Rare Elites in Zaralek Caverns and Forbidden Reach

We’ve been closely reading your feedback about the recent changes to rare elite creatures in Zaralek Caverns and Forbidden Reach. A number of you have asked why we made this change, so we want to give some more explanation. We can also share a bit about what might happen next.


(We’ll use Zaralek Caverns as the example for this explanation, but all points also apply to Forbidden Reach.)

As shown above, the Zaralek Caverns map regularly displayed 12-15 rare elite enemies available to kill at any given time. This was not an occasional jackpot moment. It was the default state of the zone for most players who came along. Because of this, we regularly saw players who might want to take down those rare elites, but they and other players were scattered around the zone. Due to the sheer number of different spawn points, players simply wouldn’t come across other players who were looking to fight the same rare, even in Group Finder. Yesterday’s hotfix was a step that we’re taking to focus attention on fewer rares at a time and encourage the glorious murderballs that we all know and love.

We’ve absolutely heard your feedback that this feels like a quality-of-life reduction, particularly if you’re hunting specific rare elites for rare cosmetic drops. We’re considering a couple of additional changes to address this:

  • We recently found an issue that was causing zones like Zaralek Caverns to be underpopulated. We’re working on a hotfix for that, and once we’ve deployed the fix, you should start seeing more players and have an easier time finding others to group with.
  • We’re planning to adjust the droprates of some rare cosmetics that come from these creatures. More details on that should be coming soon.

Thanks as always for your feedback; keep it coming!


Thank you for providing the reasoning, it is greatly appreciated. While I still don’t understand why it was implemented this late, and randomly. Nor Do I agree that it will have the effect you are hoping it will have.

A follow up question I have, is can the hot-fix also be expanded to reduce the health pools and the damage caused by these rares so they can be solo’d instead of hoping you can still find a potential group?

Edit: Don’t get me wrong. I believe this change should be reverted, and the hotfix that should be applied should be my follow up question. Not this “They despawn, Good luck. Hope you like camping” hotfix that was applied. If the zone is dead, as you stated above, wouldn’t the better fix to be allowing the random people who do come down to the zone the ability to actually fight these rares? On my server right now, there are 3 rares up, and absolutely nobody is engaging them. Nobody is huddling around them waiting and hoping either.


Nerf the health. Make them soloable-scaled to how many players engage. Thats what we’ve been asking for from the very start.

This wouldn’t need to be a thing if the above suggestion was what you did.

While I appreciate you’re giving us a reason, murder balls are not always what people want. Some people on dead realms stay on dead realms for the specific purpose to not be bothered by having to join a group to do things, they are content going at it alone.

This also does not address content specific to the Caverns such a particular achievement requiring the killing of these rares while in a crab form for a toy as seen as a concern in this wowhead comment on the article that highlighted the change:


I would like to further address that the very first initial change that was made to Z. Caves RIGHT after it was released to live servers is what did the zone as a whole in and killed it. If you want to know what the issue was that made the zone underpopulated, that was the nail in the coffin.

We’ve been saying it for months with no response. Only after that hotfix yesterday when the scores of backlash finally weighed down have we gotten a response. We still don’t know the true purpose of the caverns that was the apparent reason for the very first change to these special encounters.


The obvious questions seems to be: Why make a change at all if you have found a separate issue causing the zone to be underpopulated. Why not fix that issue first and see if the problem naturally resolves itself? I dont quite understand how the zone population of sharding etc. would affect the ability to find groups via group finder. My understanding is that group finder bypassed that restriction and allowed people to “jump” shards and whatnot regardless.

You describe this as not being an “occasional jackpot moment” Which seems to me to implicitly agree that seeing many rares up is a positive experience, not a negative one. I dont even understand or agree that a problem exists that needs solving in the first place? Why was this the method chosen to address this problem? Why not reduce the HP of rares in the zone and require fewer people, if finding others is the issue? Encouraging murderballs probably would have worked, if it was done immediately following the release of 10.1. At this point in time, that ship has long since sailed as a result of inaction any sooner than now.


We have been giving this feedback for 6 months if not more? Why do we first need to go up in arms with torches and pitchforks on both the CC and the GD forum before this is being spoken about, though must say the part where it says ‘‘we’re considering it’’ does annoy me, like what is stopping you from doing this?

Also, while you’re at it, take a hard look at the feedback on Emerald Dream rares and the frustration Druids are going through.


While we’re on this topic. Why not make rares more generous in their respawn times? This would eliminate the need for the “murderball” we all apparently ‘love’ so much and It would allow people to get their rare kills they want in a much shorter time frame so they aren’t glued to spawn camping for something they really want all day and can experience the content that the patch was actually meant for.

Edit to clarify that the rares can KEEP their daily loot lockout and their drop rates but more generous respawn timers would allow us to experience the true patches content while feeling more accomplished that we managed to get a few rare kills in for things we wanted.


Your comment made me think of this meme that came out in Warlords of Draenor and is still relevant. The ever Elusive Poundfist. I agree that rares should be a little more accessible, especially when it comes down to rares like Poundfist. I’ve never seen him. In all these years, he remains ever elusive. **Probably doesnt help that the servers are potentially doing what this “Hotfix” aimed at doing and making the zones “Despawn” everything and resettting all timers until someone comes into the zone. Which means the only way I’ll potentially ever see Poundfist now is to do the old fashioned 3-4 day spawn camping without ever logging out. Cause thats super healthy.


My one point I’ll add is that Future-proofing is generally a good idea when solving a problem. The population numbers in ZC are only going to trend in one direction over time, fewer people. Murderballs might be viable at the 10.2 release population levels, but will that remain true indefinitely? No. The same problem will re-occur as the population dwindles naturally over time. Reducing the HP and making them solo-able both fixes the problem immediately, AND future-proofs the problem to not requiring murderballs in the future when they just simply will never have a critical mass of people enough to exist. Higher ilvls and such do serve to make this possible, but skill levels vary wildly between groups of players, and I dont think rares are intended to be a part of the game where individual player skill or itemlevel is a significant determining factor gatekeeping participation in their gameplay. The problem will naturally be solved by significant ilvl increases such as via next expansion releases, but that doesn’t solve the problem in the interim period deadspace between murderballs and pure ilvl brute force invalidation.


I had to do some digging but here’s a post I wrote about how I feel Rare’s should work through out the WHOLE game, past, present, and future.

I’d also like to edit and post that we, the players, knew about the mistakes back in June/July that would cause this “underpopulated” issue you just now found.


I just want to further add that I’m critical of the changes you give us because I want to see the game thrive and for the next update to be better than the last. But when you give us these brainless decisions without utilizing the tools at your disposal aka us, the community council, literally the 100 people you swap out yearly for fresh ideas and new takes, the people who collect ACTUAL community feedback from the masses and in our vein attempts TRY to relay it to you - you then fail. Because time and again we do not understand how you devise such a drastic change and think it would be ok before you send it through.

My criticism of the changes, the purpose of the council, and the development right now might not earn me a spot for a 2nd term but criticism is necessary for any healthy progression.


I think, it’s a hard line for Blizzard to try to encounter and navigate around given the community.

Currently we can talk and discuss over everything that is publicly known. All decisions, past and present they’ve done.

I think if they were to have us go over design decisions, before it became public knowledge they’d have to most likely have us all sign an NDA, lock down this side of the forum and only those on the council would be able to view it. This would have its own problems:

  1. Transparency would be lost. This could lead to players believing a “Cloak and dagger” situation is occurring.

  2. We already know that a very small populace of the community council even uses the forum. This would then be even more of a subset of a subset of the population when trying to determine these possible changes.

  3. It’ll just take one bad actor to potentially ruin this entire experiment should they lock it down to share possible futures that wouldn’t necessary possibly make it to the public.

I think that if they could ask us questions, they definitely should, given that that decision currently would be known to the greater public alongwith the community council.

I can see how hard of a line this can be to traverse for them. I do imagine that the feedback we provide is utilized and provided. Sometimes I just wish we’d see commentary back. Maybe something along the lines of “We see your suggestion, however we see X or Y happening if we proceed down this pathway which is why we didn’t.” Or “Thank you for the suggestion, upon showing this to our development team they really like this change and you should see this reflected in an upcoming hotfix or patch.”

Giving us a handful of “Example options” without telling us what they’re towards and have us weigh in on each one would be an acceptable alternative to showing/telling us what their plans are directly.

As it is right now all they have to go on is what we post here and I’m adamant in the fact it needs to be a two way street when it comes to interaction. I’d be fine signing an NDA - we already have an enforced NDA-like system with discussing what we talk about in the discord with outside people but honestly there’s hardly any Dev/CM interaction going on in there its more like glorified chat room/exclusive after school club than what I expected it to be.

I just want to make a difference while they’re still willing to have me instead of making these posts to try to show them how I feel about each and every system and terrible design choice they implement without first utilizing what I thought our intended purpose was supposed to be.


TLDR: provide a breakdown of suggested alternative changes to improve gameplay

Sorry for coming late to the party and if this has already been hashed out in the discord channel etc. Reading through everything it looks like we’ve been provided feedback which is what we were asking for regarding the change – Thank you for that!

Missing link being a compilation of our input into how we believe this system could be fixed – YES I know we’ve got different discussions on the topic but it doesn’t hurt to put a coles notes version that we can suggest be updated.

Problems: too many rares up all over the map meaning players aren’t grouped for easier rare groups
Current hotfix: fix sharding/issues, increase drop rate of cosmetics, 15m despawn

Community council suggestions currently echo most of the forums. Can we not compile everything we’ve discussed and come up with a CC rundown of what we’d like to see. I like Riokaii’s take on future-proofing and I truly feel sorry that this feels like a personal attack for some of us. My suggestion is to provide constructive criticism and then see what happens, keeping in mind that devs vs individual gameplay vs CC mbr gameplay objectives vary greatly.

  1. Keep sharding/issue fix
  2. If we as a community believe the drop rates “fair”, don’t increase them. Various topics on this discussing availability vs challenge/award for getting low drop rate items. Potentially look at increase in availability/frequency.
  3. Propose other alternatives for the problem presented and remove 15m despawn UNLESS it assists with the actual problem. 15m despawn to me is a fomo tactic to force players to group in order to get an activity done. I personally don’t think this will work as well as other potential solutions to the problem.

Proposed alternatives:

  1. Rare spawn model updated – you can change the frequency like we’ve had in other zones such as only 5/15 spawn per week or 1/15 per hr in a cyclic rotation. Tailor it to what you’re trying to accomplish. We’ve had it in the past and it sucks on off times but may see an increase in zone activity for those times that highly sought after rares are up.
  2. Timer/scaler – if you want as big a group as possible to kill rares as well as them not keeling over from the first melee attack round, put in a 5m timer/announcement and have them scale with players in the area. Seemed to work alright for the treasure goblins as far as I recall and worked more towards what we want to accomplish.

I appreciate the passion expressed for what we see as negative change but think that we can get more accomplished if we focus on constructive feedback. I do hope this is looked into not only for ZC but following Riokaii’s take, standardizing what we might see as “rares” in the future. Food for thought from a gamer who wishes he had more time to game.

1 Like

I do not agree with proposal 1:

1 currently is emulating the current fix they already input. 1 does not let the rares spawn naturally and stay spawned, instead now you’re stating instead of allowing 15/15 of be up only 5/15 would be available for an entire week. Meaning you’d potentially have to wait 3 weeks for the rare you want IF the system didn’t do repeats. The other option of 1/15 per hour is also not beneficial as you’d have to potentially wait 15 hours for the rare you’d want.

Neither of these proposals under 1 fix what the community has been mostly vocal about, making the rares Solo.

Proposal 2 has merit. The Zaralek Cavern’s currently does have a notification system, but it’s not like the current Emerald dream version where there’s “actions” to be taken before the rare spawns giving people in far away places time to get there as the rares within The Emerald Dream are mostly soloable.

To provide a Cliff notes version of my proposed changes to make rares going forward more future proof:

1, Have the rare set to be soloable by the least common denominator class. (AKA, every class/spec should be able to solo the rare with limited difficulty at first)

Thoughts behind this: Players that currently playing during non-peak times have had the hardest time with completing content and killing rares. This would open up the availability for them to kill the rares now.

2, Put the scaling technology for health onto the rares should more players be present and tag. Additionally, put a 15 second invulnerable shield around them to give players in other parts of the zone time to either message the entire zone stating they are coming or to give them time to arrive as to alleviate the rare potentially being DoA.

Thoughts behind this: This is to ensure the mob doesn’t get absolutely deleted within seconds of spawning should a group of people be waiting.

3, Have rares be more frequent and have better loot chances based on that frequency. 1% and sub 1% drops need to go. **Certain items that are intended to be super rare should be on rares that have extended frequencies or potentially a rare that doesn’t have an established spawn point. (AKA, can spawn anywhere in the open world of the new content. with this, the super rare loot is guaranteed since finding/locating this rare is now the challenge). Edit based on feedback from Naamah, May have Rares be summoned through items found in a localized spawn area. Could be thematic to whichever rare is being brought forward.

Thoughts behind this: 1% and Sub 1% drops are neither healthy for a player nor healthy for the game. All it breeds is animosity towards the game. (You kill the same rare 15 times on all your alts every day for a week with nothing showing for it… Tell me you won’t be displeased and angry over that.)
Edit: Naamah brings up feedback.
[Feedback][Rewards] – Cosmetics (Mounts, Pets..etc) / Time Sinks - #4 by Näamah-ragnaros

4, Introduce a call-out notification system denoting that a rare has spawned.

Thoughts behind this: Provides players that are doing quests or simply chilling in the zone the call-out notification that something is occurring and that they could head that way if they wished to participate in the rare.

5, Rare spawn timers need to continue in the background even when a player is not present.

Thoughts behind this: A player, in the case of Poundfist, should not have to stay logged in for 3 to 4 days straight without sleep hoping for a rare to spawn. This is severely not healthy and definitely would bring animosity.

6, Rares should never despawn once spawned unless killed by a player(s).

Thoughts behind this: Synonymous with 5 but felt like It needed to be it’s own listed item.

7, With Realm Sharding, if a player creates a group everyone invited should be shunted to their shard not moved to a new shard.

Thoughts behind this: Currently there is a chance upon creating a group that if you invite certain amounts of players from other realms that you and your group will be shunted to another shard. Within this new shard the rare you were creating the group for may not have spawned or be dead already.


We’ve provided extensive feedback here on this issue, We don’t want this. You already tried this approach.

Can the rares(special encounters) within this zone be re-designed to be actually soloable as requested in my above post?


I have to say the new hotfix that landed today was a big middle finger to all the wonderful feedback we’ve been giving the team that they themselves requested. Feels like not a single letter was looked at and they instead went with the original idea they themselves cooked up.

No ones going to go down there over supposed increased drop rates when A. They only show up for 15 minutes before noping out over no one playing with them. and B. They are completely unsoloable except by tanks and pet classes that still take 10+ minutes to kill one single rare down there.


A recent update from someone who decided to try to spawn camp a rare (yay we really love to spawn camp and waste our time don’t we!)

So apparently the rares in ZC pop up for 15 minutes then nope out for almost 7 hours or more when no one interacts with them? Is this the new norm? Because its highly unacceptable.

I am so disappointed in the fact our feedback was not listened to and on top of that spawn conditions were made far worse because someone somewhere thought “Ok so people aren’t actively killing them so they won’t mind if they don’t show up as often right?” WRONG! The reason people weren’t killing them is because you need a group to kill them. If they were soloable with a reasonable health pool we, and by we I mean the entire player base, wouldn’t be sitting here trying to have this conversation with you; the developers, on why everything you’ve done to Z. Caves and NOW Forbidden Reach was such a colossal mistake.


Make sure to keep it in context.
There are plenty of people that are happy with this alteration.
I am very happy that I can now finish collecting all the transmog off all the rares that previously dropped one item per 20+ group of people. You had to beg, offer up a cashier cheque for some of the drops.

If this is what Blizzard goes with in the future. I would truly hope its applied to current rares. I think I am close to 30 rares killed in Emerald dream with only 3 items dropping across all rares / all toons