A World of Warcraft boss was literally based on a nightmare its designer had

"One night, I had a nightmare that it was broken and it was sweeping from all directions"

Remember Ner’zhul? The tough and tricky-to-beat final boss of the World of Warcraft level 100 Shadowmoon Burial Grounds dungeon from Warlords of Draenor? He’s got some serious skills up his sleeve, especially in Heroic mode – and it turns out this is the result of a senior game designer’s nightmare.

That’s according to Candace Thomas, senior game designer for both WoW and the upcoming Diablo 4, who has tweeted about the Heroic boss’ creation. “I made this boss in WoW who used to sweep the playspace from left to right,” she says, “and you’d have to dodge it in crafty ways.

“One night, I had a nightmare that it was broken and it was sweeping from all directions. The next day I made the heroic version of that encounter do that,” she explains, signing off with a “fin”. Fans have of course dived in to recall their favourite bosses from the online RPG game’s extensive catalogue of foes to fell and guess which boss Thomas is referring to. Now, she’s confirmed it’s none other than the orc warchief himself.

One asks, “Was it Ner’zhul in SBG?”, commenting that the dungeons and raids from the Draenor expansion are some of their favourite ever. “It was! And thanks for saying that, your words are so kind,” she replies, also confirming it’s “Ner’zhul in Shadowmoon! LOL” and “This specific example was Ner’zhul but I think the cooler version of that was Sylvanas in End Time,” elsewhere.

While Ner’Zhul’s sweep skill in Heroic might require some creativity to dodge, Thomas reminds players in a pinned tweet from 2018 that: “I’m gonna let you kids in on a secret: I don’t design bosses to win fights against the player. I design them to lose very convincingly.” Gulp.

If you’re a WoW fan, it looks like you’ve got some more exciting bosses to tackle later this year when the World of Warcraft Shadowlands release date rolls around. WoWHead has a list of some of the new raid and dungeon bosses from the WoW Shadowlands Alpha, which you can find here if you’re keen to know what’s in store.