Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leading Icecrown Citadel: Deathbringer Saurfang

Well, WoL considers Gunship Battle as an extended trash pull that drops an unusually high percentage of purples. I'm inclined to agree. Hard mode might be different, but as it stands, Gunship, while extremely awesome, is also ridiculously easy. So I'm going to jump ahead to Deathbringer Saurfang, who typically becomes the first roadblock emerging guilds face.

Deathbringer Saurfang is the 4th, and final boss of the Lower Spire of Icecrown Citadel.

The Fight: Deathbringer Saurfang is a single phase fight with an exponential soft enrage, and a hard enrage to prevent cheesing. Saurfang begins the encounter by attempting to bore you with RP. It's cool the first few times, but after a while, it winds up like CoS, and just disrupts the timing of your pre pull preparations. Keep this in mind, combat begins 4 seconds after he deathgrips the NPCs into the air, that's the best marker to start pre hotting, pre consecrating, or popping any other buff that requires you to be in combat for maximum effect. It is also worth noting that ALL damage in this fight is physical, so amplify magic is only helpful.

Saurfang will use several abilities. He will cast Boiling Blood on a random member of the raid (3 in 25), this will act as a DoT, doing damage every three seconds for 24 seconds. He will cast Blood Nova, which will do a burst of damage on a random player, and all players within 12 yards. This will not be cast on melee as long as there are 4 (7) people outside of melee range. He will cast Rune of Blood on the tanks, causing them to take more damage, and heal Saurfang every time they take are hit by him. He will also summon 2 (5) Blood Beasts every 40 seconds. These Blood Beasts will need to be killed.

What governs this encounter is Blood Power. Every time Saurfang deals damage to a player using one of those abilities, he gains Blood Power. For each point of blood power he gains, he becomes 1% larger, and deals 1% more damage. When he reaches 100 blood power, he uses it all to cast Mark of the Fallen Champion on a random member of the raid. What this mark does is essentially transfer all the damage the tank takes to the marked raider. Taking damage from the mark will cause Saurfang to gain more Blood Power. Also, if a player with Mark of the Fallen Champion dies, he heals Saurfang for 5% of his health.

Tank Saurfang on the pedestal where he comes out. Swap tanks whenever Rune of Blood is cast. 2 tanks are sufficient for both 10 and 25. Keep all non kiting ranged DPS in with the melee to maximize available space for both the kiting of blood beasts and to prevent splashes from blood novas. Make sure that both melee and tanks refrain from casting any heavy AoEs when the blood beasts spawn, waiting until they are out of range.

Have a plan for each mark that comes out. The amount of damage that the mark victim takes is the same as the tank, so you need to have an equivalent level healing plan set up. A designated holy paladin beacon, or a designated healer.

At 30%, Saurfang will Frenzy. This will last until the end of the fight, and will increase his attack speed by 30%. Saurfang has a base attack speed of 1 second, which makes an attack speed debuff mandatory for this fight.

Look, He Brought Friends!: There is one type of add in this encounter, the Blood Beasts. They spawn in the same locations each time. One left and one right in 10 man, and in a star shape in 25 man, with two left, two right, and one in the middle. The key to handling these adds is to minimize the chance of them actually hitting anyone. They are snareable, rootable, and stunnable. On ten man, I usually assign one ranged DPS with a slow to each beast. On 25 man, with the increased health pool, it becomes a little more complicated. I assign two ranged DPS each to the two spawns in the back, and one each to the ones in the middle and the two front spawns. I usually assign the most competent ranged DPS to the one in the middle, and assign a stun rotation to buy the other solo DPSers some time to nuke their beast.

Other viable, albeit more risky plans include having the OT taunt the beasts as they get far away to buy more time to kite them, or having the melee nuke them over the course of a hard stun, such as a paladin Hammer of Justice, or funneling them all into the middle where a ranged DPS class with a knockback can reset the kite.

Tanks: Two tanks are required for this fight, and at its most simple, is a stationary tanks swap fight. Blood beast management might make it a little more complicated, but it's not very difficult.
Establishing Dominance: Ensure that the melee start out a little bit farther back from the boss, to avoid one of those embarrassing insta gibs at the start of the fight. After relinquishing aggro to the other tank, it is important to ensure that you do not accidentally grab aggro back until it is time for you to taunt. When it is your turn to take aggro, do not be afraid to double clutch your taunts, because a missed taunt screws things up royally. For the ranged kiters, it is vital to know which spawn you're responsible for and be ready to hit it the moment it comes out to prevent them from aggroing onto a healer.

Gearing Philosophy: The majority of the tank's damage is mitigatable by armor and avoidance, so maximizing itemization is the best idea. Avoidance might also help mitigate damage to mark victims, however, there have been conflicting reports on this from log parses. As the damage is pretty low in this fight, this is also a decent fight to bring out your threat set to maximize your damage contribution.

Tank Death Scenario: There really isn't a whole lot of potential threats to the tank in this fight. The worst case scenario is that a tank gets marked, and is afflicted with the Rune of Blood during the frenzy, and the OT fails to taunt back. This is prevented through attentiveness, and being prepare to double up your taunts to ensure aggro. Warrior tanks might want to consider placing Vigilance on the other tank, to ensure that they have another taunt ready to go in the event that they miss.

The Raid: On all difficulties, the raid needs a plan for how to handle the blood beasts, with specific assignments handed out in advance. Keep in mind the minimum number of people needed at range, and try not to expose people to unnecessary risk. The number of healers you'll need depends heavily on the number of marks you expect to have to deal with. Baseline rule of thumb is one healer per mark on 25 man. On 10 man, you should probably try to two heal it.

Outrun or Outlast?: Outrun. Outrun this guy like Indiana Jones outruns a rolling boulder, because if it catches up to you, you'll be a smear on the floor. This fight is heavily backloaded in terms of damage. More marks means more blood power, which means even more marks, which means even more blood power. This fight will hit the fan in a hurry, typically between the 5th and 6th marks. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the raid to end this fight as quickly as possible. Run with as few healers as you can get away with, Legacy now runs this fight in 25 man with 3 healers, and got our initial kill with 5. Blow heroism as soon as the tank has aggro, in order to maximize uptime with other offensive cooldowns. If your DKS want to use army, have them pop army about 15 seconds before combat begins, so that the ghouls die before the first wave of blood beasts. Every second that you stretch this fight out makes it exponentially less likely for you to kill him.

Wipe Scenario: Wipes in this encounter start out due to little things, but once it's assured to be a wipe, the process is quick and harsh. Marks will come out very rapidly towards the end of the fight, and will quickly outstrip the raid's capacity to heal through them. Each mark that goes out with generate more blood power, and make the next one come out faster. In short order, people will start dying. A fight with everyone up, and five marks out with the boss at 15% will find itself, a minute later, with a half dozen more marks out, several players dead, and the boss back above 20% health. The only way to prevent this is to stay ahead of the soft enrage.

Shift Fire: It is imperative that the people assigned to handle blood beasts make their switches quickly and cleanly.

Heroism: Right off the bat to maximize damage output and shorten the fight as much as possible. Some people would council saving it for the frenzy, but if the frenzy is a game breaking issue, then you've got worse problems than when to use heroism. Sitting on hero and other offensive cooldowns just drags the fight out longer.

The Fire: In this fight, the fire is other people outside of melee range. Don't stand in the fire.

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