WoW - Raiding Ruminations 8 Comments

Serpentshrine Cavern: the best raid ever

For some reason game blog folks have been talking lately about their favorite WoW raids, past and present. (See Klep and Doone, for example.) While “best raid” is a pretty subjective title, and one (as Klep points out) that is probably heavily swayed by one’s guild at the time, there are a few names that always seem to pop up in these lists.

Karazhan is a huge fan favorite, and with good reason. While the change from 40-mans in Vanilla to 10-mans in Karazhan to 25-mans everywhere else in TBC was kind of a pain in the butt as a guild leader, the instance itself was beautiful, sprawling, and had some mechanics we had never seen before like the random Opera House boss.

Ulduar is another raid zone that comes up often in these conversations. Again it’s huge and thematically very interesting. The bosses were memorable (“In the mountains!”) and the hard modes in Ulduar were probably the best Blizzard has ever done, both in technique and integration. Also, Firefighter, a.k.a. Mimiron hard mode, remains one of the most fun fights ever in WoW raid history.

I come to you today, though, to talk about a raid instance that doesn’t come up very often in “best raid” lists, and yet is the nearest and dearest to my heart: Serpentshrine Cavern.


Certainly a great deal of the joy I experienced in SSC was a product of my guild. We had a great group, many of whom I still talk to and play with today. (And if you are reading this and we haven’t talked lately, say hello!) Our guild had some amazing in-jokes from SSC, like warning people about the “veranda hole” outside Leo’s cavern that newbies always fell through, or everyone popping their sprint abilities to be the first one to activate the bridge to Vashj.

However even beyond the awesome people I was there with, the bosses themselves were also really fun. The Lurker Below had to be fished up to start the encounter, and diving underwater to avoid spout was pretty unique at the time. Hydross had lots of running around to stay on the right side of debuffs, and Karathress was one of those crazy council-style fights with a ton of bosses and tank assignments. Morogrim (who we called Karl for some reason) had a giant ship wheel as a belt buckle which inspired a million “Arr, it’s drivin’ me nuts” jokes, and Leo not only allowed for a warlock tank but also had the potential to let us kill mind controlled guildies.

(We had an enhancement shaman named Doomikov, and everyone knew that if you didn’t kill your shadow and got mind controlled the last thing you would see was Doom’s giant mace.)

And then there was Vashj herself. While Kael’thas in Tempest Keep actually took us much longer to learn, I think Vashj was probably the more complicated fight. Everyone in the raid had to be assigned an area. While killing adds we tossed “cores” around like a basketball, trying to position someone to dunk it. In the middle, a couple of kiters ran around in circles, tossing nets and stuns and being followed by gigantic fen creatures. And then once you did THAT, you still had a DPS race phase where people would avoid standing in green stuff and get horrible debuffs.

Vashj in her day was a crazy, crazy, crazy fight, and killing her the first time was satisfying in a way that probably no other boss aside from Kael would ever match.

SSC had everything I liked in a raid zone — difficult and interesting encounters, killer elevators, and good friends.

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  • Reply
    November 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I definitely have a soft spot for SSC myself. I don’t recall being overly fond of most of the bosses to be honest, but Vashj was just crazy awesome fun. (Everyone got their tainted core macro sorted?!)

    It was also a really atmospheric place; it actually felt like the naga had been working there, not just a random cave for the bosses to sit in if that makes sense.

    Finally, it led to one of the most awesome raid videos I’ve ever seen, which was Indomitable of Zul’jin (US) vs. SSC, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available online anymore. It was just amazing. /woe
    Shintar´s last post: Too Many Goodies!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      @Shintar: I found the movie easily on, but you need a membership to watch it. I happen to have one I need to download it before I can give you a link.
      Doone´s last post: The NBI Continues

  • Reply
    November 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    And an elevator boss SO LONG if you hit levitate at the top you’d still die.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    My memories of SSC are average, but its not really cut and dry. I enjoyed that raid very much, especially the Leotheras fight. Lurker was also a favorite. Something about the rest of SSC is completely unmemorable to me.
    Doone´s last post: The NBI Continues

  • Reply
    November 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    No raid is complete without a Killer Elevator Boss.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Oh, Vashj is still my favourite encounter from BC. At the time I played my Warlock, and was responsible for kiting the Striders round the circle. When we finally beat her I was so, so pleased! I still look at the screenpic I took with pride.

    Ulduar was great fun, too. I could not believe it when Blizz opened ToC. I thought – they have just killed the best raid instance in Wrath! Why?! Algalon was such a memorable fight. I couldn’t believe just how hard he hit our tank, and Firefighter was epic. So happy that we beat both of those before they were obsolete.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I really liked the raid design, but during that expansion I was in a raiding guild doing BT/Hyjal and then Sunwell who kept having to run players (poached from SSC/TK guilds) through in order to get their vials. I was just a grunt (who had to get run through to get vials as well), but the guild politics of that time were pretty brutal.

    Amazing raid design, though. Ulduar still holds first place, though – raiding with the Cats for the first time can’t be beat.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2013 at 2:48 am

    This Raid has been an awesome highlight of my tanking career. Many hours spent inside learning the ins and outs. Coming out with some pretty sombre moments where nothing was gained, but also many moments where we have been VICTORIOUS!! Dropping Leo for the first time was Epic!! That fight had been a bitch for many nights and with Vent Chat in full scream .. It was definitely one to remember!!
    Lurker was just cool. Once we had downed him a few times, he became txt book material. Tidewalker wasn’t too hard .. just gets a little tricky when it comes time to turn him.
    Vashj …. hmm I don’t remember too much but we did kill that sucker a few times!
    SSC/Tk were cool Raids …

    Geez talking and reading all this doesn’t help lol!! I want to play again!!

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