The Care and Feeding of Warriors normally opens with an attempt at levity, but today Matthew Rossi is all business, because today we're going to talk about the enemy, the bane of all mid-level warriors, and the guy no high level warrior would resent coming back to kill again, and again, and again. Face Cyclonian and claim your reward!
All classes have quests, of course. The level 50 quests come to mind, as do the ones for Paladins to learn how to resurrect, or the various ones Shamans have to do to gain their totems. In writing the Totem Talk about shaman quests, however, I started thinking about the kinds of quests warriors get. I could have covered the stance quests, of course, but those are really just preludes. There's only one quest warriors care about.
Getting the Whirlwind weapon.
A level 40 elite elemental who does impressive magical-based, AC ignoring damage and who uses a cyclone-based form of CC to hold you still while he beats you down. Many a warrior goes into this quest not understanding just how hard this mob hits only to get slaughtered. If, like me, you happen to have done this quest way back in the day before Wowhead, when no one checked Thottbot, when there were no Wiki's to consult and not that many players your level or higher on any server, then Cyclonian was more than a rude surprise. He was a hurricane of pain, and he tore your face clean off.
And that was after you'd already worked like a dog to get the right to face him, too.
I have several warriors who have gotten past Cyclonian. In my time I've fought him on a human, a night elf, an orc, a tauren, a draenei and an undead. (The undead later got deleted. Yes, I deleted a level 47 warrior. Sorry, I just couldn't get my head into playing an undead.) And yet, every time I fight him, I get that same small sinking feeling in the pit of my gut. If you'd faced him back in the day, before we knew everything, you'd understand. That first fight with the Cyclonian was a harsh teacher which beat it into your head that no, warriors are not all powerful. Watching your health drop like a stone falling from a blimp while he blasted magic damage right past your useless armor was the definition of 'a learning experience'.
And yet, every warrior does the Cyclonian, as soon as they can get the quest they start grinding the materials. Why?
Because of these. There are slightly better weapons available at the level in Scarlet Monastery, but those are instance drops or quest items from killing the four main heads of the Crusade, and require luck or several runs to complete. But for a warrior, these three weapons are both a status symbol and a way to 'twink' yourself... with even a little help you can get through the quest chain that leads to the Whirlwind weapon of choice.
From the moment I saw another warrior with the Whirlwind Sword in IF I wanted it. I was level 22 at the time, the game hadn't really been out very long, and I remembered asking him where he'd gotten it. He told me he'd gotten it from a warrior quest that started at level 30, and said words I should have heeded: bring some help.
The quest chain starts in a straightforward manner. Once you complete the Berserker Stance quest The Affray on Fray Island, you receive the quest The Windwatcher, which sends you up the river from Southshore or Tarren Mill to the Alterac Mountains. There, a crazy old troll shaman tells you that he wants to get to meet the great Cyclonian, and oh, by the way, would you mind killing him once he shows up? Now, any sane person might well choose to tell him to stuff it and go back to questing for someone a little more stable, but Bath'rah the Windwatcher knows his audience, and he dangled before your fresh-faced level 30 face the promise of three weapons if you'll just do a few things before him. Since you chose to play a warrior, we already know that:
A - you like shiny things.
B - you don't really mind killing things for random strangers.
C - you lack the self-preservation instinct of a brain damaged marsupial.
So you found yourself either picking flowers or cruising the AH for Liferoot, killing Bloodscalps in STV for their tusks (which you were probably going to do anyway) and harvesting various elemental charms from the entities that protect the stone rings in the nearby Arathi Highlands. The worst part about collecting the charms was, no where in the quest text does it tell you that you need to do that - you actually had to read the parchment that Bath'rah gave you! You had to pay attention to the questgiver! For most of us young warriors, this was adding insult to injury, but we did it anyway. If, like me, you did most of this solo you probably ended up gaining a few levels doing all this, and you were feeling pretty powerful when you reported back to Bath'rah ready to make the Essence of the Exile. You'd run around Stranglethorn Vale and Arathi collecting these items, after all, and at last you were ready to go up against Cyclonian. Sure, he was probably higher level than you, but you'd done The Affray and come out of it intact. You were ready.
Well, you thought you were ready.
After the Cyclonian handed your your own buttocks (he even had a nice decorative wall mount for them, so you could place them in player housing in case that ever came into the game) you realized that if you were going to wait to be able to solo this guy, you'd probably be using a better weapon and be a much higher level character by then. Nope, there was no way around it - back in the days before quests were so nice as to obligingly tell you to group up, you were going to have to heed that advice and get some help.
After a while, of course, the Cyclonian questline got nerfed. Not by Blizzard this time, though. No, the community itself would get together and nerf it, effectively, because everyone who leveled some other class first and then decided they would level a warrior and tell you over and over again how easy it was (while of course having the resources of a level 60 character to buy the best gear while you leveled wearing 'of the whale' greens because that's what dropped for you - go ahead, mighty twinks, try and finish a few quest decked out in whatever you can scrounge from quests and drops because there wasn't anything in the AH back then, not that I'm bitter. Oh, and we played WoW going uphill both ways in the snow, too. And we liked it.) weren't going to try and actually solo that questline. As soon as they hit 30 they had guildmates running them through STV, were buying charms and liferoot off of the AH and were running to Alterac with a 60 or two in tow to take out the Cyclonian and get their sword.
I once rode by and saw the Cyclonian kill a level 60 rogue who had not understood that he could still be held motionless by the CC and didn't take the fight seriously. Even with a massive level disadvantage, you did not want to let the Cyclonian just pound on you. A few unlucky failures to resist and you'd end up dead. Still, while I personally refused to help people twink their way through the questline, mostly out of bitterness that I hadn't thought of it myself, I did still ride by and see if any warriors were actually plucky enough to try and solo it.
There's nothing like charging in and bashing a Sulfuras over the Cyclonian's head just in time to save a poor level 34 warrior who had no idea what he was in for. Turns disaster into hope, brings joy to the multitude (okay, to one guy) and gives you a measure of the pure satisfaction that only killing the Cyclonian can provide. Even today, at level 70, I still make sure to ride by that spot by the river whenever I'm in Alterac for any reason. And if I see a warrior trying to kill the Cyclonian... be he Horde or Alliance, be he Undead or Dwarf, in that place and in that time he or she is my brother or my sister, my fellow in a band of metal-clad, weapon-bearing souls who have taken up a challenge set before them by a crazy old shaman in a dilapidated shack by the side of a river patrolled by a rare spawn dragon that never failed to show up the second you decided to go up river.
I kept that sword until I just couldn't justify using it anymore. I had an Arcanite Champion that I replaced it with. I had Bonebiter, then a Lord Alexander's Battle Axe, and finally a Twig of the World Tree and I used this sword over all of them if I could get away with it because it was my sword. You don't get that kind of feeling often in this game... gear is to be replaced the second an upgrade is available... but I swear, if I could have done it without dying constantly I'd still be using it. It's in my bank now. My orc has the Whirlwind Axe banked, my tauren the Hammer, my NE the sword again, my draenei went with the axe and got it enchanted with Demonslaying just for looks, still wears it around IF when he's not doing anything. There's a coolness to the weapon that transcends its DPS, that lasts forever if you didn't get rushed through the quest to just pick up a fast twink weapon.
If you earned it, you'll never want to let it go. There are better weapons, but there aren't many weapons that will mean more to a warrior than this one does, especially when you get it. You'll see Paladins with Bonebiter and Shamans with Ravager, you'll even see Hunters with the Sword of the Magistrate. But nobody but one of us will ever wield a Whirlwind weapon. You'll wear it so that everyone can see what they can't ever have. You'll wear it to show your fellow warriors that you're one of them, one of the killers of the wind lord.
But bring friends. Cyclonian waits for you, and he hits like ten devils and laughs at your feeble weapon. Luckily, you've got a better one coming.