The WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? What secrets does the game still hold? If you enjoyed Patches of Yesteryear, you're going to love this.
I have a confession to make. I lied about Archivist being done with events from WoW's beta. Last week, we discussed the Talisman of Binding Shard, an item that dropped six months into World of Warcraft's lifespan on live realms. What we are going to discuss today goes back again in the final stages of the beta.
Remember last week how I told all of you to make a note of the guild name Nurfed because it was going to come up again? Today, you will meet Indalamar the Warrior with a capital "W."
We hear often that WoW has become too much about numbers the last few years. We hear that there is too much arguing about what's overpowered or what's underpowered, and how back in the old days, we didn't have any of this Elitist Jerks ... elitism.
It is my personal belief that the real world's oldest profession is theorycrafting. If I bang this really big stick against that rock, what happens? Would it be more effective than the little stick? Probably. But what if I don't have enough strength to pick up the really big stick, would the smaller stick then eclipse the big stick?
Theorycrafting was alive and well all the way back in the World of Warcraft beta; the only difference is that "endgame" back then was leveling in places like Burning Steppes and Eastern Plaguelands so you could run Stratholme.
Back in those days, the warrior class was ... interesting. A fury-specced warrior's primary abilities were Bloodthirst and Slam. The Bloodthirst of WoW's beta was "a strike that becomes active after dealing a killing blow. [Editor's note:Hello, earliest implementation of Victory Rush.] This swing deals 150% weapon damage and is guaranteed a critical strike." Slam was a melee strike with a cast time like a spell -- it still is, actually, but back then, there were no instant Slam procs like you saw later on in the game's lifetime. You stood in place, you cast your strike, and you liked it. That's just how it was.
The warrior community as a whole was not very fond of how it played and was generally of the opinion that the class was hellaciously underpowered. They shouted for buffs at the top of their lungs all day long. A lone warrior, Indalamar of Nurfed, spoke out against them. He said no, warriors weren't underpowered. In fact, they were overpowered, and their kill rate was far higher than it should be. Nobody believed him, so he provided proof in the form of a video -- the video would make Warcraft history.
He was right -- by god, he was right. A properly played warrior was extremely dangerous in all of the PVE content available in the game at that time -- leveling and dungeons. The warrior class didn't need buffs at all. It needed nerfs. When you killed your first mob, you would proc Bloodthirst. As soon as you hit the next mob, that free crit turned into a Flurry proc, increasing your haste by 35% -- and since you killed mobs so fast, there would never be a time that you didn't have Flurry. Fury warriors essentially had a passive 35% haste bonus with the ability to chain auto-crit Bloodthirsts as quickly as they could kill things. All of this translated to, as they said back in 2004, sicknasty damage.
I don't think they said that, actually. I just made it up.
WoW was still in its infancy and the warrior class moreso. While the masses cried about their weaknesses without a full understanding of how the game or their class worked yet, Indalamar took them by the hand, pulled them up to their feet and said, "Let me show you how it's done."
Warriors did end up getting hit with nerfs almost immediately after Indalamar distributed his warrior kill rate video. Bloodthirst saw some mechanical changes, and Slam was changed to suffer pushback when you received damage, among other nerfs, slowing down how quickly warriors could mow through mobs with those abilities.
These nerfs were a big deal for the time, a big enough deal to turn Indalamar into a legend, but they would ultimately have no impact whatsoever on what became WoW's true endgame -- raiding. Yeah, go ahead, just try and game Bloodthirsted Flurry procs on Molten Core bosses. Tell me how that "chain killing blows" thing works out for you, eh?
Indalamar released his video all the way back in the WoW beta. What happened to him since then? There's an easy answer for that one: Blizzard hired him. Shortly after the game's launch, he became an itemization developer/specialist.
Even if you don't know who Indalamar is, chances are good that you've seen his name and don't necessarily realize it. His legacy lives on in game in the item Ramaladni's Blade of Culling from Icecrown Citadel. It's just his name in reverse.
Old-school players may even have Ramaladni's Icy Grasp laying around, but that item has been rendered inaccessible thanks to Naxxramas' relocating to Northrend.
He has a card in the WoW Trading Card Game, too.
In conclusion ...
Wrath of the Lich King and the gearscore culture did not give birth to an era of theorycrafting. It has been around for as long as WoW has been around and even longer. For as long as games with numbers have been in existence, there have been people trying to min-max them. Remember, even games like poker are, at their core, games of statistics, theory, and probability. Knowing the rules and the odds is the first step toward winning.