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Shifting Perspectives: A history of feral weapons, part 2

Allison Robert

Wildfury Greatstaff

How to get it It's a trash drop in Serpentshrine Cavern, a tier 5 raid.

You know it from This was another "everybody" thing. Because it was farmable off SSC trash, anyone could get it as long as they were willing to throw a raid together and (in all likelihood) wipe a lot. However, most people weren't doing SSC trash for funsies early on because the gear just didn't exist outside of raids to support it. SSC shipped with a 45-minute trash respawn timer, and there was a lengthy period when nobody had the resist gear to do Hydross. So Hydross got skipped, raids went straight to Lurker, and by the time you'd cleared there and wiped a time or two ... hi, trash! Good times.

Otherwise, Wildfury is arguably the single most iconic feral weapon in the game. The armor bonus was somewhere in the range of 2,700, if I recall correctly, and it came with meaty helpings of agility, dodge, stamina, and FAP. If you had this thing, you'd be using it until the end of the game, no question. No weapon has ever helped more bears than this, and as far as I'm concerned, you can have my Wildfury when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Staff of Primal Fury

How to get it Dropped by Hex Lord Malacrass in Zul'Aman, so you probably have only a few more weeks to snag it before the new version of ZA goes live with patch 4.1.

You know it from Primal Fury was one of only four "cat weapons" to appear in BC, and it debuted with patch 2.3 in the original version of Zul'Aman. So ... yes, that meant the game went from January to November 2007 before cats had a single weapon upgrade available to them. While not one of the more elaborate staff models, it contained armor penetration, which was a relatively new stat at the time and not very well understood. Actually, you can make a compelling argument that "arpen" was never really understood by the majority of the playerbase, given the nightmarish math involved. We were a long way from being able to stack it to the degree that we later did in Wrath of the Lich King (and it also wasn't as good as it'd become), so finding it on one of the few cat weapons in the game made for some interesting discussion but didn't really have a huge impact on cat DPS at the time.

Staff of the Forest Lord

How to get it Now available for 780 justice points from either Smith Hauthaa on the Isle of Quel'danas or Anwehu in Shattrath City.

You know it from This was the third of the four PvE cat weapons available in BC: the squid staff, the Malacrass drop, Forest Lord, and the Stanchion. Most players knew it as the only feral weapon ever available from badges, albeit for 150 of them at the time. Keep in mind that the average heroic dropped only four.

Pillar of Ferocity

How to get it Dropped by Anetheron in the tier 6 Battle for Mount Hyjal raid. Supposedly. You couldn't prove it by me.

You know it from My constant bitching about how it never dropped, both in this column and in a host of other articles. However, the somewhat odd itemization on the Pillar -- armor, stamina, and FAP only -- provoked a lot of discussion on both the forums and Elitist Jerks concerning the stats that bear tanks really valued, and whether the Pillar was a true upgrade to a Wildfury Greatstaff with both agility and dodge. Because bears were capable of reaching the hard armor cap (75% physical mitigation, or 35,880 armor in BC) in tier 6, it was the considered opinion of many that a Pillar with oft-wasted armor itemization was never a true upgrade over a Wildfury with gobs of avoidance. Which weapon you wound up using in tier 6 (and later Sunwell) was usually a function of fight conditions.

That the Pillar has still never dropped for me to this day gave me a greater appreciation for Blizzard's growing discomfort concerning the "feral weapon" issue. When there aren't that many upgrades for your spec anyway -- and what does exist just doesn't drop -- that's a problem. On another note concerning developer intent, the design of the Pillar (it's a visual match for the druid tier 5 Nordrassil set) often made me wonder if it had originally been intended as the otherwise-absent tier 5 "cat weapon."

Stanchion of Primal Instinct

How to get it Dropped by the Eredar Twins in Sunwell Plateau, BC's tier 6.5 raid.

You know it from This was the last of the BC cat weapons, and I still think it's among the prettiest models in the game. Very few players ever saw it, but if you nabbed one you'd parade it around with the job satisfaction of a golden retriever with a duck in its jaws. More weapons like this, please.

Staff of the Plague Beast

How to get it Dropped by Heigan and Gluth in the 10-man version of Naxxramas.

You know it from This was the bear weapon available for 10-man players in tier 7 with a nice smack of armor.

Staff of the Plaguehound

How to get it Dropped by Kel'Thuzad in the 10-man version of Naxxramas.

You know it from Supposedly the cat weapon for 10-man players in tier 7, but a lot of bear players wound up using it despite its lack of armor, given the paucity of expertise elsewhere. Seeing this on hunters post-patch 3.0.8 has been known to induce tears in even the most stoic druids. This was another really beautiful, very druidy-looking weapon.

The Undeath Carrier

How to get it Dropped by Heigan and Gluth in the 25-man version of Naxxramas.

You know it from Well, it was really the only feral staff in this period that didn't look anything at all like a feral staff, so it kinda stood out. I was one of the suckers who couldn't get an Origin to drop for a while, so this was what I was using as a stopgap.

Origin of Nightmares

How to get it Dropped by Grobbulus and Gluth in the 25-man version of Naxxramas.

You know it from Origin of Nightmares was the poster child for the patch 3.0.8 changes that upended the feral weapons reality as we knew it. If you had it, you were sitting on a metric ton of armor (and thus mitigation and survivability) that someone with a cat staff just couldn't touch. If you didn't have it, you went nuts trying to get one. Blizzard was rightfully uncomfortable with the idea that a single weapon drop made such a difference to a bear's effectiveness, and no other tank really had such a knotty itemization issue. The developers' solution was to bake more of the spec's armor bonus into talents (the former Survival of the Fittest in addition to the surviving Thick Hide) while removing the bear form armor modifier from weapons, trinkets, and jewelry. In short, the quality of your leather would still matter a lot, but you wouldn't be screwed over by poor luck with more competitive pieces.

In one fell swoop, both Origin and the idea of the specialized bear weapon became significantly less compelling. The decision solved a huge problem, but it also chipped away at a major contributor to the spec's sense of identity and uniqueness that I'm not sure Blizzard's successfully recaptured. Having our own set of weapons wasn't ultimately a good thing for lots of reasons, but there's something about looking forward to the next raid tier -- and a beautiful new feral-themed weapon -- that I genuinely miss.

As with Pillar of Ferocity, Origin's design matches the previous raid tier -- in this case, the Thunderheart set from tier 6. If Pillar is actually the missing cat weapon of tier 5, it's possible that Origin was the equivalent for the pre-Sunwell tier 6. Certainly it's a great match for Thunderheart, but it looks a bit bizarre with both versions of Dreamwalker tier.

Journey's End

How to get it Dropped by Kel'Thuzad in the 25-man version of Naxxramas.

You know it from This is the only feral weapon to appear in the figurine series; it's Broll Bearmantle's weapon of choice. Appropriately enough given its name, this was the last true feral staff in the game. Ulduar was introduced in patch 3.1, and it didn't escape any feral player's attention that there weren't any staves, maces, or polearms with armor on them. Nor were there any plant- or animal-themed weapons, so we resigned ourselves to the reality of piggybacking off hunter polearms and rogue leather. Another very beautiful weapon model and, until Ulduar, the best cat weapon in the game.

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid at 85, tempts you with weapons, trinkets and relics for bears, then shows you what to do with it all in Feral Druid Tanking 101. We'll also help you gear your resto druid.

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