WoW Ulduar Raid Boss Guide - General Vezax
General Vezax is the 12th boss in Ulduar - the last line of defense before your raid engages the Old God Yogg-Saron. This half bug half crab thing can be quite deadly, and more than a little frustrating, but if you're raid understands how to handle each of his abilities the fight becomes simple.
General Vezax is the 12th boss in Ulduar, found in the Descent into Madness guarding the Prison of Yogg-Saron. Vezax features a very difficult component where mana-based classes cannot regenerate mana through any means - not from normal regen, Replenishment, potions, or anything else. This raid-wide debuff is called Aura of Despair. The only forms of mana regeneration currently allowed are via Spiritual Attunement, Judgements of the Wise, Shamanistic Rage, and Aspect of the Viper. He has an extensive list of abilities that are all potentially detrimental to any raid group, and must be handled in a very specific manner.
Because of the anti-mana regeneration component of the fight, you may be inclined to favor melee DPS over casters. However, melee suffers from a 20% damage reduction on this boss fight, and doesn't get any benefit from the black pools discussed below, that are tailored for boosting casters. A fairly equal balance of melee and casters is the recommended makeup for this fight.
For the classes most impacted by the lack of mana regeneration, the only way to recover any mana at all is to kill the Saronite Vapors that will periodically spawn throughout the room where you are fighting Vezax. They will leave a green pool on the ground, and standing in it grants a stacking buff that regenerates mana. You have to be careful, however, since it also do a stacking DoT that will most certainly kill you if it goes beyond 6 stacks.
It is advisable that anyone standing in a green pool stay on the edge so that they can easily step out after six stacks. If you are too close to the center and wait for stack six, a seventh will likely hit before you are clear of it, so beware. The damage done by the green pools is shadow damage, so a resistance buff or aura can help to mitigate it to some extent.
Second to Saronite Vapors, the next most important ability to have a strong understanding of is Shadow Crash. Shadow Crash is a fairly slow moving "bomb" type ability that looks like a large, wicked crystal of death falling towards a random raid member. The targeted raid member can move away from where it will land, much like Void Reaver's Arcane Orbs, but they have got to move quickly. If it hits anyone it deals a large amount of shadow damage and also deals a severe knockback that will push them most of the way across the room. It is very important that people be constantly aware of Shadow Crashes, watch who is being targeted, and stay away from the intended area of effect.
Once the Shadow Crash lands, it will leave behind a black pool that DPS casters will want to stand in. It increases spell damage dealt by 100%, reduces the mana cost of spells by 70%, and also decreases healing done by 75%. Black pools are not for healers.
The Importance of Spreading Out
Even though there are these lovely green and black pools that everyone is going to want to stand in, it is equally important that players not clump up tightly, and to strive to be spread out whenever possible. One of the reasons for this is fairly obvious - If you're clumped up in a green or black pool and another Shadow Crash comes, it is going to be very difficult for everyone to get away in time. There is another reason to avoid clumping, as well.
Vezax will use an ability called Mark of the Faceless on a random raid member, which causes a siphon life effect on anyone standing within roughly ten yards of that player. While the damage to the siphoned players isn't very high, Vezax takes a disproportionately high amount of healing from it, which will add duration to the fight that your team cannot afford. If you are targeted by Mark of the Faceless you need to get away from all other players as quickly as possible.
General Vezax does have one two-second-cast spell that will almost guarantee a raid wipe if it is allowed to go off. This ability is called Searing Flames, and generates a lovely spinning pink and yellow graphic that is, fortunately, quite easy to spot. It is very important that anyone with an interrupt be ever-ready to use it. It will likely take several players using interrupts to insure it is avoided every single time. Thankfully he doesn't cast it very often, allowing interrupters to get their cooldowns back up in order to do it again.
Surge of Darkness Strategies
The last aspect of the General Vezax fight is his Surge of Darkness ability, which wil be used roughly every minute or so. When it happens, you'll know because he will yell, "The black blood of Yogg-Saron courses through me! I...AM...UNSTOPPABLE!" It's hard to miss. Surge of Darkness doubles Vezax's melee damage, but will also cut his movement speed in half. There are two very different, but both effective, ways of handling this.
It would seem that the built-in movement speed decrease with this ability is designed to encourage kiting. When he does Surge of Darkness, the main tank can simply turn around and kite him in circles until the buff wears off. It can get a little messy, but it does work.
The other method for dealing with Surge of Darkness is a bit more controlled, but assumes that your raid has damage-reduction cooldowns available. Abilities like Shield Wall, Hand of Sacrifice, Icebound Fortitude, Barkskin and Divine Protection can be used to mitigate Vezax's damage increase, allowing the fight to continue essentially as normal.