We have so far discussed the basic backgrounds of hunters and their talent trees and have mentioned stats on a number of occasions. Stats is a term given to the character attributes. If you open your character panel (C) and click the arrow on the bottom right to see your stat side panel, you'll see what basically makes your character tick. These numeric values is what we are talking about when we talk about stats. The ones that interest us from a hunter's perspective are base stats and ranged stats.
Base stats are the primary stats of all characters. These define our health pool (stamina), mana regeneration (Spirit), and basic damage/healing output (Agility, strength, intellect depending on the class). All base stats except Spirit cannot be reforged. The only primary stat of interest for a hunter is Agility. Agility not only influences our Attack power, but also our critical strike rating.
1 Agility = 2 Attack Power + 0.552 critical strike rating (0.0031%)
It is by far the most useful stat for us, and we should strive to attain as much of it as possible.
If you scroll down to our ranged stats, you will be greeted by what we term our secondary stats. These would be Hit Rating, Critical Strike rating, Haste and Mastery. These stats also directly influence our DPS output, but not to the degree that Agility does. Secondary stats all have different effects on hunters and their effectiveness can differ from spec to spec.
The importance of Critical Strike Rating, Haste and mastery differ depending on the hunter spec chosen.
FunFact: Why don't Warriors enchant their weapons with Intellect? Well, because they don't want their weapons to be smarter than they are, of course....
Hit rating determines our chances that our shots may miss. For almost every DPS class this is the second most important stat behind the classes' respective base stat. However, Hit rating has a cap (which is generally easy to attain), meaning it has a value that if reached, means the character won't miss anymore and any more points in hit rating above this cap are wasted. This is called a hard Cap. For current content the hit cap stands at 8% or 961 for hunters (or 841 for Draenei hunters due to their 1% hit racial bonus). With the release of Cataclysm it was announced that Hit rating would now scale with the release of new content, meaning that with every new raid patch the hit Rating cap would increase. As I just don't have the time to play around on the PTR i cannot confirm or deny this rumour. But in either case you have been warned.
ProTip: Try to avoid gemming for Hit Rating as you are sacrificing a potential Agility gem for a lesser Hit Rating gem. Use reforging as much as possible to reach the Hit cap, as this way you will be exchanging a lesser stat for a better one.
Critical Strike Rating
Critical Strike rating determines the percentage of shots critically hit (deal extra critical damage on top of the shots normal damage). The higher your critical strike rating, the higher the chance of your shots doing critical damage (critting). Critical Strike Rating, like Hit Rating also has a Hard Cap, of just over 100% (100.6%). However, Crit also has soft caps which are points of percentages where, if reached, any more points would have less of an impact. These are generally determined by Talents. An example of this is the Talent Careful Aim (30/60% crit chance to Aimed Shot and Steady Shot to targets above 80% health) which introduces a soft cap of 40.6% (if taken 2/2 in Careful Aim) at which point, because of this talent any more Crit will not improve the critical Strike chance of Aimed Shot or Steady Shot on targets above 80%, any further as they would already be at 100.6%. Also consider that not all specs will have the same soft caps. Survival hunters that didn't take Careful Aim for instance, will not have the above mentioned soft cap. Beastmaster hunters that use Improved Kill command will have another soft cap in regards to that talent. Most of these caps, be it soft or hard caps will prove difficult to attain. i will discuss each spec-specific caps when we discuss these specs in-depth.
Haste affects a hunter's attack speed, focus regeneration and cast times. The more haste a hunter has, the quicker he will fire his auto-shot, regenerate focus and the shorter cast times will be. Haste is generally difficult to quantify as its effects on the hunter are multiple. Haste also has caps, often referred to as Plateaus. Haste plateaus are points when a hunter has an amount of haste that allows him to weave an extra Cobra or Steady Shot in his rotation without delaying any of his instant shots. This also means that the importance of haste will differ depending on the amount of haste a hunter has, but more on that shortly. You can read more on haste plateaus on www.warcrafthuntersunion.com.
Mastery affects the spec specific mastery talent only. The higher the Mastery, the bigger the effect of the mastery talent is. For Survival it increases a hunter's magic damage, for Marksman it increases the proc chance of Wild Quiver (the chance to fire an extra auto shot) and for beastmastery it increases pet damage.
Resilience (PvP only)
If rolling a PvP hunter than Resilience becomes probably the second most important statistic. Resilience reduces the chance that you can be critically hit by another player. In PvP survivability is paramount.
The importance of Critical Strike Rating, Haste and mastery differ depending on the hunter spec chosen. This difference of importance is referred to as stat weight. As mentioned earlier our prime stat Agility is the most preferred stat for hunters meaning it has a higher stat weight than all other stats. Stat weights can change throughout the life of a hunter. Stat weights are influenced by patch nerfs and buffs. Depending on the changes Blizzard may introduce in future patches or expansion the importance of a stat may change. An example of this was haste. In Wrath haste was the least important stat but with class changes introduced in Cataclysm, haste has become much more important.
Stat weights will also change depending on which spec a hunter chooses. All 3 specs place different value on each of the secondary stats. Survival will value haste more than beast mastery for example. And lastly the amount of stats already attained will directly influence stat weights as well. As mentioned earlier any soft and hard caps will generally lower the weight of that stat, whereas approaching a haste plateau will increase the stat weight of haste, but once a haste plateau is reached the stat weight of any further haste will drop until approaching the next haste plateau.
When trying to understand why a stat is better than another, it is best to consider what effects the stat will have on the hunter, and how much a stat has an effect on abilities. For example critical strike rating affects every single shot a hunter fires as well pet damage. Haste rating does not affect instant shots. Mastery may only affect certain abilites depending on the spec. Although hit rating only reduces your chance to miss, consider what good are any of the other stats if your arrows and pet attacks can't hit the target. So if you are ever wondering why a spec favors one stat over another, have a think about what benefits your spec will gain from each stat.
Increasing your stats
In World of Warcraft there are a multitude of ways to improve your stats. First and foremost is an automatic increase each time you level up. The next obvious way is by obtaining better gear. Furthermore stats can be increased by upgrading gear through enchants and gems. Then there's secondary stat manipulation through Reforging and lastly is temporary buffing of stats through spells (called buffs) and consumables such as food, elixirs and potions. We will discuss most of these in-depth later in our guides.
Reforging was introduced with patch 4.0. It allows the player to convert 40% of any one secondary stat (except resilience but including Spirit) into another stat that is not already on the piece of gear you are reforging. For instance if a piece of gear had Haste and Mastery you could reforge 40% of either stat into a stat not on the piece (i.e crit or hit). Here is where stat weights play a major role as you would ideally want to reforge a lesser stat into a more valued one. Consider that reforging each piece will cost you some gold so think carefully about how to best reforge. You should also consider using sites such as askmrrobot.com to help you reforge efficiently. it is best used in conjunction with Femaledwarf.com to reforge using accurate stat weights.
ProTip: Pursue socket bonuses only if the total Agility + secondary stat including the socket bonus would be higher than the total Agility gained using Red gems. I.e. An item has 1 yellow sockets, 1 blue socket and a socket bonus of 20 Agility. If gemmed with just Agility the bonus received is 80 Agility. If socket bonus is achieved using 1 Agi/crit gem and 1 Agi/hit gem the total bonus is only 60 Agility + 20 crit + 20 hit. 80 Agility is better than 60 Agility + 20 crit + 20 hit. Consider another item again with 2 sockets this time red and yellow and a socket bonus of 20 Agility. Now if we were to achieve the socket bonus using one red Agility gem and one Agi/crit gem we would get 80 Agility + 20 crit rating which is better than just 80 Agility.