A Poke in the Eye

Posted: 9 March, 2009 in Guides, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King
Tags: , ,
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup.

You may recall from an earlier post that I’d described Malygos as a “proper old school boss fight”, as opposed to the exercise in stealing candy from babies that are the bosses in Naxx at the moment.  With the benefit of hindsight (and lots of practice and phat epic gear) it’s true that Malygos isn’t a pushover but he’s not going to give you serious problems once you get over the WTF?? moment of the phase 3 transition and handle spark placement on phase 1 properly. 

Unless you try to kill him in less than 6 minutes.

A sub 6 minute Malygos kill isn’t nearly as complicated as a Sartharion kill with 3 drakes up, but it certainly brings its’ own challenges.  Before we examine the details, let’s just take a look at what a normal Malygos kill involves.

The fight is split into three very distinct phases.  In Phase 1 it’s a tank and spank with some very important differences.  Before the pull, take a look around the area.  It’s a circular map with a diamond pattern on the floor at the centre, in the middle of which is a large orb.  For an ideal Phase 1 your healers and all dps must be standing in this centre diamond at all times, but more on that later. 

This central diamond is in the middle of the “inner ring”.  Your Main Tank is going to kite Malygos around this inner ring.  It’s not an easy job, as building threat and maintaining aggro while on the move can be a challenge, and good positioning by the tank is vital for a clean Phase 1.  Tank him too far away from the middle and melee will have to leave the centre spot to attack him, and this will reduce their dps considerably, because of the Power Sparks.  What the hell are Power Sparks?  Glad you asked.

Take a look at the space outside the outer ring.  It’s full of stars, but some of them burn a little brighter than the others.  Wait a while and watch Malygos as he flies from star to star and channels into them.  You can’t miss it when he’s doing it, the star he’s channeling flares and glows MUCH brighter.  There’s one Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.  Once you know what you’re looking for you can spot them easily.  During the fight, a Power Spark is going to come from one of these stars, and it’s completely random which one it is.  That Spark is going to move from its starting star and head in a straight line to Malygos.  If it reaches him, he gets a 50% damage buff.  This is A Bad Thing.  However, it’s not going to reach him because your raid will be doing a number of things to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, designate a Spark Watcher.  This persons’ job is to spam pings on the minimap whenever a Spark forms to alert the raid as to which direction the spark is coming from.  A Hunter is ideal for this, as with Elemental Tracking up the Spark appears on their minimap and they don’t even have to waste dps time looking for it.  If you don’t have a hunter anyone can do it, but unless you’re an Olympic Gold Medallist at multitasking I wouldn’t recommend it be a healer.  Just pick someone who can dps and keep an eye open around them at the same time, but expect their dps to suffer.

So, you have your tank standing by on the inner ring, your dps and healers are all clustered on the opposite side of the central orb from the tank and you have someone designated to ping the map for Sparks.  Here we go!

Phase 1
Ideally, you’ll want someone to activate the Orb and start the encounter when Malygos is flying around on the opposite side of the orb from the Tank.  That way no-one has to move position at the start, he’ll just fly in, land and move through the raid to get to the tank.  Any threat transfer abilities should be used at this point as your Tank’s going to need all the help they can get with aggro, so use those Midirects and Tricks of the Trade.  Once the Tank has him, unleash hell.  Healers be aware that Malygos is going to do an ability I call “The Wierd AoE Arcane Shit”.  I’m sure it’s got a proper name, but whatever it is, expect to see 3 or 4 people randomly drop to 50% health at regular intervals.  This is normal, heal through it and hope you don’t see it happen right before a Vortex because that can easily be a killer. 

Oh yes, Vortexes.  These are fun.  Very early into Phase 1, you’re going to get your first Power Spark.  Your Spark Watcher will be furiously pinging the map to indicate where it spawned from.  Everyone must pay attention to this ping.  Remember, these Sparks move from where they spawned in a direct line to Malygos, wherever he happens to be at the time.  Therefore the Tank must kite the dragon around the inner ring so that he ends up tanking him on the opposite side of the ring from the Spark.  This means that the Spark will carry on homing in on Malygos and pass over the centre of the map where all the dps and healers are standing.  At the start of Phase 1, however, it won’t get that far because you’re going to get a Vortex first.  Malygos will go airborne and sweep the entire raid up into the air with him into a swirling vortex of arcane doom.  Or something.  You will take damage constantly while you’re up there, and the only spells and attacks you can use are instant casts.

It’s at this point where we take a break from our scheduled programming for a word from our sponsors.   Here’s Ghostcrawler from Blizzard Entertainment:
GC: “Wrath of the Lich King, bring the player, not the class!”
PewPew: “Ok, so we’ll have no problems taking Paladins and Shamans along as healers during Vortexes on Malygos?”
GC: “Er.. sorry, I didn’t understand the question.”
PewPew: “I said…”
GC: “Blahblahbla.. I can’t hear you, sorry.  Oh, look over there, a three headed monkey!”
*Ghostcrawler disappears in a sparkling cloud of Warlock nerfs*  (Well, we can hope)
And now back to our show.

That’s right, instant cast spells only, and this includes heals.  So you Paladins have one heal that you can use every six seconds, two if you’re lucky and it crits.  Shamans are also limited to one heal on a 6 second cooldown.  Whereas Druids can use Wild Growth which is also on a 6 second Cooldown, but Rejuvenation, Lifebloom and Swiftmend are not.  Priests have Prayer of Mending, Power Word: Shield, Renew, Holy Nova, Circle of Healing and at least the first Pulse of Penance.  In other words, if you don’t have at least 1 priest or resto druid in your 10 man Malygos attempt, you are going to have people dying in Vortexes.  Yes, I’m sure people are going to comment about how their imba Holy Pally solo heals Malygos, but they’re lying or they and the rest of the raid significantly outgears the content.  Get a Priest or a Druid or people are going to die.  With Pallies and Shamans in a 10 man you can take three healers and struggle.  With one priest or druid you can take two healers and manage fine.  With a priest and a druid it’s a faceroll party.  Sad simple fact, I’m afraid, and “bring the player, not the class” can go kiss my fat white arse.

Moving on swiftly…

When the Vortex ends, the raid will drop to the floor in the centre of the diamond area.  Remember where the map was being pinged?  The raid runs towards the ping, no more than about 6 or 7 steps, because that’s where the Spark is.  The Tank runs to the edge of the inner ring away from the ping.  Malygos lands right in the middle, and if everyone’s done what they should have done, he lunges for the tank.   Raid then steps back into the centre because there’s no longer a big, angry dragon there, and continues to dps.

What we have now is the ideal setup.  If the tank went to the right spot, opposite the ping, the Spark is now heading right towards Malygos, directly over the heads of your raid.   When it gets to this point, you kill it.  You do not let it reach the dragon!  If positioning is poor, get a Deathknight to Deathgrip it over to you.  All your ranged dps must drop that Spark when it’s right in the middle diamond.  This is absolutely crucial to an efficient Phase 1.  The Spark must die in the middle because that’s where your dps is, and when the Spark is killed it scatters itself in a shower of arcane goodness which buffs your dps instead of the boss.  Getting this dps buff is key to killing Malygos in time to get a good phases two and three.

You now repeat this cycle of pinging the map to indicate where Sparks are coming from, the tank moving the boss around the ring to ensure the Spark passes over the centre where the dps can kill it and get a dps buff.  This buff will stack up to two times, and in a 25 man raid that means 25k Frostfire bolts.  Actually, the buff will stack an infinite number of times, but due to the mechanics of the fight you’ll never get more than two Sparks on you at once, because of the interval between their spawning and the duration of the buff before the dead spark effect expires.  Prior to patch 3.0.8 you could get a stack of three, post patch you’ll never get more than two.  This actually makes it harder to get a Malygos timed kill achievement, despite being given an extra minute over the 5 minute kill requirement before the patch.  Blizzard giveth with one hand, and they taketh away with the other.

Phase 2
When Malygos reaches 50% health, Phase 2 begins.  He goes airborne once again, continue to dps him!  You can easily knock another 5%+ off his health before Phase 2 begins properly.  A number of adds will now spawn, flying around the area on hover discs.  There are two types, Nexus Lords and Scions of Eternity.  The Nexus Lords will need to be tanked and killed on the ground, the Scions will remain airborne.  There are two main hazards in this phase, the Scions will constantly be casting Arcane Barrages at random targets on the ground, and Malygos will periodically do a Deep Breath which will kill your raid unless they’re either not on the ground or shielded.  Luckily, when you kill a Nexus Lord he drops his hover disc.  Melee dps should grab these and use them to get to the Scions.  If you’re on a Disc you will not be hit by the Deep Breath and you count as being stationary, even while moving.  This is great news if you’re a caster as you can cast on the move, but it’s far better for melee to grab the Discs as they’re useless once the Nexus Lords on the ground are dead because they can’t attack the Scions from the ground.

At regular intervals, “bubbles” of Arcane energy appear on the ground, too.  They start quite large and shrink over time.  While inside one of these bubbles, you take 50% reduced magic damage, which is what will prevent you from being killed during a Deep Breath.  You’ll still need healing, as it’s only 50% damage reduction, not 100%, but your odds of surviving Phase 2 increase dramatically if you’re shielded, as it also works against the Arcane Barrages from the Scions.  Phase 2 is actually pretty simple, but it is is a dps race, as you need to kill all the Nexus Lords and Scions quickly to get to Phase 3 with enough time on the clock to finish Malygos himself before the timer runs out.

So to summarise Phase 2 – Kill Nexus Lords, melee dps then take Nexus Lords’ hover discs to enable them to reach and kill the Scions.  Once Nexus Lords are dead, kill Scions.  Stay inside Arcane Bubbles, especially during Deep Breaths.  Blow all your mana doing dps and healing in Phase 2 if you need to, you won’t need any in Phase 3.

Phase 3
Once all the adds from Phase 2 are dead, Phase 3 begins.  Malygos destroys the Eye of Eternity and the whole raid falls into space, to be rescued by a swarm of Red Dragons.  It’s usually at this point where the raid utter a collective “WTF??” and die because it’s the first time they’ve seen phase 3 and they have no clue what to do with their new vehicle control bars.  Relax.  Phase 3 is easy.  If everyone does what they’re supposed to do, it’s not possible for anyone to die in Phase 3 unless Malygos reaches his enrage timer.  The problems lie in everyone doing what they’re supposed to do, and dps being good enough in Phases 1 and 2 to give you enough time left on the clock in Phase 3 to kill the big ugly blue bugger.

You can, however, prepare yourself for Phase 3.  There is a daily quest in Coldarra called Aces High which involves defeating Blue drakes while mounted on the back of a Red with exactly the same abilities as during Malygos Phase 3.  Get together in groups of at least two to practice with one doing dps, one healing, and vice versa.

Back to Malygos, however.  He does two nasty things during Phase 3.  One is an attack called Arcane Surge which can easily kill whoever is targetted with it.  He will also fire an attack that covers a large area with AoE lightning.  Avoiding dying from these two attacks is key to managing Phase 3.  First, let’s look at the Red Drakes’ abilities.

Your new mount has 5 abilities, each bound to a number key, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  Dps only need to worry about 1, 2 and 5.  Healers only need to worry about 3, 4 and 5. 

Pressing 1 shoots a dart of flame at Malygos, and awards you a combo point.  2 converts your combo points to a flame damage over time effect (DoT) on Malygos.  The idea is to stack the DoT as high as you can, as it will be your primary source of dps.  The DoT lasts longer the more combo points you generated from pressing 1 to fire the flame dart.

Pressing 5 will cover your drake with a flame shield to absorb damage. It lasts longer the more combo points you have generated from pressing 1.  The trick to surviving the Arcane Surges is making sure you always have enough combo points to throw up a shield if you get targetted.  Dps in Phase 3 is therefore a balancing act.  You have to spend energy building combo points with 1 to ensure that the DoT from 2 lasts long enough so that by the time you’ve built up another 2 combo points, the DoT is still active and will stack higher with a fresh press of 2, instead of needing to be refreshed from the start.  You also have to ensure that you can always shield yourself by first having at least 2 combo points ready and at least 50 energy to power your shield.

I find that the best way to manage this is by pressing 1-1…..2  1-1…..2.  Get those combo points up quickly, wait no more than a second to see what’s going on around you, do you need to press 5 to shield?  No?  Press 2 to stack the DoT.  Then get two combo points up again asap and repeat.

The other hazard in Phase 2 is the electrical field that Malygos casts at the raid.  It hurts.  Move out of it and it stops hurting.

Best plan for dealing with this is to have all the raid gather a good distance from Malygos at the start of Phase 3 and stay clustered around your two (or three) healing drakes.  When an electrical field starts zapping you, everyone strafes clockwise (to the left) and groups up again.  Why do we group up?  Because of how healing works.

If you’re assigned to heal in phase 3, the first thing you want to do is target yourself and start spamming button 3.  Healing works pretty much exactly like dps does in phase 3, except instead of hurting stuff, you’re healing it.  Duh.

Pressing 3 will start both building combo points and stacking a rejuvenation effect on your drake.  Pressing 4 will consume the rejuvenation and the combo points and cause you to bloom into a soothing beacon of healing goodness to everyone around you.  This is why it’s important to ensure that everyone is around you.  Your button 5 shield is also powered by your rejuve combo points in the same way that a dps drakes’ shield is powered by his button 1 flame darts.

So we strafe around the boss when he throws nasty electrical squigglies at us.  We stack our combo points by pressing 1 or 3, we shield ourselves (with 2 combo points and a press of 5) when we’re targetted by Arcane Surge, and we heal the raid or stack burning DoTs of Doom on the boss by pressing 2 or 4.  If we did enough did enough dps fast and smart enough in Phases 1 and 2, and if we don’t suck and can follow simple rules in Phase 3, pretty soon the Boss falls over and turns into a big red floaty loot Pinata.

But then you try to kill him in less than 6 minutes.  Oh boy.

First, forget everything you ever learned about letting the tanks get a comfortable aggro lead.  I pulled aggro with 4900dps the other day (and I wasn’t doing the most dps either) when we were trying this and guess what?  It wasn’t my bad for pulling aggro, it was the tanks’ bad for not generating enough threat.  Yes, dps have a licence to kill on this one, and I really, really feel for the poor tank.  Tanking Malygos on a regular kill is tricky enough when the dps have a  two-stack of arcane power from dead sparks, but on a timed kill if the dps aren’t within 2% of pulling aggro at all times they’re not trying hard enough.

Hardcore Phase 1
The goal in Phase 1 is two-fold.  You must get Malygos to 80% before the first Vortex.  To do this in a 25 man raid you must have every class synergy there is, be fully flasked, fed and buffed, and begin dps the instant Malygos is able to be attacked, praying that Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade will be enough to keep aggro on the poor schmuck who’s tanking.  If you cannot get him to 80% before the first Vortex, you’re not killing him in 6 minutes, but keep going, it’s good practice.

The second benchmark to watch for is Vortex number two.  If you enter Phase 2 after the second Vortex, you’re not going to kill him in 6 minutes.  As above, keep going anyway for the practice.  Your raid should be standing in a double stack of dead Power Sparks with the boss at 50% and phase 2 triggered before the second vortex happens.  If you can manage this, you’re into Phase 2 with a 6 minute kill in sight.  You also have some seriously sick dps.  Well done. 

Hardcore Phase 2
Remember, at 50% Malygos goes into the air and starts another boring speech.  You’re all standing in a buff field that makes your Frostfire Bolts crit for 30k.  Keep up the dps!  Once he’s flown out of range, Phase 2 properly begins, just like a normal phase 2, except that it’s completely different. 

Melee dps and tanks go for the Nexus Lords.  Ranged dps ignore them completely and start nuking seven different shades of $hit out of the Scions.  Do not run for the safety of the nearest Arcane Bubble.  You’re still standing in a field that buffs your dps, use it.  Only once your power spark buff is gone should you think of stopping dps to take cover in a Bubble, and then only if there’s a Deep Breath on the way.  Otherwise stand your ground, eat Arcane Barrages and keep nuking.  When they’re all dead and you’re not, Phase 3 begins.

Hardcore Phase 3
To get that pesky big blue dragon down before that 6 minute timer is up in Phase 3 you have to forget about shielding yourself during an Arcane Surge and just spam 1,1….2 over and over and over.  The aim is to get your debuff stack as high as it can possibly go, and if you’re wasting combo points to power a shield, it’s not going as high as it can go.  In order to ensure you don’t die to an Arcane Surge, the healers are going to have to have constant Area of Effect heals going on the entire raid.  This means perfect rotations so that at any time, a healer is always firing off the aoe heal while the other healers are generating combo points for when it’s their turn.

Get all of this right, and you have a fighting chance of getting the Poke in the Eye achievement for a 6 minute Malygos kill.  You’ll also have enough dps to comfortably manage some of the harder fights in Ulduar. 

Our best attempt so far?  6 minutes, 29 seconds.

  1. BobTurkey says:

    Great read. Never seen the fight but it sounds challenging.

  2. DW says:

    Just remember, this is what is making the *whole fight fun*. Ive said it before, and ill say it again, if Malygos had had a 6 min enrage timer, this would have been one of the best fights in WoW ever. And ive played this game for a while now.
    Getting him down in the 10 manned version in 6 min. was hardly as tuff as 3d sarph, but it was at least as fun!

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