Dealing with Shadowmourne

With the latest WoW patch comes a glimmer of a new legendary weapon.

Legendary weapons in WoW have a long and ever-changing history, but have always been some kind of badge of pride for hardcore raid groups. They have also always been reserved for the largest raid groups in the game (40 man only in vanilla, 25 man in TBC and Wrath).

In vanilla WoW, they initially required rare raid drops, raid dropped materials which didn’t have many other uses, and lots of farming. Later in the game, the Staff of Atiesh tweaked the formula, requiring the deaths of the toughest raid bosses in the game, and a lot of raid dropped materials.

In TBC, the legendary weapons were just rare drops from the end bosses of the hardest raid instances.  Raid guilds would still be required to farm the raids for awhile and get lucky, and would still have the challenge of deciding who should wield the weapon, but the notion of collecting lots of pieces was dropped.

In Wrath, collecting lots of bits from raid bosses is the new black. Val’anyr required rare drops from Ulduar bosses as well as some hard mode kills. And what we know of the latest Icecrown legendary weapon – a two handed axe (spoilers behind the link) – it will require not only collection of special drops from bosses, but also a large number of crafting material drops. Guilds will have to decide whether to prioritise crafting items for lots of players, or saving them for a legendary weapon or two.

I’ve come to think that legendary weapons are deliberately designed as social challenges in Warcraft. We don’t get many of this type of challenge in the game these days, because it goes against the principle of greater accessibility. Grabbing one of these weapons needs the dedication and cooperation of a 25 man raid guild that is capable of hard modes over a period of many weeks. It isn’t trivial.

It also requires the guild to determine who gets the weapon, and when, and how without causing so much drama that the raid splits up before the weapon is able to be forged. That’s the real challenge of legendaries, and that’s why they are unlikely to be given out in a 10 man raid. You couldn’t make the social side challenging enough with only ten people, most of whom wouldn’t be competing for the same weapon anyway.

So, if you are raiding Wrath in a 25 man group, have you decided yet how to deal with the new legendary? Will it be a guild breaker for you? Have you considered that it’s best in slot for Death Knight tanks as well as melee dps who wield two handers?

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7 thoughts on “Dealing with Shadowmourne

  1. IMO, it is a Hunter Weapon. SCNR.

    I don’t raid, but I approve of heavy two-handed axes. But Shadowmourne seems to have only one blade, while a an epic battle axe just needs to have two blades for aesthetic reasons. :)

  2. Splinks, I think GC basically confirms your hypothesis here:

    OK, now I can’t find the link. Late last night, I read a thread in mmo-champ’s blue tracker where a raider complained that they didn’t have enough information about shadowmourne to properly plan how to get it.

    GC replied, kind of douchily, essentially that there aren’t many mysteries left in the game, and they wanted to see how people would deal with the questline. He says they left it open-ended and he doesn’t want to influence how guilds deal with it by telling them what to do. I can’t remember the rest. At the time, I thought “wow, this is a big PR mistake, GC”, and apparently the post has been deleted since then, because I can’t find it anymore.

  3. Even the recipes in IC require the saronite drops, so yes it will be interesting to see how one legendary stacks up against the crafted goods.

    Frankly, I think that stinks. It stinks a lot.

    No doubt the weapon is BIS for a DK, but it does far less for increasing the twin prongs of a tank’s effectiveness (survival and threat) than it does for a dps’ role. We’ll see plenty of arguments I’m sure, but while tank priority is the (appropriate) war cry of many a hard core guild, this is one case where the success of the raid is better served by giving it to a dps player.

  4. Aren’t Blizzard introducing Guild levels (a la Runes of Magic, and I’m sure a bunch of other MMOs) in Cataclysm? i.e. rewards for Guild members working together? So why is this Legendary weapon, which clearly requires a strong Guild to be created, not a BTG item? If Guild members are required to work together to form Shadowmourne, then by rights the weapon belongs to the Guild, thus it should be a BTG item, that is, Binds To Guild.

    Quit the Guild (or be Kicked out) and Shadowmourne would be automatically transferred to the Guild Bank for someone else to check out. And because it’s not a BOP or BOE item it could be utilized in whatever manner the Guild decides is best, and that could change from night to night, or even Instance to Instance.

    • Maybe that is something they will experiment with in the next expansion.

      I’m glad they aren’t doing it now, because we actually raid in an alliance made up of several different guilds so that would really screw us up.

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