Blizzard obliterates an orb from WoW Classic: Season of Discovery's 3rd phase for causing problems, leaves a terrifying class of Crusader-enchanted players in its wake

Several adventurers do battle in Stratholme in World of Warcraft: Classic, a firey undead necropolis filled with monsters.
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

World of Warcraft: Classic's Season of Discovery has been a success so far, outperforming most of Blizzard's metrics—but its experimental nature has also caused no shortage of problems. Most recently, those problems have surrounded an unassuming orb.

But first, some context: Season of Discovery (SoD) proceeds in 'phases', which are sort of like seasons in a live service game. The level cap's bumped in bite-sized level bands, an old dungeon is retrofitted into a 20-player raid, and a whole bunch of new runes hit the established meta like a swarm of meteors. 

Phase 3 began recently, raising the cap to level 50—but it also put players in punting distance of Enchant Weapon - Crusader. I use the phrase "punting distance" here because "in reach" isn't exactly accurate. See, Crusader is typically relegated to level 60 characters in your usual Classic server. It's best-in-slot for basically any melee class, giving them a chance to increase their strength by 100 for 15 seconds (alongside a self-heal) with every swing.

The recipe for this is dropped by Scarlet Spellbinders, high-level enemies in the Western Plaguelands, making it very obtainable with a group. Though a key reagent to enchant it, Righteous Orbs, can only be found in Stratholme, a high-level dungeon currently inaccessible in SoD.

Except, there was one creature outside of Stratholme that dropped Righteous Orbs: The Crimson Courier, a level 60 elite with a posse of high-level bodyguards wandering the plaguelands. It only had a 2% chance of dropping one of these things, but the supply was so vastly small and the demand was so massively high that groups of admirably-sweaty players were pumping a level 60 weapon enchant into a level 50 ecosystem.

Blizzard has had to step in, writing: "With a hotfix that went live to all realms earlier today, Righteous Orbs no longer drop during Phase 3 of Season of Discovery. They’ll become available as intended in Phase 4."

While I think resource wars breaking out over a single mob is cool on paper, I can understand why it shouldn't be required to fight over a single creature with a 2% drop rate of a key item (or to have deep enough pockets to buy one off the Auction House) just to get your best-in-slot. 

The hotfix, however, doesn't remove already-active Crusader enchantments from the game, which means there's currently a terrifying warrior caste of Crusader-wielding players stalking phase 3. This is, as one might imagine, causing a lot of arguments.

On one side of the fence, players who were actually enjoying a unique and player-discovered grind feel as if Blizzard are clamping down on their fun: "We were just told that more hardcore players should come up with creative ways to push their gaming. This was one of them," one player writes on the Classic WoW subreddit. "I would never do this myself but it has no impact on the game besides giving the sweats more to do." Another player argues that the hotfix has also created "an elite group of players that nobody else can touch or achieve."

On the other side of the fence, some people are arguing that an entire server having to compete for a 2% drop rate item from a single enemy just to get a must-have enchantment is, uh, a little unhealthy for the game: "Rip to the bozos that [real-money-traded] to buy the enchant", a player writes, after discovering that parsing website Warcraft Logs won't be counting Crusader Strike-enchanted runs for the rest of the phase. 

It's ultimately a fascinating situation—I don't think the Crusader enchantment can be considered an exploit by any reasonable person, but it certainly had an adverse impact on phase 3. Grinds are the meat to an MMO's bones, but if a grind is too severe, it's going to encourage real-money trading and all sorts of unsavoury activity.

A night elf faces off against a satyr and a felhunter in World of Warcraft Season of Discovery Phase 3.

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

On the other hand, orb-hunting seems like it was a fun time for the people who were good at it, and just nixing the orb out of the phase entirely seems like it's pushing against the tide. Why not add a few more couriers to the map and make an event out of it—maybe even bump up the drop rate?

Either way, at the time of writing, pre-existing Crusader-enchanted weapons remain. Whether Blizzard'll take the hotfix one step further and remove these overpowered stat-sticks is another question entirely—though considering the current backlash, I'm not sure it'd be wise. 

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.