Based on your comments from part 1, I feel the need to explain my criteria so that people can debate these choices with the right frame of mind. This list isn't just for a weapon that had good stats, or a great model, or even one that is a big part of the lore. Those are all bonuses here, but they are just that -- bonuses.
This list is about weapons that straight-up delighted us because they did something new or unique, because they were memorable in some grand way that other weapons haven't been. Gorehowl and Ashkandi, as beloved as they are, as gorgeously modeled as they are, just weren't interesting enough as items to make the list. They deserve honorable mentions, though.
A lot of amazing weapons have been left out, including some of my personal favorites, but hey, WoW just has too much greatness for any mere top 20 list to contain. Let's proceed to the top 10!
10. Arlokk's Grasp and Thekal's Grasp
What are they: A two-weapon set that unleashes your inner beast
Where to get them: Very low drop chance from Arlokk and Thekal in the original Zul'Gurub raid
Why they're awesome: First of all, weapon sets are just cool on their own, and I wish Blizzard would make more of them. Second, this set had the most intimidating bonus of all time: as an on-hit proc, you would transform into a gigantic tiger-man and gain 300 attack power.
My guild had a player with this set during the original ZG era, and when you saw that tiger proc you knew some serious deeps were about to be delivered. It's rare when a weapon isn't just awesome for the guy holding it, but for the entire group when they see it go off.
Because the drop rate was so low for both weapons, very few people ever managed to put a set together. Unfortunately, the weapons weren't spectacular statwise and the proc wasn't frequent. The updated ZG included tributes to these weapons, but to players' consternation the tiger proc did not return.
9. Headmaster's Charge
What is it: A staff that made you and your friends 50% more brilliant
Where to get it: 2% drop from Darkmaster Gandling in classic Scholomance
Why it's awesome: The staff's unique on-use effect gave an extra 20 intellect to your entire party, and the buff stacked with Arcane Brilliance. AB gave 40 intellect at level 60, so 20 int was a 50% increase. The Headmaster's Charge was one of the few weapons in WoW that made your whole party better. Unfortunately, you had to keep the staff equipped to keep the bonus, but it was still a solid weapon for classic casters.
The staff has a very evil-looking model, a demon's head and other bones mounted on a wooden staff. Although you can no longer obtain it since Scholo's renovation, the HC has been immortalized as an heirloom, the Dignified Headmaster's Charge. Also, Gandling now drops an homage to the original named Headmaster's Will.
8. Fandral's Flamescythe
What is it: Hotter shapeshifting
Where to get it: 15% drop from Majordomo Fandral Staghelm in Firelands
Why it's awesome: The Flamescythe, despite not being in any way, shape, or form a scythe, was a great weapon for its tier for any agility-based class that could equip it. Of course, the Flamescythe had a special property when a feral druid took it into combat: you were transformed into a Flame-Bathed Cat of Fiery Doom.
Given that feral and guardian druids have to look at the same models pretty much forever regardless of their gear, the Flamescythe was a wonderful gift to ferals. Blizzard had a lore-driven opportunity to give druids something very special when they made the Archdruid Staghelm into a boss -- and they delivered. No other weapon before or since has changed your character's model quite so dramatically for the entire duration of combat. Let's hope guardians get their due sometime.
The staff also has a hidden on-use effect that will give you the Druid of the Flames buff, on a two-hour cooldown. Druids can now also obtain the form without the weapon by farming Burning Seeds from Firelands.
What is it: The dragon-forged "High Blade" of the kaldorei
Where to get it: A quest line beginning with Foror's Compendium of Dragon Slaying, an extremely rare drop from Dire Maul bosses
Why it's awesome: Quel'Serrar was the premier tanking weapon in early vanilla raiding. It had stamina along with a fantastic tanking proc that gave you extra dodge and armor. Because of that proc, tanks who obtained this weapon were immediately tougher to kill, so healers loved QS just as much as the meatshields.
Unlike Rhok'delar and Benediction (see below), Quel'Serrar's quest chain was relatively easy. The main step required you to place the blade on the ground so Onyxia could breathe on it. Then you had to kill her and fiddle around with her dead body. The hard part was getting the book. Players paid insane prices for a Foror's on the auction house. Others farmed it for weeks, even months, on end.
The book has been junked now and the quest line is gone. However, an updated version of Quel'Serrar drops from Onyxia since her reappearance in Wrath of the Lich King.
6. Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps
What is it: Animated Japanese schoolgirls' worst nightmare
Where to get it: 11% drop from the Madness of Deathwing in Dragon Soul
Why it's awesome: Unlike other summon-proc weapons, Gurthalak doesn't just call whelps. It brings Old Gods as backup. Tentacles spawn and cast Mind Flay. The proc has no internal cooldown, so you can have multiple tentacles at once.
During its time, the weapon was incredibly powerful in both PvE and PvP because of Mind Flay's snare component. The timely intervention of the Old Gods is said to have single-handedly won arena matches.
5. Dark Edge of Insanity
What is it: The tenuous, terrifying line between reason and madness; also, an axe
Where to get it: 9% drop from C'thun in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj
Why it's awesome: It's an axe with a super-creepy eyeball in the center of it that blinks and looks around, reminiscent of Soul Edge from the Soul Calibur games. So, there's that. The name alone is fantastic -- my personal favorite ever. On top of that, the DEI had the highest overall DPS in the game at the time, and wound up as the third highest in vanilla, so it was fervently hoped for after every C'thun kill.
What really made this weapon memorable, though, was the Glimpse of Madness. The disorient proc makes the DEI unique in all of WoW -- no other weapon has featured such an ability. As a result, PvP'ers loved this weapon in its day, especially since the proc didn't break on damage.
If you asked a warrior, ret paladin, or enhance shaman in vanilla what weapon they wanted most in the entire game, many would have named this axe.
4. Arcanite Ripper
What is it: Half axe, half guitar, all epic
Where to get it: From Prince Tenris Mirkblood, who was only available during the pre-Wrath Scourge Invasion event
Why it's awesome: The Arcanite Ripper is a tribute to classic WoW's Arcanite Reaper axe. While you can't farm the Ripper from Tenris anymore, it does occasionally pop up on the Black Market Auction House at a starting price of 70,000 gold. Since the boss was only available for a short time, and could only be killed once a week, the Arcanite Ripper is one of the rarest weapons in the game.
The Ripper has an on-use effect that transforms your character into a Forsaken that busts out a sick guitar solo, complete with fiery green explosions. Yes, wielders of the AR got green fire years before warlocks had it.
This axe is so epic that it lives on as part of the magnificent Epicus Maximus model.
What are they: Beloved class-based weapons
Where to get them: Challenging endgame quest chains
Why they're awesome: Each of these self-transforming weapons deserves its own WoW Archivist column, so I won't go into too much detail here. Suffice to say, these weapons were the pinnacle for early priest and hunter raiders in vanilla WoW. The quest lines were very difficult and many parts could only be completed solo. The hunter quests didn't even let you use your pet.
Wielding one of the above proved that you not only had success in raids, but that you had mastered your class as well. The models were all instantly recognizable to players around you, so you garnered respect from others on your realm just by equipping these weapons. Unfortunately, the chains were removed from the game and the weapons can no longer be acquired.
Both Rhok'delar and Benediction transformed into different weapons as an on-use effect. Benediction transformed into Anathema when you wanted to melt faces instead of heal. The bow Rhok'delar originally transformed into Lok'delar, a staff with nature resistance. Most hunters never bothered using the staff version, however, and the transformation created problems with enchantments. Blizzard eventually offered the bow and staff as separate weapons instead. This was more convenient but significantly less cool.
What is it: The tainted sword of fallen Highlord Alexandros Mograine
Where to get it: The original Four Horsemen encounter in vanilla's Naxxramas
Why it's awesome: What else could be number one? If any non-legendary weapon deserved to be upgraded, it was the Corrupted Ashbringer. By the looser standards of The Burning Crusade, it might have gotten the orange treatment, but vanilla was a different time. The uncorrupted version has been datamined -- and is in fact legendary -- but it has never been obtainable. Throughout vanilla, players tracked down clues about where Ashbringer might be found.
The untainted original never appeared, but players could loot the evil version from the Four Horsemen. The infamous sword was worth the wait. The things that happened to your character as a result of this sword were crazy -- most of them unlike anything else before or since. First of all, Alexandros talked to you through the sword. In a creepy, distorted voice, the Corrupted Ashbringer whispered to you totally downer things like "I was pure once," "My son watched me die," and "Kill. them. all."
Entering the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral with the sword equipped triggered an event. Scarlet Crusade members, usually hostile, would kneel before you as you passed by them. Mograine's son, the Scarlet Commander Renault Mograine, offered you his armies as the wielder of the sword. That's right. He didn't give you some paltry gold as a quest reward -- he literally turned over command of the Scarlet Monastery to you, personally. Then his father's spirit rose out of the sword and spoiled everything. With a fatal curse, Alexandros took revenge on the son who betrayed him.
Equipping the sword changed your reputation with two factions. Not only did you become Friendly with the Scarlet Crusade, you became Hated with the Argent Dawn. You couldn't go to Light's Hope with the sword equipped. The NPCs would attack you on sight.
Finally, the sword actually changed your character's model to be a shade darker, like a lesser version of Shadowform. With all these effects, no other weapon in the game has ever made you feel like the item actually changed your character's life the way that Corrupted Ashbringer did. Most legendary weapons haven't even come close.
As an item, the sword had a nasty life drain and a rare negative stat bonus, both for roleplaying purposes and to balance out its superb DPS.
A four-part comic miniseries by Wildstorm called World of Warcraft: Ashbringer tells the story of the sword. Although you can no longer obtain the weapon, the paladin talent Holy Avenger temporarily turns your weapon into Ashbringer.
So that's my totally biased list. What are your favorite non-legendary weapons?
After months of surveying, WoW Archivist has been dug back up! Discover lore and artifacts of WoW's past, including the Corrupted Blood plague, the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and the mysterious Emerald Dream.