This article was originally posted September 13, 2011. With the release of Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas, we thought it would be fun to look back on the initial release of Naxxramas in World of Warcraft. The original publication of this article also included the patch 1.11 patch notes, which we've removed here. If you're interested in seeing them, time warp back to the original.
Patch 1.11 included the original 40-man version of Naxxramas, which was the final raid zone of classic World of Warcraft. The game had seen no expansions yet. While we all knew it was coming, the idea was still foreign and nebulous to players who had limited prior experience with MMOs. "Green is the new purple" was something nobody grasped yet. Naxxramas was seen as the true pinnacle of raiding in classic WoW ... and in some ways, it's still seen that way by WoW's raiding veterans.
The trailer for Shadow of the Necropolis is probably the first patch trailer I remember in vivid detail, as it's one of the first patch trailers in which Blizzard tried to tell a story. Previous patch trailers showed off new bosses and new environments completely without commentary, merely showing off pretty pictures set to new music from the patch's soundtrack. Shadow of the Necropolis slowed things down a bit, showing you some of who Kel'Thuzad was in life and how he came to be lich lord of Naxxramas. Patch trailers have continued to build on what patch 1.11 started.
Let's take a look at what else this patch held, shall we?
The Naxxramas mystery
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.
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 -- excluding the Talisman of Binding Shard. 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. The WoW Archivist examines the WoW of old. Follow along while we discuss the lost legendary, the opening of Ahn'Qiraj, and hidden locations such as the crypts of Karazhan.