Welcome back to the Ulduar raid guide! Call me Splug. In this video I'll be going over our strategy for the Yogg-Saron "Alone in the Darkness" achievement. If you'd like more information or would like to learn more about downloading this movie, click "more info" on the movie information box on YouTube to head directly to TankSpot! Also, be sure to subscribe by clicking the Susbcribe button to the right so you will be automatically notified as we release movies.
The Yogg-Saron hard modes are activated by beginning the encounter without calling down the Keepers. Each Keeper added grants a unique passive defensive effect, a flat 10% damage- done increase, and a slight encounter-changing effect. This means that both damage and survivability requirements relative to easier settings are incrementally higher. In addition, the margin for personal error is reduced by removing the sanity wells and Hodir's ice block-save.
Before even addressing the strategic changes presented by the altered encounter, one must be capable of clearing the damage
hurdle presented. Several optimizations can be made to both phase I and II strategies, and ever-increasing equipment strength will assist to that end as well. However, the simplest way to improve raw damage output is the obvious solution to bring more of it. In our Alone in the Darkness raids, we use four healers, two tanks, and nineteen damage classes. This is roughly two to four more damage players than typical balanced raids utilize.
We've approached Phase I by tanking and killing all spawned guardians in the center. This reduces raid movement, by allowing the ranged and healers to pick from a wider variety of positions to utilize. It becomes easier to pick areas that will be free of clouds for a longer period. Remember that the clouds move in predictable patterns - assigning one of your ranged as a meteorologist to dictate raid movement well in advance will be beneficial.
Melee positioning is extremely simple. There are two clouds orbitting in non-concentric circles at the center. Their paths intersect at two points per revolution. Whenever the intersection occurs, the tank should pull the guardian to the point of intersection as soon as the clouds clear, and remain there until the collision occurs again on the opposite side of the orbit. As we needed two tanks to manage phase 3 anyway, we also chose to alternate tanking guardians. You'll also notice my camera is zoomed out extremely far for this encounter. This helped me personally to quickly locate guardian spawns in phases 1 and 3, as well as locate tentacles in phase 2. While I do recommend a deep zoom distance for tanking the encounter, your mileage may vary.
We found it was easiest to allow melee to remain at point-blank range during explosions. The raid damage incurred is less problematic than the possibility of letting a last-second shadow nova cast. Enhancement shaman are the only class we experienced difficulty keeping alive through the detonation - it may behoove them to leave melee range if they do not have a power word:shield. However, melee players do need to leave ground zero in the event they are suffering from either Sara's Fervor or Sara's Blessing. By focussing Sara during this phase, it is possible to have ample time to get clear of melee before the debuff is applied: if your name appears in the focus-target's target frame, it's time to go.
The boss's 15-minute berserk timer is a complete non-issue. Other factors will cause your raid to be overwhelmed long before reaching that mark. As such, there is no cause to force-spawn additional guardians in this phase. When the final guardian detonates, Sara will begin the transition to phase 2. It is likely one guardian will have just spawned, and still needs to be killed. Doing this at roughly a 90 degree angle from the ranged pile relative to Sara will allow them to assist in finishing the guardian without being endangered by the explosion, and without risking the melee players being constricted within Yogg-Saron's body as the next phase begins.
The first set of tentacles is a special case. This is the only time where melee will be available for a sustained time while fighting a crusher. As such, ranged damage should focus fire it as quickly as possible. If they can position conveniently near a corruptor tentacle, melee can burn the corruptor. We use a full-time tank on the crushers, to prevent them from channelling suppression. When the tentacle's stacking anger effect reaches 10 applications, the tank should use a major defensive cooldown such as shield wall or divine protection. If it exceeds 30, or the damage reduction cooldown will expire prior to the tentacle, the tank will need to leave and allow suppression to channel.
Before the crusher dies, a second corruptor will spawn - again, if this is in range for melee to reach without getting out of heal range, it is worth the risk of a slightly longer brain link to kill it now. Constrictor tentacles remain the highest priority for all players, and should be addressed as quickly as possible whenever they trigger.
With the first portal spawn, the standard cycle of phase II begins. Players who are assigned to portals will need to pay attention for the portal spawn, and be sure to arrive in position on time. They also need to watch for Malady of the Mind, and ensure they are not struck by it just as portals become active if at all possible. Any player brain linked to the portal crew should accompany the linked player. If portal players with opposite portals are linked to each other, one of them will need to negotiate a trade quickly to keep in range of their brain link.
Another common danger is a last-second constrictor tentacle squeezing a member of the portal team. We addressed this by having two paladins assigned to Hand of Protection duty for each portal spawn, on opposite sides of Yogg-Saron. If one of the paladins uses their Hand of Protection, they need to inform the next paladin in the rotation to take their position at the next portal spawn. Brain links may force a last-second substitution here as well. While it seems like a simple concept, the portal entry is actually one of the largest sources of "random unavoidable wipes" in the encounter. Having this system of countermeasures drastically increased the chances of the entire team warping in promptly, which reduces time-to-stun.
The players remaining outside the portal need to keep up with tentacles spawns throughout the encounter. As your goal is to kill at least one crusher and two corruptors per portal cycle, rushing the crusher first is not necesary. The tentacle crew should try to remain together as much as possible. The tank healers will need to follow the active tank to wherever the crusher tentacle spawns. Everyone else remains together and circles either left or right to reach the corruptor in a timely fashion. Along the way, the raid will focus fire down whatever tentacle happens to be closest. If more than one tentacle is in an area, DoT-heavy classes such as affliction warlocks or shadow priests should split damage between them to maximize throughput. Whenever a target drops below about 100k health, call a damage switch. The last salvo of attacks in flight combined with lingering DoT effects will bleed the target out; having damage continue sustained fire is only wasting time. The portal crew's composition is fairly detailed and important as well. Due to their limitations in the tentacle room, we load as many of our melee into the portal as possible. Using a melee-heavy team also allows us to concentrate melee-based utility in the area easily. Additionally, it is necesary to ensure all forms of debuff removal are present, to counter last-second corruptor harassment. We use a retribution paladin, restroration druid, and enhacement shaman to accomplish this goal. We found running 9 damage and one HoT- heavy healer to be the most reliable way to clear out the
tentacles quickly. Running 10 damage and 0 healers on the 25-player version of the encounter proved to often result in players being unable to finish their tentacle without dying to reflected damage, which caused delays. A hunter is usually used in the portal room as well, to provide aspect of the pack after triggering the stun.
On the third portal phase, you should be approaching the phase 3 trigger point. If your portal team has been on pace, you may need to call damage off of the brain for part of this time. If the portal team is ahead of pace, it may even be reasonable to send some melee out to get into position for Phase 3 early. Do not trigger the Phase 3 spawn until right before induce madness finishes casting. This provides more time for the tentacle crew to finish clearing the area out top out and move into a finalized position, preferebly in Yogg-sarons rear arc to allow shred damage and avoid melee being parried. Healers will position 30-40 yards away from the tanks and directly away from Yogg. Holy paladins should enable Righteous Fury at this time, as attracting spawns to the healer camp will help reduce ranged damage casualties if the guardians spawn in the tanks' rear arc.
Ideally, no tentacles will remain alive as Phase 3 begins. If a corruptor tentacle is lingering, it will need to be finished before beginning Yogg-saron damage. If a crusher tentacle is lingering with more than a sliver of health, the delay caused is very likely to cause a wipe. No tank will be available to prevent the suppression debuff.
The tanks will want to situate themselves as shown here: back against Yogg-Saron, and fairly close to him but with a small buffer. This will allow splash damage between the guardians and Yogg-saron to overlap slightly. Allowing the small buffer both gives damage players a location where they can face the guardians without needing to worry about Lunatic Gaze, and gives the tank a small window to easily reposition by backing up if a spawn is stuck to their back for any reason later in the encounter. Tanks alternate picking up spawns to split the ever-increasing damage load more evenly, as well as to allow a larger window for direct threat generation. Multi-target attacks to retain threat over the entire pile are necesary.
As the fifth guardian arrives, the first beacons will be placed on the spawned adds. The lower health targets will always be selected, meaning the first three guardians spawned will become marked. We used a custom mod to put marks on the adds with the changed name - "Marked Immortal Guardian" - on mouseover. These marks would indicate which player would be responsible for pulling each specific guardian out in a seperate direction: one left, one right, and one directly away from Yogg. While three hunters would be ideal for the task, we do not have access to a third. Instead, we used a damage warrior wearing a shield. While the hunters are able to drop their adds via feign death, or have them drop automatically when Distracting Shot expires, the warrior's taunt inheritted threat from the previous tank. We used our paladin tank's righteous defense to taunt the stray guardian back without having to sift through the pile for the specific icon.
Once the guardians are returned to the pile, a pre-assigned portion of the Yogg-Saron damage turns and burns them back down to size. Combined with the ongoing rogue fan of knives damage, this is sufficient to keep the spawns at low health through the durration of the empower, without risking threat management issues from pure area effect damage. While it is tempting to splash heavy damage over the large number of targets, recall that at any given time, most of those targets are at 0% health, and the overkill damage does not contribute to the encounter in any useful way. As there will be multiple mid-health guardians in the pile, tanks will want to rotate at least one survival cooldown each empower.
In the event that one marked immortal is not pulled from the group, the team assigned to keep the regenerating immortals in check will have to resort to mass-AE. Threat suppression abilities such as mirror image or fade are strongly recommended. Mages may also wish to consider blinking to near the healer camp and channelling Blizzard on the immortals while keeping their back to Yogg. If two or all three of the immortals remain in the stack, raid survival is very unlikely. After the first beacon, it will become nigh impossible.
The empower will occur every 40 seconds after the first one. While there will only be three empowered guardians each time, the cloud of low-health immortals will rapidly grow. This causes several problems, ranging from a steady increase in damage to any non-paladin tank to a slowly increasing system burden. Players on weaker systems or even mid-range systems will begin to notice their framerate steadily decline as the encounter progresses. The increasing number of health bars can also potentially make clicking the correct mark more difficult for the beacon-handling team. Finally, as fight time increases, the probability of a minor error spiralling out of control proportionately increases. Thus, while the encounter can be theoretically sustained as long as necesary, it is best to aim for finishing Yogg-saron in 4 beacons if possible, 5 if necesary.
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