Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scattered Shots: It's all hunter loot in ICC, part 1

ICC Hunter Loot
Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.

Okay, maybe it's not all hunter loot -- certainly there are some useless plate pieces and decorative maces in there -- but our ICC loot shopping list is delightful and vast, and even impacts the balance of hunter specs. This is the end game loot folks. The last major raid instance with the coolest and shiniest and bestest toys we're gonna get (and some bows).

In fact, there's just so darned much hunter loot delight that it won't all fit into one post! So join me after the cut as we start to plan our ICC loot lists with a look at our itemization, tier 10 armor, Emblem of Frost options, and craftable loot.


When we talk about itemization, we're not just talking about having more of each stat, but also how our itemization budget is spent. ICC is the best itemized hunter look of any tier. This means that we're seeing more of the stats we like -- more red sockets, more crit, more armor penetration -- and less of the stats we don't like, such as blue sockets and haste.

The biggest impact we're going to see from this fantastic itemization is the greatly increased amount of ArP we'll be seeing on our gear. ArP is all over the place in ICC, in large amounts, and it's not something you're going to be able to avoid. MM gains far more benefit from ArP than SV, and the ease with which tons of ArP is now available will shift the balance of best dps spec strongly in the MM direction. MM will no longer have to give up nearly as much to pursue the badass ArP builds. In fact we're going to see a lot of MM hunters hardcapping their ArP, rather than pursuing a softcap with a trinket like Mjolnir Runestone or Needle-Encrusted Scorpion.

In the ICC endgame of best hunter dps benchmarks, I think we'll see the gap between SV and MM widen substantially.

A Note on "Best" Gear

I'm going to make an effort to identify some of the best and most desirable hunter loot in ICC. But we need to realize that what gear is the best depends not just on your spec, not just on your specific talents, but also on what other gear you have, and exactly how you play.

So rather than try to identify a Best in Slot, we're going to look at what gear is generally on the top of the lists.

Tier 10

ICC is also bringing us the unpleasantly named Ahn'kahar Blood Hunter set, complete with two set bonuses we actually like! The tier 10 set 2-piece bonus is absolutely the first thing you should be pursuing with your Emblems of Frost. Let's take a closer look at these bonuses:

2-piece bonus:
Your Auto Shots have a 5% chance to cause you and your pet to deal 15% additional damage for 10 sec.

This is a phenomenal set bonus that favors BM and MM. BM has a much faster rate of Auto Shot fire with Serpent's Swiftness and will get the proc more often. Sadly it's not enough to put BM up into the SV/MM raid dps range, but it's something. MM has a smaller advantage with the ability to maintain the 15% damage boost to their serpent stings indefinitely with the way Chimera Shot refreshes percentage damage boosts. But for all 3 specs this is a fantastic set bonus that scales beautifully with gear and buffs.

As a side note, you still don't want to stack haste to try to get this proc more often. The amount of useful stats you'd give up just aren't worth it. That said, if you aren't already using the Improved Aspect of the Hawk talent, this set bonus might just be enough to push you over the edge!

4-piece bonus:
When your Serpent Sting and Wyvern Sting abilities deal damage, you have a 5% chance to gain 20% attack power for 10 sec.

This set bonus isn't nearly as attractive; however, it's still a good set bonus. Using some paper napkin math, this bonus looks worse than the tier 9 2-piece bonus (Serpent Sting crits!), though certainly with much better stats on the items. Proccing off of your sting damage means that on single-target fights, this ability will be proccing very seldom. The proc gets much stronger in fights where you have multiple targets up for a sustained amount of time, and you can keep your Serpent Sting on two targets at once (which you're doing anyway when you have the chance, right?).

Overall it's generally a good move for hunters of all specs to pursue the 4-piece set bonus. I suspect we'll see most hunters getting the head, shoulders, chest, and hands for their set, and leaving the legs out of the set. The Ahn'kahar Blood Hunter legs and hands have no ArP, and there's some hefty ArP legs available elsewhere that is likely to make it the logical non-set piece.

Emblem of Frost Gear

We have some fantastic gear options purchasable with our Emblems of Frost. There's a generic Emblem of Frost vendor in Dalaran, but the set vendor is located just inside the entrance to the ICC raid instance, as well as one in the Dalaran Leather & Links shop near the south bank.
  • Ahn'Kahar Blood Hunter set
    • Spaulders, Handguards-- 60 emblems
    • Headpiece, Tunic, Legguards-- 95 emblems
  • Back: Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape -- 50 emblems
  • Chest: Longstrider's Vest -- 95 emblems
  • Hands: Logsplitters -- 60 emblems
  • Waist: Band of the Night Raven -- 60 emblems
  • Trinket: Herkuml War Token -- 60 emblems
My recommendation (certainly what I'm doing) is to pursue your 2-piece tier 10 set bonus first, right out of the gate. Exactly which two pieces you get first will depend on what gear you currently have. I'm keeping my tier 9.5 legs and hands as long as I can, for example, so I'm stuck purchasing one of the expensive ones for my second piece and it'll be another week before I have enough emblems.

Once you have your 2-piece Ahn'kahar Blood Hunter bonus, you probably want to get the Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape next. There's not a lot of options for the back slot from ICC drops (and none in 10-man from any loot list I've seen). Maybe the Lich King is hoarding our cloaks (and our guns!). However this emblem cloak is currently the best back slot item available to us, and we can just buy it whenever we want!

The chest and hand pieces are probably going to be used for your set, so these aren't terribly attractive (unless you really want the ArP on the Logsplitters). The trinket is filled with Haste, which makes it far less desirable for hunters as opposed to other physical dps classes. You can get a better waist via drops (in 25 man anyway) but if you still haven't gotten a better waist by the time you've collected your entire tier 10 set and back, this could be a nice little upgrade to hang onto until something better comes around.

Crafted Gear

ICC also brings us new crafted gear pieces that can be made with Primodial Saronite, the extremely costly by-product of the god of death. These include:
  • Shatter Rounds
  • Iceblade Arrows
  • Legs: Draconic Bonesplinter Legguards -- 8 Primordial Saronite
  • Feet: Rock-Steady Treads -- 5 Primordial Saronite
The epic ammo is epic. The AH prices have come down, and of course you want to use this stuff. 'Nuff said.

The Rock-Steady Treads are competitive for the best mail feet out there. You can get a bit more ArP from drops if that's what your after, and if you need hit rating you may prefer something else; however, in general you'll probably be content keeping these puppies throughout ICC. This is on my wish list as the Primordial Saronite prices continue to drop.

The Draconic Bonesplinter Legguards are also very good, though there is equivalent or better available through drops in early 25-man ICC as well as options with hit rating. In general if you are raiding 25-man ICC I think these are worth skipping; however, if you have deep pockets or only raid 10-man (or not at all) these are an excellent purchase.

Next Week

That pretty much covers the ICC hunter loot that we have space for today. The best thing about all of this epic joy we just talked about is that we don't have to rely on random drops for any of it. But, there is a lot more loot left to cover!

Next week we'll take a look at Quel'delar, the Ashen Verdict faction rings, and all the joyous purples that drop from the ICC raid bosses.


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