The Mustering of Azeroth: Ranking Every Artifact Quest

My journey to complete every class story in World of Warcraft has finally ended. Along the way, I also completed all thirty-four of the game’s artifact quests, and now I bring you my thoughts on them all, ranked from worst to best.

Acquiring Strom'kar, the Warbreaker in World of Warcraft: LegionFists of the Windlord (windwalker monk):

Wastes far too much time on the insufferable Li Li Stormstout and features a generic no name villain whose plans and motivations are never explained in the slightest. A sloppy, underwhelming quest all around.

Light’s Wrath (discipline priest):

This is a mage quest.

No, really. It’s an almost exact copy of the Aluneth quest, and it doesn’t make sense for a priest artifact at all.

The Kingslayers (assassination rogue):

Deserves credit for being one of the more elaborate artifact quests and requiring you to make smart use of pretty much the entire rogue toolkit, but I found the stealth mechanics irritating, and the story only makes sense if your rogue isn’t Alliance and hasn’t finished the rogue story yet.

Twinblades of the Deceiver (havoc demon hunter):

Kind of a sloppy quest. I got excited when I saw Illysanna Ravencrest was involved because I thought it’d help explain how she came to be a boss in Black Rook Hold, and I guess it does, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. Wasted potential there.

Plus the ending just doesn’t make any sense.

The Dreadblades (outlaw rogue):

Not a bad quest, but an unremarkable one. I’ve never understood the appeal of pirates in fiction, and the story has basically zero relevance to the greater Warcraft lore.

My rogue wielding the Dreadblades, Fate and Fortune, in World of Warcraft: LegionWarswords of the Valarjar (fury warrior):

Very basic. Feels like any other random side quest.

Fangs of Ashamane (feral druid):

Meh.

Aldrachi Warblades (vengeance demon hunter):

Short and forgettable. Nothing particularly bad about it, but nothing that stands out, either. Tells you nothing about the artifact or its history.

Maw of the Damned (blood death knight):

Nothing wrong with this quest, but nothing to praise, either. It’s very adequate.

Ebonchill, Greatstaff of Alodi (frost mage):

SUPERB CASTING. GET BACK TO THE FOCUS. I’LL KEEP AN EYE OUT.

SUPERB CASTING. GET BACK TO THE FOCUS. I’LL KEEP AN EYE OUT.

SUPERB CASTING. GET BACK TO THE FOCUS. I’LL KEEP AN EYE OUT.

The quest to acquire Ebonchill, Greatstaff of Alodi in World of Warcraft: LegionMake… it… stop…

Also the boss fight was too easy.

Strom’kar, the Warbreaker (arms warrior):

Maybe it’s because I did it last, but I found this the least interesting of the quests at the Tomb of Tyr. Seemed very easy, too.

Arms is a lot more fun to play than I expected, though.

Thas’dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners (markmanship hunter):

It started out well, but was too inconclusive. Ultimately little more than a tease for longtime lore fans, bringing us tantalizing close to the answer to a very long-held question but never actually giving it. That wouldn’t come until Argus.

Titanstrike (beast mastery hunter):

Seemed meatier than most artifact quests, which I appreciate. Needs less Mimiron, though.

Skull of the Man’ari (demonology warlock):

Hard to separate how much I dislike the new demonology from the quest, but Mephistroph is a good villain. Seemed unusually challenging, but maybe it’s just because I’m not used to the spec.

Ulthalesh, the Deadwind Harvester (affliction warlock):

The quest to acquire Ulthalesh, the Deadwind Harvester in World of Warcraft: LegionHad a nice spooky feel, but was a bit confusing. Didn’t explain the history of the artifact very well.

Talonclaw, Spear of the Wild Gods (survival hunter):

One of the more fun artifact quests in terms of gameplay, but kind of a giant heap of nothing story-wise, especially considering the history of the artifact. There’s a lot more they could have done.

Aluneth, Greatstaff of the Magna (arcane mage):

Interesting revisiting the Ethereum and the Nexus War. Not sure I like the idea of a weapon that talks back so much, though.

Scale of the Earth-Warder (protection warrior):

Not a huge fan of artifact quests that have so little to do with the actual artifact, but the story of the son trying to save his father’s soul was an interesting angle.

Scythe of Elune (balance druid):

This is pretty much the quest for Ulthalesh with slight tweaks. It’s a good quest, but a weapon with such legendary history deserves better.

Apocalypse (unholy death knight):

Another Ulthalesh clone, but better executed. You still don’t learn much about Apocalypse itself, but the story surrounding its acquisition is complete and satisfying.

The Doomhammer (enhancement shaman):

Acquiring the Doomhammer artifact in World of Warcraft: LegionI’d probably rate this quest higher, but I expected more for such an iconic part of Warcraft lore than just bashing Troggs and fighting one demon.

Honestly the best part was probably Stormcaller Mylra, who has always been and will always be awesome. Sassy Dwarf lady FTW.

Sharas’dal, Scepter of the Tides (restoration shaman):

I don’t understand why this is a shaman artifact. I mean, I get the water connection, but it still feels weird for an item associated with one of Azeroth’s most infamous and evil mages to be wielded by a shaman healer.

That said, this quest is pretty good. I always liked Vashj’ir, and the end boss’s fate is… memorable.

Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire (shadow priest):

A somewhat short but entirely satisfying quest. Interesting story, nothing to complain about.

T’uure, Beacon of the Naaru (holy priest):

Interesting thing about this one is it features cameos by a couple of characters from other class stories: Vindicator Boros and Jace Darkweaver. Nice bit of continuity there.

And it’s a pretty fun quest all around.

Sheilun, Staff of the Mists (Mistweaver Monk):

Fighting to claim Sheilun, Staff of the Mists in World of Warcraft: LegionNot very story-heavy, but the familiar characters and location still gave it a great jolt of Pandaria nostalgia. Challenging enough to be interesting, but not frustrating.

Felo’melorn (fire mage):

Less Blood Elf lore than I expected/wanted, but was interesting to revisit Icecrown.

Fangs of the Devourer (subtlety rogue):

This quest did a great job of capturing the rogue feel and making use of the class’s mechanics — from stealth to pick-pocketing — and had a surprisingly epic story to boot, sending you face to face with one of the greatest villains in Warcraft lore.

The Silver Hand (holy paladin):

Paladins have excellent luck with artifact quests. This one is very intense, and I hope we see the final boss again. That the best the Silver Hand has to offer were merely able to hold it off, and then only barely…

Blades of the Fallen Prince (frost death knight):

This is clearly meant to be the first artifact quest you do as a DK, and if you don’t, the timeline gets a bit wonky, but otherwise, this is an excellent quest. There’s a surprisingly clever little puzzle, and the final boss fight is a lot of fun.

Truthguard (protection paladin):

Excellent quest. Lore-rich, good use of Wrath of the Lich King nostalgia, and engaging gameplay that forces you to use your full toolkit as a paladin tank. There’s even a little humour, though not enough to detract from the epic feel of the quest. I loved how your allies bubble-hearth at the end.

G’Hanir, the Mother Tree (restoration druid):

Purifying G'Hanir, the Mother Tree in World of Warcraft: LegionBest of the healer quests. The mechanics make inventive use of the healer toolkit, and the story is exciting and intense.

The Scepter of Sargeras (destruction warlock):

Larger in scale than many other artifact quests — visiting many locations across the face of Azeroth — and captured the feel of the class incredibly well. Betrayal, murder, the quest for ultimate power — everything you could want from a warlock story.

Claws of Ursoc (guardian druid):

Has more effort put into it in terms of unique art and maps than probably any other artifact quest. Also serves to set-up the Emerald Nightmare raid, and revisiting Grizzlemaw for the first time in nearly a decade was warmly nostalgic. Generally pretty awesome.

Not sure this was the time for a random Mylune cameo, though.

The Fist of Ra-den (elemental shaman):

Any opportunity to revisit Pandaria is welcome, and I’m glad they let you do it on at least one non-monk class.

It’s also a very well-rounded quest. Lots of backstory on the artifact, reunions with familiar faces, some of the most inventive boss fights I’ve seen in an artifact quest, a little humour, and a very intense ending.

Plus I finally got to smack Li Li Stormstout. What’s not to love?

Fu Zan, the Wanderer’s Companion (brewmaster monk):

The artifact quest for Fu Zan, the Wanderer's Companion in World of Warcraft: LegionIf you were to distill Mists of Pandaria into a single one-hour story arc, it would be Fu Zan’s quest. It was charming and whimsical in places, yet deadly serious when it needed to be. It did an excellent job of showing how widespread the Legion invasion is and how vicious it can be.

It had some subtlety, too. Though the Monkey King’s task seem simple at first, afterward it occurred to me his request for a special brew was really an attempt to save Pandaria’s food supply. Every place I went to for ingredients was some crucial location the Legion was on the brink of destroying.

A very clever, fun quest.

Ashbringer (retribution paladin):

The Ashbringer quest is an absolute tour de force from beginning to end. It features iconic characters from throughout Warcraft lore and actually represents a pretty major moment in the game’s overall story.

Balnazzar puts on one of the best villain monologues I’ve ever heard, echoing Sovereign’s equally chilling speech in the original Mass Effect, only for the player to turn the tables on him in epic fashion.

Unlike many artifact quests, you claim the Ashbringer before the final boss fight, and the fight mechanics are tailored around the sword’s ability, which makes for a very satisfying experience.

Confronting Balnazzar during the Ashbringer artifact quest in World of Warcraft: LegionAs much as I’ve enjoyed artifact quests, I generally wouldn’t say they’re worth making new alts just to experience them, but this is the exception. It’s worth making a paladin just to do the Ashbringer quest. It’s moving, it’s exciting, it plays to nostalgia without leaning on it as a crutch, and it’s just plain fun.

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The Mustering of Azeroth: An End at Last

At long last, the journey is done. My nearly two year mission to complete every class story in World of Warcraft has reached its conclusion, with the last three now in the rear view.

My druid posing with the Scythe of Elune in World of Warcraft: LegionMan. What am I doing with my life.

Rise of the mountain queen:

The trouble with the warrior campaign is it’s one of those stories that just doesn’t go anywhere. You spend all this time marshaling the armies of the Titanforged, and then… that’s it. You don’t actually do anything with your amazing immortal army. I like the subject matter, but there isn’t really a story here.

The only significant lore revelation to be found is learning what happens to the Kvaldir after Helya’s defeat, but while that’s nice to know, it’s honestly not a question I’d even thought to ask.

They do have a very pretty class hall, at least, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed playing arms spec. Going in, it sounded totally unappealing; I thought not having an active rage generator would make the spec incredibly slow. But it’s not like that at all. It’s quite quick, and it flows well. I wound up enjoying it better than fury, which I never would have expected.

This is why I try to test out so many different classes and builds. You never really know what you’ll like until you try it.

The warrior class hall in World of Warcraft: LegionRu shanna Shal’dorei:

We had a bit of a last minute line-up change here. I had leveled up my Pandaren hunter, but that race never seemed to fit the class very well, so I decided to use my “free” 110 boost as a cheap alternative to a race-change. I spent really a disturbing amount of time agonizing over whether I wanted to be a Void Elf or a Nightborne, but while Void Elves are unquestionably the coolest looking race in the game right now, the vastly superior backstory of the Nightborne won out.

As for the campaign itself…

I’ve said before that Legion’s class campaigns don’t have enough content to work as standalones. The best campaigns are those that build upon existing lore and continue the stories of well-known characters.

The hunter campaign is entirely standalone, and as a result it’s possibly the dullest of all.

It’s undoubtedly a challenge to come up with a cohesive story for a class that has no real singular identity or established factions in-lore. I’m not sure I have a better idea for how to handle things. But the fact is that the Unseen Path, while potentially an interesting concept, is way too out of the blue and way too underdeveloped to be at all compelling.

My Nightborne hunter in World of Warcraft: LegionWhat’s equally sabotaging to the story but harder to explain is the fact the hunter campaign focuses almost entirely on unfamiliar characters the player isn’t going to have any investment in. There are more than a few memorable and interesting hunter characters in the lore, but for some reason they’re largely ignored by the campaign.

The hunter story isn’t quite as destructively dumb as the shaman campaign, but for sheer boredom, it takes the crown.

Also, I skipped recruiting a couple of followers because they required you to do Nesingwary’s quests in Highmountain. A long time ago, when I was a lowbie leveling through Stranglethorn, I swore to myself I would never do any more quests for that benighted, grind-loving Dwarf again, and I will not break that promise for anything.

The one piece of good news is that I did enjoy playing the class quite a bit. Marksmanship takes some getting used to, but once you get into the rhythm, it’s pretty satisfying. It does feel like playing a patient, master sniper. Beast mastery was also pretty fun, surprisingly. I wouldn’t play it solo, but in a group context, it’s not bad. More active than I expected.

Survival didn’t quite do it for me. It’s got some cool ideas and unusual mechanics, but it’s just not tuned well. You wind up so focus-starved.

The wilds call out:

My druid, Broll Bearmantle, and Thisalee Crow during the druid class campaign in World of Warcraft: LegionThe druid story was a good note to end on. It’s not the best class campaign, but it is better than most. In stark contrast to the hunter campaign, it draws almost entirely on well established characters and plots. Maybe it’s still a pretty basic story on paper, but as a long-time Warcraft fan, I can’t deny the thrill of once again adventuring alongside the likes of Broll Bearmantle, Hamuul Runetotem, and Celestine of the Harvest.

Also, you get to relive the War of the Ancients in all its mad glory. Hells to the yes.

Man, I am scarred for life by Thisalee Crow’s new voice, though. It’s like they got the actresses for her and Valeera completely backwards.

Mechanically, I find druid a mixed bag. There’s no spec that I actively dislike, but nothing quite clicks, either. Balance and restoration just feel off in a way I can’t fully articulate, and feral still feels like playing a watered down rogue.

Guardian did grow on me a bit, though. If I wasn’t so burnt out now I might have spent some time playing guardian just for the hell of it even after I finished the campaign.

There’s also a certain sense of symmetry to finishing with my druid. He is not the first character I ever created — playable Worgen didn’t even exist back then — but he is reusing the name I gave to my original WoW character, who was a Night Elf priest. In that sense, I’ve ended as I started.

The Claws of Ursoc artifact quest in World of Warcraft: LegionFinal thoughts:

What a long, strange journey it’s been.

I admit to having mixed feelings. There’s a lot about this I enjoyed, but honestly, twelve class campaigns is a bit much. I’m glad I pushed myself to do more more than the stories of the classes I normally play, and it did give me a much more holistic view of the story of Legion, but I’m not sure doing every last one was really necessary.

If you’re wondering which are the must-plays, I’d say death knight, paladin, druid, and mage are the ones that feel important as a lore fan. Rogue and warlock were also a lot of fun, but I’m not sure they can be considered required.

Death knight wins as my overall favourite. Shaman was the worst.

This also means that I have now played every class and spec in World of Warcraft. I’d say the most enjoyable specs in each role right now are outlaw rogue for melee DPS, elemental shaman for ranged DPS, resto shaman for healing, and prot paladin for tanking.

Blizzard has done a very good job of improving class design across the board such that while there are more than a few specs I’m not that passionate about, there are very few that are actively unpleasant to play. Just holy paladin and demonology warlock, I’d say. Which is very sad to say, because those are both specs that have in the past been my favourite.

The warrior class hall in World of Warcraft: LegionOf course, Battle for Azeroth will be changing everything again soon anyway…

Speaking of which, I think I must address my future relationship with World of Warcraft. I’m still not willing to say that I’m done with the game for good, but honestly? I have no plans to play anymore WoW right now.

The fact is pretty much all the stories I care about have been wrapped up, and the Mustering of Azeroth seems like a good note to end on. Maybe I’ll come back at some point, but for now, as impossible as it is to believe, I think I’m done with this game.

I’m still a Warcraft fan. All the stuff I used to love is stuff that I still love. I’ll always be a Blood Elf nut. I’ll always have fond memories of WoW and the previous games (not to mention the novels, comics, and movie). But at this point I think the franchise has given me all it can. I think it’s time to quit while I’m ahead.

Stay tuned, though, as I still have one or two more posts about all this up my sleeve…

I leave you now with a gallery of all twelve of my max level characters. A fine-looking bunch, if I do say so myself. You should all be impressed that only half of them are Elves.

Shorel’aran, friends.