Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn 10 Tanking Guide

I really hate this fight. Someone will probably die if you (or someone else) second guesses soaking puddles, and the adds need to be positioned precisely but they have such tiny hit boxes that it's often hard to do so. Oh well, you have to get it over with sometime. It's a big step up in difficulty from the previous bosses in 10 man.

Differences Between Normal and Heroic
  • After phase 1, a giant purple dragon lands on the ship. Technically she lands once she hits 80% health, then flies away for good when she hits 25%. You will need to kill Goriona first because 1) It greatly simplifies the fight and 2) to keep Blackhorn from casting Siphon Vitality.
  • When the ship takes damage, it starts to burn (think Firefighter). Little floating gnomes gradually put out the fire.
  • Goriona occasionally Broadsides the ship, lowering its health.
  • Twilight Barrage, the small purple swirl, also increases your shadow damage taken by 50% for each stack.

  • Ranged are ideal for this fight because they can reach the dragons in the air. We had 2 tanks, 2 healers, 2 melee, and 4 ranged for our kill.
  • Feel free to flask/elixir however you want. I personally prefer either an agility or stamina flask, but you can use magic resistance elixirs if you want to reduce damage done by purple swirls.
  • You can also opt to use Mirror of Broken Images if you're dying to Twilight Barrage. I personally did not use it, but my co-tank did and I won't deny its usefulness.
  • Cleave is pretty useful for melee and tanks (just like being able to multi-dot is optimal for ranged), so keep that in mind while glyphing and speccing for this fight.
  • I created two power auras to track Sunder Armor stacks on me and my co-tank. The first is personal stacks, the second is the other tank's stacks. The second is for the other tank's stacks (replace "OTHERTANK" in that string with the name of your co-tank.
Version:4.23; b:0.9686; icon:Ability_Warrior_Sunder; buffname:Sunder Armor; r:0.9569; x:-193; bufftype:2; owntex:true; size:0.21; inRaid:true; y:-108; timer.enabled:true; timer.y:-130; timer.x:-196; stacks.enabled:true; stacks.y:-80; stacks.x:-1833

Version:4.23; b:0.9216; g:0.0118; icon:Ability_Warrior_Sunder; buffname:Sunder Armor; x:-192; unitn:OTHERTANK; bufftype:2; owntex:true; size:0.21; optunitn:true; y:-22; timer.enabled:true; timer.y:-41; timer.x:-200; stacks.enabled:true; stacks.x:-183
The pink one is for my co-tank because he's a paladin.

Phase 1
Your job as the tank is to pick up the humanoid adds and tank them close enough together so that they can be cleaved by the melee, but pointed in such a way that they don't cleave anyone except you (including the other tank).
Here it is in theory. Where the arrows are the direction the adds are facing.

In practice, this can be difficult. The adds have pretty small hit boxes so they're difficult to turn without changing their positions completely. They also move constantly to charge, and you move constantly to soak purple swirls and avoid fire.

Here it is in practice.
Each add applies a different debuff. The Twilight Elite Dreadblade (i.e. the heavily armored one) applies Degeneration, which deals shadow damage. Be very careful when you have Twilight Barrage debuffs up at the same time as this dot, as it will also increase how much damage it deals. The second add, Twilight Elite Slayer (i.e. the lightly armored one) applies Brutal Strike.

Because of these debuffs, tanks should ideally pick up the opposite add whenever they spawn. So one tank will get the Dreadblade first, then the Slayer second, then the Dreadblade last.

Everyone is responsible for soaking the small purple swirls in 10 man, which makes manuveuring these adds even more difficult. If you looks like you might have to soak a swirl alone, pop a big cooldown or run away. You won't really need them for anything else during Phase 1. It's better to play it safe and use a cooldown even if you might not need it.

As a general rule, one person with a strong cooldown can soak one purple swirl. Two people with no debuff can soak one. Three people with a single debuff can soak one. You should avoid them when you have two stacks of the debuff.

We divided the ship into three sections and assigned people to soak Twilight Barrages in those sections.

We had 2 ranged dps and 1 healer for each ranged group, and 2 melee dps and 2 tanks for the melee group.

As a word of advice, your raid does not need to soak every small purple swirl. If you and your fellow soakers are too far away, don't even bother running for it.

Sappers will occasionally drop onto the boat. A Death Grip followed by a stun (something tanks are especially well suited) should be all you need to control it before it dies.

Be careful of charges. They should be very easy for you to see, but remember that you will get hit by it if you're near the charge-trail at the wrong time. It's not much damage to a tank, but it's your job to avoid as much damage as possible, right?

Finally, there are three big purple swirls, Twilight Onslaught, during phase 1. In 10 man you can designate one person with a cheat death mechanic (Cauterize, Ardent Defender) or heavy damage reduction ability (Dispersion) to soak an entire Onslaught by themselves. This strategy reduces the overall damage that the raid takes and makes it easier on the healers, while making the ship take slightly more damage. You must take damage from the Onslaught to block the majority of the damage it does to the boat, so abilities like bubble and Ice Block do not work.

It is also reasonable to soak Twilight Onslaught the old fashioned way, i.e. letting the whole raid split the damage. If you choose to do this, tanks will need to be extra careful not to cleave their raid members while running to the Onslaught and while soaking it. All non tanks need to stand exactly in the middle to make it easier, while the tanks should stand on the edges, facing their add out.

Phase 2 Transition
The transition is hectic and different enough from the last third of the encounter that it deserves its own section.

First, Blackhorn will drop onto the boat. He needs to be picked up by one of the tanks, and the other tank should taunt both the Dreadblade and Slayer.

If you're a bear tank, this is the perfect time to Berserk. The adds need to die very quickly, so everyone needs to focus on burning them down before Goriona lands.

Blackhorn still does all of his normal tricks during the transition. He applies Sunder Armor to the current tank, uses Shockwave (which everyone needs to run out of), casts Disrupting Roar (which you need raid and tank cooldowns for), and stacks Vengeance.

Once the big purple dragon does land, the tank who was tanking Blackhorn (who probably has a few stacks of Sunder Armor on him by now) should pick up Goriona and the offtank should taunt Blackhorn. Dps should switch to Goriona.

Goriona has a breath attack which deals damage in a cone in front of her, so she must be pointed away from the raid. She does not have a tail swipe.

If possible (might not be because of fire), tank Blackhorn near Goriona's front. This is so the Goriona tank will not have to move so far if he happens to be targeted by Shockwave.

This is where the Power Auras I posted earlier come into play. Once the Sunder Armor stacks on the Goriona tank fall off, he should taunt Blackhorn and the Blackhorn tank should taunt Goriona. This transfer needs to be done in such a way that Goriona never faces the raid.

Once Goriona hits 25% hp, she will abandon her good-for-nothing master and the fight gets much easier from here.

Phase 2
Now that you only have one baddie to contend with and very little to no fire on the ground, you're in a good position to kill him. Now that he's the primary target, his Vengeance will increase his damage as his health drops.

The tanks will still need to taunt the boss when their stacks of Sunder Armor get too high. We found that waiting for 2 stacks is optimal. If you're a druid tank, you should dps in cat form while not tanking.

Like in the Phase 2 transition, cooldowns will be needed to recover from Disrupting Roar. Healers need to bomb big heals on the current tank right after Disrupting Roar or else he will probably die to upcoming melee swings.

Final Thoughts
The first phase is random and highly depends on your raid's ability to communicate which small purple swirls they are soaking. The second phase is a gear check and depends on your tanks' ability to stay alive through burst and your healers' ability to keep them alive. The enrage timer can be difficult to meet as well.

During phase 1, use your cooldowns to compensate for players who can't help you soak Twilight Barrages. Use everything you can to keep everyone alive through this phase. If you go into phase 2 and you still have a battle rez available, you're in a very good position.

During phase 2, pay attention to your co-tank's and your debuffs, use cooldowns to recover from Disrupting Roar.


  1. Williee(Stimulate- Illidan)January 18, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    As I am going into 10m hm warmaster, this guide will be utmost helpful to me. Thanks a lot. One question about the drakes, my casters are somewhat less geared then the average casters for hardmode, do your  drakes die in 1 harpoon grip or does it sometimes take 2?
    I know for my first week of attempts, my group to maximize range dps to burn the drakes before they fly up again. Therefore, when it came to soaking small barrages, it was majorly done by the melee, tank, and healers. I felt like it strained us and the ship as we missed quite a few barrages.

  2. I believe we got the drakes down in one go (though my guild's ranged dps is abnormally high). On a few attempts, we did send a melee over to the drakes once they got harpooned to help on dps.

    As far as I know, our casters just got really good at dpsing on the run, and also DoTing up the drakes whenever they flew by.

  3. Although I'm a healer, not a tank, it's useful to read how tanks approach this fight. It helps me understand the whys and whats of what they are doing and influences how I plan my healing. Thanks for writing such an informative post :)

  4. Agreed. I heal the fight as well but it good to see how different Heroic mode is compared to normal as well. Very nice Guide for tanks. Our tanks are a Pali and DK.

  5. Very complete guide, I am impressed :) we are still working on normal.

  6. These are great tank guides Sunnier.  I hope my tanks don't think I'm a back seat tanker if i comment on their tanking after reading your guides.

  7. Slightly off topic but I love your lootship screenshots, especially the first one with the dragons.

  8. Hi great guide. I copied your powa auras and noticed 1 small error that probably occurred when you were copying them to your blog. The first powa aura that tracks stacks on you is has the x coords at stacks.x:-1833 (which positions the stacks offscreen) this should be stacks.x:-183

  9. Thank you so much for the great guide. It has been a wonderful tool as my guild is works on this heroic.

    Some information I was able to pull from Rocket Surgery's WoL kill record that has helped my guild in phase 1:
    -Twilight onslaught solo-soaked deals 600k damage (~10% health) to the ship
    -Twilight barrrage will do 420k damage (~7% health) to the ship if no one soaks it
    -There were 11 total twilight barrages casted in the kill log, only 5 were not soaked
    -The ship had 3% health entering phase 2 o.O

  10. Laar-Bleeding HollowMarch 13, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    I am just wondering if you found a dodge or stamina trinket more helpful on this particular fight when paired with WoU; my healers don't seem to have a preferance, but as a bearcat I feel I take slightly more damage than a dodge oriented bear. This could be the fact that I am solo tanking the melee adds while only a single melee dps' them, as I do much more damage than our paladin main tank (his job is to run around and soak swirls with tank cds), and between the rogue and myself we are killing the melee mobs with ~5 seconds to spare on the next pair dropping. I do have the full spectrum of tanking and agility trinkets, but as we are still progressing I am hesitant to use something like vial as my second trinket until we have him on farm.

  11. I normally use 1 stamina trinket and 1 agility trinket for this fight, but primarily because of phase 2 where Disrupting Roar and Devastate can be really brutal. Though your strat is a little different than ours so if you're surviving the transition without freaking healers out then you can probably use agi/dps trinkets. Dodge would actually do really well for tanking the adds in phase 1 because you'll avoid a lot of their cleaves, so there's that.