View other WHU WoW Cataclysm hunter guides.
Cataclysm brings us hunters tons of new gear, but also new combat ratings conversions — meaning it takes more crit rating than every to get 1% crit. The hunter crit cap has not changed from Wrath to Cataclysm, but the ability to ever hit it certainly has!
The hunter crit cap is 104.8% crit.
That’s right, our crit cap is actually more than 100%. The reason for this is that raid bosses (considered 3 levels higher than our hunters) actually have a crit suppression, due to their higher level. Thus if your character tooltip shows that you have a 99.8% chance to crit, you’ll actually crit only 95% of the time.
It is theoretically possible for a hunter to crit with every single shot, but it is impossible in practice for a hunter to hit the crit cap in Cataclysm.
There are no mechanics in the game that artificially prevent a hunter from critting with every shot; however, in practice, we are never going to be able to get enough crit rating to hit the crit cap. Our starting crit levels in Cataclysm are much lower than they were in Wrath, and even as our gear scales up and we get more and more crit rating, we still won’t hit the cap. Not only is it such a long, long way to go, but Blizzard has told us that as we hit new raid tiers we’ll need more crit rating to get the same percentage of crit (probably indicating that those higher-tier bosses will have more crit suppression).
Cataclysm Hunter Crit Buffs & Boosts
Back in Wrath hunters had a lot more ways to increase their crit chance beyond just our crit rating on gear, but most of that has been radically lowered in Cataclysm. The pruning of raid buffs means that on average full raid buffs are only bringing us around an extra 8% crit. In addition to that many of the talents that used to boost our crit chance have gone away or been reduced.
Every percent of crit helps your dps just as much
There’s an unfortunately common (and wrong) belief that crit steadily becomes less helpful at higher levels than it is at lower levels. This is untrue. Assuming the rest of your stats are the same, going from 0 to 1% crit will boost your dps by the exact same amount as going from 39% – 40% crit.
The cause of the confusion is when people start calculating percentage increase in dps, rather than the actual numerical increase in dps. For example, if every crit doubled the damage you do*, then going from 0 – 1% crit would be a 1% dps increase. So if you did 100 dps, you’ll now be doing 101 dps, on average. A 1 dps increase in this example.
But going from 1% crit to 2% crit would then bring you from 101 dps to 102 dps. The amount that your dps is increasing is exactly the same… but that’s now only a 0.99% dps increase. For reference, SV and BM mastery works in exactly the same way — each point increases your dps by the same amount, but the percentage increase gets smaller as your numbers get higher. For more discussion on the interaction of mastery and crit, see the hunter stat scaling article.
* In actuality, this isn’t exactly the case. We have a couple of abilities that only do 150% damage on crit, but then we also have our meta gem offering 3% increased critical strike damage (so 203% instead of 200% for most shots). On top of that we also have abilities that proc off of crits, most notably Sic ‘Em, that also slightly increases the benefit of crit.
Why do I keep hearing about a crit cap then?
Blame it on the melee, it’s their fault.
While hunters essentially have no crit cap and we can stack crit and stack crit until the end of days, melee classes do have a practical crit cap. Because of the priority system for attacks, classes that have to deal with dodges, parries, misses (a problem with dual wielding), and glancing blows.
We hunters have none of those problems as long as we’re attacking from behind — which of course we are (in Cataclysm our physical shots can get glancing blows if we are attacking from the front). With all that in the mix, those rogues and DKs and warriors have an upper limit on the amount of crit that’s going to help them — and a point at which crit becomes much less desirable.