Monday, April 19, 2010

The Lich King - Arthas Menethil

This has to be the most fiddly fight I have ever done.  There is zero room for error and the encounter is very sensitive to lag.  Playing with a 300+ ping increases the difficulty of this fight exponentially.  Once you overcome how to deal with defiles, the rest of the fight should fall into place.

I am also going to try to leave lore spoilers OUT of this strategy.  I worked very hard to not get spoilers before I defeated LK, and I will extend the same courtesy to you.

Shopping List:
2 tanks
6ish healers (less if you can)
A range heavy DPS lineup, preferably with a couple of hunters

Quick note for healing infest - this fight is a metric buttload easier with 1-2 disc priests in the raid.  They need to keep bubbles on everyone at all times to combat infest.  Having the bubbles will soak the burst of damage the raid will take, and thus generally keeping them over 90% without any extra raid healing.  If you dont have this, then this fight will be significantly harder and I would recommend taking an extra raid healer to compensate for it.  Infest is cast regularly in phases 1,2 and 3 (not in transitions) and I will not mention it again in detail.  In short, bubble the raid and keep them topped up at all times.  I recommend getting a raid frame addon (the default frames will do this as well) that displays which raid members have infest on them so you can focus any stragglers back to health.

Quick note to everyone in the raid - before you start, everyone should target LK and type /focus.  Ensure that you can see the LK and ensure that you can see the target of your focus, as well, prominently on your screen.  This will become apparent in phase 2.  If you have macros that rely on your focus, fix them up so you can keep LK focussed at all times.  I cannot stress how important this is.

Phase 1 - 100 - 70%
After a minute of roleplay, you can start hitting LK.  It doesn't really matter where you tank LK, the positioning is relative.  Phase 1 is all about the tanking, and the plague.

One tank will hold LK.  Periodically, LK will summon some pets for you to play with.  Tanks take turns in grabbing these adds.  Eventually, LK will summon a shambling horror, and this is where P1 really starts going.  The second tank needs to have the horror MD/tricksed to them if possible, otherwise they need to pick them up under their own steam.  Hunters/Rogues - it is handy for the tanks if you can work out a rotation to get the shamblings to the tank as efficiently as possible.  As they spawn (it's really obvious, they crawl out of the ground like a DK pet), clear the path between the mob and the tank tanking it or you may end up splattered on the ground if you stand in front of it.  No one, except the tank, should ever stand in front of these adds.  Ever.  Ever ever! Or you will die a splattery death.

Now, that tank tanking the mobs needs to move about 10 yards away from everyone on the LK.  Face the add away from the group.  No one will be DPSing the adds, there is a clever trick to killing them.  Your favourite boss timer will show you how frequently LK casts Necrotic plague.  If you have necrotic plague, you need to run as fast as you can to stand behind the Shambling horrors.  When you arrive at the shambling horrors, someone who is allocated will dispel the plague from you.  This will cause the plague to jump to the nearest target - which should be the Shambling Horror.  If it jumps to another player, work out your positioning as a raid to ensure that the nearest target is the Shambling Horror THIS IS VITAL!

Why? Because when that plague ticks at the 5s mark it does 100k damage.  Yes.  100k.  SO! You will use the plague to kill the adds. The allocated dispeller must dispel the plague at 4s regardless of whether the person with it is in the right place or not, if it ever ticks, that person will cop 100k damage and die.  When it jumps it starts the 15s timer again, so that next person has a fresh 4s to get into place. 

One last thing about this phase mechanically - the shambling horrors will also enrage periodocally.  The add will go big and red and mean and will hit the tank REALLY hard.  Healers need to be ready for this.  It can be tranquilized by hunters or rogues, and should be.

Other than that, burn the ghouls down with aoe and incidental damage and hurt LK.  When LK hits 71% make sure the raid is toward the edge of the platform, ready for phase 1.5.

Phase 1.5 70% No damage to LK
When LK runs to the centre, you all need to run to the edge to avoid Remorseless Winter AOE in the centre of the platform.  Using Aura Mastery at this time will help the stragglers caught out in the cold.

This transition lasts 60s, and it is a DPS race.

LK will periodically summon Ice Spheres. These will latch onto someone with a beam and hurt them.  Make sure you have a couple of good bursty range on them and that these things die before they get to their target because you really don't want to get knocked off the edge of the platform when it hits you or someone near you, it gets really annoying after a while!  So, kill those spheres ASAP!

He will also be casting Pain And Suffering on the raid.  So, there is a way to stand to minimise the impact of this.  Melee don't have a lot of choice, they stack up with the LK tank ready to DPS down the Raging Spirit (more on that later).  Ranged and healers need to spread out as much as possible on the cracks in the ice (you will see them).  The Shambling Horror tank needs to be off to the side on his own until the plague finishes off his adds.  The dispeller has to continue dispelling that tank, or they will die from the necrotic plague still bouncing around.

Most importantly, there needs to be a clear path around the very outside edge for the tank to move the Raging Spirits.  4 times in this 60s (the last being JUST before the 60s is up) Raging Spirits will spew like a gut burster out of you and try to eat your soul by tearing away at your flesh!  The tanks need to be ready to taunt them over, and hunters should be ready to assist with an MD.  When the spirit arrives, it is likely to knock you over, don't worry, just get up and try to help get that add to your tank.  Do not stand in front of the spirit as it will probably one shot you.  Tanks will need this silencing effect dispelled in order to be effective tanking.

Speed is of the essence, those raging spirits need to die as quickly as possible so you have very few up at the end of the 60s.

Call which tanks are taking which spirits and make sure that the tank for LK is free toward the end of the 60s.

At 60s LK will cast quake and Phase 2 will begin.

Phase 2 - DEFILES!!! 70% - 40%
The key to this phase is managing the defiles, indeed it is the key to the entire rest of this fight.

Everyone must run into the centre of the room or they will fall off the edge of the platform.  There might be an orb or two up.  Don't be an idiot and run into the orbs! they will wipe the raid.  Tank pick up LK and the other tank drag the raging spirits into range.  The raid must kill those spirits as a priority over killing LK.  Get them dead, dead, dead.  Once the spirits are dead, you can change your DPS target to LK and start to burn him down.

After a while, LK will summon 3 val'kyr to be annoying at you.  These Val'kyr will randomly grab 3 people and fly with them off to the nearest edge of the platform, ie not the stairs up to the throne.  They will always take the shortest path to drop you off to your doom.  This means that they are controllable.  The raid can stack tightly together, just off centre (hunters can stand back in line with the shortest path to the edge, get your protractors out everyone!), and the val'kyr will all take the same path to the same place.  This means that you can add incidental damage to all 3 mobs to burn them down faster.  You don't have a lot of time to kill them, so obviously you need to slow and stun them as much as you can to buy more time.  Allocate stun teams to each valkyr (boss mods can mark them for you), sort hunters out with traps, and DKs with their abilities to slow and chain.  This is up to your raid team to sort out, depending on what you have available.

Here's another bad paint picture to show you what I mean:
In order to get those val'kyrs down, you really need to stack up to control where they move.  The tank will move LK with the Val'kyr in order to maximise incidental damage on him.

Now, this will lead us to the major problem in this fight - DEFILE!
Defile has a 1.5s cast time (this is important) and when cast will drop a big black blob of badness on the ground centred around the person targetted.  Defile is on a slightly longer timer than the val'kyrs, but not a lot longer.

Before the fight, practise this:
Get someone to be LK.  Have everyone focus that person.  Get everyone stacked in the val'kyr position like they were DPSing the LK.  Look at the lineup. make sure everyone is stacked up tight, and that hunters are in line with the shortest path to an edge.  Get that LK person to cast a 1.5s spell on someone.  The person being targetted needs to run TOWARD the stairs/iceblocked idiot and every single other person in the raid needs to run toward the lift in the opposite direction.

Repeat this until everyone in the raid can do it.  If you get targetted, run toward the iceblock, if you are not targetted, run away.  Make sure everyone understands that you have to move.  If you don't move, chances are you will wipe the raid.  I don't know about you, but I know that we are no high end elitist guild who can rely on the person with defile to get it right every single time without fail.

Ok so got that under control?  Excellent. 

So, why have you LK on focus? Because defile will often be cast while you are burning down the Val'kyr.  Raiders have to be VERY AWARE that while they need to burn/stun/slow those val'kyr, they also need to be mindful that also need to move for defile.  This is without a doubt the hardest part of the LK fight. Boss mods CANNOT be relied on for accurate and timely warnings for defile.  I learned this the hard way.

There are several ways to set up where to move LK for this fight to ensure defiles are out of the way, and none of them will suit you and you will have to work out your own positioning, almost guaranteed.  Check out my post about creating your own strats to help with this.  There is a general rule of thumb here:
Stack for val'kyrs;
Run for defiles;
tanks control the positioning.

Basically, you stack up and burn LK most of the time, you watch your timers and you watch your Focus' target to ensure you know who gets defile cast on them.  The tank then repositions LK ready for the next wave of val'kyrs and defiles.  Rinse repeat. 

The mechanics of Phase 2 are not hard - getting them right, that is VERY hard as one person getting it wrong and not moving can wipe you.  It's is a very fiddly phase.  Once you master defile, you pretty much have this fight sorted out.

One thing to note - the cooldowns in your boss mod are a GUIDE.  They are not 100% every time, so make sure your raiders are not relying on them and forget to use their brains and watch what LK is casting on their focus.  There is a general order to the val'kyr/defile pattern but it is not a guarantee.

Note for LK positioning - try to rotate your stack point for val'kyrs, the last thing you want is to stack in such a way that you send the val'kyrs over a defile.

Last but not least for this phase is a tank effect called Soul Reaper.  In short this is a "oh shit" moment for the tank.  Rotate cooldowns and if you can, think about getting the second tank to taunt off you as soon as possible to ease things up for the healers or get a rotation happening to ensure CDs are ready for it to be cast.

When LK gets to 42% ish, you need to start watching your DPS and control the transition to Phase 2.5.  Move LK and the raid to the very edge of the platform, as close as you can.  Obviously, you don't want to be doing this if you are about to get val'kyrs, deal with the val'kyr's first then move the raid.

Phase 2.5
This is the same as phase 1.5 except that the frosty aoe thing is quite likely to oneshot anyone standing in it.  Get onto the outside ring ASAP!  Use any CDs to mitigate raid damage.

Phase 3 FROSTMOURNE!! 40% - 10%
Destroy the Raging Spirits as fast as you can.  You should not be touching LK until they are dead. 

This has all the same mechanics as Phase 2 with one change which makes all the difference.  Instead of Val'kyr there are Vile spirits.  These guys spawn high above you on 10 random players.  They will then chase you down for 30s then explode.  Obviously, you run away.

So, the best way to deal with this is divide the platform in half.  Spread out in one half until the vile spirits arrive, then run to the other side of the platform, ensuring you are not in range when they explode. Seeing as defile is still being cast, but there is no longer a need to stack for controlling the val'kyrs, spreading out is a much better option for controlling defile.  Again, watch LK to see defile targets and use your brains - stay out of defile.

Occasionally, LK is going to have a hissy fit and try and send someone to their doom in Frostmourne.  Upon getting sucked in there, you will see the good guy (I wont say whom, as that could be considered a spoiler) and the bad guy.

This is surprisingly easy to do. First of all, everyone has to interrupt the channeled spell being cast by the bad guy.

Next, if you are a healer, you need to go nuts getting the good guy to full health.  Heal your little butt off, much like in Valithria, as the good guy gets more health, he does more damage until the bad guy dies. 

If you are a DPS, smash face on the bad guy.  You will be buffed while in there, so don't worry too much about that.  As soon as the bad guy is "defeated" you will be spat out.  If you die in there, then LK gets an enrage buff which can be healed/tanked through, but will seriously deplete your healers and tanks reserves.

At 10% there is a hard enrage.  Sit back and enjoy the RP.  At 10% the hard work is over.  If you screw up the last 10% you should all hang your heads in shame and delete your toons.

And that is the Lich King fight.  90% of this fight is learning how your raid is going to cope with defiles and working out the best positioning to deal with that.  As long as everyone pays attention, and everyone moves, even 1 to 2 ticks of defile is ok.

Good Luck!