Karazhan: Starting Group Setup and Gear

This is one in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View. This entry steps back, and covers what group makeup you need before going in.

So you want to visit Karazhan for the first time, what do you need?

You have 10 spots, and the truth is that you can clear Karazhan with a wide variety of groups. However, some things are required, and there are others that will make it easier for your early attempts at the instance.

Tank
A warrior makes the perfect Main Tank, but a Tankadin or Feral Druid can fill the roll quite well. The MT needs to be crit immune, and to have a solid tanking set. The better geared the main tank, the easier the run goes. I started tanking Karazhan in mostly level 70 blues, with a few BOE epics. A few PvP pieces are ok – as they have lots of stamina, and resilience can cover for low defense – but you want to be in mostly PvE gear.

Off-tank
Several boss fights require an off-tank, so bring one. This spot can be basically a backup Main Tank, or a DPS toon with a good tanking set. My preference is for a feral druid, as they can tank when needed and otherwise provide solid damage. Another good option is a tankadin with a good healing set – the solo-tank fights are where you will likely need the most healing help, so this works out well.

Main Healers
Bring two or three, depending on what you have. I prefer three, since it give a bit more margin for error, but two works as well. The extra healer shaves a bit off of your dps, but can really help get some of the early kills. A priest or two really helps, as they can also provide CC with their Shackle Undead.

DPS
That leaves five or six (depending on healers) dedicated damage slots. Having CC capable classes makes things much easier, so Shadow Priests and Hunters get bonus points. I generally like to have at least one priest (holy or shadow) and one hunter. I prefer to not run with more than 2 melee-dps (in addition to the tanks), since several fights punish them, and only the Shade benefits from a heavy melee group.

A class capable of spamming fire damage (mage, ‘lock, shammy) is very helpful in one of the Opera events, and I still don’t bother going after Illhoof without a ‘lock.

If you are low on healing, having a player who can throw a few heals in an emergency is a bonus.

CC
Hunter and Priests cover most of your CC needs. Having two or three really helps.

What gear level is required?

I’m not going to list stats for every class/spec. A group can progress quickly though the first part of Karazhan in mostly blues. By blues, I mean PvE blues from the level 70 instances. If someone is still half-green, or wearing a lot of mid-60s blues, then they may not be ready. You can certainly run with under-geared toons, but it requires that much more from everyone else – when everyone is just starting, your margin may not be very large.

Enchant and gem everything, and plan on using consumables. These upgrades may seem small and expensive, but they really make a difference.

The 2.3 and 2.4 badge gear really help out, and even picking up just a few pieces can really help every class.

DPS Tips

For many classes, PvP gear also works as starting raiding gear. It often isn’t itemized correctly for PvE, but the health and raw damage makes up for a lot.

All dps should work on getting hit rating, dps casters especially. Seriously. Every starting Karazhan group I’ve ever seen has been hurting here, and (for almost every class/spec) point for point Hit Rating increases damage more than an other stat. This is a serious dps killer – and a major adjustment from leveling and basic 5-mans.

Tank Tips

If you are having problems with Sudden Tank Death, then try to stack stamina. Several fights can have quite a lot of burst damage, and even an extra thousand health can give the healers time to catch up. Grab a ‘lock for Blood Pack and Healthstone, and a Pally for Devotion Aura and Kings.

Tankadins should try to get crush immune. This often leaves them very low in the threat department, so your dps will need to be patient until they gear up some. This becomes much less of an issue near the end of Tier-4 gearing.

Warriors should be crush immune by keeping “Shield Block” active on all boss fights.

A full PvP set is not a tanking set. Resilience is great for reducing Crits, but it has no avoidance.

Get some Expertise. Expertise (at least the first 20-some points) is twice as valuable as +Hit to having swings land, and it helps to avoid Boss Parries. When a Boss Parries one of your swings, his next swing comes faster. Giving the boss free shots at you is rarely a good thing. When you suddenly see you health drop from near-full to zero, check the log – fair chance there was a parry in there.

Healer Tips

If you are running out of mana, then try to stack mana regen – enchants, gems and elixirs can help out here.

If you are loosing your tank before you run out of mana, then go the other way – get more +healing.

Karazhan, step by step

In this series of posts, I’m covering all the bosses, and several long thrash clears, in separate posts.  Good Luck!

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4 Comments on “Karazhan: Starting Group Setup and Gear”

  1. drydus Says:

    you suck, forgot locks dps/cc

  2. notcoding Says:

    Really?
    ‘locks are great DPS, but their main CC is mostly useless. Seduce can’t be used at all, and Banish is useful in only a few places (6 trash pulls, I think) and the Shade fight. Not that I won’t use a ‘lock for CC, but I’d not take one for that specifically.

    I would – and usually do – take one for DPS, and for the Illhoof fight.


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