Some monsters are especially tough. Adventurers call these creatures "elite". Whereas a normal specimen of a certain breed might fall easily to a lone hero, to defeat an elite creature of the same type requires careful planning, a group of heroes, excellent tactics, or all three. Elite creatures often look different than their non-elite counterparts, being larger, having barbs on their horns and claws, possessing glowing eyes, or envincing other such indication of their power. Some elites, however, look just like normal creatures of their kind, and it is not until a hero engages it that he realizes — perhaps too late — that it is far tougher than he expected. While elite creatures are decidedly stronger and faster than non-elites, they are infamous not for size and speed but for their durability. They are able to withstand punishment that would kill non-elites several times over. Elite specimens appear in every creature type.
This generally denotes that the content is more difficult than should be usually expected for its level and most often requires a group of appropriately levelled players to overcome. Most elite content is very hard to solo. The hit-, crit-, and miss-rates of elite NPCs are calculated as if the mob was 3 levels higher than the level displayed. This means that a player attacking a Level 72 (Elite) mob will have the same chance to hit/hit critically/be hit by/be hit critically by the mob as if it was Level 75 nonelite. While these rates are generally the same for each elite mob, stats like damage, hitpoints, etc. are not calculated by a general formula. While an increase of +30% for hitpoints and DPS of a normal mob is quite a good guideline for most outdoor elites, elite mobs within instances, battlegrounds, outdoor named or rare elites seem to be much stronger.
- Elite mobs or NPCs can be identified by the gold spiny dragon border around their portrait when selected. A mob with a silver dragon border is not an elite unless it has a wing, in which case it is a rare elite, which should be treated the same as an elite. see Rare mob
- Elite quests would previously have (Elite) in parentheses to the right of the quest name in the Quest Log. These were changed to (Group), (Dungeon), or (Raid) quests in the 2.0.3 Burning Crusade patch. These quests almost always involve fighting elite mobs.
- Elite mobs are generally only found in specific areas of the game world. They are commonly, but not exclusively, found in instances and elite areas.
- Elite monsters (mobs) can have increased health, damage or additional abilities and spells compared to normal mobs of the same level.
- Elite mobs will give more experience than similar non-elite mobs. They sometimes drop better loot.
- Completing elite quests yield rewards that generally reflect the added investment and time required. Elite quests tend to reward the player with better items or money.
- Elite Beasts that are tamed by hunters lose their Elite status, along with any unique abilities they possessed. A good example would be the raptors inside and around Wailing Caverns losing their ability to Stealth.
- If you're coming from Everquest, consider elites of your level to generally be the same difficulty as things that conned white to you. There are lots of exceptions of this, but overall it is a good rule of thumb.
- As of patch 2.3, a lot of mobs that were previously elite have been changed to being normal mobs. Hence, many of the quests which involved these elite mobs are now significantly easier.