As we prepare for Mists of Pandaria, it's beneficial to look back and capture the good memories of raids past. After some hard thinking, I've compiled a list of the five Cataclysm raid encounters that were, in my opinion, the best and most memorable of the expansion. While it's difficult to get the same experience today, due to gear scaling and difficulty nerfs, these encounters represent examples of things that Blizzard got right and we'd like to see more of.
5. Halfus Wyrmbreaker, Bastion of Twilight
OK, so the trash clear wasn't the most entertaining experience ever, but this opening boss in Bastion of Twilight hit all the right notes. His companions rotated on a weekly basis, forcing your raid to adapt just a little bit every time, but not so much to significantly alter the encounter. The intense healing requirement at the beginning of the fight provided a good challenge for healers, the add swaps kept the tanks busy, and the enrage timer was well-tuned for DPS.
Most importantly, though, all of that stuff happened at an unusual time in the fight -- the beginning. Most typical raid encounters increase in difficulty late in the fight, leading to a tedious learning process where bored raiders sleepwalk through the learned early minutes before reaching a point where they can challenge themselves and learn. Not this encounter; the majority of the time, you were heading for a win or a wipe within the first minute.