Why Nefarian Sucks

Before I begin, I’d like to state that I actually quite enjoy the Nefarian fight. At least I do on 25-man difficulty, which is what I’ll address here. (I don’t imagine I’ll ever see it on 10-man and I’m okay with that.)

However, the fight sucks on a wide variety of levels. Why is this?

The encounter requires almost perfect execution. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. Perfect execution is something we should always strive for in every encounter. The problem is actually that it requires almost perfect execution from ~9 people at separate times and sustained good execution (even very good execution) from everyone else.

1) The tanks. If your Onyxia tank isn’t turning her appropriately, your raid will be fried by her lightning. If your add tank isn’t despawning the adds appropriately in P1, your P3 add tank is screwed. If your Nefarian tank doesn’t drag Nefarian far enough away from Onyxia, they get the Children of Deathwing buff and will pretty much 2-shot both your Ony tank and your Nef tank.

2) The interrupters. While this will be somewhat alleviated in 4.1 because all interrupt abilities will no longer miss, that’s not the case today and it hasn’t been the case since the launch of Cataclysm. That means that, right now and up until 4.1, you need people able to interrupt every single cast of Blast Nova in P2 who are reliable. In the 25-man version, Blast Nova is cast every 8 seconds, so unless you have 3 enhancement shaman lying around, you probably need 4, 5 or 6 dedicated interrupters. Tanks generally have low hit, so they miss. Healers are generally the same, plus they also have this thing called “healing” to do while on the platforms. Granted, the amount of hit needed is only 5-6% since the mobs you’re interrupting are level 85, just like us. So in some cases, a tank would be okay for this. For the most part, however, in order to have interrupts that don’t miss, you need a mix and match of melee DPS who are probably going to be hit-capped. If one of them misses one interrupt, you may be able to pull through, but in our raid group, 2+ Blast Novas means an immediate wipe or means that some people die due to the extra damage and leaves us wiping somewhere under 10%.

3) The healers have to push in P2. Honestly, you’ve got to pull out all your tricks, especially if you’re planning on pushing 1-2 Electrocutes (see below) in this phase. I take 7 healers to Nefarian and put two on each platform, along with one of our three tanks on each platform, meaning there’s five DPS on each platform as well. The extra healer generally gets dropped on to the NE platform and is usually an Atonement disc priest, so they’re able to smite the add and heal that way. However, the tricky part is that we have to keep up this insane kind of burn phase for ~3 minutes and, in the case of my guild, two Electrocutes. All the while, we’re dealing with Shadowflame Barrage (which inflicts pushback — and while I try to make sure a paladin and a shaman are on each platform, they’re both using Resist aura/totem so that we get the Shadow and Fire covered from the paladin and the nature covered from the shaman), healing people up after they pop out of the lava —

  • A word about the lava. Getting out of the lava is not hard. The lip of the platform sucks and, yes,  there have been times where I’ve jumped around, flailing like a jackass. The lava does not suck. What sucks is Blast Nova being cast right as most people are jumping up out of the lava on to the platform. What we tend to do is have everyone with an interrupt try to get the first one except the person designated to be the second interrupter. But it still sucks.

— and generally trying desperately to make sure people are topped off just before Electrocute hits. I pop everything — Aura Mastery, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor, Avenging Wrath, Holy Radiance, even sometimes Lay on Hands, though I prefer to hold that and my mana potion for P3. I also try to sneak in a Divine Plea right at the P1/P2 transition so it’s up again sometime in P2. It’s one of the crazier healing moments in the game and, the way we do it, it lasts almost the full three minutes.

This isn’t bad, but it sure means we’re pretty taxed as we push P3, with Electrocutes coming every 20 seconds or so, plus the healers chasing the add tank don’t get a chance to rest. Further, because I’ve had to blow all my CDs in P2, most of them (Guardian of Ancient Kings in particular) don’t come back up in P3. That’s why I try to save my mana potion and my Lay on Hands for P3, because I know that’s all I’ll have left to help me out with maybe two Hands of Sacrifice, if I’m lucky. So yeah, healing in any role on this fight can suck.

4) The add tank in P3 has got to be on top of his or her game. Running the adds around, dodging Shadowflame, stunning (and not stunning) as is appropriate. I have not healed the add tank so I’m not really sure what this insanity looks like, but I understand that the basic concept of this boils down to “making split-second decisions over the course of about 3 minutes, the results of which will either kill you and wipe the raid or will save you and the raid.”

5) Electrocute is nature damage. Okay, this is probably more of a pet peeve than an outright reason why this fight sucks, but it just didn’t seem to be a complete list without this as a mention. As a paladin, my Resistance Aura resists Shadow, Fire and Frost damage. Aura Mastery boosts those resistances, normally at 195, effectively doubling those resistances to 390 for six seconds. (According to this scary, yet useful, math post on Elitist Jerks, this means our base resist is ~20% against a level 88 and Aura Mastery bumps it up to the 35% level.)  Shaman are the ones in the raid (generally) who bring nature resistance in the form of Elemental Resistance Totem or glyphed Healing Stream Totem. (Hunters can also help with Aspect of the Wild, but who wants to give up the RAP from Aspect of the Hawk?) Shaman do not have a burst resist mechanic like Aura Mastery, so 195 Nature/Frost/Fire resistance is all you get from their totems, or, as noted before, ~20% resist. That means, on average, about 20k of that ~100k damage is resisted if you’re in range of a shaman’s totems or a hunter’s Aspect of the Wild. But short of personal cooldowns, there’s not a lot you can do to mitigate Electrocute damage beyond relying on someone’s totem.

6) Due to the unreal reliance on a specific handful of people, finger-pointing is hard to avoid. On the one hand, I enjoy clearly-defined roles so I know who screwed up. On the other hand, boy, does this fight piss people off and BOY, does it make people leap on each other, many armed with poorly-interpreted log data. (Pet peeve: people reading the logs who have no idea what they’re reading.)

Seriously, tempers get frayed, strategies are questioned and really, it’s just a matter of finding the right variations that work for you and then executing them. Execute the fight, we win. If any of those people (interrupters, tanks, healers) screw up, that’s almost certainly a wipe. And then you have to trace the root of that failure. So someone died to Electrocute because they weren’t topped up by the healers. Did Blast Nova contribute to the low health? Was the healer completely oom because of healing through Blast Nova? Who let the Blast Nova or Novas through?

The key to analyzing this fight is finding the root cause, not just saying “oh, so-and-so died to this”.

Wait, Kurn, you LIKE this fight?

I do. I like the feeling when Nefarian dies, knowing that the people we relied on were (almost certainly) on their game. I like knowing that we beat a tricky encounter. I like pushing myself in P2 and I’m constantly pushing to make myself better at it so I’m not practically oom when I start healing the Nefarian tank in P3.

We didn’t get Nefarian down this reset. Some roster changes, some changes in roles… we had two 1% wipes, but couldn’t seal the deal.

I don’t like it, but I’m okay with what it means. It means that we probably extend Blackwing Descent until next week. If we do, it means that we have 5 less bosses to kill, which means more time on other stuff. Heroic Halfus, normal Al’Akir, these are the fights we’ll be looking at, and because we’re probably extending the instance, we’ll have the time to do so. With only 9 hours of raiding a week, we can easily waste a lot of time. Maybe cutting out 5 farmable bosses is a way to do that.

All I know is that Nef will die this coming reset and that I’m looking forward to some new stuff, too.

Oh yeah, and the Defender of a Shattered World title, too!

13 comments

  1. Dawn says:

    I have a post for WoW Insider in my head about Nefarian =/ I’ll be sure to link this one when I get around to writing it. Stupid dargon.

  2. Dan says:

    Never have all the things in this fight that make me want to punch my monitor been laid out all in one place

  3. Rax says:

    Funny week to see this post, as my guild struggled with this fight as well and I even blogged about it at http://www.raidtrauma.com.

    This fight really does seem to shake people’s confidence, and rather than improving as the night goes on I have seen a drop-off as people get tired and focus worsens.

    One issue we are having, and maybe something you can comment on, is how to keep guild member’s spirits up when wiping on a fight you have downed in previous weeks. It seems hard not to have people get dejected and/or downright pissy when wiping to a fight that other weeks we have downed.

  4. Técaro says:

    I take it you don’t kite adds around the outer ring in P3? If you do there’s honestly no reason for that to go awry when you can gather them up perfectly with an add tank in P1.
    Asking people to interrupt properly is something I don’t mind, at all. I can however say I’d hate to be pushing crackles during P2 though, I don’t envy that.

    On a sidenote, I thought they delayed the first blast nova cast so you have 2-3 more seconds to properly get on the platform and interrupt?

  5. Joe Ego says:

    Regarding personal cooldowns for crackle, I keep hearing about this little thing:
    http://www.wowhead.com/item=68713

  6. Jasyla says:

    I just killed Nef for the first time this weekend and I know exactly what you mean. I like the fight, but at the same time, it kinda sucks.

    The thing I like least about it is that I feel rather powerless (as a druid healer) – I really can’t do anything that will make or break the fight. I really feel this fight is all about the interrupters and the add tanks, and there’s nothing I can do to help them, aside from keeping them alive. My job is comparatively quite easy.

    My raid did the fight without taking any crackles during phase 2. Our poor add tanks needed to kite the adds around the room for 8 crackles in phase 3. If I were him, I would have started drinking heavily midway through the attempts.

  7. Kurn says:

    Dawn – Stupid dargon indeed! Glad to know others are thinking a lot about this particular fight. :)

    Dan – haha, think I got them all? :)

    Rax – It’s not an easy encounter and trying things with a new lineup or changes in your “regular” can easily throw people off. It’s frustrating to see wipes over and over again, for sure. I think the one big thing is that the raid leaders MUST be aware of what the problem was that led to the wipe and then move to address it quickly. Interrupts not happening? Fix it. Too much DPS on P2 adds instead of P2 Nef? Fix it. People jumping too slowly or too quickly on P3 transition? Fix it.

    If you can identify the source of the issue quickly and address it, I think that helps a lot. It gives you a little victory. “Nice job, guys, even though we wiped due to this factor, at least the other one was fixed!” Etc.

    I made my team take a 3m break the other night (we normally do a 7m break at 10:30 and that’s it for breaks) but I told them to get up, stretch, get a drink, shake it off and come back.

    Eh. Not sure if it worked, to be honest, but at least I gave it a shot and *I* felt better. ;)

    Técaro – Honestly, I’m tank healing the Nef tank in P3 and we stand at the north wall between the wall and Nefarian’s body, so I don’t see ANYTHING that happens in P3, haha! Since we tank Nefarian on the outer ring, though, I could see how that could be an issue.

    I don’t mind the interrupts so much except that due to how hit/etc works right now for them, they can be, in many cases, a single point of failure. I hate those.

    Electrocutes in P2 aren’t so bad if you don’t have to contend with Blast Novas. :)

    They did delay the cast, I think, but we’ve had a couple of times where people still didn’t get up top quickly enough. I mean, for crying out loud, *I* was the first interrupt at one point. The way I see it, 1-2 attempts per night, everyone will screw up getting on the platform, so it’s irritating that Blast Nova isn’t like, 10 seconds later than it is. Just an annoying thing I’ve noticed. :)

    Joe Ego – Yes, if mastery is a good stat for you, that is an EXCELLENT trinket, particularly for tanks, for this fight. It’s like a better version of Sindragosa’s Flawless Fang!

    Jasyla – NO Electrocutes in P2? 8 Electrocutes in P3?! So only one Electrocute in P1? Yeesh, your add tank(s) must haaaaaate the RLs. ;) You can easily push 2 Electrocutes in P1 and then knock Ony over, which might make things a bit easier for your P3 add tank(s)! :) Why no Electrocutes in P2, if you don’t mind my asking? We did 2 in P1, 1 in P2 and the rest in P3, but moved to 2 in P2 so it was controlled/healed through better than right at P2/P3 transition. :)

  8. slice213 says:

    Ouch…I am having to say I really hate this fight. Still Put some good attempts in but blah p2 is harsh.

    Wow no crackles in p2….I am curious as to how that would work out as well.

  9. Jasyla says:

    I fail at counting. I was thinking there were 10 crackles. We had 2 in P1, so that would be 7 in P3.

    I think it would have made things easier to get at least one crackle in P2, but the RL felt a platform or two was struggling with healing, so he didn’t want to try it. It did make it very hard on our add tanks, having to drag the adds around for so long. It’s possible we would have gotten it a bit faster with a crackle or two in phase 2 (since almost all our wipes happened because the add tank died in phase 3), but we got it eventually, so I can’t complain too much.

  10. adgamorix says:

    This is 10m – so YMMV. We run 3 heals, Prist, Druid, Pally. P1 – Pally on Ony tank, Prist on Nef tank/raid, druid on add kiter (rogue) and raid. We push 3 crackles in P1 – though the timing is really tight to get the 3rd one off and not have Ony blow up the raid.

    P2 we allow one crackle and burn the adds. We’ve found that the damage in P1 and P3 is far easier to handle than P2 since you also have all the shadow damage. In P3 the only raid damage (in 10s) is the crackle, so it’s pretty eay to deal with.

    We use a rogue, retadin, and DK tank to do the interrupts.

    I usually have 2x Tyrande, 1x Arcane Torrent in P1 – DP in transition, Tyrande and AT in P2, DP in transition if possible, and then AT/Tyrande whenever it’s up. Add in judgements and melee hits on the add in P2, and my mana is usually pretty good going into P3.

  11. Técaro says:

    Kurn, when you kite the adds around the outer circle, all the tank does is backpeddle sufficiently. It is by far the easiest way of kiting adds, just remember to turn Nef in time, and between Shadowbreaths do you don’t kill half your raid.
    The way we do it in 10man is drag Nef to the wall, then turn him to the middle so we can res all the adds in one go with a shadowbreath. You won’t even have to do that on 25. Kite adds to outer circle in P1, shadowblaze lands there in p3, start kiting, profit.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWRINH5ZVvQ should give you the complete idea. Once your OT becomes mildly good at it the adds’ll reset 2-3 times easily. I’ve got it down to the point where I take less than 500k damage from adds during 7 Crackles in P3 on 10man. but just getting 2 resets off turns P3 into nothing more than a fancy tank&spank.

    I imagine your strat works perfectly well, but if you ever feel you can’t quite get it on farm, this’ll help :>

  12. Ngita says:

    Perhaps not the best place to talk about it, but as Jasyla said 2 electrocutes in p1, none in p2, 7 in p3. Their was some discussiion about 1 or 2 electrocutes in p2 but the main failure was on the 6th electrocute. Adds not resetting, Tank moving at high speed so the healers where falling behind.

    Resolved by using a external cooldown for 40%( guardian spirit), a 3rd healer shifting to add tank healer and better control of adds. But even then we are supposed to get 2 resets on the adds but we have only ever had one around 4x%

  13. Serrath says:

    Oh my Nef. We started learning him yesterday. 2 1/2 hours later we got him to 17% … but I’m wondering if it was just luck. Our healer team is a resto shaman, resto druid, and holy priest. The biggest problem in our raid at the moment is the healer mana. Come p3 we’re all running on fumes. It’s going to take a lot more effort to become comfortable with the mechanics to allow us to be more efficient, I guess. My poor mana pool. It cries every encounter.

    For p1 we’re using a frost mage. It’s been … interesting. :P After four (to five) adds have hit the ground we drop Ring of Frost in the center of the room and all the healers stand in it while the mage picks everything up. Once that goes down the mage kites them to the very north of the room and there they start to die. I shackle the one with the most time left and we go back to the bosses. Kinda spiffy but it puts the mage and I in danger from Ony’s shiny shiny damage.

    I’m definitely enjoying this fight so far. Hopefully Nef dies this week!

    (and good luck on Al’Akir … the guy sucks … or is it blows?)

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