Raid weapons loot table

#1 - Jan. 20, 2022, 4:43 a.m.
Blizzard Post

Hi! Enhancement currently has 3 weapons on the first bosses of the raid, but no higher ilvl weapon on the last bosses. We are the only melee dps spec alongside rogues to not have a higher ilvl weapon. We also didn’t have one in SoD. Considering our melee weapons have a decent impact on our damage as a melee dps, is it possible to get an additional higher ilvl weapon on the last bosses? A nice solution would be to change the higher ilvl warglaives on the 9th boss to a 1h axe or even remake the weapon tokens from Nathria. It just feels bad to not have access to the same power as the other classes. Or at least can we get an explanation for this situation. Thanks!

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WoW Developer
#2 - Jan. 24, 2022, 9:19 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Hey there! This feedback’s come up in a few places, so I wanted to drop by and give an update on what we’re doing to address it, why we’re addressing it in this case specifically, and then go into a deeper dive behind some of the motivations and current thoughts about end-boss weapons, raid loot in general, and weapon tokens ala Castle Nathria.

First off, the what and why - we’re going to be adding an Agility Dagger to Rygelon (Boss 10) & removing the Agility Fist Weapon from Skolex and moving it to The Jailer (Boss 11). This represents +1 additional weapon overall for the raid, and leaves only some healers without a weapon from those final 3 bosses - we’re not likely to make a change to that, as there’s a unique Healer Mace that we anticipate will be a pretty powerful option for those specs earlier in the raid. As to why we’re making this change - Sepulcher of the First Ones has the highest amount of bosses with increased item levels (3 bosses over the traditional 1 or 2), which we felt was appropriate to support both Rygelon & Lords of Dread feeling like high-level encounters you could tackle in any order, as well as the cement a clear jump after Anduin, the raid’s first-week hurdle. However, even one extra boss at the +7 threshold created a level of imbalance that felt less textured in the ‘some have one, some don’t’ way, and more like a small few being excluded - exclusion to this degree wasn’t intentional, and that’s why we’re acting on it.

However, this has led to some legitimate questions - why don’t all classes have a ‘stronger’ weapon in each raid, and furthermore, why not use Weapon Tokens like Castle Nathria did? These may not answer all of those perfectly, but I’d like to share some thoughts on the subject and shed light on the kinds of things we think about when designing items & loot tables that may help push the conversation forward.

Philosophically speaking, we think there’s a lot more to items than just the stats they provide on a mechanical level. We put so much time into naming and placing them appropriately because they’re a way to flesh out the stories of the enemies and environments they come from. As you suggest in your post - we certainly could have included an Axe over a Warglaive on the Lords of Dread fight if our goal was purely covering every spec; but let’s look at it from a different angle. Lords of Dread has you fighting Mal’Ganis, debateably the most well-known Demon in all of Warcraft Lore, and the only demon in any of Shadowlands’ 3 raids. From that perspective, it might be weirder if we didn’t drop Demon Hunter-specific weapons from that fight.

Every loot table on any boss should help tell a story, which adds to the excitement of receiving the drops themselves. There’s layers to this of course; harder or more iconic encounters often deserve more unique or powerful rewards - but they’re a tool we use for our game to feel more immersive. Another example from Sepulcher is Artificer Xymox’s return - there are a pair of swords that use the same model, where one is a relic the Cartel’s stolen from the raid, and the other is a replica of the same blade they’ve made with the intent to auction it off at Tazavesh. Compare this to 9.0’s tokens - while there was a higher level of equality among drops in the raid, the excitement was often lower in a relative sense; this is in part due to the delayed gratification tokens provide (you had to zone out in 9.0’s case to get the appearances from your sanctum), and in part due to the disconnect in what you actually got out of them. Despite having some very cool covenant appearances, they didn’t feel grounded in the story of the raid or the content you got the token from, which led to the specific drops feeling less memorable overall.

Another goal of ours is to have loot evenly distributed throughout a raid such that there’s a variety of things groups value differently across bosses and even entire wings. This helps groups who are struggling to progress on a specific difficulty still get useful loot while reclearing, while also serving as a nice incentive for groups to push ever-so-slightly into a higher difficulty and gain a foothold. This idea is what led us back to making certain unique weapons (internally we call these Cantrips) in Sanctum of Domination like Jotungeirr from The Nine, or Cruciform Veinripper from Painsmith - their unique effects were on par with a higher item level bump, but we were also able to let them drop earlier, and enhance the experience of defeating those important characters within our setting. Weapons aren’t the only way we can create memorable and equitable raid loot (jewelry and trinkets also tend to help fill in these gaps as well), but they’re a very potent tool in our toolbox for making all parts of the raid feel rewarding and meaningful to revisit rather than making the final bosses be the only ones that matter.

To be clear: 9.0’s weapon tokens did solve a problem for some players, and there’s a lesson to be had in the response to them. While a 7 item level disparity is rarely ever a barrier to class viability, the feeling that everyone was on an even playing field along at least one axis is clearly an idea that resonated strongly among some of you. I don’t want all of the above speak to sound like we’re never going to iterate on weapons, or that people who liked how 9.0 played out were flat Wrong - just that Tokens clearly solve only one slice of the problem while denying us (or at least hindering) the ability to achieve our other goals for raid itemization as a whole.

There’s a lot more we could get into about the place of Cantrip weapons/items, but I’d like to save that discussion for a future post later on when we’ve got a greater appreciation for how the Sepulcher plays out. I hope this helps communicate a bit more about where we’re coming from and why things end up the way they do, even among players who value the mechanical & numbers side of WoW for whom some of this may not be satisfying. Lastly, I want to thank you for taking the time to write this post & make suggestions! We can’t respond to every single one, but they help shape our discussions and iterations internally.