Welcome back to our countdown of Honorshammer Top 10 Favorite Bosses to Tank. If you missed part 1, you can get caught up here: Part 1.
Coming in at #8, we have our first entry from Icecrown Citadel. You’ve seen him grow up from just a wee bag of parts to one of the toughest abominations around. Here’s Festergut.
Festergut gave tanks the rare opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the DPS portion of a fight. Early on, when the ICC buff was low, Festergut’s enrage was a challenge for some guilds. He became something of a brick wall. Tanks relished in the opportunity to help their guilds beat that enrage timer.
The way the fight works, in case you haven’t seen it from the Tanks perspective, is the first tank gets a stacking buff that increase the damage you do. Once your co-Tank taunted the boss, you dropped your threat stance (Righteous Fury for Paladins), popped cooldowns like Avenging Wrath and went to work making your ‘pure’ DPS sweat bullets as you assaulted the DPS meter. Tanks went to great lengths to make specific gearsets just for this fight. Tanks fretted over the position on World of Logs meters as they tried to post the highest parse.
I’m cheating a little bit with #7 and combining 3 different Bosses because each makes the list for the same reason. This trio from end of Tier 4 content were the initial ‘impossible’ Bosses for Paladins. I give you Nightbane, Gruul, and Magtheridon. Paladins at that point of Burning Crusade were much different from the juggernauts they are as of late WotLK. We had some significant weaknesses that each of these exploited.
All of these Bosses hit like a Mack Truck pulling a Freight Train.
Nightbane was a dragon with an air and ground phase. He feared as he landed. Back in those days, if you were feared, you lost aggro. So if one of your healers resisted the fear, Nightbane would walk over and one shot them for you. Service, with a smile. At the time, only Dwarf Priests could cast Fear Ward. Seriously, I’m not making that up. Paladins came up with tricks like a Bubble cancel macro and equipping a PVP trinket. We did anything we could to avoid that Fear. It also helped that I had Dora with me, who, in a show of great taste and aplomb, had rolled a Dwarf Priest.
Gruul had a mechanic where he grew larger as the fight went on and hit harder and harder. The trick I had to pull off was staying second on threat to take Hurtful Strikes (sort of like Hateful Strikes on Patchwerk), and survive as Gruul hit harder and harder. Staying up on threat was no easy task. Mana was a much bigger issue back then. We basically only had Spiritual Attunement. I worked on my gear set down to the last enchant and gem to perfectly balance threat and survival. I farmed up Dark Runes to give me a boost of mana when I needed it. We did everything we could to overcome our weaknesses. The night Gruul fell with me co-Tanking was a very special night in my gaming career.
The final part of this trio is Magtheridon. The fight was really about clicking cubes (you have NO IDEA how hard that was). But for tanks, it was about surviving a transition at 30%. Maghtheridon stunned the whole raid, did a big AoE so everyone in the raid was taking damage and then hit you with a melee + cleave combination. Most tanks survived this by popping their survival cooldowns, and I would have loved to do that, if I had had any. I popped trinkets and quaffed and ironshield (+armor) pot. Combined with my awesome healers (HoTs were HOT!) we killed the big lizard. It was the night I got promoted to Main Tank of Mal Katai. That was easily one of the top 5 raid nights I’ve ever had in game.
Rounding out the bottom half of the countdown, we look at the end of the Burning Crusade. At the apex of the Black Temple lay the Boss who had been taunting player since the very first Burning Crusade video, telling us we were NOT PREPARED. At #6, its Illidan Stormrage!
The fight against Illidan began even before you zoned in as you had to go through this very long quest chain to get attuned just so you could enter the instance. Of course, by the time we were working on Illidan in earnest, the restriction had been lifted. I did the quest anyway. But beyond that, there was more preparation for the off tanks in the Illidan fight.
You needed three tanks, one main tank for Illidan himself, and two off tanks to handle the Fire Elementals that Illidan summoned. In order to be able to survive the Elementals, you needed a full Fire Resist set. It wasn’t crafted, it was bought with the Badges (the BC equivalent of Emblems). It was a long grind, but I did it because I wanted a shot at tanking in that fight. The common belief at the time was only Warriors could tank Illidan himself due to a mechanic that required 100% block, which Warriors got at the touch of a button. So it was Flame Tanking for me. Paladins could technically do it, but by this point I was in a guild with an established main tank.
Flame tanking is the hardest jobs I ever had as a tank. Basically, you had to tank your assigned Fire Elemental. The two elementals had to be kept within a certain distance of each or they would enrage and one shot you. But they dropped very dangerous fire on the ground every which forced you to move them. The fire would persist for a while, so you needed to kite them in a specific and stay in perfect synchronization with the other Flame Tank. As if that wasn’t hard enough, from time to time Illidan would fire two beams of death that followed one of three patterns to make an X. The trails were slightly bigger than the graphic and getting hit would one shot you.
It was mastering this assignment and seeing Illidan fall that places him on my top 10 list.
In many ways our #5 Raid Boss is the spiritual successor of Illidan. Welcome the final Boss of the Wrath the Lich King, the big guy himself, Arthas!
Arthas tested every facet of tanking. He tested your cooldown usage, your snap threat, your kiting and your ability to communicate with your co-tank. Soul Reaper was a devastating attack, and you had to know when to blow the cooldown, and when to trust your co-Tank to save your behind. Picking up Spirits in the transition phases tested your snap threat, especially if you ran with Fury Warriors or Ret Paladins. Mob control and kiting were key. Arthas needed to be position well for both Defile and Valk’yrs. It was a tough fight to learn, and personally I wish we had fought him a few more times.
The challenge was a big part of what made Arthas fun, but there was also a large lore component to the fight. I’ve been wanting a shot at Arthas ever since completing the Human campaign in Warcraft III. Defeating Arthas put a closure to that story is a very satisfying way.