A blast from the past! And why we won’t get any more legendary tanking weapons..

One of my guildies has finally finished collecting the pieces he needs to build Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker (don’t try saying that when you are drunk).

This was THE iconic tanking weapon during vanilla WoW. It was one of the few legendary weapons in the game, it looked great, and the special proc produced a massive amount of threat — at least at the time. Not only that but carrying a Thunderfury meant that were an important enough person to your guild that 39 other people had decided to help you get the weapon. If you were a raider, you may well have known the names of all the toons on your server who had a Thunderfury. And there likely would not have been many.

My guildie is really just getting the weapon for kicks now. It’s been outdated for years (they actually had to nerf it in TBC because it was better than some of the level 70 tanking epics). But it still looks great, and it’s still pretty meaningful to anyone who was around back in the day.

The shared topic this week on Blog Azeroth is Memories of the Old Days. So I thought this would be a good excuse to show off about how my first raiding guild got a Thunderfury for our main tank, and it also shows how the core of raid design thinking has changed since then. Not only in WoW but in MMOs in general.

Rise, Thunderfury!


The first thing you had to do to build your own Thunderfury was to acquire two rare drops from bosses in Molten Core, and this is back when it was a 40 man raid. They were called the Bindings of the Windseeker. To give you an idea of how rare they were at the time, it was not unusual for a guild to have been running MC for a year and still not to have both bindings.

Only after one person had both bindings could they combine them and then start the next stage of the quest, which required a drop from the last boss in MC (fortunately this one was a 100% drop). After that, you needed 10 Elementium Bars. Now, Elementium only drops from mobs in Blackwing Lair (the next raid instance, also 40 man at the time) and to get to them you need to have killed the first boss in BWL.

Why is that relevant? Because Razorgore, the first boss, was a notorious guild killer. The fight was geniunely a step up from anything your guild would have seen in MC and because it involved 40 players and vast amounts of mobs, disconnects were also common. After you’d killed him, you could sweep into the next room and try to grab as many of the little goblins as possible … while they were running away. If you were lucky, some would drop Elementium Ore. But then there was another problem … you had to smelt it and none of your blacksmiths would have learned that from their trainer.

Nope, the trainer for smelting Elementium was deeper inside Blackwing Lair. About three bosses deeper in, to be precise, and wouldn’t you know it, the very next boss Vaelastrasz was also a noted guild killer. (BWL is a great raid instance but the difficulty is front loaded). Assuming you got him down, and Brrodlord and Firemaw too, you could clear your way to the goblin who knew the secrets of Elementium. Then one of your priests could mind control him and use him to teach elementium smelting to any of your blacksmiths who wanted to learn.

This is the point at which everyone learns that each bar of Elementium requires 10 Arcanite Bars as well as the Elementium ore and various MC drops. An Arcanite Bar can be transmuted by an alchemist but each one requires one arcane crystal, which is a rare mining drop from thorium nodes. So someone needed 100 arcanite bars to make their Thunderfury, it’s a lot of gathering.

There may have been people mad enough to do it all themselves but usually the guild would help out and people would donate crystals and spare transmutes at this point.

When you finally have all those bits, the last part of the quest is a mild anticlimax. You have to go kill a world boss, and it isn’t very hard.

Back in the day, my guild was the first alliance guild on our server to complete the Thunderfury quest – there were a couple of more progressed guilds but they’d been unlucky with the bindings drops. We were unbelievably proud of the achievement and that we’d been able to get this thing for our main tank. He was incredibly proud too. Lots of people had helped with the mining and transmuting. Everyone had helped with the raid bosses and on the progression through MC and BWL that we needed. I think I did the mind control on the elementium-teaching goblin.

And all I have to remember it by now is this crappy screenshot (what was I thinking?) Anyhow, this is a shot of the summoned elemental prince that you have to kill for the last stage of the quest.


I don’t think any dev would require that amount of coordinated effort from a large guild to get a single weapon again. In a sense, it’s just crazy. And to put a tanking weapon that good into the game is effectively disadvantaging any group that doesn’t have access to it.

Because raids are so dependent on their tanks, you have to be a little careful with what upgrades you give to them. Thunderfury was an amazing weapon and I’m proud that my guildie was able to get all the pieces for his – it took a huge amount of dedication even though the fights are a lot easier now. But please never do that again.

18 thoughts on “A blast from the past! And why we won’t get any more legendary tanking weapons..

  1. Ahh, memory lane.

    In my two raid guilds, neither had a toon with Thunderfury, but we had lots of tanks, paladins, and rogues who had the same 1/2 of the bindings. I love this post though; just mentioning how difficult the Razorgore fight was for first-timers has me all nostalgic for our learning process. Hmm. 🙂

  2. What a fantastic memory. My guild on Thunderlord did the same thing for our tanks, not once but twice. Yeah we were extremely lucky on our binding drops. Me being a mage, just pewed pewed. It was still great fun, and that was probably one of the greatest guilds i was a part of, and funnest too. 40 man raids, we’ll never see the like again I think. Part of me misses them, and then again part of me says good riddance.

  3. I like such items specifically because of the difficulty/rarity.

    I find the current everyone is special and everyone wears the same stuff trend intensely dull.

    I also enjoy achievements that get people thinking about what is good for the guild rather than the individual.

    Each to his/her own.

  4. I like how involved it is without being monotonous – it’s not something you can grind out by murdering a billion tuskarr or whatever. Definitely cooler than “Farm Illidan and pray the Warglaive drops”. I also like that it requires interdependency – it’s something outside of boss-killing that requires teamwork in a way that most current WoW things don’t.

    But you’re right that we’ll never see a tanking epic again. In addition to it being a major unbalancer on a guild level, there’s no “tank weapon” in the way that all healers can use 1H Maces – Warriors and Paladins use 1H+Shield, DKs use 2H swords/axes, and Druids use staves and polearms – so you have to either have a “magical, pick-your-form” weapon, or have one for only one type of tank.

  5. I remember being dragged through MC before each BWL raid for months, so the tank get the bindings.

    It would be interesting to see what people thought of the different methods to get the legendaries in the game and what was the most popular. What did we have? Bow, Staff, Sword, Glaive, Mace?

  6. My God, what a story. This is epic with a capital EPIC. I can’t quite believe that something like this was in the game and that some people managed to get through it.

    The thing is, I can see something like this makes for an excellent campfire tale but it just seems ludicrous to actually expect people to do it.

    • See, this is how raiding was originally envisaged in WoW. You can see how it’s changed since then 🙂 It was a bit mad. Awesome in its own way, but mad.

  7. Back in those old days my guild (which I’m still in btw) had huge problem getting both bindings. One of my RL friends was MT and started collecting it after the first half dropped. But even after we had farmed MC to pieces, cleared BWL and farmed that to pieces as well, and then some of AQ40, the other binding never dropped. I think he collected all of the Arcanite Bars and everything required on his own, but to this day one part of the binding is still in his bank 😉

    It’s kind of sad, because all that sort of commitment deserve its reward. Probably the most epic quest in WoW… which I guess also is the problem; it’s too epic, and years of work can come to naught.

  8. I think the only real flaw is that the super rare binding drops are from MC and you need to craft elementium which means you are half-way through BWL.

    Alternatively you could pay a more advanced guild to craft your elementium.

    I was in a guild broken by Razorgore. Turns out we didn’t have 4 hunters who could kite.

    There were plenty of stories of tanks getting a Thunder-Fury and the joining a more advanced guild. When our first binding dropped (on about our 2nd Garr(?) kill) we had no reliable tanks and it went to a rogue. We didn’t know any better.

    • IIRC it was a pretty good rogue weapon also. And you’re right about tanks taking their legendary weapons and switching guilds.

      For example, although we crafted the first TF on the server we weren’t the first guild to have a tank wielding it. Someone server transferred with a Thunderfury. I always wondered what the story was behind that.

  9. I think you’ve perfectly illustrated the eternal struggle for perfect loot balance. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen on my server carrying the Twin Warglaives, but it’s too many. There are various types of insanity, I guess.

  10. I liked TF because it really seems legendary. Just a random drop like the warglaives doesn’t feel right; too similar to just an overhyped epic. It was excessive though. Still, I think it’s good to have a small number of very rare (but less OP) items filled with lore which might also have some ability to not become obsolete, though also to not be BiS after an expansion.

    I was lucky (or perhaps unlucky) enough to get a binding on my paladin’s first run into MC about a year after BC. Then I was obsessed with getting the other, finally getting it about a year later. Now I have one of the coolest looking weapons in the game, though it’s also ‘useless’, as much as something can be useful in a virtual fantasy world.

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  12. Thing is, back in the day you didn’t really raise much of an eyebrow at the rampant insanity that was the requirements for Thunderfury. They were legendary weapons, after all. Nowadays we shake our heads in disbelief, because it WAS rampant insanity, for all the reasons you describe. Nevertheless, getting a Thunderfury is definitely one of those things that gives you an immensse glow of satisfaction, both as a player and a guild, but only the first time. Like doing Jailbreak, attuning to Molten Core or killing that utter bastard Vaelastrasz, it’s epic and game-defining the first time and you’ll always look back with fond memories, but if you had to do it again you’d go nuts.

  13. Suffice to say, I’m notoriously lucky in WoW. Back at 60, I had both bindings drop for me only 3 weeks apart. Perhaps luckier still was that back then I wasn’t the MT, I was a Fury Warrior. The day the 1st binding dropped was the 1st day I had tanked in months since the MT was gone. He handled it well, I don’t know if I could have. (oddly enough the 2nd one dropped when he was gone too)

    The weapon was certainly unbelievable even after it got nerfed I used to all through Karazhan. It’s the very reason that Improved Thunderclap and all the other tanking class’ attack reductions are 20% because if they’d have stayed at 10% then Thunderfury would still be the best Survival weapon in the game at 80!

    Which really tells you how unbelievable this weapon was. It was the best survival weapon in the game even at 70 for a time. It was the best threat weapon in the game at 60 in both Single target AND AOE tanking situations so much so that it’s been nerfed numerous times at 60 and at 70.

    As to future tanking legendaries, you’re probably right that a weapon won’t happen especially since all 4 tanking classes must be treated equal. A pair of shoulders might be possible and certainly would allow for a legendary-level of showmanship.

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