Naxxramas Strategy: Loatheb

14 01 2009

editor’s note: to date, I have not been able to run any of Naxx on 25-man (heroic) difficulty, so the boss mechanics may change slightly in that format. This post is addressed from the 10-man setting.

  Many, if not all of you are taking your first steps into Naxx by now. On most servers, a large number of guilds have successfully cleared it in its entirety at this point as well. I’m writing more for those who are new here, in order for you to better help understand the mechanics of the fights and what to expect so that you can successfully collect your epics! Regardless of what role you have in the fights – tank, DPS or healing – I’d recommend that you read over the roles that each group will be performing in order to have a clear understanding of how the whole fight will go.


  The final boss of the Plague Wing, Loatheb is an enjoyable fight with a mechanic unlike any that you’ve ever seen. The trash runup to him is brief, but must be taken carefully. If you look into the room immediately past Heigan, you will see that there are several buckets (or whatever) on the floor. Periodically, eye stalks will rise from them, and then despawn after a short time; additional minor trash patrols the area as well. In order to get to Loatheb, you must run this gauntlet and get through to the other side. I’ve always run it straight through, with the entire Raid moving as one mass along the near wall until we reach the end. Once at the end, everyone runs in to the back corner where the tanks’ accumulated trash following is dealt with. Along the way, eyestalks may pop up from the buckets; DPS should hit them with whatever instant casts may be available (Hunters are excellent here) to down the eyestalk without breaking stride. With a little bit of luck and cohesion, your entire Raid should make it from one side to the other in one piece. From there, hang a right and you will move across a short bridge; in a room on the other side is Loatheb. Move carefully to a position just inside the door, and you’ll be ready to begin!

Tanks– Loatheb will only require one tank. While mitigation will be important to an extent, it’s probably in the best interest of the Raid to have the tank capable of higher DPS perform in that role, while the lower DPS player operates as Loatheb’s tank. This fight is a pure DPS race, so any little bit that you can milk is important.

  For the Main Tank, you will want to start the fight by body pulling Loatheb. Simply run right at him and through him, then turn around. You want him to be tanked in more or less his original starting position, but with his back turned to the door. Once established in this position, you will not have to move him at all for the duration of the fight.

  The Main Tank should try to save their mitigation cooldown for intermittent usage when his Necrotic Aura is up Basically, Loatheb is going to have the Aura up for 16 seconds, and then down for 4. When it is up, all healing (no matter the source) is blocked. Thus, you’ll want to stagger your mitigation cooldowns and trinkets to use one per aura if possible and smooth out damage. For instance, a Druid might Barkskin on one aura, then use a dodge trinket on the second, and pop Survival Instincts for the third before going back to another Barkskin on 4, and so on. For longer cooldown abilities, it’s better to save them for later as anything other than Barkskin, Shield Block or Holy Shield is overkill on the first few rounds anyhow as incoming damage is relatively light (Loatheb doesn’t hit all that hard) and the Raid is not yet taking much damage from him. By the time that he starts using Impending Doom, you’ll want to be in a full-mitigation mode to assist your healers as much as possible. Essentially, it boils down to this – limit your damage taken during the time when Necrotic Aura is up through shrewd use of cooldowns at appropriate times.

DPS – This fight is your chance to go nuts, and you’ll have to in order to get him down before the damage outstrips the available healing. To start with, you’ll want to follow the Main Tank in on the pull. All DPS should position themselves right on Loatheb’s backside, and stay tightly bunched up. Ranged DPS should be as close to him as possible without entering into a dead zone (in the case of Hunters).

   The reason for this is the Spores that will spawn. Killing one of them provides an enormous critical strike buff to up to 5 people in the area, and those affected will generate no threat with their attacks. properly done, this will allow the moajority of the Raid – and possibly even everyone but the Main Tank – to enjoy this buff for almost the entire fight. Due to the threat mechanic, it is very important that the Main Tank not receive the spore buff, though. To achieve this, kill the Spores (they have extremely low HP) when they are near the DPS group.

  DPS will want to use their best and most efficient damage rotation as possible throughout the fight. Due to the fact that you will not have to move (or really, do much of anything outside of damage) once the fight starts, you should be able to be very precise with your rotations for maximum damage. Make sure that trinkets are used as frequently as possible, and other damage-enhancing abilities (like Tiger’s Fury, Elemental Mastery, Water Elementals, etc) should be used close to the inception of the fight so that cooldowns expire and they can receive multiple uses through the fight.

  Remember that none of your DPS abilities that may normally generate a health return (like Drain Life, Blood Aura, etc) will be restoring anything to you if the Necrotic Aura is up. Similarly, while you can use Health Potions, Healthstones and bandages at any point in the fight, their healing effect will be reduced to 0% if the aura is up – using up the item (or even worse, acquiring the potion-used debuff). While Mana Potions may be used normally, it’s better to save that one potion for a Health Potion – or a Rejuvenation Potion, if available. As the fight goes on, players will find that they are straying farther and farther from full health as the Healers can only restore so much in the short window. To help supplement this, Raid Leaders may want to consider ordering consumption of all Healthstones and potions at a set point in the fight. Let the Raid know a few seconds before the aura drops that you want all members to stop DPS and use both Healthstone and Health Potion in the coming window. The additional healing burst that the coordinated effort can supply will add a lot of longevity to the Raid if executed properly; don’t order it done, though, unless you see that health bars are not moving much higher than about 2/3 during the healing windows. If overall Raid health is becoming particularly strained in spite of this, DPS classes with AOE healing spells (particularly Tranquility and Chain Heal) may be called upon to supplement healing; those classes should be prepared to assist if called upon. Finally, if your class has some kind of Shadow Damage mitigator (I’m especially thinking of a Warlock’s Shadow Ward), try to be alert and pop it to coincide with the Impending Doom curse as it will mitigate damage. Every little bit helps.

Healers– This fight is made and broken on the timing of your heals. It will be absolutely critical that you time things as best as possible to generate maximum healing output during the allotted windows in order to give your DPS time to drop this very durable boss. Position-wise, you should be either slightly to the rear of your DPS group, or even among them. Some Guilds prefer that the Healers leave the critical strike buff to the DPS, but a Chain Heal critical is just as valuable (and maybe more so)  on this fight, in my opinion.

  The major mechanic at play here is Necrotic Aura. While it is active, you may cast healing spells, but all effects from them will be reduced by 100% (kind of like healing someone who has been Enfeebled by Prince Malchezaar). You will be able to see the aura counting down to zero in the debuff window near your minimap. Be ready to get your heals off the moment it casts!

  It’s important to recognize that the debuff actually has ~1 second more than it shows before it drops, as it needs to count to zero. If it reads “2 seconds”, for instance, then it really needs to count from 2 to 1, 1 to 0, and then 0 to clear. You can spool a heal up in advance of the debuff dropping so that it casts Immediately; priority should be on AOE heals. While Wild Growth and Circle of Healing are instant casts that can be fired the moment the debuff drops, Shaman and Paladin Healing is trickier. Learn to time it so that your heal lands right after the debuff, and you should be able to get a second cast off as well. For Shamans, this generally means that your Chain Heal should start casting as soon as the debuff goes to “1”, and then immediately cast a second one. Executed properly, this should allow you to get off two heals in the window. For Paladins, wind up a Holy Light cast to drop on the Main Tank as soon as the buff drops, and then Flash of Light whomever else you can. If using a cast like Tranquility, start it right before the debuff drops, so that it is active and ticking through the entire duration where healing is receivable.

  Note that you may use Power Word: Shield outside of the window as a mitigator. Earth Shield should also be set in advance of the window as the tank will take hits and be healed by them when the aura is down.

  Healing will be made more and more difficult by a Raid-wide, non-dispellable debuff that he will cast called Impending Doom, which causes several thousand points of shadow damage when it “blooms”. As the fight wears on, Loatheb will cast this with increasing frequency. In combination with the limited healing window, this is why there is a lot of urgency about DPS – once he starts casting these back-to-back, it’s only a matter of time before the Raid succumbs, or he does.

  When the Necrotic Aura is up, and you aren’t winding up a heal, though – DPS! Understandably, your damage output won’t be very high, and you’ll probably be missing on a lot of attacks, but anything that you can do helps. If your group contains 3 Healers, you will likely be better served by having the most DPS-worthy of them (usually a Druid or Shaman) serve in that role exclusively through the first 2-3 healing windows, provided that their output is serviceable, as incoming damage is not terribly large for the first minute of the fight.

  When he’s down, one lucky Raider will collect a Tier 7 Shoulder Token, along with one other epic item. A teleporter will also be available behind his spawn point which will return you to the entrance hub of Naxxramas when you click on it.




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