Up to this point, our stroll through Heroic Firelands has been fairly smooth, for the most part. Well, get ready for some surprise speed bumps, as the last three bosses are easily the hardest of the bunch, as we start drifting away from a simple new mechanic or two and begin seeing radical changes to the encounters as a whole. Large sections of old strategies may very well be invalidated going forward, but that simply makes it more interesting in devising new plans. So let’s get rolling, with Heroic Alysrazor.
The majority of the DPS done during this encounter will still take place in the air, which thankfully has remained almost entirely unchanged. The ground phase, however, has plenty of new gimmicks, the first of which is the drastic power increase to every fire-associated ability that occurs. Fieroblast, Brushfire, the fire-spewing worms, and especially the whirling cyclones now all inflict incredibly severe amounts of damage, and can easily destroy even a well-protected tank in barely a few seconds. Fortunately, as with the normal-mode encounter, each of these abilities is entirely avoidable – Brushfire can be stepped around, Fieroblast can be interrupted (stunning the casting flame druid works wonders as well), and both the flame breath and cyclones can be dodged with some careful awareness and quick feet. Unfortunately you’re likely to have most of these headed your way all at once, but for starters, prioritize survival. The rest of the fight won’t matter at all if half the group is killed off before getting there.
Now, for the major new stuff. As the tanks likely remember, two giant eggs will be dropped into the center of the area, and quickly hatch into two giant firebird hatchlings. These behave exactly as before and will immediately consume any nearby fire worms, canceling and prolonging the time between the bird’s devastating Tantrums. However, instead of dealing with one single hatchling for the entirety of the phase, instead there will be three for each tank, evenly spread out across the phase. Their health levels are adjusted accordingly, of course, but the overall sum will greater, and any aid the rest of the DPS can provide (in between killing off flame druids, of course) is a greatly beneficial asset.
In addition to said flame druids, a new one will appear, right smack dab in the center of the field. This one cannot be killed by the raid, and will merely stand in place as he attempts to call forth some form of fiery apocalypse. Which he does, promptly, as a giant meteor will crash out of the sky and instantly crush him (as well as any nearby players – watch your step around this one). Although somewhat hilarious, the meteor is no laughing matter. It will immediately begin rolling straight toward the outer edge of the area, absolutely destroying anyone caught in its path. Upon reaching the outside wall, it will split into three slightly-smaller meteors, which will travel again straight across the area to the far side before vanishing for good – touching any of these smaller fragments is nearly as deadly as contact with the big one, so step aside.
The more ideal (and required) solution, though, is to kill off the meteor as quickly as possible. It has a rather small health pool and is vulnerable to most slowing effects, but should be left entirely to the ranged DPS, as its potent fiery powers will cause massive damage to anyone in melee range. Upon “death,” it will flop onto the ground and stop moving, becoming instead a solid object that can be used to obstruct line of sight. Which, of course, means that such mechanic is automatically a major necessity for the encounter.
Recall how Alysrazor, on normal mode, would fly down the center of the area, cleaving at anything in her path? Well now, as a heroic feature, she instead uses a new ability: Firestorm. Upon beginning to channel this attack, the raid will have precious few seconds to find a safe place to stand in order to avoid the flames, which travel outward from Alysrazor (either study the moving graphic on the ground to see which way the flames are moving, or do it the old-fashioned way and glance upward to see where she is). Now those giant destroyed meteors are looking pretty useful, right? The entire raid (including anyone flying!) needs to collapse next to one, placing the meteor between the group and Alysrazor, in order to avoid Firestorm. Once the attack ends, the meteors will be promptly destroyed, Alysrazor will drop a small cluster of her usual feathers – try to spread these out across the raid, as their speed buff makes a huge difference when avoiding fiery attacks – and the phase will continue.
Sound like a handful yet? And that’s only the first phase! To go over it again, one step at a time…
Flame druid will periodically appear on the left and right sides of the area, which need to be killed off as soon as possible (the same strategy as normal mode). Shortly after the fight begins, two hatchlings will appear, each of which will Fixate on the closest person to them – make sure this is a tank. Not long after that, the doomsday druid will appear, and call forth the meteor, which is a cue for the ranged DPS to dive on it and destroy it as quickly as possible. Tanks, make sure the hatchlings are consuming both the flame worms here, as the last thing the raid wants is one of those left hanging around. Continue killing targets (first flame druids, then the hatchlings) until a second meteor appears, then take that one out as well. Around this time the hatchlings should be dying off, and shortly Firestorm will begin. Quickly stack the group safely behind a meteor, weather the storm, grab a feather or two from the pile left behind, and get ready to do it all over again. This cycle will repeat three times, the third ending without meteors or Firestorm, and instead with the cyclone transition into the next phase.
Fortunately, the rest of the fight is unchanged – just beware of the massive boost to damage and have some cooldowns ready at all times. The most substantial dangers here are all entirely avoidable if the group plays carefully, but it will likely take some practice, especially with meteors suddenly bowling into the raid from a surprise angle. Between those and the rest of the fiery attacks, the one-large combat area will usually be packed with numerous flame sources, and a flurry of panicked raiders trying to dodge them.
Some notes from my own raid group: our 10-man team uses only two healers for this fight (one for each side), and a single flyer. The rest of the DPS are devoted to interrupting and killing the ground forces. The tanks are severely tested here, as they are tasked with kiting their hatchlings through the dangerous waves of fire to reach the worms, on top of needing to have killed off said hatchling before the Firestorm (or phase transition) begins. With the third set of hatchlings, it is frequently a very close race between finishing off a hatchling and Alysrazor conjuring the mass of cyclones. Hopefully the hatchling dies beforehand – if not, brace for some incredibly crazy footwork with trying to dodge cyclones with a giant bird in tow. By no means an impossible task, but it will be a challenge in itself.
One of our healers offers a suggestion for dealing with the worms: instead of waiting for the first Tantrum, instead consider promptly devouring one of the worms. Although this will likely guarantee that the hatchling’s tank will be dealing with a Tantrum or two, it rapidly clears up a good portion of the field, making it significantly easier to avoid the remaining attacks without trying to weave between two different worms. Besides, tanks should have enough cooldowns available to deal with a slightly-agitated hatchling.
Survival is crucial here; once the group is successfully staying alive, the rest of the encounter will follow. As before it’s simply rinse and repeat, but the margin for error is substantially smaller, and the tiniest slip will likely be the end of one or more raiders. Given the way the raid will be spread out for the majority of the encounter, raid-wide cooldowns will have severely limited effects, so get the raid to use and rely upon their own personal defenses to minimize accidental damage. Most importantly, remind the group that, aside from Alysrazor’s fiery nova when she takes flight, every single other source of damage is entirely avoidable (excluding the tanks, of course). Get speed-boosting feathers into the hands of the raiders who need them most, then try to make sure the rest of the group has at least one, if not two – the increase to movement speed makes avoidance much easier.
Practice makes perfect. And, if it’s any consolation, our 10-man group still hasn’t quite cleared this one, but we’re close. The strategy is solid, and now it’s merely a matter of perfecting the execution. Which worked out pretty well last time, right?