• Death Knight
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    Protection

Eoy's Exploits: The Burning Crusade

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Article originally posted at Manaflask

Continuing our look-back at the Burning Crusade, the races and World Firsts back then, Eoy has something special for us, a list of exploits and bugs he remembers, same as he did back when we did the Vanilla WF list. You can check out the first installment of Eoy's exploits from Vanilla here. If there's some incorrect information below or you remember any other exploits from back in the day, let us know in the comments!

Personal History
Having cleared Naxxramas and with The Burning Crusade on the horizon, the majority of the leadership in my old guild Windwalkers decided to call it quits which left the guild in an odd shape with players disappearing left and right. It was obvious that there was not going to be any raiding happening any time soon, so like many other guilds Windwalkers fell apart and the few players who still wanted to try the new challenges in The Burning Crusade quickly found themselves guildless. Having never really cared much about the race more than on a server first basis (which, by the way, became sort of impossible after Curse transferred to Vek'nilash) I fired up the best ranking page at the time (Wowprogress didn't exist): World of Raids. WoR was being mentained by Teza who also happened to play in Curse but was later bought up by... the Curse network (which wasn't really associated with the guild any more) and slowly disappeared as MMO Champion became increasingly popular. Eventually MMO Chamption also entered a partnership with Curse.

So back to the story, I checked the list of top guilds and picked the Alliance EU guild on top, which happened to be Forte. Not knowing nearly anything about Forte I sent in an application and to my surprise was accepted within a few hours. I joined the guild at the same time as Maa aka Caleb, who some of you will recognise as a future player in Ensidia. About a week after joining, The Burning Crusade was released. Those of you who played in early TBC will remember how hard and complex the attunement-process was. It was so complex people actually made flowcharts and diagrams to explain it. You had to grind yourself to revered with a lot of factions, do several hard and time-consuming quests before you could even get into the first real raid. Some of these quests involved doing 5man heroics that were extremely hard. Hard to the point that you needed to have a perfectly constructed and optimised group with a lot of crowd control and everyone fully buffed and flasked, especially for Shattered Halls Heroic. I remember that at the time I had never been more impressed with another player than when watching Maa playing his hunter in SH Heroic, utilising every last a ability to its full potential.

The first real raids you encountered – besides the superb instance of Karazhan that I will not cover, it being 10man – were Gruul's Lair and Magtheridon, both being completely un-killable for the vast majority of players. Coming from Naxxramas, both Gruul and Magtheridon felt like hitting a complete brick wall (something that was to happen a few times in the span of TBC) and I had never felt that something was impossible to do in the game until that point. But I was wrong.

Gruul

Back in the start of TBC there was absolutely no limit to how many buffs you could get, so you could combine elixirs and flasks, food buffs, oils, consumables... every single thing. Forte quickly came to the decision that it would be a waste of time not to have all these buffs on you, on every single attempt. I thought they were completely crazy, but I spent hours after each raid farming consumables for the next day. The consumable list for a day of  Gruul attempts (and every other boss until they limited consumables) was:

  • 20x Flame cap
  • 20x Superior Wizard Oil
  • 20x Food buffs
  • 20x Elixir of Mastery
  • 20x Rumsey Rum Black Label
  • 20x Elixir of Major Firepower
  • 20x Elixir of Vitality (removed from game now I believe)
  • 20x Adept's Elixir
  • 4x Flask of Supreme Power

 I hope you can imagine how much time and effort it took from someone who wasn't playing the auction house to gather enough resources to be able to have these for every raid. Soon, however, the list came to be extended. Nihilum (after falling behind Forte on Maulgar) managed to catch up and kill Gruul, using Limited Invulnerability Potions that at the time reduced all damage taken by 100% for 8 seconds to negate all damage from his Shatter http://www.wowdb.com/spells/33654-shatter spell. The way it worked was that Gruul would at intervals throw all players in the room around and then gradually turn them into stone. At the point the players were fully turned into stone they would deal very high damage to everyone within a radius around  them, forcing everyone to quickly spread out after they've been thrown around. What Nihilum did was drink a Limited Invulnerability Potion just before the shatter effect hit, so no one took any damage. No one really saw this as an exploit but only a really clever use of game mechanics, but Blizzard quickly nerfed the potions to the state they are today. Strangely enough, after the nerf the Limited Invulnerability potions still made you immune to the slowing effect of turning into stone, but didn't absorb any damage. This meant guilds like Forte still used them on the first kill (and boy were they annoying to farm) to be able to move around freely and faster, and be able to cast spells while the shatter was taking place. You can see me doing this in the video below (yes I played with modified game files so I could enjoy playing as a Blood Elf on Alliance). 

(p.s. look at the damage meter to get a picture of how clueless most people were about specs and good dps at this time.)

Magtheridon

More for a personal gain than anything else, in case of a wipe, you could use the floating boxes in the room to kill yourself. While channeling a box you took around 800 damage per tick, and if you managed to die from it you did not suffer any durability loss as it was counted as a self-inflicted death. At the time this was something that you only shared with your best friends, because there were only so many cubes inside the room...

Serpentshrine Cavern

I just have to say that the trash in this instance is the most annoying ever to have been in WoW. Not only did it easily kill you, but it respawned on what must have been a 30 minute timer. This meant that you sometimes had only around 20 minutes of attempts on a boss before the trash spawned under you, forcing you to clear it again. You could avoid a little bit by water-walking from shamans and levitation from priests, but most was still unavoidable. 

Hydross the Unstable
Even though this exploit was never used to get any race-significant kill, a warlock did figure out that you could use a pathing bug to kite and solo Hydross. 

Leotheras the Blind
Leo had an interesting phase when he became a demon and gained the ability to Chaos Blast. Chaos Blast was a ranged spell with a splash effect that hit a big area around the target highest on threat. Now what most guilds, including mine, did was to use a Soul Linked warlock in fire resistance gear to tank him, standing well outside the raid so no-one else would get hit, and allowing melee to damage the boss (this was not possible with a normal tank because of the splash effect). What Nihilum did was to simply boot all melee dps from the raid and let Kungen tank. Really.

The Lurker Below
The story about the world first on Lurker is a bit funny, because it was a boss that no one really knew existed (yes it was possible at the time) and you simply fished it up from a special pool if you had enough fishing skill. When Nihilum killed it Death & Taxes simply told everyone that they killed it a few weeks earlier, but they hadn't made an announcement because they didn't want anyone to know the boss existed. Class. Now this boss, like many other bosses in early TBC was completely bugged. Sometimes he would simply do a 360° and kill every person in the raid and there wasn't that much you could do about it, even though there were some things that would decrease the likelihood. The kills after DnT also happened while killing the boss in a way that wasn't intended. You see, during the fight you would sometimes need to jump into the water, but all the water in SSC was infested by angry fish that would bite you. What no one besides Death and Taxes knew at the time is that if you killed the trash in front of Vashj the water would start boiling and killing all the fish, making Lurker significantly easier. Other guilds just dealt with it, and in this case killed the boss in a not intended way that actually made him harder. 

Lady Vashj
Vashj was the biggest source of drama in the entirety of TBC, and probably the most bugged boss as well. While the fight was very random it was still doable, but the first kill came in a very strange way. According to Kungen, they were fighting Vashj when she suddenly bugged and lost a lot of health and was quickly killed. What happened afterwards is the weirdest part: Vashj re-spawned, while the corpse of her twin sister was still on the ground and lootable. A forum post by (at the time of the post) ex-Nihilum member "Lewt" later claimed that Nihilum intentionally exploited, and that he dealt the finishing blow to Vashj which he backed up with a screenshot. His claim was that Vashj would bug when resetting and be on 1% for a few seconds, during which he used his soulstone and delivered a fatal Shadow Word: Death. This was obviously claimed to be a ton of lies by members of Nihilum. Starym, who played in the guild at the time, says that they had wiped and Vashj was on on some low % (under 10, he can't remember what exact number) when Lewt soulstone-ressed and one-shot her during her health reset period. The screenshot taken a few seconds after the one Lewt provided sort of proves that Lewt was acting out on his own and that this wasn't planned. That, or the chat was all faked!

Later Method would claim what came to be known as the "Legit World First" causing a lot of drama about which kill was the real first. The funny thing about Method's kill was that it also bugged, and they needed to get a GM to assist them with getting their loot because of the poison that was raining on them as soon as they stepped into the instance. 

Tempest Keep 

Al'ar
Nihilum, who were the first to try this boss, spread a lot of rumours about the fight requiring high amounts of fire resistance gear, something that seemed plausible. This lead to everyone in Forte farming fire resistance before venturing into the instance, only to discover that the rumours weren't true. Thank you for that. Al'ar had the ability to throw a meteor at a random target in the raid, and the damage of this meteor hit everyone nearby. The damage was also split between everyone it hit, similar to how the trash before the Twin Emperors in AQ40 worked. Instead of dealing with this mechanic Nihilum (and later at least Last Resort) found another way: out of raid soulstones. Nihilum would soulstone a portion of the raid, and sacrifice a player each time a meteor hit. The player would then be in-combat resurrected by a druid or use his soulstone in case he had one. Real guilds like Forte didn't use cheap mechanics like this to kill bosses. Or did we?  Maa came up with the brilliant idea of using snake traps so that the damage of the meteor would be divided among the snakes in addition to all the other players it hit, thereby reducing the overall damage by a lot. The same idea was later used by Ensidia on Putricide. This, however, I personally think goes under clever use of game mechanics, while using soulstones from players that aren't in the raid goes under cheating, especially since Blizzard several times tried to stop this from being done. Soulstoning by players outside the raid was still repeated many times over the years, maybe most notably by Paragon in Trial of the Crusader. After Al'ar everyone knew it could be done, but it was more a matter of pride not to do it. Still, many players in Forte, including myself, levelled up a warlock to 18 just so we could do it if we ever decided to, as did many other guilds... Al'ar would also randomly charge clothies and one-shot them, which could be quite frustrating. Oh, and if you killed him while he was in the air you needed a GM to retrieve your loot. I don't believe the game has ever been more bugged than during SSC & TK, but somehow TBC is still the best time I've had in WoW. 

Void Reaver
Again, mind controlling came to play a role. After the first kills, players discovered that you could mind control a Tempest Smith and blast the hell out of Void Reaver in under a minute. Contrary to the official reaction to the UBRS buff, this time around Blizzard came out with a statement announcing this to be an exploit and warning people about using it. It was fixed shortly after. "This topic is the result of a known issue in the game mechanics. Use of this issue in this fashion is considered an exploit and I strongly discourage you from using it in order to avoid any repercussions on your account. Rest assured that issues such as this will be resolved in order to remove the temptation."  Why this exploit was even needed is a better question, since the boss was commonly called "Loot Reaver".

Kael'thas
For the few guilds who attempted this boss for the weeks or months while it was (almost) impossible, you have my deepest respect and sympathy. At this point in the race, Kael'thas was the only thing preventing people from getting the attunement to Hyjal and thereby Black Temple. The problem was that those instances weren't ready. Now, to get the full picture, you have to understand that until this point in TBC there hadn't been any gating at all — absolutely nothing at all preventing you from progressing into the next instance. Seems impossible, I know. Almost everyone had something to do, the quests had some importance, the economy was good and there were raids at every difficulty level. Sure, you couldn't suddenly start playing and expect a spot in a guild raiding Tempest Keep if you hadn't cleared out Karazhan, but in my elitist view this was just good. People progressed linearly towards harder and harder encounters, and each instance proved a greater challenge. The reward for your hard work was a completely new instance and better loot. Not everyone killed the same bosses, or walked around in the same gear, and it was perfect. So for the first time ever Blizzard were in a position where the raiders had caught up with them, and instead of saying "sorry, there is no more content", what do they do? They make an impossible boss. The first incarnation of this fight was so ridiculously hard that I couldn't believe this fight really worked like it did. I was looking for some gimmick that would negate a big part of the fight, something to stop adds from spawning or weaken them or really anything at all. I won't explain the entire details of this very complex fight, but I can give you some information about what it was like to progress on him at the time:

Kael'thas v1
In addition to everything else, Grand Astromancer Capernian had the ability to spawn Void Zones. Invisible Void Zones. The very same kind that people dreaded on the Four Horsemen. 

Kael'thas v2
Void Zones were replaced by conflagration instead, which didn't really make the fight much easier but at least there wasn't anything invisible involved. Thaldered the Darkener would randomly teleport and insta-gib mages regardless of how far away they were from him. All cloth wearers were forced to farm a herb that when used gives you an around 2000hp shield for a short while, just in case they got targeted. Most of the time this still didn't help and all combat resurrections were used in the first phase. At the end of phase 1. when all the adds were killed, they would actually not be dead but just disabled, so they would keep absorbing threat from all the heals that were still being cast. When they then respawn in phase 3, they would all go for the healers that had gained healing aggro in the second phase. This was reported to Blizzard as soon as players got aware of this problem, but not fixed for several weeks (until BT was ready). Another issue for the very few guilds that got to the third phase and survived for more than a few seconds was that the cool-down of the Pyroblast that Kael'thas casts didn't line up with the cool-down of the on-use legendary shield effect of the tanks. The tanks would use the effect of the shield, then last-stand and shield wall, and then die. So you needed to have many tanks ready to jump in, the problem being that in the start of the third phase most tanks were busy tanking all of the adds except the Darkener, who was walking around in the room still 1-shotting players. It was pure chaos, but while every other guild was working on Vashj, Forte had been working on Kael'thas. We had tried everything possible and impossible, and through some brainstorming we had noticed that the Staff of Disintegration's (a weapon you use during the fight) use effect wasn't on a global cooldown, and that it maybe generated a little bit of threat. So we had our tanks pick up the staff during phase 2 and spam a macro that consisted of endless rows of /use Staff of Disintegration and through some of the weirdest miracle generate a high amount of threat on the adds that were supposed to be dead. To this day I don't have any idea how we could possibly come to think of something like this, but we did. This meant that we had an advantage over every other guild in the world, and we intended to use it. We came really quite close (hitting the last phase as the only guild in the world) but didn't manage to kill him before he was nerfed. You can imagine our frustration, after all those weeks if not even months. It didn't help that Nihilum came in and snagged the world first 30minutes before our kill. (Thank you Solor for forgetting to use the shield effect.) 

Kael'thas v3 
The threat generation while dead was fixed, in addition to the Darkener randomly 1-shotting players and the shield absorb getting fixed to make it possible for players to tank him without dying after a minute. This version was killed by around 5 guilds, but it was deemed too hard for most players and many many guilds disbanded. 

Kael'thas v4
Nerfed the hp and damage of everything. Still considered the hardest boss in the expansion until Illidan, but killable by good guilds. 


Hyjal

This never even felt like a real instance, and none of the bosses were challenging or fun besides Archimonde. It was more about getting through the trash-waves until the boss than anything else. We one-shotted the first boss (something quite unheard of at the time, and a shock after Kael'thas) and got Forte's only World First on boss No.2, Anetheron, because Nihilum decided the instance was s**t and went to Black Temple instead. Thrall was also a complete bad-ass in the start and could almost kill bosses on his own.

Archimonde
I believe Hyjal and Black Temple were the first instances ever to have been tested on the Public Test Realm, a trend that continued ever since. My favourite bug from the PTR was on Archimonde where you could simply fight in the water under the world tree, where no fires would spread and you didn't take any fall damage. My idea! The GMs saw us do this and fixed it for the release by adding a leash on the boss which made him reset if he was moved even slightly out of his initial position, much to the frustration of Curse and Nihilum. The leash was increased to allow a further distance a bit later.


Black Temple 

What everyone hoped to be the pinnacle of TBC really turned out to be a hoax in the most part. The first five bosses all fell in quick succession, not really offering any challenge at all to players who had defeated the previous instances. 

Akama 
While Akama supposedly required some kind of crowd-control or strategy, all the first kills happened by simply nuking the boss and ignoring everything else about the fight. It was a complete joke. 

Teron Gorefiend 
I can't confirm that this worked, but here it goes: you could have the entire raid stand outside Gorefiend's room, and pull with a warlock pet. The warlock would then lifetap and a healer would heal him (or warrior bandage) thereby getting healer aggro and Gorefiend would run through the wall to the healer, and then be tanked there. This meant that when you got marked to become a ghost, you could run way further away from the boss than what was possible in the real intended room for the fight, giving you a lot more time to kill the constructs that spawn. 

Reliquary of Souls
One of the tricky parts of this fight was engaging the boss, something that a GM showed us a how to do easily on the PTR! There was a spot in the corner where the fight could be safely engaged without having to deal with the gauntlet before, and where you could safely res up a raid for quick attempts, and be fully rested and on full mana before the pull. While not really being an exploit, knowing this safe-spot gave us an advantage and saved us a whole lot of time after each wipe.


Illidan
I know that Illidan was being hotfixed between attempts and that the versions from week to week were also quite different. Nihilum did however get a world first on every version. I was playing with my rock band when Forte killed Illidan, and quit the guild shortly after that and went to the army for 9 months (with no intention to ever return to wow), so I really don't know too much about this fight. Buzzkill, however, told me about one of the funniest bugs that they had happen during their attempts. During the fight small demons would spawn that would target a player with a beam and then slowly move towards them. What happened to them was that these demons would suddenly target the flying GMs in the sky that were watching Nihilum fight.  


Sunwell Plateau

Nine months after Illidan, a time during which the rest of Forte had been farming Hyjal and Black Temple while I was in the army, as the addict I am I returned to WoW only to find myself not needed or wanted. Through a stroke of luck, my good friend Colby all the way back from GPCI in Vanilla had to enter the army in Israel for quite a lot longer time than I did, and gave me his shadowpriest to play on. Forte being in a big need of new Shadowpriests had no real option but to accept me in. So two days before Sunwell was out I was given a shadowpriest and I had very limited time which I spent pretty much entirely on Dr. Boom to learn the basic mechanics. I still sucked quite a lot on the first bosses, mostly due to failure to keep up a complex dps cycle (I was used to shadowbolt spamming) while avoiding things, but gradually got better towards the end of the instance. 

Eredar Twins
This is a fight where I still to this day have no idea how Blizzard really intended it to be done. SK-Gaming killed it "the hard way" by simply being exceptional players and instead of constructing an advanced strategy they just simply dealt with everything. Having tried to do the same thing, I'm still quite impressed with what they managed to do. The fight worked so that every time you took fire damage you had a debuff that got its stacks incremented, so you took higher and higher damage per tick. This could only be reset by taking shadow damage — and vice versa. Early on in the progression warlocks discovered that they could reset their shadow stacks by using Hellfire. This was however quickly hotfixed. What wasn't hotfixed was something that Forte did. Outside the room where you fight the Twins was a balcony that happened to have two Infernal trashmobs, which we killed. We then discovered that said balcony was considered "outside" so warlocks were able to summon infernals of their own. We would keep the infernals banished or enslaved next to the raid, and when we needed to get our shadow stacks reset, we would simply let an infernal un-banish and take a tick from the fire aura that all infernals have, and then rebanish them. Exploit? Probably, but it was a bit too much of a coincidence with the infernals on the balcony just outside the room. Another bug that Method was supposedly using involved wall-jumping on top of a lamp where they were unreachable by the shadows that spawn during the fight. It was confirmed to work, and later fixed, but to this day no-one can know for sure if it was really used or not for any first kills.

What was funny was that players in Forte had access to the internal forums of several other guilds (yes we totally spied on each other) and on one of these forums this lamp exploit was described by a member as having come from his friend in Nihilum. The video Nihilum released proved that they didn't use it, so this again goes to show that you shouldn't trust the rumour mill. Nihilum came up with a brilliant tactic of using the room to their advantage, stacking up in a big pile on top of the ramp, forcing the shadows that would spawn to first need to run a very long way until reaching their target so they would never actually hit you more than a couple of times. The tactic also required many many restoration shamans spamming chainheal to deal with all the incoming damage. It shortly after became the de-facto way of killing the boss. 

Kil'jaeden
BREAKING NEWS: SK-Gaming exploited their world first. There, I said it. Why this never became big news is probably because SK-Gaming had always been the underdogs and people were happy to see Nihilum lose for once, after the elitist attitude they often displayed publicly. Anyway, this is what SK-Gaming did: during the fight at the 85%, 55% and 25% mark Kil'jeaden would target a random player, and create images of this player that have to be killed. However, if he tried to cast it on a player who was in an iceblock (and I believe under the effect of feign death or bop, but I can't remember for sure) the spell didn't trigger at all and there were no images to kill, allowing you to focus entirely on dealing damage on Kil'jaeden. This gives you a major advantage in the fight, and in the video by SK-Gaming their mage can be seen iceblocking just before the mirror spell is cast, also succeeding with the exploit at the 25% mark and preventing any images from spawning — this during one of the most critical parts of the fight. I always considered this to be an exploit, but obviously while playing in SK-Gaming and later Ensidia, pointing this out too many times would probably have resulted in me finding myself without a guild. 


This ends the (very long) second part of the series, and if you missed the first part make sure to check it out here. Please also note that not a single exploit on this list was punished in any way or form by Blizzard. The next part will deal with the exploits that I'm aware of in Wrath of the Lich King, while playing in Ensidia. Once again I greatly appreciate help and tips about exploits that I might have missed or not known about so feel free to add those in the comments.