Encounters: 25H Lord Marrowgar
One of the things I’ve thought of doing for a while now is posting guides to 25 man Heroic Modes in Icecrown Citadel. These will be oriented around healing, as that is my familiar role, but I plan to touch on overall strategy as well as tips for dps and tanks. If you are interested in ten man strategy, I have included a few notes at the end for you. While I have healed these fights on Heroic modes on two healers in ten mans, my knowledge of the 25 man strategy and execution is much higher. I plan on continuing to progress through my tour of the Citadel roughly in the order I’d expect the average guild to progress. (Hint: LDW is not coming up next.)
Numerical values are acquired and cross-checked as best I can; however, they are all approximates. This is my first try at researching something like this, so please feel free to comment if you have corrections or alternative strategies for gathering this information. If you use a different strategy or have healing tips for priests or other healers or have a blog post or resource you found helpful, or questions, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Lord Marrowgar is a large skeletal dragon hanging out at the end of the first hall in Icecrown Citadel. For all that he might look imposing, he is just about the easiest heroic mode in Icecrown (barring Lootship), and is a great place for your guild to start tackling heroic modes. There are only minor strategic adjustments from normal mode. In addition to increases to his health and damage, Bone Spikes have more hp and are cast during Bone Storm, which lasts slightly longer. It is a fairly short fight – expect a successful kill to take approximately four minutes. While target switching to the Bone Spikes is a critical aspect of this encounter, it is not a particularly difficult dps check. It does require good a balance of movement, focused dps, and attentive healing.
- Health: 31.4 million (up by 7K)
- Composition – 3 Tanks, 6 Healers (7 if needed), with ranged dps having a slight advantage over melee
- There is a bit of frost damage going around on this fight, so a frost resistance aura is helpful. Frost resistance gear is unnecessary as the tanks are taking physical damage and much of the frost damage to the raid is completely avoidable.
Bone Slice – Cleave splitting 300% of normal melee to an enemy and (as many as) two nearest allies. The active tank, and his two tank-like friends, should stack away from the rest of the raid to absorb this damage.
Coldflame – Summons a line of frost directed at a random ranged player, inflicting 11K frost damage every second (up from 8-9K). Lasts for 8 seconds (instead of 3?). Avoid. If no ranged players exist, this can target melee and/or tanks. I like to set up the Coldflame debuff on my unit frames, so that I can see who is taking damage from this very avoidable mechanic and give them a little extra healing love.
Bone Spike Graveyard – This is an uninterpretable cast which impales three random raid members every 17-29 seconds. Instantly deals 9,000 damage and 10% health per second until killed. Spikes have 130K hp (up from 60-65K). While spiked, players are unable to move or heal. While boss mods will generally mark these targets with raid symbols, it is critical as a healer to make sure you can see the Impaled debuff.
Bone Storm – A three second cast, which randomly whirlwinds a raid member’s location. Harms nearby enemies for 14k per second. (Players farther away will take less damage.) Occurs first at 45 seconds, lasts 40 seconds (up from 30), and has a one minute cooldown. Marrowgar conveniently shouts “Bone Storm” as he begins to chase folks in case you missed your boss mod warning. (As if the gigantic dragon spinning around the room like a hyperactive top wasn’t a good cue.) Oh, and he’ll cast a cross of Coldflame all over the place while he’s doing this.
The positioning for this fight is quite simple. Marrowgar is generally tanked in the center of the circle in the middle of the room, with tanks on the far side and ranged dps and healers stacked in melee range closest to the door. To avoid getting hit by a random Coldflame, stay just within his large hitbox on the opposite side as the tanks. (If you aren’t sure where this is as a healer, try targeting him and stepping just inside the red circle on the floor.) Unlike most dragons, there’s no need to worry about a tail swipe. Hunters will obviously need to stand at minimum range and be quick to avoid Coldflame. Not only does this avoid most of the raid damage, this keeps all of your dps close together so that both melee and ranged can get on the Bone Spikes instantly (and still hit the boss with cleaves and incidental AoE). It is critical that the tanks and the raid stand on separate sides, to ensure the raid doesn’t get cleaved; it will one shot almost anyone. Tanks will need to continue to stay stacked and shift slightly to the left or right to avoid Coldflame spam.
One thing that may need to shift from your normal strategy is handling Bone Storm. Because Bone Spikes continue to be cast during this phase, it is best to stay loosely spread out as close the the main circle as you can be, so as to stay in range of healers and melee dps. Assigning healers, melee, and ranged directions to scatter can be helpful. Spreading out a few seconds before the Bone Storm is recommended. A random raid member on the far side of the room getting Impaled is likely to die. While that won’t necessarily cause a wipe…it does make things more difficult.
There are other ways to handle Bone Storm. You can split your raid up in to three closely stacked groups, so that he will be targeting and harming one group at once so that the healing is focused on a third of the raid at once. (This is similar to how many guilds handled Mimiron.) You can also keep your main raid grouped up in the center and send out four sturdy people to run to the corners of the room as targets. Tanks and classes with strong defensive cooldowns (like mage’s Barkskin and Deterance) are ideal for this, and your Hunter’s are already farther out. I have seen this work effectively, and he does tend to attack the person farthest away from him, but I don’t believe it is guaranteed.
Marrowgar no longer drops his threat table during Bone Storm, and should return to the tanks fairly easily. It is very helpful if the tanks return him precisely to his original position, as dps and healers can move back to their spot in preparation and no one is likely to get accidentally caught near the tanks and cleaved.
With this positioning mitigating raid damage, the majority of damage taken in the melee phase is to tanks and victims of Bone Spikes. All three tanks will be taking relatively strong consistent damage during this phase, and will need constant healing. Other healers should step in if your tank healers get Impaled. Bone Spikes should go down quite quickly when clumped up, but can still use extra heals.
During Bone Storm, tanks will take minor damage compared to their high health pools, and need little attention. Both tank and raid healers can shift to saving the squishies. However, tank healers will want to make sure that the tanks are topped off and HoTed, and they have moved into position to heal before Bone Storm ends, as the damage to all three tanks resumes quickly with brutal force.
For the raid during Bone Storm – blanketing the raid with AoE heals, HoTs, and Shields are key. The damage taken here is unpredictable and can be chaotic, but everyone is guaranteed to take at least some damage. Take extra care of the Bone Spike victims in this phase, as it will take longer to break them out since melee will need to run to them and cleave effects won’t work. Call out if a Bone Spike is out of your range, so the closest healer can step up. Mobile healers (like druids and priests) have a clear advantage for this part of the fight and take up quite a bit of the pressure to keep the raid alive.
If one of your tanks is unfortunate enough to die, it is possible to keep up just two tanks for a limited period of time. Because the cleave damage is shared by “up to two nearby allies” if no only one is available, the hits to the tanks will be significantly harder. Every healer should pour heals into the tanks. If no battle rez is available, you can send in a Plate dps as a sacrificial lamb to help mitigate the damage temporarily. Tanks and healers should use cooldowns.
Because the healing requirements of Heroic mode are a bit higher, and it is easy to loose dps in the chaos of the Bone Storm phase, you might consider running with an extra healer for attempts, at least until you get comfortable with the encounter. This is particularly true if your healing team is not particularly mobile. While not strictly necessary, this can increase your learning curve and initial success on this fight.
For Discipline Priests
Holy has a slight advantage here because of all the unpredictable damage to the raid, so if you have an off-spec and feel so inclined or you are lacking a Resto Druid, feel free to shift. As Disc you can do your best work on this fight helping with mitigation and spot healing on the tanks and the Impaled targets. Use Prayer of Mending on cooldown (on the bone spike targets, the tanks or a dying raid member as needed) as it’s guaranteed to bounce around anytime. You’ll often find a need for Penance on cooldown as there is lots of spike damage throughout. Bubble spam on targets taking damage or critically low in the whirlwind phase can do wonders for keeping dps and healers alive. I try to pay particular attention to the tanks just before the end of Bone Storm and a little afterward to buy Paladins a few extra seconds to get in position and pick up their massive throughput on the tanks. There are a lot of benefits to keeping an eye on the tank healers (whether you’re tank or raid healing) – Discipline is perfect class to keep the tanks up if their main healers are moving or Impaled.
This is a very simple achievement, and many guilds get this accidentally simply by having good execution. All you need to do is break out Impaled targets within 8 seconds. Easy right? Every one of your dps needs to prioritize Bone Spikes immediately, and hopefully they are doing that anyways. While it is possible to do this on Heroic mode if your dps is excellent and quick…it is much much more difficult, particularly for the spikes impaled turning Bone Storm.
This is not my suggestion for a first target if you are starting on ten man heroic modes. There are several other fights that are more approachable. As with 25 man raids, the strategy does not vary significantly and my suggestions above apply just fine. You’ll only need two tanks instead of three. Sending out three sturdy players to corners of the room just before Bone Storm is particularly useful. Be sure to bring three healers as the damage can become very strenuous. Pay strict attention to whether a healer is spiked and help with their assignment.
I suggest watching this kill by Headhunters (Eu-Terenes) in the point of view of a Restoration Shaman for an example of a clean kill with good movement and positioning. There are only slight differences in our strategy. After a Bone Storm, our tanks return more closely to the original positioning which can help dps and healers get in place in advance after Marrowgar targets the final charge. We spread out a bit more for Bone Storm, though we stay inside the circle. Also, our hunters stay a little closer during the ground phase in to help if they get Impaled.
Resources and Strategy Guides
World of Logs – The source of lots of my numbers
Stratfu – A good general starting place for boss fight strategy
Wowhead – Another good general starting place for abilities and debuffs
Spiritus at Tankspot – While this was compiled pre-release, I always check out his thoughts
Cannot Be Tamed – Healing from a Resto Druid perspective.
Righteous Defense – This is a slightly different strategy with just two tanks…an idea I’m not terribly comfortable with. More perspective on tanking the fight.