Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Bear's Guide to BWD: Magmaw

I've been putting off writing these guides because I've wanted to include video with them, but every time we raid I either forget to start recording or we just have a bad night. (Sometimes both.)

So I figure I'll at least start typing them out, then I can update with videos as I get around to making them.

Magmaw is one of the first two bosses of Blackwing Descent, and the easier of the two when it comes to tanking. There's a lot of different tanking options with Magmaw, and which one you take is going to depend on your group's makeup.

Magmaw is a stationary boss. He doesn't move. So for the pull (and every moment thereafter) you have to go to him. If Magmaw is in combat without someone in melee range for more than a few seconds at any time, he starts throwing a Molten Tantrum, so once you start combat, you want to close in quickly. Magmaw has a very small hitbox and only a slightly larger aggro range. So you can actually get really close before pulling. I recommend a face-pull and then throwing F3 as soon as you enter combat.

As you close in, keep in mind that you can fall off the edge of floor into the lava below. So make sure to stop running when you get close.

Generally you're going to tank Magmaw with your butt against the wall to his right. This turns him enough that your melee dps can stand behind him if they're all the way to the left.

Once you're tanking him, there's not much you have to worry about. He'll be doing random Magma Spits and Lava Spews on a timed interval. You can't do anything to avoid either one, so just chill out. He'll also be dropping Flame Pillars under random people's feet, but unless you have no one outside of melee range you don't have to worry about these hitting you.

The Flame Pillars will spawn several Lava Parasites. You do have to keep an eye out for these. If they happen to get near you, make sure you don't Swipe or Thrash or do anything else that may cause you to gain aggro on them. You don't want to have to worry about Parasitic Infection and Infectious Vomit on top of the damage you're already taking.

Now here's where things get important for the tank. Every 90 seconds, Magmaw is going to do an ability called Mangle. His version is significantly more vicious than ours. While in his grip, you are stunned, so it's important to pop your cooldowns before you get picked up. And you will want to pop them. You will be taking heavy, heavy damage and anything you can do to help your healers will be appreciated.

Shortly after picking you up, Magmaw will cast Ignition, slamming his head down on one half of the room. Once he picks his head up, all aggro is reset.

You will be dropped 5 seconds after your DPS successfully chain Magmaw (at which point he becomes impaled), or when you die.

If you survive the Mangle, you will have the Sweltering Armor debuff, which reduces your armor by 50%.

Once you hit the ground, you should immediately shift to cat, pop Berserk if you have it available, and go to town. Keep an eye on your DBM timers. About 4 seconds before the impale phase ends, you'll either want to be backing out of melee range or shifting bear and getting in position to pick him up again. Once combat resumes, you're back to the first phase. It's just rinse and repeat from here out.

This is where your group has some choices. Magmaw can be solo-tanked and the armor debuff healed through. This puts a little more strain on your healers, but frees up a spot for another DPS, which will help the encounter go faster. There's also a very, very small chance that the Sweltering Armor debuff won't clear before you get Mangled again. If this happens, you're definitely toast.

If you choose to use this method, there's two things you'll need to do as a bear.

First, you'll have to alternate your cooldowns for the Mangles. Survival Instincts for one, Frenzied Regeneration for the other. Try to make sure you get a full Rage bar before popping FR. Try to save Barkskin for after you get dropped, when you're tanking with the armor debuff.

Second, you'll want a macro like this:
/targetexact Magmaw
/cast Growl

As Magmaw gets close to the end of the impale phase, you'll want to start spamming this to make sure he doesn't melee your other raid members. As soon as your Growl goes off, start attacking and building threat.

If you go with a two-tank method, you have a couple options. You can tank swap at the Mangle (in which case you'll be able to use both defensive cooldowns every time you get picked up), or you can have one tank designated the Mangle tank. The Mangle tank will taunt off of the main tank right before each Mangle, leaving the other tank free to tank normally the whole encounter. If you go with this method and end up as the Mangle tank, you'll have to roll your cooldowns the same as if you were the only tank.

There's one other possible thing to note here. One strategy on Magmaw is to have only one person outside of melee range. This has the advantage of easily controlling where the Flame Pillars will spawn (since there's only one candidate), cutting down on the number of raid members running around instead of doing their job, and decreasing the number of potential Parasitic Infection targets. (A person can only get infected by one parasite at a time.) A lot of times this job falls to a good AoE kiting class with slows, like a Hunter, Frost DK, or Frost Mage. Some groups opt to use a tank to do this.

As is generally the case with large groups of mobs, shield tanks (Warriors and Pallys) are more ideal, but Bears can do the job. If you end up with this job, you'll have a few things you need to watch.

Make sure you stay out Flame Pillars. Since you'll probably be moving a lot, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
Stay out of melee range of the Parasites as much as possible. Obviously you'll have to spend some time in range. Swipe and Thrash will be your tools of choice to hold aggro. So it'll be a pattern of run in, hit your AoE attacks, get out.
Stay in range of your healers. You'll be running around a lot. Make sure you don't run too far away from them.
Don't let the parasites reach your other raid members! Use F3 and Growl to get back loose adds. If you lose control of several parasites, Challenging Roar can save the day. In an extremely dire situation, Hurricane can help get the job done, too. It just means you'll be spending several precious seconds stationary and out of Bear form.
Use Barkskin and Thorns on cooldown. They'll help keep you alive and keep aggro, respectively.

Once your group kills Magmaw, you'll be looking for the Parasitic Bands and the Symbiotic Worm as potential upgrades. There's also Akrius the Worm-Breaker, but only if you really need a new weapon. As usual, Strength isn't nearly as good for Bears as Agility.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog.


  1. Very nice guide. I think Bears often have a tougher job as tanks. This gives hope lol.

  2. Nice guide, looks useful if I ever get to tank Magmaw. Thus far I've gone Dps every time because the other tank gad a healing offspec.

  3. You can actually taunt Magmaw when you are mangled in his mouth, just tap target him as soon as you are in his mouth and growl, tab target to his head and dps a bit (well, you are going to be there for a while, while not make it count, right?) and then tab target magmaw again and growl (just in case dps was overzealous).

    This works everytime.