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WoW Archivist: A raid exploit compendium

Scott Andrews

WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

One week after Mists of Pandaria goes live, the expansion's first raid will become available and the race to world first will officially begin. To the most dedicated progression raiders, a world-first kill is a dream come true, the ultimate achievement in raiding. Other raiders are just as excited to get a regional or a realm first.

To realize those dreams, however, some guilds bend the rules. Whether you call it cheating or a "creative use of game mechanics," it's been happening throughout WoW's long raiding history. The myriad methods have been as varied and creative as the bosses themselves. Let's take a look back!

The Spellbinder buff

Molten Core's Ragnaros had one of the most interesting "exploits" of all time. The exploit wasn't even in the same instance!

Here's what you did. Members of your raid would go into Lower Blackrock Spire 10 at a time. One of them had to be a priest. The priest could Mind Control an NPC in the very first room called a Scarshield Spellbinder. Using the spellbinder, your priest cast a buff on one player at a time to give them +81 fire resist for one hour. The resist stacked with other buffs and fire resist stats on gear, reducing the damage from the Firelord's many fire-based attacks. Of course, if you then wiped to Rags 1.0, you had to do it all over again.

Blizzard never condemned this strat, so it remained a creative use of mechanics. Many guilds took advantage of it in vanilla for their guild's first kills. In patch 2.1.3, Blizzard removed the ability to cast this buff on any player over level 63, so it's still possible to use against the original Ragnaros.

Divine Intervention indeed

Against Blackwing Lair's Razorgore, a paladin could allow your raid to skip phase 1. The phase included a mechanic where you could control the boss, making him temporarily friendly. That meant you could cast friendly spells on him such as Divine Intervention. While Razorgore was in his happy bubble, you'd have the entire raid suicide. All of the adds from phase 1 would despawn. A soulstoned rezzer could get the raid back up, and you could then destroy eggs with no resistance at all.

Obviously, this was a bigger problem than the Ragnaros fire resist buff, not just because it allowed you to skip an entire phase but because it only allowed Alliance guilds to skip the phase. The Horde, as you'll recall, didn't get paladins until The Burning Crusade. Blizzard eventually fixed the encounter.

DI has been the source of many boss exploits. It's not surprising for an ability that can make someone immune to all damage for 3 minutes! For example, guilds used it to nullify a Mark of the Fallen Champion against Deathbring Saurfang. Blizzard eventually removed this ability entirely in the Shattering (patch 4.0.1).

WoW Archivist
Mandokir can't look up

You'll notice that boss rooms rarely have any geometry to them these days. They are most often flat, featureless rooms. The reason for that stems from lessons learned on encounters such as the Zul Gurub's original Bloodlord Mandokir.

Mandokir had a mechanic where he would periodically "watch" a player. If you were using an ability when the debuff ended, he would kill you in one hit.

The Bloodlord had a small, ziggurat-shaped structure in his room. Guilds realized that by dropping down onto one of the blocks of the structure from above, the Bloodlord's Watch ability could be ignored completely by everyone but the tank below. The boss would not properly evade, though his raptor pet would. That was actually beneficial, since you could then ignore the raptor, too, until Mandokir was dead!

This only worked if you sheeped the Speaker NPC at the bottom of the ziggurat and got everyone into position before killing him, since his death triggers Mandokir's aggro.

Eyes of the bug

ZG's 20-man sister raid in vanilla, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, was not immune to exploits. Hunters were the key. Using Eyes of the Beast, hunters could bug both the Rajaxx and Ossirian fights.

By aggroing Rajaxx with a pet, a hunter could pull the boss independently of his waves of adds. Of course, after killing Rajaxx, you'd still have to fight those waves to progress through the instance. However, not worrying about an angry Qiraji general at the other end was a big help.

Against Ossirian, a similar pet pull followed immediately by a Feign Death would spawn a permanent crystal. Kiting the boss from crystal to crystal to turn off his "god mode" was the most difficult part of the fight, so this exploit trivialized the encounter.

Like Divine Intervention, Eyes of the Beast created too many problems for raid designers. It too was removed in patch 4.0.1.

Patchwerk perma-parry

Sometimes, items can be exploited just as easily as geometry. Such was the case with vanilla's Patchwerk encounter in the original Naxxramas. The tier 2 warrior eight-piece set bonus gave a bonus to parry. Patchwerk's Hateful Strike was a spell rather than a true attack. Somehow, if you triggered the parry bonus before engaging him (by dueling then teleporting or using the last mob in the room), the warrior tank would never lose the bonus and would always parry. Your tank would take no damage at all during the fight.

After word got around, Patchwerk was quickly ... patched.

WoW Archivist
The neverending opera

A bug in Karazhan's opera event allowed you to respawn the Big Bad Wolf as many times as you wanted. All you had to do was go back to the NPC that triggered that event and talk to him over and over again. The event would spawn the boss each time.

This infinite boss trick only worked for the wolf, but some guilds took full advantage. They spawned him hundreds of times, loading up on Badges and Void Crystals. Many of these players got banned or suspended once Blizzard caught wind.

I'll just hang on to this for next time

During the Kael'thas encounter in Tempest Keep, you have the opportunity to loot and equip legendary weapons that can be used against him. If you wiped, you lost the weapons until phase 2 came around again. But what if you could keep the weapons for the next attempt and use them in phase 1, also?

Players figured out how to do just that -- by closing the game client to fake a disconnect. Fortunately, they couldn't take the weapons out of the instance, but they could use them in the next attempt, boosting the raid's phase 1 DPS (and tank survivability).

As it turns out, there are just too many exploits for one Archivist feature! Next week's part two will delve into some of WoW's most high-profile exploits, such as the world firsts of Lady Vashj and the Lich King.

After months of surveying, WoW Archivist has been dug back up! Discover lore and artifacts of WoW's past, including the Corrupted Blood plague, the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and the mysterious Emerald Dream.

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