Interesting Boss Mechanics

Favorite fight mechanics is a topic that came up late one night at BlizzCon. I had an answer to this right away, as this post has been sitting in my draft folder for a couple months. I thought it was about time to finally get it completed and posted.

There are a few boss mechanics I’ve seen over the years that have really stood out as interesting and challenging. I’d love to see things like these make a comeback in future raids.

Necrotic Aura – Loatheb (Naxxramas)

Necrotic Aura
was a really interesting mechanic for healers. For 17 out of every 20 seconds in this fight, you couldn’t do any healing. I thought this was amazing. It meant none of your healing could be mindless. You had had to have a plan for your healing team, you had to be prepared and you had to make your heals count. It was a good lesson in timing your spells.

Aura of Despair – General Vezax (Ulduar)

General Vezax
Aura of Despair
is another mechanic that provides a healer-specific challenge. All through the Vezax encounter you were unable to regenerate mana. This was a fantastic lesson in mana mangement. You needed to be focused and you needed restraint in order to get through this fight. It was a very nice change from fights where healing could become quite spammy. While learning the fight I had to utilize my whole bag of tricks, from timing Lifebloom blooms for healing and mana return to meleeing the boss for Clearcasting procs for free heals, even using dark runes.

Inner Demon – Leotheras the Blind (Serpentshrine Cavern)

Leotheras the Blind
Though I’ve always loved healing I do enjoy getting to do something different from time to time and Inner Demon was the perfect opportunity. During the Leotheras encounter random people would spawn an inner demon and if you couldn’t kill it (on your own) within about 30 seconds you’d get mind controlled for the duration of the fight. The demons did take extra damage from nature and holy spells, making them a bit easier for healers to kill theirs, but this was at a time when spell damage and spell healing were two different stats. It could still be quite a challenge as a healer.

Poisonous Blood – Hakkar (Zul’Gurub)

Hakkar the Soul Flayer
During the Hakkar fight, raid memebers would occasionally have to pull and kill a Son of Hakkar. When the son died, they would leave a cloud of poison. While poison on the ground is usually something to be avoided at all cost, this fight made you stand in the poison! Why? Because Hakkar would then cast Blood Siphon and he would take damage from every person infected with Poisonous Blood. Hakkar was the first end boss that I ever faced in WoW and my delight at this mechanic has only grown with my raid experience. I get much amusement from thinking back to a time when people got yelled at for not standing in the bad.

Blood boil and Fel Rage – Gurtogg Bloodboil (Black Temple)

Gurtogg Bloodboil
This guy had two interesting mechanics that made him one of my favorite bosses in my favorite raid. First there was Blood Boil, which would put a stackable DoT on the 5 people furthest away from the boss every 10 seconds. I really enjoyed the emphasis this placed on spatial awareness and mobility. If you messed up your timing and positioning, someone was going to get too many stacks and end up dead. I also got to be responsible for healing one fo the groups of 5 people (pre-Wild Growth) which was a nice challenge. Then there was Fel Rage. The boss would put a 30 second debuff on a random raid member which increased their health, armor, healing and damage and then he would beat the hell out of that person for the duration. In all likelihood he’d focus on a clothie. This challenged the healers to keep up a non-tank through a vicious melee barrage and challenged the person with Fel Rage to use all the mitigation, avoidance and self-healing abilities available to them.

What are some of your favorite boss mechanics?

25 responses to “Interesting Boss Mechanics

  1. Personally, I loved the Heigan Dance. It was terrible that everyone had to do it and I wasn’t even particularly good at it at first, but I will never forget being in Level 60 Naxx at 70, on a priest, dying instantly while the group I was with danced completely in unison each and every time it was time to dance.

    I was like: “This. This is why my guild never got past the original Majordomo.”

    I also loved the tainted core mechanic on Lady Vashj.

    Flame Wrath on the Sahde of Aran was pretty fun, once you knew how NOT to set it off.

    Magtheridon was a great fight, too — again, nightmarish while learning it, but soooooo satisfying when you get it right.

    I liked many of the triggers for hard modes in Ulduar more than the fights themselves — XT’s, Iron Council’s, Freya’s.

    I liked the theory behind heroic Anub’Arak. I hated the execution (or lack thereof), but I liked the theory behind it.

    LOVED heroic Professor Putricide. Enjoyed heroic Sindragosa for a while until hearing “your pathetic magic betrays” you started to make my ears bleed. 😛

    Dreamwalker on normal or heroic was great, as was BQL.

    I did really enjoy the Lich King. I never got past first transition on heroic LK, but the normal fight was a lot of fun.

    And with that, I’ll stop walking down memory lane and eat my damn breakfast before my waffles get cold. Awesome post, got me thinking. 🙂
    Kurn recently posted..Kurn’s Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

    • I also enjoyed the Heigan dance. At least, I liked doing it myself. But having to do it with other people? That left some scars. My raid group in Naxx has something ridiculous like 5 healing priests in it. On the very first dance of every pull we’d end up with a whole field of angels.

      Flame Wreath was pretty cool, especially when combined with all the other mechanics on that fight.

      Now that I think about it, I also liked biting people on Blood Queen.

  2. I was just thinking about the Loatheb fight last night (hadn’t thought about it since pre-ICC). I loved watching the timers on that fight and figuring out how to squeak in just a little more healing than the other healers.

    My current favorite is Baleroc; however, it saddens me that with the nerfs I’ve seen a guild get Baleroc down while not understanding the mechanics at all. They are missing most of the fun.

    I also like to create my own fun “mechanic” for fights that are trivial. My most recent fun was spamming Prayer of Healing on Headless Horseman for the entire fight preventing any damage taken with my divine aegis. For some reason, seeing recount empty for Healing Done and Damage Taken makes me giggle. I’m so sad it’s over now.
    Daffnae recently posted..Save the Mages!

    • I have mixed feelings on Baleroc. I like mechanics that are aimed at healers, but there’s something about the fight that doesn’t make it one of my favorites and I can’t really put my finger on what it is. As far as healer challenges go in Cata, I enjoyed Chimaeron more.

  3. Man it is so hard to separate “specific cool boss mechanics” from looking at the overall mechanics of a fight. To me the coolest boss fights in general were ones with varied mechanics forcing very different tasks within the same fight. Multi-phase encounters with multiple bosses tend to rank up there for me in terms of favourite fights from a boss mechanics perspective, but trying to home in on a specific mechanic … hmmm here goes:

    5. Karazhan – Netherspite – Beams. I always thought this was a really cool mechanic, because it forced “beam people” to be on their toes and react to where their colour was coming from next. They sort of brought this mechanic back on the first boss in Blackrock Caverns, which was entertaining in pugs.

    4. Gruul’s Lair – Gruul – Shatter. The amount of lag inspired “why are you chasing me” … “no YOU’RE chasing ME!” comments on vent alone were worth the price of admission. My personal favourite was watching Mages blink on top of 2 other people, killing all 3. Nice to see this recycled in Heroic Halls of Stone, using Intervene to kill random guildies 

    3. Ulduar – Yogg-Saron – Sanity. As much as all other mechanics throughout the fight could wipe you, you always had your Sanity meter in the background, rising like a loaf of bread in the oven. Hugging a person who is feared? See ya! 1 second too long in the brain room? Bu-bye. Even with Freya providing Sanity wells this was always such a massive hurdle. Brought back on Cho’gall, but no where near as impacting as on Y-S.

    2. ICC – Heroic Blood Princes – Shadow Prison. Move away from people during Empowered Shock Vortex. Move from one mob to another. Move to avoid Shock Vortexes, move to minimize damage done by Conjured Flame. Move to control Kinetic Bombs. Just don’t move too much or too often! This mechanic added quite a layer to a fight that trains you to be mobile in the Regular version.

    1. Blackwing Descent – Chimaeron – 10k health thing. The way this mechanic forced healers to completely change their mind set was pretty awesome. You want to top people up? Ok, go OOM. I thought this was a cleaner and improved version of the P3 strat on Anub, which in itself was a formidable healer mind-fcuk 🙂

    Ironically, none of these mechanics qualified these encounters to be anywhere near my top 10 favourite boss fights, I just really felt these were cool individual mechanics. Now a discussion about favourite boss fights as a whole … amagad 😛

    • I find it pretty easy to separate mechanics from overall fights, but now that you mention it, of the boss mechanics I listed, only Bloodboil would qualify as one of my favorite bosses. I’ve actually written about my favorite bosses already (

      I did quite like Chimaeron. That was a fun healer mechanic. I especially liked that one because a lot of druids felt they couldn’t be raid healers on that fight and I liked to prove them wrong 😛

  4. It’s too bad I won’t get the chance to experience these fights at the appropriate level. I hope blizzard puts in something that allows us to set our gear to lower levels to do old content as it was meant to be done. Maybe a raid version of dungeon challenges?

    • That’s a really neat idea. It should be pretty easy to implement and it would give people a chance to experience the older fights.

      • Interesting point. Actually on the PTR, when you enter the new 5 mans they scale down the ilvl of your gear to 353 so that you can see what it’s like at the appropriate level. I’m sure they can do the same.

        However, given that some of the mechanics of the classes have changed since the content was relevant it won’t prevent the same challenges.

  5. One of my favorite mechanics was for Instructor Razuvious in Naxxramas. I play a priest so having to manage the mind control was such a blast for me!

    As for mechanics all of us got to enjoy I really liked Teron Gorefiend. This might make some people cringe but I liked the opportunity to have an entirely different fight from week to week. It was a neat way to “thin the heard” without entirely taking us out of commission like Azgalor did in Hyjal.

    Speaking of Hyjal, Kaz’rogal had a really neat mechanic that forced us to be mana responsible. If you get the Mark and you are too low on mana you EXPLODE.

    … and even though this will gain me a few glares I really enjoyed Sindragosa. Between the ice blocks and knowing when to break them and when not to and the Unchained Magic debuff. When is it worth casting a spell? Can you do a chain of casts that allow your debuff to drop quick enough? I really enjoyed it … even if, “YOUR MAGIC BETRAYS YOU!” is a thing of my nightmares, now.

    • The only part I didn’t like about Razuvious was that we usually needed a healing priest to handle one of them and with no hit rating, that could be problematic.

      Ugh, Teron. “I have use for you” /cringe That was one mechanic I found so difficult to deal with. I loved the fight when I wasn’t a ghost though.

      Mana explosions on Kaz’rogal is a good one too. That was fun.

      No comment on Sindragosa 😛

  6. I really liked the mechanics in the Patchwerk fight. I mean, it was hard to not be in Melee range and not be 2nd in health and accidentally get smacked as Elemental Shaman!!

    • That does sound tough. You should get a medal for getting through that.

      • I know, right! I’ve seen so many newbs cause wipes because of that!

        But in all seriousness – the mechanics I had the most fun with aren’t technically mechanics – but I was a huge fan of the way Ulduar hard modes worked. Rather than just flick some switch, you had to do something dynamic to the fight. Like on XT, you had to kill the heart. If you couldn’t kill the heart than you knew you couldn’t do the hard mode. If that was implemented now, you’d probably switch it to hard mode and then wipe for hours on end.

  7. I’ll never forget the Heigan dance, it was great but very frustrating at times when people missed (how could you miss that?!). Looking at Cata boss mechanics and comparing that to the Heigan dance, it’s a piece of cake now 🙂

    I hated the Dreamwalker fight, I was one of those people who were absolutely terrible at catching orbs inside because I always felt so off-balanced being able to go anywhere in there. I loved all of the fights in ICC except for that though.

    Moving onto T11…. I would say Chimareon is my favorite fight too, it really did push me in terms of healing. For the first time, having to refrain from topping people off over 10k (10m) is fun and engaging, totally different from what we are used to as healers.

    Firelands: Baleroc isn’t my favorite. At all. I dread this fight every time I come to him, because I have a hell of a time trying to build stacks of sparks on my druid and always come out at the bottom compared to other healers in my raid. We still pull it off, but Baleroc is a struggle for me.

    Alysrazor is great….. we get to heal on the move! It’s funny because after we kill Alysrazor, we move onto the next boss and I’m still trying to move/heal. I realize “Oh, right, no feathers anymore…. *stops moving*”. I’m still waiting on my boots to drop, dammit….

    • I really liked Dreamwalker. But for some reason, while I was really good at collecting the orbs, when Cata released I was absolutely terrible at moving around through Vashj’ir. No idea why. It’s the same basic 3d environment, but when I went to loot any corpses I’d always pivot my camera to find out I was actually 20 yards away from something I thought I was right beside.

      I also to that with Alysrazor! I try to cast while moving all through the trash to he next boss after we kill her.

  8. XT Hard in Ulduar is one of my favorites. The activation mechanic is great, but I loved the way all of the mechanics interacted. Especially Tantrum slowing people who had to run out with their Gravity bombs!

    I was always surprised at how many healers weren’t aware of Anub’arak’s phase 2 mechanics. I was doubly surprised when we took our well geared Heroic t11 team back to Anub to see how difficult it was to keep the raid alive. The scaling on that mechanic is just weird and keeps it challenging for any future raid.

    My favorite Cataclysm fights are V&T, Alysrazor, and Majordomo. I like dance mechanics and dynamic obstacles. Which is also why I had a ball killing Rotface.
    Joe Ego recently posted..Random, possibly helpful, raid tip #3

    • I tried H Anub at level 85. The end phase mechanics certainly do keep things difficult. As soon as we hit phase 3 he healed up so much because of our large health pools.

      I also enjoy dance mechanics. I like a lot of movement in fights.

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  12. I love bosses who’s mechanics still cause people who are “over geared” to use their heads. Like Razorgore, and old Nefarian and his rolecalls.

    So many broken hunter bows.
    Furrama recently posted..Sonic Generations

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