So, Patch 3.2.2 is out, and I had a chance to jump into a 10-man PUG this morning and check out Onyxia. My initial tactics advice is below. I believe 25-man has the same mechanics and numbers (just things hit harder), but I’m not sure about that at this point. I’ve now ran Ony 25 several times (alas, not yet successfully) and have updated the strategy below.
Getting There: For those that don’t know, Onyxia’s Lair is in Dustwallow Marsh, outside of Theramore. There is a lvl 80 meeting stone there, so get a mage to port an advance party to Thera and summon the raid. (The first time that a mage port to Theramore was actually USEFUL.) The instance is very linear; there’s a path with four tank-and-spank trash mobs to clear on the way, then Onyxia herself. Note: Onyxia has a large aggro radius, so people need to release and run back on a wipe. Unlike vanilla, the GY is right outside the instance, which is nice. Also, tunnel trash will respawn when Ony is pulled (and despawn on a wipe), so no crazy kiting strategies will work. This does, however, make PUG raids quite painful if someone is griefing.
Composition: 10M: 2T/2H/6DPS. A 3rd healer can be subbed for a DPS as needed. 25M: 2T/6H/17DPS, with a 3rd tank helpful for oops moments. This fight is somewhat melee DPS unfriendly, so don’t take too many. Fire Resistance buffs, obviously, are helpful. Don’t forget the new LW/Inscription buffs are available if you’re missing a priest/pally/druid (10m).
Assignments (TL;DR version):
- MT: tank Onyxia for P1/P3 towards the back wall, tank Lair Guards whelps in P2. Call for AOE on whelps as needed; if DPS is slow on Lair Guards you may need to hold a 2nd for a brief time.
- OT: DPS P1/P3 (or tank whelps if needed), tank whelps Lair Guards in P2. Warriors are good here for disarm.
- Ranged DPS: DPS Ony P1/P3; AOE initial P2 whelps, switch to Lair Guards when up, then DPS Ony. Help on later whelps as necessary (or you’re heavy on ranged) Stay away from Lair Guards.
- Melee DPS: DPS Ony P1/P3; kill guards/whelps in P2, then flail about aimlessly trying to DPS flying Ony. When killing guards, run away on Blast Nova. In 25-man, two warriors/rogues need to alternate disarms on Lair Guards.
- Healers: P1 on tank (watch the pull, a knockback can range him), P3 on tank/light raid healing. P2: Most healers on guard tank, Couple on whelp tank/raid. Most raid damage on this fight is avoidable, so your workload is based on your raid’s skill at avoiding deep breath.
- Phase 1: Tank will pull and kite Onyxia to the back wall of her lair. (I didn’t get a chance to check, but I think Onyxia is untauntable, so DPS/healers will need to display some initial caution.) Yes, Onyxia is tauntable, but don’t be a noob and die on the pull. Onyxia has a bunch of frontal cone attacks (including one knockback) and a tail sweep in P1, so DPS/healers stay to her sides. At the east and wewst of her lair is a tunnel with whelp eggs, which will spawn whelps if someone ends up over there (usually tailswiped)…the OT needs to pick them up if that happens. If everyone positions correctly, the only person taking damage will be the MT. This part of the fight is a snooze, really. At 65% HP, Ony will take off and start P2, which is the challenging part of the fight.
- Phase 2: The hard phase, from 65% to 40%.
- Whelps: A TON of whelps (40) will spawn at the beginning of P2, on the left and right of the raid. Have both tanks take a side, round up their 20 pack, then drag to the center for AOE. (Your framerate will die during the AOE; recommend turning your camera away, if possible.) If a couple peel off, they’re not that big a deal, but they can tie up a healer quite quickly. More will spawn in roughly every 60 seconds. Whelp tank needs to grab these and group up for AOE. It’s probably easiest to let the melee handle the whelps, and keep the group away from the Guards entirely. Bad early strat…melee will be tied up with Lair Guards. Have ranged switch to AOE’ing whelps when needed.
- Lair Guards: These large adds will be spawning every 30 seconds from the entrance to the Lair. They hit pretty hard, cast Ignite Weapon which adds fire damage to their melee attacks, and (most importantly) cast Blast Nova with a 5s cast time. Yes, ANOTHER boss with a nova. I guess Loken/Emalon/Brundir weren’t enough…I missed the memo where Blizzard said every patch from here on out would have a Nova-type ability to avoid. Same drill…run away, run back in, ya. Tanks can eat it or (preferably) run out and back in. They can be tanked anywhere, but it’s best to pick a place and stick to it, (usually near the front of the cave) so the healers/DPS stay away from there when dodging Deep Breaths. This is where most PUG’s will fail…typically around the 2nd breath, two-three people will dodge a breath and run into the nova, or the converse.
Anyway, these guys are the priority for DPS, as having 2 up really makes things tough…they hit hard enough in tandem that they’ll drop a single tank quickly, and if the whelp tank picks it up, the Guard will inevitably stop and cast nova in the middle of the raid. In 25-man, a disarm rotation needs to be worked out, as they can gib a tank quite quickly.
- Onyxia: While all this is going on, Ony has no threat table; she’ll be flying overhead, dropping weak fireballs on random raid members, and occasionally doing a “Deep Breath.” This will be preceded by a warning, “Onyxia takes in a deep breath…” When you see that warning, STOP what you’re doing, and run to the side of the lair. The deep breath goes on a line from her current location to the wall, and will one-shot healers and DPS that take a full breath. Ranged will be DPSing her down when not killing adds. Once you get her to 40%, you start P3 (and the hardest part is over)
- Phase 3: Onyxia lands; treat it just like P1. I think she drops her aggro from P2 now, but I’m not sure (used to be, she’d eat all the ranged DPS after P2 while the tank frantically tried to get threat, since she was untauntable) Have your aggro drop/transfer abilities available, just in case. She gains an AOE fear, an light raid damage attack, and a few whelps will wander in from time to time. Use Fear Ward/Tremor Totem/Berserk/racials for the fears, but they’re not that dangerous, except on the tank (Ony loves to fear the tank into the raid, then breathe.) This phase isn’t too hard if the tank/healers are on their toes, but the transition can be difficult. There’s usually a few adds still floating around that need to be killed, healers are out of position, the raid-wide fear, etc. When tanking this, I save all my CD’s for the P2->P3 transition.
Loot: T9 normal-level gear; weapons, helms, and cloaks, mostly. One person can claim Onyxia’s head, which can be turned in for a quest reward item, and if you’re very lucky, there’s a 310% flying mount as well.
Overall, it’s fun and a good encounter (and you can post some SICK AOE DPS numbers on 40 whelps. :)) There’s a very good polearm in there for cats, according to Thinktank, and it’s use effect creates a very good bear weapon. I WANT…no more having to stick with Mongoose for dualspec viability.