Kor’kron Dark Shaman: tanking all the things!

So yeah, my raid group took our first look at the Kor’kron Dark Shaman last night. What’s more, we killed it last night. That was something I wasn’t at all expecting, as the fight is extremely chaotic, and can easily get out of hand (at which point Raiders Will Die). Our trick is: we brought a third tank. Yes, on our 10-man group.

A lot of 10-man groups are reluctant to try this (though 25-man groups are more open to the idea), so just hear me out. The problem on this fight is controlling the abilities of both shamans, while attempting to move out of bad stuff. Moreover, the fight is absolutely bloody hideous if you play a melee DPS (specifically, those damn slimes spawned from Toxic Geyser). Rhidach’s write-up on WoW Insider only gives one a glimpse just how bloody hideous it is. Bringing a third tank allows you to separate the two shamans, which makes the fight considerably more controllable and melee-friendly, and the extra control that you’ll gain will more than make up for the DPS player that you’ve just swapped out. The enrage timer on this encounter is generous and, in our case, inconsequential.

I’ll explain how my raid team managed with three tanks.

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Preparation

Firstly, you need to make sure that ALL trash has been cleared. And by all, I mean all. Even the trash on the ramp up to Nazgrim. You’re going to need that space.

Once that’s done, you next need to split your raid into two groups. One group will be assigned to Earthbreaker Haromm, the other group to Windbreaker Kardris. Generally, in a 10-man setup, you want two tanks, two healers and your melee DPS on Haromm, and one tank, one healer and your ranged DPS on Kardris. This will obviously scale up in a 25-man group or if you’re doing this in Flexible mode, so the general rule of thumb is: Haromm requires two tanks, two-thirds of the healing force and the melee, while Kardris requires one tank, one-third of the healing force and the ranged.

I’ll explain by means of example. My raid group has the following roster:

Tanks Healers Ranged DPS Melee DPS
Protection Paladin (me!) Restoration Druid Survival Hunter Assassination Rogue
Blood Death Knight Discipline Priest Fire Mage Retribution Paladin
Mistweaver Monk Destruction Warlock

For this fight, our monk switches to tanking, and our retribution paladin switches to healing.  This gives us:

Tanks Healers Ranged DPS Melee DPS
Protection Paladin (still me!) Restoration Druid Survival Hunter Assassination Rogue
Blood Death Knight Discipline Priest Fire Mage
Brewmaster Monk Holy Paladin Destruction Warlock

And this then means that I split up the groups as follows:

Earthbreaker Haromm Group Wavebinder Kardris Group
Protection Paladin [tank] Brewmaster Monk [tank]
Blood Death Knight [tank] Restoration Druid [healer]
Discipline Priest [healer] Survival Hunter [ranged DPS]
Retribution Paladin [healer] Fire Mage [ranged DPS]
Assassination rogue [melee DPS] Destruction Warlock [ranged DPS]

We had a different raid composition last night as our monk and mage couldn’t make it (we had a shaman healer and second hunter filling in), but the assignment of roles to groups was identical to my original plan.  (Our usual hunter logged her DK tank and our ret pally logged his warlock, making it possible.)

Also, make sure that each group has Bloodlust. This is really only a problem for 10-man groups, 25-man groups should be sorted.  Bring along some Drums of Rage just in case though.  You may as well stock up now, because you’ll be using these again when you get to the Spoils of Pandaria encounter, for the same reasons.

Pulling

On the pull, our Kardris tank picked up Kardris, my co-tank on Haromm picked him up, and I picked up their two hellhounds.  We did what all groups do: clumped them all up (outside the auction house, in our case), and let all the DPS take down the doggies via AoE.  Whenever my co-tank on Haromm got 5 stacks of Froststorm Strike, I’d take over tanking him, and he’d take over the two hellhounds.  This continued until the bosses combined health pool hit 87% (at this points, both hellhounds should be either dead or on their last legs).

At this point, we split up.  The Haromm group headed up the ramp towards The Drag, until the gate blocking access to Nazgrim.  Meanwhile, the Kardris group moved to the large open area in front of Grommash Hold.  (I have heard of some groups attempting this strategy that have success taking Haromm inside Grommash Hold, though we didn’t do this.  It’s a worthwhile second option though.)

At this point, each group starts performing actions independently of the other group:

Haromm Group

Once the combined health of the bosses hits 85%, Haromm will gain Toxic Mist.  This puts considerable strain on the Haromm group healers, and is the one and only reason why one should put two thirds of the healing force up there.

At 65%, Haromm gains Foul Stream.  This is easy to handle; just have the raid member targeted by this ability point it in a direction away from the rest of his group before the ability goes off (and for everyone else to get away from that direction!).  We did have a few deaths with this due to someone accidentally pointing it at one of the healers, so we placed a raid marker down to act as a preferred location for pointing Foul Stream, and this worked out nicely once we got that down.

Then, at 50%, Haromm gains Ashen Wall.  This is for whichever tank is tanking Haromm to worry about.  We found it easiest for that tank to back into a corner right before Ashen Wall would go off, and then the Ashen Wall itself would generally be out of the way of everyone else.  The two doorposts of the door leading to Nazgrim work quite well for this.

Speaking of tanking, the two tanks on Haromm will need to swap him between themselves whenever the current tank on Haromm reaches 5 stacks of Froststorm Strike.  Often, the off-tank’s stacks would drop off when the current tank would be on 4 stacks instead of 5 (mainly towards the end, where Haromm would cast Foul Stream or Ashen Wall before casting his next Froststorm Strike); if this happens, just taunt early and give the healers a little bit more breathing room.

Kardris Group

If you’re in the Kardris group, you have things relatively easier.  Kardris gains Toxic Storm at 85%, and all you need to do with this is avoid the bad stuff shambling around the place.

Foul Geyser at 65% is the main difficulty here, but it’s perfectly manageable provided that people don’t panic.  The Kardris tank needs to start running away so that the Foul Slimes that spawn do so in a predicable manner (and, in our raid group, it is traditional for said tank to scream like a little girl while doing so), then the ranged DPS needs to blast them down as a top priority.  No-one should ever get within melee range of the slimes, not even the Kardris tank.  If you can put a brewmaster monk or protection paladin down there, you have an advantage, as these tanks have abilities in their toolkit to deal with the slimes (brewmasters can use Rushing Jade Wind and Roll, tankadins can use glyphed Holy Wrath and even glyphed Blinding Light at a pinch).  Any other AoE stuns/slows are also really useful here.

Falling Ash at 50% is just another “don’t stand in the fire!” ability.  That’s all I have to say about that one.

The final push

At 25%, not only will both shamans be using their entire arsenal of abilities at each group, but they’ll gain Bloodlust, increasing their damage by 30% and haste by 25% for the remainder of the encounter.  We just respond by using our own Bloodlust right back at them.  The two groups will be out of range of each other, so this is why you want to pack some Drums of Rage along if one group is missing a shaman, mage or hunter.

Aside from that, keep calm, don’t panic, don’t break from the strategy, and with a bit of practice and luck, the two shamans will eventually keel over and cough up their purples.

And I promise you, once you’ve killed it this way, you’ll wonder why you didn’t three-tank it in the first place.  If you’re still not convinced, give it a try in Flexible mode (which was how I managed to persuade the guild to do this).  You’ll see what I mean.

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