Continuing with our delvings into Vanilla, it's time to get to the big guns in Blackwing Lair, including some of the most annoying features in WoW to date.
Suppression room or Depression room. There are many names for the little gauntlet that Blizzard introduced after Vaelastrasz. The large room is full of traps that can be disabled by rogues in stealth, if you get hit by a trap you get slowed to like 10% movement speed and your attack and casting speed are reduced to almost nothing... And they respawn after a few seconds so rogues have to keep a path down for the raid to move through, while killing the trash that is on the way. It wasn’t particularly hard, however you could wipe on this and it was very annoying. The Gauntlet ended in a pull on a boss called Broodlord Lashlayer. A very easy tank and spank dps boss, who required a bit of tank swapping due to Mortal strike (50% healing reduction) and he had a knockback that reduced your threat. I don’t believe any guild really had much trouble with this encounter other than the fact he hit like a truck.
Got your Onyxia Scale cloak ready? Yes sir. This was actually something I thought was really nice about Raiding, You had to use your professions and skills to kill new bosses. In this case you needed to kill Onxyia and skin her in order to gain materials for Onyxia Scale cloaks which protect you against Shadow Flame. For Firemaw tanks were required to wear this item so they didn’t get engulfed by shadow flame. Firemaw was very much a resistance fight which was often the case with bosses in Vanilla. Anyone who was in line of sight of Firemaw was burned by his Flame Buffet. It burned you for a small amount of damage but if left a debuff which stacked up Fire damage taken by 150 for 20 sec. This meant that no one could stay in line of sight with the boss forever. However, you could resist this debuff. Blizzard Managed to f**k up this encounter when we first got to it and the first version we were fighting was actually Taunt immune. What you had to do was to have 1 Main tank massively over stacked with Fire Resistance gear, and praying to god for him to resist a lot of Flame Buffet in a row so the debuff stack would fall off and reset. While you can use 1 tank for tanking and it is somewhat viable, you need a number of Offtanks who build aggro on the Boss so when he did his Wing buffet (which greatly reduced aggro to people in a frontal cone and knocked them back) he wouldn’t f**k off to Sahara when the Main tank got knocked away. This would be a problem because people who were out of line of sight were resetting their Flame buffet stacks and it wasn’t particularly easy to re-place him in the doorway.
Aggro or a failed Tank swap would often result in a raid wipe. Wing buffet was on a timer so I sat with a stopwatch on my second monitor and counted down for the raid every time a Wing buffet was about to come. We had a set order of which tank should build the most aggro (and therefore go in and take the agro when the "Main" tank had lost most of his). Today a bossmod like DBM or Bigwigs would have made wonders on this encounter. I believe the Taunt bug was fixed already the week after through, so not many people experienced this fight with Taunt Immunity.
I was playing one of the Off tanks in Nilbog when we killed him and often as an off tank you didn’t have anywhere close to enough fire resistance gear to actually tank the buff for any time. The problem was that you had to stand there with the boss in the right positioning until the Main tank (who was knocked away and lost threat with wing buffet) had built up his aggro again to take over the tanking. And that often resulted in the offtank dying.
Luckily for me Blizzard had introduced Darkmoon cards. So I was kinda innovative and made myself a Darkmoon card: Twisting Nether, which gave you a 10% chance to be resurrected with 20% life (so like a combat res). I believe something was bugged with this card because it always seemed to proc. (like 50-60%) and on our first Firemaw kill I managed to resurrect with this Darkmoon card 4 times in a row.
There was a bug on this encounter that if he was placed 100.1% in the correct positioning Tauren melee could hit him through the wall while avoiding the Flame buffet debuff, although you couldn’t use special abilities so only auto attack worked. However, we had nearly no Tauren (as I was one of the only ones and I had to off tank). But otherwise it was a pretty hard encounter and in my opinion the hardest “skill” wise during the whole tier.
|Trash dropping Hourglass sand
So in addition to the Onxyia Scale cloak, Blackwing Lair offered another item that was used to defeat the bosses there. The Hourglass Sand. It’s a pretty common item from a select few mobs in BWL and it's function was to "Cure the User of Brood Affliction: Bronze" which was a debuff on the next real boss, Chromaggus. The problem with an item like this was that it punished guilds who were getting to the boss fast and so didn't clear the trash so many times (which is where the sand dropped). It is possible to kill Chromaggus without this item but there is a huge random factor involved.
Once you killed Firemaw there were a few bosses that I call “reward bosses”, basically they are really easy and they award you loot for getting to them. Flamegor and Ebonroc were their names and both Drakes required the same Onyxia Scale Cloak to tank them. They have the same wing buffet as Firemaw but it’s a joke without the constant fire stacking debuff to handle the tank swapping. The only hard thing was on Ebonroc that he cast a debuff on the tank and if he hit the tank before you could swap him out, he would heal himself for 25000, which was more than your dps could handle. It also made it important that Mortal strike was up on the target, at least before Blizzard changed the debuff limit from 8 to 40.
Once these 2 bosses were taken care of we faced Chromaggus. An interesting design, where he had different abilities each week. But they also made some combinations harder than others which isn’t what progress raiders want.
Incinerate red was widely considered the most deadly as it could 1 shot most raid members and left tanks very exposed. The Breath hits everyone in the room who is in line of sight with Chromaggus making the tanks always soak the breath, while others can avoid it. Frost burn blue was one of the easiest as it only made the tanks aggro less due to the attack speed slow. All you had to do was to find a spot out of line of sight of the boss before a breath and you would avoid this. The tank had to take the breath and healers had to be fast to get him topped off both before and after a breath.
During the fight everyone in the raid would be affected by Brood Afflictions. They were disposable by the respective classes with poison, magic and disease removal. One of them was only removable by Hourglass Sand which was the drop I told you about earlier. The Brood Affliction Bronze itself isn’t deadly but if you have a whole raid with that debuff getting randomly stunned for 4 sec when a breath is about to come, then you are bound to lose a few raid members each time. Not to mention that when the debuffs went out of hand, if a single raid member managed to get all 4 of the dispellable debuffs then he would turn into one of the Dragonkin for the remainder of the fight or until killed.
|Kite it to Vael's room
You might have heard the phrase before without knowing what exactly it meant. With most of the bosses in this instance, you tended to drag them out of their intended room and fought them in a more suitable location. The Vaelastrasz room was a perfect spot if you wanted to exploit line of sight since it had 2 floors where you could fight near pillars in the corners that you could stand behind. Pretty much any boss could be kited to Vael's room, making the encounter much easier.
However this was not done by our guild. Even though we did find other locations than what was originally was intended. We tried to exploit the Upper and lower floor of the suppression room which gave you a lower floor level where healers could stand in security while dps was standing on the edge to get dispelled. However, this wasn’t really working out for us in the end as we had problems with keeping tanks and melee alive due to limited amount of LOS. The first kill of Chromaggus was done by tanking at his normal location where there was a sloping floor. By standing close to the wall at this floor you could actually hit the boss with melee attacks while being out of line of sight for the boss. So you could avoid any damage to the raid, but this was immediately fixed.
Unfortunately for me and my guild this boss wasn’t the proudest of our moments, as I probably decided to be a little bit of a drama queen. During progress on this boss we faced banging our heads against the wall and not really making much progress. We had tried all kinds of different tactics and the mood on Ventrilo was low. After a few wipes one evening, the leadership decided to stop progression for the night as they didn’t feel like it was worth the time and banging heads against the boss served no purpose. I disagreed and wanted to keep pushing to find a solution. We did face the hardest combo breath and officers kind of wanted to let the week run out so we could get a new combination next week. I got so upset about this decision that I decided to leave the guild. I decided that it was time for me to become one of the PvP heroes on the server and I went to do Battlegrounds with the leading horde group on the server for a while. Unfortunately my leave didn’t help Nilbog at all and within a few weeks/months the guild was on the edge of disbanding. I’m not totally sure what happened after I left but some of the core players decided that the effort wasn’t worth their time. I did take a lot of beating for leaving the guild like I did and today I wouldn’t do the same. Sometimes when I think back at the great times I had in Nilbog I can’t help feeling that I killed the guild with my sudden leave mid progression. Maybe I was just the first of many who felt this way in the guild, I don’t know.
After I tried to become one of the best PvPers on the server I realized that I probably wasn’t that good at it. In the end and like most of Vanilla pvp, a lot of the people people were carried by gear and even though I did good and could bash down pretty much anyone I met in the field, it was all due to my superior gear. But in the end I just wasn’t the best at what I did. During this time I tried to keep a bit in contact with some of the people from Nilbog, but also in general with the PvE side of the server. At a point when PvP had become an every day activity and it was getting a bit too much farm, where most BG teams left the BG instantly because they didn’t want to face us, I started to consider quitting World of Warcraft and going back to playing Counterstrike or some other popular FPS game. Just then, a guild on the server that had been just under Nilbog in progression was starting to recruit some of the best members of Nilbog, so I talked a bit with the guild master, Net, who also was the owner of www.curse.com, the biggest MMO-empire to date. He asked me if I would be interested in joining Curse. But I had to play a different char than my warrior because the guild was already full of those. So I asked what class he would like me to play and it came to be a hunter. Curse helped me level and gave me priority on pretty much all farm loot so I could get up to date with the rest of the guild pretty much instantly.
By the time I joined Curse they already killed Nefarian, so I was just glad that I got the opportunity to do the fight, especially when we got past the Chromaggus encounter with a pretty simple tactic. It was kinda wired thinking about how that encounter almost ended my PvE career in World of Warcraft. The fight had a 15 min respawn timer and some reports said that the first guilds who got to Nefarian only had 1 try per day (probably more likely per soft reset). The fight starts out with an Add phase where you need to kill incoming dragonkin from 2 caves which spawn in rapid succession. There were multiple tactics for this and the simplest was to stack on 1 side and aoe them all. This was a relatively easy phase but melee had to focus down the hardest type of add as there were different colors. During this, Nefarian’ s human form would teleport around the platform shooting your raid with shadow bolts that didn't hurt much. Once you defeated all the adds, Nefarian lands in his dragon form and the real fight begins. It’s a classic dragon fight with tail swipe, front cleave and aoe fear in melee.
The only really special ability he did were the Class based effects. Any class in the raid had a boss ability, so that when he called out your class, something would happen to the raid. For mages everyone started to get polymorphed, warlocks spawned infernals, priests should stop healing because when they healed they would heal Nefarian instead, shamans dropped hostile totems ect. But the most annoying ability of them all must have been the hunter one. Once he called out your class you had to remove your bow from the Bow-slot: failing to do this would cause your bow to lose all durability. Sad panda. This pretty much went on all the way to 20% when he spawned a million constructs (from the dragonkin's corpses) that needed to be aoe’d down as soon as possible. The fight is really easy when you look at it and most of the hard part was really up to the tank being able to stance dance and the healers to keep up with dispelling and healing. If your guild was together when you progressed on Onyxia it’s the same tank mechanics so it should have been rather easy. What was the biggest wipe factor for most guilds was a tank failing the stance dance and getting feared into the raid and then everyone getting breathed. Also, being unable to control the mass construct spawn at 20 % could be hard. It’s a decent boss fight for its time but in the end I didn’t really get super excited over this one and I actually think both Vael and Firemaw were harder and more exciting, and Chromaggus was probably the most complicated of them all.
I’m pretty sure the guy who put the 15 min respawn timer and the ability to break hunter weapons got fired, gosh that has to be the worst possible PvE mechanic ever implanted in an instance.
Curse vs Blackwing Lair
I would like to recommend these 2 parts of Curse vs Blackwing Lair, which was considered the best quality movie of high end raid environment during Blackwing Lair. The movie is shot with a player in the guild doing nothing but running around frapsing. The movie was I shot before I joined Curse.