Raids have been a major part of World of Warcraft since day one, with Onyxia’s Lair and Molten Core being the first two available. As patches and expansions have gone on, we’ve seen more added to the game, each one becoming more complex and grandiose.
With so many raids out now, how do we know which ones are great and memorable? We’ll be going over the top raids in World of Warcraft’s long history.
Let’s get started!
WoW Raids Ranked, Great to Greatest
We’ll start off with the #6 pick and move up to our #1 top pick for the best WoW raid of all time!
Battle for Dazar’alor (Battle for Azeroth)
I know, I know. Battle for Azeroth wasn’t the greatest expansion, what with its themes and design elements being all over the place. However, the Battle for Dazar’alor was the one exception to the rule.
This raid embodies the expansion’s core theme of faction conflict, with players partaking in a major military conflict from both sides. Each faction has a unique perspective — the Alliance spearheads the assault, and the Horde defends the capital.
While the fights are mechanically the same, the story does change. When the next set of bosses makes more sense from one faction’s perspective, your race will temporarily change to reflect the difference.
The Alliance witnesses firsthand why King Rastakhan remained in charge for so long with the backing of the death Loa Bwonsamdi. Meanwhile, the Horde finally gets a proper fight with High Tinkerer Mekkatorque and his barrage of deadly inventions (instead of randomly attacking him when he was stationed in Ironforge). They also must endure the wrath of the Daughter of the Sea in the final confrontation of the raid, as Jaina unleashes her full arcane knowledge upon her enemies.
The grand conflict clearly demonstrates the strength of both factions. With the vibrant, golden city of Dazar’alor serving as the backdrop, the whole raid truly feels like an epic battle as you cut down the opposing side’s troops. All this combined secures Battle for Dazar’alor a spot on our list of the best raids in WoW.
It took a while for Ragnaros to reappear after players managed to beat him back in the Molten Core. However, that time he was only partially summoned and not at his full strength. This time, you take the fight straight to his home in the Firelands.
The home realm of all fire elementals and beings certainly lives up to its name. With scorched land, smoky skies, and magma flowing everywhere, it feels like the realm itself is perpetually on fire. Perfect territory for an epic showdown with the elemental lord of fire himself. Killing him in his home plane will permanently end him and his plans to burn your world to ash.
Of course, you naturally have to slay every last one of his subjects and commanders if you want an audience with him. Just your typical elemental lord greeting.
Players are faced with deadly foes like the Matriarch of Cinderweb Spiders, the green-dragon-turned-fire-hawk Alysrazor, and the traitorous former archdruid Fandral Staghelm.
While Ragnaros was already incredibly deadly in the Molten Core, he’s brimming with his full power in the Firelands. Players are faced with waves of lava, explosive traps, and minions prepared to lay down their lives to empower Ragnaros’ hammer. Ragnaros even stands up out of his lava pool (proving that he does indeed have legs) to crush you. Thankfully, with the help of the archdruids of the Cenarion Circle, you may manage to snuff out his flame for good.
With iconic loot like an updated version of Sulfuras (Ragnaros’ hammer) and the legendary mage-exclusive staff Dragonwrath, players vividly recall Firelands as one of the best raids in WoW.
Throne of Thunder (Mists of Pandaria)
It’s hard to think of any raid more beloved in MoP than Throne of Thunder. While the mogu may have always felt like second-tier villains during the expansion, Lei Shen’s palace was definitely first place in players’ minds.
The raid boasts three major sections. Players fight the Zandalari trolls vying for the Thunder King’s favor, the various beasts and abominations dwelling beneath the palace, and Lei Shen’s personal forces. It’s a scramble to keep up with the onslaught of mechanics in each fight, but you’ll steadily inch closer with every phase completed. Eventually, you’ll face off with the Thunder King himself, and boy, does he live up to his name. Conduits surge with his power, and the dance to survive his storm is hectic (but satisfying, if you can pull it off).
Though players didn’t know it at the time, multiple aspects of the raid teased at future plot points. There’s the return of the Zandalari, the mogu’s use of anima as a life essence, and even the raid’s secret boss.
Anyone who braves the raid on Heroic mode knows Lei Shen isn’t the true final boss. Under the halls, a former titan keeper has been enslaved and tormented for who knows how long. Ra-den, the Keeper of Storms, has gone mad from his captivity. Players have no information on his abilities, and the fight is completely based on trial and error with limited attempts. At the time, top guilds raced to claim the prestige of figuring out the fight while other players struggled to push through the vicious warlord’s domain, relishing the challenges and loot found along the way.
While Lei Shen’s reign didn’t last, the Throne of Thunder’s existence continues to echo as one of the best raids in WoW to this day.
Karazhan (Burning Crusade)
Few places in Azeroth teem with as much magical power as the domain of the former Guardian of Tirisfal. Constructed upon the intersection of multiple ley-lines, Medivh housed countless artifacts and tomes in the tower known as Karazhan.
Originally meant to store knowledge in defense of Azeroth, Karazhan’s noble purpose was abandoned when Medivh went mad and turned against the world he was meant to protect. The magic within, however, remained potent as ever. That much concentrated magical energy was like a beacon through the cosmos, and eventually drew unwanted attention to the tower. We’re called to prevent its power from being taken, leading to one of the first and best raids in Burning Crusade.
As much a home as a sanctum of knowledge, Karazhan is teeming with the spirits of attendants and guests alike. Fancy dinner parties and social gatherings litter the lower floors, while the upper floors overflow with libraries of books and research notes.
Such a massive tower naturally comes with a diverse selection of fights. There are some famous fan favorites — the Opera event (where you square off against a selection of fairy tales), the Shade of Aran (the pinnacle of a boss mage), and the Chess event (where players control various pieces in an effort to kill the enemy king).
With such a selection of bosses and an incredibly unique environment that feels like a town and dungeon mixed into one, it’s no wonder that Karazhan made it onto our list of the best raids in WoW.
Ice Crown Citadel (Wrath of the Lich King)
The campaign of Wrath of the Lich King spans months in Northrend just to eke out a foothold in Icecrown and take the fight to the Lich King. The greatest champions of the Alliance and the Horde, the knights of the Ebon Hold, and the paladins of the Argent Crusade combined weren’t enough to guarantee victory, but players were determined to succeed and save their world from undeath.
Halls made from saronite — solidified old god blood — loom over you as the wails of the damned echo in your ears. The mightiest champions of the Scourge block your path, but you’ll press on. You’ll slay the Lich King’s chief alchemist and his mad, lumbering creations, and the ancient blood queen vampire and her cohort of princes. You’ll release the spirit of the ancient blue dragon queen, trapped as a personal skeletal wyrm. Finally, you’ll face the Lich King himself.
The battle against him is relentless. The icy winds of Northrend themselves come to his aid, his Valkyries harry you from above, the undead try to devour your bones, and the soul-rending blows from Frostmourne threaten to shatter you.
Inevitably you’ll be slain and raised to serve the Lich King in undeath as the living send forth their strongest. Only a miracle will allow Tirion Fordring to shatter Frostmourne and release the player spirits trapped inside.
When Arthas the Lich King is slain top of Ice Crown Citadel, it marks a victory that echoes throughout players’ minds to this day. It’s the end of a grueling campaign against death itself, cementing Ice Crown Citadel as one of the best raids in WoW to this day.
Ulduar (Wrath of the Lich King)
Few will ever forget their first trek through Ulduar. The massive titan facility was one of Blizzard’s most ambitious raids, featuring massive lore reveals, unique hard mode variants of most fights, and a glimpse at the true cosmic scale that the WoW universe was based on.
Right out of the gate, Ulduar breaks convention by having the first fight center completely around piloting siege vehicles to take down the massive Flame Leviathan. Players can choose to leave its empowerment towers up to make for a harder fight and better loot — a trend that continues with most of the later boss fights as well.
From this point onward, the raid switches back to the usual on-foot fights, but continues to give players flexibility by letting you choose between diving deeper into the facility or securing side chambers by taking on optional bosses. You might “dance” Ignis in and out of the pools of water to shatter his armor, tear Razorscale out of the air to try and pin her to the ground, or feel the satisfaction of finally silencing XT-002’s annoying playtime voice.
You’ll press on and subdue the four titan keepers that have gone mad from Yogg-Saron’s whispers. Their fights are defined by frost, lightning, nature, and mechanical elements. With their aid, you can finally put down the old god lurking deeper within.
Yogg-Saron tests your might and sanity. His whispers assaults your mind in an attempt to drive you mad and pit you against your allies. It’s as much a fight against madness as against death. You’ll see pivotal moments in WoW’s history, but you must refuse his temptation and kill the festering monster for good.
Yogg-Saron isn’t the final threat, though. Those who conquer the raid across all its hard mode challenges receive one last quest — unlock the observatory and stop the herald.
Algalon the Observer had noticed the signs of corruption in the world. He had seen the old gods’ presence and deemed the world in need of re-origination. Of a restart. Players see things differently.
The battle gives you a glimpse of how small you are in the universe. Algalon wields the power of the stars themselves, tearing black holes to devour you and making it clear that you’re outmatched. Only your will to live pushes you to survive against all odds and fight for a better tomorrow.
Ulduar brought the past to bear once more, showing players what truly infested the world and revealing a glimmer of the future challenges you’d confront out in the stars. It offered challenges for those who sought more and rewarded them in kind. The last raid before heroic mode became standard, before the game changed to be more cross-server. It was a worthy send off and earns Ulduar our number one spot for best raids in WoW.
Join the High Ground
That’s it for our guide on the best raids in WoW! If you think another raid deserves to be on this list, please feel free to leave a comment below. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to keep up with the latest gaming articles and guides!