A rare mob is a special mob or monster. However, the exact details of what comprises a rare mob vary according to the expansion (or even patch) in which the mob was introduced. Rare mobs may possess one or more of the following qualities: possessing far more health and more powerful abilities than regular mobs; spawning less frequently; dropping special loot; being recorded in special achievements; and representing a substantial challenge for players to defeat.
Like elite mobs, rare mobs have a dragon around their portrait; however, unlike elites, this dragon icon is silver and lacks a wing on the side. They can also be elite, in which case the wing is present. Rare mobs are frequently mis-called "rare elites", regardless of whether or not they are elite.
Rare mobs are always named, although not all named mobs are rare. Rare mobs are never quest objectives, but some drop quest-starting items. Rare mobs in instances have a smaller chance of being generated than other monsters in the instance. Unlike elites, rare mobs do not have "(Rare)" after their name in the tooltip.
Rare mobs in the main game world generally respawn less frequently than normal mobs. While exact respawn rates can be difficult to measure, some rares may take as many as several hours between spawns. As a result, some rares that are actively hunted by players may be very rarely seen, such as in Storm Peaks, which drops the highly valued . Other rares spawn based on factors other than time, such as the number of rare mobs still alive within that zone. Rare mobs in dungeons may only spawn X out of every Y instances you enter.
In most details other than those outline above, the behaviour and nature of rare mobs vary widely, largely determined by the expansion (or even patch) in which they were introduced. Because of this, generalisations about rare mobs are not easy to make, nor particularly helpful. Instead, see below for a chronological overview of the development of rare mobs over the game's history, or see specific pages such as Pandarian champion or achievements such as for details.
The loot dropped from rare mobs is unique and located almost exclusively within the uncommon table and below it (Low level rare mobs will often drop common loot). Rare mobs found in instances may also drop an item from the rare table, which will frequently bind on pickup. Rare mobs found in Outland will only drop rare loot, which are all bind on equip.
Rares are sometimes erroneously referred to as "silver elites." However, unlike elite mobs (which have a gold dragon around their portrait), rare mobs are generally not tougher than normal mobs of the same level. Rare mobs typically have comparable health and DPS of a mob their level, but tend to have an extra skill or two. This skill can often be guessed by their name. There are also some mobs that are both rare and elite. Previously, such mobs had a portrait identical to that of an elite mob (gold dragon with a wing), making it indistinguishable without consulting some outside source. As of patch 2.0.1, elite rare mobs have silver dragon, like regular rare mobs, but with a wing, like elite mobs.
As the game has progressed and expansions have been added, the rare mobs outside of dungeons and raids have been gradually split into two basic groups: those killed for loot, and beasts that can be tamed by hunters. The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King have kill achievements for many rare mobs, including tamable beasts that often have a certain look or color, making them desirable as hunter pets. The first indication that Blizzard was beginning to take this into account was the introduction of new Spirit beasts. While the first one was made into a kill achieve, no other spirit beast has been added to such a list making them less likely to be killed by other classes (although they each still have their own rare loot).
In Cataclysm, rares with loot were further split into those that designed to be killed solo (such as , , or ), those that offer special challenges (such as , or ) and those that require a raid (such as , , or ).
Cataclysm rare tamable mobs now have no useful loot at all, dropping only the . Beginning with Ghostcrawler and expanding into Patch 4.2.0, rare tameables have been set up as hunter challenges, having a unique strategy, one for each or a shared strategy for virtually identical rares, that is required for a hunter to use to successfully tame that rare beast. This is not dissimilar to the old quest , but now other players are allowed to directly help the hunter. Having one of these unique rares out is a visual bragging right that not only did you find it, but you defeated its defenses to tame it.
Also with Cataclysm, many former quest mobs were made into rare mobs (that are not very rare, and spawn somewhat normally) with better-than-average loot. These creatures tend to act as leaders of groups of mobs, and provide flavor to questing areas.
Mists of Pandaria introduced a raft of new rare mobs, the Pandarian champions. These champions offer players a substantial challenge, with massive health pools and powerful abilities that require skill and awareness to defeat. There are 8 kinds of Pandarian champions, with one of each type in each major zone of Pandaria. These champions brought with them a range of unique rewards, dropping a range of rare armor drops, as well as a chance at a special item unique to each champion. A series of achievements additionally rewards players for pursuing the champions.
Patch 5.1 introduced the Pandarian Campaign in Krasarang Wilds, bringing with it three faction-specific rare champions for each faction. These champions are part of , and also have a chance to drop unique PvP trinkets for use in Pandarian world PvP, as well as substantial amount of honor. Patch 5.2 introduced eleven rare mobs as part of the Isle of Thunder, as recorded in the achievement , while Patch 5.4 introduced dozens of rare mobs on the Timeless Isle, recorded in .
In actuality, there are several instances with mobs who are displayed with a silver dragon around it, yet spawn every time the instance is entered. This is because a patch changed them from a rare spawning mob into a normal spawning mob. Blackrock Depths has a number of examples of this, such as .
Rare mobs are linked to several achievements:
- - Defeat 1 rare mob in Outland zones.
- - Defeat all the rare mobs found in Outland zones.
- - Defeat 1 rare mob in Northrend zones.
- - Defeat all the (listed) rare mobs found in Northrend zones.
- - Defeat one of the powerful champions of the Pandarian races that wander the continent.
- - Defeat one of each type of Pandarian champion.
- - Hunt down and defeat each and every one of the Pandarian champions.
- - Kill all three of the opposing faction's champions in Krasarang Wilds.
- - Defeat all the (listed) rare mobs on the Isle of Thunder.
- - Defeat all of the rare creatures of the Timeless Isle.
Addons and other assistance
There are a number of tools available to assist in locating the rare mobs for the above achievements. First, targetting macros can be created that will target the first mob found from a list of partial names entered. See and for cut-and-paste versions of those macros.
There are also addons that assist with the task. (Note: these addons may not have been updated to the latest version of WoW; Wowpedia does not maintain these.)
- NPCscan - automatically targets and alerts when one of the mobs it has been set to find comes into range.
- NPCscan overlay and Rare Spawn overlay - provide an overlay for the zone map, showing where rare mobs are known to wander.
- SilverDragon - targets and alerts. Includes a database of known rares.
Once a target is acquired with one of the above addons, you can see your target on the minimap if displaying your target on it is enabled.
- Patch 6.0.2 (2014-10-14):
- Rare mobs in Draenor are marked with a on the minimap.
- Rare mobs in Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Northrend are no longer marked with a on the minimap.
- Patch 5.4.0 (2013-09-10): Rare mobs in Pandaria are now marked with a on the minimap.