your item level to the point where the troll heroics (Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub) start popping. This should happen pretty quickly, because the 378 equipment you can buy with JP will elevate your average item level past 346 extremely quickly.

The third section is for when you become eligible for the Dragon Soul heroics. Once you reach this point, you should stop queueing for random Cataclysm heroics and start queueing just for the DS instances. These instances will fill in the holes left by your JP gear. This is the stuff you should be enchanting and putting blue-quality gems in.

The final section of the post will have considerations to keep in mind once you're eligible to queue in the Looking For Raid queue, but by the time you reach that point your gear will absolutely be sufficient to step up to a normal-modes raid guild and start contributing DPS in the high 20s to low 30s.

On to the lists!

Section 1 - available at item level 333

Head: Worgen Hunter's Helm, dropped by Lord Godfrey Shadowfang Keep (heroic)
Neck: Necklace of Smoke Signals, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
ShouldersBloodpetal Mantle, dropped by Ammunae in the Halls of Origination (heroic)
Back: Mantle of Doubt, quest reward from Elemental Bonds: The Vow
Chest: Flamewaker's Tunic, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Wrists: Bracers of Forked Lightning, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Hands: Flamewaker's Gloves, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points
Waist: Hail-Strung Belt, dropped by Altairus in Vortex Pinnacle (heroic)
Legs: Flamewaker's Legguards, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Feet: Treads of Malorne, from exalted reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal
Ring 1: Matoclaw's Band, purchased for 88 gold from Zen'vorka in the Molten Front
Ring 2: Splintered Brimstone Seal, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Trinket 1: Fluid Death, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points. Note: make this your first JP purchase!
Trinket 2Tia's Grace, dropped by Siamat in Lost City of the Tol'vir (heroic)
Melee Weapon: Seliza's Spear, from General Husam in Lost City of the Tol'vir (heroic)
Ranged Weapon: Amber Messenger, dropped by Obsidius in Blackrock Caverns (heroic)

There are a few notes that go with this list. The first few concern trinkets, as it's always notoriously hard to get the RNG to play nicely with you when it comes to them. My first choice for an alternative trinket would be Grace of the Herald from Corla in heroic Blackrock Caverns. Another alternative is Key to the Endless Chamber from Corborus in heroic Stonecore. Alchemists can make themselves a Quicksilver Alchemist Stone, which is really an excellent trinket.

The big limiting factor for your DPS with this starter gear is definitely going to be your weapon. Don't worry too much about it though: you'll be zooming through troll heroics in no time, and the 353 weapons that drop in those will be a nice boost. You can also keep your eye on the AH and see if anyone lists a Ranseur of Hatred or a Lava Bolt Crossbow for cheap, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Most of the people that would be pugging Firelands are going to be in doing the Dragon Soul heroics and LFR instead. And keep in mind that 378 weapons drop in those heroics, so you don't want to spend more than a few hundred gold on a 378 BoE.

Section 2 - available at item level 346

Head: Headdress of Sharpened Vision, dropped by Dakaara in Zul'Aman (heroic)
NeckNecklace of Smoke Signals, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Shoulders: Pauldrons of Nalorakk, dropped by Nalorakk in Zul'Aman (heroic)
BackMantle of Doubt, quest reward from Elemental Bonds: The Vow
ChestFlamewaker's Tunic, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Wrists: Bracers of Forked Lightning, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
HandsFlamewaker's Gloves, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points
Waist: Waistband of Hexes, dropped by Hex Lord Malacrass in Zul'Aman (heroic)
LegsFlamewaker's Legguards, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Feet: Treads of Malorne, from exalted reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal
Ring 1: Matoclaw's Band, purchased for 88 gold from Zen'vorka in the Molten Front
Ring 2: Splintered Brimstone Seal, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Trinket 1Tia's Grace, dropped by Siamat in Lost City of the Tol'vir (heroic)
Trinket 2: Fluid Death, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points
Melee Weapon: Jin'do's Verdict, dropped by Jin'do in Zul'Gurub (heroic)
Ranged Weapon: Mandokir's Tribute, dropped by Jin'do in Zul'Gurub (heroic)


Section 3 - available at item level 353

Head: Dawnslayer Helm, dropped by Asira Dawnslayer in Hour of Twilight (heroic)
NeckNecklace of Smoke Signals, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Shoulders: Betrayer's Pauldrons, dropped by Archbishop Benedictus in Hour of Twilight (heroic)
BackCloak of the Banshee Queen, dropped by the Echo of Sylvanas in End Time (heroic)
ChestFlamewaker's Tunic, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Wrists: Bracers of Forked Lightning, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
HandsFlamewaker's Gloves, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points
Waist: Cinch of the World Shaman, quest reward from To Wyrmrest!
LegsFlamewaker's Legguards, purchased for 2,200 Justice Points
Feet: Dead End Boots, dropped by the random shrine bosses in End Time (heroic)
Ring 1: Mannoroth's Signet, dropped from the loot chest at the end of the Well of Eternity (heroic)
Ring 2: Splintered Brimstone Seal, purchased for 1,250 Justice Points
Trinket 1Arrow of Time, dropped by Murozond in End Time (heroic)
Trinket 2: Fluid Death, purchased for 1,650 Justice Points
Melee Weapon: Thornwood Staff, dropped from the loot chest at the end of the Well of Eternity (heroic)
Ranged Weapon: Dragonsmaw Blaster, dropped by Archbishop Benedictus in Hour of Twilight (heroic)

Section 4 - Looking for Raid, available at item level 372

This section isn't going to get a full list like above for a couple reasons.

The first is that if an item drops in LFR, has agility, is mail (if applicable), and doesn't have expertise, it is an upgrade from JP/instance equipment. Roll need on it.

The second is that by the time you've reached this point, you've done a lot of your own gearing. You've been picking up things I don't have listed, using them for a while, and then replacing them. You should definitely have confidence in your own gear decisions by now, congratulations!

I do have some recommendations to make with regards to LFR equipment though! In my opinion, the two trinkets you want from LFR are the Wrath of Unchaining from the Spine of Deathwing and the Starcatcher Compass from Warmaster Blackhorn. It's not that Vial of Shadows is bad or anything, just that the combination of the other two is better.

Should you happen to farm absolutely everything you could possibly desire from LFR, I would suggest the Sporebeard Gauntlets from Mor'chok as your offset piece.

Remember that you've been stockpiling VP from all this dungeoning and LFRing! Go ahead and shop around the VP vendor and start picking up some items there.

And that's it! Everything you need to gear yourself up to step into a progression raid. I've also written a Guide to Gems, Enchants, and Reforging so please check that out as well. Especially as you're applying to raiding guilds, having an armory that shows at a glance that you know what you're doing is a huge benefit.

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