The pre-Cataclysm patch is up on the public test realm. There hunters have focus and a dramatically different spellbook. Pets have their new abilities. Armor penetration is gone from our gear and haste is in ascendance. What can we do to prepare before these and other changes go live?
Armor penetration gems become crit gems with the patch. If you have an armor pen build, you will likely want to think about how to replace your crit gems. You can buy your Cardinal Rubies and Ametrines now at what are to my knowledge all time low prices or you can bet on cooldown-free epic transmutes reducing uncut gem costs even further when the patch hits. You have nothing to worry about if you currently gem agility; those gems stay the same (excepting agility’s new higher provision of ap).
There are changes to our gear’s innate stats as well. In direct itemization armor pen will be replaced with either haste or crit in 4.0. On most gear it appears to be replaced with haste, but there are examples like Deathbringer’s Will in which the passive arp has become crit. Intellect will also disappear from our gear. So too will attack power. Yet, unlike arp, intellect and ap’s replacement stat is found by way of agility simply providing more attack power than it does on live now. This partially makes up for the loss of ap from itemization and Careful Aim. Along with these major stat changes, there will also be subtler alterations. I have noticed crit and hit shifting by small amounts (between 0 and 15) on my gear and because of this I am now well over the current hit cap on the ptr. There is not much we can do about all of these itemization manipulations. You might find it to be worth reconsidering those odd pieces of gear that would have been outstanding for pre-4.0 hunters but for their haste, like Distant Land and the Herkuml War Token. Also, if you are in a position to choose between an ap-heavy piece and an otherwise comparable agi-heavy piece (like heroic Taldron’s Long Neglected Boots vs Rock-Steady Treads), stick with the agi-heavy piece for 4.0.
The tier 9 two piece bonus has been changed so that it is not redundant with 4.0’s naturally critting stings. With the patch it takes on tier 8’s two piece bonus, a 10% increase to Serpent Sting damage. It is not a very interesting bonus, but it is better than nothing and will certainly help SV’s fun SrS aoe. It also reduces any pressure that hunters who are still running 2t9+2t10 have to get 4t10 (sanctified or no) before the patch.
As you may know, glyphs are changing with 4.0 so that once you learn a glyph you have it in a sort of glyph spellbook permanently. Known glyphs can be swapped with each other for the mere price of a reagent. Because of this, you might consider building up a glyph kit for yourself ahead of time because (1) prices have the potential to spike with the patch and (2) you may wish to have different glyphs for leveling. I make no guarantees about the worth of such a kit, though, because not only will glyph application processes change but so will glyphs themselves. If you buy your glyphs before the patch you may end up with some worthless scraps of paper, glyphs that are never worth knowing, etc. Compound my not having an inscriptionist with the apparent disabling of crafting professions on the ptr and I am left unable to say much with confidence about preparing for the glyph changes.
Our pets have their new abilities on the ptr. Cats have been fairly popular from what I have seen, likely owing to people just enjoying cats and to their now having the Horn of Winter effect. If you plan to raid between the patch and the expansion, consider leveling up some of those pets that offer buffs that your raid group is missing.
The new currencies are in effect with the patch. As such, take a look at the exchange rates and consider whether you want to make any planned purchases sooner rather than later. From what I have seen on the ptr, frost to justice multipliers for vendor prices are much larger than the multipliers that our emblems get in the exchange rates. It is a dramatic decrease in our purchasing power. At current coefficient values, you are better off buying emblem items (including heirlooms) before the patch.
There are new conversion rates that appear to work on a 1:1 basis with vendor cost changes. That is, vendor costs are determined in the same way that our currency is converted, at 11.58 Justice Points for each Frost or Triumph. It may in fact be slightly better to wait for the patch to buy heirlooms considering that chests now cost about 38 rather than 40 emblems.
If you have any additional tips about transitioning to 4.0, please leave them in a comment below.