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Ready Check: Deathbringer Saurfang

Deathbringer Saurfang is the final boss of The Lower Spire of Icecrown Citadel. This is the orc you once knew as Dranosh Saurfang. It turns out that the orc affectionately known as "Little Cleave" didn't simply die at Wrathgate. Instead, while we weren't looking, some ill-mannered Scourge grabbed the body of Dranosh Saurfang and spirited away. We probably assumed that his body had been burned to ash when the red dragons torched the place. Still, however it happened, you've now ascended to the opening of the Plagueworks, and now have to show down with Deathbringer Saurfang.

The Saurfang fight is pretty interesting, actually. There's a lot of moving parts and abilities to try and monitor, but the actual flow of the fight isn't too bad. From a tank's perspective, you stand there and taunt every so often. From a healer's perspective, you're healing . . . and then healing some more. It's the DPS players who really need to be on their game. There's adds that show up which they have to kite and kill in short order, or really horrible things start happening to the raid.

Let's take a look behind the cut and start talking about all the horrible things that could happen.

Like I said, the basic flow of the fight is pretty simple. You'll want your tanks to stand up by the dais where Saurfang starts out. He'll chat and blab for a little while, giving your raid ample time to stand there. And stand there. And stand there some more. Maybe knit a scarf or something while the two Saurfangs chat it out.

If you've got some Death Knights who're jonesing to bust out an Army of the Dead at the opening, have them do it when Saurfang unleashes his Force Choke -- using that a timing point, the Army ghouls will probably die before Blood Beasts start showing up. You definitely want them gone before the Blood Beasts, but we'll explain why in a moment.

You want two tanks hanging out on opposite sides of Saurfang. This is because Saurfang will hit each tank with an ability called Rune of Blood. That ability will heal Saurfang every time he hits a tank who has that debuff, so it's important that the two tanks rotate turns on the boss. The person without Rune of Blood should be the one getting hit by Saurfang. The other guy can continue doing DPS when he's not the target of attacks.

If that's all there were to this fight, then Deathbringer Saurfang would obviously be too simple. So, Saurfang has friends who occasionally come out to make your raid's life miserable. These critters are called Blood Beasts, and they look like a priests's Shadowfiend. The Blood Beasts summon immediately to Saurfang's side, and will instantly start moving to the source of whatever aggro happens first. If your melee and tanks are good about controlling their area effect powers, the means the Blood Beasts will make a straight-line for your healers. (That's where the "healers as bait" thing comes in during this fight.) Ranged DPS can pick them up along their route to healers for better kiting.

While it's probably a no-brainer that you don't want to let the Blood Beasts eat your healers, you can't simply tank these adds. That's because of Saurfang's ability called Blood Link. Every time the Blood Beasts hit somebody (anybody), Saurfang gets a point of Blood Power. So, that's bad in and of itself, since it will slowly grow the damage Saurfang is doing to your tanks. Most tanks can probably handle that damage, but there's another problem.

If Saurfang reaches 100 energy (thanks to those Blood Beasts hitting people), he casts Mark of the Fallen Champion. Whoever is the target of Mark will take a chunk of physical damage based on the power of Saurfang's melee attacks. That's an immense amount of damage getting cleaved out into your raid, especially if Saurfang is stacking on the Blood Power. If the person afflicted by Mark of the Fallen Champion dies while under its effect, Saurfang is healed for 5% of his total health. As a note, simply dying doesn't necessarily remove the Mark, so be careful how you hurl those battle rezzes around.

Therefore, it's important for you control the Blood Beasts when they spawn. It's not as easy as you might imagine, because they have a couple abilities to help them be a real threat. First, the Blood Beasts will use Scent of Blood, which will severely slow any melee that happens to be around the Beast at the time. Second, the Blood Beasts have fairly Resistant Skin, which minimizes how much damage they take from AE and diseases. I actually consider this ability a blessing in disguise. Reducing the amount of damage the Beasts take from area effect means that they're not as likely to attack whoever had the misfortune to drop a Whirlwind at the time of summoning.

So, in order to control the Blood Beast, you'll need to have ranged DPS characters draw their aggro. It's best to root one of the Beasts with something like Entangling Roots so that your raid can focus on killing the uncontrolled Beast. Each Blood Beast has a limited number of hit points, so your raid should be able to burn them down fairly quickly. It's mostly going to be a test of your raid's ability to get all DPS on the Beasts immediately. Think of it as a reflex test, not an output test.

The last thing that's important to this fight is Saurfang's occasional raid attacks. He'll drop Boiling Blood and Blood Nova out on random raid members as the encounter progresses. For this reason, you will need some raid healing, even if you manage to control the Blood Beasts with awesomely perfect precision. The Blood Nova splashes out to everyone around the afflicted raid member within 12 yards. That's a little annoying since most proximity alarms are set to warn raiders that they're too close within 10 yards, but I suspect most of your team will be able to eyeball those couple extra yards.

In summary, then, this is how the fight goes. Two tanks hold Saurfang up at the dais. They will taunt off one another so that Saurfang is never attacking the tank that has Rune of Blood. Blood Beasts will appear, which must be kited and controlled so that they never actually hit anyone. If the Blood Beasts do score melee attacks on someone, it could end up with a raid member getting the Mark of the Fallen Champion -- that person will need to be healed through Saurfang's melee attacks just like a tank. Blood Nova and Blood Boil will still do raid damage, so you'll have to keep an eye out on it. When Saurfang gets to 25%, he starts a Frenzy, and you'll have to really pour on the power. Rinse, repeat, control, and win.

Good luck hunting out there, folks.

Ready Check is here to provide you all the information and discussion you need to bring your raiding to the next level. Check us out weekly to learn the strategies, bosses, and encounters that make end-game raiding so much fun.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ready Check (Raiding)

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