Friday, May 4, 2012

2H Maces: Vanilla Outbreak!

Hiya folks! This is going to be my first, genuine attempt at brevity in these articles. I'm banking on that what my readers value are the charts, links and information provided here and not necessarily my lengthy commentary. If you want my commentary, take it into the comments and I'll be happy to deluge you with my thoughts! Read on, faithful traveler, and enjoy my review of Two Handed Maces for transmogrification!

2H Maces Differentiation Analysis

The chart you see above (click for larger image) represents every Epic, Rare and Uncommon Two Handed Mace model currently eligible for transmogrification. For a larger view with a dynamic links check out this Map Key where you can scan and link directly to WoWhead model by model.

As a reminder, one key change I've implemented here is the gray horizontal band across the top. For the purposes of determining what's currently attainable for transmogrification, Two Handed Maces that fall in this row are either no longer in the game or they have limitations such as the legacy Grand Marshall requirement. So for some, they are still eligible for transmogrification and as such I've included them in this review.

If you're familiar with the way I segment the Differentiation Analysis and the models in the chart, feel free to jump to the visual positioning matrix below.

For those of you who are new to Disenchanting Azeroth and my methodologies here, this process is a visual analysis of design language and form, so the different variations of color and model skin for each version of a particular model are not represented here. That being said, if you find something here you'd like to inquire about further, simply scroll down to the Map Key which provides direct links to WoWhead for details on where you can acquire the model or various recycled versions of it. 

Now the chart above I refer to as the Differentiation Analysis. I arrange each individual model (not each skin) horizontally by the expansion in which it was introduced to the game, and vertically by the number of weapons the model is shared with other weapons in-game. The more it is recycled, the lower I rank it because it is technically less unique. The less it is recycled, the more unique it becomes and thus the higher I rank it. The models in the white row, second from the top, labeled "exclusive" retain exclusive rights to the model, as there is nothing else currently attainable in-game that can match it with transmogrification, not even a Heroic equivalent.

I also identify Heroic alternates in their own row, and if a recolored skin is available I've highlighted it by reversing its position and placing it beneath the normal version.

The goal of my evaluations is to determine just how much visual parity there is among weaponry in the World of Warcraft, and where the niches lie that players can leverage as a means to visually differentiate themselves from their peers with Transmogrification.

Why "Vanilla Outbreak"? Well, without getting too wordy, just LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE MACES introduced in Vanilla! Amazing. There simply hasn't been another deluge since.
    For those of you who are new to Disenchanting Azeroth and my methodologies here, I refer to the next chart below as the Visual Positioning Analysis (click for larger image). I use this matrix as a means to provide a visual landscape to what is currently attainable in-game for Transmogrification. The short version is I help you make sense of the clutter that's out there and show you what's actually going to stand out.
    2H Maces: Visual Positioning

    The goal here isn't to determine the exact placement of each individual weapon, rather it is to identify deltas between them as a means to draw some conclusions and inform my recommendations that follow. If you'd like an 18-minute, in-depth walkthrough of this chart above, how it works and if you'd like to listen to me talk about how the art style of maces changed from expansion to expansion, check out the following YouTube video:

    Returning to the chart, the vertical axis here is a continuum of INTROVERTED forms (singular geometry, quiet) such as the Manual Crowd Pummeler (50, 80) to EXTROVERTED forms (multiple, intersecting geometry, loud) such as the Pit Lord's Destroyer currently positioned at (25, 15). Basically weapons at the bottom of the matrix are visually much quieter than those at the top.

    The horizontal axis here is a continuum of STATIC forms (rectilinear, sharp transitions) such as the Firemaul of Destruction (5, 50) to FLUID forms (organic, smooth transitions) which actually don't have many options here but the Lightborn Spire is clearly the winner, currently at (75, 25). Basically, weapons to the left appear more stoic and angular and those on the right appear more organic and curved.

    Returning to the Visual Positioning chart, for the sake of argument, I'm going to take Blizzard's "exclusive" Two Handed Maces from the white row in the Differentiation Analysis and cross reference them with this Visual Positioning matrix. This will let us know if the models that have maintained their exclusivity over time can actually stand out in the crowd.

    Red ellipses identify a Two Handed Mace from the "exclusive" models that either looks too much like the other weapons around it or it doesn't carry enough visual impact to truly separate itself from the pack. So in other words, the value of being an exclusive model doesn't do it much good if its aesthetic is too similar to its peers. A great example here is Inevitable Defeat (45, 50). In terms of its visual appeal, it does get a bit lost among some other Two Handed Maces that have a similar form.

    Green ellipses identify a Two Handed Mace from the "exclusive" models that is far enough removed from the mass of parity that it should be able to maintain its identity. Equip one of these, and you're more likely to stand out among your peers.

    A great example here is actually the aforementioned Pit Lord's Destroyer (25, 10), a model introduced in 4.3 that is still being used widely for stats. But as we proceed into Mists of Pandaria, hold on to this mace because it will likely still have a place as one of the most unique 2H Mace models in-game.

    Finally, based on the charts above, the following are my editor's picks and are in no particular order:

    1. Petrified Ironwood Smasher, a random BoE world drop.

    2. Draconic Maul, a potential random drop Death Talon NPCs in Blackwingn Lair.

    3.The Pacifier, random BoE world drop, but be sure to check WoWhead for two alternatives that will also give you access to the same model.

    4. Firemaul of Destruction, a potential drop from Warbringer O'mrogg in The Shattered Halls.

    5. Scepter of Sha'tar, a potential drop from Nexus-Prince Shaffar in Mana Tombs (H).

    6. Hammer of Grief, a potential drop from Maiden of Grief in the Halls of Stone.

    7. Deadly Gladiator's Bonegrinder, no longer available but was formerly an Arena points reward in Wrath of the Lich King. Kudos if you held onto it, because it's epic.

    8. Catastrophe, no longer available but was formerly a potential drop from the Argent Crusade Tribute Chest in tribute runs of Trial of the Crusader. Double kudos if you acquired this and still held onto it. You'd stop players in their tracks if you had this and could marry it with the look we saw below at the Arthas (A) WoW Factor show.

    9. Warmaul of Infused Light, a potential drop from Wrath-Scryer Soccothrates in The Arcatraz.

    10. Lightborn Spire, a potential quest reward from the Battered Hilt questline. Rarely seen, and worth acquiring the hilt to get access to the model.

    Special Mention: High Warlord's Destroyer, a Horde-only legacy PvP reward only eligible for transmogrification by players who meet the PvP title qualifications. You'll need to use the replica to transmogrify it, though.

    Grand Marshal's Battle Hammer, an Alliance-only legacy PvP reward only eligible for transmogrification by players who meet the PvP title qualifications. You'll need to use the replica to transmogrify it.


    1. Love the new interactive map with links to the weapons on Wowhead. Great addition to the site. Keep it up!

    2. The Pacifier was used a lot by war/pala twinks in 30-39 bracket :)

    3. I'd just like to note that nobody will ever see the Lightborn Spire out in action with xmog on current content. It is only available as a reward from the hilt for non-sword wielding classes. So Druids, Priests and Shaman. Since all of the 2h Maces that drop now are Strength itemized none of those classes will ever have a weapon they could xmog to the Lightborn Spire. I find that very unfortunate because there are enough classes to use Int 2h Maces and it fits thematically for Monks to use 2h Maces and now that Hunters no longer use melee weapons it would be all 4 specs using 2h melee weapons in this hypothetical scenario (Feral, Guardian, Brewmaster, Windwalker) able to use Agi 2h Maces. But no Blizzard isn't taking us back to the days of yore where Feral Druids used 2h Maces such as Earthwarden or Gladiator's Maul or the countless 2h Maces available leveling up to 60.

      So yeah. One of the coolest 2h mace models will be rotting in my bank for the remainder of eternity.

    4. I've had the Warmaul of Infused light in my warrior's bank for awhile now, but two things are stopping me from using it. First, it's a mace, and the only endgame mace drops from Mannoroth in WoE (which is rendered obsolete by getting Gurthalak, so you're back to swords). Second, how the hell do you accessorize with that??