The Thrill of the Last Boss

First there was silence. Grim determination. Clipped orders barked out. As time goes on, everyone keeps an eye on the clock, everyone keeps an eye on the meters, everything thinks, “This is looking good,” but can’t spare the time to say it. People call for heals, add switches, targets. The tension mounts. Phases change, people jump, health bars shoot up and down. Towards the end, someone yells “ten percent!” and everyone’s heart starts to beat that bit faster.

Then finally, the last percent (which always seems to take forever) clips out and the boss goes crashing to the ground. Voice chat erupts with cheers. It’s at least a minute before it is quiet enough for anyone to be heard. One of your healers whispers you to say that they didn’t think you were going to make it. And your raid has cleared the instance for the first time.

This is why we raid.

What’s so special about the last boss?


So last night we got Anub’Arak down for the first time in the 25 man normal version of Trial of the Crusader. (I feel privileged to have been there and very proud of the raid and especially the raid leaders and healers – it’s a particularly testing fight for the healers). It was an absolutely classic first kill, we’d had a few previous tries, each one getting slightly better. This was the last try of the night, and we all were getting tired.

This is a familiar tale. So many times a first kill has happened on the last try of the night.

I know it isn’t just my raid group, other people follow the same narrative. Maybe  people try harder when they know it’s the last attempt, or being slightly tired makes it easier in some obscure way – perhaps thinking is not as helpful as just reacting at these times. But I do know that it is quite common to get a first kill on a challenging boss late in the evening, on the very last attempt.

And there really is something special about the last boss in an instance. Raid instances are usually sold to us as ‘belonging’ to one main boss who just happens to let some of his/her friends or employees rent rooms there too. The lore is all about the big guy at the end. S/he is the sole reason you are there, notionally.

To make the main guy even more significant, the last boss is also usually harder than the rest. So the gameplay is fitted to the lore ie. the lore says that endboss X is very powerful, the gameplay says that the fight is the most challenging. Plus of course the last boss usually has the best loot. This keeps the achievers happy.

It is also cool to be able to say “We cleared that raid instance.” It means you have seen all the content, and so the explorers are happy too. It also means that you feel a social bond with the rest of your raid group – we cleared that raid instance by working together. Again, good for the social players also.

So we really are all set up to prize these boss kills more highly.

A fight to challenge the healers?

I’m not overly excited by the Trial of the Crusader, but for all that, Anub is a cool fight. Blizzard is often guilty of testing healers by brute force. They can make a fight hard for the healers by making everyone take tons of damage, throw in the occasional silence effect, and have something really hard hitting on the tank for extra spikey damage. But harder doesn’t always mean more fun.

In phase three of the Anub fight, the healers are challenged to try to keep the whole raid alive but at low health. We’re taking constant damage which in turn heals the boss, but it is at a rate of 10% of your current health per tick. So if everyone was at full health, he would be getting more heals than we could nuke down inside the enrage timer. But … if you can keep the raid alive with less than full health, that means he can be killed.

That’s not the only interesting side to the fight but I thought it was one of the more interesting healing challenges I’d seen in a raid. I also know that a lot of people find the Coliseum too easy but I thought that particular boss was well-tuned to give us a good challenge.

I also used to think that Tiron Fordring was quite cool. His response to us killing this massive evil spider boss? Oh, why don’t you try the heroic version next?

Well OK, but a thank you would not have been out of order. Git. (Paladins are all gits, a warrior would at least have offered beer.)

13 thoughts on “The Thrill of the Last Boss

  1. Congratulations!

    What do I read about Paladins here? I so wanted to show your undead monstrosity the light and salvation! :/
    But you are right, since even those Blood Elves could become Paladins, they are not what they once were.
    They should have been like that when I was still playing my Paladin… *moans*

    I need a better last line… BLATANT BOSS RECYCLING, WHO IS NEXT? ONYXIA? HRHR… oh snap… *runs for cover*

    • I think our paladins are more likely to want to show us their haircare products than the light and salvation 🙂

      It is getting kind of silly with the recycled bosses though. I mean, in this case since Anub works for a powerful necromancer you can kind of see it. But Onyxia and Nefarian?

  2. Grats on your anub kill!

    We downed that big dead bug the first week he was out. Took us four of five tries to get tanking and dps sorted properly and get get all the moving parts identified and a plan to mitigate them. Even so, he was dead in relatively short order after we engaged him.

    I left that week thinking that ToC25 regular was just a tad too easy.

    Somehow between now and then, the raid has collectively blown the whole fight out their butts. Anub hasn’t died since. Most attempts haven’t even been close. Many enrages before phase 3, add tank deaths for no good reason.

    We’re the same way on Yogg, it’s the last boss psychout. It makes me want to nerdrage.

    • Thanks. And that sounds frustrating. It’s annoying to be wiping on a boss you know that you can kill.

      I do think the Coliseum isn’t as challenging as I’d hoped, though. I know hard modes are supposed to be really tough but I’m not really enthusiastic about facing them.

  3. The crappy (or good depending on how you look at it) is that the heroic mode is SO much harder than the regular mode that it turns people off pretty quick.

    We clear the regular mode the first day it was available and subsequently tried the heroic version. We spent like 3 days on the FIRST BOSS. It was nuts. Most of it was due to people being too lax from the ease of the regular, but man … Then it gets easy for the next 2 (even faction champs weren’t that hard), then the Twins are pretty tough and Anub SUCKS.

    So yea, it’s like Blizz just turned up everything in the hopes it would fill peoples’ time til ICC, but meh. I’m not a fan of that. I’m really beginning to dislike “hard modes” simply being more health and more damage. Change the fight around! Put extra events in them or something. Don’t just make them hit harder and have more HP.

    • I agree with you. I think a lot of people labelled it as a filler patch, and I’m not sure I’ve seen much to really change my mind about that. Anub’Arak is a cool fight, but it’s the first one in there that I found interesting. And the whole place is too easy – I’m still thrilled we cleared it but we’re a laid back group who raid 6 hours a week. Can’t imagine how bored the hardcore guys will get. And the loot is so good that you have to do it really.

      I also agree with you about the hard modes. I’m sure I should be excited at the prospect of new challenges but … dialling up health and damage makes the fight harder, but it doesn’t make it more fun.

      I’m mostly still in because I like the people and because I want to be geared for tanking Icecrown. That isn’t entirely enough to justify the sub.

  4. So nicely put about why we raid. I got all goosespoon’s.

    But yeah, ToC25 normal is nice but a tad to easy for my taste as well. Heroic is more fun. 25 man is very hard. But we have made good progress in 10 man HC, I like that tuning alot. Onlu Anub to go there for us.
    But bring on IIC sooner, rather than later. Toc is very much like a filler raid.

  5. As usual, Blizzard made the Normal too easy (only the pvp round gives any trouble), and the Hard version is very hard in the sense that you need a LOT of dps to do Northrend Beasts.

    The upshot of this is that probably 90% of raids will have to go back to Ulduar, which is no bad thing, but it does make ToC ssomething of a distraction we didn’t really need tbh.

    As for Koralon, give me a break – yet another shortcut to easy loot, and I don’t understand why Blizzard want to sabotage Ulduar yet further with this boss.

  6. I think, if it’s possible, The Argent Tournament made Ulduar more fun for me :/ Bring on Mimiron hard mode any day over any of the Coliseum bosses for me. I recently got my drake from 25 man Ulduar and I was much more happy about that than downing Anub on Heroic 25. Bleh. But yes, bring on ICC before I lose my patience with WoW forever.

    I definitely won’t be playing Cataclysm.

  7. I remember WAYYYYYYYY back when I was raiding Kara, I’d missed a couple of first attempts at the second gear check boss (big arcane sentinal guy, I forget his name). The guild had been having problems with him for a couple weeks and it was late, we’d downed our scheduled bosses but thought we might as well just give it a try and lo, he went down with a minimum of effort…was bizarre to see that we’d had problems and then all of a sudden, bang, killed on first try.

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