As soon as Ulduar was announced as the next raid instance, rumours started popping up about what the next raid tier would be. It is also confirmed(?) that there will be a new 5-man instance. The only thing we can be certain about, is that we won’t get to slap Arthas around just yet. Though, there are several other possibilities. The ones mentioned most frequently are Uldum, The Graymane Wall, some sort of CoS raid, Grim Batol, The Maelstrom, some sort of troll or nerubian temple/city or a Vrykul based raid. Of these I think the Greymane Wall or Grim Batol are the most likely candidates, and perhaps a Vrykul raid, although I can’t see how a Vrykul can pose a bigger threat than what you find in Ulduar.
The unlikely ones
Let’s get the unlikely ones out of the way first? I very much doubt we’ll see Uldum or The Maelstrom. I don’t think Blizz would launch two Uld-raids in a row, if you look back, the back-to-back tiers tend to be very different, come to think of it, all of the raids launched during an expansion are very different from one another. It also seems to me that The Maelstrom is a too big a project to do as a patch, I think it’s more likely that we’ll see it as the next expansion.
The more likely ones
A CoS raid, troll temple or a nerubian city are all likely candidates. The only problem I have with these (at least the last two) is that I can’t see them topping Ulduar. Ever since the start of WoW every raid has had more dangerous bosses than the previous, and I can’t really see nerubians, and definitely not trolls, pose a bigger threat than what we’re up against in Ulduar. This makes me think that a CoS raid is the most likely candidate of these three, since it could be pretty much anything from the Warcraft lore (The mission in WC3 where you attack Dalaran would be epic!). And I’m kind of surprised we didn’t get more than one CoS instance in Wrath.
The ones I’d put my money on
“Grim Batol is a mountain fortress located in the eastern Wetlands. It has great walls and spires that reach toward a steel-gray sky, but the stronghold’s bulk is underground. Founded by Wildhammer dwarves and later captured by orcs, a flight of red dragons now command Grim Batol. The dragons guard a secret power within the fortress and let no one near.
The entrance is at, where you follow a path curving south to get to it at. Do not try to enter from southeast Wetlands near its position on the map; you must take the north entrance.”
Population: Unknown (A mixture of Skardyn and the Red and Black dragonflights, including dragonspawn).
Ruler: Garshilan (Red dragonflight), Deathwing (Black dragonflight)
Affiliation: Red dragonflight and Black dragonflight”
Of the two, Grim Batol is my favorite for several reasons. The main reason I believe Grim Batol will be included is that it would end a long story chain by killing Deathwing, leader of the Black Dragonflight and father of Onyxia and Nefarion. Although, Blizzard might think that we’ve killed enough dragons for a while, which makes me think that we might not see Deathwing until 3.3 or 3.4. Another possiblity is that the 5-man (Red Dragonflight?) and the raid (Black Dragonflight?) both will be in Grim Batol. Compared to the Graymane Wall, making Grim Batol would probably take less effort since a lot of the content is already there, with the Graymane Wall Blizz would have to create an entire zone behind the wall. In the end I think it’s a question of when, and not if we’ll see Grim Batol.
“The Greymane Wall was erected after the Second War, by Genn Greymane, as the nation of Gilneas isolated itself from the Alliance due to a dispute surrounding the internment camps for the orcs. It is a large wall with a portcullis, located at the southern edge of the Silverpine Forest (near Pyrewood Village) and the northern edge of Gilneas.
The Greymane Wall is the only evident site of Gilneas. This enormous gray wall marks the boundary between Gilneas and Lordaeron. No guards stand at its battlements or man its gates — the wall seems dead. Nevertheless, refugees from the north camp in the wall’s shadow, hoping for succor. These unfortunates never see a Gilnean and are easy prey for the worgen that occasionally stray this far south from Shadowfang Keep.
It is believed that those on the other side in Gilneas may have been spared from the Plague, though no word has been heard from them. Many refugees that have escaped the Plague have made camp outside of the wall, but its gates have yet to open.”
As mentioned previously, making The Greymane Wall would be a lot of work considering the fact that there is an entire kingdom behind these walls. Blizzard have stated that they have great plans for the Wall and Gilneas, but I’m starting to believe it’s something we’re more likely to see in an expansion, rather than in a patch. But, we all know that Blizzard has surprised us before by adding new zones into the old world. One thing is certain, there are huge possibilities behind those massive walls. No one really knows what’s been going on inside ever since they closed the gates, which means that Blizz could come up with several possible raid fitting scenarios. Another possibility is that newly returned King Wrynn decides to try to contact whoever currently rules Gilneas, thus adding another faction to the game (might even be some hordies we didn’t know about in there!).
In the end it will probably turn out to be something completely different from what I thought it would be. Blizzard has always had a tendency to go in a completely different direction than most players would have guessed, but somehow always seem to make it work. Now, I would like to hear what you believe (and hope?) will be the new raid instance!