Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nefarian 10 Man

Nefarian proved to be quite the challenge, and that's good right? He's supposed to be this really evil dragon and if he'd be too easy that'd be no fun. He's also called back Onyxia, that poor girl never seems to have gotten enough. Eventhough this fight was quite tricky, and we had many, many wipes due to one persons mistake, the tactics seems alot more overwhelming in theory than they are in practice. When you read about what you have to do you think "omg, this is just too much to think about", at least I did. But as often is the case, once you are there doing it, it's really not that difficult. The problem with Nefarian instead is that the different fight mechanics are crucial and don't allow for much margin. Overall a really fun fight!

We had bashed our heads against him in our 25 man for some hour, then again in a 10 man for a whole raid night, then we decided to give him another go after a 25 man raid with our 10 man group before the reset. Our 25 man raid ended 23.30, and we didn't kill Nefarian until 2 in the morning. On a wednesday! Can't believe our whole 10 man group are people who don't have to get up to work. Well actually some of them did have to *ahem*. But we finally downed him, and it felt really rewarding. We had wiped some 40 times alltogether over the week and our final try was flawless (unlike all the preceding ones).

Our raid comp was as such;
  • Blood Dk
  • Prot Warrior
  • Disc Priest (me)
  • Resto Druid
  • Resto Shaman
  • Feral Cat Druid
  • Balance Druid
  • Unholy Dk
  • Survival Hunter
  • Assassination Rogue

This fight is about assignments, assignments and more assignments. For many periods in the fight will people be spread out, and you will rarely be in range of everyone. Therefore it is important that everyone know exactly where to be and what to do in order to get this right. It wasn't until we managed with that that we finally downed this, and we had several areas in which we had more trouble than others, I will try to highlight them in this guide for you to think about. Another really important part of this fight was positioning.
In some tactics they suggest taking 3 electrocutes in phase 1 or one electrocute in phase 2, we noticed we had a lot easier time dealing with the extra electrocutes in phase 3 instead. What you choose to do depends alot on your raid setup. If you have a good add kiter in phase 3, it's not much of a problem to take electrocutes in that phase. If you have good healers, you'll probably be able to take an electrocute in phase 2. Druids are great in this fight for reasons I will discuss in the healing section at the bottom of this post.

Phase 1
In this phase you will fight Onyxia (who dies really easy), Nefarian and some Skeletonadds.

Tanks: 1 tank on Onyxia, 1 tank on Nefarian, 1 tank on skeletonadds (we had the Feral Cat Druid tank them as bear, it is ideal if you can have someone offtank them in this manner).
Healers: 1 healer on Onyxia tank, preferrably one with alot of hots (ie druid), 1 healer on Nefarian tank, 1 healer on skeletontank/raid
Dps: Enough dps on Onyxia to kill her before Nefarian reaches 70% (if you don't she will wipe the raid), in our case the hunter sufficed with the balance druid going in and helping towards the last percent.

Onyxia Tank - Needs to tank Onyxia facing away from the raid. Onyxia has two abilities (see further below) of which one should be avoided at all costs (Electric Discharge) and one won't be (Tail Swipe). If your tank can handle it, have him turn Onyxia, alternating having her tail facing the raid (to avoid Electric Discharge) and her side facing the raid (to avoid Tail Swipe). This is tricky to do however since Tail Swipe doesn't have a special timer.
Nefarian tank - Should stand behind Onyxia, along the opposite edge of the circle, far enough away to not be hit by the Tail Swipe.
Skeletontank - Will gather all the adds, that spawn all across the room and run to the back leg of Nefarian. Do not stand in front of Nefarian! His breath will awaken the adds, making them hit harder.
Onyxia Tank Healer - Will stand in the middle behind Onyxia.
Nefarian Tank Healer - Will stand by Nefarian.
Addtank/Raid Healer - Will stand by Nefarian.
Onyxia Dps - Will stand in the middle behind Onyxia.
Nefarian Dps - Will stand by Nefarian.

To watch out for;
  • Every 10% of his hp, Nefarian will do an Electrocute which does 100k nature damage to everyone in the raid. It is important to have everyone topped off before this, so dps and healers need to coordinate this between themselves, so that dps don't push Nefarian below a 10% mark when healers aren't ready for it. Everyone should try to use cooldowns to mitigate the damage as much as possible.
  • Electric Discharge come from Onyxias sides, and therefore the tank should try to have Onyxia facing toward the edges of the circle, with the tail pointing towards the middle.
  • Tail Swipe - Onyxia has a tail swipe, and anyone standing behind her will take it. It doesn't deal much damage at all however, and this isn't much of a problem as long as you don't get it exactly before Nefarians Electrocute. By having a healer with hots on the tank, the tail swipe is alot easier to deal with.

Amount of Electrocutes in phase 1 - Two.

Phase 2
In this phase the room will fill with lava which means you have to get up on one of the three pillars surrounding the room. On each pillar there will be an add that does Blast Nova, this needs to be interrupted. You need to spread the raid across the pillars in a way that allows you to deal with the Blast Novas. The adds do not need to be tanked.

Assignments & Positioning
  • At least one interrupter on each platform.
  • Druids with tranquility are good to separate as well, although we tried to save our tranquilities for the last phase instead.
  • One healer per platform.
  • Enough dps on each platform to kill the add before the healers oom.
  • There will most likely be 3-3-4 people on the platforms, try to position the 4 where you have your best healer (ie the healer who can deal with that healing situation the best, in our case the hotting druid).

To watch out for;
  • This phase is easy in theory and in my opinion the most difficult in practice, at least for the healers. You have to make absolutely sure to interrupt all the Blast Novas. Getting even one off could, and probably will, wipe the raid.
  • Getting up on the pillars is no easy thing the first couple of times. Be prepared on alot of wiping due to people failing on this. The easiest way to get up on the pillar is to stand some yard away from it (do not run towards it), wait for the lava to fill up, and pressing forward as soon as it has. It works pretty much as when you would jump up on an ice sheet in the game.
  • Make sure people are ready for the first interrupt, that was usually the trickiest to get right. Once interrupted the Blast Nova has 12 second cooldown before being cast again. It is raid wide damage.
  • During phase 2, Nefarian will use Shadowflame Barrage on 3 (?) random raid members, which deals some 25k shadowfire damage. This is fairly easy to handle, as long as the same person doesn't get too many of them in a row (which can happen!).
  • People should try to use any damage mitigating cooldowns as possible during this phase, especially the first couple of seconds before the healer has everything under control.

Amount of Electrocutes in phase 2 - None. (One if your healers think they can handle it, otherwise make sure dpsers don't dps Nefarian at all).

Phase 3

You will be fighting Nefarian and the skeletonadds. We tried several tactics, but on our first try with Nefarian in the middle instead of on the edge of the circle, did we down him, so that seems like a good tactic.

Tank: 1 Tank Nefarian, 1 tank skeletonadds
Healers: 2 healers on Nefariantank and raid. 1 healer on Skeletontank.
Dps: All on Nefarian.

Nefariantank - will be standing in the middle with Nefarian, making sure that Nefarian is never facing the Skeletonadds, for the same reasons as in phase 1.
Skeletonadd tank - will be kiting the skeletonadds around the room in a circular motion.
Nefariantank/raidhealers - will be standing in the middle, at the side of Nefarian and with melee.
Skeletonadd tankhealer - will be running around the room with that tank.
All dps - will be standing in the middle, at the side of Nefarian.

To watch out for;
  • If you follow our tactic and don't push an Electrocute in phase 2, there will be one coming fairly soon after Nefarian lands in phase 3 instead.
  • This phase is "easy" in that you only have to make sure the tank lives and the raid lives, by spamming heals. Every 10% there will be Electrocutes, so manage all the cooldowns the raid has to make sure no one dies.
  • The trickiest part in this phase without a doubt is the kiting of the adds. Until the addtank as got the hang of this you will probably wipe a whole lot of times. Remember that you don't actually kite the adds to avoid their damage, that is impossible since they have 300% runspeed. You kite them to make sure they don't get into Nefarians Shadowblaze which he aims at the Skeletons. The way our addtank did it was that he stood still with the adds until he saw that Nefarian was casting Shadowblaze, at which point he moved them, in a circular path around the edges of the room.
  • The Shadowblaze will cover a fair amount of the room towards the last percent. It deals alot of damage so make sure not to stand in it!
Amount of Electrocutes in phase 3 -Seven (I had initally written six, which was derp from my side)

Healing Specifics
Many healers, me included, will feel like Nefarian is a really tough nugget to heal. Why is this really, setting aside the massive amounts of damage that people take all the time? Everything in Cataclysm has taught us the value of triage healing, and most boss fights also require good triage healing to do a good healing job. Only rarely are we told to nuke heal and even more rarely to keep people topped off (except the tanks of course) continously. Chimaeron during Feud is a rare example, and that is only during a very small portion of the fight as a whole. What makes Nefarian so tricky however is that healers require to keep the entire raid, not just the tanks, topped off at all times, to make sure everyone will survive the Electrocute which deals some 100k damage. Even small amounts of hp loss could lead to a death, especially if you as a clothie only have some 120k hp. It doesn't leave much hp as a margin. For most healers this becomes a problem because our heals aren't designed to work this way and handle this kind of damage. Our cheap heals are slow and small, and don't work well to keep people constantly topped off. Instead we often have to resort to our fast or big heals, which will make us oom fairly fast. This is especially true during phase 2. Druids however, with their hotting system, do very well on this fight. Druids often have a lot of overhealing, because their healing work in the way that they keep people (usually tanks) topped off through rolling LB, and also keeping rejuvenation and WG up (which works on the few amounts of targets that each healer has in this fight). Shamans and priests (I don't know about paladins) that work mostly through direct healing, will have more trouble in this fight for sure.

Disc heal Nef 10 Man (pre 4.0.6)

Disc heal Nef 25 Man (post 4.0.6)

Priest Specifics

I played disc for this fight, because believe it or not I actually thought it worked alot better. The reason is simple, Nefarian is alot more about point healing than aoe healing (although in the last phase there is alot of aoe healing) and the Barrier just works magic to mitigate damage from the incoming Electrocutes. This is how I did my healing on our kill;
I was assigned to the Nefarian tank so I made sure to stay close to him at all times. I also helped out on raid and addtank when damage seemed ok on the Nefariantank. I did not have range to the Onyxiatank, but had to trust that the assigned healer would make it alone (which he did just great). I kept my tank shielded, rolled Heals, PoM and Penance on him and Greater Heals when he went down low. I also helped with Prayer of Healings on the Electrocutes. I didn't use Barrier to mitigate the first two Electrocutes in phase 1, instead I saved it to make sure no one died on my platform in phase 2. People will be going low on hp from being in the lava (no matter how fast they are at getting up) and the Shadowflame Barrage will start coming at once. As soon as I had jumped up I popped the barrier to give me time to top everyone off. I kept everyone shielded, rolled Heals, Penance and PoM on us to keep us up. This is also a great place to use a Lightwell when being holy. If you cast Lightwell right away in phase 1, the cooldown should have come off once you get into phase 2 (which depends on your dps). As soon as phase 2 ends, have everyone gather up in the middle to be ready for the incoming Electrocute. Phase 3 is mostly about rolling Prayer of Healings, Barriers to mitigate Electrocutes, PoM and Pain Suppression on the tank to mitigate Electrocutes.

Good luck!


  1. I just wanted to say, that is one of the most informative boss tactic write-ups I have ever seen. I have tanked and healed 5 mans, but only ever dps'd in raids, and yet with that explanation, I could "get" every job fairly easily, I am certain.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  2. @Mfer
    Thanks! Is good to know it's of some use :)

  3. Great guide! A guildie found this for us, and I think it's great.

    I think our Skeletank was kiting a bit too fast, so we'll have to tweak things (probably tonight).

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Nice writeup
    my GM linked this on our strat forum and found it to be a good read.

    I'm disc for this fight as well and have been assigned to Onytank. 1st night wasn't easy, but now we have the hang of it and making to phase 2 every attempt.

  5. @Rezznul & Pan
    Both the things you mention (addtank kiting too fast and getting stuck in phase 2) are things we'd have to work with alot. Worst thing is, if you ever want another tank for adds the next fight, you have to do the wiping all over before he learns ^^ It really is -the- trickiest thing to get right in phase 3.

  6. Great guide. One question I have is in phase 3. We have had a protection warrior kiting adds and I was wondering how much he needs to keep the adds moving. We have made decent progress since we learned to spread out on the pillars avoiding splash damage in phase 2 allowing for a total of 3 electrocuted before phase 3, but continue to struggle with threat on adds in phase 3. He doesn't seem to have an issue picking up the first 3-4, but after that I constantly had to help taunt them off the raid by switching into bear form. My job is healing the add tank and so far we have had many wipes in phase 3 and this only makes me think we are doing something wrong. Any advice you can offer on kiting in phase 3 would be a life saver.
    Thanks :)

  7. @Anon
    Yes this was an issue we struggled with as well. The problem as we saw it was that to grab aggro on the mobs, a warrior tank (and druid) has to stand by them, wait for them to come alive and start doing his aoe threat. Why is this a problem? Because they don't all seem to come alive at once. So when he starts running with the ones he's got, an extra add might decide to pop up, just out of range of his aoe threat.

    Paladins have slightly less issues with this because they can place a consecration (and maybe even glyph it for this occasion) and run, letting the cons do the aggroing while the pala is away.
    And dks of course have an even easier job being able to place their D&D at range. In the end we went with the DK as he had a lot easier time keeping aggro on all the mobs, but he too lost a couple. Unfortunately not everyone has a dk handy to throw at some problem!

    Your solution, having someone run and grab them and take them to the addtank, is the one that is available and that we also use. But the healer shouldn't have to do it! You could have one of the dpsers stand on the side of Nefarian that is closest to the addtank, and when a mob runs away, have him grab it and bring it to the addtank (which of course has to be some sort of class with a taunt or who is good at grabbing momentary threat - hunter, shaman, warrior, paladin, dk, druid, maybe there is some more...).

    The shorter you manage to make the last phase, the easier the add handling becomes of course. If you manage to push it, your addtank shouldn't have to do more than two-three resets.

    Hope this was of some help, and good luck! :)

  8. That was absolutely helpful! You've put a lot of work into writing it (and I just like the drawn dragon...things xD).

    Anyway... keep it up, it was very helpful. At least for me. ^^

  9. i just wondered how you dealth with damage in phase 2? How many did you have dpsing Nefarian?

  10. @Anon
    It will depend a lot on your raid, but when we did Nef the first time, we decided to not have any extra Crackle (Electrocute) in phase 2, because the healers already had hell keeping people alive from the Shadow Barrage. We tried to take Nef down to as close to a crackle as possible without actually having one, which usually meant that we got one pretty fast in phase 3 instead. To us it was a lot easier to handle all the crackles in phase 3, than to have one in phase 2, but it depends a lot on the quality of your healers (both skill and gear wise). We had very little dps on Nef in Phase 2, and put all our focus on just burning down the adds instead.

  11. Just a great guide that explains clearly what this fight is all about, all the important points are discussed for a winning solution

  12. @Anon, Spreading out on the pillar does nothing to reduce the incoming damage, that's just a myth.

    @Zinn, Warriors should have the easiest time with them, due to the ability to Heroic Throw for large amounts of threat, Charge and Intercept, (Good use of intervene works wonders here) and Rend + Thunderclap. Also, if he puts Vigilance on the other tank, he has infinite Taunts, so new adds being out of range of his aoe threat should not be a problem if he can target. (Nameplate addons such as tidyplates do a damn fine job here)

    The Add kiting in the third phase is a tricky beast, but the best advice I can think of to give is to always keep the adds moving. Also, it really helps if your heals can manage it, to push him at least once through a crackle in Phase 2. That cuts off a good chunk of time for the add tanking and makes it alot easier to kill the boss before the fight blows up in your face.

  13. Do you rotate Nefarian in Phase 3?

  14. @Tuntun
    Yes, it is mentioned in the text, but maybe not in a very clear way. I've written "the nef tank makes sure nef never faces the skeleton adds" - indeed he tries to rotate the dragon around its own axis. The raid will have to move with it of course.