Monday, January 19, 2009

Facing Malygos

I don't really want to spend a lot of posts charting my guild's progress, but we had a few firsts this weekend, and they weren't the usual pew-pew, and I figure at least one of the fights is worth going over due the unusual demands on the raid.

On Saturday my guild attempted (and killed) 10-man Malygos. We had been meaning to do this one for about a month now, but between the holidays, our transition to 25-mans, and scheduling issues on our remaining free days, it took us until this weekend. Part of the reason for the delay was that we intended to assemble a crack team for this fight rather than just anyone available.

Though we love all our guildies dearly, some people naturally pick things up faster than others, and we knew going in that Malygos wasn't going to be like any other fight. The purpose of our run was to get acquainted with the fight so we could bring that experience with us to the rest of the raid in 25-man, and for that we wanted minimal wipeage. I don't think any of us who went really considered walking away without downing Malygos as an option.

Everyone who went watched the videos, brought the best buff food (no Great Feasts), and was flasked. Everyone who went had also practiced with the daily quest Aces High!, which is essential to avoid being caught with your pants down in the third phase of Malygos.

It took us three tries to beat Malygos, and each wipe was in Phase 3. The importance of being able to ride the dragons in Aces High! cannot be underestimated. The quest giver even says, "My business here is to study the enemy and teach my precious pets the tactics that will be most effective when we face the master of the blues."

Now to the fight itself. We went with two healers because beating Malygos is a dps race. Our healers were a shaman and a paladin. This was not the ideal make-up for a reason I'll go into shortly, but both are exceptional healers so we knew that the raid would be in good hands for the majority of the fight.

Phase 1 is mostly tank and spank except for a couple things. Periodically a Power Spark is spawned and it must be killed before getting to Malygos or it will buff him. We had two death knights so they would take turns using Death Grip to bring it into range of the rest of the raid, who would be behind Malygos. Then if possible I would root it so it couldn't move while we killed it (though to be honest we tended to kill them so fast that I usually didn't pull it off in time).

Also in Phase 1, Malygos has a Vortex ability during which he throws the entire raid up in the air and deals a whopping 2000 damage (unresisted) a second for 10 seconds. During this time only instants can be cast, and this is where having a paladin and a shaman for healers looked like it could have been a liability.

In reality, not so much. We made sure everyone had at least 16k health unbuffed, and then with raid buffs everyone got near to 20k and Mark of the Wild provides some base level of magic resistence. Finally, during the vortex phase there isn't a whole lot a moonkin can do anyway after Malygos has been dotted, so I popped out to hot the people closest to dying. My spell power was over 1700 so I could hot for a fair bit and usually I would nail 4, maybe even 5, people before landing. Our enhance shaman and ret paladin also threw instants if they could. We never lost a single person to the vortex.

We would typically go through three vortexes before getting Malygos to 50%, at which point he would move into Phase 2. During this transition he hovers around for several seconds without doing anything and it's very important for all ranged dps to throw everything they got at him before he flies away. I try to make sure he has a fresh set of dots ticking on him just before he's completely out of range.

I can only imagine how fun Phase 2 is for melee, but for me, it's not quite as much.

During Phase 2 the raid is attacked by Nexus Lords (melee) and Scions of Eternity (ranged) which look a lot like blood elves riding around on floating discs. All of them drop discs when killed, and the melee can jump on the dropped discs to fly up and attack the Scions, who will otherwise never fall into melee range. The Scions can be attacked by ranged dps if they happen to be in range, but usually they're not, which would make phase 2 a little boring if not for the fact that those of us down below are still under threat of being killed by Malygos.

Malygos is still attacking from range during all this time, so the raid is taking damage, and in addition to that he has a Deep Breath attack that will hit for 5000 damage a second unless the raid is safe inside a purple anti-magic zone (which reduces, not negates, the damage). These purple anti-magic zones spawn in and begin to shrink, so the raid has to run from zone to zone as the largest one becomes progressively smaller and a new one emerges.

These zones can get tremendously small too! One of them we had everyone almost literally stacked on top of each other and my moonkin head was sticking out by the end, but we still lived. If you're in what was the largest zone at the time of the Deep Breath, you should be okay even if it gets horribly tiny by the end.

After all the Nexus Lords and Scions of Eternity are dead Malygos will fly briefly back into range (dps him for all you've got!) and then shatter the floor, at which point all the raid will land on red dragons identical to those flown on Aces High! This is where having practiced the daily comes in real handy.

The primary difference between the daily and the actual fight is that generally one player will be focused on healing the raid and the rest will be dpsing. Otherwise, the controls are the same. (If necessary, two drakes could heal, but we went with one.) Also, there is less of a need for the dps drakes to hot themselves if the raid is good about sticking together for the AoE heal. I would hot myself if I could spare the energy/cooldowns, but I mostly focused on dps.

At the most basic level a dps drake should Flame Spike to five combo points and then Engulf in Flames while always keeping 25 energy available in the event Malygos uses Power Surge. The Power Surge will kill a drake if it's not at least partially mitigated, so if you see a warning that Malygos is focusing on you, be sure to use Flame Shield! You also need combo points up in order to use Flame Shield, but it's fortunately a three second cast, so if you're caught at a bad time, you should still be able to attack once or even twice and then toss up a shield to block a few seconds of it.

The trick to beating Malygos before the timer runs out is to always keep the Engulf in Flames debuff up, because each time you apply it, the debuff will stack. By the end you should have 20+ stacks up. Also, the number of combo points doesn't affect the damage of the debuff. They only affect the duration. So if you find yourself pretty handy with your energy management, you'll actually want to use Engulf in Flames with fewer combo points so you can stack more debuffs faster.

I generally found four combo points to be a good medium between getting more debuffs on Malygos and keeping a good buffer for emergency Flame Shields. Our mage turned out to be quite good at this though and did a three combo point rotation. For first-timers though, I'd suggest five points just because it's better safe than sorry. If that Engulf in Flames debuff falls off you'll have to start all over again and the raid can't afford that.

As a final note, my guild downed Kel'Thuzad in 25-man Naxx for the first time the following day, so our Malygos practice run could not have come at a better time. We took everyone to 25-man Malygos immediately afterwards with the idea that we'd just give him a shot or two so everyone could see what he's like.

Malygos will do a breath attack immediately after he lands in 25-man, which he didn't in 10, and this nuked most of the raid. This looks like it's going to be the stumbling block for our 25-man group since our second attempt ended only slightly better than the first, much our disappointment. We'd been hoping to get at least to Phase 3 so the people who hadn't done 10-man could understand how important Aces High! is to beating him, but that will have to wait for another night.

25-man Malygos is now the only raid boss we have left until we clear out all the available raid content.

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