Guide to the new Zul'Gurub

Of the two "new" troll-themed 5-mans going live in patch 4.1, Zul'Gurub seemed by far the easier with the groups I had on the public test realm (PTR), though both it and Zul'Aman require an average ilevel of 346 in order to queue through the dungeon finder. However, if you're going to pug this content, be advised that there are a number of different mechanics that can wipe groups quickly.

Shifting Perspectives readers will be familiar with elements of this article, as I wrote a
guide to Zul'Gurub for druid tanks and healers in late March. I've expanded that here and have also tried to include a sense of the instance from a less class-specific viewpoint. Because the instance's mini-bosses have fairly simple mechanics (and regrettably, I never landed a group that did all of them), I've ignored them here in favor of the instance's five "real" bosses.

The order in which you do the bosses doesn't really matter; I've just organized them here by the most conventional route through the instance. Some of the trash in Zul'Gurub is legitimately dangerous to an unprepared group, so I've included notes on how to handle it.

Venoxis trash

After you zone into the instance, you'll notice a foggy path in front of you with a single caster add channeling from a cauldron.

  • The cauldron, once clicked, provides a buff decreasing nature damage taken by 90% for about 25 seconds. What's the catch? You can't click it until the mob next to it has died.
  • Before you get the cauldron buffs, the associated NPC will randomly select targets for about 6-7K damage per second attack. It's healable but not fun. Once you've got the cauldron buff, the damage from the green fog along the path is negligible.

The two most important mob abilities -- and things you'll see in the Venoxis encounter -- are as follows:

Toxic Link A green line will sprout between two random players in the group and do damage each second to both them and anyone else they're around. Run away from the person to whom you're linked, because staying on top of a linked player hugely increases the damage. If you're tanking or doing melee DPS, be very careful if another melee player gets linked to you and doesn't run away. Ranged DPS should try to spread out as much as possible.

Breath of Hethiss You'll see this fun little ability trotted out by the two snake adds directly before pulling Venoxis. It's a frontal cone AoE that does enormous damage (to the tune of 26,000-27,000 per second) with both mobs often performing it at once. Pull these adds back to the nature resistance cauldron outside Venoxis' enclosure, and don't forget to rebuff yourself continually.

High Priest Venoxis ("snake boss")

The one thing you have to know about this fight: If it's green, it's mean. In addition to Toxic Link and Breath of Hethiss, Venoxis will also put a maze of poison lines on the ground and spend portions of the fight channeling three beams that will chase people.

  • If you're tanking Avoid green stuff on the ground, watch out for Toxic Link, interrupt his channeled attack (it looks like a green version of the discipline priest's Penance), and be prepared to pop some cooldowns if your healer's on the run. However, your most important responsibility here to is to keep Venoxis turned away from the group and to run the hell out of the Breath of Hethiss attack, which is still a frontal cone AoE. However, here it's a frontal cone AoE without the 90% nature damage reduction buff from a cauldron. This can get tricky, given the poison maze on the ground, so have a workable escape route before it happens. If you've got a choice between running over a poison line on the ground or swallowing a Breath tick, take the former. Also, turning Venoxis into the rest of the group while he's channeling the Breath is not the best idea ever.
  • If you're healing The opportunities for sudden damage on this fight are plentiful, especially if people aren't smart about Toxic Link. The most dangerous portion of the fight with respect to group healing will occur as three beams chase players around the maze of poison Venoxis has created. If it comes down to swallowing a beam or swallowing damage from going over a poison line, encourage people to do the latter; crossing a poison line is only about 14,000 damage, but taking a beam is more than twice that. The difference between an experienced and not-so-experienced group on this fight is huge.
  • If you're DPSing Avoid bad stuff, avoid bad stuff, and avoid bad stuff. If you're ranged, stay spread out as much as possible to decrease the danger from Toxic Link. After Venoxis finishes channeling the three poison beams, he becomes "exhausted," parks himself at the top of his little platform, and takes a huge amount of damage. Save your big damage cooldowns for this, and his health should drop like a stone.

Mandokir trash

Proceeding up the hill from Venoxis' enclosure will send you toward Bloodlord Mandokir (the raptor boss). On the steep hill immediately before Mandokir's enclosure, you'll have to avoid a series of rocks being rolled downhill. If you get hit, they'll toss you back with about 30,000 damage, which I totally took on purpose for the sake of this article and Science™ (right). This is problematic if you're healing and get belted out of range of an oblivious tank, so don't be me bad. Avoiding the rocks is generally easy as long as you're paying attention.

Trash is otherwise unremarkable, although this time the associated cauldron (frost) gives you a buff that freezes mobs once they're hit. This comes in handy if your crowd control is spotty (or otherwise unreliable). Don't forget what the frost cauldron does, by the way; you'll be seeing it again on a future boss. However, you do not need the cauldron buff for Mandokir.

Bloodlord Mandokir ("raptor boss")

Fans of the original Zul'Gurub will be pleased to hear that he still levels up with a "Ding!" (and distant reply of "Grats!") when he kills a player. Players getting killed is actually a standard part of the encounter, so don't freak out if you're healing. Eight ghostly troll priests around Mandokir's enclosure will resurrect fallen players, and Mandokir's "leveling up" is a built-in DPS check. With each level that he gains, his damage increases, so ... yeah. The general idea is to kill him before he's capable of two-shotting your tank and you run out of priests to resurrect players. The latter is complicated by Mandokir's raptor, Ohgan, who will kill the priests if left to his own devices and is eventually resurrected by Mandokir after players kill him.

If you do nothing else on this encounter: Kill the raptor. Kill the raptor. And then kill the raptor some more. Mandokir's only other ability of note is a telegraphed attack called Devastating Slam, which is heralded by a series of spikes and a red glow on the ground before it lands. If your group can stay out of this, switches to the raptor promptly, and has decent DPS, this is a pretty easy fight.

  • If you're tanking Mandokir will start the fight mounted on Ohgan. Tank him in the center of the enclosure to start. Before long, Mandokir will hop off, and the raptor will become a separate mob. Ohgan can't be tanked, but you can help put some extra damage on him and keep debuffs up. Assuming your DPS is paying attention, the raptor should die well before he reaches and kills a priest. When Ohgan dies, tank Mandokir on top of his corpse so you and melee DPS can reach him immediately once he's resurrected. You're immune to Mandokir's one-shot random kill, but your healer is not -- and Mandokir's damage will keep going up as the fight goes on. Keep your cooldowns for the latter half of the fight.
  • If you're healing You are not immune to Mandokir's one-shot random kill attack, so be prepared to blow a cooldown or two if you die at an inconvenient time. However, this is definitely an easier fight to heal than Venoxis. Ignore the random deaths, stay out of Devastating Slam, and if you've got some free time, help put some damage on Mandokir/Ohgan. I found healing requirements to be fairly light here, particularly in the early portion of the fight.
  • If you're DPSing This fight is a DPS race; if you can't kill Mandokir before the eight ghostly priests are killed or else "used up," Mandokir wins. Stay out of Slam, switch to Ohgan as soon as he's resurrected, and just keep unloading on Mandokir.

Kilnara trash

Proceeding back down the hill from Mandokir's enclosure and hanging a right will send you toward the ziggurat in the eastern portion of the instance and High Priestess Kilnara inside (the "panther boss"). Crowd control the caster in pulls if possible -- they heal, and it gets annoying fast. Two panther mobs are in each pull and will randomly attack and leave bleeds on players. Unsurprisingly, this is an ability you can expect to see on the boss fight. While the individual bleeds aren't particularly potent, the damage really builds up with a lot of panthers on one target. Just as unsurprisingly, that's also a feature of the boss fight.

High Priestess Kilnara ("panther boss")

Overall, this is the fight that bears the most resemblance to its original Zul'Gurub incarnation. Kilnara is a caster-type attacker with only one real ability of note and a butt-ton of panther adds.

  • If you're tanking This fight is all about how you handle the adds, which can be picked up on either side of Kilnara's room. Advise the group to ignore Kilnara herself until all or most of her panther buddies are dead. Whatever cats are alive by the time she switches to panther form (which I think is around 40%) will all instantly aggro, so your aim is to keep that number to an absolute minimum if it exists at all. The panthers randomly charge and leave bleeds on people, but you'll still be the one worrying about most of their damage. Multiple bleeds from whatever kitties you're tanking are going to put a big dent in your health pool, so it's usually better to blow cooldowns earlier rather than later -- and try to limit the number of panther adds you have active at a time. Once the adds are dead, Kilnara's damage isn't too bad, although she will gain a haste buff once she pops into panther form. Otherwise, interrupt her Shadowbolt attack as much as you can. While DPS can help with this, they should ideally be focusing on the adds at first.
  • If you're healing Tank damage will be fairly high during the first part of the fight, assuming you deal with panthers first (and you should); the bleeds are a real nuisance if the tank isn't well-geared, and the adds' random jumps and bleeds around the group won't help matters. Warn your tank if he/she is taking too many panthers at a time for you to heal through, and be prepared to pop some cooldowns. When Kilnara turns into a panther and shakes the building, there'll probably be some incidental damage to heal around the group from cave-ins, but it's not bad as long as people aren't sitting in it. Once the panthers are out of the picture, the fight's a doddle to heal. The problem is getting there in the first place.
  • If you're DPSing Don't worry about putting damage on Kilnara in the early portion of the fight; your focus should be the adds. They're not too time-consuming to kill, but it's important to get them down before Kilnara switches forms. The panthers will put a lot of random damage around the group, and if you wind up absorbing a few bleeds, help the healer with a survivability cooldown (assuming you've got one). Otherwise, get the kitties down, avoid cave-ins (these will be telegraphed by rocks and dust on the ground around the time Kilnara switches forms, from what I recall), and that's about it. She doesn't have a ton of health, so once the adds are dead, she's an easy fight.

Zanzil trash

Trash alongside the path going north to Zanzil is generally unremarkable, but it does introduce you to another cauldron -- a fire type. You'll have to be a bit careful with this, because picking up the cauldron buff will cause you to do a fire AoE attack to everything around you -- including yourself. This is actually the preferred method for dealing with a bunch of annoying zombie adds along the path, but it's not necessary for everyone in the group to click the cauldron; you really only need the tank to do it. However, most groups I got invariably clicked the cauldron not knowing what it did, so until players get used to the instance, be prepared for some extra damage.

Zanzil ("cauldron boss")

This fight is somewhat similar to the
penultimate boss in heroic Shadowfang Keep in that you'll need to worry about responding to different debuffs in a timely fashion. Zanzil will slap three different debuffs/conditions/problems on the group: poison, zombies, and dire trolls. You need to click one of three specific cauldrons located around the enclosure to deal with the problems that result. Apart from that, Zanzil's only ability of note shoots green fire in a straight line toward a player, and it's easy enough to avoid.

When there's poison all over the floor, you've got to click the green cauldron in order to avoid 90% of this damage. Not doing so will leave you taking around 30,000 damage a second, which has rather negative effects on your life expectancy.

When he summons zombies, you've got to click the red cauldron to gain a fire AoE damage ability that will stomp them pretty quickly. As with the fire cauldrons along the path to Zanzil's enclosure, these do damage to you as well, so you don't want everyone in the group picking it up.

When he summons a dire troll (Zanzil Berserker), you've got to click the frost cauldron and then hit the Berserker with something. This will freeze the mob in place, which is exactly where you want it to be, given its huge melee damage. They don't have a lot of health and are very easy to get down once frozen, especially because they focus one player to follow and you've got an idea of where they're going.

  • If you're tanking This really isn't a tough fight to tank, and your responsibilities are largely the same as the group's. However, let the ranged DPS handle the Berserkers; just run away if you get focused to give them time to freeze it. Talk with your group in advance about who's going to pick up the fire cauldron buff to deal with the zombies. Because they die so quickly to the cauldron's AoE buff, it's often easier for a ranged DPS to handle the zombies rather than having the tank dragging Zanzil all over the enclosure.
  • If you're healing This can be an ugly fight to heal when people are new to it, particularly with the dire trolls and poison. Healing 30,000 DPS on multiple people is a huge nuisance, so ride your group about getting to the green cauldron as quickly as possible. Don't bother picking up the fire cauldron buff at any point, because you shouldn't be in the middle of the zombie pack anyway.
  • If you're DPSing Whatever else you do, make sure you're not caught unaware by the poison attack. Apart from that, this is a pretty disjointed fight; your first priority should always be dealing with whatever condition requires a cauldron.

Jin'Do the Godbreaker

You'll find Jin'Do in the same area where Hakkar spawned in the original raid instance, and Hakkar continues to play a role. This is a two-phase fight that moves from the real world to the spirit world. In the real world, Jin'Do has two abilities of note: Deadzone and Shadows of Hakkar. Deadzone looks like the death knight's
Anti-Magic Zone ability and in fact functions in much the same way, reducing all magic damage within it. Shadows of Hakkar is a 3-second cast attack that deals a ton of shadow damage to Jin'Do's immediate target and can chain to other players. It should come as a shock to no one that Deadzone can and should be used to avoid the worst effects of this, so keep the group close to Deadzone and step within it once you see Jin'Do start casting Shadows.

Once Jin'Do shifts the group into the spirit world, the challenging portion of the fight begins. Three chains will spawn, running from the spectral form of Hakkar to the platform. The chains are impervious to all damage until
Body Slammed by an add called the Gurubashi Spirit. How do you get them to do this? By putting group members around chains and having your tank drag the Spirit away. Body Slam is a randomly targeted attack, so ideally you want the Spirit to charge a group member at each chain, destroying the chain's invulnerability.

The other abilities/mobs of note here are Twisted Spirits -- low-health mobs that continually spawn during phase 2 and which need to be killed before they overwhelm your group -- and Shadow Spike, similar to the targeted
Shadow Crash you've seen in Ahn'kahet and/or General Vezax. However, they're much easier to avoid than Shadow Crash, because a white circle spawns around where they're going to hit.

Amusingly enough, the Jin'Do fight is the latest iteration of the Dumbass Hero/No Good Choice theme that WoW so frequently toys with, but I won't spoil the lore moment here.

  • If you're tanking Be prepared for a lot of movement on this fight. Keep Jin'Do out of the Deadzones he spawns (not doing so will kill any caster DPS in your group) and then jiggle him so you can stay in Deadzones while he charges up Shadows of Hakkar. During phase 2, pick up the Gurubashi Spirit but don't worry about the Twisted Spirits; there's no real point to tanking them.
  • If you're healing Phase 1 is fairly straightforward, but (as with Venoxis) there tends to be a lot of random damage in phase 2, particularly if your group's not very good about controlling Twisted Spirits.
  • If you're DPSing The first portion of the fight is simple enough, and you won't have to move until it becomes necessary to use a Deadzone. Once you're shifted to the spirit world, you'll be running around a lot due to the frequency with which Shadow Spikes spawn. Twisted Spirits are killed fairly quickly, but don't let them distract you from the necessity of getting the chains down.