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The Light and How to Swing It: The Fall of Deathwing, ret edition, part 2


Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned ret paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

This is it, guys and girls. This is the moment we have all been training for while hitting that poor target dummy in Orgrimmar, because only repeatedly bashing a plank of wood will truly prepare you to square off against a dragon as epic as the big DW. So pick up your weapon, your bag of tricks, and your handful of cooldowns -- it's time to kill Deathwing the Destroyer.

Spine of Deathwing

I remember when there was wild speculation on what the Deathwing fight in Dragon Soul would actually look like. The devs announced that we would jump on him for part of the fight, and my strange brain secretly hoped that we would start at his tail and work our way up, maybe chopping off his legs and wings into a giant container of dry rub so the Titans could come on down and throw it on a massive barbecue. Honestly, we should have done that with Onyxia so she couldn't be resurrected 14 times!

Anyway, let's refocus on the encounter itself. Spine is much like Blackhorn in the sense that it is an add-centric fight. To sum up the fight in one ridiculous sentence: You need to kill the adds to spawn other adds, then kill different adds to buff that other add, then kill that other add to spawn another add, then kill that add.

If you understood that, then we're done here and you can move on to the next boss. If not, here's a breakdown:

Corruption There will be four Corruption tentacles in your landing zone. The most worrisome thing these things do is cast Fiery Grip, which stuns players in place until the tentacles are damaged enough to let go.

Amalgamations If you kill a Corruption (and you will), a Hideous Amalgamation will spawn in its place. This is something for your tank to pick up and for you to attack at the right moment.

Bloods After a Corruption is killed and its associated Amalgamation has spawned, Corrupted Bloods will spawn periodically from the wound. These need to be used in conjunction with the Amalgamations to expose the next set of adds.

Tendons Combine Amalgamations and Bloods to get the Amalgamations to explode, lifting one of Deathwing's armor plates and exposing a Burning Tendon. Hack at the tendon until it snaps and the plate will fly off, revealing another set of Corruption and another plate.

So that's a short rundown for the types of things you can expect to see here. Let's fill in some of the finer details by discussing a pretty common strat for this encounter.

The raid lands and immediately goes to town on three of the four Corruption tentacles. Once all three Amalgamations spawn, stack up where one of the Corruptions used to be. Deathwing will do a barrel roll, and those three Amalgamations will fly off. Kill the remaining Corruption, spawning the final Amalgamation that the tank will position near the armor plate. Kill nine Corrupted Bloods when they get near the Amalgamation to trigger Superheated Nucleus, then quickly finish the add off. If positioned correctly, the resulting explosion should dislodge the plate and expose a Burning Tendon. Kill this tendon, and you will be one third of the way there. Repeat twice more and you'll have a kill.

Your own tactics

What do you as a ret paladin really need to know here?
  • Save cooldowns for the Burning Tendon. I cannot stress this enough -- those Tendons are the true bosses here. You will have a limited window of opportunity for bringing the hurt on these things, so hold off on Avenging Wrath and Zealotry until you see the meaty sinew.
  • Get away from the Amalgamation when it is casting Nuclear Blast. You can use Divine Shield on one if you need to, but the animation of the plate prying off will prevent the tendon from being targetable until a few seconds later anyway. I always found success in just getting 10 yards away and immediately running back in when the explosion is done.
  • Hand of Freedom and Acts of Sacrifice 1/2 will not clear the movement debuff caused when running through a Corruption puddle. This is a good thing; otherwise, you could be thrown off if Deathwing is doing a barrel roll because you instinctively wanted to clear a movement-impairing debuff.
And that's about it for Spine. There's a lot of lather, rinse, and repeat on this fight, so if you can do one phase, you can definitely do the rest. When you land after the fight concludes, make sure to pick Eye of Unmaking and Backbreaker Spaulders from the chest.

Madness of Deathwing

You're so close now! Deathwing is falling apart at the seams, and it's your job to make sure that happens.

You will notice that there are four platforms, and at each platform is a limb of the old Earth-Warder himself. But wait, there is also one Dragon Aspect hovering over each platform -- how convenient! These sponsors will provide special buffs and spells throughout the encounter that will last until Deathwing's presence has been cleared from their platform. Therefore, the order you clear the platforms will determine which buffs you will hold on to until the very end.
Here's a quick look at the Aspects and their associated buffs:

  • Ysera The green Aspect provides a buff called Ysera's Presence and a platform-only ability called Enter the Dream. Use Enter the Dream to avoid heavy hitters like Elementium Bolt.
  • Alexstrazsa The red Aspect's boon is called Alexstrazsa's Presence, with her special ability being Cauterize. This second ability will let you ignore a set of adds called Blistering Tentacles.
  • Nozdormu The bronze Aspect unsurprisingly offers Nozdormu's Presence and an ability called Time Zone. When an Elementium Bolt enters the Time Zone, it will slow down enough for you to DPS it.
  • Kalecgos Lastly, the new-ish blue Aspect supplies Kalecgos' Presence and a platform buff called Spellweaving. Kalec's Spellweaving adds some nice splash damage to your attacks, making dealing with Regenerative Bloods and Blistering Tentacles much easier.

Thrall is also there providing Carrying Winds, which lets you jump between platforms at least 98% of the time. Don't ask about the other 2% of the time; it brings up a too many war memories.

Ret tactics

Instead of discussing a set order for knocking down the platforms (that's something your raid leader should do because you may need some buffs up for longer than other guilds, and vice versa), let's discuss what you will be doing.

On every platform, there will be a limb tentacle (either a Wing or an Arm) that you will need to immediately start DPSing. Ten seconds after the raid starts on the limb, a Mutated Corruption will spawn on the opposite side of the platform. Switch to this add and begin to bring it down.

Soon after, Deathwing will launch an Elementium Bolt at the platform. Move as far away from its targeted location (the bronze swirl) as is reasonable and hit a defensive cooldown. Once it hits, switch to the Bolt immediately and burn it down. Switch back to the Corruption after the Bolt is dead and finish it off, then back to the limb. About 90 seconds after you first damage the limb, Regenerative Bloods will spawn. Simply AoE these down and get back to work on the limb. Once you kill the limb, jump to your next platform and start over.

I know I said I wouldn't discuss the platform order, but there are a couple things you need to know. First, Kalecgos' player damage buff is powerful and is the favorite for keeping until the end. Second, after you kill the limb on Alexstrazsa's platform, you will have to start dealing with Blistering Tentacles, which spawn when the limb is at 70% and 40% of the limb's health. This is a good reason to save the red platform for later.

Anyway, your cooldowns should be up for each new platform and should be used primarily on the limb, as there is too much running around (and, therefore, downtime) when hopping from one add to the other to make proper use of them.

After all four platforms have been cleared, Deathwing's face will come crashing down on Ysera's platform. Needless to say, you have to jump back over there and start introducing your hammer to his teeth. Note, however, that there are even more adds during this phase. Elementium Terrors are big adds that need to be tanked, and Elementium Fragments are the smaller adds that can't be tanked at all.

Generally, the kill order for these adds and for this phase in general is:

Fragments > Terrors > Deathwing

The Fragments have the capability of doing some serious damage to you and your fellow raiders via Shrapnel, and the Terrors can stack Tetanus to eventually kill your tanks. If you are unlucky enough to be targeted by Shrapnel, don't forget that you once again have access to Enter the Dream -- use it! Once both sets of adds are dead, this is an ideal burn phase on Deathwing and a great time to use Bloodlust; plan accordingly.

If everything goes according to plan, you will have rid Azeroth of another big bad! Feel free to collect your hard-earned (though now nerfed) Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps.

I hope you all have enjoyed this walk-through of Dragon Soul as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I have to admit, I'm feeling emotions I didn't know I had, now that they're over and done with. I guess we'll always have the memories, right?

The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.

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