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Add Management – Or Death

January 24, 2010

Why Emalon the Storm Watcher is the Hardest Fight Mechanic in WoW

We all know Emalon the Storm Watcher. He sulks in the Vault of Archavon with his Tempest cronies and throws a tantrum whenever the Wintergrasp controlling faction stops in for a visit. Maybe it’s because everyone wants to see Koralon first? Regardless of what you do to earn his ire, defeating a boss like him is a challenge that WoW players struggle with consistently.

"Tempest Tantrum"

Emalon the Storm Watcher

Add Management – or Death

The difficulty presented by Emalon is that DPS must manage targets properly or face certain death. Healers and tanks must be ready to react as well. Emalon casts Overcharge every 45 seconds. A minion will enrage and all DPS must switch targets to burst the minion down or he will explode and wipe the raid. At no point can the DPS neglect the minion and attempt to burst down the boss when he reaches low health. (Arguably, groups in ICC gear might be able to neglect the final one, but it might still result in an embarrassing last-second wipe.)

Switching targets repeatedly, and consistently, during a fight is challenging!

It’s easy to convince yourself that someone else will DPS the minion and that your contribution will be negligible – thus leaving you free to DPS the boss and stay high on the meters.  If you are too far away, it’s easy to convince yourself that by the time you ran closer, the minion would be dead – thus leaving you free to DPS the boss and stay high on the meters. If you rely on DoTs or Combo Points, it’s easy to convince yourself that you lack the burst to really contribute – thus leaving you free to DPS the boss and stay high on the meters.

Are you seeing a trend? So am I. Most groups manage to kill Emalon, but few groups learn the mechanic for good and they tend to repeat the same mistakes in other Wrath encounters. The add management – or death mechanic is usually complicated by other environmental concerns: staying a certain range from other players, avoiding AoE, rolling, falling, or flying damage, or moving away from the raid when you get a debuff.

We see more of these encounters in the most recent Wrath of the Lich King content when we venture into Trial of Crusader and Icecrowl Citadel.

Add Management – or Death in Trial of the Crusader

ToC was slightly more forgiving. Ignore the adds for a moment and you might survive. Snobolds are a pain, but they can be managed and you get an achievement for it.  Icehowl might have had the strongest raidwide -or death- mechanic when players had to run to avoid his Massive Crash, but it didn’t involve managing adds. Jaraxxus was annoying, but you could survive normal mode if at least some DPS burned down the adds. If you kept two of his lucky ladies alive, you could snag another achievement. On Anub’arak, you had limited options on what order in which to bring down the Nerubian Burrowers. You could have DPS switch, you could rely on splash damage or AoE, or you could burn down the boss and then clean up the adds when Anub’arak burrowed. Add management became a little trickier when it came to swarm scarabs. Small, numerous, and deadly, the scarabs didn’t seem like much of a threat until you had too many of them up when Anub’arak reappeared and they devoured your tanks and healers with their acid drenched mandibles. These fights required managing adds, but didn’t offer an immediate punishment if DPS dragged their feet. On hard modes, we saw the difficulty increased exponentially and got a taste of the -or death- consequence. Overall, ToC didn’t have many “or death” consequences for the entire raid if every single player didn’t react promptly.

Add Management – or Death in Icecrown Citadel

ICC is not forgiving. Manage those adds properly or expect a long night. We’ve seen the consequences of lackadaisical DPS early on in the first and second wings of ICC. These fights are a matter of endurance and doing it right every time, even when it requires switching focus multiple times during combat.

On Marrowgar, the adds are the bone spikes that target three random players. DPS must burn them down rapidly. Every DPS must switch and must switch quickly or you risk losing valuable players, and often healers. Some raids can manage just the ranged switching, but others require melee to rescue their nearby comrades as well. Bone spiked players will die quickly if they are not healed and freed. This is taxing if all three happen to be healers – or worse, the tank healers. It’s often the simple mechanic of making the bone spikes a priority that leads to consistent wipes. Once that mechanic is followed, it’s an easy endurance fight.

Lady Deathwhisper is a mess of adds, but her recent nerf has made her less formidable. Her combat requires constant add management by the tanks, ranged, and melee, but her Empowered Adherents and Deformed Fanatics require quick attention from DPS that are primarily assigned to destroying her mana shield. This fight is all about managing the adds or being overrun, but it actually doesn’t require every single individual to react to the targets. Some DPS can be left on the boss 100% of the battle and she’ll still die without killing the entire raid.

Deathbringer Saurfang is a strong add management – or death example. Every DPS has to react properly to the blood beasts or you will not be able to kill the boss. Adds must be snared, rooted, etc. by ranged DPS and then burned down quickly before they can hit players and rapidly stack up blood power on Saurfang. Targetting becomes even more important: are ranged DPS hitting the beast that is safely snared and not hitting anyone, or are they burning down the beast that is killing the tank healer? Melee DPS must stay on the boss and cannot use AoE; even though melee aren’t responsible for killing the beasts, their ability to successfully ignore them is a big part of the fight. One blood beast caught in the melee will empower Saurfang enough to cause an extra Mark of the Fallen Champion. When Saurfang’s health percentage hits single digits, DPS must still kill the blood beasts despite the temptation to burn down the boss. The healers are delicately balancing the existing Marks in the raid and another one could overload them. A single Mark death and Saurfang will heal himself.

Rotface presents a slightly different add management – or death mechanic. For Rotface, players must learn how to kite the oozes. Every single ooze must be kited each time. DPS output doesn’t matter if you are dead and you just killed two-three others before the raid leader figured out to whom your orphaned ooze has attached itself.

ICC has more to offer as new wings are revealed and raiders are required to do their best to bring the bosses down.

Reading Recount

Recount is often used to track DPS and it can be a sore spot in these fights. The top player is usually the one who is doing it wrong. Looking at damage done and hovering over the player name to see the percentage of their damage to each target gives a better view of who understands the encounter and who is looking out only for themselves. A ranged DPS with 100% damage done to Marrowgar or Saurfang is clearly confused. The player should have between 10-25% of their damage directed at adds, the higher the better. On the other hand, a melee DPS with a percentage of damage done to blood beasts is complicating the fight by hitting the wrong target. Their DPS should be solely on Saurfang to better help the ranged pull the blood beasts away.

Conclusion: Avoiding Certain Death is Important, yes?

While this analysis looks primarily at the DPS aspect of managing adds, there is plenty of work for healers and tanks to do as well. The main point is that every individual must fulfill his or her role for the raid. If one person decides to not do their job in one of these scenarios, the entire encounter might collapse. These fights can be frustrating, but they are also some of the more adrenaline infused fights in the game. An encounter where the tanks and healers do all the work and the boss just stands there while you throw things at it isn’t very engaging. Do it right or die is a powerful incentive to pay attention and focus on how you are contributing to the fight.


From → Raiding, Strategy

  1. Sindarella permalink

    Yes… yes…

    Emalon, like any amusing boss fight, punishes individuality! Do exactly what you must do at exactly when you must do it or PERISH! MUAHAHA!

  2. Gurthorn permalink

    My guild is having the hardest time on Saurfang, we get him down every week, but its such a challenge sence are ranged dps is sitting on 4.5k =( blood beast have a huge range

    • I was disappointed when we couldn’t get him down two weeks ago. We’d been knocking him out no problem for weeks, and then we just couldn’t manage it. Things turned around a bit this week. Got him down on 25 man with two marks and got the achievement!

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