An axe by any other name chops as many heads

Now that the dust from Blizzcon and the announcement of Warlords of Draenor has settled, Blizzard has posted a clarification of the gearing changes in Warlords of Draenor raids.

Most of the changes are nicely summarized by a post on Wowhead, but the part I'd like to look at is this:

However, our current thought it to keep primary stats on weapons so that they continue to feel iconic and special. Many of the items will have Stamina as well.

Iconic? Special? I just want a new weapon.

First off, the "iconic" and "special" tags are already out the window because melee continues to be the only case where this artificial divide exists. For casters, there's already no concept of a "shaman weapon" or a "priest weapon" apart from the weapon type - it's all Intellect all the way down.

Secondly, melee classes and (I think) hunters are highly dependent on weapons. For casters, yeah, they're nice, but wands and staves and what have you are stat-sticks. Tanks can use them to generate more threat and that's always great. Melee and hunters need weapons to do their job. The problem is, the artificial divide between Agility weapons and Strength weapons isn't iconic: it's a pain in the ass.

Unfortunately, this isn't perfect: it doesn't help non-Combat rogues, who depend on dagger drops, and hunters, who depend on ranged weapons.

But let's look at Siege of Orgrimmar.

Siege of Orgrimmar

Now, I cannot tell a lie: I got extremely lucky in Siege and scored two two weapons at once very early in the raid tier. This is the only time this has happened in the history of the raid. And it's a damn good thing too, because we haven't seen a single one-handed agility weapon since.

Considering this raid has 14 bosses in a row, you'd think the weapon distribution would be a little less awful.

  • Siege of Orgrimmar contains five one-handed non-dagger agility weapons (1 sword, 2 axes, 1 mace, 1 fist weapon), which drop from the 2nd, 6th, 10th, 13th, and 14th bosses.
  • It also contains four agility non-bow two-handed weapons (2 staves, 2 polearms, from the 1st, 9th, and 14th bosses).
  • Siege of Orgrimmar contains five one-handed strength weapons (1 axe, 1 mace, 3 swords, from the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 14th bosses), plus 2 of which are unarguably for tanks.
  • It also contains five two-handed strength weapons (2 axes, 1 mace, 1 polearm, 1 sword, from the 4th, 8th, 11th, and 14th bosses).

This situation can create a weapon scarcity problem if your raid has issues with bosses: for instance, if you were still progressing on Nazgrim, that means your ret paladin was getting a mere one chance to upgrade his weapon, since he can't use the Immerseus polearm; similarly, bear tanks and cat druids better hope your raid moves fast or their drop luck is good, because their only shot at a weapon before Malkorok is from the very first boss.

Wouldn't it just make more sense to get rid of some of these divides? We're already going to see a little more competition for armor - I personally believe a little more competition for weapons while doing away with this divide would be a huge boon in the end.

The new weapon paradigm; Or, we're getting rid of int plate and int mail, so let's finish the job.

My advice: drop the silly insistence on artificially dividing melee weapons by agility versus strength. Either apply the same switching technology as armor, or let weapons just add attack power.

Instead of a weapon situation that looks like this:

Weapon Type Classes
Agility 1H Axe/Mace Rogues, Monks, Shamans
Agility 1H Sword Rogues, Monks
Agility Fist Weapon Rogues, Monks, Shamans
Agility 2H Mace Druids
Agility Polearm/Staff Druids, Monks
Strength 1H Axe/Mace/Sword Warriors, Death Knights
Strength 2H Axe/Mace/Sword Warriors, Death Knights, Paladins
Strength Polearm Warriors, Death Knights, Paladins

You end up with something more like this.

Weapon Type Classes
1H Axe/Mace Rogues, Monks, Shamans, Warriors, Death Knights
1H Sword Rogues, Monks, Warriors, Death Knights
2H Axe/Sword Warriors, Death Knights, Paladins
2H Mace Warriors, Death Knights, Paladins, Druids
Polearm Warriors, Death Knights, Paladins, Druids, Monks
Staff Warriors, Druids, Monks
Fist Weapon Rogues, Monks, Shamans, Warriors

There's also still opportunities to designate tank weapons, especially if this system was adopted. Want to indicate a weapon is specifically meant for tanks? Use Bonus Armor! (Been a while since that stat was around.) Right now, a Strength polearm with Bonus Armor on it basically says "Blood Death Knight weapon" - but a changeable Agi/Str or AP Polearm with Bonus Armor could be for bears, blood DKs, or brewmaster monks.

Plus warriors could potentially use fist weapons again! I know a few of you wouldn't mind that!

Weapons are an important part of a class, it's true. Especially melee DPS, whose ability to actually do their damn job depends on melee weapons. Losing this silly artificial divide between Agility and Strength is the right thing to do, as it lets previously-narrow weapons get into more classes' hands.

And if there's anything I'm all about, it's more weapons for more people.

EDIT: Matt Rossi suggests abolishing daggers, the odd man out for melee. Of course, with primary stat switching, TK points out casters and rogues could share daggers. (Potentially maces, staves, and swords.) Certainly something to think about.

The real downside to this is that we'd have no way to prevent Fabulor from needing on everything for transmog. ;)