If World of Warcraft is known for one thing, it’s the high-level raiding and tough boss fights. So I decided to run the gamut to highlight some of the hardest bosses in World of Warcraft from its first 15 years of life. We’ve had some truly special bosses in recent expansions, as Blizzard continues to up its game.
Vanilla pre-nerf C’thun
C’thun was literally unkillable in his original form and with the gear available to players pre-Naxxramas raid tier. Back in 2006, it was discussed among hardcore players that the fight was actually mathematically impossible, even with everyone alive. As Classic rolled around, people used private server information to dispute the claim. However, as some players have pointed out, private WoW servers are simply not a reliable source due to them not always getting the code spot on.
As we moved into Classic, C’thun in the post-nerf state hasn’t caused many guilds a lot of problems since his release in August. C’thun is the only Classic boss we’ll include here, because unfortunately, Classic has shown that WoW back in the day just wasn’t as hard as we remember. The average player is better now, and the bosses are better tested and patched faster. I’ll will make special mention of Naxxramas in a future list. For now, C’thun holds enough of a place in WoW folklore as “the hardest boss in Vanilla” so for that alone it deserves to be on this list.
The most recent boss on this list, Uu’nat, was the first boss in the BFA mini-raid Crucible of Storms. The fight caused guilds issues even in Heroic, my own guild getting stuck on it for some time. The boss was just very tactically complex. On top of that, the fight was particularly long, and you needed basically everyone alive at the end to even kill the boss.
The fight was eventually killed by European guild Pieces after 731 attempts, claiming their first world 1st in the process. Pieces would later go on to claim the world first of the entire raid tier, putting the guild firmly on the map as one of the game’s top guilds.
Only 5 guilds managed to kill Muru in the pre-nerf state. It was so hard that guilds would require certain members to go leatherworking as a profession just to gain access to a Heroism/Bloodlust ability, since back in Burning Crusade it was only group-wide. Even after the first nerf, it was still nearly impossible to kill. It took a third flat HP nerf to the boss to finally allow other guilds to progress.
Muru would have probably stayed in this near-unkillable state for longer if it wasn’t for Blizzard wanting people to move onto Kil’Jaedan, the final boss of the Sunwell raid. Had Muru been the last boss it might have stayed that way for months, with Muru likely going down as one of the highest wipe-count bosses of all time.
Kil’Jaedan, the boss after Muru, is statistically also one of the hardest bosses in WoW. However, that had a lot to do with Muru not being killed, thus fewer guilds actually had a chance to take him down. Kil’Jaeden did get his shot as a true hardest boss later in WoW, when players finally got to fight him with his legs outside of the portal.
While his Burning Crusade appearance was one of the least killed bosses in WoW, his second iteration in Legion goes down as one of WoW’s hardest. With over 650 wipes before the European guild Method got world first, it would take the second-placed killed 900 attempts before they finally fell the boss.
It was a tactical mess of a fight, and another long one at that. It was also one of the few bosses to feature a secret Mythic phase at the end of the fight, leading to even more on-the-fly tactical work being done by top guilds. Thi was especially true considering the raid was released in a time before streaming of the WoW boss fights like we’ve seen since BFA, meaning each guild had to learn of the secret phase and hope others hadn’t cracked it before them.
Blizzard had to tune the fight mid-progress after a number of guilds declared it impossible t win. In an appearance on the WoW podcast Allcraft, Method leader Scott “Sco” McMillan announced that after 400 wipes, Blizzard had finally nerfed the fight. It would take them another 200 to finally down the boss.
This is one of the first times anyone acknowledge that this kind of thing happens in WoW. During the BFA progress, top guilds such like Limit and Method would have regular contact with Blizzard game masters about fights, with Blizzard closely monitoring progress.
Heroic Lich King
The Lich King took Paragon 170 attempts to kill. That might seem like a low number given some of the other kill counts on this list. However, this was back when you could only pull a boss 50 times a week in Heroic. Now, that dosn’t mean Paragon took 4 weeks to kill the boss, it just meant they had an army of alts running the encounter as well, both to test tactics and actually attempt to claim the world first. So the true number isn’t known, though you can be sure it was a lot.
The fight wasn’t a particularly buggy one. However, one guild became well known for getting banned for abusing a bug with Saronite Bombs. When using this consumable, you could “regrow” platforms that would negate the Valkyrie mechanic, causing them to drop you off on the platform rather than off the edge. The guild, Ensidia, did this during the Normal version of the fight -- when this Valkyrie mechanic was not present -- and claimed they had no idea the bomb was causing it and that they used the Saronite Bomb as part of a normal DPS rotation. Blizzard, however, issued the guild a temporary ban anyway, meaning they had no way to progress in the Heroic version of the raid, stripping them of a chance at the world first.
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