When I compare the hallowed halls of Medivh to the many instances in Wrath of the Lich King, I'm forced to realize I owe all my raiding success to Karazhan. Think I'm crazy? No, my gentle reader. I assure you that everything you need to know about raiding you learned in Karazhan. Allow me to share the many, vital skills we all learned from that first Burning Crusade instance.
SPOILER WARNING: There's totally story spoilers for a four-year-old instance behind the cut.
Defile's bad, mmkay?
Okay, so maybe it didn't start in Karazhan, but the basic rule of World of Warcraft raiding is "don't stand in fire." Whether that fire comes in the form of Defile, rocket explosions or something else, we all know that we shouldn't stand in fire. For many raiders, we learned that skill while rocking out to Prince Malchezaar and the legions he commands.
If you never fought Malchezaar, let me explain the point. Basically, he's the big eredar who's the source of all the trouble in Karazhan. When you fight him, you face not Malchezaar alone, but also the legions at his command. These big infernals land on the ground where you fight him and start letting loose a powerful point blank area of effect attack. If you're standing too close, you get overwhelmed by fire and die. Essentially, rocks fall and spit fire. Stand in the fire, and you die. These infernals keep falling until the boss is dead.
This dynamic led to the trope known as "Bad Infernal Placement." If a group couldn't dance out of the fire in time and wiped by standing in fire, then it was blamed on bad infernal placement. Oh, sure, sometimes it felt like the Blizzard developers must have watched every Malchezaar fight, aiming the infernals directly on top of our healers. But generally, Malchezaar was the original "don't stand in fire."
If there are adds, kill the adds
The Curator was my guild's devil for months. I don't know what it was. We'd breeze through the first part of Karazhan like Edward traipsing through a sparkling forest. Of course, we had the same trouble with him everyone else had. We weren't killing the sparks fast enough.
OK, translation for the newer folks: The Curator is a tank-and-spank fight, more or less. He's got a couple of vulnerable phases and hits like a truck in the last third of his life. But the boss himself is very straightforward. What makes him so tricky, really, is that he summons Astral Flares. Those astral flares then go unto the raid and deliver unto them a butt-whooping. In order to minimize this painful butt-whooping, every single DPSer in your raid is supposed to swap and attack the flares.
That almost never worked out in PUGs. At this phase in WoW, DPSers believed it was their god-given responsibility to never, ever, ever stop DPSing the boss. (I played a DPSer at the time, so I can say that.) Wowhead was littered with comments, WoW.com stated the right way to do the boss, and it seemed as if the Curator himself would shout, "Noobs, kill the flares." But there were always at least one or two DPSers who just wouldn't switch to the adds.
If we look in Icecrown Citadel, there are obvious paralells. Lady Deathwhisper springs to mind, as does the Gunship Battle. Icecrown is actually blessedly light on add fights, but we still learned that skill first in Karazhan.
Undead dragons want to be visited by dancers
It's hard not to compare Sindragosa and Nightbane. They both are undead dragons. They both fly into the fight. They both have a temperature-based theme. (Sindragosa's all icy and cold, Nightbane hot and crispy!) Both have some truly epic stories. More importantly, both Sindragosa and Nightbane like to make the raid move around. If you're familiar with Sindragosa, you're already familiar with her ice block roulette. Here's what Nightbane did.
From time to time, Nightbane breathed a patch of fire on the ground. Sounds like a "don't stand in fire" parable, doesn't it? But the trick is that Nightbane also liked to hit the raid with a Fear. So the Nightbane dance involved figuring out where to place the raid so that they could do their job and still be a safe Fear-run distance from the fire. Sounds easy, but it was tougher at the time.
Be excellent to each other
The true subtle skill of Karazhan comes from Bill and Ted's final wishes: Be excellent to each other. For the first time for many, many previously merely "casual" players who were now stepping up to raids, the instance required more than just momentary cooperation. People had to be good to one another and organize across multiple weeks.
This was a touchstone for many raiders, right up until 10-man Naxxramas became a reality. If you could manage Karazhan, you could raid. It became a necessity for everyone to cooperate and try and work together. Set schedules, pick nights. Rock out and go forward. I think more than anything else, what we learned from Karazhan was the basics of coming together as a raid.
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