Man has it been a while. Sorry for not having posted in a while but work has been kicking my ass something fierce. We’re just over 2 weeks until Cataclysm hits and I don’t know about y’all but I’m very much looking forward to it. Doesn’t look like I’m going to meet my ultimate goal for Wrath, which was to down the Lich King, but I’ve very much enjoyed this expansion. A while ago I made a couple of post about leveling and instancing in WotLK but I never got around to talking about my favorite part of this expansion, raiding. I have a lot to say about the raids in Wrath, some good and some not so good, so I’m going to split this conversation up into a few parts to spare you all the giant wall of text. Today I’m going to talk about the first raiding tier.

I first started playing World of Warcraft midway through The Burning Crusade expansion. As a result, I was WAY behind on the progression scale once I finally hit max level. The guild I was in was never able to clear anything past Gruul’s Lair. We were able to get through the first three bosses in Zul’Aman before all the raids were nerfed into the ground. It wasn’t because of a lack of desire that we were never able to see higher end content, it was because of attrition to further progressed guilds. Try as we might, we could never quite sustain a full 25 man roster to progress past Gruul and into Serpentshrine Cavern. Two things stopped me from leaving my guild and trying to get a spot in a further progressed guild. First, I formed way too many friendships with people in my guild to just up and leave. Secondly, I played a Balance Druid and there was no way I was getting a raid spot as an oomkin. So I just stuck it out until Wrath.

The expansion put all guilds back on equal footing progression wise and also introduced 10 man raiding as a very viable option. Thanks to this, I was finally able to do some real progression raiding and loved it. Having never seen Naxxramas before, I was blown away by the raid. Each wing had a very unique feel to while still maintaining its overall fight against the scourge theme. I felt the difficulty, especially in 10 man was perfectly tuned for an entry level raid. Without trying for achievements, none of the bosses were overly difficult and each introduced mechanics that were needed to be understood by new raiders in order to be successful in future raids. I also found the instance to be very fun for the first few months of running through it. There were a few bosses that challenged your ability to coordinate your raiders and others where DPS could flex their muscles and fight for bragging rights. Many a fun time was had on Patchwerk where my fellow boomkins and I were constantly upstaging the mages and warlocks in the raid.

Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity where the other two raids that shipped with Wrath of the Lich King and both were drastically different from Naxx. Where Naxx was a 15 marathon of a raid, OS and Maly were one boss sprints. After having cleared Naxx and obtaining the key that unlocked the Eye of Eternity, it was very realistic for a group to clear both raid in one night. Obsidian Sanctum also introduced the concept of “hard modes” to raiding. By choosing whether or not to leave any drakes alive when engaging Sartharion, raiders could up the difficulty of the raid from delightfully easy (no drakes up) to “Oh dear gods why?!” (3 drakes up) to suit their tastes. I loved being able to dial up the difficulty of the raid and push myself harder as a raider, even if most of my guildmates at the time did not. Because of this, I found Obsidian Sanctum to be a very successful raid. Eye of Eternity on the other hand can go die in a fire. The idea behind the this instance was pretty cool. Take on the Aspect of Magic while riding on the back of a dragon? Who hasn’t wanted to kill something riding on a dragon? The execution of said idea missed its mark. The controls and abilities of the dragons felt clunky and they’re power didn’t scale with gear level of the rider. Once I completed the instance, I had very almost no reason to want to back in there.

Overall, I felt that Blizzard was largely successful with the first tier of raiding. It allowed novice raiders a good opportunity to get their feet wet in end game raiding while still providing ways for experienced raiders to challenge and push themselves. The encounter designers would take what they learned from these raids and craft what was one of the most widely loved raids in Ulduar.

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