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Cataclysm is just around the corner, and it's time to put away the shiny new pets and start planning for level 85. We've already discussed optimizing our 80 to 85 leveling, so now we'll focus on our level 85 gear. To that end, we have a massive info dump for you today. We are going to start by looking at our pre-heroic gear options and save the pre-raid gear for a next Thursday. Unlike Wrath, Cataclysm heroics promise to be actually challenging.
When we first step into the new heroics after reaching level 85, they'll be much harder than Wrath heroics were when we first hit 80. Heroics will absolutely be wiping groups and giggling madly while doing so, so you don't want to go into them with just whatever gear you happened to end up with when you finished leveling. In fact, the dungeon finder will have a minimum gear requirement to queue for the heroics (in the beta, it was ilvl 329), so even if you want to be an underperforming anchor to your group, the game won't let you. (Well, it will -- there's still no cure for idiocy -- but it won't let you in without at least being geared for it.)
So join me after the cut for the massive list of all the gear you're going to be aiming to collect to start slaughtering heroics. This should help you plan which instances you want to run while leveling and which reputations to pursue.
Best pre-heroic hunter gear
This gear list includes gear available from quests, crafting, reputation rewards up to revered, justice points, and normal-mode dungeons. It does not include any gear from heroics, craftable gear requiring heroic mats, profession-specific gear, exalted rep gear, or PvP rewards. I've tried to include several options for each slot, and in general, the items in each slot are listed from best to worst, so the first item (or two) in each slot is your absolute best DPS option. That said, these items are all good, and the difference between the top and bottom of each slot on the short list is small.
The Wowhead databases still have gaps and sometimes buggy information in them, so if you see something that looks out of place, drop a note in the comments.
We'll discuss some specifics about deciding which pieces to go after later, but first let's get right into gear list.
|Head||Snarling Helm **||346||Reputation||Dragonmaw - Revered (Horde)|
|Windhome Helm **||346||Reputation||Wildhammer - Revered (Alliance)|
|Willow Mask **||346||Justice Points||2,200 Justice Points|
|Wildhammer Riding Helm||333||Drop||Grim Batol - Umbriss|
|Neck||Brazen Elementium Medallion **||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Entwined Elementium Choker **||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Amulet of Dull Dreaming **||346||Justice Points||1,250 Justice Points|
|Acorn of the Daughter Tree||346||Reputation||Guardians of Hyjal - Revered|
|Pendant of Victorious Fury||333||Quest||Battle of Life and Death|
|Shoulders||Wrap of the Valley Glades **||346||Justice Points||1,650 Justice Points|
|Mantle of Moss||333||Reputation||Earthen Ring - Honored|
|Bloodpetal Mantle||333||Drop||Halls of Origination - Ammunae|
|Back||Softwind Cape **||346||Reputation||The Earthen Ring - Revered|
|Cloak of Beasts||333||Crafted||Leatherworking|
|Kaleki Cloak||333||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam|
|Chest||Vest of the True Companion **||346||Justice Points||2,200 Justice Points|
|Wrist||Eradicator's Bracers||333||Quest||Closing a Dark Chapter|
|Bloodied Dragonscale Bracers||333||Crafted||Leatherworking|
|Hands||Gloves of the Passing Night **||346||Justice Points||1,650 Justice Points|
|Coulton's Crushers||333||Quest||Skullcrusher the Mountain|
|Treasure Hunter's Gloves||333||Quest||Doing it the Hard Way|
|Waist||Belt of the Dim Forest **||346||Justice Points||1,650 Justice Points|
|Belt of the Stargazer||333||Reputation||Ramkahen - Honored|
|Legs||Hillside Striders **||346||Justice Points||2,200 Justice Points|
|Balkar's Waders||333||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Barim|
|Aerial Assault Legguards||333||Quest||Krazz Works! (Horde)|
|Gryphon-Grip Leggings||333||Quest||Doing it Like a Dunwald (Alliance)|
|Feet||Treads of the Neferset||333||Quest||The Source of Their Power|
|Red Scale Boots||333||Drop||Grim Batol - Drahga|
|Ring||Elementium Destroyer's Ring **||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Band of Blades **||346||Crafted||Jewelcrafting|
|Terrath's Signet of Balance **||346||Reputation||Therazane - Revered|
|Ring of Dun Algaz||333||Drop||Grim Batol - Throngus|
|Ring of Blinding Stars||333||Drop||Halls of Origination - Isiset|
|Mirage Ring||333||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - zone|
|Trinket||Tia's Grace||333||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Siamat|
|Skardyn's Grace||333||Drop||Grim Batol - Umbriss|
|Key to the Endless Chamber||316||Drop||Stonecore - Corborus|
||Seliza's Spear||333||Drop||Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam|
|Staff of Draconic Pacification||333||Quest||Narkrall, The Drake-Tamer (Alliance)|
|Torth-Slayer's Staff||333||Quest||Fury Unbound (Horde)|
|Darkling Staff||316||Drop||Stonecore - Azil|
|Ranged Weapon||Kickback 5000 **||346||Crafted||Engineering (gun)|
|Overpowered Chicken Splitter **||346||Crafted||Engineering (bow)|
|Finely-Tuned Throat Needler||333||Crafted||Engineering (crossbow)|
|Volatile Thunderstick||333||Crafted||Engineering (gun)|
** Starred items may also be among the best in slot items for heroic-level gear.
A note on heroic gear
The goal with this gear is to enable us to enter and be successful in heroics. Once we start heroics, much of this gear will be replaced, and you certainly don't need to have your pre-heroic best in slot for every single slot to be successful. I've gone through and compared this gear with all of the heroic-level gear; if any gear on this list also made it to the top of the heroic-level gear, I've marked it with two red stars (**). Those are items that you can safely hold onto until you begin raiding, and as such, they're the ones that are likely worth extra effort or cost to acquire.
If an item is a difficult grind or a troublesome drop and it's not starred, it might be worth just taking the easiest item to get elsewhere on this list for that slot, since it'll be replaced once you're running heroics anyway.
As with this gear list, the list of heroic gear that has been datamined is not entirely complete, so it's always possible that we'll discover a new item that will knock one of the starred items off the top of the list. I wouldn't worry about it too much -- the loot lists are very close to complete, and starred items will probably still be on the short list.
Most of us are going to hit level 85 with 4,000 justice points (and if you don't have 4k yet, that's something to work on before Cataclysm launch). This means we can purchase one or two items immediately. There isn't a right answer to what to buy with them first. Generally, you want to use the justice points to prop up slots for which you've been unlucky on the drops, or where it saves you from needing to grind out an entire reputation.
You're usually pretty safe with justice point purchases, as those items also make the short list for best heroic-level gear.
It's worth noting that there's an entire leatherworking craftable set that is the introductory PvP set. In almost all cases, these items are significantly worse than what you could get from several other sources (except for the wrist slot, where we have shockingly few options). However, if you just need to fill in one or two slots to make your ilvl minimum, it may be worth having a couple of these made to fill in those slots, since they're all ilvl 333 items.
There are several jewelcrafting items that are very good indeed and are surprisingly BoE (unless the databases are wrong). However, these all require the Chimera's Eye -- the Cataclysm version of the Dragon's Eye, and likely to be very, very expensive. Horrendously expensive, in those first couple of weeks. These are really options for people with deep pockets.
I strongly recommend trying to get one of the top three helms on this list, not the fourth (though the fourth can tide you over). You really want a helm with a meta-gem slot, which means grinding out Wildhammer rep for Alliance and Dragonmaw for Horde -- or dumping a bunch of justice points on the next best helm.
All of the ilvl 346 ranged weapons are very, very close to each other in DPS. The Kickback 5000 is technically the best, with that lovely red socket. If you're a troll, however, you'll net more DPS from the Overpowered Chicken Splitter and taking advantage of your racial.
Update: Whoops! The ilvl 346 ranged require heroic mats -- so we'll have to start off with the Volatile Thunderstick. Thanks for the catch commenters.
Gemming and enchanting
As a general rule of thumb, only use the best gems and enchants for your ilvl 346 gear -- thus stuff you'll be hanging on to. You still want to gem your lower level gear, but use the cheap gems for that stuff. We'll get into gems and enchants in more detail in the future, but when in doubt go for agility.
There are a lot of reps that provide rewards that we can use, and in a perfect world, we'll find ways to avoid having to grind all of them up to revered.
Keep in mind, however, that you will need to get rep with Therazane for the new shoulder enchant (Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal) and with Ramkahen for the new helm enchant (Arcanum of the Ramkahen). We are not going to be able to avoid grinding rep with these guys, so we may as well plan on grabbing their other rep rewards as well. Also both Guardians of Hyjal and Earthen Ring have exalted rep rewards (ilvl 359) that we're probably going to want.
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. We're keeping up with the very latest hunter news with patch 4.0.3 changes, 80-85 leveling, optimizing your pet for leveling, and pre-heroic loot lists.