Tank Check – Al’ar

Perhaps I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, but in the second part of my series on the fights that take a little more tanking skill we go once again back to BC. This time however we travel to Tempest Keep for the first boss in the zone – Al’ar

To those who never experienced the phoenix boss, He was a two phase boss encounter. The first phase was relatively simple, but involved large amounts of movement for the raid and strong awareness for the tanks.

The room itself is instrumental in the fight. The room is circular with two ramps on the left and right sides of the room that lead up to a second level. On the second level are four platforms. Al’ar is found flying around his room and will not aggro until he is attacked – there is no proximity aggro. He will then fly to the first of the 4 platforms around the room. He has no ranged aggro table at this time, and only those in melee range will experience aggro as normal. After about 30 seconds Al’ar will move to the next platform clockwise and a tank needs to be already there to pick him up. If at any time Al’ar is at a platform he will begin to Flame Buffet which does 2000 damage and drop a stacking buff that increased fire damage by 10%. Also, every time the boss moved, he spawned an add. The adds did physical damage and when the died reduced Al’ar’s health by 2%. However, when they died they blew up for 7k fire damage with a knockback effect.

Every so often, Al’ar would fly to the center of the room and launch Flame Quills – anyone remaining on the upper level received large amounts of fire damage per second and was pretty much unhealable.

Phase 1 ended after Al’ar’s health was brought down to zero. Phase 2 takes place entirely on the ground level, as Al’ar is now grounded. Phase 2 is not an aggro dump, so a tank will need to quickly pick up Al’ar The boss will require 2 tanks as he puts up a debuff called “Melt Armor” which drops the targets armor by 80% for 60 seconds with a 60 second cooldown.

Also, in phase 2, Al’ar will periodically fly up into the air and crash into the ground, it does about 5k and spawns 2 phoenix adds, identical to the ones from the first phase.

Phase 2 also was a “don’t stand in the fire” fight, as occasionally fire would spawn under a random player that would tick for 3k. This was a significant number, remember, this is in a world where most toons had around 10k health.

For a tank, this fight has several things that set it apart as a challenging fight. The first phase was primarily easy, however tanks on the boss had to pay attention to the boss’s rotation and cover the correct platform at the correct time. At the time my guild did not contain membership with the overall skill level that we do today, and have had the misfortune of running this with tanks who for some reason could not understand the tanking rotation. For our first kill, I had to adjust the raid composition to bring 5 tanks in, one for each of the platforms, as I did not have enough tanks with the situational awareness to run the rotation. Realistically, this could be done with two tanks on the main boss, however, in practice on our early kills, I was forced to bring in more.
Also, in the first phase the add tank had to be quick enough to grab the adds as they proceeded down the ramp, although a hunter misdirect rotation often was used to draw the adds to the tank.

The second phase was the true challenge of this fight. Tanks on the boss continually had to trade off tanking the boss every minute due to the powerful debuff Al’ar dropped on them. They also had to continually move as the flame patches would also be applied to them. Following Al’ar crashing into the ground and spawning adds, the tanks also get back into melee range quickly, as Al’ar would use the flame buffet debuff when no-one was in melee range.

The add tanks had the challenge of getting to the spot in the room where the adds were spawned and establishing aggro to allow for the dps to open up on them. Remember, when this content was being run, threat was a real concern for tanks, as dps threat was a lot closer to the tank on threat generation, so snap threat was necessary to gain control of the adds before they decided the Warlock looked tasty.

The primary reason I look back fondly on this fight was the challenge of being the lone add tank for my guild in this encounter. Paladins at this time had the tools to solo tank all of the adds that spawned. Avenger’s shield allowed for ranged snap aggro on multiple targets, which was usually enough to grab both adds during phase 2 right away. Consecration allowed for threat to build on multiple mobs. And if someone grabbed aggro, we had a ranged multi-mob taunt to get it back. I wore the full fire resist set for this fight, which allowed me to take the add explosions without risk of death. (This also allowed me to learn that flame buffet is resistable…lol)

I remember the main difficulties I had were getting to where the mobs spawned quickly, and having enough mana to keep generating aggro. The mobs didn’t hit hard enough to really get a lot back from spiritual attunement, and Blessing of Sanctuary did not have the mana regeneration built into it as it does today. Divine Plea wasn’t even thought of. I primarily just chain mana pots to keep going when they were off cooldown.

This fight was one of the more engaging for a tank at the content level, and even today. It remains in my eyes as one of the premier encounters where a tanks situational awareness, threat generation, and resource allotment allow for successful completion of the fight.

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