Wrath Retrospective – Bosses Part 2

Continuing on from my Retrospective about bosses, here’s my list for my favourite 5 bosses in Wrath. The list wasn’t an easy choice for me, as there are a lot of good fights in Wrath raids, but I think my final list showcases the bosses where I had the most fun.

Despite that, I think its worth giving an honorable mention to some fights that almost made the list, but just missed out. Professor Putricide was an awesome fight, as it had some cool mechanics and a great ramp up in difficulty, Thaddius was a fight that was just plain fun to tank when getting thrown across the room, and Algalon is a short but nail-biting encounter that got your heart pounding on every attempt. As good as they all are, lets get onto the top 5…

5. Yogg Saron
Perhaps I’m slightly biased when it comes to this fight, simply because of how it felt when we finally downed it, but in all honesty I think it was down to the fight itself to make that feeling possible. The fight needed to be hard, because we were fighting an Old God and it needed to feel epic, like an almightly struggle against something so powerful, that the chance of winning was low, but doable, and the fight was all of that and more. Admittedly, phase 1 was a pretty horrible mechanic, as it punished the group with a wipe just because one person couldn’t move fast enough, and it was right at the start so even when progressing on phase 3, you could still wipe in this phase.  Regardless of what phase 1 meant for different groups, it was a nice boundary so that groups with no co-ordination simply couldn’t do the fight (in other words, it would never be puggable).

Phase 2 was a clash of epic and fun. Most of the epicness came from the difficulty of the phase, and how a couple wrong moves would leave you dead or mind controlled. That said, there were other parts of the fight which were just awesome – Yogg appearing at the start of the phase, the sequences inside the brain realm, the brain realm itself (it looked really cool) and Valkyr Sara standing high above sending shadow stuff down at us all made the fight very cool to be a part of. It was also a great test of leadership and communication, as I remember in phase 2 we split into 2 groups, with one member leading the brain realm group and me leading the people on the outside – it kept everyone focused and it really made the fight feel unique, no other fight actually had one person leading a group by himself, its normally just random instructions every now and then.

Phase 3 was also very fun just because of the sense of panic you would get. The adds had to be killed otherwise the group would be overwhelmed, but there was an enrage and there had to be enough DPS on the boss to kill him, and then he would randomly start his crazy ass laugh and slowly turn everyone insane. Again communication was crucial, especially for tanks as we had to know when the other needed sanity and swap around accordingly. The sense of accomplishment when we finally downed him was overwhelming, and I’ll never forget that moment, it was the best thing I’d ever done in WoW, and it looks set to stay that way for a long time. Perhaps its just me, but it always felt more epic to be slowly working your way down deeper and deeper into a prison until you finally had to face what was locked away at the bottom, compared to slowly making your way to the top of a tower to kill the king that ruled it. I would have ranked this fight higher in my list if it wasn’t for how ball-breakingly difficult the hard mode is – not losing sanity suddenly seems impossible without those green beams.

4. The Iron Council
Originally Professor Putricide was going to be on this list, but then I remembered about the Iron Council and just how much fun the fight was, and I just had to put it on the list. Though quite complicated when learning the fight, it had lots of mechanics to keep the fight interesting throughout, that made sense, and could be adjusted to your raids abilities. Phase 1 on normal mode really challenged me as a tank, and was a lot of fun to do. Everytime we wiped and tried again, I knew I could always do better by interrupting more chain lightnings. The runes put on the floor were also a nice touch, because it made tanking more interesting when you suddenly had to kite, and it was a nice change for DPS to be able to move INTO crap on the floor to boost their DPS.

The final phase, regardless of who you had up, was always a blast, because you knew as it started that it was just about to get more difficult, but that you were also really close to finishing. Fighting Stormcaller was organised chaos, Runemaster was fun as hell as you had to kite away from the little adds and just gave the feeling of running for your life for as long as possible to down him, and then Steelbreaker was just terrifying, but in a good way. This is one of THE fights where ‘hardmode’ really is at its best. It makes perfect sense in the encounter, as there are 3 bosses and when you kill one he empowers the other 2 with his final breath, and killing them in a different order means that you can choose whether to keep the hardest guy up longer for a challenge, or go for the easiest route and only have to fight a buffed up easy boss at the end. The extra lore on the end of it if you did it on hardmode was just a nice bonus to a very well designed fight.

3. Mimiron
Mimi is actually at the top of the list for some people as the best boss fight in Wrath, but I had to mark it down a little bit simply because of how hard it was (and still is) and the fact that it only required one tank (when we first got to this fight, duel specs hadn’t been out long and most didn’t have full DPS gear sets).

That said, the fight is still awesome. His voice and emotes through the fight are entertaining and fun, the phase-like encounter makes the fight much easier to learn as you can seperate each part in people’s mind so that they know exactly when to do what, and the entire fight was never boring, as you always had something to do. Phase 1 could be as simple as a tank and spank, but then they added a move to make tanks rotate cooldowns effectively, and for all melee to occasionally run like hell away from him. Phase 2 added some really cool abilties and really made people be spacially aware – stood in the wrong place? Uh-oh, here comes the laser barrage – ruuuunnnnnn!

Phase 3 was very interesting because you needed a spellcaster tank, the first time an encounter had required it in Wrath, and also had a random yet neat add spawn system. The fact that you could get an item from an add to do more damage to the boss made it very fun, as people would never just ignore adds, and it gave one DPS (two if you include the caster tank) something new and fun to do during this phase. Phase 4 was absolutely terrifying, but really fun at the same time. Trying to pay attention to multiple tactics at once, while DPSing 3 targets down simultaneously and keeping everyone alive long enough, and trying to beat an enrage timer at all at the same time really pushed everyone to their limits. It was very, very hard, but it felt brilliant everytime the fight ended. The hardmode on this encounter was also very well done, simply for the fact that without it, you really didn’t feel like you were missing out on anything, because the fight was already very complicated and fun, and yet the people who wanted hardmodes got a huge challenge – most guilds around the world that downed Firefighter 25 before ToC came out did it with about 1-2 seconds to spare. I even saw one video where they got the achievement 1 second after everyone died. Overall just a brilliant fight.

2. Flame Leviathon
Now, when Blizz announced that the first fight in Ulduar would be a complete vehicle encounter, most people thought them absolutely nuts after what happened in the Malygos fight – everyone hated vehicle fights. Admittedly, when we first went into Ulduar, I really wasn’t looking forward to the boss because I hated having to learn a new set of moves in a vehicle. That said, Blizz absolutely nailed it on the head with this fight, by basically righting every wrong with the Malygos fight.

First off, they had a stretch of trash where you could get to learn your vehicle buttons without worrying about what you’re doing on a boss fight. The trash was fun and easy, and let you settle into your vehicle. Secondly, they had a lot of diffrent mechanics to make the vehicles work together, without it feeling complicated or confusing. With Maly, you got your dragon and you had no idea how to do the most damage. In FL, you got in and said, Ok thats an interrupt, thats to make me go faster and thats my damage button (or whatever). The point is that they kept it very simple to organise, which leads onto the hardmodes.

To be honest, 4 different levels of hardmode were probably a bit too much, but they sort of had to do it that way because there were 4 keepers in Ulduar. Each tower tweaked the fight slightly, adding a new level of complexity, and the 4 towers up fight was just really, really fun. I’ve wiped on several different fights before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun wiping than I did on FL 4 towers. Because the normal mode of the fight was so easy, players didn’t have to stick around with a vehicle encounter if they didn’t want to, they could just blow through it and move onto other things they wanted to do. However, if you wanted to test out what Blizz had designed, you discovered an incredibly well made fight that proved to be a hell of a lot of fun.

1. The Lich King
When I originally wrote this list, Lk didn’t even appear on it as we were currently still working on getting through phase 2, and wiping endlessly on it was just horrible. Now though, looking back on the fight as a whole after doing it twice, I can see how much it tested our raid group, gave us fun, interesting mechanics, and pushed me both as a tank and a raid leader to play better. While the fight isn’t fun to wipe on, progressing on it felt brilliant, and when you have an experienced group that understands the fight, its just a hell of a lot of fun.

Phase 1 is a brilliant mechanic that makes sense, and is easy to understand but difficult to master. It gave healers a tough debuff to watch out for, as well as at times heavy tank damage, it let DPS do what they like – nuking a boss as hard as they could, but having to watch out and move quick if they had to, and it tested your tanks situational awareness and capability to pick up varying adds and time stuns and AoE’s. While at first it seems like surviving into the transition is in the hands of the RNG, constant practise is actually key to seeing that the adds go down at the right time – its all about quick dispells and keeping the right amount of adds on you at all times.

Phase 2 is a really great mechanic that could have been perfect if the timers for the valkyrs and defiles were such that one couldn’t happen within about 6 seconds of the other. Having a defile land on top of everyone at once, or having everyone run out only to have someone near a ledge get picked up wasn’t fun. Despite that, this phase of the fight is really challenging but fun for everyone. Healers have to be on their toes because of infest and in case a healer get picked by a valkyr, the defiles demand raid awareness and the valkyrs let players nuke something causing a very obvious problem – they’ll carry someone off of the very high ledge you’re fighting on and drop them to their doom. This part of the fight is also great for tanks, as no matter if you’re offtanking or main tanking, there’s always something to do.

Phase 3 is awesome just because people get to go inside frostmourne, but outside the fight is still very fun. You’ve got to the point where you’re very close to finishing, but the vile spirits spawn often and you have to just hold your breath every time one dives for a player that they survive. DPS have to keep changing their target, healers have to be on the ball to heal whoever happens to take damage next and tanks have to watch their cooldowns whilst kiting away from defiles and spirits. I suppose you would call it organised chaos, and I think thats the best thing I can say about it. Having a fight feel chaotic, even though its quite structured, is what makes fights so good. If you lose too much chaos, the fight can get boring, like gunship (funny how they intended that fight to be chaotic and yet its one of the most dull and boring encounters in game). If you lose too much organisation, players feel like they have no control over whats happening and cant progress unless they get lucky, like faction champions.

While I’d take a structured fight over a chaotic fight, the Lich King encounter strikes the balance perfectly, and leaves you frantic and panicky, and yet knowing exactly what you’re doing. It was a spot on feeling for the end of expansion fight, and was then topped off by an awesome cinematic, the likes of which Illidan should have been lucky enough to get. Looking over the whole expansion, I can say with absolute certainty that this fight was my favourite to tank, and just to be a part of.

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