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Encrypted Text: A savvy rogue's guide to the Fall of Deathwing via the Raid Finder


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any questions or article suggestions you'd like to see covered here.

The first half of the Dragon Soul raid consists of knocking out a few of Deathwing's commanders that are attacking Wyrmrest Temple. After toppling the first four bosses of Dragon Soul, we finally see Deathwing face-to-face at the peak of the temple. He's still too busy to attack us himself, instead sending a couple of his additional underlings our way.

Our first challenge will be overcoming Ultraxion, Deathwing's favorite twilight dragon. He's an easy target for rogues and is just about as simple for us as Warlord Zon'ozz. After that, we board an airship to face Warmaster Blackhorn and his Twilight infantry. Finally, we confront Deathwing in two separate encounters, each with its own challenges.

We fight Ultraxion from the roof of Wyrmrest Temple, as he's too massive to fit inside. He'll spend most of the encounter cleaving the entire raid, which makes Feint an amazing tool here. Use it on cooldown for the entire fight. Unfortunately for rogues, we're not able to get behind Ultraxion, due to his positioning over the ledge of the temple roof. While Ultraxion has a buff that prevents him from parrying our frontal attacks, we're not able to use any positional attacks like Backstab or Ambush.

Combat rogues don't mind the boss' location, as they don't have any positional attacks in their rotation. Subtlety rogues rely heavily on Backstab and Ambush to deal optimal damage, while assassination rogues are also dependent on Backstab to produce higher DPS during the last third of a boss' health bar. Because of this imbalance, combat is the superior spec for this encounter. You don't have to respect to combat if you don't want to, but the added DPS definitely helps you beat the relatively tight enrage timer.

The only mechanic that rogues have to worry about is using Heroic Will at the right time. A new button should appear on your screen, and you simply push that button to avoid a few of Ultraxion's attacks. You're stunned once you push the button until the attack actually activates. If you push the button immediately before the attack lands, you're stunned for the least amount of time, which means you'll deal the most damage possible.

The two attacks are his casted spell Hour of Twilight and the random debuff Fading Light. Note that Fading Light can't affect non-tanks on the Raid Finder version of this encounter. When Hour of Twilight's cast time or Fading Light's duration is down to a second or two, pop Heroic Will to survive the attack and then get back to smashing Ultraxion's face in.

Running around with Warmaster Blackhorn

We might fight Warmaster Blackhorn while aboard a gunship, but it's much harder than the pushover gunship encounter we saw in Icecrown Citadel. The first phase has us targeting down specific adds, while the second phase is a simple tank and spank. Switching targets has never been our strong suit, and this fight doesn't break that trend.

The melee of the group are assigned specifically to knocking out the melee adds on the ship's deck, while the ranged DPS will be focusing on other targets. Follow your raid leader's priority system to pick the right target. Stay behind your targets at all times, as they do cleave and you don't want to get parried. The melee adds can be Dismantled to help reduce your tanks' incoming damage. The adds also charge around the room along marked lines on the floor, so get out of the way if you see a pattern underneath your feet.

While the next mobs are absent on the Raid Finder version of this fight, normal-mode raiders will also be knocking out the rogue-like Twilight Sappers when they appear. They Vanish right after being deployed, so use Fan of Knives to bring them out of Stealth. Slow them down as soon as you can, and use your stuns like Cheap Shot and Kidney Shot to prevent them from reaching the cabin. I like to poison my throwing weapon with Crippling Poison to slow them down; you can also rely on Deadly Brew to accomplish the same goal.

In order to prevent the gunship from being destroyed by the Twilight Assault Drakes' attacks, we need to stand in the metaphorical fire to absorb their blasts. Use Feint if you can to reduce your incoming damage, and note that you can also use Cloak of Shadows to nullify any incoming damage from Drakes. I find myself using Sprint quite a bit to navigate the deck of the gunship, dipping into the Drakes' line of fire and then rushing back behind my target. You'll be running a lot in this encounter, which will lower your DPS.

The last portion of this encounter has us facing Blackhorn himself. The ranged classes will be nuking his drake in the air, so stay out of any void zones the dragon spawns on the ground. Stay behind him at all times, use Feint on cooldown to reduce your incoming damage from his shouts, and strafe to the side if he starts casting a Shockwave your way. This part of the fight is cake, and it's your chance to catch up to the ranged classes on the DPS meters.

Spine of Deathwing: Perfect for the lazy rogue

In order to give us a break from all that running around we did on the gunship, the Spine of Deathwing encounter lets us stand still most of the time. We'll be nuking down some Amalgamation adds and Corrupted Blood adds until the Amalgamation explodes and then burning down one of Deathwing's tendons. The Amalgamations are tanked in one spot, and the bloods will be brought to you to be killed. Repeat that cycle twice more, and you're done.

It's important to note that as a melee class, you'll largely be ignoring the tentacles on the sides of Deathwing's back. We need to stay in the middle on his spine; otherwise, he'll sense our presence and will roll over, knocking everyone off of his back. Stay centered at all times, as if you can only move along his spine's axis. Let the ranged DPS work on the tentacles while we stick to the Amalgamation and the blood.

Once the Amalgamation reaches enough stacks of its buff, it will start pulsing for fire damage and will explode on death. Use Feint to cut the pulsing AoE damage down, and run away from the add when it starts casting Nuclear Blast. The blast will pry open one of Deathwing's armor plates, allowing you to focus down the tendon that's attached to it. This is when you want to pop your cooldowns, as you have a limited amount of time to kill the tendon. Note that you are behind the tendon when it spawns, so feel free to Backstab away (no pun intended). You'll also want to stay roughly centered during this part as well, as the boss can still roll over if he feels players on the sides of his back.

Enduring the Madness of Deathwing

The final encounter of Dragon Soul can be summed up in three words: Kill the adds. You'll be burning through some Mutated Corruption tentacles, quickly swapping to an Elementium Bolt, AoEing down a few hemorrhaged Regenerative Bloods, and finally destroying an Arm or Wing Tentacle. There are also Blistering Tentacles that will spawn during the fight, but typically your ranged classes will handle them. After slogging your way through four rounds of adds, you'll be tasked with blowing up even more adds and finally attacking Deathwing's face.

As always, Feint is your best friend here. Use Feint to cut down on your incoming damage from the Mutated Corruption's Crush ability, to halve the damage from the Elementium Bolt's explosion, and to mitigate the Arm or Wing Tentacle's passive AoE damage. Deathwing's face will also be spewing AoE damage all over the raid, so Feint helps there too. Cloak of Shadows is similarly effective, as most of the incoming damage is magical. In particular, you can use Cloak to completely negate the Elementium Bolt's explosion, which allows you to attack it immediately without needing to run away.

When facing Deathwing's face, you want to continue to destroy the Elementium Fragment tentacle adds that spawn, in addition to the Elementium Terrors that your tanks will be handling. If you're targeted by the spell Shrapnel, you can use Ysera's special Dream spell to cut the damage in half. Use Feint regularly to help your healers out here, and save your cooldowns for burning down Deathwing himself.

The Arm and Wing Tentacles are positioned in such a way that you can always attack them from the back, so Backstab works fine here. Combat might sound really effective here, but I found myself not dealing that much damage with Blade Flurry, mostly due to mob positioning. No spec holds a real advantage on this encounter.

The key to defeating this encounter in the Raid Finder is to simple keep trudging on. It's a very long encounter, and the repetitive nature of the fight can quickly become boring. As long as you continue to kill adds in the proper order and you don't slack off, Deathwing will fall over eventually.

Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.

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