I had an email come in from Sean, who has been trying to take down Azjol-Nerub to get the Essence of Gossamer off the second boss.
He had a question for me on any tips on getting past the first boss on Heroic mode, since so far his team hasn’t had a lot of consistent success.
I felt that was an excellent question, because we didn’t have consistent success either, until we figured out a few things, and before that it had been wipe city.
Very, very frustrating. Like, “AN? No, I ain’t up for that crap tonight” kind of frustrating.
So, this isn’t a guide, but it is absolutely a few observations I’ve made on the first boss encounter in Azjol-Nerub, and what we’ve done to put it on farm.
Krik’thir the Gatewatcher (hereafter referred to as AN’s first boss) is a pushover. The problem of course is with all the bloody mobs you have to deal with before he finally comes.
When you enter the first chamber, the first boss is protected by three packs of mobs in front of him, each pack consisting of three mobs apiece.
These three packs are tied together. When you pull any one of them, it begins a single large encounter with timed waves. Each pack activates, one after another, followed ultimately by the boss.
If you get too close to another pack before it is set to pull, it will activate early and attack you. They are a little forgiving on the aggro range of face pulling them, but make no mistake; you get close enough, they’ll come.
If you carefully pull one pack, then after a measured interval a second pack will activate and attack your party… and then after another interval pack three comes. And then, finally, the boss comes along.
The packs and boss come based on timing, not on death. If you kill a pack very fast, you will have more time to prepare before the next pack comes.
After a pack is killed, you DO drop out of combat so long as the next pack has not activated, allowing everyone to drink and eat QUICKLY.
The packs do NOT come in any certain, predictable order.
The packs are formed of a few different units, a core unit of a Watcher that has a unique name but common abilities among all three Watchers, accompanied by either a squishy Shadowcaster ranged spellcaster, a tough Warrior melee fighter, or an insane piece of crap Skirmisher melee rogueish slaughterhouse.
- The pack on the left has the Watcher Silthik, a Skirmisher and a Shadowcaster.
- The middle pack has the Watcher Gashra, a Skirmisher and a Warrior.
- The pack on the right has the Watcher Narjil, a Shadowcaster and a Warrior.
You can choose to pull whoever you want first. Which pack comes next of the other two is random. I generally always pull the left pack first.
The first priority for a kill order in a pack is always the Skirmisher.
The Skirmisher is a melee rogue style opponent, it hits for a ton, it’s very brutal. He can EASILY two shot casters in cloth, or even in mail… and it can enter an Enrage state, where it picks the FURTHEST target from it at that time, charges them, and for the next ten seconds it is ON them, UNTAUNTABLE, and will destroy it’s target 9 times out of ten.
Amusingly enough, in our groups we almost always had the Healer hanging the farthest back from the melee scrum because we didn’t know the mechanic. So the Skirmisher, of course, would always seem to be prejudiced against our Healer. Go figure.
Now, I’m not kidding. The Skirmisher will Enrage, and go charging off behind you to pound on someone, and Growling or Taunting does nothing. The Skirmisher can be Stunned, but no other form of CC will work. Killing him is the only absolutely sure fire approach to removing him as a threat to your group.
The Skirmisher has one other special power other than Enrage. He can also Backstab any target that it is behind for about quadruple normal damage. It’s a one shot kill of a Rogue in melee range, so it can destroy your run if things get messy on positioning. On Cassieann wearing leather, it has done 17,500 damage in one blow. Yeah, no shit.
The Enrage affect can be removed by a Hunter’s Tranquilizing Shot, or by a Rogues using Anesthetic Poison II. As far as I know, those are the only two ways of removing it.
As Hunters rarely have an opportunity to use, or remember to use Tranq Shot, it may be a good time to mention that it only fires off if there is a Enrage or Magic effect on the target. If the target is NOT affected by an Enrage or Magic effect, it does not activate.
I have not personally depended on a Hunter removing Enrage so I have not tried this, but I would think that a Macro could be written attached to a frequently cast attack, such as Steady Shot or Arcane Shot, that would try and fire a Tranq Shot FIRST, and, if the target is not under the affect of Enrage, much like a trinket macro not doing anything if a trinket is still on cooldown, it would go on and fire the Arcane Shot instead.
A possible macro, totally not tested, that might work is something like this;
#showtooltip Arcane Shot
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Tranquilizing Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast Arcane Shot
Oh, and those sound effects modifications? Those ain’t mine, those are courtesy of Jennifer, AKA Djyn. Thanks, Jennifer!
Anyway, the point is that while Hunters CAN remove it, they need to be fast on their toes to nail it after it Enrages, but BEFORE it reaches someone squishy.
What I personally do is count on having Cassieann or Melpo the Rogue with me, with Anesthetic Poison II on their weapons, and cleansing the Enrage that way. I also count on them using their Stun abilities as much as possible on the Skirmisher, especially if it starts running to lock it down and give the Anesthetic Poison a chance to take effect.
The other thing to watch for is the Watcher ability to Web Wrap. It’s a 3 second cast time spell that picks a target at random and wraps them in a web coccoon, taking them out of the fight. If it happens to a tank, the tank still has aggro. The coccoon itself must be targeted and destroyed to remove it. The casting of the Web Wrap CAN be interrupted with a Bash or other stun.
And of course, there are the poisons someone should be ready to remove. Yay.
Preparation for the fight itself.
First, the goal is going to be to pull and kill one entire pack as fast as possible, leaving enough time to recover and eat/drink before the next pack comes. If you do not have enough DPS, it is not going to happen.
Don’t let pride get in the way. If you do not have enough DPS for the fight, it will just not happen as the packs start to overlap each other.
The mobs are considered Undead, so a Priest could Shackle one of the Shadowcasters or Warriors in a pack for each pull… but that is stretching the fight out, which is NOT what you want to be doing. You can also have a Hunter use a Freezing Arrow for a ranged trap, I’ve had it done before, and I understand thanks to Graimerin that Paladins have this Repentance CC thingie that they can use on Undead… but again, you don’t WANT to drag the fight out longer. You want FAST.
So you need to be bringing the DPS.
The second thing is, you want to fight towards the start of the chamber where you come in. Kind of close to where the last group of mobs were standing before you faced these three packs and the boss.
You want a few seconds warning as a pack runs at you so everyone can target the Skirmisher, but if you start TOO far back, the Skirmisher can Enrage right away, not giving you enough time to burn it down. It takes about 10 seconds from the activation of a pack for the Skirmisher to trigger Enrage.
So you don’t want to wait way back around the corner to try and line of sight the Shadowcasters, because by the time the Skirmisher finally reaches you, he’s already Enraged or damn close to it.
And you don’t want to go to melee range if you can avoid it, because you can either body pull a nearby pack, or you will have SHORT time to react when one of those packs activates.
You COULD try and run in on a pack, kill it, and run back out to the starting point to prepare for the next pack to start. I think that’s what most folks do. We tried it for a while ourselves with mixed results.
What we do is, we try to have at least one ranged DPS at the extreme max range, normally either Sinnas the Hunter or Elystia the Mage. Then, a little closer, is our Healer, usually Nighthawque the Druid or Paracelsis the Paladin. That way if the Skirmisher Enrages, it’s not the Healer that buys the farm.
Next, you have melee DPS and me. We assume the position, with me ready to pull with Feral Faerie Fire on the Skirmisher in the left most pack, the pack I always pull first. I’ll have the Skirmisher of the middle pack marked as well, so when that pack comes he stands out easy.
And now our secret cheating strategy.
We try to have, if at all possible, a Death Knight as one of the melee. Usually Razedbarre. He’s our secret weapon.
I get full of Rage, I’m ready to pull the Skirmisher, I have the targets marked for a kill order of Skirmisher, Shadowcaster, Watcher… and I let Razedbarre inch close enough to be able to get range on the Shadowcaster, with me standing beside him.
I pull the Skirmisher, the Skirmisher and the Watcher run towards me….
…and the Shadowcaster stays put way back there to try and throw down that spellcasting shit, and Razedbarre Death Grips his ass RIGHT into my face.
Where I happily Swipe and Mangle and Lacerate and Maul all over the Skirmisher, all DPS is burning down the Skirmisher, but I am getting aggro and holding the Watcher and Shadowcaster right on top of me.
Usually, the Skirmisher dies fast, without getting Enraged, or if he does Enrage he gets Stunned and then has it cleansed off fast by Anesthetic Poison II. Then we burn down the squishy Shadowcaster who is sitting right there, and finish up the Watcher.
In these pulls, the only random factor becomes dealing with Web Wrap… it can be interrupted, it has a long cast time, but for the most part the Watcher is not getting the focused attention to interrupt them while we deal with the Skirmisher and Shadowcaster, so it goes off. But someone is always near someone else, and so it gets cut off the target off pretty fast.
Keeping the Shadowcaster in melee range really lets us focus ALL our attention on killing, and not waste time running around.
We can rest for a few seconds and get back mana or even do a battle rez, and be prepared when the next pack comes.
Again, it is the Death Knights’ job to pull the Shadowcaster into my Swipe range, while it is my job to pick up the Watchers, Skirmishers and Warriors.
By the time all three packs are down, we generally have plenty of time to swagger on up to the boss and prepare for his tank and spank, with an awareness that he summons swarms of adds that we can apply AoE to. They are pretty weak adds, it’s an easy beatdown as long as you are preaapred to Swipe, and have some AoE in the group.
For myself, the first pull on the left pack is a coordinated pull at our pace, so we control it’s outcome. It always goes easy.
The second pull may either have the middle pack with a Skirmisher and a Warrior, or the right pack with a Warrior and a Shadowcaster.
I save my Challenging Roar taunt for the all-melee pack, the Skirmisher and Warrior, to make damn sure none of them run by.
With the Warrior and Shadowcaster pack, I know the caster will be pulled by the Death Knight, so I only have to grab two melee targets inbound… and I will have a Feral Faerie Fire AND a Growl to use at range as they come in to make sure none of them run by. I’ll FFF the Watcher first, and then Growl the Warrior and stay on the Warrior as they come in to get a Mangle on him.
By that time, Razedbarre has the Shadowcaster in my face, so I can Swipe the whole posse once for general principles, and then switch targets to the Shadowcaster as we burn him down fast.
When no Skirmisher is in the group, squishy dies first, of course.
The only worry during the time the pack is incoming is Healer aggro if the healer tops people off before I apply threat, and grabs the attention of one off me. That can hurt, it can cause mobs to run by that Ii wasn’t expecting to ignore me, and has in the past caused chaos and confusion.
But communication, preparation, and everyone knowing their part and doing it is what makes the fight a very, very satisying kill. You know you did more than just stand there looking cute when the boss goes down.
If you don’t have a Death Knight, it is still doable, of course… we’ve done it before.
But in those cases, you either need to use CC to keep the Shadowcaster out of your hair, or you’ll have to preiodically taunt him with Growl at range to keep his attention on YOU while the melee range stuff is handled. And someone is going to have to go chase him to kill him at some point, bringing everyone in range of the other packs, and risk a face pull.
And even if you don’t aggro one of the other packs, chasing the Shadowcaster will slow you down, leaving you less time to prepare for the next pack pull.
So yes, this is one of those situations where I recommend ignoring the ‘bring the player, not the class’ BS that we all bought into for a little while, and see if a Death Knight can come along.
If you have a DK tank, what the hell… go Kitty and DPS and let him tank and do his own Death Grip to bring his mob into range. Whatever works for you.
I hope that this breakdown helps someone even a little when planning on how to get their own Essence of Gossamer.
And remember, this little collection of tips is aimed at the folks, very much like myself, that are still at the pre-Naxx, ‘gearing up for Naxx’ level.
If your group has been running Naxx already and getting plenty of drops there, then you should have plenty of DPS to take care of things quickly.
So please, for your own sake, let’s not have any morons chiming in saying e-peen things like “I don’t understand why anyone would have any trouble with this boss, it’s easy mode if you are a REAL player. In fact, I soloed it on my xx. You must just suck.”
Because my first reply is, “If you’re just that skilled, and it’s not your gear at all that is helping you get through it, or that of your friends that carried you, then have your team run it naked and FRAPS it. I’d love to see it. Otherwise, shut the fu([ up.”
Hmm, did I say that out loud? Oops, my bad. Must’ve been reading WoW Forum replies to people asking reasonable questions, and getting tired of the same tired old bullshit e-peen responses.
Anyway, have fun! And may the loot fu be with you!