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Art of War

A brewmaster monk blog.

Heroic Al'Akir 25 Tanking Guide

Al’Akir doesn’t change much when you go from normal to heroic mode. He has nearly the same abilities, they’re just harder to avoid and require much tighter precision to survive. It is random to some extent, and requires many attempts before you finally understand the big picture. You have to learn how to prepare for the randomness (and at that point, it won’t seem like randomness at all).

I love this fight because it teaches you how to be better at your role. It requires more than the average situational awareness. As a tank, you have to know where your healers are, if they can land big heals, or if they have to use small heals for a period of time. You have to manage the burst damage you take and take care of yourself if your healer gets blown off the edge or interrupted. Everyone has to push their abilities to the limits while closely watching and reacting to the environment that surrounds them. Heroic Al’Akir really sucks when you fail – when you get caught in a Squall Line or knocked off the edge – because mistakes like those are 100% your fault and your raid likely won’t be able to recover. But when you succeed, you know you did so because you played well. Successfully getting through Phase 1 without any near-death experiences is an awesome feeling.

As always, since I’ve only experienced Heroic Al’akir as a tank, this guide will be primarily from the main tank point of view. I’ll talk about our strategy where it’s relevant, but I can’t give details from the healing or damage dealing perspective.

Pre-Raid Preparation

  • Two tanks, one for Al’Akir and one for the Stormlings in Phase 2.
    • We used a bear tank for Al’akir and a paladin for the stormlings. Bears and warriors are very good Al’akir tanks because they have so many charges at their disposal.
  • 6 to 7 healers
  • Talent spec: If you’re a bear, you absolutely have to have Brutal Impact. Besides being an interrupt, Skull Bash is a medium-range charge. Very useful for a boss that constantly kicks you out of melee range.
  • Consumables: This is the one and only fight where I used a stamina flask. There’s a lot of small bits of constant damage in this fight, and that extra 9k health might actually save you this time. The magic resistance elixir + mastery elixir would probably be more effective, but I actually died and got battle-rezzed in Phase 1 many, many times during attempts, and it’s more effective to use a flask in those situations.
  • Trinkets: As a bear, I used a stamina trinket (pick your favorite) and the [Mirror of Broken Images]. Everything else was my normal agility set up. I had a total of 184k health.

Phase 1

Abilities

  • Squall Line
    • A rotating wall of cyclones. Get through the hole in the wall to survive.
  • Wind Burst
    • A burst of damage that knocks everyone back. Boss mods track its timer, though the timing can vary quite a bit.
  • Lightning Strike
    • A cone of AoE damage that does increasing damage the more people in the area.
  • Static Shock
    • Interrupts casters in melee range.
  • Ice Storm
    • Snare that travels around the platform, dealing damage and leaving a patch that’s usually between you and the place you need to be.
  • Electrocute
    • Does increasing damage to the main tank the longer the main tank is out of melee range.

Strategy

  • Wind Burst
    • Run close to the boss (melee range) before he finishes casting this ability.
    • If you have the choice of getting hit by a Squall Line or knocked off the platform by a Wind Burst, get knocked off. The tank will die very quickly whenever they get knocked off, so this is not an option for them.
    • This ability won’t be cast at the same time as Electrocute. The main tank can deliberately delay a wind burst by running out of melee range.
    • Bears/Cats: Use Skull Bash immediately after the Wind Burst to get back in range quickly. It has a short enough cooldown that it will be up for every Wind Burst.
    • If you can’t get into melee range quickly but a Wind Burst is about to finish, use Feral Charge(Bear) immediately after the cast. Feral Charge has a longer range than Skull Bash, and will save you from flying off the edge. Feral Charge(Cat) does not work on this fight.
    • You can use a Wind Burst to knock you back if an upcoming squall line has in opening in the far back.
  • Lightning Strike
    • We stacked 4 to 5 people in each section and assigned 2 people per group to run out of the AoE whenever it hit their section (unless there were other Lightning Strikes nearby). This significantly increased the raids survival through phase 1.
    • Whenever this was cast in my section, I used my [Mirror of Broken Images] to offset the damage. As the main tank, you actually don’t take huge hits from this spell, but everyone around you is hurt pretty badly and your healer has to keep them alive, too.
  • Static Shock
    • Because of this ability, casters should stay out of melee range as much as possible.
    • Damage isn’t a huge issue in phase 1, and survival is more important than damage. Take a static shock over a risky squall line.
    • As a tank, if your primary healer(s) have to go into melee range (like for a squall line opening in the front), pop a small cooldown. They’ll be able to get a few instant heals on you, but no big life-saving heals.
  • Ice Storm
    • The snare is applied constantly, so there’s no point in shifting out of it. A paladin’s Hand of Freedom will help you run through it if you’re in a tight spot, though with enough practice you shouldn’t need to call for it.
    • The snare slows you down far more than you would expect. If a squall line is coming up soon and there’s an Ice Storm patch, you need to move out a few seconds earlier than normal so that the snare doesn’t take you by surprise.
  • Electrocute
    • This spell is cast every time the main tank has to move out of melee range to dodge a squall line or if they’re slow to run back in after a Wind Burst.
    • It starts out small, but quickly multiplies in magnitude (I believe it doubles every time, but I haven’t confirmed that).
    • If you know you’re going to have to sit in an Electrocute for more than a few seconds, use your big damage reduction cooldown.
  • General Tips
    • As a tank, use cooldowns liberally. Even if it means you won’t have a cooldown up in a more critical situation later in the fight, surviving through the earlier scary situations means your raid gets longer attempts and more practice.
    • This phase takes a ton of practice. You’ll wipe a lot, get picked up by squall lines, get knocked off (or fall off), or just die because your healer got blown off. With enough practice, dodging squall lines will become second nature. Be patient.
    • Use Sprints for far away squall lines. I found that my sprints would save me from an extra Electrocute tick or two, which is a huge amount of avoided damage. They’re also good if you want to sneak through a squall line before a Wind Burst finishes.
  • Phase 1 ends when Al’Akir hits 80%.

Phase 2

Abilities

Some abilities carry over from Phase 1, you just don’t have to deal with Wind Burst, Lightning Strike, or Ice Storm anymore.

  • Squall Line (from phase 1)
    • A rotating wall of cyclones.
  • Static Shock (from phase 1)
    • Interrupts casters in melee range.
  • Electrocute (from phase 1)
    • Does increasing damage to the main tank the longer the main tank is out of melee range.
  • Acid Rain
    • A stacking debuff that deals increasing nature damage to your entire raid. At about 17 stacks, it becomes unhealable and your raid will likely wipe.
  • Stormlings
    • Elemental adds that apply a debuff that increases nature damage (like Acid Rain) done by 25%. They need to be pulled out of and tanked away from the raid.
    • When they die, they apply the Feedback debuff to Al’akir.

Strategy

Since the raid awareness required for this phase is a mere shadow of it’s former, phase 1 self, it should be easy. The hard part is killing Stormlings on time and keeping the raid alive through Acid Rain.

  • At the beginning of Phase 2
    • Everyone needs to run to the main tank and stand on top of him.
    • Melee should be at max melee range, range should be right behind them. This is to maximize AoE heal coverage.
    • The off tank should pick up stormlings, quickly pull them out of the raid, and tank them to the side so that the debuff doesn’t effect anyone else. Death grips (even from damage dealers) help minimize damage after a spawn.
    • Pet classes need to command their pets to stand on top of the off tank. Stormlings can spawn on top of a random raid member or pet, and you don’t want them to spawn behind the boss where nobody can put damage on them.
  • On Stormlings
    • Stormlings usually spawn in the raid. When they’re about to appear, a bluish cloud shows up. Once you see this cloud, move away before it actually spawns and debuffs you.
    • DoT classes put dots up on Stormlings as soon as the off tank had aggro. If you have a ton of Dot classes, you have to limit how many people do it. The trick is that you want to wear the stormlings down, but not kill them until the right moment hits.
    • We started killing stormlings when the off tank had 3 on him. One player was designated the “official caller”. He was responsible for marking the kill target and calling out target switches.
    • All ranged damage dealers were supposed to switch to the kill target as soon as it was called.
    • After the first stormling kill, you kill them regularly as a new one spawns. You have to time it extremely well if you want the debuff on Al’akir to stack.
  • Main Tanking
    • Use big cooldowns when the opening is far away (healers have to move and you’ll be taking a ton of Electrocute damage).
    • Use small cooldowns when the opening is in melee range (healers can’t heal you for huge amounts because they will get interrupted).
    • Use cooldowns when you need to. As with phase 1, if health drops for some reason and you’re about to die, do anything you can to stay alive. Living through the next five seconds will help more than sitting on a cooldown for later.
    • If a bad squall line is coming up, call for a healer cooldown. It’s not hard to predict a bad squall line in advance (is it far away, are all my cooldowns used?).
    • Sprints like Stampeding Roar are also suitable ways to reduce damage, especially for far away squall line openings.
    • Stay the hell away from Spirit Link Totems! They’ll kill the tank, or leave you low enough that the boss can finish you off with a melee swing. (One actually did land the killing blow on me, once.)
  • Phase 2 ends when Al’Akir reaches 25%.

Phase 3

In this phase, the raid goes flying, Al’akir doesn’t attack the tank, and all you have to do is master the raid’s movement. We actually practiced phase 3 many times in normal mode. We wouldn’t deal damage, we would just work on moving as a group until he enraged.

Abilities

  • Wind Burst (from phase 1)
    • A burst of damage that knocks you back.
  • Lightning Rod
    • A debuff that deals damage to the target and everyone within 20 yards.
  • Lightning Cloud
    • A cloud summoned at the location of a random raid member.

Strategy

  • At the start of the phase, fly to the top (there’s an invisible ceiling) and gather on a designated player (hopefully marked somehow). If you’re a bear, you can go kitty now.
  • Some stormlings might still be alive. It’s up to your raid if you just want to leave them on the tank (who tanks them away from the raid) or to kill them with your ranged dps.
  • If you get Lightning Rod, move to the side and pop a survival cooldown if you have it. Don’t move to the back, as a Wind Burst will knock you far, far away. Be careful not to move too far away, you need to stay in range of your healers.
    • Here is my Power Aura for Lightning Rod. As with most of my power auras, it’s just text that tells you what to do when you get the debuff.

Version:4.20; b:0.298; g:0.4353; icon:Spell_Shaman_StaticShock; buffname:Lightning Rod; bufftype:2; aurastext:Lightning Rod! Strafe out!; textaura:true; size:1.32

  • Wind Burst will knock you back and down a little bit. Quickly fly back into the safe area.
  • Damage isn’t a huge concern in this phase. Healing is easy enough, assuming the majority of your raid doesn’t mess up. As long as most of your raid stays alive, you will kill him. Always prioritize movement over damage.
  • Movement - you need to stay together and in melee range. It’s easiest to mark someone as the leader, but you should also know where to move whenever a Lightning Cloud spawns on the raid.
    • Position 1: The ceiling. (move down when a cloud spawns)
    • Position 2: Middle of Al’akir’s head. (move down)
    • Position 3: Al’akir’s collar. (move down)
    • Position 4: All the way to the bottom, right below Al’akir’s cloak hem. (move up)
    • Position 5: Lower half of Al’akir’s cloak (move up)
    • Position 6: Middle of Al’akir’s cloak (move up to the ceiling)

As long as the majority of the raid stays alive during this fight, you’ve got a kill coming for you very soon.

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