Itemization in WoW Classic

It’s been a lot of fun over the last couple of months to dive into the development of WoW Classic with the team, while trying to answer some of the many questions that have been posed here and elsewhere. Looking at the plans for a phased content release, unlocking dungeons and raids, and unlocking other systems, it’s clear that the aim is to create a progression experience that resembles the original arc from when WoW first launched. In thinking about what belongs in each of those phases, the team’s focus has always been on rewards.

Developers have scoured through vendor lists and treasure tables for items that were added in patches, and then attached them to the staged content unlock plan. This means that if a new item was originally added to a dungeon boss’s loot table with Ahn’Qiraj, you shouldn’t expect it to appear in WoW Classic until Phase 5, which is the phase that contains Ahn’Qiraj content.

Along the way, we’ve seen many questions asking if we’re also retracing the steps of incremental changes to individual items and their stats that may have occurred throughout original WoW. Such a plan could be called “progressive itemization.”

Here’s an example of progressive itemization. The Tier 2 warrior Helm of Wrath originally had Spirit and Agility on it, as well as critical strike chance. In Patch 1.5.0, the helm’s stat budget was changed to Stamina, Strength, and Defense, along with elemental resistances. Then in Patch 1.7.0, the amount of Defense on the helm was reduced. In Patch 1.8.0, the 5-piece set bonus that included the helm was fixed to work with Whirlwind, and in 1.9.0, it got a better look with an art update.

WoW Classic will only include that last version of the item, as it existed in our reference version: 1.12.

Of course, this raises the question “why?”. Why differentiate between adding new items along the way and making modifications to existing items?

When new items are added to loot tables, you’re generally seeing a deliberate effort to provide catch-up gear and/or to provide new goals for players who had exhausted an existing reward structure. For example, in original WoW, items were added to give players a way to quickly prepare for Ahn’Qiraj without having to spend months in Molten Core and Blackwing Lair.

The changing of existing items in patches often illustrated the original design team responding to how players played the game. Their primary goal at the time was to make rewards more relevant and exciting. Developers realizing that Spirit probably wasn’t an ideal stat for a warrior raid set helm* was an example of this sort of change.

Many class abilities and talents evolved similarly. For example, going into Patch 1.8.0, the game designers determined that Moonkin Form would be a more compelling 31-point Balance druid talent than the original selection of Hurricane.

It’s important to remember that there’s more to WoW Classic than a long series of changes. Even if each item change could be made, and even if every class change could be progressively recreated, that would still only constitute a piece of the overall landscape of original WoW. We remember how early raid progression was punctuated by unexpected roadblocks and workarounds:

  • As far as we know, every one of the first Ragnaros kills was only possible due to a bug that made Lava Burst temporarily stop firing after a wipe.
  • Chromaggus was practically unbeatable due to Ignite Flesh unavoidably and lethally stacking on tanks, until it was discovered that Flamegor’s ramp in the laboratory allowed the entire raid to damage Chromaggus without being exposed to his breath attacks.
  • C’Thun was infamously seen as unkillable until a hotfix in April 2006 prevented additional tentacles from spawning while he was vulnerable.

Recreating, and then re-fixing every major progression-affecting bug wouldn’t account for what we think matters much more: the people playing the game. There were many unknowns in original WoW. The first guilds to reach Nefarian spent their initial pulls testing different ideas they had and trying to figure out what condition would get them past the first part of the fight (defeating 40 drakonids). That experience can’t be recreated, because the knowledge can’t be unlearned. For a long time after Patch 1.4.0 came out, many players simply had no idea how good Obsidian Edged Blade or Aged Core Leather Gloves were. The power of weapon skill will be no surprise in WoW Classic.

So rather than try to recreate a specific experience from 2005 that can never fully be recaptured, our aim has been to accurately and fully restore the original game’s mechanics and stats to their final and most polished state from before The Burning Crusade. That mission has been a pillar of WoW Classic’s design from its inception.

This means that while content will be unlocked progressively to allow for each raid tier to shine, systems such as class design, battleground mechanics, and stats on existing items will all be set to their final 1.12 conditions. That should take the pressure off players to be constantly figuring out what we might do next to remain exactly in line with how the game once played out, and we can all focus a little more on community building and enjoying the experience together.


*So much for some trolls’ dreams of limitless regeneration. #SorryNotSorry.


Taking the example of Helm of Wrath, it seems like an innocent and logical change

but what I think players are mostly concerned with is the power spike. 1.12 items were way more powerful than their original versions. Originally Bonereaver’s edge reduced armor by 300, in patch 1.12 that sword reduced armor by 700… stacking up to 3 times AND it gave +16 stamina.

It just makes for an easier experience compared to what you had to work with at the time those raids were current. Seems good on paper, doesn’t work out in practice. This is not what I had hoped for but I guess we gotta go with what we get, which is 1.12.


Thanks for the update and I agree with everything said. Much appreciated :slight_smile:


This does raise some concerns i have regarding items such as the blue PvP sets which were buffed to be on par or even better in some cases compared to tier 2, but it is kinda what most people were expecting you to do.


There is mixed feelings and obviously confussed of this but appreciate the update :grin:

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So rank 14 caster onehanders will be added later?
This is kind of a big deal for us ready to invest the time for high ranks.

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One question we had was if MC is going to drop T2 pieces until Phase 2 then as it did so before 1.4 which was the first patch to add new items to the MC Loottable and removing the upper tier items except the leggings from Raggy.


I was hoping for progressive itemization but you can’t get everything you want i guess, it’s not the end of the world but oh well.

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Well, Spirit of Aquamentas reduced mana cost at start of WoW which was god-tier for mana users while later on was nerfed to spell+healing power. Also many late dugeon gear like Scholo&Friends sets will be blue and nicely stated for players to seek them out (especially non BiS and min/maxing raiders). Progressive itemization is a double edge sword and for people that don’t know how much +hit or spell hit they need for raids it’s very hard to explain and address sudden change in the gear they may already have.


by this I would think,that relics(such as paladin books , shaman totems, and druid idols) should be added at the start of classic, because they are not catch up, but class balancing compared to priests mages warlocks rogues warriors, who get their bis “stat-sticks” in earliest content, random bonus high level wands for healing and damage, and strikers mark for melee. druids only got out of raid idols for their offspecc balancing, same goes with shamans, and guess paladin didnt have enough healing? what do you think about this?


Mixed feelings about this but essentially you’ve made content easier when it was already trivial to begin with, so now private servers can officially be considered hard mode compared to what you can offer. So that leaves the question for many people playing on private servers most of which have been up for years now with no interruption, smoothly run. Why should I play here for money if you’re aren’t offering the same experience when literal welfare recepients running servers in the backdoor of eastern europe can-… But for free? 1.12 itemization, talents and 16 debuff slots will make the content ridiculously easy. Frankly it’s insulting and comes across as very ignorant.

Just throwing that out for the developers that don’t seem to realize the USA has no legal power or jurisdiction in eastern europe where these servers are typically hosted.


Well said, Meibhín.

Sad :frowning:
I loved item progression, this means certain items will never be available such as Green lens of stamina…

Easy? Explain.

Essentially you have items, abilities and talents tuned for 1.12 content which at that point was considered Naxxramas and AQ40. Sort of like how at the end of expac all the starter content is trivial. So current content that’s meant to be challenging during 5 out of the 6 phases will not and is going to be easier than intended.

Private servers overtune their content to compensate for inaccurate values and now that they’re slowly releasing values, we’re starting to glean (as well some fresh evidence recently dug up) that private servers bosses are harder than intended and they also have correct itemization. So if Blizzard aren’t at the very least offering proper itemization for money, it’s not a positive, especially when people doing it for very little money in the backdoor of europe with no sub cost do.


As long as the overall difficulty is rebalanced so that we get an accurate feel of how raids and dungeons used to be, then these ‘overpowered’ items will be irrelevant. I really hope that there will be some balancing of the numbers or we will find that a lot of the early content will be far more trivial than was originally intended.