Naxxrammas finally arrived in World of Warcraft Classic last week, and the once imposing, nearly indominable raid from Vanilla was vanquished mere hours after its launch, making us wonder if Blizzard should have upped the difficulty.

The Original “Unclearable” Content


Naxxramas first launched in 2006 as the last raid in World of Warcraft before the release of its first expansion, the Burning Crusade. For better or for worse, the original Naxxramas proved far too demanding for most players to defeat.

This is no exaggeration, but because Blizzard has never released official stats on the number of players who toppled Kel’Thuzad, we are left to work educated estimates. YouTube content creator WillE dives into this topic, and based on the information that is available right now, it looks like only around 0.7%, a tiny percentage of players during Vanilla, cleared all of Naxxramas before the launch of the Burning Crusade.

In part this was because Naxxramas was difficult, but Blizzard also made a questionable decision around this time to begin revealing its first expansion to the public. Why slog through a difficult raid if the Burning Crusade is right around the corner? This time, there is no such problem, so players will have plenty of time to farm the Lich.


Why Was It So Easy This Time?

Without exaggeration, Naxxramas was downed in a mere hour and a half after it released in Classic. That is a tremendous pace when you consider that the riad has fourteen bosses, none of them as optional, not to mention all the trash pulls in between. Was victory due to having players that are simply better than those from 2006? No, not really, as there are several other factors that helped make this a reality.


For starters, Classic had allowed you to play the “best” version of your class, whichever it may be. Prior to launch, Blizzard announced that patch 1.12, Drums of War, would be implemented from the start of Classic. According to Blizzard, this represents “the vanilla version of WoW at its most feature-complete, stable, and well balanced.” Your class was fully optimized from the start of the game, and so was gear that underwent several stat changes throughout the original launch period of the game.

Apart from having fully optimized classes, the world-buff and consumable meta still reigns supreme. It takes a bit of coordination to acquire the best buffs, but combined with flasks, your power level spikes to a point that most did not even realize was possible during Vanilla.

By having both optimized classes and a stream of buffs, the world-first clear of Naxxramas in Classic was able to disregard traditional raid compositions by forgoing a tank. Instead, all tanking was done by a mix of the eighteen DPS Warriors that cleared the raid.

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Should Blizzard Have Made Naxxramas More Challenging?

Blizzard vowed “no changes” when it came to Classic, but that quickly proved to be untrue. Beginning on patch 1.12, changes to battlegrounds and the ability to create premade groups, how buffs affect certain classes, high-population server layering, and more have trickled in over the past year and represent major departures from Vanilla. Despite their initial vision of providing players with a near identical experience to the original game, Blizzard has shown that they will make changes when they want to steer content in one direction or another.


As such, clearing Naxxramas in less than two hours after its launch feels like a failure on the part of the developer. Here stands the greatest milestone of the original game, something that took months for the best players in the world to complete in 2006, trivialized as if the raid were on its third month of farm.

One option that could have seamlessly allowed players to have a challenge but still topple Kel’Thuzad might have been a harder launch with tweaks made over time. The Retail version fo World of Warcraft already does this when certain raid content proves to be too difficult for most players to clear, whereas Looking For Raid goes to the extreme by providing ever-increasing buffs until you and your party simply overwhelm the content.

There is no perfect answer for how this could have been corrected, but with the Burning Crusade likely coming in 2021, Blizzard now has a second chance to do things right. Whether they do it or not is a whole other matter.

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