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Shifting Perspectives: A history of feral weapons

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This week, we visit a now-vanished world.

Once upon a time, feral druids had their own specialized set of weapons. This was very good, because it meant that you weren't rolling against half the raid when an upgrade dropped. This was also very bad, because it meant that 98% of the game's weapons were completely useless for us.

This was before the dark times. Before gear consolidation. Before every two-bit jackass with a hard-on for agility thought himself entitled to the armory of the game's noblest class.

They were elegant weapons for a more civilized age.

However, there were a lot of problems with the concept of the feral weapon. The first and most obvious was that gear progression as a feral was horribly dependent on obtaining one of a very limited set of weapons, and not getting one of the few drops available per raid tier meant you were crap out of luck.

The second and less obvious was the problem of the feral attack power (FAP) stat, which made scaling an endless nightmare. Elitist Jerks used to have a forum thread devoted to the issue titled "Feral attack power: When good intentions go dumb." As Sadris observed:
Druid base form DPS is not increasing as we equip higher-iLevel weapons. Our base form DPS is 55. It stays at 55. It has stayed at 55 grinding from 60 to 70. It is staying at 55 when patch 2.1 hits. And now if you calculate the DPS that Druids get with this in mind, a colossal issue surfaces: our relative DPS decreases as we get better gear.
The problems created by the feral attack power stat and the need to create a special subclass of weapons itemized with it resulted in Blizzard finally canning the whole idea in patch 3.0.8 early in Wrath of the Lich King. It was a good change in most respects, but I don't think I'm the only player who kinda misses feral weapons -- at least not the design of them. They were always quite visually distinctive, even beautiful, and being consigned to a legion of DPS-themed polearms covered in skulls still feels off somehow.

By necessity, I haven't listed every single feral weapon available in the game before patch 3.0.8 hit, but I've picked out the more iconic and representative among them. Stuff like The End of Dreams I'm not too sure what to do with, given that it's no longer available, though all druids should /bow in your direction if you're one of the few players who still has one.

Warden Staff

How to get it Sorry folks, it's a world drop off mobs in the late 40s and early 50s. You're best off keeping an eye for it at the auction house. Time was when this would run you several hundred gold, but these days you're more likely to get it cheaper, as so many players use the heirloom mace to level a feral druid.

You know it from Just about every feral player in classic WoW had this thing because it was the accepted pre-raid bear weapon. You'll see it in the video above on a druid who was allowed to tank the original version of Onyxia, which was a big deal given the bear's slow aggro generation and our inability to deal with her fear in phase 3 (well, I guess that part's still true, given the recent Berserk change). This was also back when a mob would de-aggro a feared or incapacitated tank, so you'll notice a few warriors hovering around, building aggro on Onyxia so she'll turn to them instead of killing the raid while the bear tank's feared.

Does anyone out there miss those days? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Oh, and that the best pre-raid bear tanking weapon was a staff you picked up at level 43 should tell you all you need to know about feral itemization during classic WoW.

Blessed Qiraji War Hammer

How to get it It's a quest reward from Imperial Qiraji Regalia in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (better known as AQ40).

You know it from The ultimate rarity: A one-handed feral weapon. As you can imagine, there weren't a lot of offhands around to complete the ensemble. Actually, I don't even know what the hell people equipped back in those days with this. Older WoW hands than me are going to have to chime in on this one.

Staff of Beasts

How to get it It's a quest reward from The Ring of Blood: The Final Challenge in Nagrand.

You know it from Everybody. Everybody and their brother had this staff in The Burning Crusade. The Ring of Blood chain in Nagrand provided one of several high-quality blue weapons to a variety of classes and specs, and it wasn't unusual to see players rocking them until Karazhan dropped something better. However, the Beasts staff was generally relegated to cat DPS because it lacked bonus armor, and bonus armor on weapons was once a major source of bear mitigation.

So to cover that base, you needed to get a --

Braxxis' Staff of Slumber

How to get it Braxxis' is a world drop in Outland so -- now, as then -- you're best off keeping an eye on the auction house. However, if it's the model you're interested in and not the staff itself, you can also find three recolored versions floating around BC dungeons and quests.

You know it from Pre-raid bear tanking during the BC era. Until you had the Cenarion reputation required for an Earthwarden, this was what you'd be using.

Braxxis' actually exemplified some of the problems with the early BC approach to bear itemization; it was a big pile of armor and stamina with no aggro generation stats of any kind beyond raw FAP. That, combined with the pre-raid Heavy Clefthoof set (also a big pile of armor and stamina with no aggro generation stats of any kind), made threat a little touchy in 5-mans. Keep in mind that agility gave no attack power to bears at all in this period, so rogue leather was also a non-starter for this issue. Feral leather had bonus armor, strength, agility, intellect, and stamina; rogue leather had agility, stamina, and a secondary stat or two.

That feral leather had to be crammed with so many stats to make the spec viable goes a long way toward explaining both feral scaling problems and our troublesome lack of expertise and hit in this period.

Earthwarden

How to get it Earthwarden is a reputation reward at exalted with the Cenarion Expedition. Hope you like heroic Steamvaults!

You know it from This was the BC equivalent to the Warden Staff; you either had it before you set foot in Karazhan, or you went home. It also had the ultra-rare feral combat rating stat, which you'll see it on the latter-day Earthwarden as expertise. Earthwarden was a really, really good piece, which was a good thing for druids because you wouldn't replace it until Serpentshrine Cavern at the earliest.

The Shapeshifter's Signet, available at exalted with Lower City, was notable for being the only other piece in the game to have feral combat rating, but it wasn't considered a bear piece due to the lack of armor.

Terestian's Stranglestaff

How to get it Terestian Illhoof (who else?) in Karazhan.

You know it from Well, there are only so many wriggling squid staves in the game, yanno. This was another staff option without armor, and cats used it up until the release of patch 2.3. Due to the bizarro wack-job insanity of the model, Terestian's was a very popular staff amongst anyone with the ability to equip it. It also resulted in an unfortunate nickname for yours truly after its appearance prompted me to relate a story in guild chat concerning a gentleman who'd walked me home one evening while cheerfully describing his roommate's obsession with tentacle porn.

Don't ask.

Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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