Holy crap was I excited for this instance.
It had been a little while since we defeated Ragnaros and pretty much all the top guilds were farming MC weekly. But other than that there wasn’t anything amazing PvE wise to do, so world PvP was very popular even between the PvE people. So what do a bunch of PvE people do when they want to kill Alliances or Horde in Vanilla? Well, they buy 1 plane ticket to Tarren Mill/Southshore. I don’t think there was any time of the day where there weren’t any level 60ies killing each over there. At peak time you could find up to 250-300 of each faction in Hillsbrad. And people could spend hours there just killing each other, as there was an honor system in Vanilla where you got a PvP rank based on points you gotten from killing Hordes/Alliance it was very popular. However, if you killed a guard of the other faction you got a MASSIVE minus to your Honor system so you didn’t wanna group up with randoms if they killed some guards, then you would be losing your ranks the upcoming week. You used these PvP ranks to buy gear that you could use for both pvp and pve. The higest Rank (14, which was insanely hard to get and you had to play every day for like 12 hours) gave some of the best weapons in game. This little video which is not made by me should give you a little idea of what you could expect if you entered this area
If you were Above Rank 8 you could use a Battle banner in the raid giving you and your raid members 15% extra health for 2 min and if you had multiple PvP heroes in your raid you could chain these banners to make tank healing way easier. This was removed early in Vanilla though, but gave a huge advantage for a little while.
Blackwing Lair and Razorgore the Untamed
Who came up with the idea that you had to enter Blackwing Lair by touching an orb in one of the Upper rooms in Blackrock Mountain?! I bet you it’s the same dude who told everyone to go world pvp at Southshore.
Imagine 20x 40 man guilds on both sides trying to kill an NPC that dropped a letter you need for a quest to start the attunement for BWL. Luckily you could do this before the instance was opened. However, it still caused massive PVP at the entrance, just getting into the instance was hard and you sometimes had to group up your hole guild to go make way for the select few. Once we finally got into our instance with 40 people, we went up a small ramp into a room, full of eggs. And a boss called Razergore the Untamed. So without knowing what exactly to do we tried to pull the boss and just nuke him down. You can actually kill him but if you do it without killing the eggs he will just respawn, something that we learned very soon.
The fight is somewhat simple. There are 4 corners in the room, each corner spawns adds in random order and numbers (not 12 at the same place though). They also spawn dragonkin that need to be feared or kited by warlocks/hunters. And then there is an Orb to control Razorgore the Untamed so he can blow up his own eggs and doesn’t attack the Raid members. The idea is to split-up the dps in each corner and kill all the adds while you destroy all the eggs. There was one minor problem with that though: the fact that was 100% impossible. No guild in the whole world had the gear or dps to kill the adds at the start of BWL, and it was kind of frustrating to keep wiping on too little dps. There was a bug, and I’m still not sure what caused it, but once you wiped on an attempt Razorgore the Untamed would go back to his positioning and eggs wouldn’t respawn so you could basically combat res a guy and then stay in the corner, res everyone and then engage the boss and make the kill. It happened for us but unfortunately we wiped on the boss again. Other guilds on the server had better luck (with this tactic) and had killed it before us. It was really frustrating that Blizzard made the entry boss unbeatable unless you lucked out with the reset bug.
However, in the meanwhile there was a Guild in the US (Nightmares Asylum) who made a genius tactic. Place 5 Earthbind totems (Aoe slow) from shamans in a circle and frost shock (it gave massive agro in Vanilla) the hardest melee mobs then start running in a circle around the inner square to kite half the mobs, making the DPS requirement to kill the boss possible.
Once you defeated all the eggs Razergore the Untamed comes lose and you have to fight him in person. His abilities were an Area of Effect fireball hitting everyone in the room, a frontal cone breath and Conflagrate on a Tank. This required tank swapping. And like any other boss in Vanilla he also did cleave. Once you get the eggs down and only have to worry about the boss he usually dies within the first few tries as it’s the “easy” part. On my first kill I got the “Untamed Blade”, this was like a weapon I was dreaming about when I went to sleep. The sword had a proc like you almost would expect to see on a legendary to today. Basically it gave you 300 strength for 10 sec, with your average item giving you like max 20 strength each. Today in Mist of Pandaria it would be like getting a sword that has same dps as others but with a proc that gave you 15000 strength for 10 sec. Pretty much ANY horde guild in the world watched this movie and copied the tactic. This is probably also the first “cleaver use of Game mechanics” which isn’t really considered as an exploit but simply a genius tactic.
Vaelastrasz the Corrupt
The next boss in Blackwing Lair was one of the most hated/loved ones in the entire tier. It was Blizzard's first attempt to limit raiders' play time and making them spend their time carefully. You had 1 Hour to kill Vaelastrasz, if you did not manage to do this the boss would despawn and you had to wait till the next day. (I do believe the respawn timer was 12 hours but no one used that really). The boss itself was very intimidating, it starts on 30% health but with a lot of health anyway, making the execute phase available almost from the start. Other than that you gained a buff called Essence of the Red. It gave Mana users 500 mana back, rage users 20 rage and energy users 20 energy per 1 sec. This buff was really fun meaning you could spam your abilities all the time for a warrior that I played. Getting into execute range almost from the start of the fight meant your damage was skyrocketing. This also meant that healers could use their biggest heals and not use the “down ranking phenomenon”.
Basically in all of Vanilla healers had different ranks of all their spells available (so did dps but dps always used the higest one), you couldn’t spam your highest rated heal as much and often it would also just heal for too much, so it wouldn’t be efficient over the long run as you would run out of mana. The general rule was that you should cast a heal that was healing for about 1k to 1.5k as you could pretty much spam this without overhealing.
Priests were sick for this fight as Prayer of Healing was really good to heal up the constant raid damage. That was the good part of the fight, now comes the raid wiper, a spell called Burning Adrenaline. It gives the target 100% dmg increase which is sick, and it makes all your spells instant. It also reduced your maximum health by 5 % every 1 sec and when it expired after 20 sec, YOU'D DIE and nothing can prevent this (or can it, I’ll explain in a sec). This will always hit the tanks + a random raid members as well. Basically you had to move out of the group if you were a DPS, nuke your ass off for 15-20 sec before you die and then you could go get a coffee. You were done on that attempt. Same goes for the tank, you tank for 13-16 sec. then the next tank taunts and you go to a corner and die. Warrior tanks were pretty much the only tanks in the game anyway but it was especially good here because 100% damage increase and unlimited rage = execute for insane amounts of damage. So as you can guess it was a DPS race to kill him before you run out of raid members (or more specifically, tanks). My guild Nilbog had been the best guild on the server for most of tier 1. But with the increasing amount of competition on the server we could feel the other guilds' breath on our necks. Perfection, who killed Razorgore before us with the drop dead bug, was making better progress on Vaelastrasz than us where we didn’t manage to kill it the first few times we were there.
The first time we were there we actually didn’t know about the 1hour despawn timer so after he despawned for us we sat there for at least an hour waiting for a GM reply why our dragon had despawned. Since the door to continue on with the instance after Vael despwned was closed until you actually killed him, while we were waiting for a GM response we discussed how we might get through the door with "clever use of game mechanics". There were many good suggestions, among the funniest was eating a special food that gave you a random buff/debuff, in this case one that would fear you, and then when a warlock and two other people had gotten feared through the closed gates you could summon the raid to the other side of the gate. However Blizzard did ban the people who used the fear trick through the gate in the US (but funny enough, they didn't ban for "Clever use of game mechanics" like the spy glass on Ragnaros or Really sticky glue to keep sons of Ragnaros in place).
Everyone also used the 81 Fire resistance buff from Spellbinders in Lower Blackrock Spire before their first attempt to make it as successful as possible, as there was constant fire damage on the whole raid. Therefore we tried to do what we did best, finding a way to cheese things. And it was actually our competition on the server that lead us to the solution which is also the reason why the debuff slots were increased from 8 to 40. What happened was during the day on a weekend in Azshara, Azuregos had spawned (he was a World boss dragon who was roaming Aszhara, he is now removed from the game unfortunately. He was a pretty simple world boss with some raid wide abilities like he teleported everyone under him and you had you had to watch out for the frontal cleave). Usually on Stormscale-EU any world boss spawn would cause a massive amount of competition with all the major guilds bringing 35-40 players to the area, it was generally pretty tense as the guilds often took turns while some guilds or players tried to grief the current guild. And pretty much every time it ended up in a guild vs guild griefing going on, eventually people let the other guilds have their attempt because no one would get him if they didn’t stop the griefing. When you were watching you had to make sure you were nowhere close to the boss so you didn’t get teleported under him when he cast his abilities. Therefore it wasn’t always easy to see what was going on, so priests started to use the Mind vision buff on Azuregos and eventually there were 8 priests doing this and suddenly debuffs like Sunder armor and Curse of elements fell off the boss. I remember sitting on ventrilo with the other Nilbog guys when we discovered this, and we were like “wow you can grief people by removing taunt, sunder armor, Curse of elements and so on” and after the boss had been killed it suddenly hit us that this could be useful on Vaelastrasz. Unfortunately we didn’t have 8 priest in the guild but we could barely manage to bring up 6 to the raid.
In the early stages of Vanilla Hunters could drag Azuregos to Orgrimmar and he would wipe the whole city until either a Gamemaster removed him or he had killed everything and ran back. This is similar to the other world boss Kazzak which numerous times had been dragged to Stormwind and wiped that city. Today that would be considered an exploit and you would probably be banned for it but back then it was good fun.
In the evening we had it all set up, everyone was super excited to see if this was actually going to work. Paladia went over the tactics and we pulled the boss, like on all other attempts the tank had gotten the Burning Adrenaline debuff. We bandaged him (for the debuff) and cast a shield on him (for the debuff) and then the 6 Mind Vision debuffs came up. And suddenly the Burning Adrenaline debuff disappeared. And everyone was laughing their ass off and acting like it was a kill (which it was, as we killed it with ease and 37+ people alive and all tanks). Like any other major exploit in the game that we tried out we didn’t really want to tell anyone about it and without trying to tell lies we announced we had killed it. Not releasing any movies either (obviously) but eventually people talked and another round of “drama” about how Nilbog exploited a boss could begin. I think this bug was on live servers for like 2, maybe 3 weeks before Blizzard managed to increase the debuff slots to 40 (which also meant an additional increase in DPS to classes with dots, who weren’t allowed to use them before due to other debuffs being more important). So if you are a dot class, you can thank Nilbog for increasing your dps!
Blizzard fixed the encounter (40 debuffs) we didn’t actually have any problems doing it the "correct" way as we had gotten more dps with the debuff slots and the additional gear from the bosses we killed the previous weeks. And we killed it the first time around after the fix as well.
This is a movie that gives you an idea of how the boss was supposed to be killed, unfortunately I don’t have any movies of our exploit kill or any other kills since then for that matter. Next time we continue with Blackwing Lair, get into the "kite it to Vael's room" meme and Lord Victor Nefarius himself.