What's up guys and welcome back to the Throne of Thunder raid guide. My name is Lore, and today we'll be taking a look at the Council of Elders, the third encounter in the Throne of Thunder raid instance. This is another very hectic encounter, and although we found it a little easier to manage everything here than on Horridon, there's still a lot to keep track of.
The Council itself is made up of four trolls: Frost King Malakk, Kazra'jin, Sul the Sandcrawler, and High Priestess Mar'li. Each of them has their own unique set of abilities; however, they're joined by the soul of Spiritbinder Gara'jal, who will jump from council member to council member, augmenting the abilities of whoever he's currently possessing. Now, like I said before, there's a lot to keep track of, so I'll try to focus on the most important abilities first, at least in terms of strategy.
Let's start with the Spirit of Gara'jal. The basis of the fight revolves around dealing with what is essentially a soft enrage mechanic. When Gara'jal possesses a councilor, on top of the extra abilities they get, which I'll get into, they also start to build Dark Energy. This is displayed as an energy bar on their unit frame. If they reach 100 Dark Energy, they'll start to channel a raidwide AOE effect that starts off relatively low in terms of damage but increases every second, and will eventually become too much for your healers to deal with, especially on top of everything else going on.
So, the goal is to keep that from happening. To do so, you'll need to force Gara'jal out of his current host by burning down at least 25% of their maximum health. Once that happens, Gara'jal will randomly jump to another councilor and Dark Energy will reset. However, every time he leaves a councilor, he also stacks up a Lingering Presence buff that will not only increase the damage they deal by 10% per stack, but also cause them to gain Dark Energy 10% faster the next time he possesses them. Basically this means that, as the fight goes on, you have less and less time to burn down that 25% health necessary to force Gara'jal to jump to another host.
Now, on to the councilors themselves. We'll start with Frost King Malakk. He has two abilities: Frigid Assault and Biting Cold. Frigid Assault is a twist on the typical tank swap debuff - he'll activate a buff on himself, which causes his melee attacks to temporarily deal extra Frost damage as well as stack up a debuff on the tank. If that debuff reaches 15 stacks, the tank will be stunned for 15 seconds. Now you could, in theory, just deal with that and use cooldowns to keep the tank alive, but it seems like the ideal strategy here is to have the tanks swap aggro after about 10 stacks. Communication is important here, as those stacks can ramp up fairly quickly once he's activated Frigid Assault.
His other spell, Biting Cold, is a pretty typical random target AOE debuff. It lasts 30 seconds and deals a fair bit of frost damage to anyone standing within 4 yards of that player. So, pretty simple: just don't stand on the guy with the debuff, and heal whoever has it. However, when he's possessed by Gara'jal, that debuff morphs into Frostbite. It ticks twice as often, which essentially doubles how much damage it does. However, the damage will go down based on how many players are standing near the person, up to a maximum of 4 on 25man. So again, there's two ways to deal with this. You can have the person with the debuff stand by themselves and muscle through the damage with single target healing, or you can have 4 people go stand with them to split the damage. It's mostly a question of whether you want to deal with about 100,000 damage every second on one person, or 20,000 damage every second on 5 people. It's also important to note that Gara'jal will always possess Malakk first, so this is always the first empowered mechanic you'll need to deal with.
Next up is High Priestess Mar'li. When she's not being possessed, she has two abilities: a single target nuke she'll spam on her current tank called Wrath of the Loa, and a summoned add called a Blessed Loa Spirit. That spirit, once she summons it in, will walk towards whichever of the other councilors is lowest on health. If it reaches them, or if it's still alive after 20 seconds, it will heal them for 5% of their health. You deal with these in two ways. First, you'll want to keep Mar'li away from the other councilors when she's not being possessed. You can do that by simply having her tank interrupt her and run to the side. Once the interrupt wears off, she'll just go back to standing still spamming Wrath of the Loa at the tank. Note that when your tanks swap aggro on Malakk for Frigid Assault, they'll also want to swap aggro on Mar'li to keep from putting too much damage on one tank.
Once a Blessed spirit has been summoned, you'll want to have ranged DPS burn it down as quickly as possible. It doesn't have too much health, so unless you're short on ranged DPS, melee can probably ignore it. However, you will want to use any available stuns or slows to make sure you can kill it before it reaches its target.
When Mar'li is being possessed, she'll summon Shadowed Loa Spirits instead. Instead of chasing after and healing a councilor, these will chase after a randomly targetted player, and instantly kill them if they get too close or if they aren't killed in time. Now, since she's being possessed when these are summoned, your melee DPS should already be near them, so all DPS should immediately switch to these and burn them down quickly. Remember to use stuns and slows to buy some extra time and keep melee from having to wander too far from Mar'li herself.
Moving on, lets talk about Sul the Sandcrawler. Sul himself doesn't particularly need to be tanked, as his main ability is a random target Sand Bolt that deals a chunk of damage to anyone standing within 5 yards of its targetted location. For that reason, it's a good idea to have ranged DPS loosely spread around. However, Sand Bolt can be interrupted, which can save your healers a lot of stress, and when it is, he'll resort to melee attacks, which means it's still a good idea to have tanks building aggro on him when possible.
Sul's other normal ability is Quicksand. These are pretty obvious pools of sand on the ground to move out of. However, while you're in one, you'll be Ensnared, which reduces your movement speed by 15% every second, and if you let that debuff get to 5 stacks, you'll be rooted in place, and obviously still taking the damage from the quicksand. Fortunately, the root is dispellable, so healers will just need to be sure to dispel that if it pops up on anyone. You can also use Hand of Freedom and similar effects to bypass the snare mechanic entirely.
When Sul is possessed, instead of summoning pools of Quicksand, he can instead summon a Sandstorm. This is where the fight can get really, really hectic. First off, the whole raid will take nature damage for a few seconds. Second, all of the puddles of quicksand around the room will turn into Living Sand, some small elementals. That gets rid of the pools of Quicksand, but now you have these extra adds to deal with. Worse, if there are any Living Sands alive when Sul casts another Sandstorm, they'll be immediately healed to full and gain a buff that increases their damage by 100%. So, when Sandstorm happens, one of your tanks will need to pick up the Living Sands quickly and stack them up to be AOE'd. Now, when the Living Sands die, they'll revert into pools of quicksand, so although you can get away with stacking them up on top of Sul himself for the extra damage, it is dangerous and you'll need everyone to move away from them quickly when they die. You'll also need to interrupt Sul at that point to get him to move.
The last councilor to discuss is Kazra'jin, and fortunately, he doesn't really do much. When he's not being possessed, he just sort of rolls around the room knocking players around. There is a graphic that shows where he's going to roll, so as long as everyone's moving out of it, it's not a big deal. When he's possessed, he'll still roll around, but at the end of a roll he'll become electrified. That stuns him for 20 seconds but causes him to reflect 50% of all the damage he takes. Basically, your DPS will get some time to burn him, but they'll need to be careful not to kill themselves in the process.
One last tip for this fight: although you want to be burning each possessed councilor down as quickly as you can, any extra DPS you can throw on the other councilors is very, very good. DPS should be tab dotting and cleaving whenever possible, and Malakk in particular should always be brought next to whichever councilor is currently possessed to allow your melee to squeeze in some extra damage on him. Also, if you get a councilor close to death before Gara'jal jumps to another host, it may be worth it to finish them off before switching targets, just to get them out of the picture. Once councilors start to fall, the rest of the fight becomes significantly easier.
Other than that, this fight is all about understanding all of the different mechanics that the Council will throw at you, and dealing with them properly when they arise. It's a very, very hectic encounter, but if you were able to deal with Horridon, you should be able to handle these guys as well.
For 10 man, frost bite can only be split between 3 players, so designate 2 people and an emergency person to stack on the frost bitten person to avoid having too many people try to stack at once.
A strat that was viable for us was to start with hero to burn sul's health first before switching to malakk. We burned him until the first Loa popped, then switched to Loa and then to Malakk. Cleaves can be helpful here to burn a bit of health of Malakk as sul and malakk will be 'tanked' by one tank, while Mar'li will be tanked by the other.
DPSing Sul first has many benefits.
1: his empowered phase was the most tricky of the 4 trolls, as it can get very hectic with the AOE tanking and tank swapping on Malakk.
2: His sand bolts do a chunk of the raid damage taken for the entire fight, so taking him out first will alleviate a lot of heals required
3: Quicksand does a TON of damage if players don't move out right away, and the number of quicksands stack up till the end of the fight
4: It is easier to 'force' Spirits of Loa to travel a long distance compared to the other bosses(as long as Sul remains the lowest health boss, which he will be if you burn him first). Malakk needs to be tank swapped, and Kazra'jin
If you have multi dotters, make sure you at LEAST dot Sul up.
Reaching 100 energy isn't an instant wipe, but taking too long after they reach 100 will certainly be a problem (damage increases by 10% or so after each tick)
After Sul is down, it will be much easier to deal with the other 3 left even if they gain energy faster.
Disrupting shout did prevent further casts for the 4 sec duration, so i would imagine that windsear would do the same. The kill Sul strat worked for our kill. We used time warp at pull and kept one melee on him til he died (me fury war), and never saw him get possessed. I am specced into Disrupting Shout for the added interrupt and we used a called rotation til he went down. Although our healers were nearly tapped on mana by the time he died, the loss of raid wide dmg once he was down made that a non factor.
The strategy that works for my group goes like this. If your raid is even (ranged-Melee) all Melee should burn Sul down as fast as possible including the use of TW/Hero. All ranged should focus on whichever is empowered by the spirt. All 4 times I've cleared this with this strategy. The tanks sorta do their own thing. The better geared of the 2 should tank Frost King alone and just heal/defensive CD through the frozen assault. The other tank can tank the priest away from everything but in range for healers or just help burn Sul. The priest doesn't move so we just moved everyone else away from her to give space for the Loa to be killed. Once Sul dies (never empowered) the rest of the trolls get finished off easily. Even easier in LFR, even for first timers its simple to follow. Been full proof since it was taught to me and hasn't failed me yet.