Heroic Nefarian 25 Tanking Guide

I’ve personally melee dps’d and tanked Onyxia (phase 1) and Nefarian (phase 3) in this fight. Heroic Nefarian is more difficult than Heroic Valiona and Theralion, but easier than Heroic Cho’gall. We used 3 tanks for this fight.

I know, the pillars are switched. Deal with it.

Phase 1


  • Shadowflame Breath: Animates bone warriors, big damage on the tank.
  • Tail Lash: Decent damage + stun. The raid will have to eat it quite a few times because the tank has to turn her.
  • Lightning Discharge: Lightning from Onyxia’s sides, the tank should turn her 90 degrees to avoid hitting the raid with it.

In normal mode, you might not bother flipping Onyxia around. But in heroic mode, the damage and stun component from Tail Lash are too much to handle, so the Onyxia tank must rotate her 90 degrees. Boss timers for Lightning Discharge aren’t always accurate. As the tank, look at her sides instead. When they start to crackle with electricity, you have about 5 seconds to turn her. I usually wait 2 or 3 seconds to minimize any Tail Lashes on the raid, but if you’re not confident about the timing, it’s better to tail swipe the raid than to electrocute them. Turn her back to her original position once the Lightning Discharge is done.

For cooldowns in phase 1(and this goes for tanking Nefarian, too), try to have a minor cooldown up for every Shadowflame Breath. As a bear, I rotated Barkskin, Mirror of Broken Images, and Frenzied Regeneration. During Nefarian’s Electrocute, I used my major cooldown, Survival Instincts.


  • Shadowflame Breath: Animates bone warriors, big damage on the tank.
  • Tail Lash: Decent damage + stun. Raid shouldn’t have to deal with it.
  • Electrocute: Cast every 10% of Nef’s health, needs raid cooldowns. Every raid member should have Mirror of Broken Images equipped and use it during this attack.
  • Dominion: Mind control, healers can break it immediately using Free Your Mind(1), dps should spam the Stolen Power(2) skill to increase damage, until they get close to a portal. The damage buff is huge, increasing your damage by 5% per stack, with a maximum of 150 stacks. It doesn’t last long though, so take advantage of it while it’s up.

Animated Bone Warriors

These should be picked up and kited by a 3rd tank, preferably a shield tank. They’ll kill themselves pretty quickly.

  • Empower: Stacking buff on bone warriors that increases their damage and movement speed.
  • Animate Bones

Swim about this far away if you have Explosive Cinders.

Phase 2 – Pillar Phase

Nefarian in the air

  • Shadowflame Barrage: Lots of bursty damage to keep healers on their toes.
  • Explosive Cinders: Buff that gets applied to random raid members. Swim off the platform when you have ~5sec left on the debuff. You can also bubble or cloak it off. Call out in vent if one of the interrupters gets this so a backup can fill in.

Here is a power aura for this (open power auras, click “Import”, copy-paste the funny looking string from below),

Version:4.16; icon:Spell_Fire_ElementalDevastation; buffname:Explosive Cinders; bufftype:2; owntex:true; texmode:2; timer.h:2.58; timer.enabled:true

Chromatic Prototypes

  • Blast Nova: Needs to be interrupted, at least 2+1 interrupters per platform. If you have an interrupt of any sort (even if you’re just a back up), it helps to download an interrupt announce addon or macro a /say to your interrupt. Also, adding a whisper to the next person in the rotation is a plus.
  • My raid assigned 2 interrupters to each cast, which totaled to 4 (or more) interrupters per platform. People need to be competing for these interrupts; no one should hold back assuming that their partner has it covered.


Stacking debuff, don’t jump

Phase 3


If you’re tanking Nefarian, you have to slowly spin him around so that the adds and their tank don’t get hit by Shadowflame Breath (which revives and refreshes Bone Warrior energy, which makes them more difficult to kite) or Tail Lash (which reduces the add tank’s avoidance to 0 and will usually kill them). The add tank’s healers will usually be somewhere near the add tank himself; you cannot let them get hit by a Tail Lash either. Always keep an eye on the add tank and rotate Nefarian enough to keep the add tank in the safe zone.

At this point, the tanks need to save their cooldowns for Electrocute. Our tanks switch between their minor cooldown and their trinket, saving their other cooldowns for when unexpected bad things happen.

Animated Bone Warriors

How My Raid Did It

  • Everyone was required to farm up a Mirror of Broken Images. I know some people got away with not buying one, but those people slowed us down and made it more difficult. If you consider yourself a good raider, get one.
  • We used two prot paladins and one prot warrior as our tanks for our kill attempt. We need the pallies for Divine Guardian and the warrior for kiting the adds.
  • For later attempts, we’ve use two paladins and me (a feral druid) as tanks. Kiting the adds is easier with a warrior, but it’s not impossible if you use a different class. 
  • You need a raid cooldown for every Electrocute. This is the order we followed (Though now that the cooldown on Divine Guardian has been increased, the order will likely change. Spirit Link Totem is also a viable raid cooldown.):
  • We only pushed one Electrocute in phase 1, and instead focused on getting to phase 2 as quickly as possible.
  • During phase 2, save personal cooldowns and/or your trinket for when you get Explosive Cinders.
  • During phase 3, save personal cooldowns for times when you are mind-controlled and break it right before an Electrocute, so you will survive even if you didn’t get a raid cooldown.
  • The add tank might need external cooldowns for Electrocute, and will need a ton of healing afterwards.
  • DPS is pretty important in this fight, bring pots. Use pre-potting (i.e. using a pot before you enter combat).
  • Snares like Frost Trap and Earthbind Totem are awesome for slowing mindcontrolled people down so they can get more stacks of Stolen Power.
  • Ring of Frost is great for helping the add tank kite around the room, and from recovering from a tank death.


These aren’t from me but from other members of my guild. There’s a ranged perspective and a melee perspective.