|Last Stand of the Zandalari|
|Halls of Flesh-Shaping|
|Pinnacle of Storms|
Now that I’ve cleared tier 15 on normal mode and begun work on heroics, I’m ready to bring you the final installment of the Throne of Thunder encounter overviews!
Before I begin, though, I’d like to apologise for the poor quality of some of of the Iron Qon screenshots. I wasn’t able to test the fight much on the PTR, and I cannot record video during my main raid, so many of these screenshots were obtained from our private streams. As such, the quality is not great.
I won’t be focusing too much on the actual numbers – the amount of damage dealt by each ability, etc. – since this is variable for 10-player and 25-player modes and I’d prefer if these guides were useful for both raid sizes. Instead, I will be focusing on healer-specific mechanics of each fight and discussing ways of overcoming the obstacles the new raid presents us. I hope you will all find it helpful in preparing for your first forays into the Throne of Thunder!
Introducing the bosses of the Pinnacle of Storms:
The Iron Qon encounter is a four-phase fight. For the first three phases, players fight Iron Qon astride each of his three prime Quilen mounts, and phase transitions occur when the current Quilen mount is slain. For the final phase, players fight Qon himself. You will recognise some classic Cataclysm mechanics in this encounter, particularly those from the Firelands raid. The fight is kind of like Firelands: The Cliff Notes.
Throughout the fight, Iron Qon will use Throw Spear on a random ranged player, dealing light damage to players standing at its impact position. During the first three phases, Qon’s Quilen mount will then use that spear as a conduit for its own elemental magics. This creates fissures that emanate out from the spear – like fire lines on the Rhyolith encounter – which deal damage and leave an unpleasant debuff. These lines should be avoided.
Iron Qon also targets the current tank with Impale, a stacking DoT effect. The fight requires two tanks and frequent tank-swapping.
For the first three phases, most of the damaging abilities your raid will encounter come from the Quilen mount that is currently active.
Ro’shak, the Molten Flare is Qon’s mount for the first phase. He is the only Quilen mount with an Energy bar that will telegraph his abilities. Ro’shak has the following abilities:
Ignite Spear: Burning Cinders is the ability that Ro’shak will use following Iron Qon’s Throw Spear. Ro’shak targets the spear and imbues it with flame, causing five fiery lines to spread out from the spear’s location. These flames will apply a Burning Cinders debuff to any player who crosses the line or stands in it (and no, jumping will not save you).
Burning Cinders deals moderate Fire damage when first applied, then light Fire damage every second, and the DoT effect stacks. Wherever possible, players should avoid crossing these lines or standing at the spear’s position.
Periodically, Ro’shak will spend 10 Energy to cast Molten Inferno. This ability deals light to moderate Fire damage to the entire raid. If Ro’shak is allowed to reach full energy (100), he will gain the Molten Overload debuff and will rapidly bleed off this excess energy by casting Molten Inferno once a second for 10 seconds. While it is possible to survive Molten Overload by stacking and using healing throughput and damage-reduction cooldowns, there is a way to manage Ro’shak’s Energy and avoid Molten Overload.
Unleashed Flame is a powerful AoE effect that Ro’shak will use if he notices a large clump of players within 10 yards of one another (3+ in 10-player mode; 5+ in 25-player mode). This ability costs Ro’shak 30 Energy, so allowing this attack to occur a few times can prevent Molten Overload from occurring. Unleashed Flame deals extremely heavy Fire damage, split evenly across all players affected by it, Majordomo scorpion-style.
Typically, more than the bare minimum number of players is required to split the damage. This is especially so since each player affected by Unleashed Flame gains a stack of Scorched, which increases all Fire damage taken by 25% for the next 30 seconds. Note that this will also apply to Molten Inferno and Burning Cinders damage.
Strategies which involve intentionally triggering Unleashed Flame will likely rotate the Unleashed Flames between two or three melee or ranged soak groups; e.g. the melee take 3 Unleashed Flames (at 100%, 125%, and 150% damage), then the ranged take 3 (at 100%, 125%, and 150% damage), and then Ro’shak is allowed to gain Energy until the melee group’s Scorched stacks fall off, at which point the melee group stacks again and triggers another set of Unleashed Flame, etc. If you have access to powerful personal cooldowns, be sure to use them during your Unleashed Flames. Outside of the designated Unleashed Flame periods, players must remain spread out so that unintentional Unleashed Flames are not triggered.
Strategies which involve taking the Molten Overload require full coverage with damage-reduction and healing-throughput CDs for each 10-second Molten Overload duration. Outside of Molten Overload, players should remain spread out so that unintentional Unleashed Flames are not triggered, and so that ranged players are not all struck by the same Throw Spear.
Quet’zal, the Stormcaller is Qon’s mount for the second phase.
When Iron Qon uses Throw Spear, Quet’zal will follow it up with Strike Spear: Storm Cloud, imbuing the spear with lightning. This causes five cloudy lines to emerge from the spear, which will apply the Storm Cloud debuff to any player who stands in or even crosses over the lines. (Again, jumping over them will not save you!)
Storm Cloud deals moderate to heavy Nature damage upon application, and will stack. If a player reaches 3 stacks of Storm Cloud, they will gain a second debuff, Electrified, and become stunned for 10 seconds. This debuff is dispellable, but players should endeavour to avoid becoming stunned in the first place.
Periodically, Quet’zal will strike a random ranged player with Lightning Storm. This ability is similar to the Amber Prison ability in the Wind Lord Mel’jarak encounter; the affected player is stunned until another player approaches and interacts with the Lightning Storm to free them.
Upon doing so, both players – the target of Lightning Storm and the player who freed that target – become affected with the Arcing Lightning debuff. Arcing Lightning lasts 30 seconds and deals light Nature damage every second.
However, Arcing Lightning will also jump to any unaffected player within 10 yards, and can rapidly chain through the raid if players are not careful to remain spread out.
I will note the following: players already affected by Arcing Lightning are not affected by standing near another Arcing Lightning target, nor by freeing a player with the Lightning Storm ability. However, as soon as a player’s debuff fades, they are again eligible to receive Arcing Lightning. Stacking up all the affected players is thus not a viable way of dealing with this mechanic.
Approximately every 30 seconds, Quet’zal will fly up into the air and summon a Wind Storm. This is like an unholy combination of Alysrazor’s Fiery Tornadoes and Al’Akir’s Squall Line; a circular region of the main room is filled with cyclones that move around the area in alternating clockwise/ counter-clockwise paths.
Players are sucked in to the centre of the Wind Storm and obtain a Wind Storm debuff, which deals light Nature damage every two seconds and also reduces healing done, absorption effects, and damage done by 80% until the player leaves the Wind Storm area.
To combat this ability, players must dodge the tornadoes and run towards the entrance to the room, where the Wind Storm cannot reach them, and where Quet’zal and Iron Qon are waiting to be attacked. Players who are struck by a cyclone will be swept up inside it, receiving very heavy periodic damage for several seconds until the tornado dumps them out. Once all players escape the Wind Storm, the Wind Storm phase ends, but a few Rushing Winds remain behind and wander around the encounter area, picking up and carrying away any players they encounter. Some of these Rushing Winds persist for the remainder of the encounter.
Since everyone is pulled to the same location at the start of this Wind Storm, Arcing Lightning is sure to spread to the entire raid. Since this is unavoidable, players can clump up a bit while seeking reprieve from the Wind Storm in the entryway to the room, to make AoE healing through this ability a little easier. Healers can also use cooldowns at this time to help manage the damage.
If your raid allows the Arcing Lightning to persist into phase 3 and 4, the damage will quickly become unhealable. Players should spread out on the transition between phases 2 and 3, allowing their Arcing Lightning debuff to fall off before moving in to attack the boss.
Dam’ren, the Frozen Sage is Qon’s mount for the third phase. Because there are still Rushing Winds roaming the encounter area, it is probably safest to fight Dam’ren in the entry to the room.
Immediately following Iron Qon’s Throw Spear ability, Dam’ren will use Freeze Spear: Frozen Blood, imbuing the spear with frost magic and causing five frosty lines to erupt and travel outwards from the spear’s location.
These lines will apply the Frozen Blood debuff to any player who stands in or crosses their path (and no, jumping will still not save you). This debuff deals moderate Frost damage when applied and reduces movement, casting, and attack speeds by 25% per stack. Players should avoid this at all costs, since managing the Arcing Lightning will already be using up a lot of valuable DPS time.
[22:04:18.052] Awesome_Shaman casts Windwalk Totem
[22:04:18.309] Awesome_Shaman summons Unknown with Windwalk Totem
[22:04:18.544] Unknown's Frozen Blood fades from Awesome_Shaman
[22:04:18.544] Unknown's Frozen Blood fades from Boomkin
Dam’ren will also target a random player with Freeze. This debuff deals moderate periodic Frost damage to the targeted player. Dam’ren lobs a projectile at this player that takes 2 to 5 seconds to reach them; upon reaching the Freeze target, the projectile Shatters the player, dealing moderate Frost damage to the entire raid. This is really only terribly dangerous if Arcing Lightning is also active; once Arcing Lightning has faded, Freeze is not very threatening.
Iron Qon becomes targetable once players have slain all three of his Quilen mounts. This phase is a DPS race against Iron Qon’s stacks of Rising Anger; he gains one stack of Rising Anger every 10 seconds. Each stack increases the damage of his abilities by 10%, so players must defeat Iron Qon before all his damaging abilities become unhealable. He continues to attack the tanks with Impale, necessitating tank swaps and, in the later stages of the phase, the tanks may require external cooldowns.
During this phase, Iron Qon will still use his Throw Spear ability, and will follow it up with Fist Smash. Fish Smash is an AoE physical damage attack similar to Epicenter in the Feng encounter; it deals light physical damage to all players regardless of their position.
As Iron Qon’s stacks of Rising Anger increase, this damage becomes more and more significant. Damage-reduction cooldowns are extremely useful here, as are healing throughput CDs.
Iron Qon also has two ways to empower the Rushing Winds that still persist in the encounter area. He may choose to cast Freeze Cyclone, imbuing one of the tornadoes with frost, which will entomb any player who touches it in a block of ice and deal 5% of their maximum health in damage every second for 20 seconds. This cannot, to my knowledge, be dispelled. However, if you fight Iron Qon in the entryway of the room, you can avoid these tornadoes completely.
The other empowerment he may cast is Ignite Cyclone, which imbues one of the tornadoes with flames. This tornado will deal pulsing Fire AoE damage to the entire raid, regardless of their position. This damage is not affected by Rising Anger, but Iron Qon may choose to cast this on more than one tornado depending on the length of this phase.
Due to the persistent, low-level raid damage combined with the extremely damaging Fist Smash mechanic, the best strategy for this phase is for all players to stack just behind the boss to maximise AoE/ground-based healing and damage reduction abilities. Once Rising Anger reaches about 10 stacks, healers may need to chain their throughput and damage reduction CDs through to the end of the fight to ensure the raid can survive the constantly ramping damage.
You will need cooldowns for: Unleashed Flame on a group with several stacks of Scorched, or Molten Overload (raid); Arcing Lightning following Windstorm or at the start of phase 3 (raid); Fist Smash at high stacks of Rising Anger (raid)
Debuffs to track: Impale, Scorched, Burning Cinders, Lightning Storm, Arcing Lightning, Electrified, Freeze, Frozen Blood
Dispels: Electrified (Magic)
Points of failure:
- Players inadvertently stack within Unleashed Flame range whilst still at high stacks of Scorched, and the damage is unhealable;
- Players stack at range for Unleashed Flame and are targeted by Throw Spear, and do not move quickly enough or scatter;
- Players allow Ro’shak to reach 100 Energy and channel Molten Overload, but do not have enough damage reduction cooldowns or enough healing throughput to survive;
- Players do not exit the Windstorm quickly enough and die to it or Rushing Winds;
- Players do not allow Arcing Lightning to fall off, and carry the debuff into phase 3 and beyond;
- Players do not defeat Iron Qon quickly enough in the final phase, allowing him to gain too many stacks of Rising Anger, causing the Ignite Cyclone and Fist Smash attacks to deal unhealable damage.
The Twin Consorts encounter is very visually appealing and introduces an interesting raid-buffing mechanic where players call upon the spirits of the August Celestials to assist them. Players may also influence the fight by choosing which of the two Consorts to kill first, activating different final phases. The fight has a large number of mechanics and requires a great deal of raid awareness, and healers are faced with a combination of predictable, raid-wide damage and unpredictable spike damage.
The two Consorts represent the Sun (Suen, Mistress of Anger) and the Moon (Lu’lin, Mistress of Solitude), and the fight has several phases corresponding to the day/night cycle.
Night Phase is the first phase players will encounter. During Night phase, Lu’lin is fully empowered with her entire repertoire of abilities, and Suen appears briefly to aid in Lu’lin’s defense. This phase lasts for 3 minutes.
Lu’lin will summon Moon Lotuses in randomised locations around the room. These flowers emit faint green smoke trails – that look frustratingly like the Renewing Mist travel graphic – which, if they pass through a player, will affect that player with the Slumber Spores debuff. Slumber Spores puts the player to Sleep, and is dispellable.
Approximately every 20 seconds (sometimes delayed by other abilities), Lu’lin will begin to cast Cosmic Barrage. When the cast completes, Lu’lin fires explosive stars at members of the raid (usually ranged, although melee may be targeted if there are too few ranged targets). The stars detonate upon reaching their target and deal heavy damage to all players within 8 yards of the target. Eligible targets must stay spread out, as being struck by multiple Cosmic Barrages is fatal.
About once a minute, Lu’lin will summon a Beast of Nightmares that only her tank can attack. While the Beast of Nightmares is alive, many forms of healing on the targeted tank will debuff the healer with Corrupted Healing, a stacking shadow DoT that deals moderate damage with each stack.
If you are careless, Corrupted Healing will stack rapidly, and become fatal. (Just as an idea, on the PTR I wasn’t paying attention to my Healing Rain placement, and managed to take 6.8 million damage from Corrupted Healing in the first 2 minutes of the fight. I took more damage than the tank took in that timeframe!) Fortunately, the Beast of Nightmares does not do much damage, so the tank does not require a great deal of healing. However, it is a good idea to learn which of your spells will not generate Corrupted Healing stacks, in case something goes wrong and the tank requires healing.
To that aim, I’ve put together a Corrupted Healing Compendium with all the information I have confirmed from logs or reliable sources as to which spells generate Corrupted Healing stacks. There’s a quick-reference table as well as individual class/spec tips on how to handle this ability.
During all this, Suen occasionally appears to cast annoying spells on the raid. One such ability is Tears of the Sun, which she will cast approximately every 40 seconds. Suen twirls rapidly and bombards the raid with projectiles of light, dealing moderate damage to everyone in the raid, every second for 10 seconds. This ability is only really dangerous when it lines up with Cosmic Barrages, and personal damage reduction cooldowns may be necessary to survive when this happens. It’s also a good time to use raid cooldowns like Devotion Aura or Tranquility.
The other ability that Suen will use during Night phase is Light of Day. She appears at a random player’s location and erupts, dealing light to moderate damage to all players within 8 yards. This is moderately damaging when Suen chooses a melee player, and may be worth having your melee DPS spread out or clump into small groups to minimise the amount of damage done, but most raids should be able to handle the healing required when this occurs. Suen appears to use this ability no more frequently than every 6 seconds, and will delay it to cast Tears of the Sun.
Day Phase, if executed properly, involves light to moderate raid-wide AoE damage with occasional single-target spikes. During this phase, Suen is fully empowered and Lu’lin plays only a minor role. Suen will continue to use Light of Day, but loses access to the Tears of the Sun ability. This phase lasts 3 minutes.
In exchange, Suen gains three new abilities. Fan of Flames is a tank-swapping mechanic, which deals moderate Fire damage and causes the targeted tank to become more susceptible to Fire damage. This debuff stacks; each stack causes the tank to take 25% more damage from Fire sources.
Suen also gains Flames of Passion. She chooses a random, distant raid member and leaps to them, then rushes back to the tank, leaving a trail of flames on the ground behind her. The initial leap deals moderate Fire damage and knocks back all players within the impact zone, and the fire trail deals light Fire damage to players who stand in it or pass through it.
Due to Flames of Passion and Light of Day, it is best for ranged players to stay loosely spread out.
Finally, Suen gains a raid-wide AoE ability called Blazing Radiance. This deals light Fire damage to the entire raid every two seconds, but each time Suen deals damage with this ability, she gains a stack of Blazing Radiance which increases all Fire damage she deals by 5%. Thus, as Day phase progresses, Suen’s AoE damage, tank attack, Light of Day, and Flames of Passion all become stronger and more dangerous.
Lu’lin uses only a single – new – ability during this phase, so the raid no longer needs to worry about Cosmic Barrage or Moon Lotuses’ Slumber Spores.
Lu’lin appears periodically to bombard a random (usually ranged/healer) member with an Ice Comet. This deals heavy Frost damage to the targeted player, and unless you are moving when the ability occurs (before Lu’lin has picked a target), it cannot be dodged.
The Ice Comet interacts with several of Suen’s abilities. Light of Day will instantly destroy an Ice Comet if the Ice Comet is within the 8-yard radius of the ability, so it is important that ranged and melee stay at least 8 yards away from the Ice Comet at all times.
If Suen is brought near the Ice Comet, its frosty coolness will calm Suen, removing stacks of Blazing Radiance and lowering raid damage. Meanwhile, Suen’s proximity to the Ice Comet will cause the Ice Comet to melt and eventually disappear. If the Ice Comet is removing stacks from Suen, then Suen is also melting the Ice Comet. The closer she is, the faster it will melt.
During this phase, tanks should position themselves between the Ice Comet and Suen, and melee should be behind Suen (as far from the Ice Comet as they can be whilst still being in range of the boss). This will keep the raid damage low and should prevent the Ice Comet from prematurely melting or being destroyed by Light of Day; tanks should be able to move Suen to a newly-formed Ice Comet around the same time that the old Ice Comet dissipates.
Finally, as you can see in the screenshot of the Ice Comet above, the Comet casts deep purple Icy Shadows (with Suen as the light source). On normal mode, players want to avoid standing in these Shadows; while it does reduce Fire damage taken by 60%, it also slows your casting and attack speed by 10%. The Fire damage is not harsh enough on normal mode to warrant the trade-off, and furthermore, there is no period where Suen stops casting Light of Day, so players standing in the Shadows risk destroying the Ice Comet entirely if they are targeted. The Icy Shadows are a Heroic mode mechanic.
Dusk Phase lasts until one of the two Consorts is slain. During this phase, both Consorts are active and retain abilities from their respective phases.
Suen retains Blazing Radiance, Flames of Passion, and Light of Day.
Lu’lin retains Ice Comet and Cosmic Barrage, and gains a new ability, Tidal Force. She encases herself in a shield of ice, which inflicts moderate Frost damage to any player who strikes it with a damaging ability, so players need to prepare to stop attacking Lu’lin when she gains the Tidal Force buff. Lu’lin also gains 100% dodge/deflect, so these attacks have no chance of harming her at all, and the DPS should focus instead on Suen.
Whilst protected, Lu’lin begins to summon tidal waves that spread out in a cone from her location, inflicting heavy damage and knocking back any players who are caught in them. She will summon 8 of these waves, casting in each of the cardinal directions and the four intermediate (e.g. NW) directions. I have not yet discerned if there is a pattern or if it is random, but I do not believe she attacks the same direction twice, so each wave will be moving in a new direction. While it is not typically possible to dodge these waves if she casts them in your direction, you can avoid taking damage from subsequent waves by moving into a ‘slice’ of the room that has already had a wave pass through.
Once one of the two Consorts is slain, Dusk phase ends, and the still-alive Consort resumes her respective phase. The simplest strategy is to burn Suen (since Lu’lin periodically becomes immune to damage) and push the fight back into Night phase. Lu’lin will use Beast of Nightmares, Moon Lotus, and Cosmic Barrage until she is defeated.
There is an achievement to kill Lu’lin first, and keep Suen above 30% until Lu’lin has perished. If your raid chooses this path, Suen’s second Day phase features Blazing Radiance and a vastly reduced rate of Fan of Flames, Light of Day, and Flames of Passion. With no Ice Comets to mitigate the stacks of Blazing Radiance, raid damage ramps up quite quickly, and the final phase becomes a race against healer mana and cooldowns.
On top of all of this, there are four buffs that your raid can gain throughout the fight to assist you in your battle against the Twin Consorts. These buffs are triggered by using the Faded Images of the Celestials that occupy each corner of the room. Once a particular Celestial’s buff is triggered, the Faded Image disappears, but all Faded Images will respawn when the Dusk phase begins.
In order to receive a Celestial’s buff, one player must interact with the Faded Image of that Celestial. This will then show that player a specific constellation shape – a triangle-kinda-thing for Chi’ji, a topless hourglass for Niuzao, a bowtie for Xuen, and a wide W for Yu’lon – that this player must recreate by running through a field of stars and playing connect-the-dots. I’ve linked videos of these constellations above because healers are a good choice for constellation running, so it may benefit you to see what you’re meant to do before you have to do it. 🙂 Successfully recreating the constellation will summon the Celestial’s aid.
Chi’ji’s assistance comes in the form of A Rush of Cranes, summoning ghostly cranes that rush at enemies and inflict very heavy damage upon those they cross paths with. This is a very strong damage cooldown; in my most recent kill, the Cranes struck bosses 17 times, and dealt 87.6 million damage to them. This ability is excellent for shortening the duration of the most difficult phases of the encounter, whatever your raid may find those to be.
Niuzao’s assistance, Fortitude of the Ox, grants all players with additional maximum health for 30 seconds. This ability is best used when the raid is about to take heavy damage – for example, during the Night phase where Tears of the Sun and Cosmic Barrage overlap, or during Dusk when Tidal Force is particularly painful or if Blazing Radiance stacks get high. (If you are doing the kill-Lu’lin-first achievement, this may be very handy for the burn-down-Suen-before-she-burns-you-down phase at the end.)
Xuen’s assistance, The Tiger’s Celerity, grants players supernatural speed, making it appear as though time has slowed down, and allowing players to dodge effects that are otherwise not avoidable.
This definitely works on all abilities which are based upon player location, such as Light of Day, Flames of Passion, Ice Comet, and Tidal Force. I am not sure if it allows players to dodge Cosmic Barrage or Tears of the Sun, since those abilities target the player, not the player’s location. This ability is excellent for mitigating raid damage.
Yu’lon’s assistance, The Serpent’s Vitality, restores a small amount of health and mana to all players in the raid, every second for 17 seconds. Used twice, this worked out in my most recent kill to provide 109k mana and 180k healing to each player in the raid.
Choosing the appropriate time to use the Celestials’ buffs is a decision best left to each raid; whichever mechanics are the most dangerous for your raiders are the ones that should be mitigated with Celestial aid.
You will need cooldowns for: Overlapping Cosmic Barrage/Tears of the Sun abilities during Night phase; high stacks of Blazing Radiance during Day phase; Tidal Waves during Dusk phase; high Blazing Radiance stacks during the post-Dusk phase if your group is attempting the achievement and killing Suen last.
Debuffs to track: Beast of Nightmares (tank), Corrupted Healing (yourself and other healers), Slumber Spores, Fan of Flames (tank)
There are two Beast of Nightmares debuffs; one is applied to the tank shortly before the Beast of Nightmares spawns, like a “warning”, and it lasts for three seconds. The Spell ID of this debuff is 137375. It is perfectly safe to heal the tank during this debuff, or to apply long-term HoT effects that will persist into the Beasts of Nightmares phase.
The second debuff, Spell ID 137341, is the debuff you actually are concerned about, healing-wise. While this debuff is on the tank, many forms of healing will generate stacks of Corrupted Healing. (Jump to Corrupted Healing Table)
Most debuff-tracking addons allow you to input the Spell ID so if you only wish to monitor the Corrupted Healing-generating debuff, that should be possible with SpellID 137341. 🙂
Dispels: Slumber Spores (Magic; Sleep effect)
Points of failure:
- Ranged players do not spread properly for Cosmic Barrage, and players who are damaged by 2+ Cosmic Barrages die;
- A player stands too near the Ice Comet and is targeted by Light of Day, prematurely destroying the Comet and causing Suen’s Blazing Radiance stacks to rise too high;
- Players are struck by multiple Tidal Force waves and take unhealable damage;
- Healers do not avoid healing the tank with Beast of Nightmares, and stack Corrupted Healing too highly.
The final fight of this tier is nothing short of amazing. It is long, multi-phased, and complex; it requires coordination, raid awareness, and fast reaction times; it has a choose-your-own-adventure feel where tactical decisions make a vast difference in the overall strategy and damage profile of the encounter. It is simply awesome.
The encounter occurs in three phases, with two 45-second “Intermission” periods between phases 1 and 2, and phases 2 and 3. The first Intermission occurs when Lei Shen reaches 65% health, and the second occurs when Lei Shen reaches 30% health.
When you arrive on Lei Shen’s platform you will notice the floor is divided into 4 quadrants, each with a Conduit in the outer corner. The four Conduits are inactive initially, and only become active when Lei Shen approaches them and channels his energy into them to empower them.
Conduits have an energy bar and a level indicator. As the encounter begins, Conduits are at Level 1 and have zero energy. Bringing Lei Shen close to a Conduit will cause it to gain energy, and as it gains energy its abilities grow a little stronger. If the Conduit reaches full energy, it will gain a new Level and return to 0 energy.
A level-up causes the Conduit’s abilities to hit much harder and/or choose more targets. The maximum number of levels a Conduit can have is three.
Throughout the encounter, whenever Lei Shen is too far from any Conduit to be able to empower it, he instead inflicts raid-wide AoE damage with Discharged Energy. This ability starts out inconsequential, dealing only small amounts of Nature damage, but ticks every 0.5 seconds, and each tick is 30% stronger than the previous tick. The raid will not be able to sustain this damage for long, so tanks must bring Lei Shen into range of a Conduit quickly to end this harsh raid damage.
The basic strategy of the fight is fairly simple. Tanks need to drag Lei Shen to a Conduit and allow it to gain energy, but not level up, and the raid must deal with whatever ability that Conduit grants. When the Conduit’s energy is high, tanks should move Lei Shen to the next Conduit, and so on until Lei Shen has taken enough damage to begin an Intermission phase.
During the Intermission phases, Lei Shen activates all Conduits, and briefly empowers them so they gain one level, selecting more targets and/or dealing more damage. The first Intermission is extremely dangerous since all four Conduits will be active and the raid must deal with the four Conduit abilities simultaneously.
At the end of the first Intermission, Lei Shen deactivates the Conduit with the most energy/highest level, filling its platform with lightning that will deal damage to any player who passes through it. It is important for each raid group to determine which Conduit’s ability is the most dangerous and deactivate it first.
After the second Intermission, he fills the quadrant of the remaining active Conduit at the highest energy/level, and deactivates all Conduit abilities for the remainder of the fight.
What makes this fight difficult, complex, and beautiful are the Conduit abilities themselves and how the raid handles them and chooses to deactivate them. I’ll go through each Conduit ability briefly, and then discuss the other mechanics that Lei Shen possesses (because it’d be too easy if it were just Conduits!).
North Conduit: Static Shock is a debuff that is applied to one player (per Conduit level) at random. It seems to usually target a ranged player, but during Intermissions it may target any player. The debuff puts a blue arrow over the affected player’s head and surrounds them in a faint blue circle with an 8-yard radius.
After 8 seconds, Static Shock discharges, dealing a very large amount of damage split amongst all players within the 8-yard circle.
As few as 4 (10-player) or 6 (25-player) players inside the circle will just barely prevent the damage from being fatal, but for the healers’ sake, the more the merrier. Cooldowns may be necessary in the later stages of the fight in order to mitigate Static Shock damage; this is especially so during the second Intermission, when the Static Shock Conduit will be temporarily empowered to level 3, putting out 3 Static Shocks that deal vastly increased damage.
Spirit Link Totem, Power Word: Barrier, and Devotion Aura are particularly good healer cooldowns for this purpose, but do not forget Smoke Bomb from rogues and Anti-Magic Zone from Death Knights.
East Conduit: Diffusion Chain is a Chain Lightning-style mechanic that Lei Shen will shoot at a random ranged player (although it can be targeted at melee players during Intermission). The chain will leap to other players within 10 yards of the initial target, dealing increased damage each time it jumps, and creating a Diffused Lightning Elemental at the location of each target the Diffusion Chain strikes.
These adds cast Chain Lightning on random players and are particularly dangerous to the melee pile, so it is ideal to avoid spawning more than one at a time, meaning Diffusion Chain must hit only its primary target. Ranged and healers must stay at least 10 yards apart during this phase (or at least when Diffusion Chain is about to cast – but note that it has no cast bar, so watch your boss timer mod carefully!).
As the East Conduit levels up, the Diffused Lightning Elementals that are spawned by Diffusion Chain grow more powerful, and must be avoided.
South Conduit: Overcharge is a debuff that is placed on a random raid member (ranged during phases 1 and 2; can target melee during Intermissions), causing them to grow very large in size and become stunned. A faint blue ring also spawns around them with an 8-yard radius.
After 6 seconds, Overcharged will discharge, sending an electromagnetic pulse throughout the raid. Anyone within the 8-yard radius is safe from Overcharged’s effects, and anyone well out of range (more than 40 yards, possibly 60 or 80 yards) is also safe. However, anyone not in these safe areas will take heavy Nature damage and become stunned for 3 seconds. This debuff, Overcharge, is dispellable.
When the Overcharge Conduit levels up, it selects multiple targets. This can be particularly dangerous during Intermission phases, since the safe zone of one player’s Overcharged does not prevent you from being stunned by another player’s Overcharged! Since the Overcharged target cannot move, it is important for players to react quickly and attempt to find a safe spot; being struck by 2 Overcharges at once is very likely to be fatal.
The target of Overcharged cannot be affected by Leap of Faith. I guess that would just be too easy. 😦
West Conduit: Bouncing Bolt creates several swirly blue zones on the ground towards which Lei Shen flings some lightning spheres. When those lightning spheres reach the ground, if there is at least one player within the swirly blue zone, they deal moderate Nature damage to all players within the zone and dissipate.
If no player is present to “soak” the Bouncing Bolt, the impact zone spawns an add, Unharnessed Power, which will periodically empower itself with Amplifier to deal 50% more damage and attack 50% more quickly. The Bolt will also “bounce” off the ground – hence its name – creating another blue swirly impact zone that must be soaked by a player or else it forms another add, and bounces again, etc.
It is very important for all players to be aware of the Bolt impact zones and ensure that each Bolt of the initial wave is soaked. Allowing the Bolts to bounce will quickly cause a fatal number of adds to pile up on the raid.
When the Bouncing Bolt Conduit is leveled up, it spawns more Bouncing Bolts.
With these Conduit abilities in mind, I will now go through Lei Shen’s abilities phase by phase.
During the first phase, Thunderstruck!, Lei Shen equips an axe that empowers him with thunder-related abilities. He will periodically target the current tank with Decapitate, marking the tank with a red arrow to indicate this attack is coming.
The tank has a few seconds to react by getting as far away from Lei Shen as possible, before Lei Shen hurls his axe at the tank, dealing a huge amount of damage. This attack deals 4,000,000 damage if the tank does not move, and reduces in damage drastically as the tank gains distance from Lei Shen.
Lei Shen will also occasionally target random players in the raid – typically melee – and spawn Crashing Thunder on them. This begins as a bright white pillar of lightning that inflicts moderate damage to all players within its impact zone, and is difficult but possible to dodge.
Crashing Thunder leaves behind a dark, difficult to see blue cloud on the ground which will continue to deal heavy periodic damage to players standing within it. This is most problematic when Lei Shen casts Crashing Thunder whilst being dragged from one Conduit to the next, and during the Bouncing Bolt Conduit when the blue Bolt impact zones may cover up the Crashing Thunder. Melee are also very likely to stand in Crashing Thunder and will need heavy-duty healing.
Finally, during this phase, Lei Shen will use Thunderstruck, choosing a random player’s location (typically a ranged player) and hurling his axe at it. When the axe lands, it explodes, dealing damage to the entire raid based upon proximity to the impact zone. The further away a player is, the less damage taken from Thunderstruck. Ranged must take care to avoid moving into Crashing Thunder when moving away from the impact zone.
In Intermission #1, if your raid was careful to avoid levelling up any Conduits, all four Conduit abilities will be at Level 2. This means that Bouncing Bolt will strike in all four quadrants of the platform, Static Shock and Overcharged will each choose two targets instead of one, and Diffusion Chain will spawn stronger Elemental adds. The raid must spread out evenly between all four quadrants to soak Bouncing Bolt. During this phase, it is best to practice a spread/stack/spread/stack rotation. The abilities occur in the following order:
- Diffusion Chain. Everyone needs to be spread out in their quadrants to avoid being overrun by adds.
- Overcharge. Wait to see if Overcharged strikes a player in your quadrant before stacking.
- Static Shock appears on a player.
- Bouncing Bolts occur. You should have time to soak Bouncing Bolts before Static Shock discharges, so players should move to soak Bolts first, then stack on the Static Shock target if the player is in your quadrant.
- Static Shock detonates.
This pattern then repeats. After the final Static Shock, the quadrant containing the highest-energy Conduit overloads and becomes electrified, and players in that quadrant must move out of the area quickly.
In phase 2, Lei Shen equips a polearm that allows him to control Lightning. He loses access to Decapitate, Crashing Thunder, and Thunderstruck. He gains a new tank debuff ability, Fusion Slash, which leaves a Fusion Slash debuff on the tanks increasing the amount of damage they take from subsequent Fusion Slashes. Tanks will have to swap tanking duty to avoid dying to unhealable Fusion Slash damage.
Lei Shen also gains the ability to summon Ball Lightning. These adds are summoned at the feet of random players – which seems, from log browsing, to favour ranged – and deal damage to that player and all other players within 6 yards. The Ball Lightning summoned in this way will, shortly thereafter, leap to another random player and deal damage to that player based upon the distance the Ball Lightning had to travel to reach them.
The best way to handle the Ball Lightning mechanics is to ensure that ranged players are spread out more than 6 yards apart until the adds are summoned, then stack in melee range to lower the distance the Ball Lightning will travel (and thus, the damage they will do) and make it easier to AoE the adds down quickly and efficiently.
The final mechanic that Lei Shen gains during this second phase is Lightning Whip. Lei Shen will create a foggy grey cone in front of him as a warning that he is about to lash that area of the platform with lightning. Several seconds later, Lei Shen creates a, well, whip of lightning, that will strike the marked area. Players must move out of this as the initial Lightning Whip damage is extremely high.
The Lightning Whip ability leaves behind rivers of electricity that snake across the platform. Standing in or running over these lines will deal Lightning Bolt damage. Jumping over the lines, however, will allow you to avoid the damage.
Throughout phase 2, tanks will need to drag Lei Shen around to the three remaining Conduits and power them up, as they did in phase 1. It is very likely that these Conduits will level up during this time, but your raid can attempt to avoid levelling up too many of them or levelling them up too far. Keep in mind that any Conduit which reaches level 2 during phase 2 will be temporarily empowered to level 3 during the second Intermission.
The second Intermission begins when Lei Shen reaches 30% health and plays out exactly like the first Intermission, except that of course Lei Shen does not use the ability corresponding to the Conduit that you deactivated in phase 1. The remaining abilities will be more powerful, however, requiring – for example – more players to soak a Static Shock, or more coordination in avoiding Overcharged since there may be 3 Overcharged targets instead of two.
At the end of the second Intermission, Lei Shen fills the quadrant of the platform containing the highest-level/energy Conduit with lightning, and players can now only safely use half of the platform. He also deactivates all Conduits, and players will not have to deal with any of the Conduit mechanics for the remainder of the fight.
In the final phase, Lei Shen equips both his weapons and will use a combination of abilities from both previous phases. He loses access to Fusion Slash, instead gaining Overwhelming Power, which empowers his melee attacks to leave a stacking Nature DoT effect called Electrical Shock on his target. Like Fusion Slash, this will require tank-swapping to ensure tanks do not take unhealable damage.
Lei Shen will still use Ball Lightning and Lightning Whip from phase 2, and regains access to Thunderstruck from phase 1.
He also gains access to a new ability, Violent Gale Winds. Periodically – typically right after a Lightning Whip pre-cast graphic appears – Lei Shen will open a door located in the NE, NW, SE, or SW area of the room his platform sits in, and forceful winds will rush in. These winds will attempt to push players off of the platform, and deal very light, but frequent, raid-wide AoE damage. To combat the winds, players must run into them, slowing the speed at which they are pushed toward the edge of the platform. The force of these winds is much less than those in the Ji-Kun or even the Lei Shi encounter, and frankly they often help you avoid the Lightning Whip and subsequent Thunderstruck! abilities. This mechanic is more of an annoyance than a danger.
You will need cooldowns for: Multiple spawns of Diffused Lightning (on the melee, to mitigate Chain Lightning damage), Static Shock (especially during Intermission or when leveled up), Thunderstruck (especially during phase 3), Ball Lightning, extended periods of Discharged Energy.
Debuffs to track: Static Shock and Overcharged, Overcharge, Crashing Thunder and Lightning Bolt (to alert you to move out of the areas of effect), Fusion Slash and Electrical Shock (tank debuffs)
Dispels: Overcharge (Magic effect)
Points of failure:
- Players do not spread properly for Diffusion Chain and generate too many Diffused Lightning adds;
- Players do not properly soak Bouncing Bolts and generate too many Unharnessed Power adds;
- Players do not move out of Crashing Thunder, which deals rather heavy damage;
- Players do not move far enough away from Thunderstruck and are killed on impact;
- Players do not stack properly for Static Shock, causing fatal damage to the Static Shock target;
- Players do not stack properly or outrange the effects of Overcharged, and become stunned during heavy periods of damage;
- Tanks fail to swap/get far from Lei Shen for Decapitate and take fatal damage;
- Tanks fail to swap for Fusion Slash or Overwhelming Power, and take fatal damage;
- The raid levels up Conduits too rapidly, causing the Conduit ability to deal unhealable damage or choose too many targets;
- Players fail to execute the spread/stack/spread/stack maneouvre during Intermission and take fatal damage;
- Players do not dodge Lightning Whip;
- Players do not spread properly for Ball Lightning and die to splash damage;
- Players do not properly fight the effects of Violent Gale Winds and are pushed off the platform.