Wrath of the Lich King Classic: WotLK Phases & Their Timeline

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Wrath of the Lich King is one of the most beloved expansions WoW ever received. Not only did it produce heaps of new content, but it also continued the original story set in the Warcraft trilogy. And now they want to reintroduce it for Classic! Right now, the WotLK phases are mostly unknown, but some speculation won’t hurt.

The initial stages of the expansion have already kicked in. The pre-patch came out in late August, and it’s likewise divided into several phases:

  1. 09/06–09/13: Zombie Infestation
  2. 09/13–09/25: Scourge Attack
  3. 09/26: Expansion Launch

As for the rest: judging by the way they handled The Burning Crusade Classic, one can expect that raids, dungeons, and story elements (at least) are going to be launched in more or less the same timeline as the original thing. You could just look at the original WotLK timeline and make some predictions.


If you have a rough time remembering what the original expansion introduced, here’s a bit of a rundown. In short, the story revolves around Arthas — now the Lich King — who sent the armies of the Undead to destroy everything in Azeroth. His base is in the mostly frozen continent of Northrend, which is where you’ll be going.

By popular account, the story & raids Wrath of the Lich King added were one of the best Blizzard has ever made for this game. It can be a thrilling experience to go through it all over again — especially considering that the expansion doesn’t need to be bought, your average WoW subscription will do. There are other new additions besides the story, of course.

The “new” stuff largely mirrors the additions made in the original release, although some won’t get a comeback. Achievements will be available again, the Death Knights are dropping, the level cap will be raised to 80, and the Inscription profession will be a thing again. You’ll be able to order the WotLK boost services for these things from the start.

Some quality of life changes introduced during that time are already part of the game. They were purely logical, so the devs introduced these things early on without sticking to the original timeline. For instance, there’s an ability to swim while on mounts.


Blizzard tends to condense their patches now, at least as far as re-releases are concerned. The original The Burning Crusade took almost two years to wrap up. The Classic version was only a year long. At the same time, the main content body of the WotLK content phases took about 14 months.

With all this in mind, one can expect that the content patches will generally have the same stuff (besides the minor changes), but they’ll also likely hasten the release of new patches. They might just halve the duration again, but there’s no telling. And it’s also unlikely that the new patches will only last few months.

There will be 6 main WotLK release phases (including the launch). Each comes with a package of classic dungeons and raids, plus the pre-patch. The latter will introduce most main game changes, besides the locations and story.

Possible Timeline

Blizzard has already revealed the contents of 5 main patches, although their release dates are still to-be-announced. A pre-patch has already been launched as of this date, while the general release is planned for the 26th. Here are the details as the community expects them.


Release: August 30

The pre-patch was released at the end of this summer. Like its 2008 predecessor, it’s an update a month behind the actual release. It includes most of the non-story additions, such as the updated barbershops, achievements, new talents, stats, and Death Knights. But, most curiously, there are several unique events.

Zombie Infestation was an awesome unique event that was only available for a time during the “Echoes of Doom” pre-patch. Actual zombies were spawning all over the place, and they weren’t just spooky trash enemies. Players could be infected and had to be cured by either an NPC or a healer. If they didn’t, they’d become a zombie.

Zombies had unique abilities, but, funniest of all, it was possible to infect others — NPCs and players alike. Cities quickly turned into horror movie locations back then. And it didn’t help that Halloween was not far away at that point. Of course, folks could also get good minor loot from zombies, it wasn’t just for fun.

The Scourge is also scheduled to attack right after the zombies had their fun. The Invasion event adds several high-risk zones throughout the world map, where players need to destroy necropolis sights, which spawn undead enemies. Only after beating back the invasion can the real adventure begin (don’t worry, it’s all scheduled).


Release: September 26

The launch is currently in somewhat of a gray area. The Northrend, with much of its questline, will be added, naturally. That being said, some parts of the original WotLK dungeons content originally available from the start will not be around during the launch. At least some of them are rescheduled for the first stage, which comes 2 weeks later.

There will still be plenty to do, some raids and much of the WotLK solo content will stay. For instance, the Vault of Archavon hasn’t been verified to move to stage 1, so it’ll likely be available at launch. Like previously, you’ll be able to enter Northrend in 4 points (2 per faction) and explore it thoroughly before the big content package arrives.

Phase One

Release: October 6

The WotLK phase 1 is planned to have the big Naxxramas raid. It was actually in the game, but for the expansion, it’ll be moved to Northrend with a higher difficulty and fewer people allowed. That’s going to be the main attraction, being home to Kel’Thuzad, a powerful lich and a dispenser of magnificent loot.

The other two include The Eye of Eternity and The Obsidian Sanctum, which are comparably smaller raids. Other pieces of content may be joining them, but the only two things Blizzard has revealed thus far are the launch date, as well as the names of these three raids. The rest is speculation.

Phase Two

Release: Unknown

After WotLK phase one, players got this adaptation of the “Secrets of Ulduar”, which was the first big patch for the Wrath. In terms of activities, it added Ulduar — a giant base of the titans with a namesake raid inside it. Ulduar was among the biggest and hardest raids in the game thus far, and it was certainly a step-up from the Naxxramas.

It’s known that they are adding this raid in phase two. Its release date wasn’t revealed, but it probably won’t take players as long as the original Ulduar did. You could expect it to launch in January or February, at the very least. Besides the huge raid, they also added some changes to the original “Secrets”

The other big addition was the Argent Tournament. It was a curious world event and the jewel of the WotLK PvP content where members of both factions could fight it out in non-lethal matches. Moreover, the old patch added some quality of life changes, but many of them are already part of the Classic.

Phase Three

Release: Unknown

The third of the WotLK content phases is a take on the “Call of the Crusade” patch, the second big update for this expansion. The main bits of the content revolve around the Argent Crusade. Their base will now boast the Coliseum, a not-so-big round fighting arena with several boss fights, which makes it, essentially, a raid.

In the WotLK phases raids generally take place on Northrend, besides the Onyxia’s Lair. It’s a mainland location scheduled for a rework. Like in the regular game, it was initially an easier raid available from the start. In a 3.2.2 sub-patch, they made it harder and reworked it a bit. That’s also going to happen this time, but maybe with different timing.

Phase Four

Release: Unknown

This is supposed to be the last chapter in the expansion’s main plot. It’s been confirmed that it’s going to include the Icecrown Citadel, which is where the main bad guy spends his days. In terms of the WotLK PvE content, this one is the culmination. Halls of Reflection is a 5-player dungeon with lots of undead and Lich King himself in the end.

It wasn’t the only thing added back then in the update. One of the main additions was a controversial group finder for dungeons. It was popularly deemed as one of the things that “ruined” the old WoW, which is why they won’t be adding it in the coming patch. This much is certain,

Phase Five

Release: Unknown

This phase will have the Ruby Sanctum. In terms of the WotLK raids content, it’s a small raid put into the game because the players started getting bored with the expansion’s last challenge. It houses several minibosses, a nasty main boss, and several encounters. Most are dragons, and the area itself lies in Dragonblight (which is in Southern Northrend).

This raid was always a filler, just an additional activity to keep people entertained while they are working on a new expansion. It was still an important part of the game back in the day. It guarantees that Blizzard won’t just pass it over, even though it has very little to do with the main story.

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