Arthas looms over us from his massive tower in Icecrown Citadel, Our mission in Northrend, assigned to us by the brass at Ravenholdt, is to assassinate the Lich King. Unfortunately, all attempts to gain access to his fortress have been thwarted by the million or so Undead inside, whom Blizzard decided to grace with Stealth Detection. With our primary method of infiltration foiled, we've had to look at other options for our clandestine objectives.
Tirion Fordring, the accursed leader of the Ret Paladin order, has summoned the leaders of the Horde and Alliance as well as any willing soldiers to compete for the opportunity to spearhead a mission into Northrend's most exclusive icy throne. The latest missive we received from Lord Jorach indicates that we are to disguise ourselves as members of a fighting force, and to enter and win the competition in order to gain access to Icecrown Citadel. The survival of our raid mates is secondary to the completion of the mission.
Trial of the Crusader is Blizzard's most recent addition to the end game raiding scene. With 4 different flavors, regular and heroic for both 10 and 25 man groups, it's really the most diverse group of 5 bosses we've ever seen. Unfortunately, it seems like the normal modes are tuned to be easy to PUG, and the difference between 10 and 25 man raids is simply increased damage and health for the bosses. With the release of heroic mode this week (provided we can kill Anub'arak), I am looking forward to a new twist on these otherwise plain fights.
First Encounter: Northrend Beasts
The very first fight you'll see in Trial of the Crusader (ToC) is the Northrend Beasts encounter. It's a fight against three groups of wild animals, which you'll be required to best in order to proceed in the tournament. The first phase of the fight is against Gormok the Impaler, a large magnataur warlord. While fighting against Gormok, your job is fairly simple. DPS the boss as much as possible, and swap to kill the Snobolds that spawn on your raid mates (or you!).
Gormok will do some unavoidable AoE damage to melee DPS, and so you'll just be soaking this up. When Gormok throws a Snobold onto a raid mate, simply run over and assist by targeting and killing the Snobold. There is NO enrage timer for this portion of the encounter, so feel free to swap to the Snobold, even it if means a lot of downtime walking back and forth. You can also use Dismantle on the boss to lower his melee damage, especially towards the end of the fight as he will be doing more damage then. This phase is very, very easy for melee DPS.
The second phase involves not one, but TWO large Jormungar worms: Acidmaw and Dreadscale. Acidmaw shoots acid and is the "green" one, and Dreadscale shoots fire and is the "red" one. My guild uses a very simple 'burn' strategy on Acidmaw. All DPS (ranged and otherwise) pile onto Acidmaw and we use Bloodlust to burn him down incredibly quickly. Acidmaw applies a debuff to his targets that slowly paralyzes them, eventually freezing them in place forever. As a Rogue, you can Cloak of Shadows to remove the debuff and save yourself the trouble. The method of removing this debuff is to run into someone who has the Fire debuff from Dreadscale.
We are typically able to kill Acidmaw in one rotation of the worms (they go underground and switch places), which leaves us with Dreadscale to kill. He's a lot like Grobbulus for a Rogue: the tank will keep him moving out of the spawning fart clouds, and you don't want to be in front of the worm or you'll get spit on by his Fire breath. If your guild use a different strategy (or you're going for the achievement), remember that you can Blade Flurry and attack both worms at once if they're close together.
The third and final phase of this fight pits you against Icehowl, a giant Yeti. He's really a pushover compared to the bosses you're used to facing. Stack him up in the middle of the room and burn him down. He'll occasionally throw everyone against the outside wall and stun you for a few seconds. When he does this, take careful note of who he is targeting. If he's got his eye on you, he'll be charging after you in a second or two.
Get your bearings, and as soon as the stun wears off, RUN as fast as possible away from where he's aiming. Don't bother with Sprint, the boss gives you a movement speed buff after the stun. Once he misses you and slams himself into the wall, he takes 100% more damage for about 15 seconds (think of when Mimiron's head comes down in P3 of that fight). Use your cooldowns like Killing Spree or Overkill (via Vanish) now to maximize their effect. He should be down pretty quickly.
Second Encounter: Lord Jaraxxus
Here is another fairly simple fight; Lord Jaraxxus has some striking similarities to General Vezax. You'll be attacking a large Eredar demon lord, who will be casting a ton of spells and summoning adds on a regular basis. Rogues are typically assigned to focus on the boss full time, and with our Fan of Knives nerf coming up, our AoE damage on the adds will be even less desired. The reason that we are asked to stick on Jaraxxus is that we're the most capable of interrupting his spells. If you're able to work it into your gear set, consider wearing your PvP gloves for this encounter. While it will cut your DPS (and certainly don't break a set bonus for it), it makes it far easier to always have enough energy for a crucial Kick.
Fel Fireball is the spell that you'll be interrupting. It causes a large amount of Fire damage to its target, and also applies a fairly potent DoT debuff as well. Your healers will be pretty busy handling Incinerate Flesh (just stand still if you get this) and keeping up both tanks. By kicking this spell, you really reduce the random damage during this fight and make it a far smoother encounter. Jaraxxus also buffs himself with a +damage ability known as Nether Power: a Nether Power stack (before someone dispels it) and a Fel Fireball could spell the end of your tank. Make sure to interrupt as many Fel Fireballs as you can!
The only other thing that a Rogue will want to pay attention to is the Legion Flame debuff. If you get this, you'll start spouting flames out of your feet, à la Illidan the Betrayer. The typical strategy is to run radially 'outward', that is, towards a wall as quickly as possible. You don't want to spawn a whole bunch of fires near where the melee DPS are positioned on the boss. I would suggest saving your Cloak for this spell, as it will allow you to stay on the boss instead of running out with the debuff. Remember that the spawning Legion Flames below your feet take a second to spawn, so move as SOON as you get the debuff, not after you see the first flame spawned.
The first two fights are fairly 'tank and spank' from a Rogue's perspective, which may or may not be a welcoming experience for you. With Anub'arak's release on Tuesday, and the unlocking of heroic modes to follow, I will be covering the remaining bosses in ToC and the hard mode changes to the encounters in the weeks to come. Here's to hoping there's some variety added to these fights, instead of simply boosting their damage by another 40% and calling it a day. We've need to have some decent practice to test our skills before we go knocking on Arthas' door, right?