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The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm


Last week, we covered the five best raid encounters in Cataclysm. Today, we're flipping the coin to take a look at the worst. Be it bad mechanics, fight bugs, horrible randomness, or just plain boring bosses, these are the fights with elements you never want to see again. Of course, it is uncouth to criticize without suggesting improvements, so I'm also putting on my amateur game designer hat and throwing out some other options that could've made things more entertaining.

5. Maloriak, Blackwing Descent

Maloriak wasn't terrible, but the encounter had two major flaws. First, interrupts. Tier 11 was Interrupt City in general, as several classes got new interrupt abilities and Blizzard apparently wanted to make sure we were using them. However, this particular fight was notable for having two interruptable abilities, one that had to be interrupted, and one that had to not be interrupted -- but only a certain number of times. ("Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.") While this led to some interesting voice chat during raids ("Which ability did you just interrupt?" "I don't know!"), the overall mechanic was confusing. Why not have an actual button that he runs to and presses, and your tank can choose to let in happen or not via Taunt?

Second, the fight just doesn't scale well. For well-geared groups in normal difficulty, there was an eternity when you had to stop DPS before 25% and wait for him to finish releasing all his adds and start a second green phase. Meanwhile, groups in heroic difficulty got to deal with a dark phase, which featured nothing but AoE for 90 seconds. Not the most fun, since most classes have a one-button AoE rotation, and not very balanced, as classes with consistent AoE damage (aka mana users) absolutely smoked others. If they'd just have the cut the phase to 30 or 45 seconds or so, it'd have been a lot less frustrating and a good bit more balanced.

The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm
4. Morchok, Dragon Soul

On normal mode, this encounter is just dull. After killing this the first time, I remember quipping in raid chat, "Wait, is this Dragondin Soul or something?" There's a tank swap, a vortex you have to run out of, and a crystal to stack up on. A continent away, Alizabal in Baradin Hold has a tank swap, a spread out ability, and a stack up ability. Hmm.

Now, I'm cool with having an easy DPS check as part of the tier, but Ultraxion already fills that role for DS. I also understand the argument that the first boss of a raid should be pretty simple, except that's never been the case before now. (Contrast Morchok's complexity with Halfus, Conclave of Wind, or Shannox. Yeesh.) If they'd just kept the heroic version of the fight for normal mode and turned down the difficulty significantly, it would have been quite a bit better.

The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm
3. Lord Rhyolith, Firelands

A little randomness is a good thing. Randomness requires reaction, reduces the effectiveness of prior planning, and ups the general chaos level of a fight -- all good things. Too much randomness, however, and situations occur that players feel they could not plan for. In short: "We got RNG'd." Lord Rhyolith was one such fight.

Here's the best way I can describe it. Picture controlling the old arcade game Battlezone. (Here's a vid.) Now imagine a bunch of 5-year-olds tugging on the sticks, led by an 8-year-old who's earnestly trying to direct them. (Yes, all of us melee players are kids at heart who just want to hit things.) Finally, randomly throw Atomic Fireballs on the ground, and hope the kids can steer to pick them up. Oh, and the carpet's also painted red. Have fun!

The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm
2. Spine of Deathwing, Dragon Soul

When Deathwing was first announced as the big bad for Cataclysm, my first thought after "Dude, that's awesome!" was "I wonder how we're actually going to fight something that big?" Since Wrath of the Lich King, the trend was for fights against really big things to have some kind of flying or vehicle component (see Flame Leviathan, Malygos, Al'Akir). I had pictured something similar -- perhaps a two-phase fight where you first fight him in human form, then take to drakeback and kill him before he sets off the final Cataclysm?

Instead, what we got was playing Han to Thrall's Luke, clearing the way so someone else could take the shot. Frankly, that's ridiculous. I understand why other MMOs built on established universes limit you to bit parts, but WoW is its own universe. Playing the supporting role does not feel epic.

Lore considerations aside, the mechanics of this fight are terribly flat. There are no phases, no sense of progression, just kill corruptions, roll, kill bloods, kill amalgamation, burn tendon. If doing on normal, repeat twice more; if doing on heroic, repeat five times more. Sure, there's a soft enrage, but you're not doing anything functionally different, just dealing with more bloods. Of course, the soft enrage means that the difficult part of the fight happens at the end, which means burning off five minutes (or 10 minutes in heroic) for every attempt of doing the same thing ... over and over again.

Looking at it another way, if it took your raid 200 pulls to get through the heroic version of the encounter (which seems to be about average, though that's reducing now), then you got to burn tendons 1,000 times and kill 1,000 amalgamations, plus uncounted numbers of corruptions and bloods. Is this fun, or busywork?

This fight could have been so much better. Keep the tentacles and plate-popping mechanic, sure, but have the plate knock everyone off, and you have to hop from drake to drake to get back on. Once you pop the second plate, have Asira Dawnslayer or someone come in and try to save Deathwing. Change things up!
The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm
1. Madness of Deathwing, Dragon Soul

Much of the same criticisms apply to this fight as they did Spine. It's too long, too repetitive, and all the difficult bits are at the end. But there's more! You don't really get any sense of actually doing anything for the majority of the fight, as you poke at more tentacles, bloods, and corruptions but don't actually get to see how killing them does anything.

Most of the work is done by the Aspects, not you. The fight's too easy; if your raid can defeat Spine, then they should easily be able to get through Madness. Finally, it's a very buggy fight. In my experience, on over half my kills of this boss, at least one player has fallen to their death switching platforms.

Oh, and it's the last fight of the expansion, which means it has exceptionally large shoes to fill, and it doesn't get there at all. Hopefully, we can all pretend that this expansion ended with Ragnaros, who easily lived up to the "epic final boss" reputation that Deathwing should have.

(Dis)honorable mentions

Al'akir, Throne of the Four Winds This fight was the absolute worst for RNG -- even with the loot it dropped. Happily, though, all the nasty stuff was at the beginning, so wipes occured quickly, and you could get back and try again. Annoying, yes, but not headset-throwing frustrating.

Chimaeron, Blackwing Descent I debated a bit before putting this here, as I actually found the healing mechanics for this fight an interesting challenge. Many others didn't, though, and in retrospect, I agree that this fight was too big a change, too soon. Healers were still getting used to the total revamping of the healing model, and to completely change everything up again for a launch raid was too much.

What do you think? What were your least favorite bosses this expansion? Sound off in the comments!

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