Per the title, I don't think horde will be viable for SoM. Unlike most posters, I'm not concerned about paladins vs shamans or blessing of kings / salv. Rather, I'm concerned about weapons. In short, weapons are going to be at a premium unless Blizzard makes significant changes to loot, and only human warriors can make good use of maces.
Anyone who played Classic during the Vanilla era knows that warriors were overplayed. They're the most viable tanking class (druids do fine with a little finesse), are the chief recipients of Thunderfury, and were the strongest DPS class. Counter to what most believe, the dps gap wasn't due to world buffs but was exacerbated by them. Due to a few mechanics, warriors and their rage scaled non-linearly with their stats, as opposed to other classes who had more linear scaling.
Without world buffs, mages and rogues can keep up. That means that mage, warrior, and rogue are likely to be the premier dps classes. Of these, warriors and rogues are the most dependent upon their weapons, obviously, and these two are also the top dps classes according to logs of non-world buffed raids.
Hence there is likely to be a warrior-rogue-mage meta, with those three being the top dps classes.
With the content being released on a much shorter timeline, that means guilds will have fewer lockouts to gear everyone up. That additionally means that the likelihood of getting the weapons you need goes down. Blizzard would have to majorly tweak drop rates to have any impact on that. And, unless they change the loot code, it'll still be RNG, meaning many guilds won't have any weapon drops at all for weeks on end.
It's no secret that weapon drops in Vanilla were scarce. To make matters worse, rogues and warriors need weapon skill. Rogues can get weapon skill with sword, fist, and dagger weapons from talents, whereas warriors have no way to gain fist weapon skill at all. Warriors can gain axe, sword, and dagger skill from edgemasters, which is a relatively small investment in the long run. But warriors cannot gain either fist or mace skill through any means other than playing a human to have mace skill innately.
Hence, any maces that drop horde side will be useless. Alliance side, where we can assume that warriors should be smart enough to play humans, expect swords and maces to be prio'd to warriors and for rogues to be expected to use daggers or even fist weapons and just make do. Also expect lots of Alliance warriors to be running around with Edgemasters and picking up any axes that drop.
In short, Alliance can technically make use of all weapons including fist weapons (as long as raiders are willing to be flexible). But horde flatly can't use any maces except for anubisath warhammer (a weapon many guilds never saw even once) without implementing workarounds.
PVP weapons are the obvious workaround. Expect to see lots of warriors and rogues trying to spam BGs and rush for Rank 14. However, unless ranking code is altered, then actually getting to R14 during the shorter SoM timeline might be even shittier than it was the last time around. The kindest thing Blizzard could do about that is to remove the ranking system entirely and instead have gear be sold for specific amounts of honor and marks, but I really don't expect that to happen.
Technically you can work around not having weapon skill on your mainhand by using heroic strike on every auto. Most warriors are unlikely to have enough rage to truly get away with that without world buffs. And you still want weapon skill on your offhand to do this. However, tanks may have enough rage to do this, especially since they don't use whirlwind in their rotation (usually), so expect to see a few human tanks running around with blackguard in their offhand and whatever they can get in their mainhand spamming heroic strike. Tanks may be able to get away with fist weapons if their rage gen is high.
There are a few crafted weapons, most notably blackguard and ebon hand. Once again, expect humans to be the biggest beneficiaries here. Can you clear Naxxramas if you have literally zero good weapon drops and everyone is running around with blackguards and ebon hands? Probably. Have fun with that.
Unless Blizzard does something extreme about weapon drops then expect weapons to be a big problem during SoM, even more so than they were for Vanilla Classic. Plan accordingly and make sure that you know which classes can make use of any given weapon.
- Rogues likely need to make do with daggers or even fist weapons unless they opt for R14.
- Warriors need to be ready to pay for Edgemasters and use anything they can get.
- Tanks should expect to use blackguard in their offhand from phase 3 unless their guild is lucky with weapons.
- Everyone should play Alliance so that your guild can make use of maces, because you're probably going to see quite a few and even the crappy ones generally beat out ebon hand and blackguard.
- Sure hope Blizzard does something major to address weapon drops and trash RNG.
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