The Burning Crusade was an expansion of extremes. Each zone in Outland was drastically different from the next; each dungeon was just as diverse. The staggering difference between regular dungeons and the newly added heroic dungeons was the bane of many early leveling players in the expansion, though the heroic dungeons were nerfed over time. So too were the raids -- and tier 5 had two of the most drastically different raid dungeons that anyone had seen.
While Serpentshrine Cavern was the aquatic themed underwater home to Lady Vashj, countless Naga, and other aquatic creatures, The Eye was far on the other end of the spectrum. The Naaru ship Tempest Keep was divided into four sections, three dungeons and the raid instance where Kael'thas Sunstrider reigned supreme. Full of crystalline Naaru architecture, the zone had a shining, unusual, and decidedly alien flavor to it. It was hard to say which of the two raid dungeons was more difficult, but it's much easier to make that distinction today -- The Eye is by far the more challenging of the two zones, especially for those looking to pick up the last few pieces of tier 5.
Tempest Keep is located off the Eastern Edge of Netherstorm in Outland. It requires a flying mount to get to. The summoning stone for the raid is located on the main continent, so unless you plan to summon your group onto the structure itself, you'll want to take people who have flying mounts. The Eye is the largest structure in the center of the floating ship. Inside, The Eye is divided into four distinct sections -- The Phoenix Hall, which you will approach as you enter the zone; The Crucible, to the left; The Solarium, to the right; and north of The Phoenix Hall is Tempest Bridge, which is where Kael'thas is waiting.
I'm not going to lie to you guys -- this raid dungeon is still easily one of the more difficult raid dungeons to complete, even at level 85. Though the first three bosses are smooth sailing, Kael'thas himself has a complex array of fight mechanics that can still kill players at level 85 without really thinking about it. While there are guides out there on soloing Kael'thas, it usually takes a specific class and a specific spec to do so. Instead, I would highly recommend taking at least four people along on the trip -- but the more you take, the easier the last encounter gets, by a substantial margin.
However, it's dead easy to get people to come along to Tempest Keep. Why? Because Kael'thas Sunstrider has a small chance to drop the Ashes of Al'ar, which when learned teaches you to ride a gorgeous flying phoenix mount. Sure, you can get your hands on the Dark Phoenix if your guild has gotten the right achievements, but there are a ton of players out there who want the original. The drop rate for the mount is abysmally low, so don't hold your breath in the hopes of seeing it -- but since it's so highly coveted, getting a group together to run Tempest Keep should be a breeze.
The first boss you'll encounter is Al'ar, the phoenix that flies high above The Phoenix Hall. You'll want to clear out all trash both above and below Al'ar before pulling him, simply to avoid any unwanted extra adds while fighting him. You'll notice there are four platforms on the upper level, one on top of each ramp that leads up and two in the back of the room. These are the platforms you'll want to fight Al'ar on for the first phase. Have two people in your group take a spot on the first two platforms to your left. If Al'ar is not tanked on a platform, he'll begin to AOE.
The AOE isn't too horribly painful, but you still want to keep damage to a minimum if you can. Pull Al'ar to the platform at the top of the left ramp and beat the stuffing out of him. He may move to the second platform over; if he does, no worries, you've already got someone standing there. By the time he tries to get to platform three, he should be dead.
Well ... mostly dead. Being a phoenix and all, Al'ar will come back to life on the lower level of the room. When he spawns, he'll cast a knockback, so don't approach him right away. Once he's done casting that knockback, feel free to go all-out on the bird. If any adds spawn, you can safely ignore them and instead concentrate on Al'ar. Oh, and don't forget rule #1 of raiding: Don't stand in the fire. Al'ar should be toast in short order.
Tier drops Al'ar has no tier at all.
Other items of interest Cloth-wearing classes that are interested in a recolor of mage tier 5 will want to pick up the Mindstorm Wristbands. Leather-wearing classes might like the Gloves of the Searing Grip, while mail-wearing classes should take a look at the blue and gold Fire Crest Breastplate. The Phoenix-Wing Cloak is a really nice red and gold cloak suitable for all classes.
But it's the weapons that Al'ar has in abundance, and they're awesome. For those using fist weapons, the Claw of the Phoenix and its match, the Talon of the Phoenix, both drop off of Al'ar. These fist weapons are stunning; they look like they've been constructed with claws and feathers from Al'ar. Al'ar also drops Netherbane, a gorgeous one-handed axe that is constructed entirely out of glowing purple crystals. For casters, Al'ar also drops the off-hand item Talisman of the Sun King in orange and gold. For ranged classes, the Arcanite Steam-Pistol is a unique steam-powered gun complete with spinning gears.
Head out the left exit of The Phoenix Hall on the upper level and follow the corridor around to the left. Continue clearing the trash; it's a pushover. You'll find yourself in The Crucible, where boss number two awaits. Void Reaver was jokingly called Loot Reaver back in The Burning Crusade, and for good reason -- the boss was incredibly easy, even at level 70. Clear out all trash in The Crucible; otherwise, it will engage when you pull Void Reaver -- or if you want at least some small challenge, pull the whole room all at once and see if you can survive! The only major note to make about Void Reaver is that he is a mechanical boss, and as such, he is immune to poisons. Rogues, get ready to hit eviscerate a lot.
Tier drops Void Reaver drops tier 5 shoulder tokens for all classes.
Other items of interest Cloth-wearing classes looking for that mage tier 5 recolor set will want to pick up the Cowl of the Grand Engineer. Druids, the belt that matches your tier 5 set is the Girdle of Zaetar. Mail-wearing classes looking for a recolor of hunter tier 5 should take a look at the Void Reaver Greaves, while plate-wearers who want a recolor of warrior tier 5 should pick up the Fel-Steel Warhelm. Speaking of warrior tier 5, the Wristguards of Determination are the bracer match to that set.
High Astromancer Solarian
Head out of The Crucible and back to The Phoenix Hall, then take the corridor on the right side of the hall. Follow the path to the right, and you'll find yourself in The Solarium, where High Astromancer Solarian awaits. She's not the only one hanging around in the room, however; there are packs of Blood Elves that you need to clear out before pulling the boss. As with Void Reaver, pulling the boss will pull all trash in the room. However, this is absolutely not recommended at all -- the trash packs can Mind Control players, and if too many people are Mind-Controlled, it's a wipe.
Instead, pull the trash packs one or two at a time and mow them down before engaging Solarian. The High Astromancer does very little damage, and you should kill her in roughly 30 seconds or so. At some point, she'll turn into a giant voidwalker. Just ignore it, keep DPSing, and she'll be done for in no time flat.
Tier drops Solarian has no tier.
Other items of interest The Trousers of the Astromancer are yet another piece of recolored mage tier 5, while the Star-Soul Breeches are a nice pair of pants in green and silver. Rogues, the Vambraces of Ending are a match for your tier 5 set. Hunters, the Star-Strider boots are a match to your tier 5 set. Mail-wearers looking for recolored shaman tier 5 should check out the Worldstorm Gauntlets for your gloves. Those looking for recolored warrior tier 5 will want the Greaves of the Bloodwarder.
The Girdle of the Righteous Path is a match for paladin tier 5, and warriors looking for boots that match tier 5 should check out the Boots of the Resilient. In addition, Solarian drops the Ethereum Life-Staff, a dazzling crystalline staff with spinning runes; Heartrazor, a red and gold one-handed dagger, and the Wand of the Forgotten Star, a brightly glowing teal and purple wand for casters.
All right. Are you ready for this? Follow on to page 2 for an in-depth look at the ridiculously complicated and ridiculously fun fight against Kael'thas Sunstrider.