View of the top of the Tomb of Sargeras in WoW
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Top 10 Hardest World of Warcraft Raid Bosses Ranked

Which raid bosses in Retail World of Warcraft presented the biggest challenges to raiders? Here's our list.

After nearly two decades of World of Warcraft, there are a few raid bosses that stand out as the hardest to beat. Although raid mechanics have changed dramatically over that time, consistently increasing the challenge of taking on these uber enemies, player skill levels have grown, too.

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That makes ranking the most difficult raid bosses in WoW a tall task. That means I’ve been forced to make some tough decisions. Because mechanics have become more intricate over the years, you won’t see many old raid bosses included on this list of the game’s hardest.

Ranking the 10 Most Difficult Raid Bosses in World of Warcraft

10: C’Thun — Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (Classic)

C'thun in Retail WoW Temple of Ahn'Qiraj
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Looking back now, C’Thun doesn’t seem like a hard raid boss, but he deserves a spot on this list as at least an honorable mention — and to showcase how much raid mechanics have changed to this point. During Classic, C’Thun required a 40-person raid party, and you had to coordinate positioning and timing to deal with multiple phases, one of which included entering C’Thun’s stomach.

Unfortunately, the number of attempts needed to get the world first kill aren’t available given how long ago it happened. We know that he wasn’t killed for 113 days after being released, though. However, at the time, abilities like C’Thun’s eyebeam were devastating for a raid. Plus, having to organize 40 schedules to play at the same time was its own feat.

9: Blackhand — Blackrock Foundry (Warlords of Draenor)

It took players 325 attempts to get the world first kill on Blackhand, showing how difficult he was to beat when he was released. I went through Blackrock Foundry after WoD, and Blackhand was still a little tricky with a party beyond the WoD max level. The tough part? His phase shift — with the second phase starting with a literal explosion. Oof.

Beyond that, Blackhand summons Siegemakers every 50 seconds. Another oof. Admittedly, the first phase was rather smooth except for the Marked for Death debuff, but that second phase is where things get real. Fast.

8: Jaina Proudmoore — Battle of Dazar’Alor (Battle for Azeroth)

Jaina’s first world kill came at 346 attempts. The main culprit was her Chilling Touch debuff, which reduces movement speed by 2% and inflicts 185 Frost Damage every second. The real problem is that these effects stack up to 20 times, at which point the player is frozen. Since all of her Frost Spells inflict Chilling Touch, it’s easy to gather stacks and end up an ice cube.

The stacking damage also means healers need to work harder. On top of that, the reduced movement speed makes it harder to dodge attacks, so you gather stacks easier. The mechanics are otherwise manageable, but Chilling Touch was the biggest — most frustrating — hurdle to defeating Jaina in BfA.

7: Queen Azshara — The Eternal Palace (Battle for Azeroth)

Another hard raid boss from BfA, it took players 359 attempts before getting the world first kill on Queen Azshara. That’s mainly because Azshara’s mechanics revolve around her line of sight, meaning raiders needed to be aware of their positions at all times and be constantly moving.

That also meant that casters like me had a terrible time with the fight because the constant movement to avoid dying takes away your chance to deal damage. Going back now, it feels easy on a max level character. But when Azshara was released, she was an absolute nightmare, especially for casters.

6: Fallen Avatar — Tomb of Sargeras (Legion)

Fallen Avatar in WoW Tomb of Sargeras
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It took 453 attempts to get the world first kill on Fallen Avatar, the second to last boss of Tomb of Sargeras. He breaks a pattern on this list by not being a final boss. However, the RNG elements at the core of this battle are what made him difficult at release.

Between the general inconsistency of his moves and debuffs like Dark Mark, which could wipe out three random raiders if they were squishy and lead to a full wipe, Fallen Avatar was no raid boss to laugh at. The challenge wasn’t the mechanics themselves, but it was instead not being able to anticipate which mechanic would come next or who would get hit.

5: Archimonde — Hellfire Citadel (Warlords of Draenor)

There are two raids with Archimonde as a boss, but I’m specifically looking at his WoD fight here. This version of Archimonde took 472 attempts to finally bring down for a world first kill. What sets this Archimonde battle apart from the other is the heightened focus on positioning, the enemy spirit that spawns, and some RNG on painful abilities like Doomfire.

And Doomfire really sucks. It chose a player at random to hit before switching to another player. It stays active through the rest of the fight, and the Doomfire Spirits that Archimonde spawns add more Doomfires. So, that alone could lead to a wipe if the spirits aren’t prioritized. And each extra Doomfire puts more strain on the healers. I shudder just thinking about it.

4: Yogg-Saron — Ulduar (Wrath of the Lich King)

Here, we’re looking at the Alone in the Darkness version of the Yogg-Saron fight, where you defeat him without help from the Keepers in Ulduar. The rub is that you don’t get the following buffs from the Keepers, making this fight much harder than it ought to be:

  • +40% Damage Dealt (All Keepers Active).
  • +20% Healing (Freya).
  • +20% Movement Speed (Mimiron).
  • -20% Damage Taken (Hodir).
  • +20% Total Health (Thorim).

You also don’t have Hodir’s Protective Gaze, which revives you on your first death. Additionally, there’s no way to restore Sanity in this version, meaning you need to avoid losing your Sanity at all costs. That doesn’t even cover all the difficulties thrown at a raid during Alone in the Darkness, but it’s enough to show why it took over 500 attempts to get a world first kill on Yogg-Saron.

3: Garrosh Hellscream — The Siege of Orgrimmar (Mists of Pandaria)

You start off with a lot of adds joining the fight. Then, you get teleported to a different realm and have to stop Garrosh from absorbing energy. After that, Garrosh heals back to full, and when he’s low health again, his Sha Corrupted abilities get stronger. He has a mind control ability, which is never fun to deal with during a boss fight, and you need to burn down the controlled players to break the ability. But while there’s a lot going on across four phases, the real killer of this fight is the length. 

I was in a raiding guild in WoW’s earlier years, and it was a bit of a time commitment. But to have a boss fight that took over 10 minutes to clear even on successful runs certainly felt like a marathon when you had to be at the top of your game and adjust to the mechanics of each phase that entire time. Between the barrage of mechanics and length of his fight, no wonder it took 638 attempts to get a world first kill of Garrosh.

2: Kil’Jaeden — Tomb of Sargeras (Legion)

Kil'Jaeden in WoW Tomb of Sargeras
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It took 654 attempts to bring Kil’Jaeden down, and part of that was because the fight was essentially impossible when he was released. Healers simply couldn’t keep up with the damage that he rained down on raids. Even after he was debuffed, the cone of damage from his melee attacks with Felclaws activated could one-shot squishy players.

Soaking Armageddon and positioning to avoid being flung off the platform weren’t fun either, and that was all during the first phase alone. Although, the difficulty of this fight is fitting given the lore behind Kil’Jaeden, who led the Burning Legion for thousands of years.

1: Uu’nat — Crucible of Storms (Battle for Azeroth)

Uu’nat took a record 731 attempts before he fell for a world first kill. The difficulty came from the main ability that made Mythic Uu’nat different from Normal and Heroic versions of the fight: Unstable Resonance. This ability is present through the entire fight, marking 12 non-tank members of the raid party with one of the three versions of this debuff: Storm, Ocean, and Void.

Once the debuff times out, an explosion nearly kills any players within 10 yards of the afflicted player, meaning that healers need to be ready to pump out raid-wide healing if there’s any improper positioning. But this explosion also happens if an afflicted player gets too close to a player with a different type of Unstable Resonance on them. The movement to reach Relics of Power and remove the Resonance before it times out required a lot of coordination and communication to pull off.

And that covers the hardest raid bosses in World of Warcraft Retail, ranked. Mechanics have changed a lot of the years, and it’s been fascinating (and frustrating) to see what Blizzard throws into each fight. For more content, visit our WoW guides hub for topics like a list of all the expansions ranked from worst to best.

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Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.