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WoW Archivist: Patch 2.0.3 -- The first pre-expansion event

Players zerg the Dark Portal
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Released on Jan. 7, 2007, patch 2.0.3 set the stage for WoW's very first expansion. One week later, The Burning Crusade officially went live. During that week, Blizzard unveiled the game's first pre-expansion event, known as The Dark Portal Opens (or Highlord Kruul Unleashed in Europe).

While perhaps not as ambitious as later in-game events, the Dark Portal offered some memorable moments -- and some valuable lessons for the game's developers. Let's take a look back!

Here's the official description, courtesy of Wowwiki:

Azeroth is under attack! Horrific creatures are swarming from a suddenly active Dark Portal and have rampaged into the Blasted Lands. Defenders from Nethergarde Keep have scrambled to meet the enemy head-on. However, even with the assistance of reinforcements from the ever-vigilant Argent Dawn, the forces of Azeroth need your help! Not much is known of the invasion at this early stage, but early reports from the battlefront describe wave after wave of demonic attackers charging from the Dark Portal. It is also reported that Lord Kazzak was seen departing through the Dark Portal. In his stead he has left his minion, Highlord Kruul, to sow fear and confusion among the defenders. Accompanied by a host of infernals, Kruul has been seen near a number of major cities in Azeroth, along with the following outdoor areas:

  • Hinterlands
  • Eastern Plaguelands
  • Winterspring
  • Stranglethorn Vale
  • Azshara
  • Silithus
  • Searing Gorge

Not even the elite forces of the Argent Dawn have dared attack Kruul directly. Only a large and well-coordinated group of adventurers might stand a chance of defeating him.

The Dark Portal is zerg-AOEed

During this event, Burning Legion demons rushed out of the portal in the Blasted Lands and clashed with Argent Dawn warriors. The event featured a single quest called Into the Breach (not to be confused with the later quest of the same name in Grizzly Hills). The objective was to kill six of the invading demons. Sounds easy, right? A felguard from the Dark Portal

Well, here was the problem: Everyone on your realm wanted to get this quest done, and the portal was the only place to do it. During the event, hundreds of players camped out by the portal hoping for their chance to complete the quest. The first person or group to tag each demon would get credit. Everyone else had to keep trying until they managed to get their six. Thus, the demons were absolutely shredded to pieces by players and NPCs the second they spawned. They had no chance at all. I actually started to feel sorry for them.

Back then, only mages and warlocks had any kind of reliable, spammable AoE. And oh, how they spammed it ... Some players figured out that by continuously AoEing the portal, they could grief everyone else who was trying to complete the quest. Angry /yells, like the one in the pic above, demanded that people stop this behavior. Blizzard's forums were flooded with complaints about how difficult it was to complete the quest. In reality, all it took was a bit of persistence, but the AoE spam did make it very frustrating at times.

The reward from the quest was a special tabard called Tabard of the Protector -- and 90 silver! By using the equipped tabard, your character would create a sparkly display to show off your demon-tagging prowess. It was a nifty reward for its time and now is perhaps even more so, given how rare these tabards must be today. They could only be obtained during that one week. A feat of strength has been rewarded for completing the quest.

Showing off the tabard
Kruul the Briefly Available

The event also featured a world boss named Highlord Kruul (not to be confused with Gruul). Kruul replaced the vanilla world boss Lord Kazzak and shared the same loot table, but he was only available during this event. The big difference between vanilla Kazzak and Kruul was that Kruul enraged after one minute rather than three, making him much more difficult. Kazzak later showed up in a doom-enhanced form in Hellfire Peninsula.

Kruul, like Kazzak, would heal for a large amount whenever he killed a player. Realizing this, players kited him to populous cities where he would be virtually unstoppable from all the healing he received. Chaos would ensue.

Lessons learned

As a result of the portal event, Blizzard learned not to concentrate a big event in one location. They have also provided multiple quests in later events, so not everyone is trying to do the same thing at the same time. Tough mobs that everyone needs to defeat, such as Zalazane during Cataclysm's event, were "untaggable" -- anyone who hit them got credit. They were also located in phased areas so players couldn't grief others trying to complete the quest. These improvements have made later events much less frustrating for players.

It will be interesting to see how these lessons from long ago have carried over into the upcoming Mists of Pandaria event, the Attack on Theramore Isle.

WoW Archivist Patch 203  The first preexpansion event
The patch

The patch included the usual class changes, bug fixes, item tweaks, etc. Rogues and druids in particular received a substantial overhaul. Their talent points were refunded as a result.

An interesting feature of the patch was that items with powerful procs/on-use effects such as the Gnomish Mind Control Cap, Icy Chill enchant, and Tidal Charm trinket would no longer work effectively on players/NPCs above level 60. Many players at first assumed these adjustments were a bug, and there was quite an outcry when Blizzard revealed that the changes were intentional.

Engineering was hardest hit by the changes, since many of its on-use items were never updated for level 70. Of course, if Blizzard hadn't made the changes, these items would always be relevant, even at level 90. Whether that's a good or bad thing is all a matter of perspective, but I happen to agree with Blizzard here.

Click through to the next page to see the full patch notes.


After months of surveying, WoW Archivist has been dug back up! Discover lore and artifacts of WoW's past, including the Corrupted Blood plague, the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and the mysterious Emerald Dream.

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