Yay, we killed her too!

Following in the tradition of the recent posts by Honor’s Code and Pike, I’d just like to add… yay, we killed her too!


The guild went in last week for the first time, and unfortunately, while Cassie and I were signed up, we had the internet die in our house for the entire evening. So, while the guild went in and had a lot of fun… we weren’t there.

This week, the internet providers decided they liked money, so they chose not to dump our feed a second week in a row.

I did provide the heals with Shadewynn and Jardal, and a good time was had by all.

Our attempt answered a question I had going in… with Onyxia tuned for level 80 ten person teams, can a guild decked out in Naxxramas 10 loot and what you get from Heroics and Emblems of Conquest take her down? I mean, like, take her down decisively?

Hells yes, you can!

Granted, the gear you can get from Heroics includes Heroic Trial of the Champions, and the Emblems loot is pretty tasty these days too, but I think the folks in the guild are about half in Naxx 10 and half in the newer stuff. Certainly, we’re not all sporting Ulduar and Naxx 25 and ToC10/25 stuff.

The group composition was 2 tanks, Oliver the Warrior and Graimerin the Paladin, 3 Healers, Shadewynn the Priest and 2 Druids, Jardal and myself, and 5 DPS, Kaelynn the Rogue and Flamehase the Death Knight for melee, and 2 Hunters Wetfoot and Ruuaar,  and Essahn the Shaman for ranged.

A pretty good composition for the group. Plenty of classes to hopefully increase the chance of a class-specific Helm being useful to someone, as well!

Oliver and Graimerin were our tanks and co-raid leaders, and they did a fine job. They switched off who got the fun of tanking Ony first after wipes, and both did great.

What, wipes?

Oh, sure! I think all told we wiped for about two hours before she went down. It was a blast! It brought back so many memories from vanilla WoW…

The sticking point for us was learning a very solid way of dealing with the warders/dragonkin adds in phase 2.

Here, I’ll back up.

The fight, for those who haven’t done it yet, is a little changed from the original.

The setup, just for a fast recap, is a large oval chamber with a high, vaulted ceiling. You enter the chamber from the south. Onyxia is sleeping on the floor at the north end, the stretched end of the oval. At the lower west and lower east ‘corners’ of the oval are passages leading to the whelp egg caves… caves that are, indeed, filled with eggs.

The fight is a 3 stage fight. First thing to remember when running in, is that if you get into close proximity to a whelp egg in a cave… a few seconds later it hatches a whelp. So, you do not ever want to actually enter a whelp cave unless you are trying for one of the new achievements.

Onyxia herself, when fought, is a standard dragon fight with perks. Standard means that she is dangerous from the front and rear to anyone within melee range there, so for melee other than the tank, the flanks between front and hind legs are the safest place to be.

Perks means that to the person in front (the tank), she Cleaves… and she deals knockback. So, the tank wants to run through Onyxia and get his/her back up against the wall, to minimize the effects of knockback movement on the team. Also, you don’t want anyone up there getting Cleaved, it sucks. You don’t want anyone behind, because Onyxias’ tail swipe actually deals knockback… and if this happens when Onyxia is still in the middle of the room, you can end up getting knocked back into a whelp cave. Many whelps, deal with it!

Now, for those with pets, the pets will head for the butt of Onyxia. Onyxia WILL knock them back. From what I saw, if the tank has run through Onyxia and gotten his back up against the far north wall and centered, then the pet knockback won’t actually send them far enough to reach a cave and bring whelps.

However, if folks are running straight in behind the tank, then on the run in they CAN get hit by the tail, and easily be launched into a cave. So, my advice to you is to have the tank head straight for and through Ony, but have the rest of the party head right or left, and enter the chamber on a slant, aiming to be nice and far up one side or the other, centered on a dragon flank and close to the wall. This also has the benefit that, when everyone keeps getting feared in phase 3, if you’re that far up the wall, you’re far enough away from the caves you won’t quite reach them before fear wears off. So, no added whelps in phase 3. Just the fear scurry and the flames.

Okay, so, back to the fight. Phase 1 was a walk in the park. Straightforward fight, tank aggros Onyxia, runs through her, gets back against the center of north wall and builds threat. Taunting DOES work now, so there is absolutely zero reason for the old “wands and white damage only” routine from vanilla WoW.

A moment more of reminiscing, we did a lot of it Friday night. For the benefit of the newer crowd, original Onyxia was untauntable, AND in vanilla WoW tanks generated very, very, very little damage based threat. Also, Warriors were the premiere tank class. The most common method used to start phase one was for all DPS to sit and watch, doing nothing, while the Warrior tank would pop Sunder on Onyxia. Everyone would wait, and watch, until 5 Sunders were on Onyxia, and then everyone would be allowed to start “wands and white damage only”, white damage meaning auto-attacks. If you watch your combat log, special abilities like Sinister Strike are reported in the combat log in yellow colors, auto-attacks are reported in white. Or gray. Hence, ‘white’ damage.

So, phase 1 is now very easy for the group. The tank does tank stuff and can taunt if needed, the DPS opens up as soon as everyone is in position, and healers are cranking from the get go. Phase 1 lasts until Onyxia is at 65% health.

With our tanks, and with 3 healers, I found that I was able to balance my heals with the other two healers, with zero party damage to handle, for all of phase 1, and keep my mana at FULL with the 5 second rule. I could actually pop all HoTs on the tank, and then let the 5 second rule pass and have my mana return to full, then do it again, so when phase 2 started I was at full mana and with all cooldowns available. That’s pretty reassuring. Of course, Shadewynn the Priest might not have felt so fortunate. 🙂

At phase 2, of course, Onyxia at 65% walks to the south end of the chamber and then takes to the air. Moments later, a pack of whelps will fly out of the west cave, and a few seconds after that a pack of whelps comes from the east cave.

Graimerin the Paladin was picking up the whelps, first the west group and then the east group, and then we all burnt them down. No big deal, as long as we were careful to let Grai run back and forth and scoop them up. Grai had the hard job, and did a great job. Many whelps, he DID handle it!

Oliver and the two melee DPS headed towards the south entrance, and waited for the dragonkin adds to start spawning.

The ranged DPS concentrated on shooting Onyxia out of the sky. Phase 2 lasts until Onyxia reaches 40% health, so the more DPS knocking her down while airborn, the sooner she lands that big purple butt of hers.

Now, Onyxia picks targets and fireballs them, and the fireballs do splash damage in a small area around the target, so folks kept a little distance, but truthfully, they don’t do that much damage, even against cloth wearers. Do not fear being close when a fireball hits.

Periodically, Onyxia Deep Breaths (apparently at random), and when she does she faces in one particular direction, and then lays the breath down, a single blast that stretches from where she is in the air, straight across the length of the cave. If you are caught in it, you’ve got a good chance of just being dead. Okay, tanks are pretty tough, but the rest of us ain’t. Fortunately, she doesn’t target someone and track them. If you see the emote that Onyxia takes a Deep Breath, check her orientation, and then move out of the path she is facing. If you’re on her flank, you’re not going to get hit. Just don’t be in front of her or you’re toast.

If you’re a Tauren, then you’re a whole loaf of toast. 🙂 Sorry, gratuitous Spaced Invaders humor there.

Really, once you get the hang of checking Onyxia positioning and getting the hell away from where ever she is directly facing to avoid Deep Breath, Onyxia can be ignored in phase 2, except by the folks shooting her.

The dragonkin, however, are a stone bitch.

They do an AoE that hurts REALLY bad, so you don’t want anyone near them like healers. They spawn every 40 to 45 seconds, so you’ve got to kill one as fast as possible before the next one spawns. And the big damage dealing thing they do is tied to a weapon, they charge up a weapon to do massive flame damage. So, if you keep them disarmed, they can’t do it. If you DON’T keep them disarmed, then BOOM!

What we found, and what kept resulting in wipes, was that Deep Breath would cause melee DPS to have to move, that would prevent disarms from going off and also reduce the active DPS on the dragonkin, a second dragonkin would pop before the first died, with two dragonkin the weapon disarm just wasn’t gonna happen for both, a melee DPS would die in the AoE, and shortly thereafter, so would the dragonkin tank, and then it was all over.

Really, all of our issues stemmed from learning the mechanics of proper dragonkin add management.

We asked Essahn, to switch his focus from just pew pew on Onyxia, to pew pew on Onyxia unless dragonkin was up, and to blowing up dragonkin along with the two melee DPS when needed to speed up the takedown. 

We figured that a longer Deep Breath cycle was preferable if we could more easily manage dragonkin annoyances.

As far as Deep Breath confusion was concerned, we went with saying that if Onyxia was facing south or anywhere in that vicinity, run to the west side (but not in the cave). If Onyxia was facing anywhere else, head south to be nearer the dragonkin spanking team. That seemed to work well.

We went with that plan, blew past phase 1 as usual (except for this one time, in band camp, with Graimerin and a flute named Righteous Fury, but that’s a story for the podcast), took on phase 2, and went right past phase 2 intact and straight into phase 3, and we were so excited we damn near blew it in our frantic “oh wait, what do we do now” excitement.

Graimerin picked up Onyxia great and headed for the back wall, everyone open headed for the northwest corner of the room to get back to the same arrangements as phase 1… but the dragonkin team was still working on the last dragonkin at the south entrance. We had some serious struggles making sure both Grai at the far north and Oliver at the far south got healed up while the dragonkin went down. All this, of course, while being feared and flame going off.

This attempt was successful, so we didn’t have the opportunity to steamline this process of phase 2 to phase 3, but I think to do it over again, I’d have two healers assigned to Graimerin to follow him with Onyxia to the north wall, while one healer stayed with the dragonkin team, and as soon as Onyxia landed have EVERY DPS concentrate on blowing up the last dragonkin so everyone could head north together.

A little secret. If you regain position in phase 3 just like in phase 1, then the fear doesn’t send you that far towards the cave. Also don’t ph3ar the ph-lame, the flame from the floor doesn’t hit that hard, so once you’re in phase 3 it’s once again tank and spank, just really exciting.

I loved the fight. It was lots of fun. Blizzard succeeded, at least for me, in resurrecting an old favorite raid, and making it just hard enough that it brought back all of the memories of  those classic 40 man raids, and left us all reminiscing.

As we’d run back from the graveyard that is RIGHT NEXT to Onyxias’ cave entrance… “Hey, remember when a 40 man raid would wipe, the nearest graveyard was outside the gates to Thermore Keep, and you’d have 40 ghosts running across the damn ocean to get back to Onyxia’s Lair? Oh yeah, and people would get lost trying to find the path over the mountains from the water, and others would have gone on /follow and gotten hung up and left behind? Oh yeah, and others would be afk for fifteen minutes? Shit, now we just appear 15′ from the cave when we die and run right back in. Man, that kicks ass.”

Ah yes, good times. Good times. Bringing back the memories was a lot of fun. Figuring out the challenge in taking on something so familiar, and yet new at the same time was truly enjoyable. What a great job they did in revamping it.

We had a great crew, and it was loads of fun. I will say that without having Oliver’s Warrior and Kaelynn’s Rogue disarming the dragonkin, it might have been far more irritating. But as it was… it was very cool. Totally workable, and left us with the feeling that nothing was stopping us from doing it but learning to coordinate effectively and playing well.

My favorite kind of raid. 🙂

Grats to Oliver on his sharkfin hat, grats to Flamehase on his new Death Knigget horny hat, grats to Grai on his tanky ring, and grats to Shadewynn for turning in Onyxias’ head to those ungrateful Warlocks in Stormwind. Yes, they gave you a ring… but the bastards didn’t proc that old 2 hour buff we loved so much!

Ah, grats again everyone. What wonderful fun.


15 thoughts on “Yay, we killed her too!

  1. Congrats Bear 🙂

    I was myself in Onyxias Lair last night. The Plus: three warriors disarming the big dragonkin. The Negative: One ranged dps. But we figured it out and got her down, and i agree – it is a fun fight!


  2. Gratz on killing Miss Ony! It took me 3 nights of bad pug groups before I finally managed to kill her on my mage and it was indeed like you say, memories from Vanilla wow! Also the lame jokes of *Moar dots* and * Thats a F#$@ing 50 DKP minus* came back 😛
    .-= Bouncy Gnome´s last blog ..Holy healing guide part II =-.


  3. Your team may be making too big a deal out of the disarm. Our Warrior and Rogue stay away from the Dragonkin while Range burns them down. We never had two up at once.

    Basically disarm is a nice to have, but hardly necessary.


  4. I’ve PUG’d the 10 man two weeks now. A few wipes, but ultimately we get her down. One thing I noted on my first kill, was how much more flexible raiding is these days. We had a Paladin main tank (not an option in Vanilla), a Ret Paladin doing DPS (not an option in Vanilla), a Moonkin Druid (not an option in Vanilla), a Shaman (Alliance Shaman? Heresy!), and (of course) Death Knights. And this was in a 10 man group. You wouldn’t see a Prot Paladin or non-resto Druid in an old FORTY MAN group.

    And am I alone in wondering what the rest of the Death Knight “tier 2” would look like? I really like the look of the helm Blizzard created and am glad they didn’t make DKs wear Warrior or (worse) Paladin helms.


  5. The dragonkin have a cast on their aoe of DOOM- so we just had melee get out:) It also helped to have a ranged aoe-er (boomkin or mage) swap to the whelp adds to burn them down faster.


  6. Huh – been killing her twice a week since she came out (10/25) and never knew about the disarm. Just watch his feet. He will get a glowy animation around his feat a few seconds before the AoE goes off. The amount of damage you take is proportional to your distance from him. Basically I just tank him, and when I see the ‘blastwave’ or whatever it is being cast, I just dump out along with the melee. He doesn’t move during the cast, and he doesn’t dump agro – so it’s no big loss. We have some sick DPS though – so I’m sure that helps.

    But – big grats to ya’ll! I’m glad to see you have the excitement from killing her. I really hate those people that get down on a group for doing something.

    “Ony is easy – you should never wipe – L2P”
    “GG killing older content with higher ilvl gear”
    “Because Uld is hard amirite? GG nerfbat”

    Those people really need to find something better to do.

    Oh – and the druid helm looks sick on a cow. Just saying.
    .-= Adgamorix´s last blog ..A kick in the junk =-.


  7. Disarm is useful, if not disarmed the tank is taking a lot of extra damage. Melee should however stay on the dragonkin so ranged can focus on Onyxia. You’ll be alright so long as they know to run out during a blast nova. It has a long enough cast time to warn you for them.


  8. Gratz on your victory…

    Killing an old fashion big boss in a newer way its always risky and tasty.

    Our guild manage to kill her in the first day available to 80, 25 man (2 trys with many many yells on ventrilo about moving far away the damn deep breath, etc etc xD ), after this, we made 3 groups of 10man. I dont want to look cocky but we reach the farming status over her =)

    I’m MT in 10 & 25 man, never disarm the dragonkin, just brutal dps and move away when blast nova comes. Certanly my guild loves the Bear survability in this raid. =) ; and hell yeah the 25 man Head item was a direct drop for the good Bear. ; )


  9. Just thought Id mention, in addition to being able to disarm the dragonkin in phase 2, that ignite weapon has a cast time that can be interupted by rogues and shamans ( and presumably warriors, just havent tried that yet ;)) That gives you 2 shots at avoiding the extra damage from it.


  10. @ John IV: I didn’t know that Ignite Weapon could be interrupted! That’s fantastic! I only knew about the Disarm before, and you can’t use that on every pop because of the CD. Now I’ll never have to eat another one of those again. Healers will love that. 🙂

    My guild just killed her last night. And I got the tanking ring, which is just sexy. Grats on your kill, Bear.


  11. Hey another tip. During phase three, when the tank has her up against the wall, there’s places on either side of her where you can climb up on the wall. You’re out of the flames and the fear only causes you to dance around in the same place for a few seconds. Good for us healers as we’re in range of the tank and the ranged dps can be up there with us.


  12. Thanks for the tips all. Didn’t know you could interrupt the cast time on the Ignite Weapon. I swear I tried shield bashing it a couple times with no results. Oh well. Will try again.
    Admittedly–I was less than forthcoming about when I disarmed, so I’m sure it made Kae’s job even harder. And–I’m a gnome, so trying to tank, avoid the Ignite Weapon, and keep my camera in order to avoid Deep Breaths….well shoot. That is just a lot for a gnome to handle.
    Thanks for the props BBB. Always nice to see the guild’s accomplishments in the blog. I’ll repeat what Bear said–great group of people, awesome encounter to revisit, and I have the Shark hat to terrorize Northrend with. 😉


  13. Just an FYI, tried (multiple times) to interrupt the Ignite Weapon on 10 man the last time I tanked Ony, and it doesn’t seem like it is interruptable. Disarm still works though.


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