The Throne of Thunder, Halls of Flesh-Shaping

throne of thunder

Contents
Last Stand of the Zandalari
Forgotten Depths
Halls of Flesh-Shaping
Durumu the Forgotten
Primordius
Dark Animus
Pinnacle of Storms

This third installment of my 5.2 Preview series will focus on the third wing of the Throne of Thunder, known as the Halls of Flesh-Shaping. I want to apologise for the delay: I wasn’t able to test much of Dark Animus on the PTR, so I had to wait until we killed him on live servers to be able to provide you with screenshots of abilities 🙂

I won’t be focusing too much on the actual numbers – the amount of damage dealt by each ability, etc. – since this is all PTR information and is subject to significant re-tuning and change. The mechanics are probably pretty solid at this point, though, so I will be focusing on healer-specific mechanics of each fight and discussing ways of overcoming the obstacles the new raid will present us.

Please also note that I have only done very limited testing – my PTR install was corrupted for most of the 10-player Normal and Heroic mode testing sessions, and I missed out – and all of the testing I have done has been on LFR and Normal mode versions of the encounters, so this will be a fairly superficial overview. But I hope you will all find it helpful in preparing for your first forays into the Throne of Thunder!

Introducing the bosses of the Halls of Flesh-Shaping:

Durumu the Forgotten

The Durumu encounter is perhaps one of my favourite in the tier – at least based on PTR testing of it. It is the first Beholder encounter we’ve seen in a long while – since Blood Furnace and Auchindoun Crypts – and being a former avid table-top RPGer, Beholder fights are always nostalgic.

The fight has a single phase that is occasionally punctuated by Durumu’s use of his two most complex mechanics, Full Spectrum and Disintegration Beam. Before we get into those, let’s look at the less punishing mechanics that Durumu will use throughout the entirety of the encounter.

Durumu will periodically attack the tank with Hard Stare, which deals moderate damage and applies two debuffs. The first debuff, Serious Wound, is a stacking 10% reduction in healing received by the tank. The second debuff, Arterial Cut, is a bleed effect which deals moderate damage and can only be removed by healing the affected player to full health. At high stacks of Serious Wound, Arterial Cut will become difficult to deal with, so tanks must swap to prevent this from occurring. Healers must monitor Arterial Cut and be sure to remove it from their tanks quickly.

Lingering Gaze warning

Lingering Gaze

Durumu will summon several different types of unattackable lesser Eyes to defend him during the fight.

Appraising Eye will choose several players in the raid at random and debuff them with Lingering Gaze, placing a bright orange arrow over those players’ heads.

Lingering Gaze splash and void zone

Lingering Gaze splash

In a few seconds, the Appraising Eye will lob bolts of shadow at those players’ positions, dealing moderate Shadow damage to all players within 15 yards of the target location, and leaving behind a void zone that will cause moderate damage to players entering it. Players targeted by Lingering Gaze should move out of the raid to avoid harming other players with the splash damage on impact, and ideally will place the Lingering Gaze pools at the edge of the encounter area where they are less likely to be a nuisance.

Force of Will

Force of Will

The Mind’s Eye will choose a random target in the raid and cast Force of Will upon them. This will fill a narrow cone centered on that player with a very subtle dark purple fog.

After several seconds, any players remaining in that fog will be knocked back off the edge of the platform and instantly die upon touching the water beneath the encounter area.

At least, that’s how it worked for those of us at range. I am not sure if melee players are knocked all the way back off of the platform. Regardless, it is … less than optimal … to let this ability hit you. 🙂

Life Drain

Life Drain

The Hungry Eye will choose a random target in the raid and cast Life Drain on them. This ability stuns the targeted player for 15 seconds, and will begin to drain the player’s health. Each tick of Life Drain will steal more health from the player, and funnel it to Durumu himself, healing the boss for more and more.

However, the beam can be intercepted by other players to reset this incremental increase. The raid must manage a Life Drain rotation both to save the life of the initial Life Drain target, and to prevent Durumu from healing too much.

Now, moving on to the more complicated mechanics I mentioned previously…

Light Spectrum phase: Durumu reveals the location of all three Crimson Fogs and the Azure Fog. Red arrows indicate Crimson Fog; blue arrow indicates Azure Fog.

Light Spectrum phase: Durumu reveals the location of all three Crimson Fogs and the Azure Fog. Red arrows indicate Crimson Fog; blue arrow indicates Azure Fog.

About 30 seconds into the fight, Durumu will use his Light Spectrum ability. During this phase, four invisible adds will spawn around the room; three Crimson Fog adds and one Azure Fog add. The phase will end when all three Crimson Fogs have been defeated. Briefly before the phase begins, Durumu will reveal the location of these invisible, non-mobile adds with a brief flash of light, as seen above. During Light Spectrum, Durumu will still use his Appraising Eye and Hungry Eye, but not his Mind’s Eye, so players will only have to deal with Lingering Gaze and Life Drain.

From top to bottom, Infrared Light, Blue Rays, Bright Light beams.

From top to bottom, Infrared Light, Blue Rays, Bright Light beams.

At the same time, Durumu will target three random players in the raid as beacons for Infrared Light (red beam), Bright Light (yellow beam), and Blue Rays (extremely faint blue beam). The blue- and red-beam players will each have a debuff indicating they have been chosen as the beacon for the beams: Infrared Tracker, and Blue Ray Tracker.

Several seconds after this occurs, a narrow cone of red, blue, or yellow light will appear centered around the beacon players. The cones of light deal heavy damage to players standing inside them, but the damage is split amongst those players, so the raid will wish to have pre-set teams of players to soak the cone damage, allowing it to be managed by the healers. If any of the cones ever overlap, players will take heavy damage – damage from both cones. If no players are standing in a cone, the entire raid takes very heavy damage and this will cause a wipe.

Light Spectrum. From left to right: Bright Light cone (yellow); Blue Rays cone (blue); Infrared Light cone (red).

Light Spectrum. From left to right: Bright Light cone (yellow); Blue Rays cone (blue); Infrared Light cone (red).

Additionally, each time a player takes damage from standing in a cone, the player gains a stack of Infrared Light, Blue Rays, or Bright Light – depending on which cone dealt the damage – increasing the damage dealt by that cone by 2% per stack. Players may have debuffs from each cone type on them, and these debuffs did not seem to have a duration, meaning they may persist throughout the fight, and swapping colours each time the Light Spectrum occurs will be necessary. Some simple rubric like R-Y-B works well for this, e.g. players who take red first take yellow the second time and blue the third, while players who take yellow first take blue second and red third, and players who take blue first take red second and yellow third.

The Bright Light cone will slowly sweep around the platform, necessitating that the team of players assigned to standing in it and soaking its damage must pay attention to its movement and stay within it. The Infrared Light and Blue Rays cones will move with their beacon target.

A revealed Crimson Fog add

A revealed Crimson Fog add

The aim of this phase is to reveal all three Crimson Fog adds, by illuminating them with Infrared Light, and defeat them. This is achieved by having the player with the Infrared Light beacon move to the locations that Durumu previously indicated with the red flashes of light. It is vital that, once a Crimson Fog is revealed, the beaconed player must stay in position until the Crimson Fog is dead. Kiting the beam away from a Crimson Fog before it dies will trigger its Crimson Bloom ability, dealing heavy raid-wide Fire damage.

While the Crimson Fog is illuminated, it will choose random raid members and deal light fire damage to them. This is more dangerous the longer the Light Spectrum phase lasts, which is generally the case with all damage during this phase, so healers should save their most potent cooldowns for the third Crimson Fog.

The Azure Fog add should never be revealed by the Blue Rays. Doing so will cause all players within the Blue Rays to take additional damage for as long as the Azure Fog is revealed. As with the Crimson Fog, kiting the beam away from an Azure Fog before it dies will trigger its Flash Freeze ability, dealing heavy raid-wide Frost damage. While the Azure Fog can be killed, it uses Flash Freeze upon its death, and will then respawn in a random location around the platform, so it is wasted DPS to kill the Azure Fog. The player with the Blue Rays beacon should stand perfectly still once the blue cone has spawned, or as still as possible while still avoiding overlapping the Bright Light or Infrared Light cones.

The other somewhat complicated ability that Durumu will use is called Disintegration Beam. Durumu will focus his gaze into a narrow beam of light that will instantly destroy any players it touches. Initially, he will focus this gaze in front of him and hold it there for about 10 seconds. During this time, he will slowly fill the room with Eye Sores, a dark blue fog that will deal very heavy damage each second to any players standing in it. Once the room is (nearly) completely filled with Eye Sores, he will start to rotate, and at the same time, maze-like lanes will open up within the Eye Sores so that players have a route to safety.

The ability is a little difficult to describe with words alone, so I have a video of one of the PTR attempts where we encountered a Disintegration Beam and lived. I do want to note that the graphic for Eye Sores has become much, much more difficult to interpret since then, so use this as a guide only!

Initially, we stacked up in front of the boss as the DBM timer for Disintegration Beam approached 0. The beam spawned and the first cone of Eye Sores spawns to our right. This indicates that the beam is going to move counter-clockwise; if the Eye Sores had spawned to our left, the beam would move clockwise.

The Eye Sores continue to fill up the platform, and only the narrow strip next to the first Eye Sores patch (in the counter-clockwise case, just to the left of the Eye Sores; in the clockwise case, just to the right) will remain clear enough for us to stand in until the Beam starts to rotate and the maze forms. Once the Disintegration Beam beings rotating, we simply run through the maze, trying to avoid Lingering Gaze pools as best as we can. As we reach our starting point, the Disintegration Beam phase is complete.

On live, it is typically very difficult to see the clear paths at the very start of the Eye Sores maze. The ranged path is much easier to spot than the melee path. You will need to stack cooldowns for the first few seconds of the Eye Sores until everyone finds their clear paths. Take care not to move too far ahead of the beam, as the clear path typically appears quite late and you may take a lot of Eye Sores damage by trying to ‘guess’ where it’s going to be.

During Disintegration Beam, Appraising Eye, Mind’s Eye, and Hungry Eye do not use their normal abilities. Instead, when they are summoned, they deal light Arcane damage to several random targets in the raid via an ability called Mind Daggers. So long as most or all of the raid is alive, this is quite manageable damage, and healers can power through it without the use of mobility or throughput cooldowns. The only other source of damage occurs when players cannot avoid running through a Lingering Gaze pool; this is a little scarier but should not result in deaths.

Durumu will alternate between Light Spectrum and Disintegration Beam for the remainder of the fight, using his “normal” abilities (Lingering Gaze, Force of Will, Life Drain) in the intermissions between these special abilities. The fight should really only be difficult to heal when Light Spectrum is active, or at the start of the Eye Sores maze, so use cooldowns then.

You will need cooldowns for: Light Spectrum (raid), the beginning of the Eye Sores maze during Disintegration Beam (raid)

Debuffs to track: Serious Wound and Arterial Cut (tank debuffs); Lingering Gaze; your own stacks of Infrared Light, Blue Rays, and Bright Light; Life Drain

Dispels: None

Points of failure:

  • Tanks fail to swap at appropriate stacks of Serious Wound and become difficult to heal through Arterial Cut;
  • Players do not move out of the Force of Will fog and are instantly killed;
  • Players fail to dodge the Disintegration Beam and are instantly killed;
  • Players do not respond properly to the Light Spectrum mechanics, moving erratically to reveal and then conceal adds, causing massive raid-wide damage;
  • Players do not move with the Bright Light cone, causing the entire raid to take extremely heavy damage each second;
  • Players do not defeat the three Crimson Fog adds in a timely fashion, and Light Spectrum damage becomes unhealable.

Primordius

This is a fairly straightforward encounter, with a simple debuff-gathering mechanic that enables players to defeat the boss before he enrages. The fight requires some raid awareness, and a balance between adds management and DPS uptime on the boss.

Primordius begins the encounter as a Mutated Abomination, meaning that he takes greatly reduced damage from players. In order to deal full damage to the boss, players must become Fully Mutated by gaining any five debuffs from pools of slime left behind when adds are destroyed. Primordius himself will also gain mutations throughout the course of the fight, gaining new abilities that must be appropriately dealt with. The fight becomes a race against the ever-increasing damage Primordius deals.

First, I’ll cover Primordius’s abilities. Primordius will occasionally strike the tank with a Primordial Strike, dealing extreme damage to all players within a 7-yard cone. Melee must be careful to stay behind the boss; this damage will be fatal to non-tank players. Primordius will also affect the tank with Malformed Blood, a stacking debuff which leaves a DoT effect and provides a damage bonus versus adds. This mechanic requires tank-swapping to avoid the DoT from becoming too dangerous, and encourages the debuffed tank to assist with killing adds.

Primordius has an energy bar with a maximum of 60. Each second, he gains 1 energy. When his energy bar fills up, he will cast Evolution. At the end of this cast, he gains one stack of Evolution – increasing the damage dealt by all of his abilities by 10% per stack – and will gain one random Mutation. He can have a total of three Mutations at any time, and once he reaches three Mutations, each subsequent Mutation he gains replaces a random Mutation he already had. Players will therefore have to deal with an ever-changing slate of boss abilities chosen from the following:

Caustic Gas

Caustic Gas splits damage amongst players within the faint green circle

Mutation: Ventral Sacs causes Primordius to erupt, dealing light Nature damage to all players every second.

Mutation: Gas Bladder causes Primordius to spray Caustic Gas, dealing a large amount of Nature damage split amongst all players within the area of effect. This occurs fairly frequently, and will be lethal if fewer than five players split the damage.

Acidic Spines: Spread to avoid splash damage

Acidic Spines: Spread to avoid splash damage

Mutation: Acidic Spines causes Primordius to target several random raid members with Acidic Spines, inflicting moderate Nature damage to all players within 5 yards of the target location. Players must spread out to avoid splashing the Acidic Spines damage to one another.

Volatile Pathogen

Volatile Pathogen

Mutation: Pathogen Glands gives Primordius the Volatile Pathogen ability. Primordius will target a random raid member (the off-tank is a valid target, but the current tank is not) and apply a Volatile Pathogen debuff. This debuff lasts for 10 seconds and deals moderate Nature damage each second.

A single-target damage reduction cooldown may be necessary if the Volatile Pathogen target has no way of mitigating the damage. This player will also require heavy single-target healing to survive the ability.

Erupting Pustules (red-orange projectiles)

Erupting Pustules (red-orange projectiles)

Mutation: Metabolic Boost grants Primordius a 50% attack speed increase and causes him to use his other abilities more frequently. This may mean the tank debuff will stack more rapidly than usual, and the current tank may require external cooldowns to survive until the off-tank’s debuff fades.

Mutation: Erupting Pustules causes Primordius to erupt every 5 seconds, spraying the area with volatile blood that causes moderate to heavy Nature damage to all players within 2.5 yards of the targeted area. This does not seem to be player-targeted, and will create random spiky damage throughout the raid.

The most dangerous combination is probably Metabolic Boost/Erupting Pustules/Ventral Sacs; this will result in extremely high raid damage due to the frequency with which Primordius will use his Mutations.

Living Fluids converge on Primordius's position

Living Fluids converge on Primordius’s position

And that’s about it for Primordius! Moving on to the adds…

Primordius absorbs a Living Fluid and gains 3 energy.

Primordius absorbs a Living Fluid and gains 3 energy.

Throughout the fight, Living Fluids will spawn from the pools at the edges of the encounter area. These small, red slime-type adds will slowly converge upon Primordius’s position. If these slimes reach the boss, they will become absorbed, granting him 3 energy toward his next Mutation. Allowing a number of adds to reach the boss will speed up the Mutation rate so quickly that Primordius’s damage will soon become unhealable due to Evolution stacks.

Mutagenic Pool

Mutagenic Pool

However, if players kill the Living Fluids before they reach the boss, they will leave behind residues that can assist them in defeating Primordius. These Mutagenic Pools provide a player who stands in the pool with a “beneficial debuff” chosen at random from the following list:

  • Thick Bones: +5% to all stats;
  • Clear Mind: +10% to Mastery;
  • Improved Synapses: +10% to Haste; or
  • Keen Eyesight: +10% to Critical Strike Chance.

Each Mutagenic Pool can provide three debuffs before being fully absorbed and disappearing.

Fully Mutated players become corrupted Sauroks.

Fully Mutated players become corrupted Sauroks.

Once a player collects any 5 of these beneficial debuffs – they stack – that player becomes Fully Mutated for 2 minutes, taking on the form of a mutated Saurok. Becoming Fully Mutated refreshes the duration on all beneficial debuffs and allows the player to deal full damage to Primordius. While becoming Fully Mutated does not provide a benefit to healers, the beneficial debuffs will be very helpful in handling the raid damage, especially in the later stages of the fight when Evolution stacks are high. You may as well pick up five of them!

Any further Mutations that Fully Mutated players obtain from Mutagenic Pools will now be harmful, chosen at random from the following options:

  • Brittle Bones: -5% to all stats;
  • Clouded Mind: -10% to Mastery;
  • Dulled Synapses: -10% to Haste; or
  • Impaired Eyesight: -10% to Critical Strike Chance.

All of these previously-mentioned buffs and debuffs are dispellable, and dispelling a player affected by any of these effects will dispel all debuffs, beneficial or otherwise (including Fully Mutated). It is only worth dispelling a player if they have obtained many of these harmful debuffs.

mistweaver monk icon Revival has just been hotfixed and will not remove the beneficial debuffs in this encounter (including Fully Mutated). It is now safe for Mistweavers to use their raid-healing cooldown whenever it is necessary.

Volatile Pools move toward Primordius and will heal him.

Volatile Pools move toward Primordius and will heal him.

Rarely, destroyed Living Fluid adds may leave behind a Volatile Pool rather than a Mutagenic Pool. These Volatile Pools are larger, and purple, and move slowly towards Primordius. Players who move through the Volatile Pools gain one of the harmful debuffs listed above.

If a Volatile Pool reaches Primordius, he will absorb it, healing for 10% of his maximum health and immediately completing his progress toward his next Mutation. Because the enrage timer is quite tight – at least, it will be early in the tier while players are gearing up – this will likely cause a wipe.

To recap, the Primordius encounter is about finding a balance between dealing enough damage to the boss that he will die before he enrages, and preventing adds from empowering the boss to keep the Mutation/Evolution rate as low as possible. The required healing will gradually ramp up as the fight progresses, so healers will find it useful to gain beneficial debuffs from Mutagenic Pools to assist them in managing the raid’s health.

You will need cooldowns for: Caustic Gas (raid), a Metabolic Boost/Erupting Pustules/Ventral Sacs combination (raid); Volatile Pathogen (single-target)

Debuffs to track: Fully Mutated, Volatile Pathogen, Malformed Blood (tank debuff), Fragile Bones, Clouded Mind, Dulled Synapses, Impaired Eyesight

Debuffs not to track: While you may wish to track your own Thick Bones, Clear Mind, Improved Synapses, and Keen Eyesight buffs, I do not advise tracking them for the entire raid. Most of the raid will have 5 of these buffs nearly the entire fight, so it is just information overload.

Dispels: Players affected by Fragile Bones, Clouded Mind, Dulled Synapses, or Impaired Eyesight may call for a dispel.

Points of failure:

  • Players allow too many of the Living Fluid adds to reach the boss, greatly accelerating his rate of Mutation, and causing so many stacks of Evolution that his damage becomes unhealable;
  • Players do not properly split Caustic Gas damage and tanks die to it;
  • Players do not obtain Fully Mutated and/or do not use their time as a mutant to DPS the boss, and the raid fails to beat the enrage timer;
  • Primordius is allowed to heal from his Volatile Pools, and the raid fails to beat the enrage timer.

Dark Animus

The Dark Animus encounter is a puzzle game brought to an MMO setting, and it’s fairly inventive and interesting. However, it is also extremely punishing at the very start. One slip-up and the raid is likely to wipe within 20 seconds of starting the encounter.

The challenge in this fight is in selecting, and then executing, a strategy. While I don’t intend for this to be a strategy guide, it is impossible to divorce the healing requirements from the chosen strategy, so I will briefly discuss the prevailing strategies for 10- and 25-player raiders.

The Dark Animus encounter layout. In 10-player versions of the fight, the greyed-out Anima Golems and Large Anima Golems are Critically Damaged.

An example of the Dark Animus encounter layout.
In 10-player versions of the fight, the greyed-out Anima Golems and Large Anima Golems are Critically Damaged. Their positioning can vary each week.

This encounter begins with an extensive adds-management phase. As you enter Dark Animus’s room, you will notice 25 Anima Golems, 8 Large Anima Golems, 2 Massive Anima Golems, and Dark Animus himself, positioned symmetrically around the room. (In 10-player mode, 13 Anima Golems and 3 Large Anima Golems are Critically Damaged. These Golems may receive Anima, and are targeted by Siphon Anima, but will not become active.)

A Critically Damaged Anima Golem (10-player only)

A Critically Damaged golem (10-player only)

The Golems are inactive until they absorb their fuel, called Anima; while all golems start with 0 Anima, the Anima Golems have a Anima capacity of 4, the Large Anima Golems have a capacity of 8 Anima, the Massive Anima Golems may each carry 36 Anima, and Dark Animus can carry 100 Anima.

At the centre of the room is an Anima Orb, which holds 100 Anima and has 1 HP. Any attack on the Anima Orb will begin the encounter.

When the Orb shatters, it spreads its Anima evenly to all 25 Anima Golems, filling them to maximum Anima capacity (4/4). The other Golems are activated by destroying Anima Golems near them; the 4 Anima that was held by the Anima Golem will flow into the nearest Golem with at least a 4 Anima deficit.

I will briefly go through the abilities of each of the adds before I explain a little more coherently exactly how this is supposed to work.

Acceleration Link makes small packs of Anima Golems extremely dangerous.

Acceleration Link makes small packs of Anima Golems extremely dangerous.

Anima Golems obey a normal threat table and will attack whichever target has the highest threat. Anima Golems take 90% reduced damage from AoE abilities (so you cannot stack them and AoE them all down, I guess). They also have a passive ability called Acceleration Link, which is triggered whenever there are two or more Anima Golems within 5 yards of one another.

When this occurs, the Anima Golems deal 175% more damage and attack 250% more frequently, as well as gaining a movement speed increase. This stacks, so even a small pack of Anima Golems like the one in the screenshot above will quickly become extremely fatal and can wipe the raid one person at a time very rapidly.

A Large Anima Golem's Crimson Wake ability.

A Large Anima Golem’s Crimson Wake ability.

Large Anima Golems are only activated if players kill an Anima Golem near them. They have a single ability, Crimson Wake. The Large Anima Golem targets a random player and chases them with eruptions of flame for up to 30 seconds. Any player in the eruption zone will take moderate Fire damage each second, and standing in it for a few seconds is fatal.

Matter Swap

Matter Swap

Massive Anima Golems have two dangerous abilities, Matter Swap and Explosive Slam.

Matter Swap is a Magical debuff that is placed on a random player in the raid, whom I’ll call the “target”. When it is dispelled or expires, the game selects the farthest-away player from the debuffed target, and swaps their position. I’ll call that player the “linked” player or the “Swappee”.

This ability also deals damage to the two “linked” players equal to the amount of health the Matter Swap target had when the debuff was dispelled. This damage is split between the two players based upon the elapsed time between the Matter Swap debuff being applied and it fading (due to dispel or due to reaching the end of its 12-second duration).

Massive Anima Golem's Explosive Slam

Massive Anima Golem’s Explosive Slam

If you dispel it immediately, the target takes 100% of this damage and is very likely to die. If you let it fall off naturally, the “linked” player takes 100% of the damage and is very likely to die. Dispelling when the debuff’s duration is about halfway finished will split the damage approximately 50/50, which should prevent either player from dying.

Explosive Slam is a tank-swapping mechanic; the Massive Anima Golem slams its fist into the ground at its feet, dealing heavy damage to all players within 9 yards, and leaving an Explosive Slam debuff on any affected player. This debuff increases the damage of subsequent Explosive Slams by 25% for 25 seconds. Since Explosive Slams happen approximately every 20 seconds, this will stack and quickly become dangerous to tanks who do not dodge the Slam or take turns tanking.

Touch of the Animus

Touch of the Animus

Dark Animus, once activated, will begin handing out Touch of the Animus debuffs. These debuffs apply a light DoT effect to the target, which will persist until the end of the encounter (like the Touch of Sha on the Protectors of the Endless encounter in tier 14). Dark Animus will cast this ability approximately every 15 seconds.

The boss will also cast Siphon Anima approximately every 6 seconds. This ability drains 1 Anima from each Golem that has Anima, transferring that Anima to the boss. If a Golem’s Anima is drained to zero in this fashion, that Golem becomes deactivated and will take no more action during the encounter unless it is re-activated by killing another add near it.

It is important to control the rate of his Anima gain by killing some adds and consolidating their Anima into other adds – reducing the number of targets from which Dark Animus can Siphon Anima – because as his Anima increases, he gains new, more powerful abilities.

Anima Ring can be fatal if the tank does not minimise contact with the orbs.

Anima Ring can be fatal if the tank does not minimise contact with the orbs.

When Dark Animus reaches 25 Anima, he begins to cast Anima Ring on the tank. This creates a ring of orbs around the tank that will slowly converge on the tank’s position. If any player touches an orb, that player receives a debuff that increases melee damage taken by 200%; this stacks if that player touches more than one orb. Dark Animus will cast this ability approximately every 30 seconds.

Since there are twelve orbs, if the tank simply stands there and allows the Anima Ring to collapse, the tank will gain 12 stacks of this debuff; this will prove very quickly fatal. There are a few options for dealing with the Anima Ring without losing a tank, though! The tank may move through a single orb and use damage-reduction cooldowns to mitigate the additional damage taken until the Anima Ring debuff falls off, or another player not currently tanking anything could run through an orb to clear a path for the tank to exit. I’ve also heard rumours that Heroic Leap and Leap of Faith can get a tank out of the Anima Ring safely. It’s possible that Matter Swap could be gamed to get the tank out of the Anima Ring, but this seems risky.

Anima Font deals splash AoE damage.

Anima Font deals splash AoE damage.

When Dark Animus reaches 50 Anima, he stops casting Touch of the Animus, and begins applying a new debuff to players who already have the Touch of the Animus debuff. This new debuff turns the affected player into an Anima Font, and the player will begin spewing bolts of Anima at other players’ locations. These create a ring of fire on the ground, and if any players are standing within that ring when the Anima bolt lands, they will take moderate Fire damage. The more Touch of the Animus targets there are, the more dangerous this becomes, as Anima Fonts will spew the Anima bolts every second for the remainder of the encounter.

When Dark Animus reaches 75 Anima, he gains Interrupting Jolt. This ability deals very heavy Nature damage to all players, and interrupts any spellcasts in progress when the damage is applied. Dark Animus will cast this ability approximately every 20 seconds.

When Dark Animus reaches 100 Anima, he reaches FULL POWER, and begins to channel a  powerful AoE effect that will wipe the raid.

So, at the start of the fight, all 25 Anima Golems are granted 4 Anima. In 10-player mode, only the 12 which are not Critically Damaged will also become activated. (Remember, Critically Damaged golems may absorb Anima but will not activate and cannot be damaged.) In 25-player mode, all 25 Anima Golems become activated at this time.

Players must be assigned to specific Anima Golems, which they must tank until the Golem is killed or deactivated.

Players must be assigned to specific Anima Golems, which they must tank until the Golem is killed or deactivated.

Each player – including the healers! – must tank one Anima Golem (in 10-player mode, tanks must tank two Anima Golems each). Before the pull, spread the entire raid out around the room so that each player is standing next to the Anima Golem they will be tanking. Ensure that all players’ Golems will remain more than 5 yards from one another.

Once the Anima Golems activate, you must attack them and generate threat on them higher than the threat of any other player. This is especially difficult for healers because all players will be taking melee damage from their own Golem, and we will have many things to focus on besides just generating threat. Use instant heals or passive healing abilities to stabilise the raid while you get a good threat lead on your Golem.

holy-paladin-iconDo not use Righteous Fury. You will very likely pull threat on another nearby player’s Anima Golem, and this may cause a wipe.

discipline-priest-iconDo not use Fade; this will drop threat on your Anima Golem and may cause a raid wipe.

restoration-shaman-iconI actually used Rockbiter Weapon at the start of the encounter to generate a solid amount of threat before switching to Earthliving Weapon and healing. Healing Stream Totem and pre-cast Healing Rain also bought me time.

Here’s where the strategies start to diverge. The inferior strategy, in my opinion at least, kills 2 Anima Golems next to a Large Anima Golem, activating it, and then kills that Large Anima Golem next to another Large Anima Golem, continuing on in this fashion until all Large Anima Golems have been activated and destroyed. The last Large Anima Golems to die funnel their Anima into the Massive Anima Golems, and they are filled up to maximum capacity by killing some of the remaining Anima Golems near them. Once both are at full capacity (25-player) or one is dead and one is at full capacity (10-player), another Anima Golem is killed near Dark Animus to activate him.

The reason I consider this to be inferior is that this means the raid must deal with Crimson Wake, which is a very punishing ability, considering that the player who is being chased by it must kite it for 30 seconds while never bringing their Anima Golem near another player’s Anima Golem. If your raid group prefers this strategy for whatever reason, be aware that single-target or raid cooldowns may be necessary to deal with the Crimson Wake damage, and Priests may wish to spec into Body and Soul to help the kiters avoid Crimson Wake ticks.

The superior strategy by far is to ignore the Large Anima Golems and only activate Massive Anima Golem(s). This strategy is a little different between 10- and 25-player modes so I will go through it for both raid sizes. I do want to note first that the three 10-player mode strategies I offer below do not differ widely in the amount of time it takes to reach Interrupting Jolt. 10-player raids are unlikely to avoid this ability unless they adapt the 25-player strategy or have extremely high DPS (e.g. significantly outgear the encounter). I’ve prepared a graph showing the rate at which Dark Animus gains Anima with each strategy:

S1 (blue): Kill only 1 Anima Golem to immediately activate boss. Zerg strat.S2 (red): The 10-player "simple" strategy, detailed below.S3 (yellow): The 10-player "2-healing" strategy, detailed below.S4 (green): The 10-player "2-healing" strategy, but killing a CD LAG after 4th drain to 'refill' the MAG.S5 (purple): The 25-player strategy, detailed below.

S1 (blue): Kill only 1 Anima Golem to immediately activate boss. Zerg strat.
S2 (red): The 10-player “simple” strategy, detailed below.
S3 (yellow): The 10-player “2-healing” strategy, detailed below.
S4 (green): The 10-player “2-healing” strategy, but kill a CD LAG after 4th drain to ‘refill’ the MAG.
S5 (purple): The 25-player strategy, detailed below.

You can see that, despite the 10-player strategy chosen – unless you use the completely untenable “zerg” strategy or the 25-player strategy – Dark Animus will gain Interrupting Jolt after 72 seconds. The only way to delay this is to use the 25-player strategy, or to attempt to delay Interrupting Jolt in a slightly tricky (and in my opinion unnecessary) manner, which I will get into more below.

The healing is largely the same, however: tanks will take heavy damage related to the debuffs they gain from tanking Dark Animus and the Massive Anima Golem(s), and the raid will take heavy damage if Dark Animus drains enough Anima to gain his Interrupting Jolt ability. Dispelling Matter Swap will be required throughout the remainder of the encounter, as once Dark Animus is activated, he will become the DPS priority target, and the Massive Anima Golem will simply be off-tanked and ignored.

10-player strategy, simple:

  1. Kill the tank’s 2 Anima Golems near a Massive Anima Golem, activating it. The tank whose Golems you killed can now tank the Massive Anima Golem.
  2. Drag 7 other Anima Golems – the two on the other tank, and 5 more – over to the Massive Anima Golem and kill them, filling up the Massive Anima Golem’s Anima bar.
  3. Bring one Anima Golem to Dark Animus and kill it, activating the boss with 4 Anima.
  4. Adds that Dark Animus can Siphon Anima from:
    • 13 Critically Damaged Anima Golems (4 Anima each),
    • 2 Anima Golems (4 Anima each), and
    • 1 Massive Anima Golem (36 Anima), for 16 total targets.

From this point, players will focus solely on killing Dark Animus, and the encounter becomes a race against Dark Animus’s Siphon Anima abilities. Players must be able to defeat Dark Animus within 216 seconds (a little over 3.5 minutes) in order to prevent Dark Animus from gaining FULL POWER. The Siphons look like so:

  1. Dark Animus drains 16 Anima, for a total of 20 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 3 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 35.
  2. Dark Animus drains 16 Anima, for a total of 36 Anima. He will begin using Anima Ring. This leaves each Anima Golem at 2 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 34.
  3. Dark Animus drains 16 Anima, for a total of 52 Anima. He will begin using Anima Font. This leaves each Anima Golem at 1 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 33.
  4. Dark Animus drains 16 Anima, for a total of 68 Anima. All Anima Golems now have 0 Anima and are deactivated. The Massive Anima Golem holds 32 Anima.
  5. Dark Animus drains 1 Anima every 6 seconds from here on out, gaining Interrupting Jolt after another 42 seconds.

Interrupting Jolt will require raid cooldowns to mitigate the heavy damage and heal the raid back up. Players may wish to stack for this ability, then spread again to avoid Anima Font splash damage.

10-player strategy, 2-healing:

Many guides recommend feeding Anima Golems into the Critically Damaged Large Anima Golems. The advantage of this is that you can do this simultaneously and easily free up healers and tanks from having to tank the Anima Golems, which allows healers to focus more on movement and ensuring every player is kept alive. If the “simple” strategy results in too much damage on your raid, you can attempt this more complicated, but slightly lower-damage strategy instead.

  1. Have tanks take two adjacent Anima Golems and stand between them to prevent them from buffing one another. Place healers near these tanks.
  2. Kill the healers’ Golems first, near Critically Damaged Large Anima Golems. Healers can now go take care of healing and not worry about anything else.
  3. Kill at least one of each tank’s Anima Golems near Critically Damaged Large Anima Golems. Tanks can then reposition if necessary. The idea here will be to have the tanks’ Anima Golems feed first into the Critically Damaged Large Anima Golems that the healers have already fed, and then the closest tank can go kill their remaining Anima Golem near the third Critically Damaged Large Anima Golem. The other tank will still have one.
  4. Kill a nearby DPSer’s Anima Golem near the third Critically Damaged Large Anima Golem.
  5. Kill a DPS Golem near a Massive Anima Golem. The tank who is free of Golems can pick the Massive Anima Golem up and tank it.
  6. Feed the remaining 5 active Anima Golems into the Massive Anima Golem.
  7. Drag the Massive Anima Golem to three Critically Damaged Anima Golems and kill them. Make sure the Massive Anima Golem is close enough to the Critically Damaged Anima Golems that their Anima will flow into the Massive Anima Golem instead of nearby Large Anima Golems!
  8. Kill a Critically Damaged Anima Golem in front of Dark Animus to activate the boss.
  9. Adds that Dark Animus can Siphon Anima from:
    • 9 Critically Damaged Anima Golems (4 Anima each);
    • 3 Critically Damaged Large Anima Golems (8 Anima each); and
    • 1 Massive Anima Golem (36 Anima).

From this point, players will focus solely on killing Dark Animus, and the encounter becomes a race against Dark Animus’s Siphon Anima abilities. Players must be able to defeat Dark Animus within 216 seconds (a little over 3.5 minutes) in order to prevent Dark Animus from gaining FULL POWER. The Siphons look like so:

  1. Dark Animus drains 13 Anima, for a total of 17 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 3 Anima, each Large Anima Golem at 7 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 35.
  2. Dark Animus drains 13 Anima, for a total of 30 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 2 Anima, each Large Anima Golem at 6 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 34.
  3. Dark Animus drains 13 Anima, for a total of 43 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 1 Anima, each Large Anima Golem at 5 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 33.
  4. Dark Animus drains 13 Anima, for a total of 56 Anima. All Anima Golems now have 0 Anima and are deactivated. Each Large Anima Golem has 4 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem has 32.
  5. Dark Animus drains 4 Anima, for a total of 60 Anima. This leaves each Large Anima Golem at 3 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 31.
  6. Dark Animus drains 4 Anima, for a total of 64 Anima. This leaves each Large Anima Golem at 2 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 30.
  7. Dark Animus drains 4 Anima, for a total of 68 Anima. This leaves each Large Anima Golem at 1 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golem at 29.
  8. Dark Animus drains 4 Anima, for a total of 72 Anima. All Large Anima Golems now have 0 Anima and are deactivated. The Massive Anima Golem has 28 Anima.
  9. Dark Animus drains 1 Anima every 6 seconds from here on out, gaining Interrupting Jolt after another 18 seconds.

To further reduce the rate at which Dark Animus gains Anima, 10-player raids can kill a Critically Damaged Large Anima Golem while the Massive Anima Golem is near it, after Dark Animus has completed 4 Siphon Anima casts, in order to eliminate one target, pushing Interrupting Jolt back an additional 24 seconds. This is tricky – although the tank who is tanking the Massive Anima Golem should be able to kill a Critically Damaged Large Anima Golem with ease between Matter Swaps – but extends the time to FULL POWER by another 24 seconds as well, and may be a strong option if your raid’s DPS is not quite high enough to beat this soft enrage.

25-player strategy:

  1. Kill a tank’s Anima Golem next to a Massive Anima Golem, activating it. This tank will now tank the Massive Anima Golem.
  2. Kill 8 other Anima Golems near this Massive Anima Golem to fill its Anima bar.
  3. Kill the other tank’s Anima Golem near the other Massive Anima Golem, activating it. This tank will now tank this Massive Anima Golem.
  4. Kill 8 other Anima Golems near the second Massive Anima Golem to fill its Anima bar.
  5. Kill an Anima Golem next to Dark Animus, activating him with 4 Anima.
  6. Adds that Dark Animus can Siphon Anima from:
    • 6 Anima Golems (4 Anima each), and
    • 2 Massive Anima Golems (36 Anima each), for a total of 8 targets.

From this point, players will focus solely on killing Dark Animus, and the encounter becomes a race against Dark Animus’s Siphon Anima abilities. Players must be able to defeat Dark Animus within 216 seconds (a little over 3.5 minutes) in order to prevent Dark Animus from gaining FULL POWER. The Siphons look like so:

  1. Dark Animus drains 8 Anima, for a total of 12 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 3 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golems at 35 Anima.
  2. Dark Animus drains 8 Anima, for a total of 20 Anima. This leaves each Anima Golem at 2 Anima, and the Massive Anima Golems at 34 Anima.
  3. Dark Animus drains 8 Anima, for a total of 28 Anima. He will begin using Anima Ring. Anima Golems now have 1 Anima each, and the Massive Anima Golems have 33 Anima.
  4. Dark Animus drains 8 Anima, for a total of 36 Anima. All Anima Golems now have 0 Anima and are deactivated. The Massive Anima Golems hold 32 Anima each.
  5. Dark Animus drains 2 Anima every 6 seconds from here on out. He will gain Anima Font after 36 seconds, and Interrupting Jolt 78 seconds after that.

A raid with strong DPS should be able to defeat the boss before he reaches enough Anima to cast Interrupting Jolt, leaving healers with little to do in this phase, and may allow 25-player raids to bring fewer healers to ensure the DPS will kill Dark Animus before he reaches 75 Anima. However, healers will have to deal with the Matter Swap debuff twice as frequently since there are two Massive Anima Golems active, and tank damage on the Massive Anima Golem tank will be extremely high. There will also be more Touch of the Animus debuffs handed out in this strategy, since the boss takes longer to reach 50 Anima; this will create another source of constant raid damage that must be healed through.

You will need cooldowns for: Explosive Slam (tank), Matter Swap (personal), Interrupting Jolt (raid)

Debuffs to track: Matter Swap; Explosive Slam; Anima Ring; Touch of the Animus; Anima Font

Dispels: Matter Swap should be dispelled after approximately 6-7 seconds in order to make the damage dealt to the “linked” players more manageable:

Dispelling at approximately 6-7 seconds splits Matter Swap's damage 50/50 between the debuffed player ("Target") and the player who swaps spots with them ("Swappee").

Dispelling at approximately 6-7 seconds splits Matter Swap’s damage 50/50 between the debuffed player (“Target”) and the player who swaps spots with them (“Swappee”). Click to enlarge.

Points of failure:

  • Any single player fails to keep threat on their Anima Golem, and the raid wipes to increased Anima Golem damage on non-tanks;
  • Any single player pulls threat on another player’s Anima Golem, and the raid wipes to increased Anima Golem damage on non-tanks;
  • Players targeted by Crimson Wake do not kite the ability, and die, leaving their Anima Golem untanked, and the raid wipes to increased Anima Golem damage on non-tanks;
  • Players targeted by Crimson Wake kite the Wake over other players, killing them, leaving their Anima Golems untanked and I’m sure you get the point that this is a bad thing by now;
  • Matter Swap is dispelled too early, or not at all, killing one of the two players linked by it, leaving their Anima Golems untanked, yadda yadda yadda;
  • Players tanking Anima Golems do not move out of the way when a Matter Swapped player’s Anima Golem is running to the Matter Swapped player’s new position, and Anima Golems get buffed, etc.;
  • Tanks do not avoid the Explosive Slam debuff and die to increased Explosive Slam damage;
  • Tanks run through multiple orbs of the Anima Ring and take unhealable melee damage;
  • Players do not defeat Dark Animus before he reaches FULL POWER, and the raid damage becomes unhealable.
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About Dedralie

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8 Responses to The Throne of Thunder, Halls of Flesh-Shaping

  1. datenshi says:

    My guild just got to first boss hc.. shammy in need of guidance!:( Are you making a guide soon?:)

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Datenshi, thanks for reading!

      I don’t know if I’m going to make a heroic guide anytime soon, since I haven’t even finished my writeup for the final 3 bosses on normal mode. (It’s really close though ><)

      I'm not sure if you raid 10- or 25-player mode, but here are my summarised notes:

      * Fluidity doesn't fade immediately upon you leaving the conductive waters puddle, so make sure you watch that debuff drop off before you dispel Ionization from yourself (or anyone else)!
      * Stone Bulwark Totem is your best bet for mitigating Ionization damage when you dispel yourself. Astral Shift won’t be back up in time.
      * I used HTT for one Lightning Storm and SWG/Ascendance for the other. SLT is a bit difficult to use (for me, on 25-player mode) since people tend to scatter to avoid the “lightning attenuation”. Certainly look for opportunities to use it – probably during Lightning Storm, although there can be some pretty hairy moments between Lightning Storms when tanks get Static Wound where SLT could be useful if you decide it’s too hard to use SLT during Lightning Storm ’cause of spread.

      Hope some of this helps! Let me know how you go 🙂

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  5. Ramen says:

    I continue to be amazed at how thorough these posts are. I especially appreciate the details about Dark Animus. I understand more about it now than I ever had 🙂

  6. Navimie says:

    That graphic for Dark Animus is just awesome. Hope you don’t mind if I use it to explain fight to guildies!

    • Dedralie says:

      I don’t mind at all! 🙂

      If you raid in 10-player mode just keep in mind that the locations of the deactivated golems changes each week. I would totally map it out every week if I could, but I don’t get into ToT10 until the weekend, so it’s too late to be useful 😦

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