World of Warcraft players crack new mystery in record time

There's been no shortage of mysteries to solve in World of Warcraft: Legion, but the community is getting increasingly adept at solving them quickly. Earlier this week, patch 7.1 introduced a ton of things to do—not the least of which being the new Karazhan five-man 'raid' dungeon. For longtime players, Return to Karazhan is an exciting opportunity to revisit one of the best raids from WoW's first expansion, The Burning Crusade. It was also home to the game's next big mystery until a crack-team of dungeoneers solved it in record time.

Unlike most dungeons that house anywhere from three to five bosses, the tower of Karazhan features a whopping nine. One of them was supposed to be a big secret, but a few players already managed to figure it out the first night and then posted their findings the next day. That's quick by every standard, especially when you consider that other WoW mysteries, like its Pink Hippogryph, took weeks to solve. Hell, some of the particulars for finding hidden artifact skins for Legion's fancy new weapons are still being puzzled out.

What's so impressive about finding Karazhan's secret isn't that it was overly complicated to begin with, but that the feat required is so damn impressive. The hidden boss is named Nightbane, a skeletal dragon and fan favorite from the first version of Karazhan. Players can only unlock him by completing a gruelling speedrun that will test all but the most skilled and well-equipped party. Zosyn, a raider in a guild called Prometheus on the Stormreaver US server, was one of the first to cross the finish line. As he details in his post to WoWHead, the race is intense.

From the moment you enter the dungeon, you have eight minutes to touch a 'soul fragment' crystal located just after the first boss. From there, players are given a countdown timer of six minutes to reach the next crystal. Doing so adds five minutes to your countdown timer, and you'll have to collect four more crystals in order to unlock the hidden boss. Not all of these crystals are just hanging out willy-nilly in open passageways either, but tucked carefully behind Karazhan's bosses.

That might not sound so bad, but when you consider that Return to Karazhan is intended to be a hybrid between a dungeon and a raid—meaning it's bloody huge—you begin to appreciate the skill required. That's not even mentioning that the dungeon has been out for all of two days and does require a somewhat lengthy quest to unlock. The dungeon is also only available on Mythic difficulty, meaning players will need top-quality gear and a highly skilled party. The fact that some have managed all that and have already figured out strategies for killing the required bosses so quickly is impressive. I haven't had a chance to enter Karazhan yet because real life has separated me from WoW like a court-ordered divorce. But from the streams I've watched, Karazhan typically takes average players a couple of hours to beat.

Just because you managed to unlock Nightbane doesn't mean the hard part is over. Early reports suggest he isn't much of a pushover. Although guides already exist for taking him down, you're going to need an adept party in order to stand a chance. But oh my god, is the reward worth it. Not only will Nightbane drop extra powerful loot, but the real prize is a Smoldering Ember Wrym, a fiery—and seasonally appropriate boney—dragon that you can walk around town on to show off how badass you are. 

Some of my favorite parts of Legion are its little puzzles. It's cool to see Blizzard add so many different types, especially those that take serious effort by only the most hardcore players in order to solve. While some are criticizing Blizzard for making puzzles that can't even exist in the wild for longer than two days, I actually like how quickly this was solved. With much more exhausting secrets still fresh in my memory, it's nice to have something that isn't a grand month-long adventure. Not to mention that Nightbane appears to have taken a few university courses in kicking ass—so the mystery is only one half of the fun. I'm looking forward to one day owning that wyrm mount, even if it is months from now. In the meantime, I'll just have to live vicariously through cooler players. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.