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Scattered Shots: Hunting the Lich King

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week, Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the hunter class. Got hunter questions? Feel free to email Frostheim.

Arthas Menethil, the Lich King, the ultimate boss of Wrath, is now within your sights. I don't care that Ruby Sanctum is coming out; the Lich King is it. He's been haunting you ever since you stepped foot in Northrend, popping up here and there to check on your progress, being amused by you, threatening you, chasing you down long hallways. Now after clawing your way up Icecrown Citadel, you finally stand before the Frozen Throne and Arthas himself. It all comes down to this.

It's going to be a bad day for one of you.

The Lich King is the most complex and demanding fight in ICC. It requires a moderately high DPS throughput, with lots of target switching and burst DPS, situational awareness and unforgiving positioning requirements. With a 15-minute enrage timer, this fight has it all.

Join me after the cut as we take a look at the hunter-specific roles within the Lich King encounter. As always, we are assuming you have an understanding of the encounter mechanics, and we are focusing on tricks and tips for hunters. If you are unfamiliar with the encounter, please check out the WoW.com Lich King tutorial video.

Dear person who named the phases: I hate you

I have no idea who it was that first named the Lich King phases, but whoever it is, I want to kick them in their delicate bits. Seriously, what the heck is wrong with just numbering them in, you know, numerical order? Alas, this silly system is often used in guides, while other guides use a more logical numerical progression. In an attempt at clarity (and pointing out how frickin' dumb it is), I'll be using both systems. But I want it known that it's not my fault that they work like this.

Okay, let's get started.

Phase 1 (the first phase)

Phase 1 lasts from engagement to 70% health. This is the easy phase, and within a handful of attempts, you'll be telling jokes over Vent, discussing plans for the weekend and anything else you can think of to stay awake. For us hunters, this phase is mostly just a tank and spank. You have three jobs during the first phase:
  1. Single-target DPS the Lich King.
  2. Move for Necrotic Plague.
  3. Tranq the Shambling Horror enrages.
While you're DPSing the Lich King, it's very likely that the main tank will have some ghouls stuck to him. Do not use Multi-Shot. It's decently likely that you'll hit a ghoul just as it spawns and pull aggro. While there's no real danger of it killing you, it will ping away at the priest shield you have on. Those shields are very carefully planned and used to deal with Infest, and you must not do anything to damage that shield or you risk the wrath of your priests (which admittedly is a kind of cute, cartoon-like wrath -- but still). Furthermore, if you're MM for the fight (as you probably are), your Aimed Shot will do a heck of a lot more damage to the Lich King than your Multi-Shot. Since those ghouls should eventually get grabbed by the off tank and killed with Necrotic Plague, you are doing nothing whatsoever to help the cause my Multi-Shotting during phase 1. You're just padding your meters, possibly at the expense of success.

Obviously when you get Necrotic Plague, you should run to the off tank at once for a dispel -- don't wait for your shot to finish, just get yer butt over there. I like to run to the OT and then Disengage back into position.

Finally, dispelling the Shambling Horror enrages is important. They only enrage for a small window of time, and two enraged Shambling Horrors at once can be a very bad thing. You will want a macro to deal with it, and there are two macro options: the lazy way and the mouseover way. You can use the lazy way if you want, especially in 10-man, but just be aware of the disadvantages. What you don't want to do is manually click on the Shambling Horror and hit your Tranquilizing Shot, then manually retarget the Lich King. That's just a waste of time.

The lazy tranq macro lets you just push a button to automatically target the Shambling Horror, fire your tranq shot and instantly pop back to the Lich King. It's as easy as can be. The danger is if there are multiple Shambling Horrors up, it may not target the one that's actually enraged, in which case the enrage doesn't get dispelled.
#showtooltip Tranquilizing Shot
/tar shambling
/cast Tranquilizing Shot
/targetlasttarget
The right way is to use a mouseover macro. This way, you just have to hover your mouse over the correct Shambling Horror and push your macro button. Just like the lazy macro, this will fire just the tranq at the horror and let you continue to DPS the Lich King.
#showtooltip Tranquilizing Shot
/cast [target=mouseover, exists] Tranquilizing Shot
I recommend using your first two Rapid Fires (assuming you're MM) right out of the gate in phase 1. This will ensure that you have them again in phase 2. Phase 1 ends when the Lich King gets to around 71% to 70% health. He runs to the middle, and you must run out to the edge of the platform at once.

Transition phase 1 (the second phase)

The transition phase lasts exactly 60 seconds. During this time you will have to DPS down three Enraged Spirits, which pop out of random raid members. Personally I'm a big fan of angry trees, but Deathbringer's Will procs are also fun and I enjoy killing the mad cows too. Here's the lowdown on the first transition phase:
  • As a hunter, you may be assigned to DPS the Ice Spheres. We have lots of instant shots and are good at it. The spheres are squishy like a mage and usually pop with just one or two shots. What this means is you should still have lots of time to DPS the Enraged Spirits, and of course you should do so as often as you safely can.
  • Your pet is probably fine within the Remorseless Winter zone. Avoidance makes the damage negligible; however, odds are good that you'll prefer to have your pet with you to help DPS the enraged spirits, especially while you're learning the fight. Getting those guys down fast is important.
  • Remember that at the beginning of the first transition phase, the Shambling Horrors will still be up, so make sure you're still dispelling the enrages.
  • You should be able to use Misdirection on every other Enraged Spirit. You may want to set up a MD rotation with the other hunters or rogues.
  • If there are still ghouls clinging to your main tank, now is the time to add Multi-Shot into your rotation to slowly whittle them down.
  • Don't fall off the platform.
After 60 seconds, the first transition phase ends whether you have killed everything or not, and you have to rush back in before the edge of the platform falls off. In fact, odds are strong that you'll be dragging one Enraged Spirit back to the center with you. Remember while you're transitioning from the transition phase to the next phase to be careful not to stand in front of the Enraged Spirit. You don't want to get hit by its conical blast.

Phase 2 (the third phase)

Phase 2 lasts until the Lich King is brought down to 40% health. The challenge of this phase is to deal with target-switching burst DPS while still maintaining good DPS on the Lich King. This is the meat of the Lich King fight, where you get to meet Defile, the horrible darkness that spawned the Old Gods. Defile is the grandaddy of void zones, though honestly it wouldn't be that bad if it weren't for the combination of Defile and the Valkyr.

Phase 2 is the most difficult phase of the encounter, and it is by far the most unforgiving. One person making the wrong mistake can easily doom your raid here, so be on your toes. You'll start the phase by finishing off that last Raging Spirit and then position yourself for the Valkyr and Defiles.

Defile for hunters
  • We're a ranged class, which makes Defile a bit easier for us. If Defile is coming before the valkyr, stay at range. Don't make the common mistake of running to the center when you're just going to have to run back out.
  • When you get those tight situations where Defile will happen just seconds after the valkyr, disengage out the instant the valkyr pick their targets.
  • Once you are chosen as the target of Defile, do not use Disengage. Remember that the game does not track your movement when you're in the air. This means if you're targeted for Defile and you disengage out, there's a good chance the Defile will drop where you started your Disengage. Likewise, do not use Disengage to get out of a Defile, because you'll still be taking damage and buffing the Defile while you're in the air.
Valkyr for hunters
  • As the only ranged class that cannot effectively attack from melee, hunters are pretty screwed with the valkyr. Remember that you can stay just outside of melee range until the last second and then run in those last 5 yards.
  • If you're playing it safe and clustering in melee a bit early, remember that Volley will probably do more damage to the Lich King than your melee attacks.
  • I recommend using your next couple of Rapid Fires for the Valkyr.
  • If your raid is struggling on the Valkyr (and many do), you might want to grab two ranks of Concussive Barrage for an extra slow (and if you are, you may want to use Multi-Shot instead of Aimed Shot for the slow). Note that Improved Concussive Shot is probably not worth it.
  • You can also bring a raptor ravager pet to have the occasional extra stun for the Valkyr.
  • If you screwed up and got carried over a Defile, or your raid just messed up and didn't DPS your valkyr down in time, you can still come back from the brink. Call out for a Slow Fall or Levitate. When the valkyr drops you, you'll be facing inward. It is possible to immediately spin around and disengage back onto the platform after getting dropped. I'm not sure if it's possible without the benefit of Slow Fall -- I've only every managed it while slow-falling.
Once the Lich King is brought down to about 40% health, he'll run to the center again and start channeling Remorseless Winter. You should be poised right on the edge of the platform at this point and ready to hop to the outer edge the second it reforms.

Transition phase 2 (the fourth phase)

The second transition phase is much like the first. It lasts 60 seconds again, and you have to deal with the Ice Spheres again. This time, you'll have to deal with four Enraged Spirits in the same time span instead of just three. Again, set up your MD rotation, use your next set of Rapid Fires and get those spirits down as fast as possible.

If your group is on the ball, you'll only be dragging one Raging Spirit into the next phase, but it's very possible you'll have two of them. At the end of the 60 seconds you need to run in as, again, the outer edge of the platform falls away.

Phase 3 (the fifth phase)

Phase 3 takes us from 40% to 10% health on the Lich King, and absent the valkyr, the dreaded Defile suddenly becomes nothing more than another pesky void zone. First priority is to finish off those Enraged Spirits.

As ranged DPS, we hunters are likely to be assigned to kill and/or kite the Vile Spirits at some point during the phase. They have a lot more health than you'd think, and honestly hunters aren't great at burning them down since our Volley doesn't hit them way up in the air. However, kiting them around and headbutting them one at a time is something we can certainly do well.

The important thing here is to make sure that under no circumstances should you allow then to reach the melee cluster. If you see some heading that way, use Distracting Shot and any other shots possible to pull them away. A Vile Spirit exploding on the melee cluster is bad, but several of them exploding there is a wipe. And the dirty truth is that your dying to them while keeping them away from the melee might just save the raid from a wipe. Note that Deterrence will not prevent Vile Spirit damage to you.

Whether or not you're on Vile Spirit duty, you still want to maintain as much DPS on the Lich King as possible. Always DPS him from range, so that when you get Defile it's easy to go dump it somewhere appropriate.

It is also possible during phase 3 that you will get pulled into Frostmourne's room. If so, you have only two jobs.
  1. DPS the heck out of the Spirit Warden.
  2. Interrupt the channeled Soul Rip.
I like to save one Rapid Fire just in case I get pulled into the room, though that's optional, of course. If I don't get pulled in, I'll use it when the Lich King gets down to 15% or so to help push him over the edge.

They key to killing the Spirit Warden is to interrupt the Soul Rip, which is channeled over 8 seconds. For most hunters, this means that you will use Silencing Shot and will have to remove Silencing Shot from your macros that tie it in with your other shots. If you are BM, you can use Intimidation to interrupt the channel. If you are SV, then you will need to bring along a pet that can do the interrupting for you. The Ravager's stun will work, of course, as well as any other pet with a stun or silence. Happily, while only one hunter spec comes with an interrupt, our pets give every spec a way to handle this mechanic.

Once you have pushed the Lich King down to 10%, you have won the fight. As a reward, the Lich King kills you all, and your little dog, too.

I Win Phase (the sixth phase)

The I Win Phase is basically a role-playing celebration. You're brought back from the dead (but sadly, your pet is not) and you get free rein to take away the last 10% free of consequence. If on the off chance that you managed to climb to the top of the meters over the cleave and aerial AoE classes, this is where they'll smack you down again -- especially those darned mages who can dump their entire mana bar in the 30 seconds or less that the phase lasts.

But of course it's not about topping the meters (though you should always try to do so), it's about killing the boss. Despite the many aspects of this fight that are very unfriendly to hunters, we can play many vital roles, from MDs to Icy Sphere management to excellent movement tools that will make the fight easier for the whole raid.

So congratulations, Kingslayers; Icecrown is now yours.

You want to be a hunter, eh? You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout and round it off some elf-bashing. The end result is massive DPS. Scattered Shots is the WoW.com column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. See the Scattered Shots Resource Guide for a full listing of vital and entertaining hunter guides, including how to improve your heroic DPS, understand the impact of skill vs. gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101 and even solo bosses with some extreme soloing.


Filed under: Hunter, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

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