2008 was the first year of "no Azeroth-raiding". No Molten Core, no Blackwing Lair, just Karazhan and beyond. Then Wrath of the Lich King came and gave us, not necessarily a new universe like Burning Crusade did, but an expanded and enhanced version of that which we all already knew.
And the hunter-loot flowed.
Say it with a very long O. Flooooowed.
By definition, Hunter-loot is just about everything in the game, except maces and plate armor. And sometimes we'll try to ninja that stuff too, just out of ignorance/spite/revenge/insanity. But no matter how you look at it, Zin'rokh the Destroyer of Worlds and Axe of the Gronn Lords aren't in this hunter-loot wheel-house discussion, if you catch what we mean.
Please join us in a rundown of the best pieces of honest-to-Elune hunter-loot of 2008. The loot doesn't need to be epic or powerful to make the list, but it does have to have some Significance.
What defines Significance? For our purpose, we're going to define it as: How much the gear affected our -- i.e, all hunters' -- lives. For example, very few hunters obtained the legendary bow from Sunwell, but that thing affected us all, didn't it.
So let the arguing and scoffing commence; here's the BigRedKitty awards for 2008 Hunter-loot.
10. Swiftarrow Set. Although we're linking to the chest, at level 78, every hunter can, for a modest price, get a complete eight-piece set of the Swiftarrow gear that's pretty darn sweet for both PvE and PvP. No more looking like a clown from quest greenies, and that's a big plus. Any hunter who rolls into their first level-80 instance in anything less than a full Swiftarrow set isn't paying attention. No, it doesn't have any Hit Rating, so it's not recommended for heroics or raids, but it'll get you started in the upper-end of five-person instances. No, it's not arena-quality gear, but if you want to start Wintergrasp and battlegrounds, this set will make you, at the very least, competitive. And when you get PvP and PvE gear, you don't have to worry about breaking a set-bonus; just mix and match the stuff as you need. The power and ridiculously easy availability of this gear -- 100 gold in materials per piece on our server -- puts it at number ten on our list
9. Beast Lord Curiass. Botanica was the longest five-person instance in Burning Crusade, and hunters kept going back, over and over, because the last boss, Warp Splinter, dropped our Dungeon Set 3 chest. "What gear do I need for Kara?" was always very popular question in 2008. Our answer was rote, "You need as much DS3 gear as you can get," and the curiass was the hardest piece to acquire. If a hunter showed up to her first Karazhan wearing the DS3 chest, you had a good idea she had invested the time to get herself ready for raiding. It's not even close in power compared to anything from Karazhan or beyond, but this piece was the ultimate symbol of a pre-raider putting in the hours to advance to the raiding-level. That significance puts it at the number nine spot.
8. Sonic Spear. It drops in regular Shadow Labyrinth, not even heroic. It drops all the time and hunters scooped it up by the truckloads. Reports of it being disenchanted were rampant. And still there were some hunters who just could not get the stinkin' thing to drop! (Yes, we still have a chip on our shoulder.) Before the Arena Season 3 axe was introduced, this was the best pre-raiding melee weapon around. There was a natural progression in Burning Crusade polearms, and it ended with this baby. The beauty of the spear itself, and the taunting that this thing encouraged -- "What do you mean, you've run SL twenty-five times for the SS? I got it my first run!" -- puts it at the number eight spot.
7. Demon Stalker Gauntlets. You did it, you got into Karazhan. You worked hard, progressed, and finally got perhaps your first piece of tier-gear ever. You may not have run Blackwing Lair or Molten Core, or any other raid where "tier gear" dropped, so your Tier Four gloves were a huge, huge deal. You were a "tiered" hunter, and that was awesome. These gloves signified a level of raiding achievement that, for many, was their first. The personal symbolism that this particular piece of gear carried puts these gloves at number seven on our list.
6. Nesingwary 4000. WotLK exploded and, for hunters, this is thing thing you wanted most. You can find this gun in the Auction House every day; it's not rare at all. They cost thousands of gold but worth every copper. They're gorgeous. For all the hunters who had been forced to run with the one hundred fifty Badge of Justice crossbow for months and months, this gun was deliverance from "phooting-hell". The power, the beauty, and the Return of the Boomstick in WotLK puts this gun at number six on the list.
KAPOW! We love ours.