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Scattered Shots: What you see is not always what you get

I can't believe it either, WoW.com actually decided to bring me back for another week! I am Eddie "Brigwyn" Carrington from The Hunting Lodge and I'll be your tour guide each Thursday as we explore what makes our Hunters tick and how we can make them better.

what do you mean it's not an upgrade?Last week we talked about the many different resources are available for Hunters. This week I thought to build on that and talk about item level (iLevel) and what makes a good upgrade.

Yes, I'm sure you are already thinking, "Boring! How difficult can that be?" Maybe for some that would be true. But the changes that happened with Wrath of the Lich King have forced us to rethink some of the old standards. For example, Agility isn't always the king stat like it was in the past. Sometimes you might need to decide between adding Critical Strike Rating, Armor Penetration, or Attack Power all the while considering how much Hit you might be losing.

I do agree that determining your next piece of gear should be relatively simple process. And for the most part, it is. But as with everything, there seem to be exceptions to the rule. Sometimes choosing between two items on the fly or in the heat of the moment just isn't that simple.

And what about the Hunters that are just now getting ready for Naxx? (Yes, there are players that have yet to see Naxx.) Sometimes they don't even know where to start. Or what if you are raiding and you got an upgrade but causes you to lose some critical stats? You might need to compensate for the loss of a much needed stat as you upgrade.

Surprisingly, your best gear choice is not always based on the raid level you're running at the moment. Also, you might need to bank that upgrade for a while and equip a lower iLevel until you make up for a loss in stats (e.g. when the new item causes you to lose too much Hit).

If you are asking yourself, "What is he talking about? What's iLevel?" Don't feel bad, you're not alone. Many players don't realize iLevel even exists. Back in the old days (the original release), items used to be solely ranked first by Required Level (the level you must obtain to use an item) and then the rarity of the item (Legendary "Orange," Epic "Purple," Rare "Blue," etc...)

When more opportunities to obtain Epic gear were developed, players needed to find different ways to help determine which Epics were truly upgrades. Luckily for us, the Blizzard developers have thought of this and created the iLevel ranking system.

iLevel is a great way to easily identify specific gearing points for similar gear. So much so that even recently Ghostcrawler gave some great news about how all the Ranged attack items with an iLevel of 226 or higher got DPS buffs. To many this just meant Ulduar gear got the DPS increase, but really that opens the door to many different items including one item from Naxxramas that Hunters now must decide on. The iLevel is one way to group and easily compare items from different sources and sets without having to create a bunch of new rank descriptions.

There really are only two issues with iLevel. First, some players confuse iLevel with Required Level. When you look at tooltips or item descriptions you are always told the Required Level your character must obtain in the game before equipping that specific item.

The bigger issue with iLevel is the complexity in determining it. The good news for us, you can use the WoW Armory and many other Hunter resources already do this for us. The down side is you can end up with a list of items the same iLevel but for one reason or another don't apply to Hunters or aren't really an upgrade.

So iLevel is a great way to shorten the list for your itemization, but don't stop there. Remember just because an item has a better iLevel, it may not be the best fit at that time. For that we can let our knowledge of Hunter class mechanics guide us to make a decision for what to equip. It really sounds more confusing that it is. Why don't we look at creating an upgrade path for a required Level 80 ranged weapon?

We'll start with a common crafted epic used by many hunters, The Nesingwary 4000. I know, there are better to be sure, but since it can be readily purchased from the Auction House, it often becomes the typically the starting Epic for many Hunters as they start to run through Naxxramas.

Often times Hunters go into Naxx and see the Accursed Bow of the Elite drop and start screaming over Vent how they are going to spend all their DKP for this awesome upgrade. But if you look closer, it might not be such an awesome upgrade after all. Let's take a tale of the tape.

Nesingwary 4000
  • 200 iLevel
  • +21 Critical Strike Rating
  • +78 Attack Power
  • Yellow Socket
If you compare this to:

Accursed Bow of the Elite
  • 200 iLevel
  • +28 Agility
  • +19 Stamina
  • +16 Hit Rating
  • +21 Haste Rating
  • +40 Attack Power

Both are iLevel 200 and have a similar base weapon DPS of 129.6. (Not looking so appetizing is it. Maybe it will look better if we compare individual stats.) Between the Nesingwary 4000 and the Accursed Bow you basically gain a .5% Hit Rating, 21 Haste and 19 Stamina but you lose 10 Attack Power.

This is alright if you are under Hit Cap (we'll keep that for a later discussion) but the Nesingwary has a gem slot. That could be some added DPS or Hit there also. So now you can see how using the iLevel along with a good understanding of Hunter class mechanics helped keep us from wasting precious DKP on an item that was more of a lateral move than an upgrade.

Kel'ThuzadBut what would be our next item then? I'd recommend getting the Nerubian Conquerer from Kel'Thuzad the final boss in Naxxramas. It will give you a much bigger upgrade.

Nerubian Conquerer
  • 213 iLevel
  • +31 Agility
  • +30 Stamina
  • +21 Critical Strike Rating
  • +64 Attack Power

See now we see a jump in our stats. Although we lose the gem slot we see get 31 Agility that will scale with buffs. Also our base Attack Power is increased by 17. This all adds up to a +12 increase in our base item DPS. Now that's the immediate upgrade!

Let's say you are in a guild that can put together a solid 25 man raid. If that is the case, I would recommend that you pick up the Envoy of Mortality when you run it in Heroic mode.

Envoy of Mortality
  • 226 iLevel
  • +36 Agility
  • +30 Stamina
  • +26 Critical Strike Rating
  • +72 Attack Power

Compared to the Nerubian Conquerer we see a base weapon 46.7 DPS increase. Glad I kept you from spending that DKP?

Now your Hunter and your guild is ready to raid Ulduar. After you all down Ignis the Furnas, he ups and drops Rifle of the Platinum Guard.

Whoa now, hold up a sec! I would hate for you to go off celebrating and spending that DKP again without taking a closer look. And don't start screaming at me about how this is Ulduar and "This is the best thing ever!" Because, it really isn't an upgrade for you if you already have the Envoy of Mortality, and barely one if you have the Nerubian Conquerer.

Rifle of the Platinum Guard
  • 219 iLevel
  • +42 Stamina
  • +24 Hit Rating
  • +29 Critical Strike Rating
  • +31 Armor Penetration

See how the Rifle of the Platinum Guard is only a 219 iLevel? If you went with this one over your Envoy of Mortality, you would be losing 28.8 base weapon DPS and wondering where it went.

True, if you have the Nerubian Conquerer you will get a whopping 5.9 DPS increase so it is an upgrade, but marginal at best. Honestly? I'd rather try to get 24 other friends together and see if I could Envoy of Mortality.

So what is a solid upgrade for you? Well go get yourself a Magnetized Projectile Emitter from XT-0002 Deconstructor Yogg-saron.

Magnetized Projectile Emitter
  • 232 iLevel
  • +29 Agility
  • +30 Stamina
  • +27 Hit Rating
  • +66 Attack Power Red socket with a +8 Attack Power socket bonus

When you compare that to the Nerubian Conquerer you will see a base weapon DPS increase of 45.5 DPS. And if you were lucky to get an Envoy of Mortality you will see a respectable 10.8 base weapon DPS increase as well. I'd say go get Robot Boy's Yoggy's gun. and forget about robot boy. (Thanks for the catch Ringo Flinthammer.)

So there you have it. I hope I helped explain how you can use iLevel and a basic understanding of Hunter class mechanics to build your own gear upgrade plan. So let's hear it, what has been some of your experiences with upgrades. Ever picked up an item thinking "It's the best thing since pancakes!!" only to realize that you made a mistake? Or maybe you can recommend some other options for people to get the gear they need for raids. I'd like to hear them.


So you want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. Scattered Shots is the one column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you Fix Your DPS, Choosing the Right Spec, Gear Selection, Macros and Pet Selection and Management.

Filed under: Hunter, Items, Tips, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

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