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My Five Favourite Cataclysm Raid Bosses

March 16, 2012

The End of the End of the World

We’re nearing the end of the Cataclysm, and I’ve begun to look back and reflect on my experiences.  This is the first time I’ve played a WoW expansion through from beginning to end.  I’ve grown a lot as a player, exploring new aspects of game-play and becoming better at those aspects I’ve always enjoyed.  I’ve become involved in the larger WoW community, mostly through the blogosphere.   I’ve made a lot of new friends, but also lost a few old friends along the way.  There have been quite a few ups and downs, and many changes.  Some of the changes have been awesome and exciting, while others have had me raging and even wondering why I still play.  Overall, however, it’s been a great time.

Of course, the part of the game I love most is raiding, so when I look back it’s the raid experiences that stand out most in my mind.  When raiding is good then I’m enthusiastic and optimistic, but when it’s bad I’m bored, irritable, and start to feel pessimistic.  So today I’m starting a two-part series of posts.  First I’ll discuss the five raid bosses I enjoyed the most, and next time the five bosses that I enjoyed the least.

A Few Caveats

This is a list of MY favourite bosses, and therefore it is likely to be different from a list of YOUR favourite bosses (should you be inclined to make such a list).  I don’t intend for this to be an authoritative assessment of the best and worst WoW encounter design.

Also, keep in mind that my main is a Resto Druid, so I’m bound to favour raid encounters that are interesting for healers in general, and which play to the strengths of Druid healers in particular.  I also have personal preferences that colour my opinions.

When compiling this list I decided to consider pre-nerf, normal-mode, Cataclysm raid bosses only.  This is because I haven’t experienced every heroic-mode, so there’s no way I could accurately rank heroics.  And, well, there’s not much point in considering a boss post-nerf because that’s not the “real” version of the fight.  (I think there are only three bosses I first downed post-nerf — Al’Akir, Ragnaros and Deathwing — and they were all downed within a couple weeks of said nerfs, after working on them unsuccessfully pre-nerf.)

My Five Favourite Cataclysm Raid Bosses

5. Ultraxion

It was difficult for me to come up with a 5th place fight.  1-4 were very easy, but most of the other bosses floated in a strange limbo of “encounters in which I experienced average levels of both fun and frustration”.  So, what finally tipped the scales in favour of Ultraxion?

Well, for one thing, I think this encounter benefits from being graded on the Dragon Soul curve… It’s sandwiched between easy, forgettable fights on one hand and boring, irritating fights on the other.

In terms of mechanics it’s incredibly simple, and is probably the closest fight we’ve had to a Patchwerk-style encounter since, well, Patchwerk.  You’d think this would make for a boring fight, but there’s something palate-cleansing about being allowed to stand still and just focus on pure throughput.

However, I mostly love this fight because of the way in which we first downed him.  We were 3-healing, (because we hadn’t yet learned that 2-healing makes it easier), and we had a string of <5% wipes.  We were soooo close!  So we called a halt and brainstormed every possible way we could eke out a bit more DPS.  We made sure that everyone’s gear was in optimal condition.  We made a bunch of agility, intellect and strength potions and ensured everyone was clear on the concept of pre-potting.  We had both Resto Druids pre-pot and start the fight DPSing in tree form. We switched hunter pets around to make sure we had every possible buff available to us.  There was an incredible sense of camaraderie as we all worked together to manage to beat that DPS check.  And when he went down it was such a team accomplishment.  It felt awesome!

Oh yeah, and I get to be Alexstrasza.  Enough said.

4. Nefarian

At the time Tier 11 was current content, Nefarian was widely considered the most difficult normal-mode boss.  We were a new guild founded for Cataclysm, and it had been a long process of putting together a successful raid team.  To find that we were good enough to reach Nefarian felt great.  I’ll never forget the first time we clicked on that orb and all the lava drained away to reveal Onyxia’s reanimated remains.

Nefarian was an interesting encounter with varied mechanics that required co-ordination and communication.  There was very little room for error.  Every phase was completely different, and I never felt bored while working on this fight.  I was also doing a lot of tank healing at that point, which I still didn’t feel entirely comfortable with, and it always felt like an accomplishment when my assignment lived.

Sure, it was irritating to get stuck under the lip of a pillar and die in the lava, or suddenly wipe because one of the DPS missed an interrupt.  But otherwise it was a solid design and I had a lot of fun working on it.

3. Majordomo Staghelm

I loved this fight because it was a chance for our healing team to really shine.  It was fun to push additional Flamescythes and stacks of Adrenaline and see if we could still keep everyone alive.  This fight also played to the strengths of our raid team, because we were pro at the whole stacking-up-and-spreading-out mechanic.  Everyone moving simultaneously was a beautiful thing.

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about heroic mode, but I do want to mention it briefly here.  Heroic mode Staghelm was great in part because there were at least three different viable strategies for getting it down, depending on the strengths of your raid team.  I think that’s a sign of a well-designed encounter and a credit to the creativity of the players attempting to down it.

Also, I got a staff that turned me into a fire kitty.  Rawr!

2. Ragnaros

Walking into his chamber and gazing up at Ragnaros for the first time felt very epic.  I didn’t play during Vanilla so I missed out on my chance to kill him at level the first time — but I’d been raised up on war stories of the old days raiding Molten Core.  Now it was my turn to take down the Firelord.

This was a high movement fight with a lot of things going on at the same time, and I feel it very much played to my strengths.  As a Resto Druid I have a lot of mobility, which was perfect for dancing around Lava Waves and throwing extra heals at the tanks while the other healers were moving.  I was also glad to be able to add some extra utility by shifting form and keeping an add stunned as long as possible, which was important since our group comp. was short on stuns.  We even two-healed this fight a couple times, and though some of the other healers seemed to find that stressful I enjoyed the challenge.

The only thing I disliked about this fight were the meteors in the final phase.  None of my spells ever seemed to knock them back.  I’m not sure why, but it was really irritating.

1. Atramedes

I always felt that the Atramedes encounter was a dance.  Once you understood the dance you could just float across the floor until your partner collapsed dead at your feet.

…Ok, it’s not a perfect metaphor.

This was, in my opinion, the hands-down best encounter of Cataclysm.  Of course, I’m a Resto Druid — I can heal comfortably on the move, and you rarely ever stop moving in this fight.  Other healers might have hated this one, but I loved it.  Dance left to avoid the Sonar Pulse.  Dance right again when it passes.  Dance left when the dragon starts chasing someone with fire.   (Or run right like crazy if that someone is me!)  Time for freestyle moves during the air phase, then repeat.  Skillfully weave in some direct heals between dance steps, and find just the right moment to channel Tranquility.  There was almost a… Zen-like quality to it all.

Also, being a Druid I had some nice tools to increase the amount of time I could kite the Roaring Flame Breath in the air phase.  It’s always nice to be able to add some extra utility in a raid.

What do you think?

So, those are my five favourite bosses.  What about you?  Do you agree with my choices?  Did I forget a particularly awesome encounter?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 10:09 pm

    In tier 11 I think Chimaeron and Nefarian were my favorite fights.

    In tier 12 (pre-nerf) I would say Alysrazor (I prefer heroic) only when I am not flying, and Ragnaros. I even liked heroic Beth’tilac. There was just something about being up top and pushing her to 70% or less. I remember being so proud of myself that I could do enough damage to her. Once we learned the movement for heroic Baleroc he quickly jumped up to one of my favorite fights.

    Tier 13, hmmm. The only fight that I actually like in this tier is the madness fight. There is just something about all the different aspects of the fight and doing everything in the correct order. Yes I know it is a 10 min fight (less now for us) but I still think it is fun.

    I’m not sure why I liked the Firelands raids so much. I almost wonder if it is because it was the first instance where my guild was doing heroic fights. We actually ended the tier at 6/7 while working on heroic Rag. After the huge nerf to T12 it felt like the only challenge was found in heroics.

  2. March 17, 2012 12:33 am

    “Oh yeah, and I get to be Alexstrasza. Enough said.”

    Pretty much! That alone is enough to put it on any top-five list I’d make. Good post. Of your other picks, Nefarion and Ragnaros would likely make my list. Nefarion for sure…that was my favorite fight of the expansion and on the short-list for my favorite raid boss ever. Really well-designed fight, IMO.

  3. Imakulata permalink
    March 22, 2012 6:51 pm

    Interesting choices – especially Atramedes who was a dance encounter, considering that dance has became unpopular in the next tier. Personally, I liked it in T11 but when I look back, I don’t consider it a candidate for my top 5.

    As for Ultraxion, I consider Halfus quite close to Patchwerk style too – there was some fire to avoid and (depending on which dragons you had) a tank switch but apart from that it was burning down the mobs while healing a lot. Also, back-loaded fights (the hardest part is at the end) are dime a dozen but Halfus was front-loaded, although the end was quite challenging too (for me as a healer) as nobody had mana or cooldowns. For me, Halfus despite being the easiest fight in its tier for me, deserves a place in the top 5 and also shows how the Patchwerk fights should be done.

    I think Yor’sahj deserves a mention too – I know some people had great expectations he didn’t fulfill but he was still interesting. He was one of the bosses who have “do nothing” as a mechanic which is interesting as long as it’s in small amount (*cough* spine *cough*), he also required the healers to switch from saving mana to single target to AoE. I liked how varied it was. The only problem for me was that the damage on tank was mostly caused by a magic DoT which gave an advantage to DKs.

    • March 23, 2012 11:46 am

      I definitely agree that it’s nice to get a front-loaded fight like Halfus sometimes. More front-loaded fights would actually solve one of the issues I have with the long multi-stage fights that get progressively harder: The phase you need to work on is the last phase, but it takes you 10 minutes to get there to put in 30 seconds of work, which gets horribly boring after multiple attempts. WTB way to skip to the phase we need work on…

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