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A guide to Hunter badge loot in 2.4

So 2.4's going live, and I know your first question: What's in it for me? If you're a Hunter, let me enlighten you, at least on the subject of badge loot. There's a couple pieces of mail armor and a few new weapons that Hunters should have their eye on once Smith Hauthaa is open for business, and I'll give you the breakdown on how they stack up for Hunters after the Break. Just to note, I will mostly be comparing these to T5 and T6 drops, and will assume that you won't be attacking the Sunwell immediately.

Weapons

Crossbow of Relentless Strikes - Now this baby is a real beauty. Although it's still a bit less DPS than the Black Bow of the Betrayer, It's going to end up being better overall for Beastmastery Hunters in some cases thanks to the lower speed. As a Beastmastery Hunter, you're probably going to want to be shooting for a 1:1 shot rotation (That is, 1 Auto Shot, 1 Steady Shot), and getting to the approximately 1.7 second ranged attack speed sweet spot is going to be a lot easier to do with this crossbow's 2.8 base speed. If you have a whole lot of haste gear or really need the mana regeneration on the Black Bow of the Betrayer, it may still be worth shooting for that instead, but if you need to shave a bit more time off your ranged attack speed, or if you don't have a chance of seeing Illidan go down any time soon, this is the ranged weapon for you (If you're unsure about how to calculate your total ranged attack speed, see Big Red Kitty's guide here).

The downside to this is that if you're a Marksman or a Survivalist, you may find that the crossbow's speed makes it harder to fit in a more complicated rotation. If you already have the Black Bow of the Betrayer, you're better off sticking with it for sure. If you don't, this is really when you have to check your rotation, check Cheeky's Spreadsheet, and see if any extra DPS from the crossbow is worth the possible shot clipping (when one of your special shots interrupts or skips an Auto Shot). Bottom line: If you are a Beastmastery Hunter, this is probably the first 150 badges you should spend once Hauthaa is unlocked on your server. If you're not, it may still be worth it, but check your ranged attack speed.

The Blade of the Harbingers - This isn't a bad axe, but the big question, of course, is whether it's worth 150 badges for a Hunter. It definitely compares well with current Hunter choices. You'll lose some hit rating and ranged attack power switching over from the Halberd of Desolation, but you'll gain a good amount of critical strike rating and weapon haste. Again, the kicker is probably how fast you need your ranged weapon to be. If the haste rating on this blade doesn't cause you to start clipping shots, this is a very nice stat stick for you to strap on. I myself will probably stick to my Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe for now, both for the hit rating and armor penetration, but if you're looking for a good weapon upgrade, don't need hit rating, and don't want to do the Arenas, The Blade of the Harbingers is a strong option.

Armor

Leggings of the Pursuit - These are an all around great set of legs. They're more or less a sidegrade from Bow-stiched Leggings off Azgalor of Mount Hyjal, perhaps slightly better if you need the hit rating and don't mind losing a bit of critical strike power for it. These will probably get purchased sooner rather than later by me.

Scaled Drakeskin Chestguard - This is a pretty solid choice for Hunters. For raw agility and attack power, it beats out the Gronnstalker's Chestguard by a hair, although the Gronnstalker's has more gem slots that will push it back to the top when gemmed out. The big advantage for the Scaled Drakeskin Chestguard that may bump it slightly over the Gronnstalker is the haste rating. Of course, just like the Blade of the Harbingers before it, your chief question is going to be whether or not the haste rating messes up your shot rotation. If you can take the speed, this is a very nice piece of armor to shoot for.

Angelista's Revenge - While this first appeared on the PTR as the "Sunwell Badge Loot - Melee Ring," it's a very solid choice for Hunters as well. It's slightly better than the Signet of Primal Wrath, a timed loot reward from Zul'aman. The agility on it means that it should even trump the Stormrage Signet Ring off of Illidan as long as you don't need the hit rating. Pairing any two of those three rings, depending on your exact needs, is going to give you the most well-equipped fingers outside of the Sunwell Plateau for sure, especially if you're stacking armor penetration (More of it has an exponential effect on your DPS, at least until your target's armor reaches 0). I will very definitely be investing in this ring, probably right after I get my crossbow.

Edit: Oops, I forgot the gloves! Here they are.

Gauntlets of Rapidity - It's probably worth noting that despite the name, haste rating is absent from these gloves. Despite the confusing name, they're still pretty solid, although they're probably the least tempting Hunter-oriented badge item for a Hunter who's already in T6 content. They slightly edge out Gronnstalker in attack power and critical strike rating, but the Gronnstalker comes out ahead anyway with a nice bit of armor penetration. Still, if you're not in T6 content, these are probably going to be a solid thing to spend your points on.

And there you have it. I'd say the crossbow and the ring are amazing finds, ones that I am scrambling to save badges for as we speak, and the other pieces also very solid depending on how much haste rating you need hit your sweet spot, and we Hunters have a lot to look forward to once Smith Hauthaa's availible. In the meantime, keeping saving up those badges, and we'll see you at Quel'danas.

Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion

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