Every week (when the regular warlock writer hasn't been eaten by a prince of hell or something, that is), WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology and destruction warlocks. For those who disdain the watered-down arts that other cling to like a safety blanket, for those willing to test their wills against the nether and claim the power that is their right, Blood Pact welcomes you and invites you to take a seat.
Welcome back, darklings. I hope the previous week has treated you all well, or at least that you didn't sustain too many injuries in your attempts to wrangle down a new demonic slave. Those things can be so tricky at times. Why I remember once when ... oh, I'm rambling again, aren't I?
Anyway, now that we have raided yet another dragon's lair -- and it did seem familiar, for some strange reason -- it is time that we commit ourselves to a true test of our magical prowess. Dragons are all well and good, but taking down an elemental lord? That takes finesse. Throne of the Four Winds is another of the three raid instances availible on the first tier of raiding in Cataclysm. In it, you find yourself face to face with Al'Akir and three of his strongest servants. Fortunately, none of them have any minions of their own, which is why this must be my favorite instance of all time. That's right, there is absolutely no trash here -- just two bosses waiting to be slain.
So let's start up that felfire.
Conclave of Wind
The first challenge that you have to defeat is that Conclave of Wind -- three of the lords of wind, the fourth being found causing havoc in The Lost City of the Tol'vir. Mechanically, the fight isn't all too difficult, but it does take a little bit of getting used to and some fairly good timing. This fight is mostly about knowing the mechanics and executing the strategy you have set down. For that reason, let's go into each boss' abilities first.
- Chilling Winds Deals increasing frost damage to all players within the zone and decreases haste by 500%. This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
- Permafrost Channels a cone of frost at the current target dealing frost damage for 3 seconds.
- Frost Puddle? The technical ability isn't listed on Wowhead, which isn't uncommon; essentially, Nezir drops Ice Trap-like pools that deal damage and slow movement speed.
- Wind Chill Not to be confused with Chilling Winds (I know, right?), this ability deals frost damage to everyone on the platform and increases frost damage by 10% per stack.
- Sleet Storm Nezir's ultimate ability that is used at 90 energy. Deals heavy frost damage to all targets on the platform, split between total number of targets. Lasts 15 seconds.
- Withering Winds Deals increasing shadow damage to all players within the zone and decreases healing received by 100% This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
- Soothing Breeze Summons a healing pool at the base of the caster. Anshal must be dragged out of it.
- Nurture Summons several Ravenous Creepers.
- Zephy Heals all nearby allies for massive amounts of health and increases damage dealt by 15% for 15 seconds; this effect stacks. Ability is channeled for 15 seconds and only used at 90 energy.
- Deafening Winds Deals increasing nature damage to all players within the zone and silences them. This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
- Slicing Gale Deals nature damage to a random target
- Wind Blast Rohash spins slowly around the the platform, dealing nature damage and knocking back anyone caught in front of him. Lasts 6 seconds.
- Hurricane Lifts all targets on the platform into the air and deals nature damage for 15 seconds. Once the effect ends, all targets are dropped from the air and take additional fall damage.
Anshal's Platform If you end up on Anshal's platform, then you have two main concerns: killing the boss and killing the adds -- a trivial problem often better left to a mage, but sometimes warlocks do have to lower themselves to such menial tasks for the greater good (well, the good of getting loot, at least). Basic rotations apply on the boss, as he doesn't do anything to stop you nor cause you to move. For the adds, you really don't need to AoE them down. Only five of them are summoned in either 10 or 25, which really isn't enough to make AoE aside from demonology cooldowns viable.
Instead, you'll be better off with multi-DoTing them and the picking a single one to DPS down. If you are demonology and choose to go all Metamorphosis up in their face, note that the adds do have an 8-yard damage aura around them that might sting a little bit if you wind up taking hits from all of them at once, more so if you happen to pull aggro on one. Since the adds will spawn faster than the cooldown for Metamorphosis, you're probably better off saving it for when you need burst instead.
Nezir's platform In the unlikely event that you are assigned to be on Nezir's platform, things get a little bit more complicated, but not much. Your focus will be on the boss exclusively; however, you will get icy goo on the ground at your feet periodically. Getting out of it is merely a matter of moving -- not that big of an issue. The one thing you want to avoid is standing near the jump point for Anshal's platform. Tanks and DPS will switch between these two platforms during the course of the encounter, and you don't want them to be slowed while doing so.
Your best bet is to set up a Demonic Teleport on the opposite side of the boss and just use it to get around when you must. Remember not to stand in front of the boss, though, to avoid eating a snow cone; they aren't that delicious, and they give a nasty case of brain freeze.
Rohash's platform This platform is the shining glory of warlocks and the most likely where you'll find yourself. Rohash cannot be tanked, as he only uses Slicing Gale on random targets alongside his other abilities. Slicing Gale itself deals rather low damage, and nearly any DPS capable of self-healing can more than handle going toe to toe with Rohash solo. Do I even need to mention that affliction is ridiculous in this situation?
Even in the 10-man version, I wouldn't suggest only sending a single DPS out against Rohash, though. All it would take is a single mistake on Wind Blast and you'd find yourself in quite a bad predicament. In the 25-man version, you'll need more than a single DPS, anyway. My guild uses an affliction warlock, shadow priest, enhancement shaman, and a hunter of any spec (usually marksmen for the albeit weak self-healing on Chimera Shot) that runs Aspect of the Wild. We'll also send out either a restoration druid or holy priest to help keep them up. In 10s, we send any combination that we have of the aforementioned DPS; affliction/shadow is usually the best combination.
Turning point: 80 energy The bosses will use their ultimate abilities at 90 energy. Once they begin to use these abilities, you will not be able to switch platforms. Any switching that you do needs to be done at around 80 or so energy.
Have all the people on Anshal switch to Nezir's platform and vice versa. This is done to keep those working on Nezir alive, as they'll have several stacks of Wind Chill by this point. Whether or not you have anyone from Rohash's platform switch as well is up to you. Our single healer can generally keep the few DPS and themselves alive through Hurricane; however, if your healer is struggling to do this, then have everyone but the healer jump over to Nezir's platform as well.
After 15 seconds, you will want the DPS that went to Nezir's platform to return from whence they came. The tanks that switch between Anshal and Nezir don't need to switch back until the bosses use another ultimate.
Glyphed Soul Swap is a fantastic ability for this encounter. Even if you are on Rohash, it may be beneficial for you to utilize GSS and switch over to Nezir to assist in bringing him down. This all depends, of course, on how your raid's DPS fares.
Going for the kill As mentioned, all three djinn need to die within a minute of each other. Given that most of your DPS will be on Anshal, he'll probably be the first to get close to death. Hold off on killing Anshal until Rohash is equally low -- given Anshal's self-healing, they should remain close throughout the encounter. Once both are close to death, finish them off and have everyone jump on over to Nezir and burn him down before your time is up.
The elemental lord of air is the second, and last, encounter of this instance. Much like the rest of this expansion, the encounter is predominately about survival. For this reason, affliction is always a great choice for the encounter; however, with destruction's DPS being better off currently, the choice is optional. Unfortunately, demonology is a fairly poor choice for the encounter, and I can't really recommend using it. I mean, if you're comfortable doing mage-level DPS instead of reaching your full potential, I suppose it's okay; our arcane "brothers" need to feel good about themselves sometimes, I guess. Who else would port us if they were too busy crying in a corner?
Anyway, the fight is split off into three encounters. Phase 1 lasts until 80%, and phase 3 doesn't begin until 25%. Overall, the first phase is easily the most difficult, containing various mechanics that can often conspire to utterly screw you over. The good news is that at least it's fairly short, and if you are going to wipe, you'll do so early.
Phase 1 Al'Akir sits in the middle of his platform throughout the encounter, and it's around this area that you'll fight him. During this phase, you'll face a plethora of abilities being thrown at you.
- Electrocute Blasts the current aggro target with increasing nature damage. Only usable if the target is outside of melee range and ends once the target is back in melee range.
- Static Shock Deals nature damage and interrupts players in melee range of the boss.
- Wind Burst Deals nature damage to all players on the platform and knocks them back.
- Squall Line Summons a wall of swirling wind that circles around the platform. Each wall has a gap that can be used to avoid the ability.
- Lightning Strike Deals nature damage in a cone facing a random target. Damage increased for every player hit.
- Ice Storm Summons a blizzard that sweeps across a section of the platform, leaving a trail of ice on the ground that deals frost damage and slows movement speed.
In 10-man, each player should be spread out as such that no more than two players are hit by Lightning Strike; in 25-man, you have to cluster into groups of three. There will be a Squall Line active at all times; the second that one goes down, another is formed. Watch and call out each one and where the gap is. You must move to the gap and avoid getting hit by the line at all costs. Ice Storm is more of an annoyance than anything else; avoid it whenever you can, but don't be afraid to run through it should you have to.
Last but certainly not least, there's Wind Burst. This nifty ability has a 5-second cast time and will knock everyone back by about half the length of the platform. You need to be as close to melee range as you can in order to avoid being knocked clear off. Simple, given the cast time, but often times you have to dodge a Squall Line and a Wind Burst at the same time. Should you have to, it is far better to get knocked off than to eat the swirling wall of doom.
Demonic Teleport is a fantastic ability for this phase, and it can save you in many bad situations. However, bad situations can crop up very frequently. Don't waste a teleport to merely dodge a Squall Line to save on some DPS time; instead, hold it for when you really find yourself in trouble. If you have to dodge a wall and burst simultaneously, that's a great time to use it. Flying off the edge? Teleport yourself back.
Phase 2 Far easier than phase 1, this is when the boss stops using many of his previous abilities. Static Shock, Electrocute, and Squall Line are all that carries over in this phase. On top of those, however, the boss does gain two additional abilities.
- Acid Rain Constant AoE damage that hits the raid. The longer this phase lasts, the more damage Acid Rain does, creating a soft enrage of sorts.
- Summon Stormling Creates an add every 20 seconds that deals AoE damage to anyone within 20 yards of it. Debuffs Al'Akir with Feedback when killed.
Stormlings spawn every 20 seconds, and Feedback lasts 20 seconds; you need to stagger killing the Stormlings in order to continuously stack Feedback. Balancing the damage on the adds takes practice and will differ from raid to raid. For destruction, it may be better to merely toss out a Bane of Havoc on the add and continue to DPS the boss, assuming you aren't needed to all-out DPS the add. Affliction can make great use of Glyphed Soul Swap to quickly toss out DoTs on the add then continue to DPS down the boss (again, assuming you aren't assigned to the add).
The phase lasts a long time but isn't too difficult if you have the adds down.
Phase 3 Al'Akir will shatter the platform and buff everyone with the ability to fly -- remember to think happy thoughts! At this point, it's just a DPS race to kill him. Have everyone in the raid float as far down as they can until they reach the Lightning Cloud. From here, you just keep moving up slightly out of the cloud each time a new one spawns. If you get debuffed with Lightning Rod, move out from the group. Unfortunately, teleporting will not help you here.
He will once again use Wind Burst in this phase, and it will be instant. Just stay close-ish to him and move back in after each one, and you'll be fine.
Blood Pact is a weekly column detailing DoTs, demons and all the dastardly deeds done by warlocks. We'll steer you toward tip-top trinkets and Soulburning your way through Cataclysm.