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The Light and How to Swing It: Tanking the first 3 bosses of Dragon Soul

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

In the previous weeks, we've talked about getting prepped for patch 4.3, how to hit the ground running, and what pieces of gear should be on your hit list. Now we've come to the main event: the Dragon Soul raid. Deathwing's forces are assaulting Wyrmrest Temple, and it's up to you and your allies to knock them over and finally put a stop to his perfidy. The fights ahead will test your skills and the limits of your survivability. You'll also be taunt swapping like you've never taunt swapped before (which is its own kind of exciting).


Morchok is a fairly simple encounter (and "fairly" is being generous). Consider it the Lootreaver of Dragon Soul.

When you pull Morchok, turn him away from the raid. His Stomp attack will split damage among all targets within 25 yards, but the two closest (that is, you and your co-tank) get a double share of the damage. So unless you're trying to play Kill the DPS, face the boss away.

You and your co-tank will be swapping at around two or three stacks of the Crush Armor debuff. Each stack reduces your armor by 20 seconds, so don't allow it to stack too high. Usually I'll take the boss first, co-tank taunts at two stacks, and then taunt when my stacks fall off, and we continue to taunt when stacks drop off there on out.

When Black Blood of the Earth occurs, you'll want to run with the rest of the raid to the preset direction where you'll all meet. Don't space out and get killed by that.

Lastly, at 20% remaining health, the boss will undergo a soft enrage, buffing his attack speed and damage done by becoming Furious. You can pop a cooldown here, if you want. I doubt you'll be in much danger, what with the loot pinata thing and all.

For glyphs, Focused Shield is a good idea since there are no adds. Glyphing Divine Protection is not necessary, as most of the damage will just be boring melee attacks. There's not much spell damage going out aside from Black Blood of the Earth, and you shouldn't be taking damage from that.

Loot to look out for:
Yor'sahj the Unsleeping

Yor'sahj is another easy boss -- feel free to call this the Skittles fight -- with, of course, another lazy tank swap mechanic. Swap on two to three stacks of Void Bolt; don't carry it too much further than that, to play it safe. It's worth mentioning, though, that Void Bolt will inevitably fall off when the boss is channeling three slimes into existence.

The fight itself is pretty much carried by the healers and DPS. Some colors will necessitate quick work to keep yourself alive. But other than that, DPSers will be running off to kill the chosen slime. Let's go through the colors and what they mean for you when they reach the boss.
  • Purple This one will always be killed, so don't concern yourself with it. It's by far the deadliest slime. No good reason to let it reach the boss.
  • Yellow You'll want to use cooldowns through this, as the boss will hit you much more often with Void Bolt and melee attacks thanks to the buff it gains. It's mostly spell damage that you need to worry about, so make sure to have the Mirror of Broken Images equipped and chain that with a glyphed Divine Protection.
  • Blue Your healers' mana will rapidly dissipate, so be prepared to pop cooldowns to keep yourself alive until the Mana Void is destroyed and they get their juice back.
  • Red There's no real effect on tanking. The raid will stack on you to mitigate the Searing Blood damage.
  • Black Adds will spawn. Keep Inquisition up and cast Hammer of the Righteous to your heart's content. Consecration is just peachy here, as well. Don't panic when the adds are up; they fixate on random raiders, so there's no need to start frantically mashing your taunt keys.
  • Green Acid will rain from the sky. Everyone needs to be spread out, to avoid chaining the acid damage damage, so make sure you're not standing on anyone.

Loot to look out for:

Warlord Zon'ozz

This is the hardest fight of the first half of Dragon Soul and perhaps the one that will present the first speed bump to your raid as you make you start to progress. At least on 25-man, we found this to be a huge headache.

Keep in mind that as of the time I'm writing this, the fight is buggy as hell. The Void of Unmaking (the pong ball) loves to glitch out, standing still or bouncing off of a random entity (I swear we've seen it ricochet off of a player skeleton). So prepare yourself for some ridiculous wipes until the bugs are ironed out.

Anyway, the damage output on this fight can be intense for the tank. Zon'ozz gains a stacking buff, Focused Anger, that will increase his damage done and attack speed by 10% per stack, which only resets during each intermediary tentacle fun time phase.

Likewise, he'll periodically cast Psychic Drain, which does a large amount of shadow damage. You really want to mitigate that using a glyphed Divine Protection and of course the trusty Mirror. Watch your boss mods for when this ability goes off cooldown for the boss, and then pop your cooldown preemptively. Psychic Drain is easily the quickest way to die on this fight.

Now, during tentacle fun time, there will be a ton of AoE damage going out to the raid. It goes without saying that this is an excellent time to use Divine Guardian. The boss will also continue to melee you during this phase, so don't neglect to keep Holy Shield up.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the fight, occasionally when the Void is heading back to Zon'ozz to push the fight to that tentacle phase, you'll need to drag the boss to intercept the incoming void. Pay attention to where the void is; hopefully, the raid will let you know which direction you need to run and how crazily you'll need to dash off to make the catch.

Loot to look out for:
The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to take on the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Try out our 4 tips for upping your combat table coverage, find out how to increase threat without sacrificing survivability, and learn how to manage the latest version of Holy Shield.

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