Tanking the Elemental Bosses
Funny how I often only recognize a need for tank education while playing my healer. After many painful Gahz’rilla runs, it has become apparent to me that there is significant room for education here.
The Elemental Bosses are four holiday bosses associated with the pre-Cataclysm event. They’re mostly updates of vanilla bosses, with one completely new boss who appears to be a knockoff of Thunderaan. They drop item level 251 gear, i.e. gear of equivalent quality to that which drops in ICC10 normal.
All four of the elemental bosses are unlocked by the defeat of the invasions of Orgrimmar/Ironforge and Thunder Bluff/Stormwind. These happen roughly every 3 hours, and the cities of either faction will always be attacked simultaneously. If the invasion of Org/Ironforge is defeated, Flamelash and Theradras become available; if the invasion of TB/SW is defeated, Gahz’rilla and Sarsarun become available. They’re only available for about half an hour after the defeat of the invasion, but you don’t have to participate in the fight to queue for them. You can only queue for one elemental boss at once.
Plate tanking gear drops from Flamelash (Salamander Skin), Theradras (Barrier of the Earth Princess), and Gahz’rilla (Twilight Offering Bands). Melee leather, for our druid friends, drops from Sarsarun (Pulmonary Casing).
Screenshots are up!
Grand Ambassador Flamelash
Flamelash is pretty much a pushover. He has a Legion Flames debuff, a stacking damage-done buff, and an AoE interrupt/silence pulse.
He gains his damage buff from the small fire elemental adds which stream from the sides of the room; every time one reaches him, he consumes it for a stack of the buff. Honestly the damage increase is negligible; you’re better off just burning the boss than worrying about it. When he reaches 5 stacks, he uses the pulse and his stacks reset.
Since the blastwave occurs every 5 stacks, you can assume one blastwave for every 2 groups of elementals. Time your mini-cooldowns accordingly.
Note that unlike Blood Queen or Jaraxxus, Flamelash will cast his Legion Flames on the tank, so be prepared to high-tail it out of there. The best way to run is to strafe while facing the boss, not only to keep your face to him for dodge/parry/block, but also to keep tunnel-visioning melee DPS from running through your flames.
Crown Princess Theradras
Apparently Blizzard knows what its average female player looks like!
(I kid, I kid! Actually, I quite like the Therazun model. It reminds me of a design period in the game when female NPCs had body types and clothing appropriate to their place in the world. I’m looking at you, Alexstrasza, wise queen of the Dragons, unconcerned with the preferences and mores of the mortal races, yet wearing clothing impractical for any purpose other than getting humanoid males hard.)
Theradras is definitely the easiest boss of the elemental bosses. She has a fear (which you can avoid by averting your eyes, similar to Radiance in ToC 5) and a small knockback, so don’t tank her at the edge of the platform. Also, the small hump in the middle of the platform has been adorned by what looks like a centerpiece made of Zaetar’s horns, which may break line of sight between you and your healer.
She also has an ability called Earth Crack, which causes a spike of earth to come up under where the tank was standing when she began to cast it.
This is the one that makes healers quiver in fear.
For the love of God, face the gigantic boss with the scary breath weapon away from the group. I strongly recommend refraining from Army of the Dead for this reason. I also recommend tanking the boss parallel to the pool in the middle of the room. The fish in there are deceptively dangerous, and the boss has a few knockbacks, so if you or the melee DPS are standing between the boss and the pool, you may be in for an unpleasant death.
This boss is death of a thousand AoE cuts to the party, and death of dodge the freeze breath you moron to the tank. Your healer is going to be constantly casting throughout this fight, so do what you can to make it easier on him.
OK, the actual abilities. Fairly often, Gahz’rilla will cast little ice lances at all players in front of it. This isn’t “in front of” like a dragon’s breath – it’s a 180-degree sweep with a 60 yard radius. In addition to dealing around 8k damage, it applies a 10-second slowing debuff to anyone hit, halving movement speed. It’s a magic debuff, so unless you have a shadow priest along, the healer is the only one who can remove it. The more GCDs the healer has to spend dispelling this, the less they’ll have to heal people through stupid mistakes and fairly heavy raid damage; and the more people have the debuff, the more stupid mistakes they’ll make.
Once in a while, Gahz’rilla will begin a 3-second cast called Freeze Solid. Treat it like Pound on the Anub’Arak fight in Azjol’Nerub, and gtfo. I recommend strafing rather than running through the boss, considering his size. Getting out of the way may be difficult if you have the slowing debuff on you; if it looks like you’re going to get hit, warriors should Intervene away, paladins can HoF, DKs can eat it with AMS, and bears should just pop a CD and hope for the best. If you do eat the ability, you’ll be ice tombed for 10 seconds, with a 5k damage per tick, 3 s period dot; no avoidance; and no way of recovering aggro if you lose it. The ice tomb is a magic debuff and can be dispelled by the healer or shadow priests, but with all the group damage flying around, you may be in there for a little while as the healer stabilizes themselves and any dangerously low DPS.
Gahz’rilla will also summon small ice crystals on the ground underneath players, which pop up and send anyone in the area flying; they’ll take about 40% of their health as fall damage. The tank can be targeted so keep an eye out for this. There is also an occasional AoE knockback of all toons within 10 yards of the boss; you won’t fall as far though, taking only about 15% of your health as fall damage. It seems like this knockback is accompanied by a threat reduction; be prepared to taunt the boss back if he goes for a DPS.
Finally, at 25% or so Gahz has an interruptable ability called Gahz’rilla Glacier, which Iceblocks him and heals him to full. This doesn’t do any damage, to the party, and will actually give the healer a second to top everyone off, but it prolongs the fight and should be interrupted.
This is an individual awareness fight. It’s very similar to the gusting trash before Ignis, except with a lot more room to maneuver. Sarsarun will summon 2 tornados at a time, each of which will pursue a player of its own choice until either it catches them and throws them in the air – silencing and doing damage, in addition to fall damage – or its duration runs out. They’re fairly slow-moving, though, so with good awareness you shouldn’t be hit. I haven’t seen a tank pursued, though I have seen DPS kite the tornado near enough that the tank has to move; just be aware.
Every once in a while Sarsarun will stun the whole party for 3 seconds with lightning from the sky. Just take it in stride; there’s nothing you can do about it.
Though I never personally observed this, it also appears that Sarsarun has a periodic knockback, levitate and silence ability. According to commenters at wowhead, this is also a threat drop; but the silence only lasts 2 seconds, so be ready to taunt back. (Whether or not the boss uses this ability may depend upon group composition, according to a Wowhead commenter.)