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Blackwing Lair Summary - Pt. 1 (Intro / Razorgore / Vaelastrasz / Broodlord)

Kieryn
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The following will provide an introduction to the Blackwing Lair instance, detailing what the Leftovers communally know about it.


Instance
Blackwing Lair


Location
There are two entrances to Blackwing Lair, but due to the way instance player caps work, when raiding with the Leftovers you will always be entering Blackwing Lair from one and not the other. The first entrance you will encounter is located within the (Upper) Blackrock Spire instance, just beyond the Stadium where you fight Warlord Rend Blackhand and first meet Victor Nefarius. As you leave the Stadium and turn right on your way to the Spire Throne where General Drakkisath can be found, the green raid instance portal will be visible to your left.

The second entrance, and the one you will be using while raiding with the Leftovers, is special. It is only available once you have completed the appropriate quest, and only while you are already in a raid group. This entrance is located within Blackrock Mountain, near the balcony entrance to Blackrock Spire but opposite it down the curving corridor leading to the Scarshield Quartermaster. In the small room where the Quartermaster may be found at the southern end of this corridor, you will find an orb on a pedastal. If you have completed the necessary quest, and are currently in a raid group, then you may place your hand on (use) this orb to portal directly into Blackwing Lair. If you ever zone out of Blackwing Lair, you will reappear on the balcony in front of the entrance to Blackrock Spire, at the northern end of this corridor.

Because a maximum of 15 people from a single raid group can zone into the Blackrock Spire instance at any one time, the first entrance to Blackwing Lair will not be a reasonable way to enter when you are raiding with the Leftovers. Not to mention the additional time and effort wasted by clearing the intervening portions of Blackrock Spire to get to the portal. Instead, the alternate, "attuned" portal will be used exclusively.


How to Gain Entry
To be able to raid with the Leftovers in Blackwing Lair, you need to have finished the quest Blackhand's Command, which when completed will allow you to use the alternate "attuned" portal mentioned above.


What You'll Find There
Orcs, and Dragonkin, and Wipes, Oh My!

You'll be encountering a number of trash and "encounter" mobs, most of them orcs or dragonkin, along with a grand total of 8 boss mobs (not all of which we have yet seen in person).

Because of the linear nature of the progression from encounter to encounter in Blackwing Lair, and the way in which trash mobs are tied to specific areas or encounters in the zone, each variety of trash mob will be described together with the associated boss mob/encounter/area, rather than separately from the bosses themselves.


Ooooh...Pretty!
Special thanks should go out to Thalin, our resident graphics guru, who put together the excellent accompanying images for the Broodlord Lashlayer writeup!
-- 
"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment." - Anonymous
     
Kieryn
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The Razorgore the Untamed Encounter
The Razorgore encounter is fairly complicated, and requires every member of every class to fulfill a specific role, with a minimum of mistakes, if we are to succeed and emerge victorius. It is more chaotic than any previous endgame encounter up until this point, and presents a set of challenges completely unlike anything you will have seen elsewhere in the World of Warcraft up to this point.

Unfortunately, this complexity means that the full writeup on this encounter, which follows, is long! Apologies in advance, but you'll have to blame Blizzard for this one. Wink


The Environment
The Razorgore encounter takes place in the first room of Blackwing Lair. There are no trash mobs to clear before you may begin the encounter; instead, you may immediately start the encounter as soon as the raid group has zoned in and prepared. The room itself is a large rectangle. For simplicity, we refer to the direction you are facing when you first zone into Blackwing Lair as "north". Thus, the left-hand side of Razorgore's room as you enter it is referred to as "west", and the right-hand side is referred to as "east".

Raised platforms are located in the middle of both the east and west ends of the chamber. Razorgore the Untamed starts on the eastern platform, and the Orb of Command is located on the western platform. The Orb of Command is protected by 3 non-boss orcs: Grethok the Controller, and 2 Blackwing Guardsmen.

Spaced along the northern and southern walls are eight semi-enclosed "cubby holes" (2 adjacent to each corner of the chamber), which you may walk through freely if you choose. All of the mobs which spawn during the Razorgore encounter do so in one of these "cubbies".

Spread throughout the chamber, on the ground level as well as on top of the raised platforms, are a total of 30 large eggs.

At the northern end of the chamber is a gate which starts off closed, and opens only once Razorgore has been killed. At the southern end of the chamber is a gate which starts off open, and closes when the Razorgore encounter is initiated. It remains closed for the duration of the encounter, opening either when Razorgore has been killed or when the encounter has reset following a wipe.


The Phases - Overview
The encounter breaks down into two phases. During Phase 1, we must mind control Razorgore the Untamed via use of the Orb of Command, and force him to destroy all 30 of the eggs in the chamber, while surviving a continuous onslaught of Blackwing Mages, Blackwing Legionnaires, and Dragonkin that spawn in at regular intervals. Once this has been accomplished, Phase 2 begins with Razorgore healing back to full health and all of the other remaining mobs vanishing, at which point we must kill Razorgore himself.

Furthermore, Phase 1 is broken down into 3 sub-phases, as follows:
  1. The Pull (1a) - We pull Grethok the Controller and his two Blackwing Guardsmen down off of the western platform, while our designated orb controller rushes into position to take control of Razorgore. Grethok and the Guardsmen are quickly dispatched while the controller begins destroying eggs, and then the raid group splits into 4 corner control groups in preparation for the next sub-phase.

  2. Corner Control & Kiting (1b) - 30 seconds after the encounter starts, Orcs and Dragonkin will begin spawning at regular intervals in each corner of the chamber. Each corner is assigned a control group that kills all Orc Mages that spawn in their corner, while tapping, CC'ing, or tanking all Orc Legionnaires that spawn in their corner as well. All Dragonkin are kited by designated hunters, or CC'd until they can be picked up and added to a hunter's existing train. As many Legionnaires as possible are kited by designated warriors.

  3. Chaos (1c) - At the beginning of the last Razorgore control period, when anywhere from 4 to 8 eggs remain in the chamber, Razorgore's mass-aggro-generation ability Fireball Volley will be used to disrupt all pre-existing CC methods and draw aggro to Razorgore from all of the remaining mobs in the chamber. A combination of AoE fear, slow, and snare abilities are used by every character with access to these abilities to sow chaos throughout the room. These abilities, possibly with an additional Fireball Volley, are used to minimize the damage sustained by Razorgore, and by the raid, while the last few eggs are destroyed.

Phase 1a - Details
The raid gathers and buffs just inside (north) of the southern gate. Once buffs are applied, the entire raid group except for the designated orb controller moves into the area between the two southwestern cubbies. This places them directly south of Grethok and the Orb platform. The designated orb controller moves into the center of the chamber, as close as possible to the Orb platform without aggroing Grethok. Nobody should be anywhere near Razorgore or his platform.

When the raid is ready, Grethok is range pulled down off the platform. His Guardsmen adds are sheeped when the pull occurs. The orb controller rushes directly into position on the ground floor, snug up against the orb platform, and takes control of Razorgore; it is possible to manipulate the orb while standing on the ground floor, not only from on top of the platform.

Grethok the Controller has an AoE slow ability, along with a single-target mind control. He is DPSed down rapidly, followed by the two Guardsmen. Each Guardsman should be broken out of sheep by a warrior when the previous target has been reduced to 50% health or below. Avoid AoE and multi-target attacks that might disrupt the sheep effect prematurely.

Once these three orcs are killed, the raid will split up into four control groups (see below), and each group will immediately head to its assigned corner.

The first wave of Mages, Legionnaires, and Dragonkin spawns 30 seconds after the encounter begins. If the initial three orcs can be killed quickly enough, everybody will drop out of combat before the first wave arrives, so that individuals may top off their health and mana reserves by eating or drinking in the intervening seconds. Similarly, if any unlucky individuals are killed by Grethok or a Guardsman, they may be rezzed by priests or paladins during this respite.


Phase 1b - Details
The typical raid composition for the Razgorgore encounter is as follows: 4 Druids, 5 Hunters, 6 Mages, 6 Rogues, 5 Paladins, 5 Priests, 4 Warlocks, and 5 Warriors. This raid is further split up into 4 corner control groups, as follows:
  • Each corner has 1 member of each class.
  • The eastern corners (NE and SE) have an additional mage each, while the western corners (NW and SW) have an additional rogue each.
  • The remaining 4 raid members (1 Hunter, 1 Paladin, 1 Priest, and 1 Warrior) are each placed into a separate corner, and have special tasks during Phase 1b (see below).
The corner control groups are organized by party on the raid display. Parties 1 and 3 (on the top-left of the raid display) are assigned to the NW corner. Parties 2 and 4 (top-right) are assigned to the NE corner. Parties 5 and 7 (bottom-left) are assigned to the SW corner. Parties 6 and 8 (bottom-right) are assigned to the SE corner.

Once mobs begin spawning in the chamber, they will arrive at a rate of 1-2 per corner every 15 seconds, until the overall mob population cap (approx. 40) has been reached. Generally speaking, once a mob spawns in it will head directly towards and up onto one of the two raised platforms, after which it will stop, turn and acquire a target to attack via direct LoS. Occasionally a mob that spawns will head for and attack Razorgore, but this occurs infrequently. The Dragonkin population is capped at approx. 12 mobs, but the population of Legionnaires and Mages is limited only by the overall cap.

The goal of this sub-phase is to kill all Orc Mages that spawn, kite all Dragonkin, and CC or kite as many Legionnaires as possible. Legionnaires should be tanked and/or killed during this phase *ONLY AS NEEDED*.

Orc Mages are physically weak and boast the least amount of armor and HP of the 3 types of spawns. They have a ranged Fireball attack that hits for ~1-2k of damage, and an instant Arcane Explosion that hits for ~600-800. They are susceptible to all forms of CC, snares, and slowing effects that affect humanoids.

Orc Legionnaires are melee mobs, with decent armor and HP. They have single-target and cleave melee attacks, and a special melee attack that does large amounts of damage to Dragonkin. As such, it is important to keep Legionnaires from attacking Razorgore excessively during Phase 1c. They are susceptible to all forms of CC, snares, and slowing effects that affect humanoids.

Dragonkin are melee mobs, with good armor and a large amount of HP. They have vicious melee attacks. They are susceptible only to sleep (via druid hibernation or Razorgore's "Calm Dragonkin" ability), fear, and a hunter's Scatter Shot, but cannot be otherwise slowed or snared.

Each class and role has a set of specific tasks to undertake during this phase:
  • Druids - Each druid should hibernate the second Dragonkin that spawns in his corner, keeping it hibernated until a kiting hunter is able to pick it up and add it to his existing train of mobs. Once a hunter wakes up a hibernated Dragonkin, the druid should prepare to hibernate the third Dragonkin that spawns in his corner, and so on. Once Dragonkin stop spawning, druids should reserve their hibernate ability to be used defensively on any loose, unkited Dragonkin that enter their corner. Druids should heal as necessary to keep members of their corner alive, but must be aware of the dangers of pulling aggro as a result.

    Dragonkin that are currently being kited by a hunter should *NOT* be hibernated.

  • Hunters - Each corner's assigned hunter should apply a hunter's mark on the first Dragonkin that spawns in his corner, then aggro that Dragonkin via a combination of max-rank Distracting Shot, Arcane Shot, and/or Serpent Sting. The hunter should then kite that Dragonkin across the chamber, up and onto a raised platform, and then back down and across to the opposite platform. When the hunter arrives back at his assigned corner, he should acquire any Dragonkin that is slept there as a target, apply hunter's mark to indicate that he will be adding it to his kiting train of mobs, and then wake and aggro it through the abilities mentioned above.

    Kiting hunters should note that Scatter Shot *does* affect Dragonkin and may be used as a last resort. Kiting hunters should all have the Minor Run Speed Increase enchant applied to a set of boots for use during this encounter.

    One hunter will be designated to act as the targeter/assist for Razorgore's sleep ability (see below).

  • Mages - Mages should kill Orc Mages that spawn in their corner, and sheep Legionnaires that spawn there. Orc Mages may be pulled from range via use of Counterspell, as needed. Legionnaires that are sheeped should be kept sheeped until one of the kiting Warriors is able to break the sheep and add it to his existing train of mobs. Each time a mage's sheeped Legionnaire is added to a warrior's train, that mage should try to find a new Legionnaire target in his corner that is not being kited, to sheep in a similar fashion. Mages should also make use of their instant attacks to quickly "tap" Orc Mages and Legionnaires that spawn in their corner, but might otherwise escape to a different area of the chamber if they are not attacked.

    Legionnaires that are currently being kited by a Warrior should *NOT* be sheeped.

  • Paladins - Paladins are the primary healers during the entirety of Phase 1, and should strive to keep all members of their corner alive, along with all kiting hunters and warriors who will be moving around the whole chamber during this phase. Each corner will be assigned one Paladin to act as primary healer for that corner. One Paladin will also be assigned to "float" from corner to corner paying special attention to kiters (both Hunters and Warriors). Paladins may use Blessing of Protection as needed to save a healer in his corner, who would otherwise be in extreme danger due to a buildup of healing aggro.

  • Priests - Priests assigned to each corner should assist in keeping the members of their corner, as well as kiters, alive for the entirety of Phase 1. Priests should rely upon a combination of shields and direct healing to minimize their exposure to healing aggro during Phase 1. For a similar reason, the best place for Priests to stand during P1 is in between the two "cubbies" in their corner of the chamber. Priests should use Fade and Psychic Scream defensively, to keep themselves and the other members of their corner alive.

    The two priests assigned to the west side of the chamber should keep the Razorgore controller covered with a shield for the duration of Phase 1. This will help reduce disruption suffered by the controller whenever he might be damaged by AoE effects, such as cleave and arcane explosion.

    One priest will be designated as an out-of-combat rezzer. This priest should stay at the absolute north or south of the chamber, right up against one of the closed gates, to remain out of combat for as long as possible during P1. He should rez those who die during this Phase, for as long as he is able to remain out of combat. When he is eventually forced into combat, this priest should act as a wandering healer, paying special attention to healing kiting warriors and hunters.

  • Rogues - The rogues assigned to each corner should kill all Orc Mages that spawn there, and help in tapping Legionnaires that spawn and are otherwise un-CC'd, to prevent them from escaping to another area of the chamber. As mentioned before, Legionnaires should only be killed when no Mages are available as kill targets, when no CC methods are available to CC the Legionnaires, and when it is otherwise unavoidable. One rogue in each corner will be assigned to the MT display, so that the other members of that corner control group may easily assist those rogues to kill Orc Mages as well.

  • Warlocks - The warlock assigned to each corner should assist in killing Orc Mages that spawn there. Warlocks should use succubi pets for Phase 1, and they should use their pets' seduction abilities to assist in CC'ing Legionnaires, which may then be picked up by the designated kiting warriors. Warlocks should use their instant attacks and seduction to help ensure that all Orcs which spawn in each corner are tapped, before they may escape to another area of the chamber. Warlocks should reserve their single-target and AoE fear abilities during Phase 1b for defensive use, to protect the members of their corner (especially healers) only when absolutely necessary.

    Beware the fact that the use of fear can disrupt the efforts of hunters and warriors to kite Dragonkin and Orc Legionnaires, respectively.

  • Warriors - The two warriors assigned to the western corners should gather up and tank as many un-CC'd Legionnaires as possible. The two warriors assigned to the eastern corners should attack the first Legionnaire that spawns in their corner and then begin to kite it, using Piercing Howl, AoE attacks, and AoE threat-generation abilities (such as Demoralizing Shout) to keep aggro as they move clockwise from corner to corner. As each kiting warrior arrives in a new corner where CC'd Legionnaires are present, the warrior should break and aggro one or more of those Legionnaires, adding them to his existing train of mobs. Eventually, each kiting warrior should have a very large kiting train, possibly with 10+ Legionnaires included in each.

    One warrior will be designated to control Razorgore (see below).

  • Razorgore Assist - The hunter assigned as Razorgore Assist should move to the center of the chamber during Phase 1b, constantly scanning the four corners and searching for any loose, unkited Dragonkin, or any Dragonkin that have developed aggro on a raid member aside from the designated hunter kiters. Each time the Assist has targeted such a mob, he should indicate this over TS and use a special "assist me!" macro to indicate to the Razorgore Controller that the Assist's current Dragonkin target should be slept by Razorgore at the earliest opportunity. The macro can take the following form:
    quote:
    /t RazorgoreController Assist meh! Sleep mah target!!!
    /cast Scorpid Sting(Rank 1)
    /script SpellStopCasting("Auto Shot");
    which will "mark" the target in question with a min-rank Scorpid Sting to indicate that it will be slept by Razorgore, while preventing the Assist himself from disrupting any CC on the target.

    The Assist may also use this ability to extend the effective duration of the sleep effect placed on any Dragonkin by a druid, allowing druids more breathing room as a result.

  • Razorgore Controller - The Razorgore controller must control Razorgore, forcing him to destroy all of the eggs in the chamber one by one. The controller does so by using the Orb of Command. Each use of the Orb of Command has a duration of 90 seconds and is a channeled effect, so damage taken by the Controller will shorten the time remaining on the channelling bar. While he is controlled, Razorgore can use 4 special abilities: Destroy Egg, Calm Dragonkin, Fireball Volley, and Cleave. Cleave is the only ability that is never used by the Controller.

    Destroy Egg is a short-range, untargetted ability that destroys one nearby egg. It has a 3-second cast time (during which Razorgore must be stationary) and a 7-second cooldown. Typically, it should be possible to destroy 7-9 eggs during each control period as a result.

    Calm Dragonkin is a long-range, targetted ability that puts a single Dragonkin to sleep for 30 seconds. It is an instant cast, and thus it is possible to sleep 1-2 Dragonkin in between destroying each pair of eggs in sequence, if used on targets that in range and in LoS while Razorgore is being moved to the next egg.

    Fireball Volley is a long-range, untargetted ability that affects all (or nearly all) of the Orc and Dragonkin mobs in the chamber on every use. Each will be hit for a fireball doing ~1000 damage, disrupting any existing CC, and generating a large amount of additional hate aimed at Razorgore. This ability is used once or twice during Phase 1c to draw aggro from all the mobs in the chamber onto Razorgore, and is *NOT* used before then.

    To simplify the use of Razorgore's Calm Dragonkin ability, the Controller should make a macro to assist the designated hunter and immediately cast the Calm Dragonkin ability. It can be of the following form:
    quote:
    /assist RazorgoreAssist
    /script CastPetAction(5);
    /t RazorgoreAssist Your target is slept!
    If desired, the Controller may also make macros to use the Destroy Egg and Fireball Volley abilities; to do this, replace the numeral 5 in the CastPetAction() call with a 4 or 6, respectively.

    The Controller must destroy eggs as his first priority, and calm dragonkin (when a target is indicated by the Assist) as a second priority. Ideally, the Controller should destroy 8-9 eggs during each of the first 3 control periods, and thus should begin the 4th control period with 4 to 6 eggs remaining. When each control period ends, Razorgore will aggro onto the Controller, so the Controller may wish to move Razorgore away just before each period ends, for safety.
NOTE: regardless of your assigned task, all players should keep in mind that it is better to kite and survive than stand still and die during Phase 1. If you have unshakeable aggro from enemy mobs, and the only way to survive is to begin kiting, do so!

Also, the AddOn AggroAlert can be very useful during Phase 1b portion of this encounter, because it provides a visible indicator of who your current target is attacking. This can allow players to better judge when a Dragonkin is actually "loose" and/or is aggro'd onto someone aside from a designated kiter.


Phase 1c - Details
If the controller begins his 4th control period "on pace" with 4-6 eggs remaining, having suffered negligible disruptions to that point, then his first action at the beginning of this phase will be to use Razorgore's Fireball Volley. This should break all CC (sheep, sleep, fear, etc.) on every mob in the chamber, and aggro them all onto Razorgore, whereupon they will all make a direct beeline towards Razorgore. After using the Fireball Volley ability, the Controller must continue to move to and destroy eggs as before.

Once this chaotic sub-phase begins, it becomes the duty of every class member to keep Razorgore alive, to survive themselves, and to disrupt the enemy mobs in any way possible. Note that these tasks overlap in many ways.

To keep Razorgore alive, enemy mobs should be prevented from attacking him as much as possible. This can be accomplished via the use of AoE fear effects, snares, slowing effects, and so on.

Warriors should be organized into a specific rotation for the use of Intimidating Shout. Each warrior, in turn, should run towards Razorgore and use his Shout, sending all of the mobs near Razorgore running scared in all directions. Combined with Piercing Howl, each use of this ability can provide a significant amount of time where the enemy mobs cannot attack Razorgore at all.

Priests and Warlocks should use their AoE fear abilities in a a similar, though more limited, fashion.

Hunters should (if possible) Feign Death and set a Frost Trap at this point, and use Scatter Shot as possible to disrupt enemy Dragonkin.

Rogues should stun and otherwise disrupt mobs' mobility.

Mages should make liberal use of Blink, Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, and Blizzard to slow enemy Orcs.

Paladins should be ready to use Blessing of Protecion on Razorgore as necessary to keep him alive, as the last eggs in the chamber are destroyed.

Once the final egg is destroyed, Razorgore heals immediately to full health, all of the remaining Orcs and Dragonkin in the chamber will quickly vanish, and Razorgore will make a beeline for the Controller who broke the last egg, starting Phase 2.


Phase 2 - Details
During this Phase, Razorgore himself must be killed. This is a fairly straightforward task involving tanking, healing stamina, and (only) ranged DPS.

As soon as this Phase begins, the Controller will move immediately to the SW corner of the chamber, to wait for Razorgore. *EVERY* other player *MUST* get out of the SW corner when this occurs, and should stay well clear of Razorgore as he moves to attack the Controller.

Once Razorgore has engaged the Controller, the fight begins in earnest. Razorgore has the following attacks and abilities:
  1. A standard melee attack.

  2. A melee cleave.

  3. A warstomp AoE ability that knocks down targets in melee range. This ability also temporarily reduces the aggro on those whom it knocks down.

  4. Conflagration. This frontal cone AoE attack combines a nasty, unremovable DoT with a confusion effect. Each tick of the DoT also affects nearby friendly targets who do not have the DoT themselves, meaning that anybody near a conflagg'd target will be hurt also. Conflagg'd targets are completely ignored by Razorgore for the duration of the effect. When it wears off, their aggro level is restored immediately.

  5. Fireball Volley. Approximately every 20 seconds, Razorgore will use his Fireball Volley attack, which will affect most (if not all) enemies within a moderate range (~40 yards) that are within LoS of Razorgore. This volley does ~1k damage. To avoid the effects of the Volley, players can break LoS with Razorgore by moving into a cubby, behind a platform, around a corner, etc. Players can also simply back away out of its maximum range.

  6. Razorgore is untauntable.
To effectively fight Razorgore, two MTs must be engaged with him at all times. The current aggro-leader MT should be in front of Razorgore, and the secondary MT should be behind him. Each time Razorgore uses Conflagration on the current MT, he will immediately turn around and switch targets to the secondary MT. When the original MT is no longer congflagg'd, Razorgore may either switch back to the original MT, or (depending on how close the MTs were on his aggro list before the conflag) stay on the secondary MT.

It is vital that the MTs stay on opposite sides of Razorgore so that they cannot both be hit by Conflagration simultaneously, and so that when one is conflagg'd, his AoE does not affect the other.

Because Razorgore is untauntable and has aggro-reducing abilities, sufficient time must be allowed at the beginning of P2 for the MTs to build up aggro, before the rest of the raid attacks. Soulstones and combat rezzes should be used at this point, and healers or bandages should be used to top off players' health. Everybody except the MTs should stay at maximum effective range for their abilities, to avoid being affected by Conflagration.

Once sufficient time as been allowed for the MTs to build aggro on Razorgore, the raid will burn him down using ranged attacks *ONLY*. The only characters that should ever be within melee range of Razorgore should be the MTs and possibly paladins assigned to apply Judgements; it is too dangerous for rogues or other melee classes to stay in melee range, due to the unpredictability and AoE damage effects of anybody who is conflagg'd, especially combined with the knockdown effect of Razorgore's Warstomp.


Summary
The Razorgore the Untamed encounter is far and away the most complicated and difficult encounter you will experience to date in World of Warcraft. Every participant has a job to do, and must play at the top of their game with a minimum of mistakes.

Once the initial pull has been made, all of the mobs that spawn in a continuous stream must be killed, kited, or CC'd to keep the raid safe for as long as possible. All the while, Razorgore the Untamed will be mind controlled and forced to destroy the eggs littered throughout this chamber of Blackwing Lair.

Once all of the eggs are destroyed, Razorgore himself must then be killed.

And if everybody keeps their focus and accomplishes their tasks, the end result: PROFIT!
-- 
"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment." - Anonymous
     
Kieryn
Default Avatar
Venezuelan Beaver Cheese
The Vaelastrasz the Corrupt Encounter
The Vaelastrasz encounter is, in many ways, quite simple in concept. But the devil is in the details! This encounter requires extremely careful execution and complete focus, since its elements of extreme unpredictability mean that any one mistake can trigger a complete raid wipe - in mere seconds.


The Environment
The Vaelastrasz encounter takes place in the second room of Blackwing Lair, directly "north" of Razorgore's room. Once the previous encounter has been defeated, the gate separating these two rooms will open. Keep in mind that we refer to the direction you are facing when you first zone into BWL as "north" even if it does not exactly match up with north on a compass or your minimap.

The room itself is a medium sized rectangle, longer on the east-west axis than the north-south axis. In the middle of the east end of the chamber, a small ramp leads up to an enclosed area with two seats. In the southeastern and northeastern corners of the chamber, ramps lead up to a U-shaped balcony which runs the length of the northern, western, and southern walls of the chamber. There is an exit from this chamber in the middle of the western wall, at the balcony level, which remains shut until Vaelastrasz has been defeated.

Each time you zone into Blackwing Lair with a reset instance, whether it has a saved raidID or not, the dragon Vaelastrasz will be lying down on the ground in the center of the chamber, facing the "throne" area. He will initially be marked friendly (green). Whenever Vaelastrasz is non-agressive (green), a member of the raid must speak to him in order to trigger the encounter.

The first time you enter this room after defeating Razorgore in a given instance, 7 other mobs will be present in addition to the languishing dragon. Victor Nefarius (in humanoid form) will be seated on the raised "throne" area. He is untargetable and immediately begins a scripted storyline event when the raid enters the chamber, after which he will vanish. In addition, 3 Blackwing Technicians (goblins) will be located just to the north and south of Vaelastrasz, or 6 Technicians in total. At the same time Nefarius begins his scripted event, these Technicians will flee to the SE and NE, ascend to the balcony, and run to the western gate to escape the chamber.


The Blackwing Technicians
The 6 goblin Technicians which are present in Vaelastrasz's chamber the first time you enter it in each instance are examples of a mob type that will recur later on in the instance. They do not offer an appreciable threat to the raid, but it is in our interests to kill as many of them as possible in each instance, since these mobs can drop the elusive Elementium Ore that is ultimately necessary in the creation quest for Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. The individual chance for Elementium Ore to drop from each Technician is low (~3-4%), and thus every one of these mobs we can kill counts, given our desire to collect the Ore necessary for our members to attain Thunderfury.

To accomplish this task is fairly straightforward. The raid will prepare and organize itself at the northern end of Razorgore's chamber. Once the raid is prepared, *EVERYONE* should rush into Vaelastrasz' area together. Those in odd groups should head to the NE corner of the chamber, to cut off escape for the 3 Technicians that head north. Those in even groups should head to the SE corner, to cut off escape for the 3 Techniciant that head south. Players should use Aspect of the Pack, Charge, Sprint, Blink, and other such abilities to quickly close the distance to and tag all 6 Technicians. Once the Technicians have been engaged, they should be quickly but safely dispatched.

Technicians have one primary mode of attack: once aggro'd and engaged in combat, they will tend to stand in place and frequently throw short-range explosive grenades at targets near them. In these numbers (3 per group), those grenades are not a significant threat unless players get careless. Later on in Blackwing Lair, Technicians will become more of a nuisance. Once as many Technicians as possible have been killed, the raid may buff up, get to their positions, and engage Vaelastrasz.


Vaelastrasz the Corrupt, Scion of the Red Dragonflight
As noted previously, Vaelastrasz is a dragon, and shares many features and basic attacks in common with other dragons such as Onyxia and Azuregos. Vaelastrasz's non-physical attacks are all fire-based, similar to Onyxia's. He has the following abilities:
  1. Single-target melee attack, which will be directed at the MT.

  2. Frontal melee cleave, which should ideally only affect the MT (or MTs, depending on positioning). It is vital to note that this attack can "jump" from one affected player to someone else nearby (within melee range). In other words, anyone that is within ~10 yards of a player hit by the cleave can also be hit, and the effect can chain across a very large number of targets before in that manner, even hitting targets directly behind the dragon in certain circumstances. It is absolutely crucial that rogues remain safe from the cleave, and thus all of the players on the ground floor of the chamber while fighting Vaelastrasz must position themselves accordingly (see below).

  3. Frontal cone flame breath, which should ideally only affect the MT (or MTs, during an aggro transition). The primary reason for MTs to equip FR gear is to mitigate this effect.

  4. Tail whip, which includes a knockback effect.

  5. Fire Nova - An AoE fire-based attack with exceedingly high range. Approximately every 5 seconds, every raid member within Vaelastrasz's chamber will be hit by this effect, which causes approximately 500-600 damage if unresisted, as well as causing noticeable disruption to spells with casting or channeling bars. It is considered a Direct Damage effect, and thus 100/75/50/25/0% of the damage may be resisted from any single pulse. No location in the chamber is safe from this AoE; the only way to escape it is to move all the way to the southern portion of Razorgore's chamber, and/or for Vaelastrasz to de-aggro and reset.

  6. Essence of the Red - A debuff that Vaelastrasz applies to the raid when he is aggro'd, lasting 3 minutes but actually offering a tremendous boost to the raid's effectiveness while it lasts. See below for more details.

  7. Burning Adrenaline - A debuff that Vaelastrasz applies to members of the raid every ~15 seconds once the encounter begins. It significantly enhances damage output and casting ability, lasts 20 seconds and (if the recipient survives that long) causing the affected person to explode spectacularly when its time limit is reached. See below for more details.

  8. Vaelastrasz is untauntable.
It should be noted that Vaelastrasz always begin the encounter wounded, already reduced to 30% of his overall health. Even so, 30% of Vaelastrasz's health is a comparable number of HP to the entire health bar of Azuregos, which means that to bring him down, the raid must do a spectacular amount of damage in a very short amount of time.


Essence of the Red
This debuff is applied to every member of the raid, immediately, when Vaelastrasz is aggro'd. It lasts for 3 minutes, and restores 500 mana, 50 energy, or 20 rage (as applicable) to every affected player each second.

This debuff is one of the key elements of the Vaelastrasz encounter, enabling the entire raid group to sustain incredible amounts of DPS and healing for the full duration of its effects. Because of the incredible rate at which those affected generate mana, energy, or rage, it means that each individual can, in general terms, use his most effective and powerful abilities, almost continuously (or as often as cooldowns allow) for the duration of the encounter, without needing to worry about depleting their mana/energy/rage whatsoever.

The only ways currently known to remove Essence of the Red before it fades naturally are to die or for a paladin to use a Divine Shield. Both of these must be avoided at all costs, due to the integral nature of this debuff to the raid group's success.

The only raid members that are assigned Soul Stones during the Vaelastrasz encounter, as a result, are Rogues. This is done because rogues are the only class which can realistically operate at close to optimal capacity for an extended amount of time during this encounter, even if they are missing the Essence debuff; any other class will quickly run out of mana or rage and be rendered minimally useful otherwise.


Burning Adrenaline
This debuff is applied to one or more members of the raid, approximately every 15 seconds starting when the encounter begins. The overall pattern of who will receive this debuff, and when, is predictable and operates as follows:
  1. Every ~15 sec after the encounter starts, a *completely random* mana user (druid/hunter/mage/paladin/priest/warlock) will receive the debuff.
  2. Every ~45 sec after the encounter starts, the current leader of Vaelastrasz' aggro list will receive the debuff. Unless things have already gone awry, this should always be the currently active MT.
The only class which should *NEVER* receive Burning Adrenaline whatsoever are rogues (assuming, of course, that aggro is never unintentionally pulled from the current MT).

The effects of Burning Adrenaline (BA) are as follows:
  1. All your attacks do +100% damage.
  2. All your spells and abilities with non-instant casting times become instant. Note that this does NOT affect cooldowns, only casting times.
  3. Every second, your MAXIMUM health will be reduced by 5%. Since there is no way to live with a maximum health of 0 HP, anyone that receives BA is guaranteed to die from it after 20 seconds, if they are not killed sooner by one of Vaelastrasz's other attacks.
  4. If you survive until the debuff expires and your maximum HP is reduced to 0, you will explode in a similar fashion to the "Living Bomb" during the Baron Geddon encounter in MC. This explosion typically inflicts 5k-6k damage (including the +100% damage effect) to everyone within an AoE radius of 10 yds.
To beat this encounter, the raid group must deal appropriately with all of these aspects of BA.

Members of DPS classes that receive the debuff must maximize its +damage and casting speed effects to increase the raid's overall DPS before they, inevitably, die.

Members of healing classes that receive the debuff must maximize its instant-cast effect to increast the amount of healing they can perform before they, inevitably, die.

All classes must move, upon receiving the debuff, in such a way that they will not kill any other raid members if they survive until the debuff expires and explode.

All classes must make the proper adjustments to cover for and fill in as members of the raid, one by one, receive the debuff and die. This requires that the remaining healers adjust to take over MT healing duties when an MT healer receives the debuff, for example. It is also the key reason why our warriors must implement an ordered set of aggro transitions, from one MT to the next, as each one in the sequence receives BA at 45-second intervals.


The Warrior Aggro Transitions
The single most difficult task of this encounter, the "meat and potatoes" of a successful attempt, lies in the ordered transition of aggro from one MT to the next, as each one in turn receives BA. If the current MT dies before he is "scheduled" to receive BA, if the current MT dies before the next MT in sequence has gained aggro in a smooth transition, or if any DPSer or healer steals aggro from the current MT at *ANY* point during the encounter, it is exceedingly likely that Vaelastrasz will turn...and some combination of his cleave and flame breath attacks will likely wipe the raid group within mere seconds.

As long as these transitions occur properly, the current MT is always kept alive until he receives BA and dies a "natural" death, DPS is maintained without any pulling aggro from the current MT, and the healers are able to ensure that no raid member dies unless it is unavoidable (such as upon receiving BA), then Vaelastrasz can be defeated.

The most important elements are as follows:
  • 5 Warriors will be assigned into a predetermined MT order, numbered from 1-5. MT1 will start on the ramp leading to the "throne" platform, directly east of Vaelastrasz, with MT2-5 outside the area of effect of the dragon's frontal cleave & breath weapon (see below for details on positioning). MT1 initiates the encounter by moving directly into Vaelastrasz's aggro radius and beginning to attack. The remaining MT2-5 will each move into range with the dragon and begin attacking at 5-second intervals once the encounter begins, to help ensure that an ordered progression of threat levels are established across all of the MTs.

  • MT1 should begin the encounter in Defensive stance, and continuously spam Sunder Armor, Heroic Strike, and Shield Slam/Mortal Strike. MT2-3 should begin the encounter in Defensive stance, and as each one engages in turn he should spam Heroic Strike and Shield Slam/Mortal Strike. MT4-5 should begin the encounter in Battle stance, with Blessing of Salvation applied, and as each one engages in turn he should spam Heroic Strike and Shield Slam/Mortal Strike.

  • When MT1 receives Burning Adrenaline, MT2 must immediately move into position directly in front of Vaelastrasz and augment his existing attack spam with Sunder Armor and Revenge to rapidly build aggro, until MT1 dies and aggro shifts to MT2.

  • After aggro has transferred to MT2, he should stay in Defensive stance until the dragon's health has been reduced to 20%. Once this occurs, he should switch into Battle stance and begin spamming Execute.

  • When MT2 receives Burning Adrenaline, MT3 must immediately move into position in front of Vaelastrasz and augment his existing attack spam with Sunder Armor and Revenge to rapidly build aggro, until MT2 dies and aggro shifts to MT3.

  • After aggro has transferred to MT3, he should immediately switch into Battle stance and begin spamming Execute. At the same time that MT3 begins spamming Execute, MT4-5 (who should still be in Battle stance with Blessing of Salvation applied) should begin spamming Execute as well.

  • When MT3 receives Burning Adrenaline, MT4 must immediately move into position as described above, disable Blessing of Salvation (via right-click), and continue to spam Execute, until MT3 dies and aggro shifts to MT4.

  • After aggro has transferred to MT4, he should simply continue spamming Execute.

  • The transition of aggro from MT4 to MT5 should occur when MT4 receives Burning Adrenaline, in exactly the same fashion as for 3->4.
Note that each MT that receives BA in turn should Last Stand, if available, and continue to attack for as long as he can after receiving the debuff. Healers should continue to heal each MT that receives BA for as long as possible as well. As the maximum health of each MT is reduced by the effects of BA over time, eventually it is certain that one of Vaelastrasz's attack will "one-shot" the MT, and thus he need not worry about exploding or moving out of the way of others as a result.


Positioning and Grouping
The raid is divided into party groups as follows:
  • The warriors are divided into two groups, each of which has a paladin (for FR aura) and warlock (for Blood Pact) included.

  • The rogues are divided into three groups, each of which has a hunter (for TS aura), paladin (FR aura), and priest included. The priests assigned to these groups should actively use Prayer of Healing to maximize their effective healing capabilities across the rogue groups.

  • The remaining healers and ranged DPS classes are divided up evenly into the last three groups.

The raid is positioned during the encounter as follows:
  • MT1 will tank Vaelastrasz so that the dragon is facing directly east toward the "throne" platform. MT1 should be on or just in front of the ramp leading up to this platform.

  • MT2-5 will be to Vaelastrasz's front right, just behind his front leg, to avoid cleave and fire breath. As each MT in sequence is ready to make an aggro transition when the previous MT receives BA, he should move to a spot directly in front of Vaelastrasz, on or just in front of the ramp leading up to the throne platform. At all times, Vaelastrasz should be kept facing east, towards the the active MT. Note that when Vaelastrasz applies BA to a mana user, he will briefly turn, but should not use any other attacks while turned to apply BA; these momentary lapses of attention are acceptable and expected. MT2-5 must be spaced at least ~10 yards away from the rogues.

  • Rogues will be to Vaelastrasz's rear right, just in front of his rear leg, to avoid cleave and fire breath as well as tail whip. The rogues must be spaced at least ~10 yards away from MT2-5.

  • Paladins will be split up, with those in warrior groups on the ground floor positioned in amongst the rogues, to allow them to heal as well as provide aura coverage. Paladins on the ground floor should not be positioned so as to be affected by the cleave themselves, and must NOT stand between the rogues and warriors; doing so can "bridge the gap" between them and allow the cleave effect to chain onto the rogues with disastrous results.

  • Ranged DPS and primary Healers will be on top of the balcony south or southwest of Vaelastrasz, just at the edge. They should group up tightly to minimize the distance anyone who receives BA must cover to reach sufficient separation from the rest of the group before exploding.
Whenever any player except for an MT gains BA, they will need to move sufficiently far from the rest of the raid group that nobody is killed when they explode.

Those on top of the balcony can move directly east or west along the balcony to safety, or (what is often simpler and faster) move obliquely off the balcony's edge, falling onto the ground level in a spot that is clear of other raid members. If needed, someone who drops off the edge can then back up towards the southern wall as well.


Healing and Fire Resist
Healers must maintain dual focuses during this encounter: keeping the MT alive, and keeping the raid alive to inflict damage on Vaelastrasz. Both of these tasks are aided by the inclusion of FR, especially on our MTs. All MTs should have 315 buffed FR for this encounter, or as close to 315 as possible, to minimize the effect of both the flame breath and Fire Nova.

The rest of the raid should aim for a buffed FR of at least 200, and more if it is possible without sacrificing too many key stats, to help alleviate some of the damage they will be taking from the Fire Nova. Keep in mind that the FR buff given by Scarshield Spellbinders in BRS will NOT be used in general, due to the time contraints necessary in doing so.

At least 3 primary Healers (Druids/Priests) should be healing the current MT at all times, with the help of our Paladins.

The remaining primary Healers and Paladins should aim to keep every member of the raid alive until and unless they die unavoidably as a result of receiving Burning Adrenaline. Generally speaking, this means a significant amount of spot healing, as well as party-based healing via Prayer of Healing, will be needed to counteract the continuous damage output of Vaelastrasz's Fire Nova.

As healers themselves are killed as a result of receiving BA, other healers must actively adjust to make up for the difference, re-prioritizing to ensure that the dwindling numbers of the raid continue to survive to the end of the encounter.

Healers that receive BA should, once they have moved to a safe spot, make the best use of BA possible before they die, sending out max-rank heals that have been converted into instant casts.


DPS
All DPS classes, both ranged and melee, will wait for 10 seconds after the encounter begins before attacking Vaelastrasz. Once they begin attacking, however, they should not hold back unless it is absolutely necessary. Any classes with aggro-reducing abilities, including Feint and Feign Death, should be used as often as their cooldowns allow. Rogues should also Vanish as soon as MT2 receives the BA debuff.

DPS classes that receive BA should, once they have moved to a safe spot, make the best use of BA possible before they die, using their most effective combat abilities and sending out max-rank spells that have been converted into instant casts.


Summary
The Vaelastrasz the Corrupt encounter is one of the most unpredictable and fast-paced encounters in World of Warcraft that we have experienced thus far. It requires focus, skill, and an absolute minimum of mistakes.

Success is dependent upon superlative tanking, amazing healing, excellent aggro control, and shockingly high DPS. All of these things must come together for the encounter to work.


But it certainly is fun!
-- 
"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment." - Anonymous
     
Kieryn
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Clearing to Broodlord Lashlayer
After defeating Vaelastrasz the Corrupt, the gate leading out of his chamber will open. Through that gate, you will be greeted for the first time in this instance by the sight of bona fide, honest-to-goodness trash mobs barring the path to the next boss, Broodlord Lashlayer. Trash mobs populate 3 rooms, along with connecting passageways, that you must clear in order to reach the Broodlord.

The first room contains two groups of dragonkin, which we call Death Talon Packs. Once the Death Talon Packs have been cleared, your path leads up some stairs and to a pair of interconnected Suppression Rooms. The Suppression Rooms are populated by a fast-respawning mix of elite dragonkin and orcs, non-elite whelps, and a network of traps called "Suppression Devices" which can severely limit the speed and combat effectiveness of the raid as it clears through these rooms if not dealt with appropriately. Broodlord Lashlayer himself guards the gate at the end of the 2nd Suppression Room.


Death Talon Packs
Beyond Vaelastrasz's chamber to the west lies a medium-sized room, with some monster-sized kegs of "Evildragonlordbrau" (Victor sure knows how to party!) and two Death Talon Packs. Each Pack consists of a semi-random assortment of 4 varieties of dragonkin. If any member of a Pack survives a bad pull, the entire Pack will respawn; they cannot be split or pulled and killed incrementally.

The four mob types that comprise these Packs are as follows:
  • Death Talon Captains - Each Pack contains 1 of these. The Captain is a powerful, well-armored lvl 62+ mob with ~240k HP. They apply a magic debuff called "Mark of Flames" to random members of the raid, increasing fire damage taken by 1000 for 2 min. They apply a magi debuff called "Mark of Detonation" to their current target, inflicting ~700 fire damage to ALL allies within 30 yards of the afflicted player each time he is struck by a melee attack. They cannot be slept or otherwise CC'd, and must be tanked instead. They will be killed first on each pull.

  • Death Talon Flamescales - Each Pack contains 1-2, randomly determined for each pack. Flamescales are moderately tough lvl 62+ mobs with ~120k HP. They have a periodic ranged attack called "Flame Shock" which inflicts ~2000 fire damage and applies a magic DoT that inflicts an additional ~350 fire damage every 3 sec for 12 sec. Combined with the Mark of Flames, this attack and DoT can become quite dangerous. They also have a randomly targeted charge that knocks back those affected. They cannot be slept or otherwise CC'd, and must be tanked instead. They will be killed second.

  • Death Talon Seethers - Each Pack contains 1-2. Seethers are moderately tough level 62+ mobs with ~110k HP. They enrage to inflict additional melee damage, and have a frontal cleave attack. They cannot be slept or otherwise CC'd, and must be tanked instead. They will be killed third.

  • Death Talon Wyrmkin - Each Pack contains 1-2. Wyrmkin are relatively fragile level 61+ mobs with ~90k HP. Their primary form of attack is a "Fireball Volley" that they use frequently, sending out powerful fireballs doing ~1100 damage apiece to all targets within LoS of the Wyrmkin. You can break LoS with any active Wyrmkin to avoid being hit by this attack. Although physically weak, Wyrmkin are a large threat to the raid if allowed to use their Volley attack unchecked. They can be put to sleep by a druid's hibernate ability, but due to their high level they will tend to resist or break free of this effect fairly often. They will be killed last on each pull.
Positioning, pulling, and killing each Pack is accomplished as follows:
  1. Targets will be assigned to MTs in the following order: Captain -> Flamescales -> Seethers. 4 or 5 MTs may be required, depending upon the number of Wyrmkin present.

  2. A pair of druids will be assigned as the primary/secondary sleeper for each Wyrmkin, with the primary sleepers added to the MT display and assigned targets before the pull. These assigned sleepers may be positioned on the edge of the balcony in front of the gate for optimal LoS when sleeping Wyrmkin.

  3. A designated paladin bubble puller is positioned on the balcony in front of the gate.

  4. Hunter pullers are split up between the NW and SW corners of the balcony, in range to individually pull the Captain, Flamescales, and Seethers as they emerge from the gateway. Each hunter pulls for an assigned MT. The first two MTs have their targets pulled north, while the remaining 2 (or 3) MTs have their targets pulled south.

  5. The remainder of the raid is located on the ground floor of Vaelastrasz's chamber. MTs are positioned towards the NE (odd numbered) or SE (even numbered), to more easily engage their assigned targets as each of them reach the ground floor. The rest of the raid is positioned towards the western half of the chamber.

  6. The bubble puller runs in, uses divine shield, aggros the assigned Pack, and runs back out, jumping over the edge of the balcony.

  7. Hunters pull the melee dragonkin as they emerge from the gate. Once each dragonkin is heading north or south along the balcony as appropriate, the hunters drop off the edge onto the ground floor.

  8. The primary/secondary sleepers hibernate Wyrmkin as they emerge from the gate.

  9. As the dragonkin reach the ground floor, they are picked up and tanked by the MTs. The raid burns down each dragonkin in turn, working their way down the MT display. When only Wyrmkin remain, the raid moves up onto the balcony and kills them one at a time, allowing a tank to break CC and establish aggro in each case.
Both Packs are handled in the same fashion. Once a Pack has been killed, it will no longer respawn at all for the remainder of the saved instance.


The Suppression Rooms
The second and third room you clear through to reach the Broodlord, along with an L-shaped hallway that connects them, collectively form the "Suppression Rooms". These rooms, represent a "gauntlet" filled with various fast-respawning mobs and traps that must be dealt with as the raid progresses through these rooms. Progress must be made quickly and efficiently, with only brief stops possible. The raid must stay in near-constant motion, and cannot allow itself to dawdle or become too spread out lest it fall prey to the rapid respawns.

All of the trash mobs located within the Suppression Rooms continue to respawn for as long as Broodlord Lashlayer remains alive. Generally speaking, any wipe on the Broodlord will require the raid to re-clear through a complete circuit of the Suppression Rooms in order to make their next attempt at the boss. Once Broodlord Lashlayer is dead, all of these mobs will stop respawning and the traps spread throughout will deactivate. When zoning into a saved (but reset) instance where the Broodlord is already dead, the traps will not appear at all.

The two Suppression Rooms themselves are approximately rectangular, laid out with their long axes running N/S. They are adjacent to one another and tiered, with the lower room to the west and the upper room to the east. The western side of the upper room is not bounded by a wall, but instead by a ledge that is also the eastern wall of the lower room. The outer (right-hand) wall of each room has a series of shallow "cubbies" that the raid may take temporary refuge in, on their way to the Broodlord. The image below shows the general layout of these rooms, and the passageway between them.



While in the Suppression Rooms, the raid must deal with the following:
  • Death Talon Hatchers - Each room contains approximately 5-6 of these dragonkin, which are moderately tough level 61+ mobs with ~90k HP. They patrol back and forth in set paths across the width of each room. Apart from their physical attacks, they also have an AoE aura which applies a debuff called "Growing Flames". Once one of these mobs is aggro'd, its aura will pulse every few seconds. The debuff causes 50 damage every 2 sec for 6 sec, but can stack up to 100 applications (5000 dmg/2 sec). Hatchers cannot be CC'd. Hatchers must be pulled singly and tanked by a warrior at least 15 yds away from the body of the raid group, so that the raid is not continuously affected by Growing Flames. Hatchers respawn in approx. 10 minutes.

  • Blackwing Taskmasters - Each room contains 2 groups of 3 orc Taskmasters, which are fairly weak level 61+ or 62+ mobs with ~50k HP. The members of each group patrol together, up and down and side to side within predetermined zones in each room. Apart from physical attacks, they have a shadow-based Shock attack, and can heal themselves or one another with a "Prayer of Healing"-type animation to indicate when they are casting such a heal. They can be sheeped, and as each group is pulled, its members should be selected and killed one at a time while the remaining members are kept sheeped. Taskmasters respawn in approx. 10 minutes.

  • Corrupted Whelps - Each room (and the passageway between them) contains numerous groups of non-elite Blue, Bronze, Green, and Red whelps, which appear in various linked combinations of approx. 4-8. Generally, each group can be pulled separately from adjacent groups. Each color of whelp is immune to a specific school of magic (Blue/Frost, Bronze/Arcane, Green/Nature, and Red/Fire), and since each group contains a mix of different colors, the best way to deal with them is to have casters use a combination of different AoE attacks to take down groups en masse. Groups of whelps respawn very rapidly, in approx. 3-5 minutes.

  • Suppression Devices - Each room (and the passageway between them) contains an ordered, evenly spaced grid of these traps. When inactive, they are retracted into the floor. When active, they emerge from the floor and after a short delay will apply a "Suppression Aura" debuff to every player with 20 yds. This debuff slows movement speed to 20% of normal, reduces attack and casting speed by 80%, and lasts for 6 sec. Rogues must stealth ahead of the main body of the raid group and use their Disarm Traps skill on each deployed Device, deactivating each one in turn for a pre-set amount of time as the raid group progresses through the gauntlet.

    It is strongly recommended that those assigned to disabling these Devices have maximum points invested in the Master of Deception talent. When stealthed, rogues will be unaffected by the Suppression Aura. Rogues stealthed away from the raid group must take care not to be de-stealthed by patrolling mobs or their abilities, including the Growing Flames aura of any Hatchers that are aggro'd.
To successfully run the "gauntlet", the entire raid must move as a cohesive unit, with different classes performing different tasks. Rogues must disarm Suppression Devices to clear a path through which the raid can safely travel. Warriors must lead the way, pulling Hatchers as well as groups of Taskmasters and Whelps. Healers must keep the raid alive, and rez the fallen each time there is an opportunity to do so. DPS classes must burn down each group of hostile mobs when they are pulled. And everybody must be careful to stay together, stay alert to the danger of frequent respawns and accidental pulling, and stay focused. The Suppression Rooms are NOT a good place to go AFK!

The contents of the Suppression Rooms are displayed in abstract form by the following image. Note the approximate positioning of the Suppression Devices, as well as a simplified representation of the paths taken by Hatchers as they patrol the area. Taskmasters patrol in a more general vicinity, randomly enough that it is not explicitly marked. Whelps are spread throughout the room; generally, one group per Suppression Device. The raid will move along the outer, right-hand wall of each long room, making incremental progress from one cubby to the next as indicated on the diagram.



Broodlord Lashlayer is located at the end of the 2nd (upper) Suppression Room, guarding a closed gate in the center of its northern wall. When the raid reaches the second to last cubby before the Broodlord, it is vitally important that they stay close to the eastern wall, to avoid accidentally pulling the Broodlord due to his large aggro radius (indicated above as a brightened circle). Once in this second-to-last cubby, the raid will buff up. When ready, they will move to engage him in combat.


Broodlord Lashlayer, a New Breed of Bad Guy
Broodlord Lashlayer is the first draconid that you will encounter in Blackwing Lair, a fiendish hybrid of dragonkin and humanoid (orcish?) stock. He is big, and bad, and wields a very mean blade indeed. Though some of his abilities are familiar, others are not, and he poses a unique test of the raid's capabilities. Broodlord Lashlayer has the following attacks and abilities:
  1. Standard, single-target melee attack, that will be directed at the current MT.

  2. Mortal Strike (MS) - A vicious single-target attack that will be directed at the current MT. A critical strike MS can inflict upwards of ~6500 damage, even against an excellently geared tank. As with other Mortal Strikes, this attack also applies a debuff that reduces all healing effects by 50% while it lasts.

  3. Blast Wave - A fire-based AoE attack that will hit all those within 20 yds of the Broodlord. It inflicts ~3000 pts of damage, slows movement speed by 50% for 8 sec, and also causes knockback (with corresponding loss of aggro) as well. Apart from the warriors, rogues are the only other class that should be affected regularly by the Blast Wave.

  4. Knock Away - A single-target knockback that will be directed at the current MT. It inflicts a severe loss of threat for the target; it has been theorized that the loss of threat caused is not a fixed quantity, but instead a percentage of the current accumulated threat previously built up by the target MT. Because of how much aggro is lost by the MT as a result, this encounter is the first in the game to truly introduce the concept of an "aggro ceiling" above which it becomes impossible for a single MT to out-pace the threat generated by DPS and healing classes. See below for more details.

  5. Broodlord Lashlayer is untauntable.
To initiate this encounter, a paladin bubble puller rushes forward to aggro Broodlord Lashlayer, while all the MTs move into position with backs firmly against the closed gate at the end of the Room. Healers and ranged DPS classes move into position in a tight group at the rear corner of the nearest cubby to the draconid's spawn point. Rogues initially move into place with the ranged classes.

Once the healers are in position and ready to cast, they will signal MT1 to begin attacking. The other MTs will engage a moment later. Generally speaking, a single group of Corrupted Whelps must be killed by the raid group as they move into their positions in the nearest cubby to the Broodlord.

Broodlord Lashlayer should be tanked such that he faces the closed gate, with his back to the rest of the raid group. Rogues will move into position once MT1 has aggro control, and begin attacking the Broodlord from behind. At the same time, ranged DPS will open fire. As the encounter progresses, Broodlord Lashlayer will frequently switch targets from one MT to the next, in a near-random progression as each MT in turn loses aggro control due to the Broodlord's single-target knockback. The following image displays the approximate positioning used by the members of the raid during the encounter.



The challenge this encounter presents is to preserve all of the MTs for as long as possible, while inflicting consistent high DPS, managing aggro, and avoiding the "aggro ceiling" effect (discussed in greater detail later). Specifically, each class must accomplish definite goals:
  • Druids - should focus healing on the current target of the Broodlord's attacks. Additional healing, including HoTs, may be used on any of the MTs, but it must be stressed that the focus should be on keeping the current MT alive at all times. Whenever the Broodlord changes targets, all druids should change as well.

  • Hunters - should maximize their DPS and minimize their aggro via use of Feign Death, as often as possible.

  • Mages - must do DPS while watching their aggro levels to avoid the "aggro ceiling". See below for more details.

  • Paladins - one paladin must stay out of combat, avoiding Blast Wave and remaining in the rear portion of this cubby, to act as OOC rezzer. Other paladins should focus on healing similarly to the druids, keeping the current MT alive at all times. Whenever Broodlord changes targets, healing paladins should change as well.

  • Priests - one priest will be assigned to each MT warrior. Any priests that have the Inspiration talent should be assigned to the lowest-AC warriors, so that the resulting buff will be of greatest use if and when it procs.

    Additionally, each priest must remain focused on protecting his assigned warrior. Every time a warrior is hit by Blast Wave, his assigned priest must restoring that warriors's health to full, "topping it off". Every time a warrior is hit by an MS, his assigned priest must apply a Power Word: Shield followed by a Greater Heal and possibly other heals.

    The priests' healing and shielding abilities provide the initial buffer against instant death which can occur if Broodlord Lashlayer chains multiple attacks and/or crits onto any one target in a short amount of time.

  • Rogues - will attack the Broodlord from behind. Each time the rogues are hit by Blast Wave and knocked back into the cubby with the rest of the raid, they must heal themselves via use of bandages before moving in to attack the draconid again. Rogues must not rely upon spot healing during this encounter, and should equip their optimal FR gear set, or something very close to it, to mitigate the severe damage otherwise caused by this attack.

    One rogue must keep a watch on the (single) Suppression Device adjacent to the main body of the raid group; it is imperative that this Suppression Device be kept disabled for the entire duration of the encounter.

  • Warlocks - must do DPS while watching their aggro levels to avoid the "aggro ceiling". See below for more details.

  • Warriors - must all fight for aggro continuously during the encounter, doing their best to maximize their threat generation. With their backs against the closed gate, they will not move at all when hit by Blast Wave or single-target knockback. Due to the amount of physical DPS that Broodlord Lashlayer can inflict, each MT must wear their best physical defense gear.

    As each MT in turn is knocked back and loses aggro control, another MT will typically become the new aggro leader and Broodlord Lashlayer will switch targets. This pattern will repeat many times over the course of the encounter.
In essence, the entire raid must burn Broodlord down with a combination of ranged and melee attacks, while keeping all of the MTs alive. If any MT dies, it is exceedingly unlikely that he will be able to generate sufficient threat to ever take aggro before DPS and healing classes do, if rezzed. While this encounter is a sprint, it is also a continuous fight against the "aggro ceiling".


The "Aggro Ceiling"
This is a fairly new concept, in the sense that it has not yet played a significant part in the design of the WoW endgame until this point. Broodlord Lashlayer is the first boss you will encounter where it is a featured aspect of the encounter. The essential ideas are as follows:
  • In general, with healing support and sufficient rage, any warrior will be able to generate at most a certain maximum amount of threat in any given unit of time.

  • As long as the amount of threat generated per unit of time exceeds the rate at which all the other members of the raid are generating threat, the MT in question can continue to keep aggro control indefinitely. This is the situation for essentially every raid boss prior to Broodlord Lashlayer. It is true even if the boss in question has a way to permanently reduce the MT's accumulated threat, as long as the reduction is by some flat amount.

  • If a given encounter involves an ability that permanently removes a certain percentage of accumulated threat from the MT, rather than a flat amount, then at some point the amount of threat removed each time this ability is used will be equal to the maximum amount of threat that can be generated in the time between two uses of the ability.

  • When this occurs, it creates an aggro "ceiling" beyond which the MT can effectively no longer build threat. As soon as another member of the raid exceeds that ceiling, there will be no way to avoid pulling aggro from the MT. This is especially significant for classes with no way to permanently reduce their own threat: mages, warlocks, and all types of healers.

  • As an arbitrary example, assume that a given warrior can generate 1000 "units" of threat in 30 seconds, and every 30 seconds a given boss mob permanently reduces his threat by 10%. At some point in the encounter, the warrior in question will have 9000 "units" of threat immediately after being de-aggro'd. In the next 30 seconds, he would generate enough aggro to reach 10000 "units", but would be reduced back to 9000 immediately thereafter. As a result, the warrior in question would never be able to exceed approx. 10000 units of threat. Any other player that exceeds that much accumulated threat would be unable to avoid pulling aggro from the warrior.
The worst possible scenario for encountering this aggro ceiling occurs when a boss mob is untauntable. In that case, there is no way for the current aggro leader to avoid receiving the brunt each time the de-aggro ability is used. This is the situation for Broodlord Lashlayer.

Because the primary de-aggro ability used by the Broodlord affects only a single target, the more MTs are alive and building aggro at any given time, the more that de-aggro effect will be "spread" across multiple MTs and the higher overall threat the aggro leader will be able to reach as the encounter progresses. Every time an MT is lost during the encounter, the maximum effective height of the aggro "ceiling" is significantly reduced.

It is important to note the following:
  • Certain classes with ways to permanently reduce their own aggro (rogues and hunters) can effectively ignore the impact of the aggro ceiling, via use of these abilities.

  • Talents and gear that reduce threat generation (such as Subtlety, or the 3-pc Netherwind set bonus) can be used by DPS and healer classes to lengthen the amount of time it takes them to reach and exceed the ceiling.

  • Talents, gear, and stance utilized by warriors can increase the "height" at which the ceiling occurs, thus also lengthening the amount of time it takes for DPS and healer classes to reach and exceed the ceiling.

  • Depending upon circumstances, it may be possible for classes with no intrinsic threat reduction abilities (mages, warlocks, priests, druids, and paladins in particular) to actively suicide during an encounter, so that an OOC rezzer can bring them back to life. This is effectively another mechanism by which such classes can wipe their aggro slate clean. Any use of organized "suicide chains" should be carefully considered before being implemented for a given encounter, since they are by no means always necessary.
There are a number of ways to help mitigate the "aggro ceiling" effect, but the Broodlord Lashlayer encounter is one place in which it operates at full force.


Summary
All in all, clearing your way to Broodlord Lashlayer is a test in and of itself. The unique environment presented by the Suppression Rooms, and the nonstop gauntlet that must be run through them, represent a true departure from previous incarnations of endgame trash mob content. Each time the raid has finished clearing to the Broodlord himself, they must also prove they are up to a delicate challenge: balancing the needs of a fast-paced and demanding tanking and healing encounter with the entirely new difficulty of managing threat, so as to avoid the "aggro ceiling".

Once again, if you find yourself up to the task, the final rewards of success include both satisfaction and enjoyment.

Oh yeah...and booties! Big Grin
-- 
"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment." - Anonymous
     

 
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