Ready Check: Guide to Naxxramas (Plague Quarter)

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. This week, we continue exploring Naxxramas by venturing into the territory of plague beasties.

Continuing our journey through the halls of Naxxramas, which began last week with the Arachnid Quarter, this week's Ready Check takes a close-up view of the Plague Quarter. As with last week's guide, don't read any further if you want everything to be a surprise when you venture in.

We'll be looking at Noth the Plaguebringer, Heigan the Unclean and Loatheb. But first, let's talk about trash...

The initial trash in the Plague Quarter can be a little tricky if you're new to the place. Firstly, beware the Stoneskin Gargoyles. When they get to low health they cast Stoneskin; if they are not killed within this cast time they will heal back up and you'll have to repeat the process, while a stacking AoE DoT is piling up on everyone. The very first gargoyle can be leashed at the entrance to the wing, if you accidentally pull it along with a trash pack. When it comes to the pulls with two gargoyles, you can choose to burn them down and soak up the extra DoT or take one of them away from the raid where its DoT will only affect its tank and healer, depending on the gear you have. Also, the Plague Slimes in the early trash packs can hit pretty hard but also move very slowly, so you can kite them rather than tank them.

Noth the Plaguebringer

The first boss in the Plague Quarter, you may remember Noth from the Death Knight starting zone (and if you haven't done it, it's worth visiting once you're familiar with Naxxramas' residents). There's no achievement linked to him.

The fight itself is fairly simple once you get the hang of it, although there are several elements to deal with. Noth periodically blinks away, causing an aggro reset (so your tank has to be quick to pick him up). He also casts a curse which causes damage to nearby players if not dispelled within 10 seconds -- the heroic mode damage is significantly more, but the normal mode version is technically healable if you don't have a decurser.

Throughout the fight Noth raises skeletons from the bone piles around the room to help him, and it's easiest to have two tanks picking these up on heroic (one can manage on normal) while the DPS focus on Noth. 90 seconds into the fight he will teleport to the balcony and become unattackable, so it's time to clean up the skeletons while the Noth tank helps to pick up the new ones that are spawning. After 70 seconds of this he teleports back to the centre of the room and the initial phase begins again. You will probably kill him during this phase but if not, it's just rinse and repeat.

Differences between normal and heroic:
Curse hits three players on normal, ten on heroic
Curse damage significantly less on normal
Summons fewer skeletons on normal than heroic

Heigan the Unclean

The trash between Noth and Heigan was a gauntlet (i.e. continually respawning behind the raid) in the original version of Naxxramas, but is now normal trash, so no need to rush it. Heigan himself is well-known for being the 'dance' boss, and indeed, dancing is what you need to do here. The achievement linked to Heigan is 'The Safety Dance'; with a bit of practice you'll be able to complete the fight without anyone dying and collect your achievement.

The fight itself has two phases. During phase 1, Heigan is tanked away from the platform he starts on (since he has a caster-unfriendly aura) and the ground will Erupt periodically, so the tank and melee must move to safe areas. There is also a disease randomly applied to raid members that can be deadly, and should be cured promptly. During phase 2, Heigan teleports to the platform and anyone who remains there takes a huge amount of damage, so the entire raid must move to the floor and 'dance' through the Eruptions, just as the melee and tank did in phase 1.

The Eruptions are fairly slow and it's easy to get the hang of it after a few false starts; the time-honoured advice, passed down since the original Naxx, is to not follow anyone else but rather learn the dance for yourself. Lag can be a huge problem, and people appear further behind on your own screen than on theirs. Note that being hit by Eruption isn't actually fatal if you're near the edge of a safe area, so be ready to pot and healthstone if you are lagging behind a little.

The easiest way to figure out the dance (other than by trying it) is to watch videos; several are from the pre-WotLK version, where the dance phase is a lot faster and there's an additional random player teleport, but they give the general idea.

Differences between normal and heroic:
No differences beyond damage increase


After Heigan, you'll find a gauntlet of trash -- albeit a fairly short one -- leading to the final boss of the Plague Quarter, Loatheb. There's an achievement linked to Loatheb, Spore Loser, but at the time of writing the achievement seems bugged (the spores despawn by themselves, but in doing so they give kill credit to the raid, thus failing the achievement).

Loatheb is a healing challenge and a DPS race. Healers have to time heals very carefully around Necrotic Aura, which is cast every 20 seconds and lasts 17 seconds, giving you three seconds in which to land heals (though you can start casting before the aura wears off, as it's a visible debuff). As the fight wears on and the raid starts taking more damage from Inevitable Doom plus Deathbloom, raid members can use healthstones or even bandage during the healable period to help with this.

The rest of the fight is all about spores. Loatheb summons spores throughout the fight (more frequently on heroic) and the spores give a beneficial debuff, Fungal Creep, increasing crit chance by 50% and reducing threat caused by zero to the five closest people. Other than the tank, everyone in the raid should get this debuff, so organise into groups (it's usually easier to simply start at group 1 and work through to group 5, or vice versa depending where your highest DPS members are). When a spore appears, the group whose turn it is -- and that group alone -- should bunch up next to the spore and kill it to get the debuff. Note that the spores have low health and only apply the debuff in a short-range area, so don't be too hasty or too late to move. It helps to have someone calling out which group's turn it is, although boss mods can do this.

In short, keep yourself alive, get spores when it's your turn and use the healing window wisely.

Differences between normal and heroic:
Spore frequency higher on heroic

In next week's Ready Check we'll be venturing into the Deathknight Quarter, so stay tuned!