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Patch 5.2 PTR: Killing Throne of Thunder's Dark Animus


Dark Animus is the ninth boss in the Throne of Thunder, followed by Iron Qon, Twin Consorts, and Lei Shen. It's preceded by some fairly stern trash, and on entering the room players are greeted by the image seen above. It's all a tad confusing to the uninitiated, but what you're essentially fighting against is that red, gloopy substance. The story goes as follows:
During his reign, Lei Shen labored to build a mechanical servant that would defend his citadel without fear. When this experiment failed, rage took hold of the Thunder King. He poured this negative emotion into his next, amd most successful creation: the Dark Animus. To this day, the ornate construct observes its duty, empowered by the mysterious substance at the heart of all the Mogu flesh-shaping experiments.
This fight is definitely one of the most interesting ones I've attended on the PTR. Again, I was privileged to join Lore from TankSpot and his guild Months Behind for testing on my restoration shaman.

The fight begins with the spherical blob you see in the center of the room. It will not aggro onto nearby players until struck, but when aggroed, it will explode, activating a number of the smallest robots visible above by powering them with Anima.

Patch 52 PTR Deanimating the Dark AnimusIn a ten-man raid, there was a total of 12 small golems powered up by the initial anima transfer. In 25-man, there was a total of 25. Shortly after our arrival in the room, Blizzard's developers posted a message in chat saying that AoEing the small golems down would not be a viable strategy in future raids.

Part of the reason, no doubt, was that monk tanks were able to use their kiting prowess to avoid the golems' problematic ability: Acceleration Link. This buff is active when two Anima Golems get in close range of one another. It meant that, while tanks could handle two golems apiece with an adept healer, the other Anima Golems had to be "tanked" individually by the rest of the raid. Fortunately, as long as they are kept far enough apart -- about eight yards -- that Acceleration Link is avoided, they really don't hit hard. It is definitely better to try to ensure that you are facing towards the golem, though, if possible.

Powered by Anima

Taken directly from the Dungeon Journal:

Anima Golems cannot act or use abilities without Anima to power them. Anima capacity is limited by the size of the golem; larger golems can hold more of the stuff. The Dark Animus has the largest capacity. Many of its abilities cannot be used until it reaches specific Anima levels.Defeating any size Anima Golem will cause the Anima that was powering them to flow into the nearest golem with enough available capacity.

What this is saying is that when a golem dies, even the little ones, their Anima will transfer into a nearby golem. What this means is that, firstly, raiders will have to be very careful indeed where their golems die. In 10-man, the remaining 13 golems that would be active in 25-man are Critically Damaged, meaning that Anima can still be transferred to them with little to no effect. However, depending on their size, they will, of course, only hold a certain amount.

This fight is, in essence, a maths game. There are three levels of golem: Anima Golem, which start the fight active, as well as Large Anima Golem and Massive Anima Golem, which are activated by killing smaller Anima Golems in close proximity. Dark Animus, the largest of the Golems and the final boss, is activated in the same way. It is, therefore, a good idea to be careful of fighting toward the back of the room, where both the two Massive Anima Golems, and the boss, are situated, until you're ready.

Getting to grips with the golems

Patch 52 PTR Deanimating the Dark AnimusApart from the Anima Golems' Acceleration Link, there are other golem abilities which are problematic on varying levels. In my opinion, the most tiresome of those by a long shot was the sole special ability of the Large Anima Golem: Crimson Wake. Perhaps it was because we were raiding on a US server and my latency wasn't awesome, perhaps because I'd turned my graphics down, and it's a red wave on the red floor of a red room, or perhaps because it pursues you for a full thirty seconds, dealing heavy damage on impact, but it was a real pain. You can see a picture of it to the right -- note how well it's camoflaged!

It became even more tiresome if whoever it fixated on was also being targeted by an Anima Golem, which would then be off on its merry way around the room, linking with any other golems it was close enough to. Getting golems off anyone being targeted by the Crimson Wake was a priority.

Moving on to the Massive Anima Golem, they have two interesting abilities, particularly from the perspective of a healer. They will cast Matter Swap on a random player, one would expect it to favor ranged but that did not necessarily seem to be the case. What it does is, when it's dispelled, it teleports the targeted player to the player that is the furthest away from them, and then deals damage equal to the original target's health evenly to both those two targets. The longer the debuff is left before being dispelled, the higher the damage it deals. Should you have a discipline priest in your raid, they would be a great asset for this, as the damage did not ignore absorbs.

The Massive Anima Golems also cast Explosive Slam, designed, it seems, to necessitate a tank swap, but it seemed that the damage was healable with the clever use of cooldowns. This was fortunate, given that it's highly possible that there are still other golems up requiring a tank's attention.

In dealing with the golems in general, it is a very good idea to limit the number of them activated. We seemed to manage to get through with a minimum of active golems, and thanks to a boss ability -- Empower Golem -- the need to activate and deactivate all golems before engaging the boss is debatable. If golems are reactivated by the boss, they retain their abilities, along with a +100% damage buff.

The Dark Animus

It's all about Anima levels. If the Dark Animus reaches 100 Anima, you're toast, as it will receive the ability Full Power, and wipe your raid. It Siphons Anima slowly from the golems around it, but will never remove the last 1 Anima from an active golem. Therefore, if your raid is unsure of killing it before it reaches Full Power, it could be a good idea to keep a single Anima Golem active in an attempt to prevent this.

There is a mechanic on the boss called Activation Sequence, ostensibly designed to ensure that players don't simply pour anima into the boss, avoiding dealing with the series of golems that should precede him. However, once that effect's duration is passed, it is possible to skip straight to the boss while minimising the uptime of the golems.

The boss has a lot of abilites, which grow in number and potency as his Anima levels increase. He starts the fight with Touch of the Animus, dealing random damage, and quickly gains Anima Ring, a shrinking ring of spheres with a gap through which the targeted player should try to travel in order to avoid the debuff. 25 Anima adds Anima Font to Touch of the Animus, increasing the raid damage, and at 50 Anima, the aforementioned Empower Golem appears.

Empower Golem is exchanged for Empower and Animate, if there are no golems available that have not already been activated. While this does not have the heal element, it wasn't completely clear whether this was a better option. Regardless, it is not possible to avoid this mechanic by activating all the golems prior to engaging the boss.

At 75 Anima, a very tiresome ability appears: Interrupting Jolt. This does fairly heavy raid-wide damage, but also interrupts any casting taking place. This wouldn't be a huge issue, but for the fact that the resultant lock-out is a hefty eight seconds.

General Tactics

Depending on your raid composition, strengths and weaknesses, there will be several different ways to execute this fight, once you've got over the early chaos. The speed of the fight is constrained only by healer mana, and it certainly seems like, at the scaled gear levels on the PTR, having three healers was very useful indeed. This fight is all about control, controlling the activation of golems via positioning and intelligent DPS, and controlling the heavy damage flying around with the fairly constant cycling and co-ordination of cooldowns. There's a lot going on!

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