A guildie of mine was talking about bosses in 5-mans that were “pugbreakers”, and it kinda got me thinking about the various pugbreakers and cock-blocks throughout Cataclysm (especially early on in the pre-nerfed heroic 5-mans). So, I thought I would throw together a list of what I thought were the biggest badasses, and the most pathetic bosses across the expansion. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
I’m not including the Hour of Twilight 5-mans, because if your pugs are breaking on those, then *someone* needs to seriously re-examine what they’re doing on that particular toon.
Throne of the Tides: None of the bosses in this dungeon were particularly challenging. Or more accurately, none of them stood out as being overly challenging compared to the others. My favorite boss was probably Commander Ulthok, because it always amused me to watch tanks go smush when they weren’t paying attention to his cast bar. Of course, this can basically be overpowered by gear nowadays, but as a fresh 85, barely scraping by the gear level to get into heroics, that would one-shot a tank every time.
Blackrock Caverns: This is one of those weird dungeons that, for some reason, actually got harder to complete properly as time went on and people stopped giving a shit. As such, Corla became the pug-breaker because nobody understood how to actually watch their own debuff timers while still doing something resembling a proper rotation. Once ZG/ZA went live I probably had failures on this boss more than I had successes. My favorite boss was Karsh Steelbender. I’m biased in the fact that fights that require the tank to do something other than “stand there, soak hits, fling poop” tend to interest me more… However, i’ve seen enough tanks STILL fail at that fight that I realize tanks don’t always do things in that particular order.
Grim Batol: This whole *dungeon* tended to be a cockblock. To this day I don’t understand how so many people can’t figure out how to work an aoe targeting reticle, but every time we kill the dragons and there’s piles and piles of trash left alive, it still gets to me. The problem was, if you didn’t take out several packs, or AT LEAST whittle most of them down significantly, these fuckers would *hurt*. Even nowadays, a modestly geared tank can still find himself surprisingly bruised by uninjured trash packs if he’s not paying attention. If any boss was an actual pugbreaker, it was the unnerfed version of Erudax. He had a high DPS requirement, as well as target switching. Some of those poor dps just don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re not drooling on the buttons. I think my favorite fight here is probably Throngus. No particular reason, I just liked him.
Halls of Origination: This was another one where nothing was overly difficult, it was just really long. I did seem to have groups who didn’t quite understand how the interrupts and levers worked on Temple Guardian Anhuur, but I guess if there was a pugbreaker in this fight, it was Setesh and his infinitely-spawning portals of “oh my god so many adds”. Consequently, this was the most fun fight, for me, because it tended to give me the most to do. Swing at the boss a few times, kill the portal, pick up adds, stay alive, swing at the boss some more, so on and so forth.
Lost City of the Tol’Vir: This was probably the easiest heroic of them all. None of the trash hit particularly hard, the bosses were relatively easy, and the voice acting for General Husam (particularly his death speech) was so ridiculous, it bordered on comical. I think my favorite fight here was Lockmaw & Augh. It’s always fun for me, as a tank, to try my hand at snap aggro building on targets that have a focusing mechanic (like the mini alligators did). If I could pull them off their target for a few seconds, I was doing it right.
Stonecore: Everything about this dungeon screamed “Abandon all hope, ye pugs who enter here”, because before the first rounds of nerfs hit, this place was utterly brutal. I’ve seen pugs break on any and every trash pack and boss fight several times over… except the last one, actually. Once you got past Ozruk, your group was going to make it. Consequently, Ozruk was my favorite fight hands down. Learning to do the dance on him (run behind for ground slam, run away for shatter, hope you ran far enough, fast enough that you weren’t DESTROYED by it, run back quickly enough that he didn’t move too far away, rinse and repeat) was an experience i’ll never forget. It was legitimately *stressful* learning it, but once I got it down… well hell i’ll never forget how to tank Ozruk again. Previously, Shatter had no visible range marker, and whatever range it DID have was quite a bit larger than it is now, so making it out in time was a matter of timing everything perfectly.
Vortex Pinnacle: This place was a bit of an odd dungeon. It was simultaneously nerfed and buffed at the same time. See, the problem was that the first boss and the last boss were too easy, whereas the second boss was IMMENSELY hard. Tornadoes moved, and they didn’t just throw you straight up, they tossed you sideways and diagonally, and more often than not right off his platform, where he would instantly call you a coward and one-shot you before you had time to *think* about getting back up on the platform. Vortex Pinnacle was the very first heroic I did, just a few days after the Cataclysm launched, and I remember the group I had (myself tanking, guildie healer, and 3 pug DPS) being extremely cool and patient about everything. We must’ve wiped on Altairus 5 or 6 times, but managed to get past him eventually. I have to admit, that is one thing that the difficulty of pre-nerf heroics did bring back to pugging… patience. Nowadays everyone gets irritated at the simplest little mistakes that everyone makes, and god help you if you wipe on anything cause they’re gone. I’m not sure I have a favorite boss in here, because as far as tanking goes they were all pretty boring, and Altairus really *was* too difficult to handle at the time.
Deadmines: Good old Deadmines. This was another dungeon that was pretty much a pugbreaker all around. Most of the bosses weren’t terribly difficult, but the trash man. The trash was pretty obscene if your DPS just wasn’t spot on all the time. There was one boss who stood out above the others in his difficulty, and that was Admiral Ripsnarl. It had a high dps requirement, but also a high healing requirement (because the tank would get pretty bruised as Ripsnarl’s buff stacked up), and LOTS of target switching and fast nuking. I saw plenty of groups make it through the other bosses without too much problem, but absolutely break on Ripsnarl because the dps wasn’t high enough or the healer couldn’t keep up. Groups that *did* manage to get past Ripsnarl always had a hell of a time on the gauntlet heading back to the ship, but you could fail at that miserably and still end up completing the dungeon successfully. I’m not sure I had a specific boss fight that I liked or didn’t like. This whole place was well done, difficult, and relatively “standard faire” for me.
Shadowfang Keep: Nothing about Shadowfang Keep was overly difficult, but it just felt so incredibly *long* compared to most of the other dungeons (excepting maybe Deadmines). Commander Springvale caused more than a few wipes, but he was also skipable, so most groups, after wiping once or twice on him, just continued on so i’m not entirely sure he could be called a “pugbreaker” as such. Trying to think of my favorite boss in here is difficult, but I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be Baron Ashbury (the first one, in case you’re like me and the names all kinda run together in here). I’m not sure why, but there was always a sense of urgency with the first boss and him draining every last bit of your health. It was very heal intensive, and the DPS had to be on the ball to kill him quick enough when he started spamming his shadow nova.
So that is all of the original heroics. Now to sum it up a little bit, i’m going to give some general “awards”. Remember, all of these are from pre-nerf bosses.
Hardest heroic boss: Admiral Ripsnarl (Deadmines)
Easiest heroic boss: General Husam (Lost City of the Tol’Vir)
Hardest trash in a heroic: Grim Batol
Easiest trash in a heroic: Lost City of the Tol’Vir
Most difficult overall heroic: Stonecore
Easiest overall heroic: Lost City of the Tol’Vir