Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Bear's Guide to BWD: Maloriak

Maybe it's just me and the various strengths/weaknesses of the group I typically work with...but I kind of feel like Maloriak is on the bottom of the difficulty curve of BWD bosses. He should be first and either Magmaw or ODS should be moved inside.

That said, he's not a pushover. He's probably also the most technically
demanding boss from a tanking perspective. It's very easy to slip up and induce a wipe.

Maloriak's also a unique boss in that pacing and timing are very important. There's a right "speed" for this fight. Go too slow and you'll hit the enrage timer. Go too fast and, unless you have a very well-geared add tank and healer or a third tank, you'll get overwhelmed by adds and wipe the raid. More on those in a bit.

As you may have gathered, two tanks are required for this fight: the Maloriak tank and an add tank. Bears can generally handle either. This fight has 20 adds total: 18 Aberrations (released 3 at a time) and 2 Prime Subjects (released at the start of Phease 2). Any Aberrations that haven't been released by the start of Phase 2 will also be released at that time. All the adds are buffed with Growth Catalyst. The more you have in a small space, the tougher they get.

Maloriak is a two phase fight, with the first phase broken up into a series of three mini-phases: Red, Blue, and Green. Each mini-phase lasts 40 seconds.

About 20 seconds after the pull, Maloriak will run to his pot-o-potions and initiate the first mini-phase. It will randomly be either Red or Blue.

For the Red phases the important mechanic is a frontal-cone AoE fire blast that extends the length of the room and shares its damage among everyone it hits. So for this phase you'll want to make sure everyone is in front of Maloriak, with the exception of any non-tanks that get Consuming Flames. Those people should run off to the side until the debuff expires.

For the Blue phases, the idea is to stay spread out. Maloriak will be casting Biting Chill and Flash Freeze, both of which affect an area around the target.

The second mini-phase will also be either Red or Blue, but it won't be the same as the first. So if the first mini-phase was Red, the second will be Blue and visa versa.

The third mini-phase is always Green. The Green mini-phase is a burn phase, where everyone in the room (friend or foe) will be taking 100% additional damage for 15 seconds due to Debilitating Slime. The slime also strips the adds of their Growth Catalyst buff. This is when all the DPS should leave Maloriak and burn down the Aberrations that have been released.

After the Green mini-phase, the loop starts over.

Throughout the phase, there's going to be two spells that you have to keep an eye on. The first is Arcane Storm. This must be interrupted every time and as quickly as possible to keep your raid from taking heavy AoE damage. The second is Release Aberrations. When successfully cast, this spell releases three adds into the room from the vats on the north and south walls. On average, he's going to cast Release Aberrations 5-6 times during each set of three mini-phases. You want him to successfully cast it 3 times. No more, no less. The rest have to be interrupted.

It's best to appoint two interrupters before the fight starts, one for each of the spells.

He'll also be casting Remedy on himself. Warriors can Shield Slam this off, but other tanks are going to have to depend on their raid to get rid of it.

The idea in this fight is to go through the mini-phase rotation twice, letting out 9 Aberrations each time. After that, Maloriak can safely be pushed into Phase 2.

Phase 2 starts when Maloriak hits 25%. From that point on, it's a burn fight.

Maloriak Tank
The first phase doesn't have any positional requirements. Most groups tank Maloriak right where he's standing when you enter the room. He will be running between the pot and the tank during this phase, so keep that in mind. You don't want to have your melee dps chasing him to keep doing their job.

More often than not, one of the interrupters during this phase is going to be the tank. Regardless of which spell you're given to interrupt, don't be too quick on your Skull Bash. You want to be sure you're interrupting the right ability.

If you're interrupting Arcane Storm, it's easy. Just get every one. The air above the raid will fill with lightning streaks, so it's pretty easy to identify.

If you're interrupting Release Aberrations, it's a little harder. You need to be keeping track of how many times it's gone off so you know whether to interrupt it or not. Again, the magic number here is three successful casts prior to each Green mini-phase. The third successful cast should come right before the Green mini-phase starts, otherwise it puts a lot of strain on the add tank and your healers.

After all 18 Aberrations have been released, you don't need to interrupt anymore. Maloriak will still cast the Release, but it won't do anything.

During the Red mini-phases, make sure you keep Maloriak facing your raid. There's nothing else special you have to do. Maloriak will sometimes cast Consuming Flames debuff on you. If you get it, there's nothing you can do. Moving will just cause Maloriak to turn with you, and you don't want to do that. Just pop a cooldown and eat the flames.

During the Blue mini-phases, you need to keep an eye on your raid. Biting chill can land on anyone, even you. Flash Freeze should never be cast directly on you, but it can still chain to you if you're too close to the person it is cast on. Generally this won't be an issue. Just make sure you tank Maloriak in the same spot throughout Phase 1 and it'll be everyone else's job to stay away from you during the Blue mini-phases.

When Maloriak starts the Green mini-phase, he's going to leap to the back of the room. Not long after he'll cast Arcane Storm. Your DPS is going to be focused on the adds at the time so it'll be up to you to interrupt that, even if you're typically the Release Aberrations interrupter. This is nice for Bears, since our Skull Bash works from range. We don't have to run all the way to him to interrupt.

Once you've interrupted the Storm toss out a quick Swipe and Thrash to help with the adds if they're nearby and then drag Maloriak back to his normal tanking spot.

When Phase 2 starts, your job gets a little tougher. Maloriak will begin casting Magma Jets. This puts a line of fire on the ground in front of him (not at a random target, as the tooltip says) that does heavy damage if it hits and leaves a trail that will damage anyone that runs through it. When he starts casting this, you need to move out of the way fast.

I've seen two different tactics for dealing with this spell.

I like to keep Maloriak where he's been the entire fight. When Phase 2 starts, I immediate face him towards the pot. When the first Magma Jets goes off, I turn him 90°, so that he's facing either the North or South wall. For the second Magma Jets, I run through him, turning him 180°. Finally, for the third, I turn him back 90° towards the pot. Then just keep repeating that. Only two Magma Jets trails are on the ground at a time, so this works out. The rest of the raid just has to make sure they stay in the front half of the room.

The other tank in my raids likes to kite Maloriak along the edges of the room, keeping him facing the walls for each Magma Jets cast and then moving him between. This requires a lot more movement and coordination by the tank (I think), but it also frees up the entire room for the rest of your raid.

Regardless of what method you choose, make sure to keep an eye out for floating ice balls and steer clear of them.

Aberrations Tank
The Aberrations tank job is simple: pick up and hold the Aberrations until the Green mini-phase.

You have a little bit of time at the start of the fight before any of the Aberrations are released where you can help DPS Maloriak. Once that first Release Aberrations goes off, though, you have to be ready to get the adds.

The Aberrations can come from a lot of different spots in the room and it can be difficult to pick them up, given our limited ranged options. Usually this isn't a big deal, though. Almost every raid has one healer who picks up more heal-aggro than the others. Just park yourself near that healer and pull the Aberrations away as they get there. You may have to Growl at the occasional straggler, but that's easy enough.

The most important thing for the Aberrations tank to do is keep the adds away from Maloriak. Their Growth Catalyst buff spreads to him, too. You don't want that happening.

Also watch your positioning during the Blue mini-phases. Like Maloriak tank, Flash Freeze should never be cast on you, but it can still chain to you if you're not careful. You also don't want to be taking the pulsing Biting Chill damage from another raid member, especially once you get beyond three Aberrations.

During the Red mini-phases, you probably shouldn't be standing in the path of the Scorching Blast, either.

Make sure you're communicating with the interrupters to keep them informed of how many adds you have. Three is no real threat. Six starts hurting a little. Nine is going to require heavy heals and good use of your cooldowns. This is why you don't want the third Release Aberrations cast to go off until right before the Green mini-phase. The longer you have 9 adds doing 180% damage to you, the hard this fight is going to be.

More than 9 will wipe all but the most uber-geared tanks.

There's usually going to be an uninterrupted Release Aberrations cast during the first Green mini-phase. All your DPS are going to be busy burning down the current adds, and the Maloriak tank's interrupt is going to be on cooldown from having interrupted the Arcane Storm just before it. So...no rest for the weary there.

Once all 18 Aberrations have been killed, you can go Cat again and help your raid DPS Maloriak into Phase 2.

At the start of Phase 2, Maloriak is going to release any unreleased Aberrations (hopefully none) and the two Prime Subjects. The Subjects are always going to come from opposite ends of the room. They're untauntable and they have to be picked up as quickly as possible. Shortly after they're released, they're going to fixate on whoever they're aggroed on for the rest of the fight. It needs to be you.

Once you have them, you just need to hold them until your DPS have killed Maloriak.

Like the Aberrations, the Subjects have the Growth Catalyst buff. Make sure you keep them far away from Maloriak. Avoid any floating ice balls you see. And if one of the Subjects is fixated on a raid member other than you, take the other one away to reduce the damage that other person takes.

Once Maloriak is down, you'll be looking for the Aberration's Leggings and the Cloak of Biting Chill, which is T11 BiS cloak for Bears.

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.
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