Unlike the other encounters in Dragon Soul, Warlord Zon'ozz only requires a single tank. For cooldown purposes, it is possible to bring in a second tank; however, there isn't too much of a need to do so. Per usual, you will want to have around five to six healers. Switch your off tank for an additional healer if you feel that would help. Your DPS should be a solid mix of both ranged and melee; there does need to be a solid balance of both. Healers should be split among the DPS, with tank healers staying with the melee.
Zon'ozz doesn't have all that many abilities, but he's still a hands-on encounter. Most of your time will be spent watching the Void of Unmaking and bouncing it back and forth. Healers will focus more on clearing away Disrupting Shadows. For once, tanks probably have the easiest time on this encounter, only really having to watch out for a single ability that occurs about once per phase or so.
- Focused Anger Increases Zon'ozz's physical damage and attack speed by 10%. This effect stacks.
- Psychic Drain Channels a wave of energy in a frontal cone that deals high amounts of shadow damage and returns 10 times the damage done as health to Zon'ozz.
- Disrupting Shadows Places a debuff on random players which ticks for moderate shadow damage every 2 seconds. Dispelling this effect causes the target to explode for additional shadow damage and knocks them into the air.
- Void of the Unmaking Summons a Void of the Unmaking.
- Void Diffusion The void explodes, dealing high amounts of shadow damage split between all nearby players. Each explosion increases the damage of the next explosion by 20%.
- Black Blood Eruption If the void reaches the outer walls, explodes for vast amounts of shadow damage to all players and knocks them into the air.
- Black Blood of Go'rath Deals light shadow damage to all players every second for 30 seconds.
As mentioned, you need a fairly good split of ranged and melee DPS, with your tank healers going in with the melee DPS. Groups should be even split so as to balance out the damage that both groups will take from Void of the Unmaking. The ranged group will take one additional hit over the melee group from the void, so it's best to run heavier on their side if possible, although healers should account for that in an even group.
The tank should start the encounter with Zon'ozz facing towards the ranged group. Zon'ozz will always summon a Void of the Unmaking as his first ability, and he always summons it directly in front of where he is currently facing. Immediately after the void is summoned, the tank should flip Zon'ozz around so that he is no longer facing the raid. The tank's only concern now is to watch for Psychic Drain and Focused Anger stacks. Using damage reduction cooldowns during Psychic Drain is fairly important. First, the damage from the ability is rather high -- over 100,000 in 25-man normal; and second, you want to limit the amount of health that the boss is refunded. Even at half damage, Drain can return 500,000 health. Give that it's shadow damage, the Mirror of Broken Images from Tol Barad is an amazing trinket for this encounter.
Healers, for their part, should be dispelling Disrupting Shadows as quickly as they possibly can. The debuff doesn't tick for all that much damage; however, it does last for an exorbitant amount of time, so you can't leave it up forever. The dispel damage that it deals isn't all that bad, but you do have to be careful when you get further into void bounces. A dispel explosion plus a void explosion can kill a player, so watch that you don't dispel players right before or right after they take a void to the face. It just ends badly.
One alternative that you can use, especially early in each phase, is to have a priest immediately Mass Dispel Disrupting Shadows. This removes any delay factor from having a single assigned healer take off debuffs one by one, allowing for more efficient AoE healing. Again, be wary doing this, as you don't want to Mass Dispel right before a void hit.
Raiding is back -- in Pong form
Bouncing the void is a simple task. All that you need to do is stand close-ish to the void in order for it to bounce away and spread the damage love. The range on the void is rather large and forgiving, which can end up being something of a double-edged sword, but for bouncing purposes it's absolutely fantastic.
While bouncing is a simple task, there is an art to it. Each void is on a semi-set timer in regards to when it will be spawned, which makes timing rather exacting. The goal is to smack Zon'ozz with a void in the face -- well, in the butt, more likely, in order to remove his Rising Anger debuff. To start, ranged DPS will always have the first bounce. The void is always spawned at range and always begins traveling toward the wall opposite of Zon'ozz, so ranged DPS always has to bounce it toward the boss to start with. This means that Zon'ozz will only be hit by the orb on odd numbers of bounces.
Three bounces is far too few. If you only bounce the void three times, there's about a 20- to 30-second delay from ending Black Blood and spawning the next Void. This downtime will cause Rising Anger to stack far too high before you can reach the second Black Blood. If you hold the void for seven bounces, the explosion damages gets far too high and threatens to either outright kill people or force the use of raid cooldowns. Five is the magic number of bounces to aim for.
Again, ranged starts the bounce. Melee will deflect it back, then ranged again, melee once more, and then melee needs to move out away from the boss. Zon'ozz is nothing close to a DPS race; it is far better for melee to move out the moment after their second bounce rather than wait and risk accidentally bouncing the void again. The void has a very large, finicky range on bouncing.
One last thing: It is vitally important that ranged be max distance form the boss. There is a lag between the void's bouncing off a player and when it is capable of being bounced again. You can visibly see this, as the void will become more incorporeal when it cannot be bounced but gain that solid, shadow-y look when it can.
Black Blood of Go'rath phase
Once you reach that fifth bounce and smack Zon'ozz with the void, the raid needs to collapse onto the boss. The room will fill with the Black Blood of Go'rath, which will start dealing persistent shadow damage to everyone. The damage isn't that high, but it comes really quickly and it hits everyone, so healers will begin to struggle to keep everyone up. This is where you need to use your raid and personal damage reduction or healing cooldowns in order to carry through.
Similarly, this is also when you need to burn as much DPS as you possibly can. After being struck by the void, Zon'ozz will take 5% damage for every bounce you performed. With a base of 5%, that leaves him taking a solid 30% additional damage during this phase, so unload everything that you have.
One other thing to note: There's only around a minute and a half to two minutes between each Black Blood phases, so you need to stagger your cooldowns between the two of them. Most healing cooldowns are on the 3-minute mark, so split your healers for each phase. One group will be odd bloods, another will be even. You shouldn't ever get more than three blood phases, though.
The profit step
That's the fight! Once you cycle out of a blood phase, ranged DPS goes back to its original position, the tank faces Zon'ozz toward him until a new void spawns, and that's game. Just a simple rinse, repeat, until the boss falls to the dirt. Good luck, have fun, and be sure to join us next week.
Ready Check shares all the strategies and inside information you need to take your raiding to the next level. Be sure to look up our strategy guides to Cataclysm's 5-man instances, and for more healer-centric advice, visit Raid Rx.