Absolutely in NO particular order. Keep in mind that these have more to do with the atmosphere/lore of the area and less to do with the actual mechanics. And whether or not I farmed them for 8+months.
Dire Maul and AQ are not on the list for one simple reason – I have never, on any of my characters, completed any wing of Dire Maul, and I’ve only seen the first boss in both AQ20 and AQ40. I have, with my hunter, gotten to the first boss of Dire Maul West, and helped a paladin with his epic mount quest once. I loved the look of both DM and AQ, but I can’t call them favorites because… well I’ve never actually seen more than a fraction of what’s there to see. *sadface*
The first three on my list are all interconnected, lore wise. Relating to the scourge and the Scarlet Crusade, they are all part of a “mega questline” that runs from the mid 30’s to level 60, but has been disconnected by Outland. Here’s to WotLK, when we get to go back to Azeroth and see these old quests and stories carried into another expansion.
The Scourge Capitol City of Sratholme is really two instances, but I’ve always liked the place, so I’m lumping it into one for this list. I’ve come to be even more interested in it since I recently found out that my paladin, Aelflaed, is actually from that area of Lordaeron (her family were miners living near the city). Because of the “revisiting” of areas that were seen in Warcraft III, I’ve always liked the ability to go back and see what really happened after Arthas turned emo.
Plus, any connections to the Silver Hand make me happy, and seeing the leader of the Scarlet Crusade in all his demonic glory always gives me chills.
While this isn’t my favorite instance to *run* – in fact, I’d venture to say that it’s one of my least favorite to do in a PUG – the lore behind SM is totally freaking awesome. One thing I’d like to get done sometime before the end of Warcraft is getting to watch the Corrupted Ashbringer event in SM, with Mograine… *shivers* I love paladin lore, particularly as I work on leveling Aelflaed, and all the connections to Hearthglen and Tirion Fordring just make the story-lore parts of my brain do little happy flips of joy.
This particular lore is only enhanced by the tavern scenes in Hillsbrad in the Caverns of Time – if you’ve not taken a chance to go explore the town before you start a Durnholde run, go head into the inn and watch for awhile as Mograine and all the other Scarlet Monastery crew discover what will eventually become the Ashbringer. Also, watch little Sally Whitemane kill and rez a frog.
Scholo’s design and the detail that went into the lore behind this instance put it up among my favorites as well. Similarly to Stratholme, the connection to the Scourge, particularly to what has now become Naxxramas – and will be even more connected once WotLK releases – makes for an interesting run. The quest lines are creepy and sad, but clearing this place out always left Annalira with a sense of having done at least *something* to cut down on the presence of the scourge.
I can’t wait to see how (if?) Scholo will have any tie-ins with WotLK, especially since they’re retooling Naxxramas to be a level 80 instance.
These last three are on my list for atmospheric more than lore reasons. I get a huge kick out of exploring new places and getting to really feel like I’m in a different world – and some instances just do a better job of this than others.
Another really pretty instance, with tunnels, cool plants, and druids! Also, a giant murloc boss of DOOOOOM! This place is similar in feel to the Coilfang Reservoir instances (particularly Underbog), but it ranks higher because I don’t have the same feeling of “oh… yay… another Slave Pens run” when I think about going into WC.
A druidic experiment gone wrong, WC is an attempt by a group of druids to restore lushness and fertility to The Barrens by siphoning energy of the Emerald Dream… which backfired (because the dream is tainted? wtb more Emerald Dream lore!), and resulted in the overgrown, twisted mess and the Druids of the Fang.
Namely UBRS and Blackwing Lair – the whole place is just spiffy for the sheer cool factor. This place was creepy to the extreme and full of awesome looking rooms and neat bosses.
Large, Black, Insane Dragon seeks smaller dragons to torture, corrupt, dismember, and otherwise destroy in an attempt to create an ultimate dragonflight. Must not be squeamish or have any problems with bodily harm – particularly being eaten by Large Dragon’s two headed dog-pet
Another instance connected to the mega-lore of the World Dragons and the sundering and all that jazz, Blackrock Spire and Blackwing Lair are full of little twisted tidbits. No particularly stunning questlines here, but getting to pwn Nefarian is always a good end to the day.
Gorgeous scenery, excellent music, amusing item names (Jin’do’s bag of whammies anyone?), interesting boss mechanics, cool rare-drop mounts, and a bunch of exploding bat men. What’s not to love? Guaranteed, this one got played out for me all those weeks of farming, but I truly enjoyed learning this instance and coming, eventually, to master it. The boss fights were (at the time) different and challenging, we could clear it in one night, and in general, I love the jungle atmosphere.
Plus, the spiders got you drunk. For free! Wheeee!
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