World of Warcraft Finally Solves A 15-Year-Old Mystery

World of Warcraft fixed a bug that overpowered Val’nayr, Hammer of Ancient Kings, for 15 years.

By Jason Collins | Updated

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World of Warcraft is still among the world’s best MMOs—despite being nearly 20 years old—and it’s still full of surprises. The most recent Dragonflight DLC in which you play a dragon has revived the game a bit; the World of Warcraft Classic—the “retro” version of WOW—just surprised everyone by removing a 15-year-old bug that made Val’nayr overpowered—which apparently eluded the devs for 15 years.

Val’nayr, Hammer of Ancient Kings, was one of the most powerful weapons in the original World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion, as it triggered a damage absorption buff that could absorb an insane amount of damage. According to Kotaku, some of Val’nayr’s stats contained an extra zero, which increased damage absorption by a factor of ten. This error made its way into the Classic iteration of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and now, several months after the expansion had launched, someone noticed that the stats are off.

For more context, Val’anyr has the potential to trigger an eight-second shield on use, allowing the wearer to absorb as much as 20,000 damage. However, due to a typo that hasn’t been noticed or removed for 15 years, that stat had an extra zero at the end, causing Val’nayr to potentially trigger a shield that would absorb 200,000 damage instead. This Legendary item originates from the iconic Ulduar raid, where gamers had to collect and combine its fragments, and despite popular belief, it wasn’t only used by healers in-game.

The iconic World of Warcraft weapon was primarily designed for the paladin class lore-wise, which has three specializations: retribution (damage), protection (tank), and holy (healer). All of these specializations, despite their differences, have healing spells that could trigger the Blessing of Ancient Kings proc—the one with 200,000 damage absorption. However, the weapon was made available to all healer specializations present in the game at the time since retribution paladins couldn’t use it effectively, and protection paladins didn’t really need any additional armor.

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This means that both discipline and holy priests, restoration druids and shamans, and holy paladins could use this weapon for healing and make their raids go incredibly smooth—given the factor of ten increase in spell stats. The most interesting thing regarding this bug is the patch note that was issued after it was fixed. In the patch note, Morgan Kirkpatrick, the World of Warcraft Classic test analyst, explained that the hammer was never supposed to be that strong and that the error was never noticed by WOW players.

But the players noticed, and they never actually questioned the effectiveness of the hammer or whether it’s supposed to proc 200,000 damage absorption. This error is purely on the development team and everyone at Activision Blizzard alone. Healer’s job is never an easy one: damage dealers, especially if they’re at the top, always expect special treatment, and do very little to avoid damage, often blaming healers for their own failures to simply dodge something—this is particularly true in World of Warcraft community.

So, we, the gaming collective, don’t know a single healer in World of Warcraft or any other game who would complain about the chance to offer a 200,000 shield absorption to a fellow player. The players noticed, and even if they didn’t, they’re probably thankful that someone over at Blizzard didn’t do their job for 15 years. Perhaps things will be a bit better now that Microsoft cleared a major hurdle in the Activision Blizzard acquisition, which is strongly opposed by PlayStation due to obvious reasons.