At long last the group has finally caught up to Deathwing. With the assistance of Thrall, the Dragon Aspects, and the Dragon Soul itself, at last there’s a real good chance of taking out the Destroyer. Well, at least there would be, if Thrall could get in another good shot with the Dragon Soul. Fortunately he has a pretty impressive group of heroes standing by, just ready to take on such an impossible task. That’s you guys. Or your other guild raid group. Or that top-progression guild on your server. Or those 24 other people you just met in the Raid Finder. There’s just no shortage of able and willing combatants!
The plan here is to tear off enough plates on Deathwing’s metallic armor in order to provide Thrall with the opening he needs to launch another attack. So, someone needs to go climbing around on the back of this giant dragon and see what they can do about making that happen. In what might be the most glorious strategy ever devised, this will involve diving off the deck of the Skyfire onto Deathwing’s back. With parachutes, of course. Wouldn’t want to make this too dangerous.
This is quite a unique encounter for several reasons. First of all, the battlefield, though initially very small, will expand as the fight progresses (and as more of Deathwing’s armor is removed). On top of that, raid positioning plays a large part in the mechanics, more than just “don’t stand in the bad.” Should Deathwing ever detect the majority of the raid on his left or right side, he’ll prepare to roll over, and fling any unsecured creatures into the sea below. This mechanic is actually crucial to the encounter, but only at the proper times – try to remain near the middle of his back to avoid any unexpected surprises.
The first things the group will see when they touch down are four gigantic tentacles, simply called Corruption. They can’t move and only possess two abilities: Searing Plasma, and Fiery Grip. The plasma spell has a lengthy cast time, and will be placed on a random raider, leaving a debuff that not only absorbs a substantial amount of healing, but inflicts additional damage over time. The only way to remove the debuff is to heal the afflicted raider until the set amount of healing is absorbed, and given the large amount of damage otherwise being done in this fight, the group won’t want that debuff around too long at all. Fiery Grip is a whopping thirty second stun as well as heavy periodic damage, channeled by Corruption on a random player – simply attack and damage the tentacle until the effect breaks.
Each time a Corruption tentacle is slain in this encounter, it will leave behind a gaping hole in Deathwing’s back (and if there are no tentacles left, a new one will appear – there will always be at least one). In addition, as soon as it is slain, a Hideous Amalgamation will spawn as well, and should be quickly grabbed by a tank. These have an important task too, but we’ll get to that in a moment. From any holes not occupied by a Corruption tentacle, Corrupted Blood will occasionally spawn as well. Lastly (yeah, there’s still more), standing near any of the holes left behind will cause a player to be snared by grasping tendrils, which deal continuous fire damage, slow the raider, and prevent them from being thrown off Deathwing’s back when he rolls. Hint, hint.
Now, the Corrupted Blood. These oozes, though relatively weak, will continue to spawn endlessly and with increasing frequency as the fight progresses. Have a second tank round these up (and probably kill several – they’re quite fragile), if only to keep them from snacking on healers. When one is slain, it leaves behind a small pile of residue, which looks like a tiny glowing fireball. These are also crucial to the fight, and if at all possible, try to kill the oozes in one place to keep the residue together. It just makes things easier in the long run. Do note that each time a Blood is killed, it explodes and deals light physical damage to the raid. Nothing too serious, but as the frequency of Bloods increases later in the fight, it can start to add up.
Finally, the key to this entire project, the Hideous Amalgamations. These sturdy fellows are perfectly content to pound away on their tank, and won’t take any other direct actions themselves. They do however interact nicely with any Corrupted Blood residue lying around. Each time an amalgamation contacts a residue particle, the residue is absorbed, granting a substantial damage boost to the amalgamation. Up to nine residue particles can be absorbed, at which point the amalgamation gains Superheated Nucleus. Unfortunately this causes the creature to erupt violently, causing heavy damage to the raid every few seconds until it is killed. Up to this point, this probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. However! When killed in this state, the amalgamation will begin to explode in a Nuclear Blast, which does absolutely insane amounts of damage to anyone nearby (definitely retreat to a safe distance or be killed instantly). But most importantly, the force of the blast is enough to pry up one of Deathwing’s armor plates!
The group needs to move quickly, at this point. Although the plate will be raised up, A Burning Tendon will quickly lash onto it and attempt to pull it back down. This Tendon is the primary target, and needs to be killed in order to permanently remove an armor plate. If successful, the plate will go flying off, expanding the battlefield and revealing two new Corruption tentacles. If not, the Tendon will reattach the plate, and it will take another Nuclear Blast to make it vulnerable. Any damage done to the Tendon will remain, and will at least speed up the process following the next blast. Simply remove three plates (by killing three Tendons), and the encounter ends.
If this sounds like a mess, rest assured that it is, in fact, a great big glorious mess – I’ll personally admit I hadn’t a clue what was going on during my first attempt. However, once the group gets used to the mechanics of the fight, it can all become extremely routine and precise, without many random elements. So let’s break down the encounter, one step at a time.
As mentioned, four Corruption tentacles will be the first sight. Pick three of these and burn them down quick – remember that each one slain spawns an amalgamation, so tanks beware. However, the raid definitely doesn’t need three of these amalgamations running around, so dump those three into the sea. The entire raid needs to move quickly into one of the holes left behind by the tentacles, which will shortly cause Deathwing to roll, and throw off all the amalgamations (as well as any raiders not secured, so stack on one of the holes fast). Damage during these few seconds can be intense, so make use of any personal or raid cooldowns to help out. The instant the amalgamations go flying, the raid is safe to move back to the center of Deathwing’s back, and away from the continuous damage of the grasping tendrils.
This leaves the group with only one Corruption tentacle and no amalgamations. Now for the fun part. Kill off the last tentacle (remembering that a new one will appear the instant that one falls) to create one more amalgamation. This will be the one used to pry off an armor plate, so have a tank drag it to the very front, right next to the plate. Meanwhile, Corrupted Blood will continue to appear, so have a second tank gather them into a group away from the amalgamation. DPS, keep focused on the amalgamation, just don’t kill it off too quickly. Make sure there are a couple DPS, preferably ranged, preferably without damage-over-time abilities, that keep an eye on the single remaining Corruption tentacle, in order to damage it and break any casts of Fiery Grip. Since it will spawn another amalgamation and Corruption tentacle if killed, definitely try to avoid doing that. Deal just enough damage to break Fiery Grip, then leave it alone.
Whittle the amalgamation down to low health, perhaps 10% (DPS can switch to attacking Corrupted Blood if need be, just don’t kill the amalgamation too early) then, once there are at least nine Corrupted Blood residues present, drag the amalgamation through the residue to quickly build the full nine stacks. Healers beware that this will cause the tank to rapidly start taking more damage (as well as the rest of the raid as the amalgamation superheats), but this increase of damage shouldn’t last long. Pull the amalgamation back into place near the armor plate, then quickly finish it off and get clear of the blast zone. The moment the plate pops up, all DPS focus on the Burning Tendon immediately and hopefully kill it off before it yanks the plate back down.
If unsuccessful, grab another amalgamation (or if there are multiple ones alive for any reason, prepare to roll again to throw them off) and repeat the process. If the plate goes flying, then it’s also back to square one – kill off all but one Corruption tentacle, roll off the extra amalgamations, then start weakening the new one. Rinse, repeat, making sure to keep an eye out for Fiery Grip as well as the amalgamation’s health. Once weakened, pull it into place and let it detonate, then smash the tendon.
The biggest dangers in this fight are in making sure the group is secured during each roll, and in making sure that amalgamations don’t run out of control. Keep in mind that one amalgamation spawns each time a Corruption tentacle is slain, so try to avoid killing those off, even during Fiery Grip; just do enough damage to break the stun, and back off immediately. Healers, be aware of who has the Searing Plasma debuff, and keep in mind it absorbs a generous amount of healing. If an afflicted raider is suddenly under attack by, say, Fiery Grip, it’s going to take a lot of power to keep them alive, especially if their health was already low. Tanks, watch out for new amalgamations, especially if there are a large number of blood residues lying around – one wrong step and an amalgamation can hit superheated status in a few seconds, and the group can’t survive that kind of damage for too long. Above all, watch your step and keep Deathwing from rolling until the group is absolutely ready for it. Be warned that he even though there may be an announcement that he’s preparing to roll, it’ll take a few more seconds before he actually goes through with it, which gives the raid just enough time to balance out and abort the roll.
As stated above, the instant that the third Tendon is killed, the encounter ends. Since the last one tends to be the most chaotic, consider saving Heroism/Bloodlust for the final push, as having to build up a second amalgamation for the last Tendon will be brutal. One last point of advice regarding the Tendon and the Nuclear Blast: although unconfirmed, it seems that the plate can pop up from either the left or right side, depending on where the amalgamation detonates. Unfortunately, the left and right sides of the plates have unique Tendons with their own health pools. For the best result, when placing an amalgamation near the plate, keep it slightly to the left or right each time (so long as it’s always the same side), to prevent the blast from popping up the plate in the opposite direction and wasting any damage done to the opposing Tendon.
The last plate goes flying off, and Thrall finally takes his shot with the Dragon Soul. A direct hit! Deathwing plummets into the maelstrom below! Glorious success for the raid! Loot is distributed, Azeroth is saved, everyone gets to go home and live happily ever after!
Except not. Next week, the final confrontation.