Naxxramas was a curious creature even before its resurrection as a 10- and 25-man raid in Wrath of the Lich King. If you've run Stratholme, saw the strange instance portal behind a locked gate at the end of the instance, and spent a few moments wondering what it is, wonder no more. I'll tell you what it is: It's where Naxxramas was supposed to be. There's more Stratholme behind that portal. Floating over that additional stretch of Stratholme is Naxxramas. It's been back there, untextured and unused, since World of Warcraft launched. It was one of those Just hide it, I'm sure nobody will notice aspects of classic WoW that the Archivist has looked at previously.
Even now, during Cataclysm, after Blizzard turned Azeroth upside down and spent countless hours rebuilding it, this unused, experimental area tucked away behind Stratholme still exists. It's harder to find your way back there -- and you probably shouldn't be going back there at all -- but it's still in the game. The developers ultimately didn't put the Naxxramas raid entrance back there at all, the entrance at patch 1.11's launch was a teleportation pad out in the Eastern Plaguelands, but they didn't remove their original concept, either.
While Naxxramas wasn't above Stratholme anymore when the patch launched, the developers still designed the instance with that in mind. If you managed to glitch yourself out of the citadel, you would end up in Stratholme at Naxx's original intended position, rather than outdoors in the Eastern Plaguelands where it should have been.
RIP swirly ball
Throughout my personal World of Warcraft career, I've said time and time again: Aesthetics matter. Classes need their bells, whistles, sparkles and lasers that serve no purpose other than to make noise or pretty lights. Those things are what make you feel like you're playing something truly powerful. They visually define you. In vanilla WoW, rogues really only had one ability they could use on demand that produced an easily noticed light show: Detect Traps. Detect Traps was a 3-minute buff that the rogue needed to trigger; it wasn't a passive. Activating Detect Traps played an animation very similar to Dispel Magic. Rogues 'round the world threw their own dance parties by triggering the Detect Traps effect.
Patch 1.11 betrayed them. Detect Traps became a passive ability. The sparkly, swirly ball was no more. Did the loss of the sparkles impact their character's relative power level? No, not really, but it was a blow to the heart and soul of rogue players. Today, over five years later, veteran rogues still have not forgiven the developers for this transgression. Just ask Chase.
Warning! The below video has a case of potty mouth!
When discussing class changes, don't forget aesthetic impact! It matters! ... Would this be an inappropriate time to ask the developers to make Templar's Verdict not look and sound super-lame? Divine Storm, how I miss seeing your spell effect in my single-target rotation.
Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian
Atiesh is probably the rarest legendary of them all. Naxxramas was released fairly late in classic WoW's lifetime, and players didn't truly get to dig into it before The Burning Crusade rendered it obsolete. Only the hardcore of the hardcore managed to assemble it before it was gone. Unless I'm madly mistaken, I believe it is also the only legendary item that has been removed from the game completely.
Atiesh, Medivh's own staff, had a very cool property: It changed depending on which class received it. Warlocks, mages, priests and druids all had their own version of the weapon tailored to their class and abilities. No other legendary in the game has done that, but maybe it's about time for it. How else could we handle a tanking legendary? Death knights and feral druids have different needs than warriors and paladins. A one-handed mace that can become two-handed?
Atiesh also acted as a herald for hardcore raiders, ushering them into the intro raids of The Burning Crusade; it created a portal to Karazhan, the first raid zone of The Burning Crusade. It was not only thematically appropriate (given who used to own Atiesh) but also gave the item a lasting purpose.
Next week on the Archivist ...
A more in-depth look at the bosses, mechanics and feats of Naxxramas.