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Shadowlands Turns One, WoW Turns 17! Expansion Duration Rankings

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Today is a big day for World of Warcraft, as the game has turned 17 and its latest expansion is now 1 year old! After Battle for Azeroth's recent taking of the crown, could Shadowlands be the next to take the longest running WoW content crown? Let's take a look at all the expansion durations and see just how long Shadowlands might last.

1. Battle for Azeroth

1.jpgPerhaps we will see a replay of the above in the Anduin raid encounter?

2 Years, 3 Months, 9 Days (832 Days Total)

We see BfA at the top here, outstripping the long-time record holder Vanilla by quite a bit. The expansion was certainly a controversial one, and started the current Sylvanas-centric storyline we've been on for over 3 years now, with its resolution only months away. In my opinion BfA squandered a lot of potentially good storylines, Azshara and N'Zoth in particular (and even the faction conflict could have been done much better), but it wasn't all bad and some players are looking back at it more fondly after the year of Shadowlands we've had.

2. Vanilla WoW


2 Years, 1 Month, 24 Days (784 Days Total)

The one that started it all, was even remade as WoW Classic, and is actually currently running as the Season of Mastery. If we added all of those together, Vanilla would still be the longest running piece of WoW content to date, and presuming Classic Era realms continue indefinitely, it will always be! We can't really compare this one to the others, as it's the one that started it all and will stand on its own forever. Happy 17th birthday!

3. Mists of Pandaria


2 Years, 1 Month, 18 Days (778 Days Total)

While it was a controversial expansion at the time (due to to the perceived children-friendly theme/pandas), today it is very much looked upon as one of WoW's highlights. Throne of Thunder and Lei Shen in particular are still considered some of the best raid content to date, and the expansion's aesthetic was praised even when the expansion was not, only receiving more compliments since. I'll admit, I was one of the Panda-skippers, as it's one of only two expansions I skipped almost in their entirety (I'll let you guess which the other one was), but have enjoyed it very much since then.

4. Wrath of the Lich King


2 Years, 24 Days (754 Days Total)

Many players' favorite period in WoW, WotLK was the first expansion to push a very strong story narrative, and focus on the final villain throughout the entire expansion, giving the final confrontation atop Icecrown Citadel a lot more weight. The story is very tightly connected to today's Shadowlands one, and some still hope to see Arthas one more time (which is fairly possible come 9.2). WotLK will probably go down as the high watermark in many players' memories, and it was factually the time when the game had the most players.

5. Legion


1 Year, 11 Months, 14 Days (714 Days Total)

Standing alongside Wrath of the Lich King, this is most players' favorite WoW expansion, as we saw the culmination of the Burning Legion storyline unfold. With its extremely generous amount of content, Suramar as possibly the peak of intertwined zone and story design, and a... ahem, "passable" ending (no, I can't forgive random Sargeras cloud out of nowhere, no matter how awesome the cinematic was), it's still definitely one of WoW's best.

6. The Burning Crusade


1 Year, 9 Months, 28 Days (667 Days Total)

The first ever expansion, it opened up so many new avenues for the game to go in, and showed us how to fly in World of Warcraft. It also opened the doors to so many retcons, space goats on spaceships and all. I still love it very much, as it was my favorite time in the game, and it's also currently going on over in Classic!

7. Cataclysm


1 Year, 9 Months, 18 Days (658 Days Total)

While revamping the old world was a brilliant move, the expansion itself wasn't that popular, with a rather anticlimactic ending in the Dragon Soul raid. Spine of Deathwing may be one of the most frustrating raid encounters to date as well (although it's also still one of the best ideas ever).

8. Warlords of Draenor


1 Year, 9 Months, 17 Days (656 Days Total)

As a large part of WoD was scrapped, we never got to see the expansion as it was intended, but the introduction to player housing through garrisons was very welcome, and is definitely one of the ideas that should be iterated on come future expansions. Warlords being right next to Shadowlands here is very appropriate, as we're seeing the same pattern happening today - as the current expansion is also being cut short in favor of the next one.

9. Shadowlands


1 Year (365 Days Total)

And we finally come to Shadowlands, WoW's youngest expansion. With quite a few delays already, the expansion is set to only have two major content patches, as the pandemic made patch 9.1 come very late. 9.2 should be arriving early next year, but we don't know the timelines for it at all (aside from the PTR arriving most likely next week). It seems likely Blizzard will aim to release 10.0 in 2022, so we might be looking at a long final patch cycle, but if the next expansion doesn't arrive next year, we could be seeing Shadowlands on the top of the longest running WoW content list very easily. 10.0 is a critical expansion in WoW's history, especially considering everything that's going on with Blizzard itself, and many are expecting a large revamp of the game at that point, so it makes sense that it could take longer to make.

Hopefully World of Warcraft's 18th birthday sees the release of 10.0, as it would be very fitting with both of those significant milestones coming at the same time!



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Expansion Rankings fun time. ( I'm Bored)

1. Mists of Pandaria - I was disappointed when this was announced and didn't have high hopes. But the overall experience of this expansion resonated with me and far outweighed any issues I saw (A bit heavy on dailies, and last patch way too long). Also, AOE Loot. Nuff said.

2. Legion - Unfortunately I did not get to raid much in Legion, but I loved the Artifact and Class Hall quest lines. Professions took a big step back here imo and some of the patch content was gated a bit too much such as the mythic only dungeons and the class mount quest lines. 

3. Vanilla - Playing classic definitely brought back the nostalgia, but it just wasn't the same. Vanilla by far felt like the most rewarding expansion to play, and the level of toxicity had not yet permeated the game.

4. Cataclysm - Probably controversial, but I really enjoyed most of this expansion. I think it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis since it didn't have a new continent, and because it started off with a high difficulty that made heroics require strategy again, but got nerfed pretty bad early all. Some might say that this is when the game really began to turn away from the vanilla formula of strategy being multi-dimensional and required. Transmog!!!!

5. Wrath of the Lich King - Yes this was a strong expansion and I enjoyed it very much. A lot of people love it because this where the game saw its largest player growth, meaning it was the first expansion a lot of players played. I feel like the spamfest that dungeons became at the end of this expansion with the addition of LFD helped lead to the issue seen in Cataclysm. 

6. Burning Crusade - Also probably controversial, but for me, as a Warrior coming out of vanilla and a total noob, this was just a frustrating game to play. This actually was one of the few times I took a break from the game because I died so much just trying to do quests and level as a Warrior. Definitely an expansion not for casuals. So if you were a casual like me at the time, not too fun. 

7. Warlords of Draenor - We all know the many issues with Warlords of Draenor. I will just say that the zones and leveling quests were on point, and since this just so happened to be the 1 time I actually did progression raiding throughout the expansion, I felt like that was very strong aspect as well. 

8. Shadowlands - So much potential.... wasted. I actually like most of the covenants stuff and the art is amazing as usual. But the many downfalls of the expansion, including the amount of drama surrounding Blizzard, just really ruins almost everything good the expansion actually has. 

9. Battle for Azeroth - The announcement cinematic was even more amazing than all of the other ones which are amazing. Allied Races were cool and I very much enjoyed getting more options as a player who likes to level alts just for fun. Those are the only 2 nice things I have to say about Battle for Azeroth. I very much hated almost every other part of it and took decent sized break in the middle of the expansion. 


Not looking to argue at all. But if you are bored like me, feel free to give your rankings. I would be interested to read your thoughts and experiences.

Edited by Devylknyght
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My rankings, as someone who hasn't raided seriously since early Cataclysm. I play the game mostly solo, experiencing group content through LFR/LFG and otherwise keeping to myself, exploring older content, mount collecting, etc. My list will probably be fairly different from others as a result, since I basically have no opinion either way on most raid content.

1. Wrath of the Lich King

This is where I probably do align with a lot of people. I did raid heavily during this expansion, and it was also the first expansion where I hit max level on any character. It was a DK. I was one of those. (I got a Shadow Priest to 55 juuuuust before the expansion came out, so that I would be able to make a DK.) I really did enjoy it though; I will fondly remember Blood DPS forever.

I remember hitting 80 and having no idea what to do, but being excited. So excited that I volunteered to tank a pug Naxx run. This was obviously a terrible idea- I was in fresh quest greens, barely understood what tanking was, and definitely wasn't specced for it. The group was extremely gracious in kicking me and very gently explaining why, lmao. Not long after that though, I joined a raiding guild and started to learn, and spent the rest of the expansion raiding pretty seriously. That guild started to collapse partway through the ICC patch, but at our peak we had Trial of the Grand Crusader down with only 2 wipes- I was so close to that mount! That's obviously quite a jump in knowledge/experience from thinking I could tank Naxx in quest greens and a haphazard levelling talent build.

Loved the northern setting of this expansion, loved the increased focus on story and Arthas as a singular villain, loved the music. I have Invincible, but Mimiron's Head still eludes me. I still run Ulduar for it.

2. Legion

This expansion just had so much great stuff. Artifacts were cool as hell, and the absurd level of class-specific content let us live the class fantasy to a degree no other expansion really has. Especially as a DK, with our roots so firmly in Wrath, the story campaign in Legion was our first big meal after many years of not really being relevant to whatever was going on in Azeroth. There were things I didn't like so much about this expansion, I found Suramar a little boring frankly, for my playstyle- but the rest of Legion far outweighed the few things I didn't like.

3. Vanilla

I'm barely qualified to have an opinion on Vanilla, but it has to be in here somewhere. I was 14 when WoW released, and while I played tons of it, I never quite understood it to the degree it needed me to. So I would frequently start new characters only half understanding them, and abandon them somewhere between 30-45 when I'd hit a wall with my aimless questing. I never saw any endgame when it was current, but also my poor understanding of the game bred a lot of mystery and excitement. Those are fond memories either way.

4. Mists of Pandaria

By Mists I was pretty much fully solo, the way I've played since. Really enjoyed this expansion! Beautiful art, one of the game's best soundtracks, and cool raid content- even if I only saw it via LFR. Not much to say other than that!

5. Shadowlands

Obviously, this expansion isn't over yet. So, you know, caveats. That said, I'm enjoying it quite a bit as a solo player. I think the covenants are interesting, though I very much appreciate the loosening of restrictions in 9.1.5 so I can explore more. There's some great art and world content here, I think the Sylvanas raid encounter is very cool visually; though again I've only done it in LFR. I think the Maw has been a miserable experience, made only marginally less miserable with mounts. I don't like Korthia much either.

The one thing I will say about this expansion, and this is where I feel like I really deviate from the norm: I absolutely love Torghast. Truly. I think Torghast is one of the most inventive and purely fun mechanics WoW has ever done. Being able to play with these wild overpowered class-specific abilities in an environment that's tuned for them, I find super rewarding and fun. There are obviously problems with it; I'm not a huge fan of the scoring system they implemented, I think the environments become drab and repetitive very quickly, and I think legendary currency as the only real reward is underwhelming. Still, I really hope they don't abandon this idea because I absolutely love playing it and making wild things happen.

6. Cataclysm

The old world needed a revamp, and that part of Cataclysm was good. I just didn't really like anything else that was going on in the endgame, and since I was coming off Wrath where I'd raided heavily, I really didn't like much of what Cataclysm was offering. Just aesthetically and thematically, none of it really clicked for me. Dragon Soul is a dreadfully boring raid, IMO.

7. Warlords of Draenor

A lot like Cataclysm, there just was not a whole lot that I liked about this expansion. None of the lore or the world grabbed me in any meaningful way. Obviously Garrisons jive pretty well with my solo playstyle, but in practice I didn't really care about any of what they were doing. Some neat ideas, and my favourite opening cinematic of the bunch, but ultimately a miss for me.

8. Battle for Azeroth

Ok listen people are going to jump down my throat for this but I'll say it: Warcraft has always had a problem with fantasy racism, most notably with the Trolls. It's present in every expansion but it was never quite as egregious as it was here. A whole troll continent jampacked with stereotypes that I cannot believe weren't ridiculed more widely. Their jungle zone literally had a "Heart of Darkness" area in the center of it. They really called it that. This wouldn't have been too long after they had a white dude on stage at a Hearthstone event doing a "troll accent." Just unbelievably careless stuff and it permeated this entire expansion.

I also just do not care about Horde vs. Alliance and I especially do not care about Blizzard's latest retelling of "Popular female character, becomes very powerful, is she corrupt?? what if she isn't actually corrupt though??? maybe she can be redeemed????" That well has been dry for a decade and we're still doing it. Just an exhausting expansion.

The Kul Tiran druid forms are cool.

?. Burning Crusade

I'm not really ranking this one, because I just did not play very much of it. I started a Draenei and a Blood Elf, saw those starting experiences, but otherwise didn't really engage with the game. I never got to Outland while it was current. Didn't really play at all until the very end, when I got that shadow priest up to 55 so that I'd be able to start a DK when Wrath launched. I've gone back and seen lots of TBC as a higher level character of course, it's full of cool stuff, I just wasn't around for it.

Edited by Jeverage
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I appreciate the effort put in, so here's mine (I'm actually skipping Vanilla cos IMO it is above it all and always will be for anyone that played it)!

1. Legion

Yep, it's on top. Just the amount of content, the quality and though put in, plus the fact that the AP and legendary grinds didn't affect me at all since I was mega casualing it up just meant I got ALL the great parts and none of the downsides. Plus Argus was probably THE best .3 patch of all time, with insane visuals, a good story (ending nothwithstanding, NO I CANNOT GET OVER SARGERAS RANDOM CLOUD LEAVE ME ALONE) and an awesome cutscene to end it all.

2. Burning Crusade

It was just the best period in WoW for me personally. 100% nostalgia/memory-fueled, with all the world firsts, the guild camaraderie, and the fact i made 5k gold in 12 hours (by prospecting and selling the copper tin etc orde i mined for months before the expansion - i literally spent the first x hours of BC sitting in Silverymoon getting ore from mail and prospecting) and got a full speed flying mount completely skipping the 60% cancer version all made it perfect.

3. WotLK

Yea probably the peak of the game if we ignore Legion. It just had it all figured out as the dev team knew what they wanted and what they were doing.

4. WoD

Yep I'm a weirdo. Loved the garrison, loved the zones, solid raids... too bad about the cut content though.

5. Cataclysm

Pretty bland overall but the decision and implementation of changing the world was visionary and unprecedented, so i gotta give it points for that. Also Firelands.

6. MoP (but not really)

This one is low just cos I didn't play it when it was live so it can't compare really.

7. Shadowlands

I was pretty hyped for it, managed to move my misgivings about the retcons aside, but in the end they fucked the lore. The Covenants were a bad idea they decided to stick to and we're still feeling the consequences. But the raids were good, and hopefully Sepulcher will close them out really well and I'm very exxcited for some of the encounters.

8. BfA

I hate it. It ruined so many things and saw the terrible writing start, with no regard for anything that came before (and I'm talking way more than just retcons, which have existed since the dawn of WoW). Played very little of it as every new thing they brought out just pissed me off more and more. Corruption was an interesting system with its insane power growth at the end of the expansion, which isn't a bad concept in general.

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I can hardly rank them, as they are all hardly comparable. If it comes to "something do to", it just got more and more. So this could mean it got better and better. But it didnt. You can spend all day in Shadowlands, theres lots to do, more than ever before, but it has no substance, its a tread mill, with an out of control spiraled nonsense story line.

Lots of nostalgia, but for me community plus game experience is THE combination what makes a a MMO enjoyable. Thats why Classic and BC is still my favorite time in the game. Yes the seed for out-of-control try-hard elitism was already there, but still hold in check by inexperience and the need of others players to progress in the game. You were in there together, as a server community.

For example, after some weeks of doing the quests every day with your guild and/or friends you may felt burnt out, but goddam you finally got that Netherwing Drake Mount in BC, you pulled through that chore together, had some unforgettable memories together, but in the end you achieved something substantial together. And you were proud of flying around on your drake.  

When they broke up this need of cooperation, all *filtered* hit the fan. 


Edited by Helvorn
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