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Not Bad For an Old God...
Yogg-Saron, the Old God imprisoned within Ulduar for millennia, has broken free of his prison and corrupted his wardens. Now the only thing that can stop him from ravaging Azeroth and visiting destruction upon all known life is you, and 24 other ragtag raiders. But you don't stand a chance without a guide. This Yogg-Saron boss strategy guide breaks down the encounter and explains how to defeat the madness monster on 10 and 25 man modes, with four Watchers assisting.
The difficulty level of the Yogg-Saron boss encounter is surprising at first. General Vezax is such a pushover you wouldn't think only one boss further into the instance would present such a challenge. But remember, this is an Old God we're talking about. It's supposed to be tough. Months after the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj was released (AQ 40) it was actually revealed that the Cthun Old God boss encounter couldn't be beaten, and it had to be scaled back. So put it in perspective - at least Yogg isn't impossible.
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Lights in the Darkness
Fortunately for you, your raid will not be facing off with Yogg-Saron all on its own. They will be receiving assistance from the four freed Watchers - Freya, Mimiron, Hodir, and Thorim. Each of these gives considerable buffs to the raid, as well as abilities that make the fight more manageable. It is possible to kill Yogg-Saron without the assistance of these Watchers, and there are achievements for doing it with only 3, 2, 1, or none of them. One Light in the Darkness is considered to be "hard mode" with improved loot, and Alone in the Darkness only offers up one additional reward - A vanity flying mount that looks like Mimiron's Aerial Command Unit.
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Watcher Buffs and Abilities
Mimiron - Increases all damage done by the raid group by 10%, and movement speed by 20%. During phase two he also shoots a beam at tentacles that reduces their attack speed by 100% and their casting speed by 300%.
Freya - Increases damage done by 10% and healing received by 20%. Also creates Sanity Wells, which are green beams of light that restore Sanity when players stand in them.
Thorim - Increases all damage done by 10% and total HP by 20%. Also uses an ability during phase three which kills Immortal guardians with 1% health.
Hodir - Increases all damage done by 10% and reduces damage taken by 20%. Will also use Hodir's Protective Gaze which will sometimes save a player from death by encasing them in a block of ice.
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Sanity and You
There as an additional component to this fight not seen anywhere else in World of Warcraft. It is almost like having an additional health and mana bar, but instead shows up as a debuff. You begin the fight with 100% Sanity, and will lose it in percentages. Nearly all Sanity loss is completely preventable, but difficult. If you get low on Sanity (around 50%) you can stand in a Sanity Well which will regenerate your Sanity quite quickly.
If your Sanity level reaches 0, you will receive a drastic increase in your health, and be permanently mind controlled. Not only does this make it difficult for your raid by adding another minion to their list to destroy, but you are permanently out of the fight. Even if you are killed while mind controlled, if you accept a combat res, use a Soulstone or Ankh, you will resurrect still mind controlled.
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Of Clouds and Cretins
Whether you're in a 10 or 25 man raid when you first take on Yogg-Saron, the first thing your whole raid is going to have to learn to do is dodge clouds. As the image on the left poorly demonstrates, clouds are yellowish in color and can go anywhere in the room. They steadily move around and it is imperative that no player ever intersect one. If someone touches a cloud they will immediately summon a Guardian of Yogg-Saron.
During this first phase of the fight, Sara will be standing in the center of the "water". She is not attackable, but she must take damage in order to progress into the next stage of the fight. Periodically Guardians of Yogg-Saron will spawn out of clouds. These Guardians need to be tanked and killed. When a Guardian is killed it will explode for a large but not deadly amount of shadow damage. It is highly important that Guardians die quickly because they will do AoE casts and mind control players.
The only way to damage Sara is to blow up several Guardians directly on top of her. There are two methods for doing this. The most intuitive method is to have everyone near the center of the room dodging clouds and killing Guardians. When one is about to die, everyone can just back off a few yards and be ok. However, this method drastically increases the chance of spawning extra adds through mistakes. While possible and effective on 10-man, it is almost impossibly to pull off flawlessly on 25-man.
The preferred way of doing phase one on 25-man is to position the entire raid near the door. This area is generally clear of clouds, at least for the majority of the phase. Have one tank handle all of the Guardians in this area, and pick one at a time for DPS to focus on. When it gets low, have another tank taunt the Guardian and drag it to the center where ranged can finish it off. There will generally be multiple Guardians up at a time, so it is advisable to have two tanks assigned to taunting and dragging adds.
Tips and Tricks:
1. If you find that your raid is handling this phase well, but want to increase the speed of it, you can purposely summon extra Guardians by running into clouds.
2. Clouds move either clockwise or counterclockwise around Sara. If you can determine which direction each cloud is moving you can anticipate safe spots.
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I Think You Made Her Angry
Phase two of Yogg-Saron is by far the most complex and difficult of all three phases because of the sheer amount of things going on. When this phase begins, the clouds will disappear, Yogg-Saron will appear (the big ugly mouth-beast encased by a magic barrier), and Sara will hover above him attacking the raid.
Sara has several abilities during this phase that the raid needs to be aware of.
Death Ray: Green rays emanate from her and hit various points in the room. These are only dangerous at the point they hit the ground. They are extremely slow moving and completely avoidable, but if a player does get hit by one they will die. It is very important that these be expertly avoided.
Brain Link: Brain Link effects two players. If they are more than 20 yards apart they will be dealt heavy shadow damage and lose Sanity quickly. If this is the case the beam connecting them visually will be red. If they're close enough together to negate the effect the beam will be yellow.
Malady of the Mind: A four second fear that also deals damage and reduces Sanity by 3% (per stack). At the end of the fear, it will attempt to jump to another player, so members need to avoid feared players.
Psychosis: Heavy shadow damage and a 9% Sanity loss. Cannot be avoided.
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More Tentacles than Creepy Anime
Crushers - Crushers are the number one DPS priority of all three add types. You only ever want one of these to be active at a time. It is best for ranged DPS to focus on them and they can be tanked part of the time. They use an ability called Diminished Power which they'll cast regularly. However, someone like a tank attacking in melee range can interrupt the cast. Their other ability is called Focused Anger, and causes them to gain a stacking damage and attack speed boost every time they are hit with an attack or spell. The best way to deal with Crushers is to have them tanked until the Focused Anger stack reaches around 35. At this point everyone has to completely stop attacking for one second to allow Focused Anger to fall off, then continue. By doing this you are able to completely avoid Diminished Power.
Constrictors - Constrictors are the number two priority. They will pick up a random raid member and squeeze them, though this damage can be healed through. While wrapped in the Constrictor the player is still able to attack and cast, and should maintain DPS on any active Crushers. When Crushers are dead, the raid should switch to Constrictors.
Corrupters - The last tentacle type during this phase is Corrupters. Corrupters do very litte in the way of direct damage, but cast a lot of debuffs - all of which can be dispelled. The most important of these to remove are Curse of Doom, which will explode after 12 seconds, and Apathy. Cleansing is the main priority of healers during this phase, as all the debuffs cast by Corrupters need to be removed.
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The Brain of Yogg-Saron
We've spent all this time talking about all of the "top side" abilities during phase two, but haven't even gotten to the meat of the phase yet - the real damage to Yogg-Saron. You see, while the ranged DPS tanks, and most healers are in the main room fighting tentacles and dodging Death Rays, there is a whole other designated group who jumps through portals to engage the Brain of Yogg-Saron. Melee is usually assigned this task as ranged is critical to top side success, but not portal success. Most raid teams will send the full 9 people through portals. A tank isn't necessary, but a healer can be helpful. Try to make the portal group up of complimentary classes to get them the most buffs as possible.
When the portals spawn around Yogg-Saron the portal group needs to immediately go through them. Each portal will only let one person through it, so if you see someone heading for a portal pick a different one. This process can be sped up by having players assigned to portals, or sides.
Once inside a portal you will experience what is best described as a vision of an event from Azeroth's past - recent or distant. The portal team needs to quickly kill all the tentacles (disguised as normal NPCs of various types) - preferably within 20 seconds. If successful it will prevent some of the add spawns in the main room. The portal team has to be very careful, however. There won't be any incoming damage from tentacles, but there will be purple floating skulls that will cast Lunatic Gaze constantly, which reduces the Sanity of any players facing them. The portal team has to cleverly avoid facing any skulls, while still managing to kill tentacles.
Regardless of whether your team makes the 20 second timer or not, after all of the tentacles in the portal area are dead a doorway will open leading to Yogg-Saron's brain. This is the only damage to the boss in this phase, and the portal DPS team has only a short time to open up on the brain.
A cast will be ticking down from the time you enter the portal phase, called Induce Madness. When this ability is cast, it will drive everyone hit by it insane and they'll become mind controlled. It is pretty much game over. To avoid Induce Madness the portal team needs to exit through the portals in the Brain room a couple of seconds before the cast goes off.
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The Final Burn
Once you've made it through phase two the biggest challenge your raid will have to contend with is the enrage timer. Phase three is mostly just a straight DPS burn compared to the rest of the phases. The entire raid should group together near a Sanity Well and begin DPSing Yogg-Saron. He'll summon adds called Immortal Guardians that hit very hard and come out of nowhere. It is very important that tanks dedicate themselves from picking these up before they start one-shooting healers. These Immortal Guardians hit very hard, but lose power (and size) when they're attacked. You'll want to have a set DPS group dedicated to attacking Immortal Guardians. Your raid can't kill them, but once they've been reduced to 1% life Thorim will finish them off.
The only other ability during this phase is Yogg-Saron's Lunatic Gaze, which is a more powerful version of the one used in the portal area during phase two. Healers, tanks, and the DPS not assigned to purely burning Yogg should keep their backs turned to him the entire fight. When Lunatic Gaze begins to cast, DPS assigned to Yogg needs to quickly turn around. In this time it is helpful for them to assist on DPSing Immortal Guardians.
If you can handle these two things phase three will be a complete breeze, and you'll get to scratch yet another Old God off your kill list!