Bugs are bound to be in a game as large as World of Warcraft, as it's hard to catch everything before patches go live. Bosses also aren't tested fully on the test realms to prevent guilds from figuring out all the mechanics early.
However, sometimes exploits make it through and guilds take the risk for prestige and higher ranking. These are the biggest ones:
6. Dragon Soul
- Offense: Abusing Looking For Raid to reset instances
- Ban: 8 days
This was relatively tame as far as boss exploits go, but it had repercussions for the world first race. During the Dragon Soul launch, Looking For Raid was introduced: a scaled down raid similar to the group finder that would allow players to queue up and be placed in a group together.
Unfortunately there were some bugs that also came along with the raid finder. Top guilds quickly figured out that zoning in and out of the instance would cause characters who should have been locked out from weekly loot to be eligible again.
In order to get a step up on the competition and try to get their raid an early start on tier gear, they soon took advantage of this loot loophole and completed the raid over and over for gear. Luck was not on their side however, since Blizzard frowned upon taking advantage of exploits that were clearly not intended through normal play. Members of high profile guilds such as Paragon and Method received eight day suspensions, putting them out of the running for the world first race.
- Offense: Abusing raid encounter bug
- Ban: 8 days
This one is still fresh, as it only just happened within the past week. Helya, the last boss in Trial of Valor, regularly breathes out on the raid. If a tank dies while she is casting her breath, the cast doesn't finish. This is a clever use of game mechanics, but isn't the actual exploit.
In the third phase, when Helya combines all the mechanics from the first two phases, some guilds found that if they had taken advantage of letting their tank die on a breath cast, Helya would simply cease to do any breaths at all in the third phase. While this didn't require any specific actions outside of normal gameplay on their part, it also was very clearly not intended to be part of the fight.
Three guilds used the bug to kill the boss: Exorsus, From Scratch, and Limit. To Limit's credit, they did notify Blizzard of the bug. Unfortunately, fearing for their rank and taking the chance that there would be no punishment, Limit still used the bug on their kill. Blizzard wiped the kills and achievements from all three guilds, and handed out eight day suspensions. The first two guilds to kill the boss, Method and Serenity, had done it without the bug and so remained unaffected.
- Offense: Intentionally glitching mobs into Evade
- Ban: 3 days
Yogg-Saron, the final boss of Ulduar, had several different hardmodes. There were several NPCs guilds could activate to help with the final fight, but the hardest mode, and the one that mattered, was no watchers: Alone in the Darkness. Exodus came out of nowhere in the world first race and managed to get the kill, but there were accusations flying around from other guilds, especially rival guild Ensidia. Which is hilarious considering their record wasn't exactly unmarred and their role in the next exploit.
Through quite a few clever game mechanics that make it entirely clear this was not an accident (though the first time may have been), Exodus managed to find a way to make the hardest adds on the fight evade, completely nullifying them. They received three day suspensions for the exploit. Exodus then claimed on their guild site that the fight was impossible to kill without the exploit, which was probably just an excuse considering the real world first kill came a week later.
3. Lich King
- Offense: Abusing saronite bomb bug to respawn platform
- Ban: 3 days
After Ensidia's accusations against Exodus, they went on to score the world first kill on 25-man Lich King. Until Blizzard announced a hotfix and removed Ensidia's kill and achievements. It shortly came out that they had taken advantage of a bug that nullified one of the hardest mechanics. Periodically throughout the fight, the Lich King would destroy the edge of the circular platform. The fight became more difficult the longer it went on as the space to move around became smaller, with Val'kyrs carrying players off the edge and the raid having to spread out for ground damage.
Somehow, the use of saronite bombs would actually rebuild the platform, allowing Ensidia to ignore this mechanic. Ensidia claimed that saronite bombs were a normal part of their Rogue's damage rotation and that they shouldn't have been penalized. However, the bombs were used at the edge of the platform. Players usually stood in the middle to provide more time when the Val'kyr picked them up, and tanking the Lich King at the edge meant unlucky players would instantly die if they were picked up. The use of the bombs in this area was suspect because it implies Ensidia knew exactly what they were doing. They received three day suspensions and remained unrepentant in a long-gone blog post about their actions.
- Offense: Using third-party program to walk through walls
- Ban: Permanent
When C'thun came out back in classic World of Warcraft, it was mathematically impossible to kill. After some pretty heavy nerfs by Blizzard, the world first kill finally came four months later. But it was by no means a cakewalk and the raid still took hours to clear. The guild Overrated, the top Horde guild at the time, was tired of having to take so long to re-clear through the raid just to get to C'thun. So they decided to take matters into their own hands and just go straight there...by hacking through the walls.
They downloaded a program that allowed them to manipulate the WoW game assets and used it a couple times to just walk straight from the entrance of the raid to C'thun's room. Understandably, Blizzard was not pleased and handed out permanent bans. Though Overrated considered it to be worth it.
1. Martin Fury
- Offense: Using a GM item to clear raid bosses
- Ban: Permanent for ring leader, 24 hours for every guild member
The one that ranks in the top spot wasn't a world first exploit. It wasn't even a boss exploit. It was a mere item, accidentally mailed to an unsuspecting character.
It was a shirt.
And it had permanent repercussions.
One day, player Leroyspeltz checked his mail after being hacked, noticing an item in it that he didn't recognize. It was an artifact quality shirt named "Martin Fury" mailed from a Game Master that had the text "Kills all enemies in a 30 yard radius. Cheater."
Leroyspeltz thought it was a joke and told his friend Karatechop. Thinking that there was no harm in using it, Karatechop equipped the shirt and they proceeded to test it out in their raid group, instantly killing the boss they were progressing on.
If they had stopped there, the controversy and repercussions over Martin Fury might never have happened.
Where they stepped over from "innocent players testing an anomaly" into "exploiting game mechanics" was when they reset the raid from the normal mode they were working on and instead went through the hard mode version. The guild used Martin Fury 14 times in Ulduar, Eye of Eternity, and Obsidian Sanctum, granting them first time kill achievements for bosses they had previously been unable to kill as well as hard mode achievements that had not yet been obtained by anyone on their server.
Blizzard quickly noticed, slapping 24 hour suspensions on every member of the guild who had been online during the kills, regardless of their personal involvement in the matter. For Karatechop, he received a permanent ban, likely for his role as the ringleader.
Moral of the story: don't use developer items for personal gain.
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