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Cataclysm Dungeon Guide: Blackrock Caverns

Blackrock Caverns (BRC) is likely to be your first Cataclysm dungeon; it's the equivalent of Hellfire Ramparts and Utgarde Keep. I can predict what'll happen to a good 90 percent of you zoning into the place, by the way:
  1. Everyone zones in and buffs up -- silently, need I add?
  2. The tank will pull the first mob pack without preamble, marking, or warning.
  3. The DPS will start AoEing or targeting different mobs.
  4. The healer will start a heal which will land fruitlessly on a tank who's died in less than 2 seconds.
  5. Everyone will scramble out of the dungeon.
  6. In a firestorm of threats and recrimination, someone will shoulder the blame for the near wipe and be kicked.
Actually, that's not true. You can probably survive most of Blackrock Caverns with the usual Wrath "lawl AoE" approach to dungeoneering, mostly because lots of players will be arriving with ilevel 251+ gear before combat ratings take a digger at level 81. The process described above is a lot more reminiscent of what Throne of the Tides and subsequent dungeons were like in the beta. But ... well, just be aware that a certain amount of ugly death is in store for you with Cataclysm 5-mans and heroics if you play like a nitwit.

Most of the bosses in BRC drop ilevel 279 loot, so even players in heroic ICC gear are likely to find upgrades here.

Trash

Trash in BRC is generally unremarkable. Assuming you hit the place at level 80 with decent gear from Wrath, you have little to fear. Past 80, when combat ratings start to head down the road to Gonesville, you should still be fine, assuming you're not pulling like an idiot.

If you're a tank, be advised that there are one or two ranged mobs in every pull, but you'll have ample opportunities to use line of sight. Also ample will be the number of opportunities you'll have to yell at DPS who launch World War III on pulls you're line-of-sighting. You might as well macro it now.

One thing that does merit mention is a lovely fellow by the name of Raz the Crazed. He'll pop out of his cage after you defeat the first boss and then proceed to curb stomp a good portion of the instance's trash for you. Before you pull any seemingly nightmarish pack of mobs, wait for a moment. Odds are good that Raz is about to have his way with them.

Rom'ogg Bonecrusher

Rom'ogg Bonecrusher is a giant ogre pathing in a semi-circle around the second room you'll enter. You should clear most of the trash in this room before pulling him, as he'll otherwise aggro nearby mobs. Make sure that players have clear areas on all side to run away from him, as outranging his big AoE ability is a key portion of the fight.

If you've done Terestian Illhoof in Karazhan, then you already know the major "gimmick" to this fight. Periodically, Rom'ogg will pull the group to him, trap them with an ability called Chains of Woe, and start charging up a massive AoE called The Skullcracker. Remember Illhoof, where you had to target the chains in order to free a trapped player? It's the same deal here, except the chains trap everyone. You have to DPS through them in order to get out of range before the Skullcracker hits, because the AoE is an effective one-shot on just about every leveling player, despite Cataclysm health values. However, it's easy to "kill" the chains; once you do, run away. I think the range on the Skullcracker was around 10 to 20 yards when I did BRC, and no group had real difficulty with it. The chains don't have a lot of health.

That's really the only thing the group as a whole has to worry about. Tanks may want or need to blow a cooldown through Wounding Strike, depending on the quality of their gear, and healers will have to heal through Quake, another periodic (but largely inescapable) AoE ability.

Loot Corla, Herald of Twilight

Like Rom'ogg, the Corla encounter reuses a gimmick from Kara, and this time it's courtesy of our old pal Netherspite. Corla herself is kind of a pushover; she's a caster-type boss, and she doesn't have a lot of health. It's the adds that'll give you issues. Around Corla are three Twilight Zealots kept dormant by channeled beams that stack a buff on them called Evolution. Should Evolution reach 100, the Zealot in question is transformed into a Twilight Drakonid, which must be picked up immediately and tanked. If all three Zealots transform at the same time, your group's likely to encounter problems due to Corla's Aura of Acceleration. Until and unless you outgear the encounter, having to tank Corla and all three Zealots at once will typically result in a wipe.

The usual way of handling this boss in the beta was assigning two DPSers to hop in and out of the beams to keep two of the Zealots locked down while the tank grabbed Corla and waited for one of the Zealots to transform. From what I recall, you can't get out of combat until all three Zealots have become Drakonids, no matter what, so it's a matter of when you let them transform and not if.

For the DPSers hopping in and out of the beams, it's a very simple process. The Evolution buff decays quickly when you're not actually in the beams, so once you start getting close to around 70ish, just hop out and wait for it to fall off. Once you're back at zero, hop back in the beam. Your Evolution stacks will fall off much faster than it'll build on the Zealot. Lather, rinse, and repeat until you want one or both remaining Zealots to transform -- in which case, all you need to do is just move out of the beams permanently. Whatever you do, don't stay in the beam until Evolution stacks to 100; you, too, can be transformed into a Drakonid, and then your group members will be obliged to kill you. Either that, or you'll kill them.

The only other ability of note here is Corla's fear, which also deals around 30,000 shadow damage to its target. Annoying to heal through, but even if you're a DPSer who gets feared away from a beam you're supposed to be in, it shouldn't have any effect on the fight (assuming your healer keeps you up).

Loot Karsh Steelbender

This guy is pretty easy. Karsh starts with a buff called Quicksilver Armor, which renders him almost completely immune to damage. In order to make him vulnerable, your tank has to drag him through the flows of molten metal in the center of the room. (They come down from the ceiling to hit a grate below; you can't miss them.) For each second that Karsh is in that flow, he gets a stack of Superheated Quicksilver Armor, which increases his damage taken by 10 percent. (The Wowhead information here is, I believe, incorrect; I saw 10 percent per stack while doing BRC, although admittedly it might have changed since.)

The catch is that for each stack Karsh gets, he deals an increasing amount of fire damage to everyone in the group. Ideally, the tank keeps him in the metal flow only long enough for five or six stacks, then immediately drags him out. The stacks will wear off after a little while, obliging the tank to drag him through again. Karsh's only other notable ability is a cleave, so DPS and the healer should be careful to stay out from in front of him.

Loot Beauty

As numerous players have noted, Beauty is undoubtedly the love interest of The Beast in Upper Blackrock Spire. Awww.

Beauty's surrounded by a number of pups, all of them named mobs. Fortunately for you, they pull separately from Beauty (as long as they're not right next to her at the time). But don't kill Runty. Believe me, you don't want to kill Runty. Beauty will berserk if Runty dies, so ... leave the little bastard alone.

However, Beauty herself is a pretty simple fight. She will charge the player furthest away from her occasionally, knock the tank and any melee DPS away from her, set random players on fire, and she has an AoE fear. There's nothing you can do to counter any of these abilities, so you just have to tank, heal, and DPS through it. The only thing you can really do to increase survivability on this fight is to make sure that trash outside the room is completely cleared before you start, to prevent any possibility that a feared player will aggro nearby mobs. Apart from that, tank her and spank her.

Loot Ascendant Lord Obsidius

Before you pull the Ascendant Lord, wait a moment; your old buddy Raz the Crazed will eliminate most of the earthen mobs accompanying him, but sadly, he'll die in the process. RIP, Raz; you will be dearly missed right around the time players start the trash-fest that is Grim Batol.

After Raz's efforts, Obsidius will be left with two adds. While Obsidius himself has to be tanked, it's how you control the adds that's really the key to the fight. Both channel a healing debuff that will, over time, reduce healing taken by the target to zero. It goes without saying that they can't be on the tank for any real length of time. However, both are very easily kiteable and can also be crowd-controlled, so two DPSers should be assigned to keep them locked down for the length of the fight. The Shadows can't be stunned, feared, or even damaged much, but they can be rooted, snared, and/or slowed. Even if they get loose and start beating on the DPS assigned to control them, their damage is pathetic, so don't worry if you have to take a couple of hits.

The only real quirk to this fight is that Obsidius periodically switches places with one of his adds; when this happens, he drops aggro (if you've done the Twin Emperors in Ahn'Qiraj-40, you've seen this mechanic before). The tank has to pick him up again as quickly as possible, and DPS need to find their targets and get them locked down again. As long as the group is reasonably fast about switching targets, you shouldn't encounter any real trouble with this.

Loot
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

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