Spine of Deathwing
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Overview of the Fight
Spine of Deathwing is a single phase encounter that takes place on Deathwing's back, as he is flying through the air. Your raid will need to properly deal with several types of adds in order to pry up and remove 3 armor plates from Deathwing's back. The idea is to open a big enough hole in Deathwing's armor, so as to give Thrall a clear shot with the Dragon Soul.
The armor plates can only be removed sequentially, as removing one enables the raid to reach the next one. This causes the fight to become increasingly harder, as the number of adds you need to deal with increases after an armor plate has been removed.
Enemies, Abilities and Their Interaction
During the fight, you will be faced with 4 types of adds: Corruptions, Hideous Amalgamations, Corrupted Bloods, and Burning Tendons. In order to pry up and remove the armor plates, you will need to properly combine the abilities of these adds.
You can also control Deathwing to some extent, forcing him to get rid of all the adds when you are starting to feel overwhelmed.
Corruptions are the first adds that you will see. They are stationary tentacle adds that do not melee and cannot be tanked. At the start of the encounter, there will be 4 Corruptions alive. As you can see in the screenshot, they come out of holes in Deathwing's back. Each time one of Deathwing's armor plates is removed, 2 new Corruptions will appear in the newly revealed holes.
Killing Corruptions to Spawn Other Adds
When a Corruption is killed, it leaves an empty hole in Deathwing's back, from where 1 Hideous Amalgamation and 1 Corrupted Blood spawn. Killing all the Corruptions will cause a new Corruption (and only one) to spawn in one of the empty holes. The rule is that there will always be at least one Corruption up, no matter what you do.
As we will explain in the strategy section, an important aspect of the fight is choosing how many Corruptions to kill and striking a balance between the damage done by the Corruptions and the damage done by the adds that spawn from the empty holes. This balance differs whether you play in 10-man, 25-man, or LFR difficulty.
In LFR difficulty, the Corruptions are harmless and cast no abilities.
In 10-man and 25-man difficulty, the Corruptions have the following abilities:
- Searing Plasma (10-man/25-man) is regularly cast by Corruptions. It places a debuff on a random player (3 in 25-man difficulty). This debuff wears off after 5 minutes or after a certain amount of healing has been absorbed (200,000 in 10-man difficulty and 300,000 in 25-man difficulty). While the debuff is active, it deals 10,000 Physical damage to the target every 10 seconds.
- Fiery Grip is a stun that the Corruption channels on a random player for 30 seconds. During this time, the player also takes 60,000 Fire damage every 3 seconds. Damaging the Corruption for 20% of its health breaks the channel.
Corrupted Blood are small adds that spawn from the holes in Deathwing's back after a Corruption dies. These adds always respawn when the raid kills them: the residue of a dead Corrupted Blood (not targetable or attackable) will slowly make its way back to the nearest empty hole in Deathwing's back, where it will form into a new Corrupted Blood.
Sometimes, extra Corrupted Bloods spawn from the empty holes for reasons that we have yet to understand. In any case, the raid eventually becomes overwhelmed by the number of Corrupted Bloods.
The only purpose of these adds is that, when they die, they leave a fire puddle. When a Hideous Amalgamation walks in this puddle, the puddle disappears and the Amalgamation receives a stack of a buff. This buff eventually enables the raid to pry up an armor plate (see the next section for more details).
When they die, in addition to this stacking buff, Corrupted Bloods deal a small amount of Physical damage (13,000 in LFR difficulty, 10,000 in 10-man difficulty and 20,000 in 25-man difficulty) to all players within 200 yards through Burst (10-man/25-man/LFR).
Finally, Corrupted Blood have a normal aggro table and they deal weak melee attacks (about 5k every 2 seconds).
Hideous Amalgamations spawn each time a Corruption is killed. This is a large add that has a normal aggro table and needs to be picked up by the tanks, as it performs moderately strong melee attacks (15-20k every 2 seconds). These adds have three abilities, all of which have a strong synergy with Corrupted Bloods, one of the other types of adds.
- Absorbed Blood is a stacking buff that the Amalgamation gains each time it walks in the fire puddle left behind by the death of a Corrupted Blood. This buff increases the damage of the Amalgamation by 10% and its attack speed by 20% per stack, and stacks up to 9 times.
- Superheated Nucleus (10-man/25-man/LFR) is a buff that is applied on the Amalgamation when it reaches 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood. It begins to pulse AoE Fire damage in an area around it. This lasts until the Amalgamation is killed.
- Nuclear Blast is the explosion that follows the death of a Hideous Amalgamation that has 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood.
- The explosion deals a massive amount of Fire damage (243,750 in LFR and 350,000 in 10 and 25-man difficulty) to all players within 10 yards. This explosion has a 5 second cast time, during which the add does not move, allowing the tank and other players to get away from it.
- If the Amalgamation dies close to one of Deathwing's armor plates, it will weaken it, giving your raid a chance to remove it (see next section).
4.4. Armor Plate Removal
The goal of the encounter is to remove the 3 armor plates marked as 1, 2, and 3, in the screenshot on the left. You need to remove them sequentially by repeating the same actions three times in a row.
When a Nuclear Blast from a Hideous Amalgamation occurs close to an armor plate, it weakens it, exposing an add called Burning Tendons, which represents the remaining link between the armor plate and Deathwing. As soon as it is exposed, this tendon starts casting Seal Armor Breach in an attempt to reattach the armor plate to Deathwing.
Seal Armor Breach has a 23 second cast time in 10-man and 25-man difficulties and a 34 second cast time in LFR difficulty. If the raid kills the add before the cast is over, then the armor plate will fly off, leaving the raid to deal with the next one. Note that, by the time the Burning Tendon becomes attackable, it will already have channeled its spell for 5 seconds.
If the cast completes before the add is killed, Deathwing's armor will be reattached and players must start over. Note that the health of the Burning Tendon is not reset, so you can just finish it off at the second attempt.
Targeting the tendon will become increasingly difficult as there will be many nameplates on the screen by the end of the encounter. To prevent this problem from happening, DPS players should make a /tar burning macro that they can use in the 5 seconds that they have between the moment the tendon appears and the moment it becomes attackable.
Deathwing and the Barrel Roll
Despite the fact that you spend the entire duration of the fight on his back, Deathwing does not exist as an actual enemy unit that you can target and attack. However, there is one way that you can interact with him. If all the players in the raid stack on the same side of his back, this will cause Deathwing to perform a Barrel Roll (he will roll on himself), getting rid of all the Hideous Amalgamations (Corrupted Bloods remain attached), as well as all the raid members who are not glued to his back at the time. This is very useful if you start to get overwhelmed.
The easiest way to handle a Barrel Roll is to have the entire raid stack in the same empty hole on Deathwing's back. In addition to triggering a Barrel Roll, this will also grant players the Grasping Tendrils (10-man/25-man/LFR) debuff. This debuff slows player movement speed and deals a very small amount of damage (6,000 in 10-man difficulty and 6,500 in 25-man and LFR difficulty) every 5.2 seconds and is removed by moving out of the hole (something that raid members must only do after the Barrel Roll is over).
Players under the effect of Fiery Grip (the stun that Corruptions sometimes cast in 10 and 25-man difficulty) should not be freed, as being affected by this ability makes them stay on Deathwing's back during the Barrel Roll. Freeing them is indeed risky, as freed players then need to run to an empty hole, something that they might not be able to do in time.
Removing any of the three armor plates requires the exact same actions from your raid. As you progress through the encounter, you will have to deal with more and more adds, thus increasing the damage to your raid. Indeed, since each armor plate removed exposes two new holes, your raid will slowly become overwhelmed by Hideous Amalgamations and Corrupted Bloods (or Corruptions if you choose not to kill them).
To remove an armor plate, your raid will need to do the following:
- Kill at least 1 Corruption in order to spawn at least 1 Hideous Amalgamation and 1 Corrupted Blood;
- Have the raid (tanks included) stack next to the armor plate.
- Bring a designated Hideous Amalgamation to low health (between 10% and 20%);
- Kill the Corrupted Blood(s) close to the designated Hideous Amalgamation until reaching 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood;
- Finish off the designated Hideous Amalgamation next to the nearest armor plate and have everyone move out (10 yards) to avoid being hit by Nuclear Blast;
- Kill the Burning Tendons add before it finishes casting Seal Armor Breach and reattaches the armor plate.
Recovery from Failure
If, for some reason, your raid kills the Hideous Amalgamation before it reaches 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood, makes the Hideous Amalgamation detonate too far from the armor plate, or fails to kill the Burning Tendons in time, the fight is not over.
Indeed, you can try to recover by killing the last remaining Corruption and starting over with the Hideous Amalgamation that will subsequently spawn.
Note on the Burning Tendons
If your raid fails to kill the Burning Tendons, the health of this add will not be reset when you pry the armor plate up again. Be aware of the fact that there are two Burning Tendons associated to each armor plate, one on the right and one on the left. Whichever you get depends on where the Hideous Amalgamation blew up. Therefore, you need to make sure that when going to finish the Burning Tendon, the Hideous Amalgamation blows up on the same side as previously.
This complicates the encounter, so we decided to give you the simplest possible strategy for the fight before discussing ideas on how to customise it (mainly for preparing the Heroic mode version of the fight).
Initial Barrel Roll
Initially, your raid needs to kill 3 of the 4 Corruptions. We do not advise keeping all 3 resulting Hideous Amalgamations up, so force Deathwing to perform a Barrel Roll in order to get rid of them. After the Barrel Roll, spawn a new Amalgamation by killing the last Corruption.
Prying up the Armor Plate
With only one Hideous Amalgamation to deal with, simply apply the steps that we described above, in the Strategy Summary section. Also, you should keep in mind the following:
- DPS concerns
- In addition to dealing damage to the Hideous Amalgamation and killing the Corrupted Bloods with AoE damage, a few designated DPS players also need to sometimes deal damage to the remaining Corruption (for 20% of its health) in order to stop Fiery Grip. Note that this should not normally end up killing the Corruption.
- Tank concerns
- The first tank should take the Hideous Amalgamation and one or two Corrupted Bloods. The Amalgamation should be brought next to the armor plate, where it will eventually detonate.
- The second tank should take the rest of the Corrupted Bloods. If the DPS players fail to keep the Corruption alive (when attacking it to stop Fiery Grip), then the second tank needs to tank the resulting Hideous Amalgamation away from the raid and leave all the Corrupted Bloods to the first tank. The idea is to prevent Absorbed Blood from being applied by mistake on the wrong Hideous Amalgamation.
- The raid can stack on the tank (or next to the tank). This is safe as Hideous Amalgamations do not cleave or perform any other abilities that may be hazardous to the raid. This also enables DPS players to damage them while AoE-ing down the Corrupted Bloods.
- Healer concerns
- Healers need to heal people affected by Searing Plasma (10-man/25-man) in order to remove the debuff.
- Healers should expect most of the damage to come from Burst (10-man/25-man/LFR), which is dealt as a result of a Corrupted Blood dying.
- Tank damage will increase progressively, as the Hideous Amalgamation gains more stacks of Absorbed Blood.
- Superheated Nucleus (10-man/25-man/LFR) will deal a lot of damage. Hideous Amalgamations cast this from the moment they reach 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood to the moment they die.
Removing the First Armor Plate
Once the Hideous Amalgamation has reached 9 stacks of Absorbed Blood, it will begin pulsing AoE damage to your raid. It should be quickly finished off. While it channels Nuclear Blast, all players should get at least 10 yards away from it.
Provided that the Hideous Amalgamation was properly positioned, the nearest armor plate will be pried up and Burning Tendons will be exposed.
If the add is successfully killed, the armor plate will fly off, exposing 2 more holes on Deathwing's back, each containing one Corruption.
Removing the Second and Third Armor Plates
Removing the other two armor plates is a repetition of what you did for the first armor plate (including making Deathwing perform a Barrel Roll to get rid of the Hideous Amalgamations).
The only difference comes from the Corrupted Bloods. Their numbers keep increasing throughout the fight. This increases the overall damage that they deal both through their melee attacks and the Burst (10-man/25-man/LFR) damage that they deal to the entire raid upon dying.
To mitigate this, DPS players should make sure to only kill 9 Corrupted Bloods for each armor plate. The rest of the Corrupted Blood should be left to attack their tank as their weak melee attacks are more manageable than Burst (10-man/25-man/LFR). Also, DPS players should not kill Corrupted Bloods too rapidly, as dealing with Burst damage from all the Corrupted Bloods at the same time is very dangerous.
During the fight, DPS players should keep their cooldowns for killing the Burning Tendons (remember, there are 3 of them, one per armor plate) as they should not be allowed to finish their cast of Seal Armor Breach and reattach the armor plate. Since you need to properly balance DPS on the 3 tendons that you will have to kill, your raid can do the following:
- use personal cooldowns on the first tendon;
- use Bloodlust/ Heroism/ Time Warp on the second tendon;
- use personal cooldowns again on the third tendon.
Potions should be used on the first or the third tendon. Ideally, you will want half the DPS use their potion on the first tendon and the other half on the third tendon.
Variations and Training for Heroic Mode
This encounter can be done in many ways and the reason why we gave a single, specific strategy is that it is easier to devise a new strategy from an existing one rather than making it from scratch following general guidelines.
The strategy presented here can be tuned by simply using a different timing for the Barrel Roll(s) or by leaving more than one Corruption alive, depending on how easily your raid can handle the damage done by the adds.
Using 1 Tank in 10-man Mode
The Corrupted Bloods deal rather low melee damage to their current target and for this reason, you can choose to have a single tank take them all, in addition to also tanking the Hideous Amalgamations. Towards the end of the fight, when the number of Corrupted Bloods greatly increases, you can have Plate DPS (Death Knights, Warriors, and Paladins) or Feral Druids in Bear form taunt and tank them. This is not risky since the Corrupted Bloods deal rather low melee damage. Using only 1 tank will give your raid a better chance to kill the Burning Tendons in one pass.
Heroic Mode Training
One main reason for tuning the strategy is to make the fight harder and practice for the Heroic version of the fight, where the raid needs to kill as few Hideous Amalgamations as possible (for each Hideous Amalgamation killed, the maximum health of raid members decreases by 6%) and subsequently has to deal with much more raid damage.
The damage increases as the encounter progresses. Therefore, it might be a good idea to spend as little time as possible removing the second and third armor plates. To this end, you can start the fight by bringing 3 Hideous Amalgamations to low health with 7 or 8 stacks of Absorbed Blood. Separate one from the others, get it to 9 stacks, pry up the first armor plate and remove it. Then, repeat this for the second and third armor plates with the remaining Hideous Amalgamations, while surviving the damage from the additional Corruptions or the newly spawned Hideous Amalgamations.
After removing an armor plate, you get two new Corruptions. You can opt to kill only one of them so that you practice dealing with more Corruptions up, something that will most likely be required in Heroic mode to prevent the raid from having to kill Hideous Amalgamations.
Achievement: Maybe He'll Get Dizzy
The Maybe He'll Get Dizzy... achievement is part of the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider achievement. It is extremely simple, and it requires your raid to perform the following sequence of Barrel Rolls before defeating the boss: left, right, left, right.
There is absolutely no subtelty or difficulty to this achievement. In order to make things as easy as possible, we recommend that your raid kills 3 Corruptions at the start of the fight and then performs the entire sequence right then. This should not take more than a minute. After that, you should kill the final Corruption and just proceed with the fight as normal.
Alternatively, you can direct your raid to either the left or the right, while performing the Barrel Rolls needed to defeat the boss, but we feel that this adds more pressure in the middle of the fight and is more prone to failure or a wipe.