Thursday, March 29, 2012

World of Warcraft: Is Thori’dal Really That Legendary?

It looks good as an epic...hehehe.
In this article I’m going to try something new that I normally don’t do but enough issues in World of Warcraft have arisen that I think I may do them periodically. I am speaking specifically of controlled rants where I state my specific position on some topic and give reasons to support it, as opposed to making suggestions to improve some aspect of the game (because in most of these cases, it would be irrelevant or impossible). For this particular instance, I will discuss Thori’dal, The Stars’ Fury and explain why I believe this item doesn’t really deserve the orange text it was graced with.

Introduction

Thori’dal, The Stars’ Fury is a legendary bow that dropped in Sunwell Plateau off the final boss. It was by far the strongest hunter weapon in the Burning Crusade as a reward for completing the most difficult raid of the expansion. However, “strongest hunter weapon” can only go so far as the weapon, overall, was really underwhelming. In addition, the item really lacks the quality other legendary items have or had. This is why I will explain why this weapon was a flop from what I commonly believe makes a legendary weapon so legendary using the following categories: Lore, Equip/Use Effects, Usefulness in PvE, and Usefulness in PvP. To make an effective argument, I will compare Thori’dal to all the permanent legendaries that were intended to be available to players (so Atiesh counts, but Talisman of theBinding Shard doesn’t).

Lore

At first glance, Thori’dal, The Stars’ Fury offers minimal background lore. It was just a low drop rate item from the final boss of an endgame raid. This left room for speculation until it was somewhat “confirmed” when Halduron Brightwing, a Silvermoon Ranger-General, ended up with a weapon with an identical model, supposedly showing that the bow belongs to him.

However, there are a few problems with this. The first problem is when I saw the name I had absolutely no clue who the person was at all; I actually preferred the theories that the bow originally belonged to Sylvanas Windrunner or some other legendary hunter or ranger (until it was determined the Lich King drops weapons associated with Sylvanas, anyways). The second issue is that the update happened in patch 4.1.0, which was many, many patches after the bow was originally introduced. Finally, there is no official background lore on the weapon at all, which is much less than every other legendary weapon in the game.

Think about it, Thunderfury had a quest line associated with it that ended in a climactic battle with the original wielder of the blade, Thunderaan (though the lore was completely based in World of Warcraft). Sulfuras was supposedly a replica weapon of the legendary hammer Ragnaros, an end boss of two raiding tiers who has entrenched himself in Warcraft lore as a result. Atiesh had a surprising backstory to it. Then again, I expected some significant lore to be associated with the staff of Medivh, who had a major role in Warcraft 3 and ultimately had plenty of backstory when The Last Guardian was introduced.

The Twin Blades of Azzinoth also have a significant background story to them as they were Illidan Stormrage’s weapons that he actually fought the raid with (he even summoned mini-bosses from them and everything). Val'anyr’s lore is arguably pretty frail, but at least it did have some. It was a weapon that was made by the Titans (yes, the Titans that made Azeroth) and given to Earthen Dwarves, which the player worked with several times in Wrath of the Lich King up to that point.

The lore of Shadowmourne, Dragonwrath, and Fangs of the Father are all similar in the sense that the players actually become a core part of the lore as they quest to make a base weapon that is strengthened as the player progresses through the quest chain. Without fail, each of these quest lines has plenty of storytelling (especially the Cataclysm legendaries) and associated with significant lore figures like the Lich King (Shadowmourne), Ragnaros (Dragonwrath), and Deathwing (Fangs), actually requiring you to defeat them to complete the storyline of the weapon.

To conclude, Thori’dal doesn’t really have any lore associated with it. It was never mentioned anywhere at all and really seemed to be tacked onto a person few people know about anyways (heck, people don’t even know who Lor’themar is, so how can people really know about one of his associates?)

Equip/Use Effect(s)

This part of Thori’dal particularly bothered me. It might just be because I play a Hunter, however. The original equip effect was twofold: it increased ranged haste by 15% and attacks required no ammunition to use. This effectively eliminated the need to use a quiver and arrows, something Hunters had to deal with back in the day (the nightmares of running out of ammo in Karazhan will never go away…). Thori’dal also had extremely high weapon damage to compensate for having no bonus damage from ammo, which made Steady Shot extremely powerful as back then it didn’t scale with ammo damage.

However, this changed over time. With the release of the pre-patch for Wrath of the Lich King, Steady Shot was affected by ammo damage, which greatly closed the gap between Thori’dal and other ranged weapons. This was further closed with the introduction of new ammo. Because of this, the weapon didn’t survive into Tier 7 (as opposed to Atiesh being used for much of Tier 4 despite being a Vanilla legendary, but we’ll get to that shortly). The ranged haste bonus was then removed from Thori’dal as quivers also lost the bonus and the haste was baseline (and ammunition stacked to 1000, reducing the need for quivers, which was a nice perk for having Thori’dal prior to then).

What really drove the nail into the coffin was when the release of Cataclysm completely eliminated ammo, changing the equip effect into vanity (it just makes attacks look similar to a couple other Hunter abilities), which is disappointing.

Thunderfury’s proc was and is pretty interesting. It was one of the reasons tanks used it in Burning Crusade and overall, it looks appealing even today and clever weapon switchers can put the proc to good use (it stacks with other attack speed slowing effects).

Sulfuras’s equip effect(s) still does more damage than Thori’dal’s equip effect does at the moment. Also, a burst proc of that nature is known to be inherently strong in PvP and the weapon itself might’ve seen use in farming or PvE as well, which says more than Thori’dal’s equip effect mostly turning Hunters into farmbots.

Atiesh’s equip effect(s) were incredible utility. It gave the raid an aura (unique for the four variations). The portal to Karazhan was just icing on the cake (and is still handy if you want to save time farming Karazhan).

Val'anyr’s proc scales. Also it was actually useful for healers (and still could be). The point is the proc is nice and definitely better than shooting magical arrows that are just aesthetic (and similar to an attack Hunters can do).

Shadowmourne has a very cool proc. It was incredibly strong back then and is still pretty strong now. Also the visual is great too – very appropriate for a weapon of its nature. It gets the best of both worlds.

Dragonwrath’s equip effect is very powerful (and has potential to scale). The use effect of turning into a Blue Dragon (with a “unique” model) that can fly around like a mount is an excellent perk too.

Fangs of the Father’s proc is somewhat similar to Shadowmourne’s, although it is specifically tuned for Rogues and has a nice visual effect to boot (and it might be able to scale, as 5 combo-point finishing moves for 6 seconds is good at any level of gear…). The use effect is a free slow fall too, which is helpful at times.

To conclude, Thori’dal’s original equip effect really just saved money and a bag slot. It’s the equivalent of having a weapon that removed reagent costs from spells (Soul Shards for Warlocks, for instance). Granted, it gave the option of having an alternative weapon in case a Hunter ran out of ammo in the middle of a raid but ultimately, when it comes down to it, it just meant Hunters only had to pay their repair bills like everyone else (although tanks had it really bad, but with ammo costs Hunters may have rivaled tanks in terms of cost to raid). The huge weapon damage margin was great, but as you’ll see in the next part, it wasn’t that helpful either.

To make things worse, the present-day equip effect is pretty much nothing. The visual and the weapon itself do look nice, I’ll give it that, but other weapons actually have some cool equip effects that do something to the enemy too or even special use effects (and have nice visuals).

Usefulness in PvE

With an amazing weapon damage range that Steady Shot, a core ability for Hunters (one could literally do dps as a Hunter with a 1-button macro), can directly scale off of, why was Thori’dal so useless in PvE? With the statements above taken into account, it was clear the weapon wasn’t useful coming into Wrath of the Lich King. Granted, some progressive guilds did have Hunters using Thori’dal but only until they got suitable upgrades, which could easily be gotten from Heroic dungeons, quests, or some of the bosses in Naxxramas.

The problem is that it had no usefulness during the Burning Crusade either. By the time a Hunter got it, their guild already finished the most difficult raid to date, meaning it would only be easier to farm raids the guild has probably already finished anyways. Keep in mind this was also before Heroic Raids were implemented, and because Thori’dal had minimal use in the following expansion, this just makes Thori’dal time of implementation rather confusing.

Consider other legendaries. Thunderfury, for instance, was usable as a tank weapon up through a huge amount of Burning Crusade content (although to be fair this was because the proc generated way more threat than Blizzard probably intended and it was multi-target to boot). I am actually completely unsure about Sulfuras, but what I do know is that it was by far one of the strongest 2-handed weapons for a large amount of Vanilla WoW, but from what I hear, there weren’t exactly that many classes that could use it viably. Nonetheless, it was possible to use the weapon into Burning Crusade leveling and it was a Tier 1 legendary weapon (if anyone knows for sure how viable Sulfuras was, it would be good to hear).

Atiesh, from what I hear, was useful up until Tier 4, meaning that it survived the gear inflation that Burning Crusade brought, although this is probably due largely to the aura effects and the portal to Karazhan the staff provides (it also triggers an interesting lore-related line from Shade of Aran if you engage that boss with the staff). The Twin Blades were useful for a majority, if not the entire remainder of the Burning Crusade. Black Temple was released in 2.1, which left 3 whole major patches that the legendary weapon set could propagate and be used for content like Sunwell and Zul’aman (although technically it “survived” for one tier).

Val'anyr, (also) from what I hear, was usable up through Icecrown Citadel, although not many raiding guilds managed to finish one prior to Trial of the Crusader (but that’s another story…). Shadowmourne can arguably be considered as “useless” as Thori’dal, but there are a few differences. Firstly, Shadowmourne can be obtained before defeating the end boss of its tier, the Lich King (the final quest of the chain involves using Shadowmourne and killing the Lich King). Secondly, Heroic raids were implemented by then and Shadowmourne could be completed by any 25-man raiding guild actively progressing through Icecrown Citadel, meaning Shadowmourne could be used to progress through the Heroic version (or even Trial of the Grand Crusader). Finally, but not too importantly, Ruby Sanctum was introduced in the 3.3 major patch cycle, which was a brief (though disliked) raid.

Dragonwrath was introduced in the Tier 12 raid and even with the final tier of Cataclysm, it is a viable weapon and considered best in slot for casters. Fangs of the Father has a similar story as Shadowmourne except without the benefit of an addition single boss raid (but that doesn’t stop it from being useful in Heroic Dragon Soul).

Overall, Thori’dal is arguably one of the most inferior of the legendaries in terms of PvE usage. It was introduced at the end of an expansion’s life cycle and only really found use in raids the Hunter’s guild already has on farm to begin with. To make things worse, legendaries introduced after that also came during the end of an expansion’s life cycle had the benefit of being used in Heroic raids, meaning they found a niche (a pretty small one compared to some other legendaries) in PvE progression.

PvP Usage

If the fact Thori’dal had close to no use in PvE wasn’t disconcerting, the sheer lack of influence this weapon had on PvP as opposed to other legendaries (mainly ones that were released during Arena Seasons) is even more appalling. Just like in PvE, this weapon definitely had significant potential in PvP due to the high amount of damage a Hunter could deal with such a weapon. The problem, however, is somewhat related to issues that kept the weapon from having its potential unleashed on the PvE front.

So what was the problem? It was that it was released in the final tier of an expansion. Granted, there were other legendaries that worked out well (Shadowmourne and arguably, Fangs of the Father) even though they were released at the end of the expansion. This, however, was due to the weapons being well endowed and/or the fact the PvP season lasted for a prolonged amount of time or many more players managed to get the legendary, making it more of a “carry weapon.”

The problem is Thori’dal was severely lacking, especially in the latter fact. By the time achievements were introduced during the Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch, only 45 Thori’dals were in game over every single region (technically 44 since a Rogue got one of the 45). It might have been powerful, but it wasn’t about to have enough of an influence like other legendary weapons to increase Hunter arena representation, a sore spot for that particular class even up to present day (at high ratings the class has never gotten close to the 10% “average” representation mark). Furthermore, there was little to no complaining about Thori’dal from PvPers but a definitive slew of complaints about most of the other legendaries in competitive PvP (Twin Blades, Shadowmourne, and Dragonwrath especially).

Even Sulfuras, a Vanilla legendary, received some recognition for its usage in PvP, which was before arena was introduced. A Shaman named Unbreakable used it and was quite unbreakable indeed. Thunderfury also saw use, possibly due to the proc. Atiesh didn’t really see much use, though to be fair it probably suffered from the same issues as Thori’dal in that regard, which still only puts in on par in terms of “usefulness.”

Vala’nyr is the last weapon in question. It may have seen a bit of use on healers who could go a DPS spec (since dual specs were introduced by that point) and maybe healers (particularly ones that used plenty of direct healing like Paladins) used it to some degree as well. However, since I haven’t found much evidence supporting this theory, I’ll just tag it as “not so useful” (maybe someone else knows something about this?).

Overall, Thori’dal is at the very most on par with other PvP weapons in terms of usefulness. I could argue that since it was a weapon intended for a DPS class, and all other weapons given to and intended for DPS classes got “carry weapons” during the time arenas existed that Thori’dal’s uselessness is even greater, but even being on par is pretty significant given previous evidence regarding the weapon.
 
Conclusion

Thori’dal was a pretty cool weapon at first. It was a Hunter legendary (at last!) and there was plenty of hype over it despite the glaring flaws (such as lack of lore), with the assumption that would be filled in later on. The infinite ammo, at the time, was also appreciated, but mostly because I think Hunters were getting sick of their ammo system and having to use a quiver all the time (even though it was ultimately improved on and abolished later).

But then I realized how underwhelming the weapon was, how rare the weapon was at the time, and the loot drama related to it during the tier because of a failure to make the weapon exclusive to the class it was intended for (unlike the Twin Blades…). I found out it just didn’t have a good niche anywhere at all except maybe for farming or dailies (which I used it for during Wrath of the Lich King) and even then that niche was eliminated as well.

It has even reached the point that the weapon is now inferior or equal to an epic equivalent in the same tier, so even level 70 twinks are denied the ability to use a legendary weapon viably (I think Twin Blades, however, remains viable in that particular “end game”).

Ultimately, however, the purpose of this article isn’t about asking Blizzard to fix Thori’dal or anything unreasonable like that. That’s all said and done. Instead, I just wanted to raise awareness about how much of a failure this legendary was and hope that when the time comes (which should hopefully be in Mists of Pandaria), this doesn’t happen again. In fact, it shouldn’t happen to any class with any legendary ever again. Given how well they implemented legendaries since then, I am optimistic about that particular future.
Try saying "Holyarrow" in Thalassian.

9 comments:

  1. There's another aspect of a legendary, the appearance.

    Thori'dal looks plain and boring, especially compared to the Golden Bow of Quel'Thalas which you can get from the Eredar Twins. Not only is this bow far easier to get, has higher maximum damage, and more critical strike rating but it has a more distinctive look as well.

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    1. You do make a good point, although equipment appearance can be largely subjective (for instance, there's always a lot of conflict over Hunter tier gear appearance). I did point out that the weapon model isn't technically "unique" since a certain NPC is suddenly using the weapon model over an expansion later without any sort of explanation (lore or otherwise). There are some exceptions with other legendaries as well, but in all the other cases, there is a good reason why a specific NPC had that weapon.

      Still a good point, though I personally think the weapon model itself is kind of nice.

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  2. I love most of this post, however, there is a few "minor" mistakes in my opinion... Most of your comparisons in legendaries, is a comparison to early content legendaries.

    Atiesh and thori'dal was basically the same (even if atiesh had a more legendary questline behind it) you could not complete Atiesh without killing Kel'thuzad.. you could not get Thori'dal without killing Kil'jaeden. One thing blizzard has ALWAYS said is "we want legendaries to get old", Atiesh didnt, because blizzard admittingly scaled the gear too little between vanilla and TBC, so thori'dal took the hit, and got nerfed to uselessness at raid level of WoTLK.

    Valanyr, Shadowmourne and all later legendaries had a use after you had collected them, because they were all possible to create through normal content, so the first shadowmourne didnt feel "wasted" the same way, most guilds got it, and still had a handful of heroic ICC bosses to progress through, the bonus damage from Shadowmourne made it easier, which is the same situation with Fangs of the Father - It could be created through normal-mode, so it helped guilds through heroic mode, This might get thori'dal to sound a bit bad compared to the others, but thori'dal was where it should be for the expansion, considering you did not have heroic gear at that point, although a quest to obtain it would have been nice.... however blizzard seemed to have issues with doing legendary quests in TBC (which, in my opinion was the Exps biggest downfall)

    I do feel sorry for hunters that they didnt get a GREAT legendary like rogues or casters have gotten lately, but the general quality of legendaries pre-wrath was lower, items were simpler and every legendary didnt have as much "magic wand" over it, I would personally love the whole not-needing-arrows part on a hunter, it would save you 1000g+ pr week if you didnt have a steady income arrows from somewhere, and even in the early wrath people still used it for farming, because it made farming free for hunters!

    And last but not least; I do appriciate you've decided to put legendaries in a PvP point of view; But the most hardcore of PvPers normally dont raid, the most hardcore of raiders dont PvP much - A legendary weapon is made for the PvE content of WoW, and although it might sometimes seem OP in pvp, a legendary doesnt have to be good in any way shape or form in PvP to be a good legendary, Sulfaras was never superb in pvp, but it was still a decent legendary for the time, thats my thoughts anyway :)

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    1. Nice, concise post, though I do want to respond to it in parts.

      In regards to your first line, I tried to compare every legendary that was intended to be gotten in every conceivable way possible, hence why I compared in both ways, even if it is a bit "skewed."

      I don't really have much to say about your second paragraph. The point is correct and roughly matches what I said above, though I should've been clearer that Atiesh was only useful going into BC as opposed to during Vanilla (the latter of which is false).

      The third paragraph is incredibly accurate. Nothing to say about that, though I personally think the placement of Thori'dal wasn't a good idea, even if there was a massive hype over it.

      The fourth part I partially agree with, though I personally never liked the ammunition system much because while it added a sense of realism and responsibility, but the costs put them pretty close to the costs of maintaining equipment durability for plate tanks prior to Cataclysm, which was awful.

      As for the quality of legendaries, I actually partially disagree. While I'm not going to dispute the Vanilla legendaries were rather "poorly designed," the preceding legendary, which was the Twin Blades, was a pretty strong legendary and had a presence for a large amount of the Burning Crusade while also having some amazing lore surrounding it (but no pandas).

      On the final part, the PvP PoV is a bit of an afterthought, but at the same time I thought it was important to make the evaluation because whether legendary items are meant for PvE or for all endgame, most legendaries beyond the Vanilla ones had a great impact on the PvP endgame. Whether that's intended is up to the masses. Also the Sulfuras comment was sort of a joke, though I did hear Enhancement Shamans were a force to be reckoned with when using it no matter where it was.

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    2. Also on the part where Thori'dal made Hunter farming free, it didn't. It just made them farm about as well as anyone else who didn't use reagents on their attacks and didn't get hit a lot, which pretty much means every other ranged dps (Mages, for instance). It only stopped ammo usage, but it didn't stop equipment from degrading over time from fighting.

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    3. Well yes, it brought hunters repair costs to the same as everyone elses, which, at the point of early wrath/late BC I personally see as a pretty cool move.

      I agree completely in your thought on the hunter ammo making hunters responsible in some sort of way, and thori'dal was kind of the first step to remove that responsibility from the hunters.
      That said, as a hunter, you would easily spend as much on gear repairs as you would on ammo, on a farm night of raiding, or straight up farming for 3+ hours, thats why I said it was "free", compared to how hunters worked if they always used their top-end ammo at all times.

      as for the twin blades - I agree that they were better designed than Thori'dal, but they still weren't amazing items, damage-wise they were good, but compared to the magic wand legendaries that blizzard created in Wotlk and cata, I do think that Thori'dal was a nicely designed item that was on par statswise, although they could have gone for a bow with some actual meaning.

      One thing I forgot to mention in my first post was, I personally see thori'dal as the second hunter legendary item in the game, although the first one was with purple text, Rohk and Lhok was pretty much close to being legendary, simply due to the quest chain behind it and all the things you had to go through to get this bow.

      Would life have been different if R/L had been purple with the same stats? if so, they would have been on par with thunderfury - If not even better... thats just my thoughts anyway :)

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    4. Obviously I meant orange name on R/L

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    5. Perhaps...but by that logic Benediction/Anathema should have also been orange. It would've been neat if R/L was a legendary but the fact of the matter is if we go down that road you could argue weapons like everything that drops off the Lich King or Madness of Deathwing, Revenge of Kalimdor, etc are legendary and so on. (semi-joking, but it is somewhat true).

      Speaking of the R/L quest I loved that a lot - wish I did it at 60 though...

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    6. Besides, even if that were true, Thori'dal was still a pretty terrible legendary with poor time of introduction (right between the deadzone of overpowered legendary that's usable in the next expansion and legendary that's usable in its final tier of endgame content), a sheer lack of lore, and a sheer lack of impact all around. =(

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