This guide covers the Heroic version of the Xavius encounter, the final boss in the Emerald Nightmare raid. Xavius is a fight three phase fight that has a heavy emphasis on control and minimising mistakes, particularly in a early low gear progression environment. Parts of the encounter remind me of Mythic Sha of Fear from Mists of Pandaria.
Throughout the fight each player will have their own Corruption Bar. Everyone starts with 0 corruption, and having everyone manage their corruption is critical to getting through the encounter. Players will gain corruption via a number of abilities Xavius uses throughout the fight. As you’re corruption levels increase you’ll begin to experience ‘nightmares’ (not sure what they are actually called, I’m calling them nightmares because they don’t seem all that friendly) that you’ll need to deal with on top of the standard boss mechanics.
At 33% corruption large Dread Abominations appear in the outer shadows/haze around the main encounter zone. These Abominations cast Corruption: Crushing Shadows roughly every 10 seconds. It’s a massive purple swirly void zone on the ground that is hugely obvious. After a couple of seconds a large tentacle will smash in to the ground where the swirly was, dealing AoE damage that increases the closer you are to the center. You want to be as far from the centre of the crashing tentacle as possible to minimise your damage taken.
At 66% corruption players will begin to experience Corruption: Unfathomable Reality. These are essentially small pink swirls on the ground. You have around 3 seconds to get out of them before they explode. If you’re standing in one when it explodes you’ll take damage and gain 5 more corruption.
At 100% corruption players will gain Corruption: Descent into Madness. On the plus side, for 20 seconds, the player’s damage and healing is increased by 150%. On the negative side, once the 20 seconds is up the player will gain Corruption: Madness and they become mind controlled and transformed in to Creatures of Madness, smashing everyone in sight as well as having 150% increased health. At this point the raids only option is to kill them as, outside of stuns, they cannot be CC’d with anything useful (eg. hex or polymorph).
An important point is that each players corruption level is independent of the rest of the group. Many sources of corruption are avoidable throughout phase 1 and 2, so you should not expect to see anyone mind controlled in the first two phases (if you do, something has gone wrong). The final phase really is a ‘Lust and Burn’ deal, and you should expect to see some players Mind Controlled in Phase 3.
To counteract Corruption, players have the chance to be put in to the dream and given the Dream Simulacrum debuff. Players with this debuff have the job of dealing with many of the mechanics that can increase corruption on the raid group if they were to go unmanaged.
Positioning is probably the most important aspect of this fight and will help you manage all the mechanics more effectively. For phase 1 and 2 we found the best place for range dps and healers to stand was toward the center of the room, with the boss tanked toward the front. We set two markers to the back left and back right of the boss where, if you drew a straight line between the two, would create a clean line splitting range and melee. Players targeted by Nightmare Blades move to these markers to avoid running the blades through other players.
Probably easier to understand by looking at the diagram below.
Phase 2 you can move the boss to the centre of the room, to give players time to DPS down the Inconceivable Horrors and to spread the damage from Corruption Meteors. Phase 3 the boss should remain in the center of the room.
Phase 1 is fairly straight forward. Damage the boss, and when he summons the large adds, switch and burn them ASAP, as they can build the levels of corruption on the tanks quite quickly. Don’t stand in front of the add as anyone struck by its cleave ability will also gain corruption. If your the target of Nightmare Blades move to one of the markers (see positioning). Try to maintain /range 6 from other players to minimise the splash damage from Lurking Eruption.
Keep pummeling the boss, switching to adds as a priority when they spawn. Stack to spread the damage from Corruption Meteors. If you have the Dream Simulacrum debuff you’ll be responsible for soaking the Tainted Discharge pools.
The only other mechanic specific to phase 2 is Bond of Terror. You are connected to another player and take damage every second for as long as the Bond is active. To break the bond you simply run to the player you’re attached to.
Phase 3 is the burn phase. This is where you want to blow Bloodlust/Heroism and every other CD you have available and pump as much damage in to Xavius as you can.
Spec and Talents
If you’re not tanking, you’ll want to play Unholy for this fight, even after the Frost buffs from end of September:
- Bursting Sores
- Pestilent Pustules
- Sludge Belcher
- Lingering Apparition
- Soul Reaper
On normal and heroic it’s pretty much a single target fight throughout, even when adds spawn they need to be singled out, so not a lot of scope for wide spread AoE.
For the level 75 talent I’d lean toward Lingering Apparition as there can be times were the reduced CD on Wraith Walk can help you. Xavius is one of those fights where the Death Knights lack of mobility really stands out, particularly if you’re moving around to soak pools.
The level 90 talent is probably open to debate still. Xavius is primarily a single target fight. Even though there are adds, they are often single target high priority targets. There’s no real scope or raid benefit in AoE padding.
It may sound complicated, but as a melee DPS you can summarise it as, in Phase 1 and 2 prioritise add over boss. Move to the designated spot if you’re targeted by Nightmare Blade. Stack to share the damage from Corruption Meteor. Soak pools if you have the Dark Simulacrum debuff. Make sure you have you CDs and second potion available for the Phase 3 burn.