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 It’s been outdated for years (they actually had to nerf it in TBC because it was better than some of the level 70 tanking epics).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.
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.