Ready Check: Reliquary of Souls

Jennie Lees
J. Lees|05.31.08

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Ready Check: Reliquary of Souls

Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. Even if they are mysteriously conglomerate faces...

Continuing our jaunt through Black Temple, this week's Ready Check looks at the Reliquary of Souls, also known as the Essence of Souls (RoS or EoS for short). How often is it you get to fight three oversized faces joined together? Savour this opportunity now...

You'll encounter RoS by making your way through Black Temple, usually after either Teron Gorefiend or Gurtogg Bloodboil, depending on how your guild prefers to do things. Let's take a look at the fight.

Bad news, initially. With the advent of TBC we thought we'd seen the end of trash gauntlets, but one crops up right before RoS. After clearing a couple of trash packs, you find yourself facing a room of ghosts – once you pull these ghosts, welcome to the gauntlet. Fortunately, it's fairly short and simple. Small fragments phase in continually, and the ghosts respawn behind you; stay with your tanks, move ahead quickly and thank the powers that be that there's no Suppression Aura.

You'll soon find yourselves at the top of a ramp looking down into the boss's room, and so the fight begins.
RoS has three phases, one corresponding to each face of the boss; Essence of Suffering, Essence of Desire and Essence of Anger. Between each phase more ghosts appear that restore health and mana when killed. Each essence has a particular aura that affects the entire raid; however, the auras, as well as the boss's abilities, change completely from phase to phase.

Phase 1: Essence of Suffering

The Aura of Suffering negates any healing done, as well as reducing everyone's armor to 0 and defense by 500. It also ignores normal threat but Fixates on the nearest target, and re-Fixates every 6 seconds. Every 45 seconds it will Enrage, increasing its damage dealt.

Since the boss hits for approximately 1-1.5k normally on the average raid member, you can't tank it traditionally; instead, you can take advantage of the Fixate mechanism to use your entire raid's health pool to 'tank' the boss. Let your raid move underneath the boss and step out (backwards, in small increments, so not to move it) when they get Fixate, and ensure only rogues with Evasion up are underneath it ready for the Enrage. However, depending on your tanks' gearing, you can simplify this somewhat – many guilds now use a single tank with sufficient block value to tank an entire normal phase without dying, then a backup tank with good avoidance (such as a feral druid) takes over after the enrage.

As you can't heal during this phase, many healers can just DPS, although priests can shield Fixate targets, and both priests and paladins should be dispelling Soul Drain, a DoT that the boss casts on random targets.

Positioning is really the key to this phase, whichever approach you take. Make sure you're not underneath the boss when you don't have to be, and try not to attack from in front and cause parries. Using immunity abilities like Blessing of Protection or Ice Block while Fixated causes the boss to run after the person highest on threat, so these should only be used in an absolute emergency.

When the boss reaches 1% it will retreat, giving you ghosts to regen from; when those die, phase two begins.

Phase 2: Essence of Desire

This phase is all about spells, specifically interrupts, reflects and dispels. The aura for this phase increases healing by 100% but also deals half of the damage you dish out back to you. The entire raid's mana pools are also reduced by 5% every 8 seconds, so after 2 minutes 40 seconds you will be OOM with no way to regain any mana.

Your DPS needs to interrupt one of the boss's abilities: Spirit Shock, a 10k disorient that is potentially deadly if it gets through and hits your tank. However, they need to ensure they interrupt this spell only.

The tank needs to reflect another ability called Deaden, which increases the target's damage taken by 100%. If reflected on to the boss, the tank avoids taking that extra damage, and more importantly the DPS get a few seconds of double-damage time.

You also need to dispel the boss's third ability, Rune Shield, a damage-absorbing bubble that prevents interrupts. Your mages can spellsteal this, but having Felhunters set on the boss ensures this vanishes as soon as it is cast.

Even raid members who cannot do any of these things need to be awake, as it's entirely possible to kill yourself through the damage you deal, especially with large crits during Deaden. Healers also need to stay on top of all the raid damage, and since the incoming damage causes spell pushback, paladins with Concentration Aura are quite valuable here.

You can use whatever interrupt rotation works for your guild, though using mana-less melee is a common approach. If your interrupters make announcement macros you can keep track of the rotation and adjust if someone uses theirs at the wrong time. Having Curse of Tongues on the target greatly helps the interrupters.

Due to Deaden, it's pretty vital to have a warrior tank on this boss unless you outgear the encounter. If your interrupters are letting Spirit Shocks through (common while learning) you can use an offtank, such as a feral druid, who stays above the DPS in threat and will tank the boss during the duration of Spirit Shock.

If you do hit the end of the mana drain, all is not lost. Priests can use inner focus to mass dispel one last rune shield; your interrupters can keep interrupting; and a paladin can use Lay on Hands to save the tank's life. However, with your DPS out of mana, no healing and very limited mana-less abilities, you'll run into trouble – ideally you only want to have a few percent left at this point if you do hit it at all.

Phase 3: Essence of Anger

As if phase 2 wasn't exciting enough, phase three brings with it even more raid damage. The Aura of Anger ticks for shadow damage over the entire raid, and the ticks increase with time, so you need to kill the boss before it kills you. Therefore you'll need all your DPS cooldowns ready for this phase to pump out as much damage as possible. Fortunately, the aura ticks also increase your damage done too.

The boss needs to be faced away from the raid, as it has a frontal cone ability called Soul Scream, which burns mana or rage and deals extra damage depending on how much it burns. Use your rage as quickly as possible to minimise damage.

The other ability for tanks to note is Seethe, which affects the entire raid with a double-threat debuff when the boss is taunted or changes target. If you use this at the start of the phase, your tank can build up double threat and get a headstart while your DPS holds back; at the end of Seethe, the DPS can ideally go all out.

Spite is the boss's final ability for this phase. Targeting up to three random people at once, it makes the target immune to damage for 6 seconds and then unloads about 7.5 nature damage; combined with the aura ticking afterwards, this can kill, so a common tactic used is to hand out potions from a Nature Protection cauldron just before this phase and drink one if you get Spite.

Raid healing is fairly intense for this phase, but the good news is that if someone dies and resurrects, their aura ticks reset. You can soulstone DPS and have them pop back up for the execute phase, if you're having trouble keeping them up. Encourage people to keep themselves alive as long as possible; a shadow protection potion, health potion or healthstone could make the difference. Your tank can take a hefty amount of damage too, and abilities like Improved Lay on Hands are useful while learning (if applied during the ghosts before phase 3, the paladin can regain all the lost mana).

DPS may be giggling at the huge crits they're landing, but be aware of threat as well; you might be doing 100% more damage, but your tank's abilities might not generate 100% more threat as a result.

If your DPS is up to scratch you'll manage to kill the boss before that last aura tick kills the raid, so congratulations – that's the Reliquary of Souls down!

The Ready Check
  • Did you remember to bring a nature protection cauldron?
  • Do you have a warrior tank and 7 healers? (While it's doable with 6, taking 8 along really eats into your DPS).
  • Do your interrupters have their rotation and announcements ready?
  • Do your warlocks know who to soulstone, if you're using them?
  • Are your paladins in DPS groups for Concentration Aura?
  • Does everyone know which approach you're using for phase 1?
  • Have you reminded everyone to save DPS cooldowns for phase 3?
All ready? Good luck!

Looking for more on raiding? WoW Insider's Ready Check column takes you step-by-step through Brutallus, Felmyst and general musing on raiding from the edge! For even more guides, check out WoW Insider's Directory.
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