WoW Classic Raids Guide - About phases of Raiding

classic wow raids
p3ter 06.06.2019 0

List of phase releases

Before the release of the Classic World of Warcraft, Blizzard announced that the content releases will be divided into a few phases. These steps are centered primarily on a raid progression and are meant to balance the amount of power that players can gain straight after Vanilla release. Developers also want us to capture the feel of what it was like to play World of Warcraft back in the day. WoW, Classic was said to be released in patch 1.12.x to give users old school experience.

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What word 'raid' means in Classic WoW?

Raids are groups of at least 6 and up to 40 people divided into eight subgroups consisting of 5 players each. By saying 'raid,' users also can refer to instances that these groups go to, where they can face endgame content and fight with the most dangerous foes in Azeroth to win valuable item drops. As the monsters in these zones are tough, parties need to plan their strategy accordingly if they want to achieve victory.

Inside the raid, there is often at least one Boss and usually many smaller foes to fight against. To reach the final room with the last adversary, party members often need to defeat other bosses and groups of smaller mobs called adds. All of the Raid instances have a raid timer, which determines when you can receive the next drop from the bosses that you and your party have defeated. Because of that Raids are often cleared only once a week.

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Phase 1

The first phase of the release primarily focuses on introducing Onyxia and Molten Core to the game. These raids were released before even the first player hit level 60. Maraudon dungeon was meant to be released along with those two, but it will be postponed a little bit to balance itemization. The gear that users could acquire in Maraudon could directly affect the difficulty of the raids. It is the reason why it will be released later during the first phase.


Onyxia's Lair

One of the first raids to be released in World of Warcraft is a single boss instance, which is an iconic encounter in the game history. It is very likely to be the first raid ever completed by players. In order to enter Onyxia's Lair at Dustwallow Marsh, adventurers needed to finish the attunement quests and obtain the Drakefire Amulets. The group of 40 players could then enter the cave to fight the boss. Defeating this fire breathing dragon rewarded raid members with Head of Onyxia, which starts a quest to put her head on display in the capital city of the faction. It was a great achievement to complete a fantastic accomplishment to share with others.


Onyxia is the daughter of the mighty Black Aspect called Deathwing. She is also the sister of Nefarian - Lord of the Blackrock Spire. Although her father uses brute force in his plans, her brother plots in-depth plans, she is slowly manipulating humans to turn against each other. Disguised as Katrana Prestor, she tried to start a Civil War in Stormwind, but Marshal Windsor stopped her plans. After these events, she went back to her Lair, where she is waiting for a fight against Azeroth champions.

Boss encounters: Onyxia.


Onyxia fight is more about the patience than a quick DPS burst. All players in the raid have to follow tactics without making mistakes that can cause the party being wiped. It takes practice, as Onyxia mechanics are split into different phases where the boss uses various ways to deal damage. Mastering every single one of them will be necessary to succeed. The hardest job lays down on tanks, as those will have to keep control over the Onyxia that uses fear to keep them away. Maintaining aggro in these conditions will be extremely difficult, but not impossible. On top of that, the entire raid group will have to cooperate against numerous whelplings in phase 2 of the fight. Communication will be the key to avoiding the wipe there, as a mistake of one player can be enough to bring everyone down.


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Molten Core

Even more iconic than Onyxia herself, can only be Ragnaros, the Firelord. This incredibly powerful ruler of Fire Elementals resides in Molten Core deep in Blackrock Mountain. He wields a massive hammer called Sulfuras. This raid for a very long time was the most challenging 40 player instance that reigned this title until the release of the Blackwing Lair. Bosses in the Molten Core were dropping the first powerful set parts from Tier 1 and Tier 2, as well as items needed for the creation of legendary weapons like Sulfuras or Thunderfury.


Molten Core was created over 3000 years ago in the War of the Three Hammers. The leader of Shadowy Sorcerers from Dark Iron Dwarf race Thaurissan tried to summon a powerful Fire Elemental to aid him in the battlefield. He was more than successful since he summoned the Firelord Ragnaros himself, who was captivated under the mountains for millennia. He enslaved Dark Iron Dwarves and created a giant Volcano called Blackrock Mountain. In the very heart of the volcano lies Molten Core, which is now the home of Ragnaros. Firelord lies in a rift between the plane of fire and Azeroth, which lets fire elementals pass through the rift. As he cannot leave this place, he commands his troops to force Dark Iron Dwarves to build him an army from the living stone.

Boss encounters: Lucifron, Magmadar, Gehennas, Garr, Shazzrah, Baron Geddon, Golemagg the Incinerator, Sulfuron Harbinger, Majordomo Executus, Ragnaros.


The fight against Ragnaros concentrates on two main styles of playing. Damage dealing right to the boss will be the most important at the beginning of the battle as everybody in the team will have to focus on bursting him down as soon as possible. The second one consists of dealing with his mechanics, as in the second phase, he becomes immune to all damage. During that time, every single party member will have to deal with his summons. The first phase always lasts for three minutes and the second one (when he is immune) for one and a half of the minute. The general strategy of dealing with Ragnaros often revolves around bringing huge DPS before the first wave of summons, which let's raid members take him down after two or three waves. It is not all about DPS, but it will be a critical factor during the fight.

Phase 2

The second phase prepares adventurers to reach the top of the Blackrock Spire, where the next raid begins. During this time, players will be able to face rare spawns Kazzak and Azuregos, as well as Dire Maul dungeon. Items dropped during these encounters are meant to improve user's gear before moving onto the next stage.


Phase 3

The third phase introduces the Blackwing Lair raid, which is significantly more difficult and rewards players with better items than Molten Core. 


Blackwing Lair

On the top of Blackrock Spire, a 40-man instance can be found where players can challenge Nefarian - the final boss of the Blackwing Lair raid. Bosses in this zone can drop very valuable parts of the Tier 2 set (excluding helmets dropping from Onyxia and legs available from Ragnaros). As the BWL introduced to the game, many epic weapons players in 2005 rushed to fight Black Dragon and claim his treasures.


Nefarian, who vowed to crush Firelord Ragnaros, tried many methods to increase his power in order to fulfill his mission. Just like his father Deathwing, he gathered forces for war and wants to attack Molten Core. He lies within Blackwing Lair, where he is experimenting with creating new breeds of Dragonflight and reanimate the most potent foes that Azeroth has ever seen.

Boss encounters: Razorgore the Untamed, Vaelastrasz the Corrupt, Broodlord Lashlayer, Firemaw, Ebonroc, Flamegor, Chromaggus, Nefarian.


Nefarian fight is, without a doubt, one of the most extended encounters in World of Warcraft Classic. It will easily take around 30 minutes, and if that is not long enough, you will also have to wait 15 minutes for his respawn after every failed attempt. On top of that, Nefarian is well known for the stupidity of his mechanics, which can be very unpredictable, killing even the most experienced raid members with ease. It is not the fight impossible to win, but it is a fight that takes an unusual amount of effort, nerves, and patience.


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Phase 4

The fourth stage of content release marks the point when the Zul'Gurub raid is introduced. It is also the point when players can start farming Green Dragons to get much-needed nature resists to face challenges that await them in the next phase.



The first 20-man raid added to the game is a jungle-themed instance where adventurers face Trolls and their bloodthirsty god Hakkar. Zul'Gurub was first created to be an additional step between 5-man dungeons and a 40-man raiding world. The bosses in this instance have a chance to drop valuable loot where players can find unique mounts which were not available in the game until this point.


The Gurubashi Empire connected many troll races that were united inside one city. It ended 1500 years before the Dark Portal opening when Civil War has taken the city apart. During these events, troll priests called Atal'ai summoned blood-god Hakkar the Soulflayer. Remaining trolls fled from the city, and later on, tried to take it back. They have sent five great priests to fight against this monstrosity. Each of them was a champion of the primal gods - Bat, Panther, Snake, Tiger, and Spider. They failed as Hakkar took control over them. He also took over the great Zul'Gurub, which is now his realm.

Boss encounters: High Priestess Jeklik, High Priest Venoxis, High Priestess Mar' li, High Priest Thekal, High, Priestess Arlokk, Bloodlord Mandokir, Jin' do the Hexxer, Gahz'ranka, Edge of Madness, Gri'lek, Renataki, Hazza'rah, Wushoolay, Hakkar.


After taking down every priest, the challengers can take action against the main antagonist of this raid, which is the Hakkar. He can be found at the central temple of the city where the fight will occur. The main ability to look out for is the infamous blood siphon that stuns all raid members and drains health from them. The method of dealing with that ability revolves around taking down patrol packs called Sons of Hakkar. Those infect their targets with Corrupted Blood disease. If you are infected with it, Hakkar loses health instead of gaining it. The more raid members are infected, the more damage he takes, so it will be crucial to get as many members infected as possible. On top of that, he can Mind Control the main tank of the team, so it will be essential to bring mages who can polymorph the danger away from the party. In the end, the fight is a DPS check, as you will have to bring him down before his mechanics wipe down the raid.

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Phase 5

Before the last stage of content release, players will have a chance to fight their way into the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj. During this phase, Blizzard also releases revamped loot tables to balance item gains. During Vanilla, this raid release came with a big event - "Opening Gates of AQ" it is very likely that the same event will take place during its release these days.


Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj

After finishing the attunement quest to enter Ahn'Qiraj, players can form a group of a maximum of 20 members to start this challenge. Initially, it was released to serve as an additional instance to Zul'Gurub, which also was a step from players between dungeons and raids. It allowed more casual players to gear up for raiding and join the most geared players in this effort. The drops in this raid were kind of special since it also offered players a chance to drop skill books, unlocking new ranks for spells.

Boss encounters: Kurinnaxx, General Rajaxx, Moam, Buru the Gorger, Ayamiss the Hunter, Ossirian the Unscarred.


The final boss of the Ruins goes by the name of Ossirian. He starts the fight with a massive 300% damage boost that can be lowered by activating certain crystals. Each one of them corresponds to a specific school of magic, and when it's activated, it will critically improve the damage to the boss coming from the activated source. The simplest way of dealing with this mechanic is to set several "scouts." One or two of those should be enough to find crystals and ping them for all party members on the minimap. 

Among other mechanics, there is one more especially important. During the encounter, tanks won't be able to taunt the boss. It means that manual threat building will be necessary. Keep in mind that from time to time, the boss might turn onto healers and damage dealers. It can be avoided by using threat addons and lowering DPS/healing when needed.


Temple of Ahn'Qiraj

The 40-man raid dungeon located in north Silithus called Temple of Ahn'Qiraj was the first raid where Blizzard used a new itemization system prioritizing class-specific stats. For example, healers would more often get Intelligence stat than Strength, Rogues Agility, and so on. The instance also brought to the game Tier 2.5 set and various reputation rewards, which finally became meaningful and worth farming.


The city of Ahn'Qiraj was the prison for the dreadful Old God C'Thun, once the Titans realized that killing the Old Gods will destroy the world. The city became the shelter for the Qiraji race, as well, after they were exiled from their homeland. The evil influence of the Old God dormant deep within, made the Qiraji to war, which resulted in a defeat and sealing the city. It could be opened only with the usage of the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, should the need come. 

Many years later, there was an activity registered in the city. Mighty adventurers of Azeroth who heard about this emergence, gathered their forces to stop him before reaching full strength. They opened the gates of Ahn'Qiraj and stormed the home of the Old God. Although he was prepared to fight against dragons, he wasn't ready to face mortal adventurers.

Boss encounters: The Prophet Skeram, The Bug Trio (Optional), Princess Yauj, Vem, Lord Kri, Battleguard Sartura, Fankriss the Unyielding, Princess Huhuran, The Twin Emperors: Emperor Vek'lor, Emperor Vek'nilash, Viscidus (Optional), Ouro (Optional), C'Thun.


If you have managed to get into a raid against the C'Thun - congratulations. It will be one of the toughest encounters during your World of Warcraft Classic journey. This boss won't be like any other that you have met before since it is an Old God - one of the strongest creatures in the WoW lore. During the fight, there will be a lot of things happening at the same time. Even the pulling of the boss at the very beginning is a very complex mechanic. There will be two phases for this fight. The first one puts the highest emphasis on the correct positioning of raid members while the second one revolves around bursting his tentacles at the same time. The coordination will be necessary.


Phase 6

The last stage of content releasing states the time of Scourge invasion. It is also the time when Naxxramas raid opens its doors to the bravest of adventurers.



Last but not least, adventurers gained access to the giant castle floating over Stratholme in Eastern Plaguelands. The flying Necropolis is home to a powerful lich called Kel'Thuzad, the Lich King's trusted officer. It is one of the most memorable classic Raids since it was the last one, and it looked really epic at the time. The instance consists of five different parts, also called wings. Four of them had to be cleared in order to gain access to the fifth - the final one.


Back in the day, the crypt lord called Anub'Arak, who was raised from the dead to serve Lich King, led the army of undead into the ancient Nerubian ziggurat - Naxxramas. The Scourge forces commanded by Lich King turned the citadel into a war machine raised from the ground to the skies by dark magic. As it was hidden in the clouds from plain sight, it grew in strength over time. It was used as a Kel' Thuzad - Lich King's right hand - operation base. He flew with Naxxramas to Lordaeron to spread the plague and kill innocents.

Boss encounters

The Arachnid Quarter

Anub'Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina, Maexxna

The Military Quarter

Instructor Razuvious, Gothik the Harvester

The Four Horsemen

Highlord Mograine, Thane Korth'azz, Lady Blaumeux, Sir Zeliek

The Plague Quarter

Noth the Plaguebringer, Heigan the Unclean, Loatheb

The Construct Quarter

Patchwerk, Grobbulus, Gluth, Thaddius

Frostwyrm Lair

Sapphiron, Kel' Thuzad


The final encounter of the World of Warcraft Classic is the infamous lich named Kel’Thuzad. You will have to use every possible source of Frost Resistance that you can think of in this fight. During the first phase of the fight, you want to put your attention towards the Soldiers and Soul Weavers who serve the king. Every team member, including healers, can help in taking them down. The more are killed, the more likely Kel'Thuzad will appear, but be aware that even the adds during this challenge can quickly bring down multiple raid members. 

During the second phase, you want to bring the boss to the center of the room (without a taunt - he is immune to it) and split evenly across all sides of the room as this will help to avoid his attacks. At this stage, he will cast shackles which mind controls four targets and the main tank. When that happens, all non-controlled raid members have to burst the boss freeing their friends from shackles. It is a DPS check as healers might struggle a lot with mana during this phase. At the end, when Kel'Thuzad is finally reduced under 40% health, the last phase begins. At this stage, there will be five adds to help Kel'Thuzad - two of them should be pulled by tanks, and the rest of them will have to be taken by others.


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If you have liked our WoW Classic Raid guide make sure to leave a comment below. We value your opinion as we need it to improve our articles. You can also check out class guides for each of Vanilla classes: Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Druid, Hunter, Mage. For content from your favorite World of Warcraft expansions like Mists of Pandaria, Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Battle for Azeroth, and others, check out our blog page.

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