Totem Talk: Why Doomhammer is an awful Enhancement Artifact
So Legion is a thing, and we’re all going to be talking about that for a while, aren’t we? Until it gets released and beyond that, even. Kind of important. And mixed in with all of that is the first piece of Enhancement-specific news that it feels we’ve gotten in half of forever — we’re getting Thrall’s personal beatstick as our artifact weapon! Hooray, right?
No. Not hooray at all.
I realize that it’s a little early to be complaining about Artifact weapons when we have yet to know most of the details, and at least this particular bit of news isn’t “Shaman now live in the Dalaran toilet district” which Rogues got hit with. But the fact remains that this is kind of a Big Deal moving into the expansion, and the Doomhammer is a very iconic weapon that is also an utterly terrible weapon for Enhancement Shaman for several reasons. Starting with the fact that it isn’t ours.
Let me state my bias for the record: I’m actually cool with the fact that most of the Artifacts we know about are completely new. Or, more accurately, they’re new to us. These are valuable, important weapons in the space of the game, but we hadn’t personally heard of most of them, and the fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t have. Others have made the point, more eloquently than I will replicate here, that most of the famous weapons of WoW which don’t acquire some cult status are mostly famous because of who wields them, not the fundamental nature of the weapon’s existence.
In other words, Gorehowl is just an axe; the people using Gorehowl are the important part. I like that the whole point here is that we’re acquiring these legendary weapons which had previously been all but forgotten, forging new legends with them. That appeals to me, and if I were in charge we wouldn’t be getting any existing big-name weapons like Ashbringer or Doomhammer in the mix. I’d be ranting about the former as well, but this isn’t about Paladins, so here we are.
But at least Ashbringer is a Paladin weapon. Doomhammer is an Orc weapon.
I don’t want to get into a debate of where WoW has fallen in its total Orc overload of the past few years, but even if we’d never had a single Orc-centric expansion, Doomhammer would still be an Orcish weapon. Sure, it was forged in a pool of elemental lava, that’s great. It was well-known for being kept by an Orcish clan, then it was the chosen weapon of two consecutive Orcish Warchiefs. One of those Warchiefs happens to be a Shaman, yes, and arguably Thrall’s the Enhancement sort, but it’s still an Orc weapon that happens to be in shamanistic hands.
This is a long-running issue that the game has had, tying Orcs to shamanistic practices to the detriment of every other shamanistic race. We’ve had an expansion filled with Draenei, but due to the timeline of the expansion we’ve gotten no examination of Draenei shamanistic tradition since the few nods back in Cataclysm. For Draenei and Dwarves the Doomhammer is literally the symbol of the enemy, something wielded by a well-known nemesis for nefarious purposes that you’re now expected to lift as if everything was fine. Pandaren and Goblins also have no deep affection for the weapon; it’s an Orc weapon, first and foremost. We have some narrative disconnect there, that’s my point. But it gets worse when you realize that there is only one Doomhammer and there’s only ever been one Doomhammer. Even if you strip away everything else, Doomhammer isn’t even our style of choice.
Frost Death Knights are getting blades that are explicitly paired. We don’t have a name yet, but we know that Demon Hunters are getting specific paired glaives that make sense for the class. We can reasonably assume that Rogues and Fury Warriors will get, again, weapons that are meant to be paired. So far as we know right now, we’re just getting a magical duplicate of the Doomhammer to wield in our other hand, which is a perfectly acceptable kludge to give us a single weapon for a dual-wielding spec that doesn’t actually have any deep connection to that weapon in the first place.
When you’re down to hammering (sorry) the weapon to fit the concept, that can be taken as a sign that the weapon itself isn’t all that great to begin with.
Honestly, speaking purely for myself, this is actually less exciting than a totally new weapon would have been. Sure, it’s one of the biggest and most iconic weapons being placed in the hands of Enhancement, and that should make me happy, but instead of feeling like a weapon that has long been lingering in the background of the spec (a la Ashbringer) it feels like something that was hastily shoved at the spec to make it seem important. Have a very significant weapon, look forward to putting lackluster talents on it, we’re done.
It also feels a bit like the story trying yet again to tell me how cool Thrall is, something that I think we’re all pretty tired of; if the dude was so smart, he wouldn’t have made Garrosh the new boss, after all. Which ties into the whole “Orcs are the best Shaman” thing again, the idea that Thrall is the ultimate representative of what a Shaman can be as opposed to being just a particularly notable Shaman.
“All right, Ranty McWhinePants, what would you have wanted?” Not that it matters, but I’d like to see something that really embraces Enhancement as a discipline, something that we haven’t seen in the past. I want weapons that really show how diverse the tradition is. I want something touching upon a history of speaking with the elements, like axes crafted by the original Tauren Shamans of the ages past, reforged by Dwarven smiths with Draenei magic and Goblin smelting. Weapons that exist in balance with the many different traditions of the Shaman, weapons that embody that unity through diversity that the core of the class is all about.
Instead, we get the Doomhammer, which I’m sure people are going to be happy about because it’s a big-name weapon and wasn’t conjured just for Legion. But I’ll be looking at it the whole time and thinking that it’s not a very good Enhancement weapon unless you happen to be an Orc. I would have hoped for better, even if that was always a pipe dream. And considering that we were already being shown different Doomhammer forms in the announcement slides, I’m fairly certain that the ship has sailed, unlike the “we don’t want our class halls in the sewers” ship.
The bright side is that there’s a lot of other mechanical stuff on display to be super excited about, and there’s reason to hope that this expansion may well be the expansion of Enhancement during the times that Demon Hunters aren’t stealing the show. I think there’s lots of reasons for Enhancement players to be at least cautiously optimistic. We’ll just be cautiously optimistic with a weapon that doesn’t really suit us.
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