Welcome back to the Ulduar raid guide! My name's Ciderhelm, I'm the administrator of TankSpot.com, and in this video I'll show you our Iron Council Hard Mode strategy.
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Killing Steelbreaker last is a Patchwerk-style DPS race with enormous raid healing requirements. We found the best balance was to bring 2 tanks and 5-6 healers to the encounter. Additionally, two non-tanking Paladins with Divine Sacrifice are extremely valuable.
During the Steelbreaker phase itself, you can either attempt to kill him within three tank deaths or plan your cooldowns around a fourth tank to increase the DPS time for your raid. The third tank is doable with strong DPS, but after a 49k health, we found it decidedly easier to just plan on a fourth tank.
I'll clarify that 3-tanks and 4-tanks refers to rotations of tanks due to unavoidable tank deaths, but either can be performed fine with two tanks using soulstones or, ideally, glyphed rebirth to get back in the encounter.
Prior to killing Steelbreaker, though, you'll need to kill off both Molgeim and Brundir, which offer unique challenges in the way the encounter is approached.
Phase 1 of Iron Council Hard Mode works very similarly to the normal encounter in that the abilities of each of the targets do not change. You will still be dealing with a small AOE aura, sporadic casts from Brundir, and runes from Molgeim that the raid should take advantage of and the tank should move Molgeim out of.
Getting to Steelbreaker can be done one of two ways -- either killing Brundir first and Molgeim second or Molgeim first and Brundir second.
Killing Brundir first and Molgeim second seems like an obvious choice given Molgeim can leave runes of power on the ground going into phase 3, which virtually guarantees a kill within the timer. However, we found that the amount of randomness and the higher risk of unavoidable deaths from Molgeim's death runes in phase 2 made the encounter substantially more difficult and we reverted to killing Molgeim first.
During Phase 1, we have a DPS DK keeping Brundir occupied in the middle of the room while we kill Molgeim in the front.
Molgeim should be positioned close to runes of power any time they are cast on either himself or Steelbreaker to increase DPS. However, it's important for the raid to realize that neither phase 1 or phase 2 are DPS races and they should pace their threat, mana, and cooldown usage accordingly.
We found using a felhunter was the most reliable way to break the rune buff Molgeim casts on himself.
During this time, the Steelbreaker tank should be careful not to move too often as Steelbreaker will occasionally target someone else with Fusion Punch if the tank is moving. Additionally, the Fusion Punch dispellers should be aware that there is a small chance for the dispel to fail, so there should be a backup as often as possible.
After Molgeim is dead, Steelbreaker begins using his Static Disruption ability, which is a direct damage spell and debuff he casts on a player that greatly increases nature damage. This debuff will also apply to players near his target. Since Steelbreaker still maintains his raid-wide AOE during this time and his overall damage increased when Molgeim died, it is important to take this ability seriously. Nature Resistance auras during the rest of the encounter are critical.
Static Disruption will always prefer targets at a range and will only target players in melee range if there are no targets at a range when he is ready to choose a target. The debuff stacks and lasts for 20 seconds, so a single player cannot take the debuff every time.
There are two ways to handle this during phases 2 and 3. First, as you'll see in this video, you can have 2-3 players cycle in and out of melee range, leaving your desired target at ranged to be targeted by Steelbreaker. This is very controlled but will lower DPS or Healing from any players doing it.
The alternative is to leave three players out of range at all times. This is due to a secondary targeting mechanic -- Steelbreaker will not apply static disruption to a target that currently has static disruption if there is another player without the debuff at a range.
Positioning in Phases 2 and 3 is critical. The strategy we found worked best was for Brundir to be tanked in such a way that melee players could attacking Brundir while still in range of Steelbreaker. All other players, including the Steelbreaker tank, would be at the maximum melee range from Steelbreaker. Ranged players would be at a range on the opposite side of Steelbreaker from Brundir.
This works because, if positioned correctly, Brundir's Overload falls just short of the range required to hit the raid on the other side of steelbreaker. Since the Melee can still stay in range of Steelbreaker, they will never be in danger of Static Disruption being cast on them and can focus on interrupting Lightning Whirls.
Phase 2 is where most problems will occur for guilds working on Iron Council Hard Mode. This is because the raid cannot afford any deaths, depending on your strategy, battle resses may be reserved for Phase 3 tanks. If people die and resurrection is not available, it's important to identify this quickly and call a wipe unless you're confident you can meet the Phase 3 DPS minimums without them.
At about 20% health left on Brundir, we call for most of the raid to switch targets to Steelbreaker to get debuffs active and ready for a burn phase. At this point, we decide whether or not to wait until another Overload before killing Brundir, as it's important that the tanks be able to face Steelbreaker away from the raid without being hit by an Overload.
When Brundir dies, the encounter becomes a burn phase. Steelbreaker increases his damage and now also applies a debuff to his current tank which increases their damage output by 200% but also causes them to meltdown and die after 30 seconds. When meltdown occurs, it also deals very high high AOE damage. Tank switches will need to occur immediately before the meltdown occurs so the previous tank can run away from the raid before exploding. When any player in the raid dies, including the tanks who meltdown, he will heal for 1 million health, or 10% of his life, so long as a healing debuff is applied to him. He will also increase his damage by another 25% for each player death. It is important that no one other than tanks die at this time.
The first tank has about a 10-second lead-in time before the debuff is applied, giving your raid about 40 seconds of pure DPS time before his first heal occurs. Since many players will be able to make use of cooldowns twice during this phase if they use the first one immediately, we choose to burn Heroism immediately. Before the first tank dies, we aim for less than 50% health remaining on Steelbreaker.
Glyph of Rebirth is by far the most stable way to revive a tank in this encounter. However, if you choose to use Soulstones, the tank must watch raid health for ticks of Steelbreaker's AOE and resurrect immediately after one so they can be healed up.
If your'e planning on killing Steelbreaker in three tank rotations, have your Paladins begin using chaining Divine Sacrifice AOE Shield Walls immediately after the tank transition occurs to the third tank. If a Retribution Paladin uses this first then taunts Steelbreaker, then salvs himself, he has a high chance of gaining the 200% damage buff from Steelbreaker, but this should only be done if the encounter cannot extend longer than 30 seconds and will not go to a fourth tank.
If you're using four tanks, the AOE shield walls should be saved for immediately before the 4th tank taunts. The third tank also needs to make sure cooldowns are chained on themselves and buffs/debuffs are active on Steelbreaker and the next tank.
Whether you're using three or four tanks, you can make the fight easier by using a mage ice block rotation near the end of the encounter. If a mage goes to ranged and everyone else stays in melee, the mage will take a static disruption. He or she can immediately ice block, and as long as they stay ice blocked for 10 seconds, they will also take a second static disruption without taking damage.
All in all, this is a heavy healing encounter with high DPS requirements. You can do things to make it easier, but you'll need strong DPS and smart players to get through it.
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