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The Light and How to Swing It: Tanking tactics for bringing down the Warchief

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 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Finally we've reached the end of the road and, in some respects, so too has Garrosh. He started out as the most emo orc this side of Oshu'gun and after a series of misconceived alley-oops rose to become the leader of one of the two superpowers on Azeroth. Of course we've all finally gotten sick of his nonsense, and it's time he was shown the door.

Garrosh presents, as most end-of-raid bosses do, a terrific challenge. This fight is not a walk in the park. Its increasingly harried phases will try the durability of any tank's nerves, without a doubt. To topple this Warchief you'll need to bring your absolute A-game, and hopefully today I'll be able to help you do that.

Talent and glyph considerations

I didn't have to make a lot of changes from my usual load-out. Speed of Light is definitely necessary for the intermission phases 'inside' the heart, where you want to sprint down an area and pick up all the adds as soon as possible. Fist of Justice is worth it for helping with Touch of Y'shaarj. And Eternal Flame is still tops here, much like for just about all of Siege of Orgrimmar.

One departure from the usual -- I typically don't spec out of Clemency, due to my love of raid utility. However, the damage in this fight is pretty intense and I really can't pass up Unbreakable Spirit and the promise of being able to use Divine Protection more often. Judicious use of cooldowns is very important in this fight.

I usually use Holy Avenger for SoO because I like the control, though with four-piece I'd switch to using Divine Purpose in heartbeat -- before four-piece it's really a matter of personal preference. Lastly, this is the fight that I first started using Holy Prism, after having read this latest blog post by Theck where he indicates that his sims favor switching from Light's Hammer.

For glyphs, I went with Divine Protection to make that cooldown useful in phase one's madness (and for the adds kite at the end), Holy Wrath for an AoE stun in that kite, and Blinding Light for the additional AoE stun.

Phase one

A quick word about how my guild does this encounter: for starters, we're a ten-man guild (though so are the majority of normal mode guilds, but still, that should be said) and we two-heal the encounter to kill things quickly and stay ahead of Garrosh's energy accumulation. My co-tank is a death knight and he pulls the boss.

We've adapted our strategy to allow the tank on Garrosh to also hold the six adds that join the fight as well -- thanks to Vengeance that tank will likely end up with them no matter what. As off-tank during that initial part of the fight, my job is to grab and drag one half of those six adds over to the pile and then to cover the Farseer when he spawns and make sure he's in the path of the Iron Star, as well as interrupt any Chain Heals he might try to squeeze off.

The back Iron Star is used to just about kill the adds, mooks and Farseer alike, as well as put some damage on Garrosh himself. After the first Iron Star strikes the wall, we swap and I take Garrosh and my co-tank goes to grab the next batch of adds. We do this because we determined that holding that giant pile is too much the second time around for one tank to handle, and alternating allows for better/more liberal use of cooldowns. We've had great success with this strategy.


When a heart intermission occurs, there are three possible settings: the Temple of the Jade Serpent, Red Crane, or Terrace of Endless Spring. For the Jade Serpent temple, you'll want to split up and knock out the first two packs on either side at the same time, then the middle together, then split again. For Red Crane, split 50/50 and head either left or right and burn down the add at the end of hallway (make sure to be in front of the raid when turning the blind corner, Speed of Light helps here). For Terrace, just hit Speed of Light and sprint down the path, picking up everything as you go and burning down the pile in one go in front of the field separating your raid from Garrosh.

When Garrosh is active, don't stand in the Annihilate and do your best to help out with your raid utility. Devotion Aura is an option (your raid might want to save that for Whirling Corruptions later, though), as is Hand of Sacrifice, Lay on Hands, Light's Hammer, and Holy Prism. Use Divine Shield to spare yourself 8 seconds of damage -- the phase ends after a minute no matter what, so your damage isn't really critical here to make the phase end more quickly.

Phase two

The first time you exit an intermission, phase two begins. One of the tanks will pick up Garrosh and drag him away from the center. We do not kill Desecrated Weapons from this point forward, so we bring the boss to the right third of the room and let Desecrated Weapons slowly encircle him while trying to push to 10% and the third phase.

Tanking in this phase is significantly less terrifying than phase one in terms of damage. You'll be swapping due to stacks of Gripping Despair, which we do at three stacks. Occasionally Garrosh will use Touch of Y'shaarj and mind control members of your raid. You can use Avenger's Shield, if unoccupied with tanking Garrosh, to help with interrupts so additional people do not get mind-controlled.

Periodically, Garrosh will cast Whirling Corruption, which is a pretty serious source of raid AoE damage. Your raid utility can be invaluable here. After Garrosh gets 25 energy, his Whirling Corruption will also summon adds, though until phase three the raid should be handling these themselves as it is not a good idea to have any of them die near another -- so a tank gathering them up is not a good idea.

Occasionally in phase two, your raid will be sucked into an intermission phase. Get through the adds as quickly as possible to keep Garrosh's energy as low as possible.

If the phase goes on too long you're going to have to deal with increasingly difficult mechanics. At 50 energy, Touch of Y'shaarj becomes empowered and you can't use stuns to disable mind-controlled players any more, though interrupts still work. At 75, Desecrated Weapons become unkillable and much more dangerous. At 100 energy, the DoT that Garrosh has been putting on you and the other tank becomes much, much more dangerous thanks to an additional debuff whenever it falls off.

Phase three

Despite your efforts to keep his energy low, once Garrosh hits 10% health he'll heal back up to 25% and phase three will begin. At this point, all abilities of his are empowered, regardless of his energy, and your raid will have to react accordingly: with a frantic burn before you are overwhelmed.

The adds are the most pressing concern for the tanks, as they are now beyond the capabilities of the DPS to handle themselves -- and regardless, the DPS will need to concentrate on burning the boss. Therefore, to deal with them, a tank needs to pick any minions up and book it ... and you're just the paladin for that job.

A fully Vengeanced-out Eternal Flame will help with initial aggro, and you'll want to quickly grab all the adds and hold them, and then get the hell away from all the angry abominations that are suddenly slavering over you. Your raid will be frantically pouring damage into Garrosh, and all the while you need to use your full complement of cooldowns and AoE stuns (Holy Wrath especially!) to keep the adds from running roughshod over you.

If you're lucky enough to remember the unmitigated joy that was the add kite on Nefarian in BWD, you have an idea of how this particular kite goes. Just gird your loins, stay a few steps ahead, chug a Darkwater Potion, and hope the raid doesn't cut you off from being able to maneuver your currents adds and pick up new ones. Good luck! (You'll need it.)

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

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