Boss fights. You love them, you hate them, or a little bit of both at once. I personally love them. Trash waves in instances are okay, for a little while (Yes, I'm looking at you, Hyjal!), but once you get to a certain point, you need the validation that only a big, epic boss fight can give you. That's why today I'm going to be talking about my favorite boss fights from before Wrath of the Lich King. To me, these are the best of the best (by which I mean the worst of the worst), and everyone should see them at least once. If you have favorites of your own that I haven't listed, please feel free to mention them in the comments!
5. Kael'thas, Tempest Keep - The Eye (25-man, level 70)
Energy. Power. My people are addicted to it. Their dependence made manifest after the Sunwell was destroyed. Welcome to the future...a pity you're too late to stop it. No one can stop me now. Selama ashal'anore.
Kael'thas is the boss you love to hate. Five phases, five different people to fight, legendary weapons - this fight has it all! You had to be on point during every single moment of the fight to even stand a chance. You had to run away from people, run toward things, kill random spawns around the room, use abilities on weapons that would despawn the moment you stepped outside the instance, and pray you stayed alive and didn't float too far off the ground.
The instance was relatively short, and the boss most people fought directly before Kael'thas (High Astromancer Solarian) was a bit of a pushover, so the minute you realize just how involved this fight is, you feel less than prepared. There's good reason that the Mount Hyjal attunement was removed from the game, and this arrogant blood elf is that reason. Of course, this makes him a perfect candidate for my top-five list.
4. C'Thun, Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-man, level 60)
You are already dead.
Ever get the feeling that someone's watching you? Not much is scarier than a giant eyeball that shoots laser beams and summons tentacles from the ground. It sounds like a horror film, which is exactly what it felt like. For some time, this boss was considered unbeatable, which certainly earns him a spot on my list. Even after they had "fixed" the fight to make it possible to beat, he was considered the most difficult boss in the game by most, right up until the original Naxxramas was released. Many raid groups have never even attempted the fight, which I think is a shame.
This fight was so frustrating that many raid groups, including my own, tried it a few times and then moved on to other things, like Naxx. We poked at the eyeball a few times here and there, but our focus was elsewhere. We finally returned to triumph over C'Thun with a half-size raid group at level 70, wanting revenge for the countless hours and nature resist potions that we spent trying to avoid the eyebeams. Any boss that could hit for over 40,000 damage in a level 60 raid is definitely worth visiting at some point.
3. Ragnaros the Firelord, Molten Core (40-man, level 60)
Too soon! You have awakened me too soon, Executus! What is the meaning of this intrusion?
This was the moment, for me, when I felt like we had truly accomplished something incredible. As the first "big" boss in the game, Ragnaros was a force to be reckoned with. He drops the first piece of your Tier 2 gear, and even has a chance to drop the Eye of Sulfuras, something that helps create what was the highest-DPS melee weapon in the game up until Blackwing Lair was introduced. It's for this Eye of Sulfuras that melee classes still try to head into Molten Core, ready to take on Ragnaros and his many fiery minions.
At the time, it was very impressive to kill Ragnaros. It was even more impressive if you had him on farm status - getting to him was a very long and treacherous process. With nine bosses before him, and more trash than you could possibly imagine, it was often a two- or three-night span that you'd need to complete the entire raid instance at level 60. Ragnaros was well worth the wait, though.
2. Nefarian, Blackwing Lair (40-man, level 60)
Let the games begin!
Nefarian, the final boss in Blackwing Lair, was the first boss most people came across that had the ability to change the entire fight in the blink of an eye. Most bosses up until you faced him were fairly straightforward - tank the guy, don't step in anything on the ground, stay out of the fire, and don't die. Nefarian decided to play some games with his enemies, however, using the abilities of each class against them.
Being a holy priest at the time, I was always afraid that one of my heals would go off just as he announced the priest class call, and my healing would become corrupted. It wasn't as fun as other class calls - I had a secret love for when it was the mage call, because I loved seeing all of the crazy animals running around the room: a cat here, a giraffe there - entertaining no matter where you stood! I was worried that once Wrath of the Lich King came out, that there would be a class with no class call, but I was proven very wrong. Death Knights have their own call these days, casting Death Grip on the entire raid, directly to Nefarian's side.
This fight also required you to bring a certain piece of gear to wear to the fight. If you didn't have your Onyxia Scale Cloak, you were likely to be toasted by the Shadow Flame. There were other bosses that had this ability, but they never stuck out in my head as much as Nefarian's did. I still have my Onyxia Scale Cloak in my bank, just in case I decide to revisit Blackwing Lair again someday, and I fully intend to.
1. Illidan Stormrage, Black Temple (25-man, level 70)
You are not prepared!
I remember when my raid group first reached Illidan. At that point we had farmed Karazhan for ages, fought through Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern, and were ready for a real challenge. We had talked about past bosses and how amazing it felt when you were fighting them, but to me, it never really felt like we'd reached the point where the boss felt bigger than us. That all changed as soon as we stepped next to Illidan.
Illidan was enormous, even kneeling down in the middle of the room. The minute we positioned ourselves and started the fight, we knew it would be incredible. As much as we expected everything that was about to happen, the opening speech gave me chills every single time. It was as if we'd reached the end of the game; the point where everything we'd worked for was about to be put to the test. In a way, we had. It wasn't until they added the Sunwell raid instance that there were more bosses to face past Illidan, and they didn't feel nearly as amazing.
Illidan was by FAR my favourite boss to fight. He was far from a pushover, he had a strong storyline tied in to him, and he definitely knew how to make an entrance. To me, that's the whole point!
If there's anything that I will remember when my World of Warcraft days are done, it will definitely be the raiding. The amazing nights spent with some of my closest friends, fighting for a common goal - the good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly.