Raid Night: Raid Design Redux – Intro

Over the course of WoW’s expansions, the raids have evolved in design, execution, and difficulty. Several nights ago I was having a discussion with guild members about how Cataclysm raiding has felt different from previous expansions, for better and worse.

It may be unfair, but whenever a new raid is released I tend to measure it up against Ulduar, which in my opinion was the most enjoyable and well designed raid that I had experienced when the content was current. Cataclysm raiding in comparison doesn’t feel like it’s inspired the level of awe and wonder from me that the Tier 8 raid had.

If I were the sum up each tier in two sentences or less, it would go something like this:

While Tier 11 provided us with a variety of locales and themes, the internal design of the two largest raids felt very inspired by Icecrown Citadel. Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent felt less like raids in terms of layout and more like what you would see in a 5-man dungeon.

The Firelands “outdoor” raid in tier 12 was the exact opposite in terms of layout and the flow of the instance felt very reminiscent of raids in previous expansions. Unfortunately, when the only raid in a tier involves adventuring in a single elemental plane, the color scheme can grow wearisome after months of raiding.

Dragon Soul was a unique, yet mostly linear raid which provides multiple, albeit in some cases reused, visual backdrops for its raid encounters. That said, the tier left myself and others wondering why the epic Well of Eternity 5-man dungeon wasn’t made into a second raid for the tier.

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be delving a bit deeper into each Cataclysm raid tier and what feelings it evoked from me as I went from progression to farm status on them. I’ll mostly be talking about the design, layout, and themes of the raids. The boss encounters themselves and their difficulty are more a matter of execution, and while I may touch on specific fights briefly that won’t be the focus. The tier 11 article will come out tomorrow, and I’ll follow-up with the other tiers weekly.

I hope you find them an interesting raid and feel free to share your own opinions on Cataclysm raiding by leaving a comment or sending your emails to

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