When it comes to the lifetime of a World of Warcraft expansion, the things I look forward to most are new patches that include raid content. Why? Because raiding is easily the most enjoyable, and most challenging, thing that an MMO like WoW has to offer.
Typically with any given expansion, you’re looking at 3-4 “Raid Tiers” that include massive new raids with several new boss encounters to take on. And one of the greatest strengths that Battle for Azeroth, the seventh expansion for World of Warcraft, has is yet another strong showing in the way of impressive raids with innovative and challenging new bosses and boss mechanics. In fact, raiding in BFA has been so popular that the “Race for World First”, a competition between the top guilds in the world to defeat final bosses before anyone else does, has been some of the most-watched content on Twitch.
So clearly raiding is as popular and exciting as ever, and watching these guilds take on some of the hardest bosses ever conceived always gets me hyped up and nostalgic for my WoW raiding glory days – I still play, mind you, but not at the level I once did. But all this reminiscing got me thinking… And I figured what better way to celebrate the amazing World First Race going on right now in World of Warcraft than to break down my five favorite WoW raid boss ever – check it out!
Jaina Proudmoore in The Battle for Dazar’Alor, Battle for Azeroth: Kicking things off with one of the more recent end-bosses in a raid tier, we’re talking about the Kul Tiran mage badass Jaina Proudmoore. Jaina’s been a major Alliance player in the lore of World of Warcraft for years and has endured some pretty incredible hardships at the hands of the Horde. Granted, she’s also a bit unstable and cookoo-bananas herself, but that is neither here nor there. Her boss fight, the final encounter in BFA’s amazing Battle for Dazar’Alor raid, quickly became one of my favorite fights ever. I think it was incredibly fair and balanced from the get-go and was overall just a visually impressive fight from start to finish, while also incorporating some really cool and innovative mechanics (namely the fogged search for Jaina’s mirror images, transitioning from her ship to the frozen ocean, defeating the wall of ice, and more). I downed this boss on Mythic difficulty much later in the tier than usual, but even with the extra time and gear, this gal was still quite the endeavor to take down.
Blackhand in The Blackrock Foundry, Warlords of Draenor: Many, myself included, weren’t particularly fond with the Warlords of Draenor experience. Overall I think there were some issues with balance and class design, the end game was a bit thin compared to previous expansions, and some of the changes they made, specifically around Player vs. Player content, was questionable for me. That said, the main storyline was stellar and the raids that were present are some of the best WoW has done. And easily at the top of the list is the incredible and unique Blackrock Foundry raid, which had numerous memorable encounters, like Operator Thogar or the Blast Furnace. But my personal favorite and a personal favorite for many high-end raiders is the final boss encounter, Blackhand. Often you get final bosses in a raid tier that are long slogs that last upwards of 10 minutes or more, filled with a weave of complex mechanics and transition phases the end up being a war of attrition as much as anything else. The Blackhand fight was unique, in that it’s the only real final boss battle I can think of that is truly a sprint fight that sees you racing against an onslaught of abilities. It’s a fast fight, one of the quickest end bosses in recent memory, and basically, you’d kill him really fast, or he’d kill you really fast. And for most people, it was definitely the latter, because this boss was absolutely no joke.
Illidan Stormrage in the Black Temple, Burning Crusade: We were not prepared, indeed! What an amazing raid boss Illidan turned out to be, and I to this day think that Illidan has the coolest and most iconic final boss “arena” ever. There was just something about climbing to the very top of the Black Temple, wading through boss after boss, room after room of succubi and demons hellbent on our destruction, just to meet Illidan at the top, Warglaives in hand, pulling his “alas, poor Yorick” before he lays waste against your raid group. Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft’s second expansion, is a nostalgic favorite for many (myself included), and this raid boss, and the entire Black Temple raid in general, is one of the greatest raiding experiences to ever made – and that raid came out in 2011! In fact, this fight is so damn iconic that when Illidan came back to help us in Legion, the sixth WoW expansion, we actually got to relive the battle atop Black Temple from Illidan’s perspective – and yes, it was as rad as it sounds!
The Lich King in Icecrown Citadel, Wrath of the Lich King: Of course Arthas was going to make this list! I mean, this is a character (the only character in WoW history) that is so iconic and influential in the overall lore and story of the franchise, that he has an entire World of Warcraft expansion named after him. The entire expansion is a lead-in to facing off against the Lich King himself – and despite the Icecrown Citadel raid being released deep into the expansion (and having a staggered release that didn’t see us facing Lich King until weeks after it’s launch), this fight was absolutely worth the wait. Lich King had been such a massive part of the story, going back to the Warcraft RTS days, so being on the frontline of facing off against him in the raid was a sight to behold. At the time I was in a 25-man raiding guild (back in the day, raids were split into 10-man and 25-man versions), and the 25 man version of Lich King was truly and often maddeningly difficult. It took us weeks to finally take it down, but when we did we were met with one of the best closing cinematics ever, and one that gives me goosebumps and chills to this day.
Lei Shen in the Throne of Thunder, Mists of Pandaria: Okay, so, usually with these lists I try hard to not arbitrarily choose favorites or a #1, and you probably notice I rarely even number these kinds of lists. However, today is an exception, because Lei Shen, the final boss in the epic Throne of Thunder raid, is easily my favorite WoW boss ever. Why, you may ask? Because it closed off what many believe to be the best raid ever made, it was an incredibly well-designed fight, and while insanely difficult was pretty damn fair and well-tuned – so if you were dying and wiping on this fight at the time, it wasn’t because something was bugged or overpowered, it just simply meant you weren’t executing the myriad raid mechanics the right way, and this was a fight that the slightest mistake could cost everyone. Also, this is one of my greatest raid performances ever, and at the time I was a member of a top-50 world guild, the highest placement I had in my long World of Warcraft raiding career. This fight had several different phases, with complex and punishing mechanics to juggle (literally and figuratively) that saw you activating, and subsequently deactivating, the four quadrants of Lei Shen’s platform. This resulted in a final phase that was totally insane and had you dealing with every single mechanic you saw throughout the fight – all at the same time. What this resulted in was an amazing spectacle, a beautiful design, and one of the most amazing and rewarding boss experiences I have ever had.