Since I’ve been away from some real hunter-specific content for a while, I thought I’d jump back in with a post about gearing for and through ICC. So if you were thinking about hitting unsubscribe because my blog was taking a turn for the strange don’t do it yet! In this post I’ll go over the way I’ve been gearing my hunter with ICC 10 (and a bit of 25) drops, badges, or crafted items and the pros and cons I’ve found with this level of gearing.
Now I’m not going to just link you the BiS gear for every slot, because in most situations thats not easily accessible to me. I like to consider myself fairly middle of the road (for a regular raider) so the gear I talk about here will be available to most of my readers as well. I won’t be focusing on the stats and everything for every single piece, instead I’ll be going over how all our gear synergizes as a whole and what benefits or pitfalls it may bring.
First off, I’ll start with the gear that we’ll be holding over from previous levels of content, our tier 9 set. From what I’ve seen the optimal pieces to keep are definitely the t9 helm and legs (I’m rocking the ilevel 245 versions, which shouldn’t be to hard to get especially because pugs regularly steamroll TOC25) optimally you’d be able to score the 25man heroic-level versions. The helm is wonderfully itemized, and is still holding its own compared to drops I’ve seen in ICC. The pants are also good, but my main reason for keeping them is because the t10 pants are terribly itemized and don’t have any arpen at all while the t9 legs still have a fair amount. It also seems that holding onto the gloves instead of the helm is also viable, although there are some good options for that slot at higher ilevels.
Sticking with tier gear, a lot of our tier 10 pieces have some strange itemization, but the ones that I’ve gone for first are the shoulders and chest. The t9 shoulders were also kind of lackluster so t10 is a big upgrade, not to mention that I’m an orc so how am I supposed to not go for a pair of spiked shoulders that look huge and awesome on me =P. I had the Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate before I acquired my t10 chest, which wasn’t that awesome since it was kind of a side-grade. The t10.5 version of the chest scales up wonderfully though, not to mention the set bonus is entirely too awesome to pass up (especially when combined with our t9 bonus).
To make up for the fact that some of our t10 gear is kind of weird at times, almost all the badge gear we can get is wonderful. The back is BiS until heroic content, not to mention it has a fair amount of arpen and a socket. After my tier and the cloak the next upgrade I went for were the gloves, which are itemized beautifully again with more arpen. The t10 gloves are decent if you’re in dire need of some hit (more on the entire hit-cap thing later in this post T_T), but as a MM player that arpen is awfully tempting. Speaking of hit the badge belt is also awesome, it has a ton of hit rating and a total of 3 sockets (after the buckle) which means you could throw 20 hit gems in all of those and have around 3% on one piece. I upgraded to this from the 25man Anubarak belt, which was a little painful because that belt was really good at the time and itemized perfectly for a marksmanship hunter. But with a lot of gear I have is so barren in the hit department that I couldn’t resist.
The ilevel 264 crafted items cost an arm and a leg at the moment, but in my opinion its definitely worth it. We already have our t9 legs so I won’t be breaking that up (although the crafted pants are pretty sweet), but the crafted boots are awesome and a big upgrade from most available alternatives. I was lucky enough to score the boots off of 10man Festergut which are itemized well and make the 264 boots more of a sidegrade. They are still a decent sized DPS boost, despite that some stats are being moved around. But since getting this gear is still pretty cost-prohibitive (for me at least :<) I’m not chasing after crafting them right away instead I might start selling some Primordial Saronite until the prices come down a little bit.
For the other slots that can only be filled by drops there are quite a few decent choices. For the neck piece I’m still rocking the Charge of the Eredar, if you have the dough to spend you can easily get pretty close to BiS with Wodin’s Lucky Necklace from the auction house (or off trash in ICC). When it comes to rings theres no reason not to go for the Ashen Verdict ring, it scales extremely well and once you get to exalted its awesome (AP proc, gem socket, hit rating, what more do you need!). For your second ring the Dexterous Brighstone Ring from Triumphs is still a contender, although I have the ring off 10man Saurfang which is a wonderful upgrade. When it comes to your ranged slot theres a great bow off 10man Lady Deathwhisper (which drops all the time o_O) and if you can afford not having any stats on your bow (apart from a badass proc) Zod’s Repeating Longbow off Lady Runs-Her-Mouth 25man is BiS until heroic content (I was skeptical when I first got it, but after a short adjustment period I’ve fallen in love). As for a stat-stick in ICC there’s a serious fucking drought of hunter-itemized weapons. Sure there’s a staff off of 10man Rotface, but it’s not that amazing (better for kitties IMO). There’s a decent polearm off of Blood Princes, it sacrifices a large portion of agility budget for arpen and some hit (my calculations place it below Quel’Delar still). If anything you can hope for Distant Land off 25man Festergut (again, more designed for feral druids IMO). If you have the gold to spend I’d suggest investing in a Battered Hilt (its better in overall DPS than everything listed so far except Distant Land). Or you could end up like me stuck with a 232 weapon, looking silly =[. If you’re hoping for that brilliantly itemized weapon just keep dreaming about stuff like this and this (or maybe this) from the Lich King.
One of the most talked-about items for hunters are definitely trinkets. One of the most easily accessible is the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (from heroic Forge of Souls), despite its low proc-rate it certainly pulls its weight once you’re able to soft-cap arpen with it. Also the Whispering Fanged Skull off Deathwhisper 10man is a wonderful trinket to keep around if you aren’t worried about arpen or are close enough to hard-cap that soft-capping is no longer a concern. But the elephant in the room is definitely Deathbringer’s Will, it has a HUGE amount of passive arpen on it (11% percent O_O) and wonderful procs that can change your entire rotation. I managed to get my hands on it, but only by forgoing any loot in 25man ICC for a month to secure my position on top of the SK list for my raid group (this was before we even downed Saurfang once, so I was pretty much pissing into the wind). It’s definitely worth it DPS wise, not to mention it makes you feel like a total badass. If you don’t have access to this bad boy, the old standby Darkmoon Card: Greatness is still viable (or Death’s Verdict/Choice for that matter).
After this wall of text crits you you’re probably wondering what all this means. On my toon this gear puts you ridiculously under hit cap (you’ll need 3/3 Focused Aim for sure), with a severe lack of haste (I know it’s not a big deal but having slow slow slow Steady Shots are a pet-peeve of mine T_T), and a fairly high amount of crit along with soft-capped arpen (100% when the scorpion procs). This combination of gear leads to some changes to our play style as well, based on set-bonuses and procs and all that jazz. Two piece t9 is still awesome, so Serpent Sting still needs to be up as much as humanly possible (rolling on multiple targets if you’re really a big dog). Two piece t10 augments this further, while the 15% bonus damage proc is active you can reapply your SS (during the Steady Shot phase of your rotation) and refresh it with Chimera Shot to constantly keep that damage bonus to Serpent Sting up on the target. Deathbringer’s Will procs add another layer on top of what we already know, when we proc either Aim of the Iron Dwarves or Agility of the Vrykul along with the t10 2-piece (and even Culling the Herd if you’re feeling cheeky) you want to reapply SS and refresh it with Chimera Shot as I went over earlier. Keeping up this “super-sting” is a HIGH priority because its doing 15%-18% more damage and has an augmented crit chance based on either 600 agility or 600 crit rating, this provides a big bonus to our overall dps not to mention our Chimera Shot damage. While these procs are up you definitely want to pause and do a Rapid Fire/Readiness cycle to maximize the amount of shots you can crank out while under the effects of such bonuses. One proc I haven’t talked about yet is the arpen proc, due to the exponential nature of armor penetration the closer you are to soft-cap the more important this is. For me, when this procs I have to do my best to stand still and crank out a high frequency of Auto Shots and Steady Shots (hasted as much as possible) since the boss is effectively naked.
Despite the shortcomings presented by ICC gear, overall I think Blizz did a pretty good job designing things (except no weapons! :<). Our set bonuses are influential and fun, not to mention they can change our entire rotation sometimes. Sure it makes things more complicated if you really want to squeeze the maximum amount of DPS out of your toon, but personally I get bored when things get too repetitive or easy. Hopefully this guide helped you to make your own choices on what gear you’re gonna be shooting for depending on how you play. I don’t recommend copying me item for item, but I do hope my logic in choosing items has helped you decide whats right for you. I’d love to hear the choices you made or trends you’ve observed at higher gear levels. Also feel free to send me some gold to aid in my gear “research” =P thanks for reading!