The Care and Feeding of Warriors this week goes back to Icecrown Citadel to discuss the last two currently accessible encounters, the Gunship Battle and Deathbringer. Matt Rossi kind of wishes the Deathbringer fight was just against a great big talking axe. We don't have enough boss fights with inanimate objects.
Okay, so you've done the first two bosses in the place. Now what? Well, now you launch yourself via poorly designed goblin explosives between flying boats and you fight the son of possibly the greatest living warrior on the face of Azeroth. And then if you're Alliance you turn the whole thing over to a gnome with a frying pan and go raid Trial of the Grand Crusader for another week, I guess. Horde are presumably too clever to trust the opening of Icecrown to breakfast technology. Or too hungry. At any rate you're stuck with the same content as the rest of us.
So let's get on with it, shall we?
I want you to go listen to this song now. The part where they're on the chairs? That's the Gunship Battle.
What? You want more detail than that? Come on! Just imagine yelling GUNSHIP BATTLE instead of Mortal Kombat. That's all you need. There's rocket packs!
You're not going to leave until I actually describe the fight, are you? I have some ham I really want to eat, but you don't care. You don't care about my ham! You just want to hear about your precious gunship battle. Fine! Fine then! I'll do it, but I'm doing this under protest.
The Gunship Battle is stupid fun. Seriously, it's awe inspiring in its purity. You get on a big flying heavily armed boat thing, and you shoot at another heavily armed thing while some of you have to use rocket packs to jump over to the other boat and whup ass on either Varok Saurfang or Muradin Bronzebeard. (And by whup ass, I mean, inconvenience them slightly. I mean, come on, it's Saurfang and Muradin! You're lucky Saurfang doesn't just cleave you to death for having the temerity to try and hold aggro on him. By that, I mean come to your house and cleave you where you're sitting playing the game. He can do that.) For a tank, you have one of two roles. Either you're on defense, in which case you sit under a portal gathering up enemy mobs and holding them so your boatload of DPS can burn them down,or you're on offense, in which case you rocket jump over and tank Muradin or Saurfang.
The complication for the Muradin/Saurfang tank is Battle Fury, the single best buff in existence OMG I want this. Every time Saurfang or Muradin hits someone with a melee attack, he gets a stacking buff that increases all damage done by 10%. That's right, 10% more damage every time he hits something. So, if you were to attempt to actually tank him through the entire encounter, he'd soon have some ridiculously high damage buff that would cause his normally reasonable normal melee (about 2k or so on plate when you first engage him) to become ridiculous, 20k white swings. Plus, of course, he cleaves for 110% damage anyway, so... yeah. Not good. If Muradin/Saurfang are not tanked, however, they tend to throw axes at people that stack a nasty bleed debuff on whoever they're hitting. There's various ways to deal with this... the way we did it on 10's was to have a friendly hunter use Distracting Shot to pull him off of me long enough for me to run out to range, then I taunted him back and let him throw axes at me until the buff fell off of him and I could go back into melee range.
On 25's we had a bug where the buff wasn't falling off of him (it seemed like a DK's bloodworms were in constant melee range, allowing him to kill one and keep stacking) so I and another tank just got out to range and taunt traded him every 10 stacks of the bleed debuff. I hope they fix this, because it feels kind of cheap to beat Saurfang by standing 20 feet away and yelling at him over and over again.
Another way to deal with this is to simply leave the ship and let him throw axes at you from the other side. Rocket jump back when his stack falls off, rinse and repeat. This has become my favorite method, to be honest: you just have the offensive force wait on the edge of the ship and rocket over when the battle mage comes out. Be sure to have your tank target Muradin/Saurfang before jumping, throw a taunt on him as you land, he runs over, you hold him until the Battle Mage is dead. Then you get the heck out of dodge, my friend. I was actually being healed from the other boat, my healer didn't even have to come over. He throws an axe or two at you once you're on the other side, then runs back and resets.
Meanwhile, a DPS warrior will most likely either be using the cannons to shoot the enemy ship or be running around the enemy ship wiping out the Battle Mages when they come out to freeze your ship's cannons. The cannon fire takes care of axe throwers pretty effectively, but you can DPS on them too. Keep jumping onto the ship, tank Muradin or Saurfang without getting insta-gibbed, kill the battle mages, you win! And you get to wear a rocket pack doing it!
Okay. Now I'm gonna eat this ham, and after I get done with that I'll describe the Deathbringer Saurfang battle.
If I had to come up with a list of the greatest living warriors in World of Warcraft (hey, that sounds like a column idea! Vote for your candidates in the comments!) then you know Varok Saurfang would be near the top of that list. For some of the contenders the difficulty is in determining if they're actually warriors. Rexxar is a Beastmaster, Thrall a Shaman, but with Saurfang you have absolutely no difficulty upon watching him in action during the Borean Tundra questlines at pegging his class. Dude's a warrior. Always has been, always will be.
As a result I felt kind of bad killing his son. Dude was cool to me in Nagrand. But you know how it is, birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly, I gotta hit raid bosses with an axe until they die. (Yes, yes, with the help of 24 other people, sheesh, it wasn't intended to be a literal rendering of how raiding works.) At any rate, the Deathbringer Saurfang fight is interesting on a mechanical level as well as a lore one.
To be honest, I've never been DPS on this fight. So while I have an understanding of what DPS does on it, there may be flaws based on the fact that all I really do on this fight is hit taunt a lot. Frankly, this is not a particularly hard or challenging fight for a tank. You basically have to show up, get into position, know whether you will be tanking Deathbringer first or second in the rotation, and either pick him up or wait until the other tank gets Rune of Blood. If you're the second tank, you taunt Deathbringer as soon as he puts Rune on the first tank, who will then do the exact same thing once he puts Rune on you. Deathbringer spends the entire fight as a ball the two of you play taunt catch with. As long as you can do this one thing properly and manage your cooldowns to not die once he gets Frenzy at 25% health, that's the entire fight from a tank's perspective. Threat's not really even an issue since you're constantly taunt trading him.
The fight is far more elaborate than this, of course, but the elaboration is in elements of the fight that as a tank you shouldn't really be experiencing. DPS will need to pay attention. Be very careful with AoE damage, as not only does it not really matter much when Deathbringer is up by himself (although of course a fury warrior will use Whirlwind when its up, it's part of his/her main rotation) but the Blood Beasts Deathbringer summons take almost no damage from AoE. (As a tank, you should also watch AoE threat moves like Thunder Clap, as you don't want the Blood Beasts to stop and hit you, it will gain Deathbringer stacks of Blood Power faster.)
Basically, this fight is an execution race. You tank Deathbringer Saurfang as described, trading him between tanks. He summons Blood Beasts which cannot be AoE'd down and must be kited/killed with focused single target DPS, as every time they deal damage they give Deathbringer a stack of Blood Power, which increases his size and damage by 1%. Some strategies call for a hunter or other ranged player to get aggro on one while the other is snared, rooted or stunned (I've seen entangling roots and I've even used shockwave to stun them in place when asked) and then each is burned in sequence. They go down fast if a lot of ranged switch to them. (Some Blood Power stacking in unavoidable as Deathbringer Saurfang gets it every time he deals any damage at all, meaning when he hits a tank for damage... it's therefore even more critical to minimize all other opportunities for him to get it) If Deathbringer reaches 100 energy he places Mark of the Fallen Champion on someone in the raid, increasing the healing burden tremendously. Considering he'll be casting Boiling Blood and Blood Nova the last thing you want to subject your healers to is a lot of Marks to try and heal through. (Each Mark does roughly 5k or so damage to the marked target every single time he performs a melee attack on one of the tanks. As you can imagine, it's even worse once he frenzies.)
So basically, while you definitely want DPS to be high, you also need execution to be spot on. If you can execute elements like getting away from the blood beasts and otherwise not allowing Blood Power to stack unnecessarily, this is not a hard fight. If you can't, you will not be able to do it. (They changed Rune of Blood to make this fight effectively impossible to single tank, so you can't bring an extra DPS and just burn through the healing from it, it now heals Deathbringer for 10x the damage he inflicts. So if he hits you for 4k after armor, he'll heal for 40k.)
And these are the last two fights in ICC right now. As soon as that guy gets the doors open, we'll start talking about the next ones. In the meantime, happy killing.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.