What's up guys and welcome back to the Throne of Thunder raid guide. Today we'll be taking a look at the 25-man normal version of the Dark Animus, the 9th encounter in the Throne of Thunder raid instance.
So, for a lot of fights in this tier, you've heard me say things like "complicated mechanics, but very simple strategy." There is no greater example of this than the Dark Animus encounter. There's a ton of different mechanics on this fight, but with the proper strategy, most of them don't really matter. Let's get started.
So inside the room you've got a big blob of Anima floating at the center, and a whole bunch of golems around the outside. There's the Dark Animus himself, two Massive Anima Golems, eight Large Anima Golems, and 25 smaller Anima Golems. When someone begins the encounter by hitting the blob of Anima, it will splash out around the room and fill each of the 25 smaller golems with 4 Anima each, which activates them. From then on, any time a golem is killed, the anima inside it will travel to the nearest inactive golem, which will, in turn, activate it. For this strategy, we'll be dealing with the small golems, the Massive golems, and of course the Dark Animus. We'll be avoiding the Large golems entirely.
Now, the fight can basically be separated into two phases, but you do need to do some preparation before the pull. This is the only really complicated part of the strategy. So like I said, at the start of the fight, all 25 of the small golems will activate. These guys have only one ability, Acceleration Link, which gives them a 250% buff to their damage and attack speed whenever they're near another small golem. That buff causes them to hit pretty hard, but without the buff, they do almost no damage at all. So your first step is going to be assigning everyone in your raid to one of the small golems. That's less work than it sounds like; since nothing will activate until someone hits the Anima blob, you can just sort of have everyone go stand next to one until everyone has a golem. However, there are a couple of rules you'll want to follow.
First off, for this strategy, you'll want 3 tanks. Two of them should be assigned to the anima golem that's closest to the Massive golem on each side, and just to be clear, that's the ones from the sides of the room, not the ones along the back wall. The third should pick the anima golem that's closest to the Dark Animus itself. Then, from what's left, your healers should try to pick golems that are closer to the center of the room; that's just so they can reach as much of the raid as possible. Finally, your DPS can fill in the rest, but make sure your melee DPS are at the sides of the room and not along the back wall.
Once everyone's in position, anyone with a ranged attack can hit the Anima blob to start what I'd call phase 1 of the encounter. This part is all about patience. First, everyone needs to make sure they get and hold aggro on their golems, and yes, that includes the healers. Just hit them with whatever you have handy to make sure they stay on you. However, it's very important that you do not kill any Anima golems early. They have very little health, only about 5 million, and killing one at the wrong time will pretty much cause a wipe. Also, pet classes need to be sure that they themselves have aggro on the golem and not their pet; I'll explain why in a minute.
Once everyone's gotten a good lock on their Anima Golems, one of the tanks near a Massive golem can finish his anima golem off, making sure that he's right next to the Massive golem when he does it. We start on the left side, but either side is fine, and it's good to have any ranged DPS that are nearby help him kill it just to move things along a bit faster. Once that first Anima Golem dies, as long as the tank is positioned properly, its anima will jump to the Massive golem and activate it. Now, each Massive golem can hold up to 36 Anima, and each small golem carries 4. The goal in this first phase is to fill up each Massive golem by killing off smaller golems one at a time. That'll be 9 smaller golems total, which just so happens to be the exact number that's positioned on each side of the room. So once the first Massive is activated and picked up, the tank should just start working his way down his side, making sure that each golem is right next to the Massive when it dies.
Note that once a player's golem has been killed, they're free to move around the room as they please, and can help kill the next golems. Just make sure that every small golem you kill dies right next to the Massive golem, or you risk activating one of the Large golems instead. Remember, we don't need to, or want to, activate any of the Large golems. Aside from the fact that it's unnecessary, they have an ability called Crimson Wake that really just makes the fight way more difficult than it needs to be, to the point that if you do activate a Large golem by mistake, it's probably best to just wipe things up and try again.
Now, while you're filling up the Massive golem with anima, it will be using a couple of its own abilities. The first is called Explosive Slam. This is an AOE that it casts on the ground in front of it that does a decent chunk of Fire damage and stacks up a debuff that causes any further Explosive Slams to deal more damage. That's mostly just a standard tank debuff, but it is important that everyone elses tries to stay away from the area directly in front of the Massive golem.
His other ability is called Matter Swap. This one's a bit trickier. He'll cast this on a random player, and when the debuff wears off or is dispelled, that player will swap positions in the room with the person who's farthest away from them. On top of that, both players will split damage equal to the maximum health of the first player. The amount of damage that's split is based on how long the debuff has left when it's removed. If it's dispelled immediately, then the first player will take all of the damage and probably die. If it's not dispelled and falls off naturally, then the second player takes all of the damage and again, will probably die. The trick is to dispel it at about the halfway mark -- that'd be when it has 6 seconds remaining. That'll split the damage more or less evenly between the two. Since everyone is spread around the room, assigning specific people to dispel isn't really viable, at least not at first, so I recommend just making sure all of your healers have a way to tell how long is remaining on the debuff and just try to dispel what they can.
Keep in mind, though, that even when it's dispelled properly, Matter Swap will still cause two people in the room to switch places. When that happens, if either player was still holding an Anima Golem, they should just stay wherever it was they ended up. Their golem will just sort of wander across the room towards them, and though it might buff other golems for a second or two, it should be short enough that no one is in danger of dying. This is also why pet classes need to make sure that they have aggro and not their pet. Your pet does not get teleported with you, which means if it has aggro, your golem doesn't move, and the other guy's golem is going to get the buff and kill him.
This is also why we fill up the Massive golems one at a time. Once the first Massive is at 36 Anima, that's 9 Anima golems that are no longer in the room to worry about. The second Massive tank can then finish off their Anima golem and start working their way down their side just like the first golem. At this point, you'll have two Matter Swaps going off, but since so many Anima golems are already dead, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.
Once both Massive golems are filled, it's time to activate the Dark Animus. The third tank should finally finish off their Anima Golem and pick up the boss. There will still be a few Anima Golems left at this point, and that's fine. As long as they're on ranged DPS or healers, which mostly comes down to your positioning before the pull, those players can just make sure to stay away from other golems. You'll also more than likely want to swap tanks shortly after the Dark Animus is activated, since the first Massive tank will probably have several stacks of Explosive Slam at this point.
Now, as soon as the Dark Animus is active, the fight switches gears entirely from a whole lot of standing around to a massive DPS burn. This is because of the Dark Animus's first ability -- Siphon Anima. Every few seconds he'll drain 1 anima from all of the golems that are left active in the room. That does mean that the remaining small golems will deactivate before long, but as the Dark Animus gains anima, he also gains abilities. Right away he has another ability called Touch of the Animus. That's just a damage over time effect that he'll cast on random players. It doesn't do a whole lot of damage, but it will last for the rest of the fight every time he casts it, so eventually most of your raid will have it.
Once he reaches 10 anima, which should only be a couple of seconds after he's activated, he'll start using Anima Ring. This is a very interesting twist on the typical tank debuff. There will be a ring of orbs around the tank that slowly starts to move towards him. Now the tank can just walk through them to get away, but each orb he touches will give him a stacking debuff that increases his damage taken by 50%. There's a couple ways you can deal with this. The first is to just treat it like a standard tank swap, and for most groups, that's probably your best bet. Just have the tank run through one orb to get loose and then swap aggro with one of the Massive golem tanks. That also gives the other tank an opportunity to reset their Explosive Slam stacks, and should result in the least amount of tank damage overall. However, it also means you'll be swapping tanks every 15 seconds or so, which can be a bit hectic.
However, there are ways to avoid having the tank touch the orbs at all. Warriors can use Heroic Leap to get out of the ring, or a Priest can use Leap of Faith to pull the tank out, and in both cases, the tank won't take the debuff. You can also have a nearby DPS or healer touch one of the orbs instead, and open up a hole for the tank to escape through. This method means a lot less tank swapping, but it also means that the two Massive Golem tanks will end up with several stacks of Explosive Slam, so it's still a good idea to swap every once in a while to reset those.
Moving on, once the Dark Animus reaches 25 anima, he'll start using Anima Font. This basically just morph's someone's already existing Touch of the Anima debuff to also deal damage to anyone standing nearby. Pretty simple to deal with, just make sure all of your ranged and healers stay spread out.
If he lives long enough to reach 75 anima, he'll start using Interrupting Jolt. This does a pretty fair chunk of damage to the whole raid and also interrupts anyone who's casting when it hits. All of your casters, especially healers, need to watch for this and stop casting before it goes off.
Finally, if the Dark Animus reaches 100 Anima, everyone dies. Specifically, he'll fire off a ton of projectiles around the room that deal about 500,000 fire damage to anyone they hit, but there's so many of them and they move so quickly that it's pretty much an instant raid wipe. You can theoretically use abilities like Divine Shield or Dark Bargain to squeeze in a few extra seconds, but realistically your goal should be to never get to this point. You'll have about 3 1/2 minutes, and he only has 270 million health, so with cooldowns and Bloodlust, that should be no issue.
Using this strategy, the only real difficulty of this encounter is having the patience to sit through phase 1, and keeping the tanks up in phase 2. And again, the whole fight sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Once you've gotten in a pull or two to see what's happening and work out the kinks in your positioning, Dark Animus should just sort of fall over.