From the early days of Vanilla up until the current expansion, “challenging” has had several meanings in World of Warcraft. There were times when the challenge was to find 40 committed raid members. Later, as the raid size decreased, gear and tactics became important as well.
After raid difficulties were introduced, performance and class knowledge started to count too. Picking the most challenging WoW bosses is not an exact “science” because comparing bosses from different expansions are not impartial. But we are here to have fun, so let’s check out the WoW raid encounters that broke guilds and made players question their life choices.
M’uru – The Burning Crusade, Sunwell Plateau
The M’uru encounter mechanics couldn’t have been simpler. There are some adds – that, as usual, take priority over the boss – and some damage from the boss. Then what made this boss so hard that only five guilds managed to down it before the nerf?
The trouble arose with the M’uru/Entropius transition phase. After M’uru dies, he transforms into Entropius and starts doing increasing AOE damage. The fight against him was a DPS check. The trick was to get rid of M’uru and the adds at the same time because dealing with Entropius and M’uru’s adds was a tried and tested recipe for a wipe.
Yogg-Saron Without The Watchers’ Help– Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar
No, thank you, Watchers! I don’t need your stupid help, keep your buffs! It wasn’t just the lack of buffs that made this fight next to impossible. It was also the fact that only Thorim could kill the adds and Freya kept you from going insane and ultimately mind-controlled by the boss.
Thanks to another “neat” mechanic, these unkillable adds would gain full HP and obliterate the poor tank doing god’s work kiting them. At first, it was thought that this encounter was impossible. It took about 500 attempts from one of the best guilds to down Yogg-Saron without the Watchers’ assistance and prove that this is doable. The encounter was eventually nerfed.
Lich King – Wrath of the Lich King, Icecrown Citadel
The mechanics hit hard, but the emotions hit harder. The Lich King’s demise meant the end of an epic Warcraft story. It also meant the end of WoW’s golden age, but we were blissfully unaware of it at that time.
The boss inflicted a ton of damage to its tank. Raid members had to be healed above 90% HP to get rid of a nasty debuff. Our beloved Arthas turned baddie had a lot of HP and adds so damage dealers didn’t have a moment of rest. The fight takes place on a platform from where you could get occasionally punted or carried over by the Valkyries.
Finally killed him and what did you get? Not a single dry eye in the house during the ending cinematic.
Ragnaros – Cataclysm, Firelands
Let’s face it, mechanics-wise 2004 Ragnaros wasn’t hard at all, even by Vanilla standards. The difficult part was having 40 people able to somewhat perform at the end of a very long raid. But Cataclysm Ragnaros is on a whole new level.
The encounter was long and filled with mechanics that required perfect execution. Raiders had to be on their toes the entire time as the tiniest error could lead to a wipe. It took more than an HP nerf for normal, non-pro guilds to be able to finish this encounter. One mechanic was ultimately removed.
Spine of Deathwing – Cataclysm, Dragon Soul
In the Spine encounter, the raid had to get rid of Deathwing’s armor so that Thrall could do his thing to defeat the mad father of the Black Dragonflight. Easier said than done because the fight takes place on Deathwing’s back and he doesn’t stay still for too long.
What made the fight “fun” is that one player standing in the wrong place could cause a wipe. Positioning was key as too many players on one side caused Deathwing to flip and throw the entire raid off his back.
The objective was no walk in the park either. You had to kill specific adds in a very short amount of time to blow off the plates of armor covering the dragon. Burst-damage classes were in high demand for this raid.
Lei Shen – Mists of Pandaria, Throne of Thunder
This is one of the longest and most comprehensive WoW raid boss encounters. Many agree that Lei Shen was a challenging but fair encounter. Players had to survive three main phases and two intermissions. Positioning was of utmost importance. The boss had to be tanked in specific spots and players had to be aware of their placement as well.
There were moments in the fight that really tested the damage dealers’ skills and healers’ ability to keep everyone alive. Players had to constantly move as they grouped up for soak mechanics and spread to avoid taking too much damage. All in all, it was fun.
Garrosh Hellscream– Mists of Pandaria, Siege of Orgrimmar
Mists of Pandaria wasn’t the most popular WoW expansion, but it had some nice raids in terms of balance. The Hellscream encounter is another example of a fight with just the right amount of difficulty. Garrosh Hellscream went down neither easily nor quickly. There was no room for sloppy execution of the mechanics.
Players face the Horde’s leader and a bunch of his adds in one long fight that has main phases and intermissions. Players were transported to several locations throughout the ordeal. The encounter was so long that it was possible to use heroism/bloodlust twice during it.
Archimonde – Warlords of Draenor, Hellfire Citadel
Just like Ragnaros, Archimonde is another WoW boss that got to get his revenge. His first appearance as a boss was in the Battle for Mount Hyjal in The Burning Crusade. While the raid – based on the last Warcraft 3 mission – was undeniably legendary, Archimonde himself wasn’t too epic.
Hellfire Citadel Archimonde, on the other hand, is one of the most challenging WoW bosses. Throughout the fight, players had to soak insane amounts of damage and survive difficult mechanics such as avoiding all the other members’ beams. Nothing that addons cannot handle, right? Fun fact: following this encounter, Blizzard didn’t allow addons that told raiders where to stand anymore.
Kil’Jaeden – Legion, Tomb of Sargeras
Kil’Jaeden didn’t take it lightly that M’uru, the boss that preceded him in the Sunwell Plateau, was way harder to kill so he staged the Legion’s second coming to show us that Sunwell Plateau was merely a setback.
The fight required perfect positioning and timing as players’ could be thrown off the platform. The amount of damage during this encounter made healers pull their hair out. It took more than 600 attempts for the first Kil’Jaeden kill. The second guild to down the boss numbered 900 rinse and repeats. The nerfs included damage reductions of 40% and 60% giving all players a chance to complete this fight.
Uu’Nat – Battle for Azeroth, Crucible of Storms
You know that the fight is no joke if it has something to do with the Old Gods. Count on N’Zoth to make Uu’nat one of the most challenging WoW bosses.
One mechanic required players to pair up based on their marks. The trick was that you had to avoid others while running towards your match and you had only 12 seconds (was increased to 15 eventually) to do that before you exploded doing un-survivable damage around you. If that wasn’t enough, you had other mechanics to deal with at the same time.
It took more than 700 attempts for a world-first kill and serious nerfs to make victory achievable by those who cannot afford hundreds of hours of practice.
Lady Jaina Proudmoore – Battle for Azeroth, Battle for Dazar’alor
The Jaina Proudmoore encounter is another great example that comparing raid bosses from different expansions is not fair. It took about 340 attempts before the first kill. That’s a low number compared to others but the fight is actually pretty annoying as there isn’t a pre-set pattern of mechanics.
Throughout the fight, players had to react based on what was happening at that particular moment. They had to be careful with the positioning and on top of their game when it came to their roles. Jaina is a frost Mage so players endured frost magic spells such as Chilling Touch, Avalanche, and Glacial Ray. Raid composition played an important part as well.
Queen Azshara – Battle for Azeroth, Eternal Palace
An iconic figure in WoW’s lore, Queen Azshara met her demise after 350 tries. This fight had unforgiving mechanics, such as the beam that spelled instakill for anyone touching it. Positioning was crucial. Addons helped by guiding players but it was up to them to reach their designated spots in time.
The fight has several phases. The raid leaders had to time the beginning of each phase so the party didn’t have to deal with overlapping mechanics. This was a strategic fight and not a DPS race. Patience is not a WoW player’s best-known virtue, so you can imagine how well it went.
What WoW boss has given you the most grief? Let us know in the comments!