With the impending Cataclysmic events coming in about a month I felt it necessary to take a moment and reflect at all of the raiding that happened in the Wrath of the Lich King story line for the past two years (yes it's been that long), and rate them as to what I consider the worst, and the best. This excludes The Ruby Sanctum, because that is the first raid of the Cataclysm story line. So, Ruby Sanctum fan-boys feel free to stop reading..
...I'll give you a moment to leave...
Fair enough. The list is after the jump! Enjoy!
8. Vault of Archavon
Leading off our count down of the best raids of Wrath of the Lich King is Vault of Archavon. For obvious reasons, this loot pinata is ranked last. No other boss that I can remember has bred such raid leading selfishness in raid composition. If I had a dollar for every time I was in a VoA raid and the raid leader was the only one of their class, I would have one overused idiom. Simple boss fights, not fun at all, sure the bosses were hard... the first day. Well it wasn't all that bad, it did drop a mount! That wins it points for me, but not enough to get this (barely a) raid out of last place.
7. Trial of the Crusader (And Grand Crusader)
Without a doubt, Trial of the Crusader is quite possibly my least favourite and worst designed raid ever. I'd love to know what the meeting was like when they were designing this raid. I imagine it went like this...
"Blizzard Guy 1: Hey guys alright we need to make a new raid that is Argent Crusade themed.
Blizzard Guy 2: Oh I know what we can do! How about, we make a coliseum in Icecrown, and have the raid in there! And better yet, let's throw a five man dungeon in that same arena too!
Blizzard Guy 3: Brilliant, that will save Blizzard Art Guy 1 tons of time!
Blizzard Guy 2: It gets better, I'm on a roll tonight, we should also change how we do hard modes! We should make it so that Heroic and Normal modes are separate lock outs! That way if people want to get the most out of raiding every week they must do the same content four times a week! People will LOVE that. We should also have a boss where there's like twelve "players" like a battleground or arena and have them have weird aggro mechanics so that theory-crafters can just go crazy with it.
Blizzard Guy 1 and 3: *speechless*
Blizzard Guy 2: And! We should put an attempt limit on Heroic difficulty and make it so that if someone disconnects your raid gets screwed out of bonus loot! What a great way to promote raid unity!
Blizzard Guy 1: Someone promote this guy. He's a keeper."
If you couldn't tell, those are the reasons I hate this instance with a passion. The scenery is the same throughout 4/5ths of the encounter, the third boss fight likes to remind me that I'm a cloth wearer, doing the same raid four times a week burnt me out really fast, and disconnections meant either twenty-four or nine other people suddenly hated you for a while. I got my Argent Defender, I never want to set foot in that place again. Blizzard, let's learn from this lesson, please never do another instance like this again.
The only plus side to this raid is it gave mounts (terrible looking mounts, but they're still mounts). I like mounts. But I guess that's kind of like validating eating an M&M you found in a urinal by saying there's chocolate inside, and that you like chocolate.
Now here is a disclaimer for the rest of the raids: I like the raids six through number one. We got past the two I legitimately hate. Go us. Naxxramas was fun! It a was a throw back. It gave us "noobs" who didn't raid in the original World of Warcraft a chance to experience this raid. I'm very glad they brought it back as the entry level raid. I had a lot of good memories raiding this, and bad. And so did the community. I mean how can we forget the gnome mage
exploiting soloing military quarter (who got a 24 hour ban very quickly afterward), or rogue who "solo" killed Patchwerk? Sadly, I can't forget. Or I would.
Overall it was fun before everyone over geared it. Now no one knows how to do Naxx, which is very very very entertaining to me. I've seen people in item level 264 gear completely fail at some of the boss fights (Thaddius for one). Raiders with the best latency available always seem to "lag" on that fight, if you know what I mean. And, who doesn't love doing the Heigan Dance? Well, maybe melee DPS.
5. Onyxia's Lair
So I'm counting this raid in with the Wrath of the Lich King since it was relevant during the time it came out. Sure it did nothing for the story, but neither did Vault of Archavon and people still ran that sooooo deal it with it. And I know, I know, you're all thinking: "But Asil! You left out Ruby Sanctum because it had nothing to do with Wrath of the Lich King." That's because people actually liked Onyxia.
I mean really, who doesn't like doing that fight? The original gave us one of the best WoW related viral videos, ever (Link is NSFW). Onyxia also had a stupid check. Go raid Onyxia and see who in your guild gets hit by Deep Breath. Then ridicule them endlessly, they deserve it.
Oh, did I mention she drops herself as a mount? Yeah, major Asil-points. Onyxia's Lair would be higher up on the list if it wasn't a resurrected raid from old world.
4. The Eye of Eternity
Moving onto number four on this countdown of the best raids of Wrath of the Lich King is The Eye of Eternity aka Malygos. I'm aware the general public hates this raid, for one big reason. They can't do it. It's too hard. That's why it's so high up on my list. It was difficult when it was relevant.
It made Death Knights regret thinking that class was cool as they always got assigned to spark duty. Said Death Knights will carry that scar of spark duty with them for the rest of their lives. If they ever use sparklers they will unknowingly always grab two, and hold them together, so that the "raid" can get stacked spark buffs.
Also what makes this raid so high up on the list is how it incorporated very different mechanics into one fight. One moment you're flying around on a hover disc (which by the way, Blizzard please make this an engineer mount, thanks), then the next moment you're flying on a dragon. Then if you 1 1 2 hard enough, you get visited by one of my favourite characters in the game: Alexstrasza.
The fact that PuGs couldn't do this boss also makes me favour it. PuGs couldn't do it, not because it was hard or anything, but stacking in phase three is just way too difficult. I've seen so many raids wipe because they couldn't all stack on one drake, then once they start taking AoE damage move to the right (or left depending on your strategy). But hey, you know, moving out of the fire is hard, right?
3. Obsidian Sanctum
Obsidian Sanctum aka Sarth was our first introduction to hard modes. I felt it was well done, having to leave up however many dragons you wanted to corresponded with how hard the fight would be made sense in a role-playing mind set. It felt way more exciting instead of, you know, clicking a UI option that says "Heroic" and then fights become magically harder.
The raid was short, sweet, and also had a stupid check. Flame wall is very easy to dodge. It was as simple as looking both ways before crossing the street. Seeing some people do this fight makes me wonder how they haven't gotten hit by the IRL version of Flame wall: A Bus.
The fact that this raid is short, has a mount on the loot table, fun, and was the pioneer in what is now Heroic difficulty raids, makes it number three on my list.
2. Icecrown Citadel
Arthas fan-girls calm down. Let me explain first the things I liked about this raid before I tell you all why the slaying of the Lich King wasn't number one.
This raid had a legendary, a legendary that took effort to get. Sure, it was another melee legendary, but still orange text is orange text. Shadowmourne was the only legendary of this expansion that actually felt like it took a lot to get it. It had a quest line. I feel the quest line could have been longer, but hey it's a start. The important thing is the reward chest that came with the Shadowmourne, that was my favourite part.
Heroic Lich King fight is no doubt the hardest fight of the expansion. But know this: The fight borders a very thin line. A thin line between being hard skill-wise and being hard RNG one person screws up or gets screwed and it's a wipe. To me there's a difference between Hard and Dumb, this fight is very close to dumb.
Healers finally got to do something cool! The fight that all DPS cries about is housed in this Citadel. Deal with it DPS, we have to every other fight.
ICC fixed the issue Trial of the Crusader had of how you had to run it four times a week to stay competitive by making it so you can choose boss by boss which one you want on heroic and which ones on normal. So essentially they were on the same lock out. However, this is one major reason as to why I feel ICC fell short of the number one spot. It doesn't feel quite right just clicking a button that says "Heroic" then you go through a loading screen and the fight gets harder. I'm not a huge RP person, or lore person, but it still doesn't sit right with me. It left me not satisfied.
And of course with Icecrown Citadel at the number two slot, that makes Ulduar number one. Of course Ulduar would win. It had the most original boss fights of any raid and it was the only time I feel that Blizzard got the Hard mode activation right! Having to push Mimiron's Self-Destruct button to initiate hard modes made sense! It was creative! It was fascinating, and it made sense. The reason they said they don't do it this way anymore is because for some of the fights there was no way to go back so if you (let's say) killed all four towers on Flame Leviathan then you were like " Aww man I wanted to leave one up" because you can't count to four or something, there was no way of reversing that. But I can live with that, and I think so can everyone else. I mean that's just user error. People should pay more attention. Hard modes should be activated by DOING something, not just clicking "Heroic".
Ulduar also featured a legendary for healers, finally. Sure it didn't feel legendary of how you attained it. Collecting thirty shards that randomly dropped was kind of lame, but hey healers got a legendary! Let's not forget that. And it was really good, too. It was a discipline priest on a stick.
The fights were difficult when they were supposed to be, they were unique, and the scenery was fantastic. I never pass up a chance to raid Ulduar, and neither should you! If you have never been inside Ulduar except to do the weekly you are really missing out, no joke.
Ulduar also housed a new concept of a boss, a "bonus" boss you may say. Algalon was his name, and having to kill him in an hour before he destroyed your world was his game. Why an hour you may ask? Well many wonder why it takes him that long to teleport, I think he just has a really old Hearthstone. That fight was difficult if you were wearing Ulduar gear. Sure it's easy now because we over gear it, but he hit like a truck back then.
So that is my list. What do you think? Did I get it right? Or do you think you can rank them better than I can? Let me know in the comments below what your favourite raid is, or give me your countdown of your favourites!
As always, if you have any comments or questions for me regarding World of Warcraft, the blog, or myself, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I might feature them in an upcoming post.