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?