World Of Warcraft: Classic Won’t Launch With Dire Maul, Blackwing Lair

World Of Warcraft: Classic Won’t Launch With Dire Maul, Blackwing Lair

Part of the problem with bringing the World of Warcraft vanilla experience back isn’t just recreating what the game looked like in 2004*. Blizzard also has to recreate the cadence of post-launch content, which means not throwing gear into the wild that will completely unbalance the whole world. So, earlier this morning, it wasn’t a surprise to hear that some of the most iconic raids – Dire Maul, Blackwing Lair and Naxxramas – won’t be included at launch.

The reasoning is pretty straight forward: Molten Core and Onyxia are a bit of a joke if you had access to Blackwing Lair or Zul’Gurub gear. So in a blog post on the WoW forums, a WoW community manager explained that the post-launch raids would be spread out over six phases, as opposed to the original four that was announced at Blizzcon last year.

At launch, players will get access to Maraudon, Onyxia and the iconic Molten Core raids, with Kazzak, Azuregos and Dire Maul being added in the second phase. The reasoning for including Maraudon, but not Dire Maul, was that Maraudon was launched also immediately after players started hitting level 60. It’s primarily for balance though: the Dire Maul loot would completely ruin the challenge of the earlier raids, and the extra phases in general are designed to offer a better progression curve over the life of vanilla WoW.

The full list of raids that will be rolled out – at least for now – are:

Phase 1 (Classic Launch)

• Molten Core
• Onyxia
• Maraudon
Phase 2

• Dire Maul
• Azuregos
• Kazzak
Phase 3

• Blackwing Lair
• Darkmoon Faire
• Darkmoon deck drops begin
Phase 4

• Zul’Gurub
• Green Dragons
Phase 5

• Ahn’Qiraj War Effort begins
• Ahn’Qiraj raids open when the war effort dictates
• Dungeon loot reconfiguration: Tier 0.5 Dungeon gear, Relics, drop rates and location changes
Phase 6

• Naxxramas
• Scourge Invasion

The team is still working out how PvP content fits into the whole mix, and there’s no scheduled date for what the gap between each of the phases will be. There’s a chance that people will work their way through WoW: Classic content infinitely faster than they ever did in the game’s original launch. Blizzard also has to work out the balance of power between items that were introduced after patch 1.10, when Tier 0.5 gear was first introduced, and bosses began dropping relics.

It’s a ton of stuff to balance, and there’s better than even odds that a lot of the game’s post-launch will be spent fine-tuning all of this as well. Either way, it’s worth knowing what you’ll get when WoW: Classic will have when it launches later this winter (which probably means mid-August, if every other WoW release is any measure).

* – I mention 2004, not 2003, because that’s the version of WoW that Blizzard are bringing back.


  • Content will be faster to clear since we know the world and didnt have the resources we have know (wowhead, raid biss guides etc)

    … but will be interesting to see how the lack of pre 2.0 raid mods will work. Decursive and Healbot mods (an actual auto healing mod that cast heal on critical people… and ignored hunters) were key to my raid guilds success in classic.

  • It’s definitely a bit weird to have Zul’Gurub come out a phase after BWL. ZG was always a gearing up before MC/BWL raid, and it gave smaller guilds something to do.

    • The order is exactly how it was back in Vanilla. Zul’Gurub really did release after BWL.

      Originally, ZG was planned as a 40-man raid tier on its own, but Blizzard felt the need to scale it down to allow more players to get into the raiding endgame.

      • You’re both right. 🙂

        Historically ZG was something that was needed to fill a gap. And it did the job well! It’ll be pretty weird not having that.

      • No arguments from me about that, it did release afterwards. I guess it’s just an “in hindsight” feeling I get about where ZG slots in to the raiding scene.

        I wonder if they’re going to do PvP out of sequence, because it should slot there in it’s own Phase 2.5. Coincidentally, LF Guild!

    • Like others said, ZG came out after as a bridge between MC and BWL, or for something to do when they didn’t have enough people to run a 40man. Although by that point you could pretty much run ZG without bothering with MC unless you wanted set pieces.

  • That makes sense. Each phase effectively reflects the old Tiers of armor for the era, or near enough. It might not be exact, but its fair and valid.

  • I kinda get it, but if you jumped straight to BWL and Naxx in dungeon gear instead of the lower raids, most people are just going to get slaughtered.

    • Vanilla Naxx was brutal even with full BWL gear… We never got to see the best/worst of it though, given how few guilds were even able to raid there before BC came along and changed everything.

      • The boss that required priests to mind control adds was nightmarish for our guild.

        We ended up breaking up because of Huhuran though.

        • We were breaking into Naxx when BC came out. BC’s change in focus to 25 man raids fractured our guild, and I ended up leaving the game over it. Wasn’t having fun. But Naxx was one hell of a challenge.

          Think I went back to Everquest for one last run before buying a property and being internet free for 6 months. Long story.

      • I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of the people who insist that they could run Naxx blindfolded day one getting their arses handed to them. All the development cost will be worth it just so I can say some classic stuff was hard without someone jumping in with ‘ah, actually, it was really easy. You can do it in entry level gear as long as you know what you’re doing’.

        • We got in about a month before BC, and I think even with 3/4 BWL geared we only got one boss down. I don’t remember any guilds on server completing it before BC came out either. Maybe one. So I’m with you. Anyone talking about doing it blindfolded is full of it.

          After BC, different story. Green gear there was making BWL stuff useless, and going back with those 10 levels and gear under your belt did make it easy. But pre-BC, trash was brutal, bosses were worse.

  • Similar to other hype machines this will have servers crashing at launch and be a fraction of players still playing within 6 months of launch. Gotta keep in mind as well that many people were in a different phase of their life back in 2004/5 and may not have the time on their hands as they did back then. Could change people’s perspectives.

    Still could be fun for those who were late to the bandwagon who never experienced the original flavour, depending on if they can handle the lack of hand-holding.

    • I’ve always joked that if they launch classic then it should be the full experience. server crashing, bugs and the inability to play for hours sometimes because Blizzard was woefully prepared for how popular WoW was when it launched in 2004… but sadly I doubt Blizzard will go that far

      at least by implementing everything as it was back in when WoW launched, it will finally weed out those who are just jumping on the classic hype train for the sake of it or who actually want to play classic wow

    • I agree, but there are also some positive changes. Back then voice chat, YouTube strats, low latency connections, computers that could run on ultra settings, etc were uncommon at best. Even the servers themselves were worse than what we can expect minimum today. So even the spuds on laptops and stolen WiFi are going to come in like Tony Stark. Should make for an interesting wrinkle.

      I’m not that into playing classic but part of me is tempted to go back in and see how PvP plays out now I’m not disconnecting every 10 minutes or playing on hardware that can’t keep up. I have a feeling I’d get to smack around a lot of smug vets that didn’t realise that the bulk of the people they played against back then were struggling to reach minimum specs.

  • I haven’t looked forward to a game launch this much in a long time! Was raiding on nostalrius before blizzard closed it down and i never experienced the end game vanilla first phase launches.

  • The team is still working out how PvP content fits into the whole mix Kind of sucks that the PVP aspect gets the shaft again, considering that is my only interest.

  • I don’t know why people want this. My memory of old WoW is like the current WoW but with all the improvements removed. I can only imagine its going to be short lived once people get to experience the mediocrity first hand. What a waste of resources.

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