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“Hah!” Nefarian – 16, Guild – 0

June 3, 2011
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Last night we worked on Nefarian for four hours, and I must say that we made a lot of progress!  All our previous attempts had either ended with a bang in Phase 1 when Onyxia exploded or shortly afterward on the pillars.  However, by the end of last night we’d managed to get Nef down to about 25% on our best attempt.

Now, for the rest of this post I’m going to assume that you know the basic mechanics of the fight, and I’ll just describe how we’re trying to handle them.

“Behold, the Broodmother… Onyxia… REBORN.”

We have finally managed to figure out a strategy for getting 2 Electrocutes out of Nefarian in Phase 1 while still managing to kill Onyxia.  Originally we had tried burning Onyxia down to a sliver of health and then pushing the Electrocutes, but the timing wasn’t working for us.

Now we start with everyone on Ony until Nef lands and is in position, at which point all the DPS – except for our Hunter – switch to Nef.  It’s important to keep enough DPS on Ony, as it seems to slows down her energy gain.  (I can’t find any reference for this, but it sure feels true.)

For those who may not have tackled Nefarian yet, when you DPS him down to 90%, and every 10% of his health thereafter, he will strike the entire raid with Electrocute, which deals about 130k damage to each person in the raid.  It is therefore imperative that the raid is topped up before pushing each electrocute.  Electrocute also adds 25% charge to Onyxia’s charge level, and when she hits 100% charge she explodes and wipes the raid.  We were managing to get two Electrocutes off before having to kill Ony and push to Phase 2.

Each dragon also has a breath attack that deals enormous amounts of damage: Ony’s deals about 105k damage over 1.5 seconds, and Nef’s deals about 162k damage over 1.5 seconds.  We had a couple of tank deaths when Electrocute and a breath attack happened at the same time, but we got better at timing and surviving the attacks.

“See how the shadowflame animates their bones! They fight at my command!”

We had our Mage kite the Animated Bone Warriors in Phase 1 because we don’t have any plate-wearing DPS at the moment.  I tell you, I do not envy his job at all!  The adds appear in random places around the room, he has to get and hold aggro on them without letting them hit him and kill him, make sure the dragons don’t breath on them to reset their energy, and then make sure they all die in a nice pile in a specific spot in the room when their energy runs out.  It’s not easy, and we had a few attempts where they just got away from him, but by the end of the night he was handling those adds like a pro.

Oh, and did I mention that our Mage did this while specced Arcane?  He is a dedicated Arcane Mage, and he constantly puts Fire Mages to shame and makes Frost Mages weep to see his leet kiting skills.  (He did give himself a secondary spec that has Frost as a sub-spec in order to improve his kiting for this fight.)

The biggest problem our Mage has for establishing aggro is me.  As a Resto Druid my HoTs cause a huge amount of threat, and as soon as adds spawn they always run straight at me.  (This is a problem for our add tank on Maloriak too.)  I’m assigned to healing the Nef tank, so in order to prevent myself from establishing aggro on the adds I spend the first 30 seconds of the fight not healing.  Or, rather, I can’t use any HoTs during that time.  So I spend the first 30 seconds spamming Nourish on people to top them up, since people take fall damage damage jumping down to Ony.  (If you are a Druid, jump down in cat form!  You won’t take any damage at all that way.)  I don’t start any true healing until Nef has landed, and even then I sometimes pull aggro.  *sigh*  WTB aggro dump!

“Curse you, mortals! Such callous disregard for one’s possessions must be met with extreme force!”

Once Ony is dead, it’s time for the fun mini-game of “Jump on the Pillars”.  So far I haven’t had any trouble jumping up at all.  But a lot of other people had issues getting stuck under the lip of a pillar or accidentally jumping right over the damn thing and back into the lava.  When people get stuck in the lava they usually die.  The only advice I have for this is the same advice I’ve read elsewhere: Stay about a yard away from the pillar and wait until the lava has filled the room, then press spacebar to swim up.  When you jump out of the lava move forward onto the pillar.  Sounds so easy, amiright?

There are three pillars in this Phase, with one add on each pillar.  These adds do nothing but try to spam cast a really devastating ability called Blast Nova.  This must be interrupted!  This means that ideally you need to split the raid up so that you have three groups, one on each pillar, and each group must have the following:

  • A ranged interrupt to stop the first cast of Blast Nova that happens as you are jumping up on the platform.  (Apparently the Blood Elf racial ability Arcane Torrent works too.)
  • A melee interrupt (or a shaman’s Wind Shear) on a short cooldown in order to interrupt all subsequent Blast Nova’s.
  • A healer.
  • Sufficient healing or damage mitigating cooldowns to keep everyone on the pillar alive through the huge amount of damage in this phase.
  • Someone with a battle rez, since each pillar is out of range of the other pillars.  Thankfully DKs and Warlocks have brez now.
  • Sufficient DPS to kill the add.  Once all three adds are dead, this phase ends.

In 10 man, there will be two groups of three and one group of four, each group somehow managing to cover all those roles.  Here’s how we did it:

  • Group 1: Warrior tank, Resto Druid, Mage
  • Group 2: DK tank, Resto Shaman, Warlock
  • Group 3: Disc Priest, Rogue, Hunter, Boomkin

At first, we did not attempt to push an Electrocute in Phase 2.  We were much too concerned with making sure all the interrupts were happening on each pillar and that the healers could deal with the constant damage from Nef’s air attacks.  However, after a few attempts at Phase 2 we noticed two things.  Firstly, the healing burden wasn’t too bad as long as interrupts were happening.  Originally I was hitting Tranquility as soon as we jumped up on the platform, but if all interrupts happened I didn’t need to.  The other healers felt the same way.  Secondly, because Group 2 had three DPS classes, their add was dying a good 30 seconds or so before the other adds, and then they’d just sit twiddling their thumbs waiting for the other adds to die.  So we decided to have the Rogue focus on the Group 3 add while the Hunter and Boomkin pushed a third Electrocute, and then got Nef close to a fourth Electrocute going into Phase 3.

Having an Electrocute go off in Phase 2 makes that phase a lot more difficult.  If an Electrocute and a Shadowflame Barrage hit at the same time people died.  It was necessary to blow healing/mitigation cooldowns to survive it, but it was possible.

“I thank you for coming, but you really all must DIE now!”

Phase 3 is all about the add tank.  The Animated Bone Warriors are, well, re-animated, and need to be kited around the room.  Our DK tank took over kiting duties and all the DPS focused on killing Nefarian.

Now, from my perspective, this phase was actually pretty easy.  It’s just like more of Phase 1 – heal the tank and watch out for Electrocutes.  (At first my biggest issue was going into Phase 3 with low mana, but on our last couple of attempts I got there with about 60% mana left.)  For the DK and his Priest healer though, this phase was anything but easy.

You see, the Bone Warriors start out with energy, and when they run out of energy they die.  They also start off small and gradually gain stacks of Empowering Strikes, which makes them grow larger and do more damage.  When they die, they lose all their stacks.  When they are hit by any of Nef’s flame attacks, they reset their energy to 100%.  So, in theory, the add tank kites the adds around the room, keeping them out of the shadowflame attacks until they die, then resumes kiting when Nef reanimates them.  Simple in theory, but not in practice.

The adds were just refusing to die for us.  Our DK kept complaining that sometimes his raid warnings for spells were going off before the spell was cast, but other times it was going off just as the spell was cast – and therefore too late for him to move the adds out of the way.  It was also hard for him to find a kiting path through the room, since most of the room fills up with fire, and a couple of times he trapped himself.  Eventually the adds got so many buff stacks that they just one-shot the tank.  They then rampaged through the raid, one-shotting people until everyone was dead.

I know our DK is planning to do some research into how the adds are best kited in Phase 3.  I’m sure that once he gets some practice at it Nef will die.

That’s right, Nef.  Your days are numbered.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2011 4:33 pm

    We’ve been working on Nef for a while ourselves. Our RL decided to go with a different strat. Apparently he was looking at Heroic Nef fights and found the strat we have been working with.

    In phase 1 – Burn Ony and no dps on Nef. We have our Frost DK kite the adds.

    In phase 2 – One healer on each pillar with a designated interrupter on each pillar. When the ranged dps finish with their add they can start dpsing Nef, but don’t push the crackles. (We also have an insane fury warrior who heroic leaps/life grips/swims his way to another pillar to help dps down the add once his is dead)

    In phase 3 – Slow and steady dps on Nef. We push him to about 1-3% of the next crackle, make sure the raid is healed up and then push the crackle through. I have even removed my Soul Swap glyph (warlock) so that I can pull my dots off.

    We have found this works much better for us healing wise. The amount of damage is steady so the healers aren’t oom in phase 1 or phase 2.

    What makes this strat difficult is it focuses strongly on the kiting tank’s ability to kite for a long period of time and for the dps to not go all the way out. The controlled dps makes for an odd feeling that’s for sure. I want to whale away and I can’t. The positive side to this is the healers are gasping for mana and people aren’t dying to low health.

    Each time we attempted this strat we just did better. We now have phase 1 and phase 2 down like buttah (except for when the MT “accidentally” jumps OVER the pillar back into the lava) and just have to get the add kiting down for phase 3. I almost wonder if we should have the frost dk help with kiting the adds. Hmmm . . . 😀

    Question for you!

    Are you primarily tank healing that fight or raid healing?

    The reason I ask is our druid healer was having major aggro issues as well until we switched him to healing the Nef tank. We have the pally healer on the Ony tank and our Disc priest is raid healing with the other 2 helping out. It helps with his aggro keeping his hots to less people than if he was primarily raid healing.

    • June 3, 2011 5:50 pm

      I’ve read about that alternate strat as well, but I’m not sure I like it since Nef has to go from 100% – 0% in Phase 3, and right now our biggest problem is finding a way to deal with the adds in Phase 3. In my opinion, the less health we have to burn through in Phase 3 the better, at least for now.

      Honestly, the healing doesn’t seem as bad now that we’ve had some practice at it. Like I said, the last couple of attempts I was getting to Phase 3 with about 60% of my mana left. I think it’s reasonable to deal with 3 Electrocutes before Phase 3.

      I’m healing the Nef tank, just like your Druid healer. I was doing some raid healing before Nef landed in order to help out, but it just caused aggro issues, so I had to stop. Now I just cast my tiny direct heal Norish to top up fall damage before Nef lands. Once Nef is down I go into full-fledged tank healing and sometimes throw Wild Growth on the raid if I can.

  2. Glaornla permalink
    June 9, 2011 12:53 pm

    Several things:

    Firstly, MUST levitate/slow fall on the jump down! No reason not to! Important when you do this is that your Ony tank jumps, and people wait 2-3 seconds before following. AND PEOPLE FLOATING DOWN MUST NOT USE ANY DAMAGING OR HEALING ABILITIES! If they do, Onyxia will try to attack them, will be untauntable for 3-6 seconds, and it’s major chaos at the pull.

    That strat of doing 0 damage to Nef in Phase1 seems really bad in my experience – we push to 73-74% before Ony dies, and push at least 1, sometimes 2 crackles in Pillar phase — so Nef lands at either 61 or 51% to start Phase 3.

    I think that zero damage on Nef strat would only work with a frost DK kiting. The 50% slow on Chillblains from Frost Fever is wickedly good for kiting the Bone Warriors.

    Oh, and require all your raiders to grind the 125 Tol Barad marks for Especially your tanks, but everyone should get it – once all our raiders had it, we had no deaths in Pillar phase when pushing those crackles & shadowflame barrages.

    Phase 3 we tank Nefarian in the middle, and rotate him around to match the Bone Warrior kiter. The kiter does a full circle around the edge of the room. Occasionally the flame will creep close to the Nefarian group and we run through him to switch which of his flanks we are standing on.

    • June 9, 2011 2:12 pm

      Some good advice here, thanks!

      I think our tanks might have that TB trinket. I know that I was going to get it, but ugh! TB dailies! So tired of them! I was going to suggest we grind it out for Heroic Nef… Now that the nerfs are coming in a week or so I don’t think we’d have time to grind them for the normal mode. Also, we’re only semi-hardcore… I don’t know how much luck I’d have getting people to actually get the trink.

      Your Phase 3 strategy sounds good though. I’ll mention it to my tanks.

      • Glaornla permalink
        June 10, 2011 1:37 pm

        Yeah, I too have seen the *heroic* Nefarian guides requiring it, but it really made a big difference for our regular attempts. I hear ya on the TB dailies, I think I’ve ground out close to 2,000 commendations amongst my 7 or 8 toons I’ve done that on!

        Also, using class-specific mitigations – especially on any Phase 2 Pillar Crackles – is hugely important: Shadow Priest dispersion, Glyphed Hunter Raptor Strike, Mage Ice Block, DK Anti-Magic Shell, Paladins of all specs glyphing Divine Protection (20% Magic Reduction!!), Druid Barkskin, etcetera.

        Myself I am playing a hunter these days and when I do Glyphed Raptor Strike & Trinket, instead of going 130k HP to 30k, I will only drop to about 85k.

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