WoW Archivist: The changing raid design of Naxxramas

The 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?

Raid design has changed more times than there have been actual expansions in World of Warcraft, mostly because original raiding concepts were forged in the endgames of EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and the pre-WoW generation of MMOs. Patch 1.11.0 introduced Naxxramas, one of the most ambitious raid environments in the history of WoW. The massive necropolis floated ominously above the Eastern Plaguelands, tempting the best raiding guilds with 15 punishing boss encounters. Naxxramas was ultimately removed from the game with patch 3.0.2, when it was replaced with new 10- and 25-man versions of Naxxramas retuned and reitemized as the starter raid for Wrath of the Lich King. The retuning of Naxxramas is one of the best examples of the changing raid dynamics from the original vanilla WoW to the new Wrath dynamic.

Back in the original Naxxramas days, raids were tuned for 40 players. Half of the challenge of raiding in the old days was putting the raid together in the first place, and then actually getting boss strategies down. There was even an attunement to Naxxramas based on your Argent Dawn reputation, which scaled in price depending on how close to exalted you were. Suffice it to say, it was a very different world. Naxxramas’ difficulty at the outset was the hardest dungeon WoW had ever seen, and in consequence, not many raid groups got to see the inside of Naxxramas, much less its final encounters.

Over time, the raiding dynamic greatly changed and 10- and 25-man encounters were the new norm. The huge success of Karazhan made 10-man raiding a staple in future WoW expansions. When Naxxramas was poised to make its return as the beginning raid in Wrath of the Lich King, people wondered how certain encounters (which were built for 40-man raid groups consisting of upwards of six tanks on some fights) would be rebuilt for 10- and 25-man raiding groups. Many people didn’t think that the flavor and epicness of the instance would stay intact.

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WoW Archivist: The changing raid design of Naxxramas originally appeared on WoW Insider on Tue, 20 Sep 2011 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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