Lich King: Post-Mortem

Champions, attack! – Tirion Fordring

Last night Blood Red Moon sewed up the final encounter in Icecrown Citadel 25 (Normal Mode) with the defeat of the Lich King.  The kill marked another Alliance First for us, and on a progression related note, kept us right on pace with our horde competition when we start hard modes next week.

I think this reset you’ll see a huge spike in the number of kills due to the slight buff everyone got this reset.  For us, we were making good progress and had been occasionally making it into phase 3 prior to the nerf.  Our DPS was never an issue, however the little bit of extra damage shaved some time off the Val’kyr in case of a few unfortunate defile placements.

I’m not going to throw down our raid comp and say to model what we did for a sure-fire victory, but I will give a few opinions on what things made a big difference in getting this fight down.  You can use Tankspot’s Writeup/Video if any of the mechanics need further explanation.

Phase 1 Plagues, Tirion, and Shambling Horrors!

The Lich King will anger your tank.  He swings only once every 3-4 seconds, but will try and dance around you like he’s wielding a rapier fighting on a pirate ship.  Wrathy at Avenging Wrathy has a great writeup on the finer points of tanking Arthas.  Long story short, he will move, your tank will swear, and he’ll move again.  There are no facing requirements, but we always tanked him so that the melee could get out and deliver their Necrotic Plague to the Shambling Horrors being tanked just a few yards away.

Infest meet Discipline Priest, Discipline Priest meet Infest. You two should get along great.  That’s all that needs to be said.

I handled all of the plague cleansing with my usual Clique/Grid setup, nothing too special.  Make everyone get PowerAuras and have them put a necrotic plague icon on their screen so big they’ll have to move quickly to get it to go away.

The average time of our Phase 1 was about 2:50.  If you can make the transition just before the next Infest cast (and maybe even before another plague goes out) it will make spreading out and getting ready for the spirits phase very simple.

This phase shouldn’t take more than a night to really get down.  Get on people to move quickly with the plague and have your tanks use their cooldowns liberally (one tank, two shambling horrors, massive hurt).  It’s just like every Phase 1 you’ve ever done, just a warm-up.

Transition 1

Melee group in the middle, raging spirit targets run to the melee, drop the spirit right on the tank (if you’ve watched the Tank Spot Video, this should be easy to pick out).

Nothing incredibly dangerous here other than the melee DPS not being able to help themselves and pulling aggro on newly spawned Raging Spirits.


I could write a series of posts just on this phase and how to handle it.  The three rules all of those posts would boil down to:

  1. Never drop a defile in the path of the Val’kyr
  2. Always be centrally grouped when the Val’lkyr cooldown is up.  Val’lyr traveling in packs will get massive splash damage and aoe stuns/slows.
  3. Use one tank on the Lich King, use the second to help stun/slow Val’kyr.  Have your tank use a cooldown for every Soul Reaper cast (have them call for external cooldowns if they don’t).

This phase took us a long time to learn and it would be a bit silly to not think this is where most guilds are stumbling at the moment. The movement requirements are very deliberate. The only thing that makes it better is practice, practice, practice. Being very clear and exact about where people need to go now and where you’ll be going next is important.

This is one of those phases that looks like a big joke on videos, but what you are missing from the film are the hours of time spent trying that phase over and over. You’ll get to 46%, the last 3 Val’kyr will spawn and then a melee will lose focus and drop a Defile right underneath the focus target.  It grows, people die, people get upset. If you were fortunate enough to be around for Lady Vashj when she was a progression boss, this will feel very familiar to you: Phase 2 is the entire fight.

Transition 2

Second verse, same as the first (but with one extra Raging Spirit). Time for Heroism!


We pulled this boss approximately 100 times. Removing all of the attempts lost to Zul’jin lag probably drops that to 80.The cold reality is we got our kill on only our 4th or 5th look at Phase 3.  The percent of the wipes on all of these attempts were (if I’m remembering correctly) 39, 38, 34, 13, 0 (remember: the fight ends at 10%).

Once you transition into this phase and keep the first Harvest Soul alive, you’re on your way home.  Stay calm, kill as many vile spirits as you can, and make use of every defensive raid cooldown you have (Aura Mastery: Shadow, Divine Guardian, Divine Hymn, NS, etc).  We had no problems here after getting Harvest Soul straightened out.  It was more a matter of perfecting Phase 2 to get a clean transition into the final phase than learning phase 3 itself.

I must say that this fight, more than any in the zone, represents an extreme difference between itself and its 10 man version.  The difference between 1 and 3 Val’kyrs is incredible.  Ten man requires little to no raid coordination other than “don’t drop Defile in the middle.”  To comment on 25 man only , the entire fight is in Phase 2.  It’s very long and requires focus on every Defile and every Val’kyr spawn to get through cleanly.

We eventually got comfortable enough with the movement that we were able to survive just fine losing one or two DPS, however, 90% of the time losing a DPS would snowball the fight quickly into one lost DPS after another, rendering further progress into the fight meaningless.  The turning point for us in learning this phase 2 was the second Defile spawn.  The Val’kyr and Defile cooldowns line up almost exactly.  This means one of two things:

  • You are grouped for a Val’kyr spawn and a Defile will be cast immediately after the 3rd lands
  • You are spread for a Defile and immediately after the Val’kyr will be landing to pluck a raid member and send them on a one way ticket off the Frozen Throne

There is no time to wait for a call here.  Everyone in the raid needs to be on the same page and ready to react.  After the second Defile, each Defile and Val’kyr spawn will get further and further apart.  Essentially, if you get past the second Defile clean, the phase gets easier.  You’ll have more and more time to DPS, and you’ll have ample time to react to each cooldown.  If you take nothing else from this post, take that piece of advice.

Note: It is true the cooldowns can come back together if you are slow on Val’kyr killing. Just handle it the same way.

I’m usually against fights that have their difficulty concentrated on one portion of the fight, but this isn’t nearly as extreme as Vashj or even Anub’Arak HM. The other phases required enough coordination that everyone in the raid ended up being involved after it was all said and done. Nobody gets to sit around for 15 minutes and ride along. That is the hallmark of a well designed fight, and Blizzard can definitely pat themselves on the back for this one.

Well done, old chaps.  Hard modes next week!  Congrats again to my fellow BRM Raiders, you guys stuck with it and got this fight down, now let’s take it to the Horde.


One Response to Lich King: Post-Mortem

  1. Einah says:

    i like how in the video i like never moved… and everyone else is running around all crazy! hehehehhe


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