It's March. It's the time of year when people remember how much they love brackets. Here's a bracket the likes of which you've never seen.
You see, there are bosses, and then there are bosses. The baddest of the bad. The epic-est of the epic.
Let’s see who they are.
It's time to pit the bosses from a given raid tier against each other in a seeded tournament of DEATH. Like March Madness, except with at least 25% more fatalities. Only one big-bad will emerge from each tier. There is only the barest modicum of method to this madness, the rules are kept secret even from the judges, and the final winner will be completely arbitrary.
A few very rough guidelines are in order. Abilities that kill players instantly will be assumed to be non-fatal (but painful) to bosses. Bosses will be allowed to target intelligently but their adds will follow normal aggro rules. Bosses are immune to CC, while their adds might be depending upon how the actual fight goes. No one will make any attempt to dodge anything unless they’re chasing a target; when you’re a boss, you don’t move out of the fire, you dare the fire to do its worst. Seeding order will be determined by order of appearance (because the hardest bosses are at the end… except when they’re not).
Let’s start with the very first raid tier, the original, the one that made every raider sick to death of its black-and-red color scheme: MOLTEN CHORE! Er... Core.
Ragnaros (1): Bye
It’s good to be the king… or the Firelord, as the case may be.
Majordomo Executus (2): Bye
10-boss tiers make for strange-looking brackets.
Golemagg the Incinerator (3) versus Lucifron (10)
This looked at first glance to be an even match, as each side’s two adds locked up against each other while the bosses applied their debuffs. But the underdog never really had a chance. Just when it seemed like the add battles would go to mutual annihilation, Golemagg’s dogs self-healed back to full before tearing Lucifron’s guardians limb-from-limb. It was right about then that Lucifron noticed that Golemagg’s debuff, which had started off so painless, had stacked to alarming levels. The salamander tried to plead for mercy until he realized that, like most MC bosses, he doesn’t actually have any lines or, for that matter, a voice.
Sulfuron Harbinger (4) versus Magmadar (9)
It would make sense for SH and his bevy of adds to give Magamdar fits. It would make sense that the healing abilities of the adds would overcome Magmadar’s not-inconsiderable AoE. It would make sense for Magmadar’s lack of a dispel to cause him to succumb to the many, many debuffs SH’s tag-team presents.
But when victory was at hand and the Harbinger raised his weapon to strike the killing blow, he looked at what it was he held, and despaired. For he was holding the single worst weapon in all of WoW raiding history—the Vendorstrike. Unable to come to terms with the sheer awfulness of his loot table, the Harbinger plunged Vendorstrike into his own heart. His healers fled, leaving Magmadar winner by default.
WINNER: Magmadar (upset)
Baron Geddon (5) versus Gehennas (8)
Between his bomb and his AoE, Baron Geddon made short work of Gehennas’ adds. Without them, the salamander had nothing going for him but an anti-healing debuff that made Geddon laugh and a Rain of Fire he ignored. As his life flashed before his eyes, Gehennas realized for the first time that his true purpose was never being a worthwhile boss, it was tempting raiders to make the incredibly stupid move of going for him before Magmadar. Overcome with inadequacy, he resisted no further as Baron Geddon reduced him to a pile of ash and charred horn.
WINNER: Baron Geddon
Shahrazz (6) versus Garr (7)
Shahrazz grumbled about this matchup at its announcement, and with good reason: his blink and anti-magic protection were singularly unsuited for a fight against the heavy physical damage of Garr and his Garr-lings. As the rocks rushed the caster, Shahrazz fired off his Arcane Explosions with wild abandon. He forgot one vital fact: Garr-lings explode upon death. Remembering this at the last moment, Shahrazz quickly put up his anti-magic protection, and followed with an Arcane Explosion, only for Garr to dispel the buff almost instantly.
The catastrophic chain reaction that followed left the arena devoid of all life.
Ragnaros (1): bye
Majordomo Executus (2) versus Golemagg the Incinerator (3)
One-on-one, Golemagg’s dogs were a match for Majordomo’s minions, while the giant himself could take Executus on. Sadly, that left six adds unaccounted for, and Golemagg had no real plan to deal with them. To add insult to injury, Executus would turn on his spell reflection right before Golemagg cast his random fireballs. Then he’d giggle.
WINNER: Majordomo Executus
Baron Geddon (5) versus Magmadar (9)
This grudge match between living flame and flaming dog was close-fought from start to finish. Magmadar’s flame breath and Conflagration gave him more direct damage than Geddon could muster, but Geddon had an ace in the hole: fall damage. Because fall damage is proportional to maximum health, Geddon was able to knock off large chunks of Magmadar’s life each time he cast bomb. Ultimately, it was just enough for him to put down the puppy.
WINNER: Baron Geddon
Ragnaros (1) versus Baron Geddon (5)
Once upon a time—when these bosses were relevant—certain things made sense. Skeletons weren’t subject to bleed effects. Mechanical foes were immune to disease. And fire elementals were immune to fire damage.
This had the unfortunate effect of driving 95% of raiding mages to respec Frost and the remaining 5% to try out Farmville.
Later on Blizzard would decide that players getting to play the rotation they liked was more important than silly things like logic or realism, and all enemies became vulnerable to all forms of damage. It’s just as well, because if they hadn’t, Ragnaros versus Baron Geddon would have no winner. Sadly, a draw was the best outcome Baron Geddon could have hoped for. Ragnaros’ stacking debuff was too much for Geddon to handle, and when Rag wanted to put on the finishing touch, he knocked Geddon back and obliterated him at range. “I should demote him back to being a Son of Ragnaros,” the Firelord mumbled afterwards.
Ragnaros (1) versus Majordomo Executus (2)
The pre-fight betting established Ragnaros as a prohibitive favorite. Many spectators pointed out that Ragnaros one-shot his Majordomo when it suited him. How, they wondered, would Executus and his minions overcome the knock-back-and-Pyroblast combo, or the stacking debuff, or the Submergence?
Spoiler alert: they couldn’t.
Not that they didn’t try. Executus very cleverly placed himself with his back towards his fire pit. When Rag knocked him back, he landed near his fire pit, then teleported Rag to the pit, preventing the firelord from casting Pyroblast. Unfortunately, that trick only worked once. Despite spell-reflecting shenanigans and a huge combined health pool, Team Executus failed to win the battle before Ragnaros submerged—and the mana burn aura of his Sons shredded Executus’ forces. By the time Rag surfaced once more, only the Majordomo remained, and he was already cooked enough to eat, albeit a bit on the rare side. But Ragnaros smashed Sulfuras into his underling anyway, just to be sure.
FINAL WINNER: RAGNAROS
Molten Bore had a lot of problems. The fights were, by modern standards, incredibly simplistic and, by any standards, mostly static. Only one fight had anything resembling an enrage mechanic, meaning your DPS players could be AFK, asleep at the wheel, or just bad, and there would be minimal impact on your success. The respawn timers on the trash, most notoriously the Ancient Core Hounds, were draconian. And there was a near-total lack of not just new models, but new *skins*.
The exception to all of that, of course, was Ragnaros himself. His was a new model and new art. He actually had a voice and lines and personality as opposed to the lootbags in his army (Majordomo also gets a pass here). His fight required movement, both choreographed and unplanned, and featured a soft enrage timer in the form of a second wave of adds. It wasn’t all good; he had a truly trollish ability that did nothing but take durability off of your weapon. And only in vanilla WoW could a raid boss turn a level 35 quest area into a world PvP hotspot, thanks to that wonderful thing called “resistance gear”. But in terms of delivering an epic bossfighting experience, Ragnaros is head and shoulders beyond anything else in the Snore.
COMING SOON: BLACKWING LAIR