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WoW ClassicJan 17, 2023 4:00 pm CT

Everything in Wrath of the Lich King Classic’s five content phases

Wrath of the Lich King Classic logo

Like WoW Classic and Burning Crusade Classic before it, Wrath of the Lich King Classic starts at a late patch (3.3.5) in terms of balance and class changes, but game content will roll out over the course of five phases, as well as a prepatch interval I’m terming “phase zero.” It mimics the original game release to an extent, but there will be some items whose availability will be unlocked as well over the course of the phases.

Wrath Classic is now live, with Phase 2 launching on January 17. We still don’t know exactly when its subsequent phases will launch, but we can still talk about what they include. So let’s take a look at each of Wrath Classic’s phases, and when everything will kick off.

Wrath Classic prepatch

  • A 3-week Scourge invasion event
  • Players can make Death Knights, with no requirement to have a preexisting level 55 character.

When the prepatch launches on August 30, the Fresh Start realms will go live. Players can start their adventures on these servers, and players on all servers can create their first Death Knight. Unlike the original Wrath, in Wrath Classic you’ll be able to level your Death Knight, and even deck them out in Sunwell gear, before the first boat to Northrend departs. You can also go train the new Inscription profession.

From September 6–13 players will experience the Zombie Plague Event. A mysterious affliction begins to make its way through the capital cities. Players must be vigilant to avoid falling victim to its deadly effects.

From September 13 – launch, players will battle in the Scourge Invasion Event. In several locations throughout Azeroth, players must coordinate a defensive stand against the attacking Necropolis and defeat Scourge forces to gain powerful rewards. A Wrath Classic launch wouldn’t feel right without the Scourge invasion.

On September 26, Wrath of the Lich King Classic launched at 3:00 p.m. PDT.

Phase 1

  • Naxxramas
  • Obsidian Sanctum
  • Eye of Eternity
  • Vault of Archavon

Naxxramas, The Eye of Eternity, and The Obsidian Sanctum became available at 3:00 p.m. PDT on October 6.

Raids at this point in World of Warcraft’s history had two modes: 10-man and 25-man. 25-mans were considered the harder mode and dropped better loot. Obsidian Sanctum featured an iteration of Hard Mode which would come to feature many times through the expansion. A Hard Mode was another way to do the encounter which bumped up the difficulty, but yielded better loot.

Sartharion was the lone boss of Obsidian Sanctum, but there were also 3 minibosses. Raids had the option to kill the minibosses before engaging Saratharion. Any of the minibosses your raid left alive would join the fight. The more drake minibosses, the harder the fight was. Sarth 0D meant you killed all the drakes. Sarth 3D meant you engaged all four bosses at once.

The world PVP event Wintergrasp gates access to the Vault of Archavon raid. This presents its own challenges as some servers have extemely unbalanced populations. According to lead developer Brian Birmingham, the team is aware of the issue, but isn’t ready to discuss any solutions as of yet.

Phase 2

  • Ulduar
  • Titan Rune dungeons
  • Argent Tournament

Ulduar was such an amazing experience from the architecture, to the voice acting, to the incredibly fun encounters. Many of the fights had Hard Modes, and there was a special extra boss called Algalon that only allowed you a specific number of pulls per lockout. (If anyone at Blizzard HQ reads this, please give Ulduar more time than it got in the original Wrath of the Lich King. Trial of the Crusader came out too soon and many guilds didn’t get as much time in Ulduar as they would have liked.)

We’ll also be getting the Argent Tournament in advance of Trial of the Crusader in Phase 3. This is a daily hub with lots of rep grinding and its own storyline to boot — but is jousting fun and engaging or another repetitive grind? Only Phase 2 will tell.

Phase 2 is now live.

Phase 3

  • Trial of the Crusader
  • Trial of the Champion
  • Argent Tournament

With Trial of the Crusader, Blizzard dropped the Hard Mode design in favor of a simple difficulty toggle. Each raid had a Normal and Heroic difficulty. The raid size division remained which meant you now had four different version of TotC you could run: 10-man Normal, 10-man Heroic, 25-man Normal, and 25-man Heroic. Each mode dropped progressively higher ilevel gear. Progression raiders were running it four times a week, once on each difficulty, chasing tier bonuses, weapons and trinkets.

TotC had little trash and shared a map — if you can call a single room a map — with a 5-man dungeon, Trial of the Champion. The whole raid got old really fast.

Phase 4

  • Icecrown Citadel
  • Frozen Halls dungeons: Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection

The first time I stepped into Icecrown was amazing. This was the moment the Warcraft universe had been building up to since Arthas took up the Frostmourne. Suffer, mortals, as your pathetic magic betraaays you!

This phase will also feature the three dungeons of the Frozen Halls as the Argent Crusade brings the fight to the Lich King himself. Each wing was memorable, but Halls of Reflection was particularly notable as a dungeon where you don’t necessarily defeat the final boss — you’re just trying to make it out alive.

Phase 5

  • Ruby Sanctum

There was no mention of the Ruby Sanctum, a one-boss raid added near the end of Wrath of the Lich King but I expect it would either be in the same phase as Icecrown or in a separate phase later.

How long will each phase last?

So how long will these phases last? Lead Developer Brian Birmingham, in an interview with Josh Corbett of the Countdown to Classic Podcast said the pre-patch will “no less than two [weeks], and no more than six.” Brian gave the impression that Phase 1 might be a little on the short side. More players did Naxxramas in WoW Classic than the original incarnation in 2006, and many players are understandably excited about getting into Ulduar.

Still, a schedule for all the phases has not yet been revealed, so keep checking back with Blizzard Watch!

Originally published April 25, 2022. Last updated April 2, 2024.

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