Dont Nerf Sapphiron

Curious where you obtained those statistics. It certainly wasn’t in WotLK. And raid composition data wasn’t recorded in 2006.

A lot of guilds in 2006 regularly broke 12-14 healers to Naxx. Thats how you did visc without poison sack cheese on alliance.

Buff him instead

They MIGHT use 15 healers to bypass the initial gear check until enough FR is farmed.

Sapphiron is the hardest raid wide gear check in the game. Which you can can help with some buffs and consumes. Naxxramas was designed to be a multi-week progression raid. Very little FR can be farmed in the game beyond random BoE greens.

I’m 99% sure none of the T3 has any frost resistance, the epic FR set is designed to aid in killing sapphiorn. To get those runes to craft you need to progress through naxxramas. Sapphiron only unlocked after all 4 wings cleared. Allowing the farming of approximately 1-2 pieces of crafted FR gear per raid member per week. This is why you also get locked when you take a rune from the wall, they are designed to be distributed at a certain pace. So even if you did somehow manage to kill the first 13 bosses week one in vanilla, you would hit a gear check before the final boss.

WotLK Naxx was tuned to be way easier than it ever was in Vanilla. People saying that Sapphiron will be a wall will be wrong just like everyone else who said anything in Classic would end up being a wall, but it will be among the “hardest” fights in Naxx if not THEE hardest.

Hey everybody!

We recently completed testing Naxxramas on the PTR. A big thank you goes out to everyone who helped us find bugs or exploits we could fix before release. We often get questions about how we decide what counts as a bug, and what’s worth changing, so I thought you might enjoy a deep dive into our investigation of Sapphiron’s Frost Aura.

  • TLDR for anyone who only wants to know the conclusion: We’re changing the spell to tick every 2 seconds consistently.

When Sapphiron is engaged, the entire raid is affected by a Frost Aura which reads: “Deals Frost Damage every second”, but many players reported that it should be every 2 seconds. Our first thought was, “that was the Wrath of the Lich King version,” but we know that in a game as complicated as WoW, there can be surprising and unexpected interactions, and a lot has changed over the last 15 years. When a current behavior doesn’t match players’ or developers’ memories, it always makes us a little suspicious. Sometimes it turns out our memories are wrong, but we’ve also seen it lead to the uncovering of an unexpected interaction, so, it’s usually worth a look, and that was certainly the case here.

We looked at many old videos, and though some were from the wrong expansion, we were able to find videos that showed the original fight. The videos actually had evidence of both tick rates within the same fight. The frost aura seemed to mostly tick every 2 seconds, but occasionally tick once per second for a bit, before returning to ticking every 2 seconds. We also checked in our reference server, and the behavior was the same as we saw in the videos: mostly 2 second ticks, but occasionally a brief streak of 1 second ticks, before returning to 2 second ticks.

Perhaps the most useful clue was this post from WoW game designer Daelo in 2009, in which he describes fixing Sapphiron’s Frost Aura so that it does “the damage that was seen previous to the 3.0.8 patch”:

"We just hotfixed Sapphiron's Frost Aura so it should do the damage that was seen previous to the 3.0.8 patch regardless of the size of the raid or your server's performance. This should be 1200 every 2 seconds in Normal, and 1600 every 2 seconds in Heroic. You'll notice that the Frost Aura debuff you have no longer has a duration that refreshes. The tooltip also incorrectly lists the damage as occurring every second. The tooltip error will be fixed the next time we make a client patch available."

This certainly suggests that it was doing damage every 2 seconds prior to the 3.0.8 patch, but this was a hotfix to the Wrath of the Lich King version of Naxxramas. We’ve already found other differences between the original and Wrath of the Lich King versions of Naxxramas, so while this post was helpful, it wasn’t enough to satisfy us on its own. It contained an important clue about the debuff duration refreshing, which led us to suspect the DoT refresh might be clipping the damage tick. In WoW Classic, when you refresh a DoT, it resets the timer on the periodic damage, and can cause you to miss ticks, and since the Frost Aura has a 5 second duration that gets reset throughout the fight. It was a good bet that the damage timer was getting reset then too. Of course, we already reproduced that behavior in WoW Classic, so that still didn’t explain the discrepancy between the two.

At that point, we dug further into the game code and found the difference in the way Sapphiron re-applies the Aura. In both reference and WoW Classic, the aura re-application was done as part of an Action Trigger which fires every 2 seconds. However, in the original code, action triggers share a timer with periodic spell ticks, and action triggers were always processed first. In modern code, they run on independent timers, so a long-running action script won’t delay a spell tick.

This meant that when Sapphiron re-applied the Frost Aura in reference, it was guaranteed to clip the damage tick that was about to happen, leading to every other tick getting skipped. In modern code, the damage tick and the reapplication are both scheduled to occur at the same time, but are controlled by two separate timers, so either one might happen first. It just so happens that in this encounter, the reapplication generally happens after the DoT tick on the same second, so that players got the full damage on every tick, instead of every other tick.

But this mystery isn’t solved yet. What about those occasional one second ticks we saw in the original videos and in the reference server. They were rare, but if the reference code is guaranteed to do the refresh before the damage tick, how were they ever ticking at once a second? It turns out that the Frost Aura application didn’t always succeed, and if it failed, the existing DoT happily ticked away doing damage once per second until the next refresh attempt 2 seconds later, like this:

Time (seconds) Event Damage
0 Aura #1 Applied 0
1 Aura #1 ticks 600
2 Aura #2 Applied (clips Aura #1) 0
3 Aura #2 ticks 600
4 Aura #3 fails (Aura #2 ticks) 600
5 Aura #2 ticks 600
6 Aura #4 Applied (clips Aura #2) 0
7 Aura #4 ticks 600

Since Sapphiron is 3 levels higher than the player, the spell can only miss 1% of the time, but that’s what explained the occasionally 1 second ticks we saw in the videos, and with our reference.

We also reached out to the original designer, who still works at Blizzard, on a different game team. After we described our findings, he agreed that the intended behavior was for the damage to be every second, and the fact that the reapplication of the aura was clipping a tick of the DoT was a bug that wasn’t noticed or fixed until Wrath of the Lich King.

So where do we go from here? We often must carefully consider a conflict between original intent and original behavior. There’s no one right answer in all cases, but for this case, the original behavior is the correct decision, and we plan to fix this in much the same way Daelo did in Wrath of the Lich King. In modern code, we have a way to reliably apply an aura that deals damage every 2 seconds as long as the boss is alive, and we’ll re-write this ability to use that method, just as Daelo did in Wrath of the Lich King.

While the behavior that led to it originally occurring every 2 seconds instead of every 1 second was a bug, it was consistent enough as to be indistinguishable from a text bug in the Aura description. Choosing to go with the original intent would result in almost twice as much damage as players experienced in 2006, so in the end that makes this decision pretty clear.

I hope you enjoyed that trip through our development process. See you in Azeroth!


Personally would much prefer for it to be one second. The encounter becomes more difficult to complete without farming naxx frost resistance gear prior when having dmg tick every 1 second. Changing it to tick every 2 seconds devalues the character progression that comes from creating a frost resistance set specifically for what could have been one of the pinnacle fights of classic. It will now be significantly less remarkable in my opinion. I was really looking forward to a fight where a raid had organize themselves to prepare for a non-typical raid boss.


Thank you for the extensive post, very interesting to see the process! Any word on the other behaviour that’s reportedly not matching up with original servers, where people frozen by Ice Bolt are still taking damage from the aura?


I love deep dives like this and really wish you guys would do them more often. Thank you!


That fight was reasonably difficult with a, +50% damage buff, +50% healing buff, 200 free frost resist and a 3,000 HP buff.

Almost no one would kill it on live like that.

1 Like

That big wall of text basically said you nerfed Sappherion. Shame =(


You’re showing that you didn’t actually read the post, because they’re changing the ability to work like how it did in the original version of Naxx. Good try though.


It’s not a nerf. The fight will play out exactly as it did in 2006.


Need more posts like this. Quite interesting to see the process and testing.


Yes it will. But rather than fix a bug that existed in 2006, they are formalizing it. Not the outcome I was hoping for.


Did you actually DO the fight on PTR? It was extremely challenging with the PTR uber buff giving bonus resist, health, and healing AND with healers chaining flasks. On live, it’d be borderline impossible if not impossible.


Yes it was difficult. But it wasn’t so difficult that pugs weren’t able to complete it within a 2 hour window. You are exaggerating the difficulty.

The fight would be much harder without the buff. Yes. But that’s the point of very strong frost resistance gear becoming available in Naxx. Its the point of frozen runes being a semi-limited farm. Preparing for the saph fight is supposed to and would have been a longer endeavor for most guilds. I still think many would have eventually killed saph, but it would have been on week 3 and not week 1.

1 Like

Thanks! I enjoy doing them, and I also wish I had enough time to do them more often! :slight_smile:


I’d love to have mythic Naxxramas, but if we’re randomly going to make Sapphiron literally do 100% more damage why don’t we retune the entire instance too?

Blizzard won’t do it though because they’re trying to recreate the 2006 version, not make mythic Naxxramas.

I don’t think you’re really understanding how huge the PTR buffs were, and the effect of every healer having a vendor nearby that sells flasks for 2g they can use as infinite mana potions.


Love seeing deep dives like this. This is another great one off instance to throw in Caverns of Time when you do TBC

  • pre nerf Cthun 1 boss instance
  • 1 second Sapphiron instance
  • and maybe hardcore death = delete servers (not in CoT obviously)