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The Light and How to Swing It: Tanking Blackwing Descent for paladins, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Two weeks ago, we talked about the entry-level bosses of Blackwing Descent, Magmaw and the Omnotron Council, and how to burst your way through them to open the gate standing between your raid and the Vault of the Shadowflame. With those two entry-level bosses out of your way, it's time for the meat and potatoes of the dungeon.

Between you and the Son of Deathwing are three more obstacles -- the architect of Blackwing's minions and the two horrible creatures he has forged. The fights themselves aren't terribly difficult, but they will test various parts of your tanking skill set, whether it be situational awareness, cooldown management, or add dancing. In this post, I'll go over the next two fights in exquisite detail, pointing out little tips that you can use to maximize your tanking prowess against Maloriak and Chimaeron, in order to set you up for the final two fights: Atramedes and Nefarian himself.

Maloriak, full dragon alchemist

If you love add tanking, you're going to love Maloriak. Provided you're not on the boss.

There are three tanks in this fight in 25-man, two in 10-man. One tank goes on the boss, and the rest go in the back to play footsie with the Aberrations that Maloriak will periodically release during the fight.

If dealing with the adds, there's no particular trick to holding on to them. You don't need to kite; just pick them up as they spawn and before they run off to nibble on a healer. Once you've got a neat pile, work through your AOE spells, being sure to keep Holy Shield up as much as possible through constant holy power expenditure.

One of the benefits to being in the back is you're going to be able to ignore most of the mechanics of the fight. When the raid is spreading out for Flash Freeze, you'll already be spread out. Likewise, when the raid is collapsing for Scorching Blast, you'll still be staying far away from the pack because you can't get too close to the boss.

The reason for that last point is that the Aberrations buff the enemies around them with Growth Catalyst, which increases damage they do by 20% and reduces damage they take by an equal amount. That means that a few Aberrations aren't much of an issue, but once you get five or more, they start to get deadly. Moreover, the Aberrations cannot go anywhere near the boss. If Maloriak gets the buff (or any increased iteration thereof), you're looking at trouble.

Keep your distance and communicate with the other add tank (if there is one) to make sure one of you isn't bearing too much of the burden.

Lastly, right before green phase occurs and Debilitating Slime goes out, get your adds to the foot of the stairs (the other tank should do the same) and clump up. (Keep in mind you might need to pop a cooldown, on account of the Catalyst.) You want to maximize the amount of time the raid can AOE the adds while debuffed. Make sure to expend holy power on Inquisition, and Hammer of the Righteous the pile like it's your job.

Now, if you're boss tanking, your job is slightly different. You'll be dancing with Maloriak most of the fight, in roughly the same spot. When the different phases occur, you won't have to move around, so don't become overly concerned with that. The only corollary to that is when green phase hits, you want to drag Maloriak to the foot of the stairs and let him soak up some splash damage for a few seconds. Once the slime debuff is about to fall off, immediately drag him out so you don't let him get buffed by his Aberrations and then crush you into a fine mush.

When tanking Maloriak, feel free to volunteer for interrupt duty for either the Arcane Storm or Release Aberrations. The former, you'll be doing often; the latter can mostly be ignored, especially after the first green phase. Depending on the courage of the add tanks, they might ask for Release to be interrupted after 9 adds total are out, or they won't even blink at a full 12. Communicate preferences to make sure they don't get overwhelmed.

At 25%, Maloriak enters phase 2. The first thing he'll do is release all remaining Aberrations, in addition to the two Prime Subjects. If you're add tanking, grab your Prime Subject as soon as it jumps down and direct nearby people to move away from you. You want to make absolutely sure the subjects are focusing on you for the remainder of the fight.

If on the boss, phase 2 becomes an intricate dance where you keep Maloriak pointed away from the raid so his Magma Jets don't kill the lot of them via fire and fall damage. He'll put up a castbar for Jets, so you'll have ample time to get out of the way.

Likewise, for either role, avoid the frost orbs generated by Absolute Zero. Acid Nova won't do much more than tickle.

Situational glyphs If add tanking, don't glyph Divine Protection (you'll want full physical damage coverage), and don't glyph Focused Shield. If boss tanking, you'll want both.

When to pop Divine Guardian Acid Nova, I guess. Or during Flame Jets if something goes wrong and a whole swath of people get caught in its path. There isn't much in the way of major AOE hits to the raid.

Chimaeron, an experiment of dubious quality

... who may or may not be a failure. But be nice -- the guy has self-esteem issues and once snored out of his foot, to boot.

In any case, tanking on the boss is relatively straightforward. You won't do much in the way of movement. Instead, you'll be generally spending the bulk of your time taunting and praying for avoidance streaks.

There are two tanking roles in this fight: the Break tank and the Double Attack tank. The Break tank will be kept at a constant health level of about 10k (thanks to Finkle's Mixture, you can't be killed), while the Double Attack tank is constantly being topped off because, as you might guess, he'll be getting hit twice in quick succession. Combining that with a damage taken debuff, and you're looking at trouble.

So the key to tanking this fight is communicating with your co-tank. The Break tank will be tanking the largest portion, but when the warning for "Double Attack!" goes out, the other tank quickly taunts. Then, the Break tank watches for that yellow "swoosh" to denote the bonus attack has gone off and quickly taunts back so the Double Attack tank doesn't eat any Breaks.

Occasionally, Chimaeron will Massacre the raid, which has the chance of forcing the Bile-O-Tron to shut down. When that occurs, your raid will collapse on a set point and start AOE healing while Chimaeron's heads Feud.

At this point, you should immediately cast Holy Radiance to help the healers get everyone up. (Every little bit helps!) Likewise, use your cooldowns to reduce damage you take from successive Caustic Slimes and make it that much easier to top you off.

When Feud ends, get back in position. If you're the Break tank, make sure you have the boss aggroed onto you. Basically rinse and repeat until phase 2.

At 21%, Chimaeron will gain the Mortality buff, and the raid will likewise get the Mortality debuff. At this point, what you'll want to pray to the Light for is the avoidance streak to end all avoidance streaks. Remember, the old "if you have 10k health you can't die" rule still applies, so if you can somehow miraculously get to 10k health, you'll be able to eat the next hit. Of course, Double Attacks can happen as well, and there's no one to taunt that off of you.

Keep your front facing Chimaeron (don't run like a chicken with your head cut off; you won't have much avoidance showing the boss your rear end), and use your cooldowns to stretch out your sliver of health as much as you can.

You'll generally survive the first hit, since you'll be at more than 10k health. After that, pop avoidance trinkets and cooldowns to make it through the second (especially if it's boosted by Double Attack). Attempt to Ardent Defender the third. You can also use Divine Shield to avoid an attack, if timed well, though you'll probably make the boss momentarily attack a comrade and kill him instead. Lay on Hands is only worth it if 1% of your max hitpoints is what separates you and 10k health.

In any case, you'll probably die, so be sure to make amends in what time you have left. Moreover, I'm really curious how long you've managed to survive the phase, so please let me know in the comments your best record. Kudos will be generously provided to anyone who surpasses my measly record of 51 seconds!

Situational glyphs Definitely glyph Divine Protection, since you'll be using it during Caustic Slimes. Might as well glyph Focused Shield as well, to maximize threat.

When to use Divine Protection First Feud and any Feud it's available after that. You only get 6 seconds out of it, so wait for Caustic Slimes to start flying, and don't pop it too early.

The final showdown

Next week (provided something more interesting doesn't happen on the PTR), I'll cap off the guide with a rundown of how to best the final two fights of BWD: Atramedes and Nefarian.
The Light and How to Swing It tries to help paladins cope with the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Check out our protection 101 guide and our suggestions for protection paladin addons.

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

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