Karazhan: The Shade of Aran

This is another in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View.

Curator is down and you’ve finished the long clear through the Library. The Shade of Aran is next. Taking him down stops the trash respawns in the Library, and greatly shortens the recovery time after wipes in this part of the zone.

This is one of the most complex Karazhan fights and can be amazingly frustrating, but once you ‘get it’ is perhaps the most fun you’ll have in the zone.

It is a pivotal fight in the zone, and one that elicits strong (and varied) reactions from nearly all raiders. I don’t know of any other single raid boss that has inspired players to write songs – and the Shade is the subject of many. Before going any further, here are my two favorites:

The Shade Chant
Wreath of Fire

Entertaining? Of course. But also educational, as we’ll see shortly.

The shade stands alone is a circular room. He will generally stay positioned in the middle of the room, though he can move around some. He has no aggro-table, so he isn’t tanked. That’s not to say there is no tanking in this fight – just none on the Shade. Tanks should throw on their DPS (or healing) gear, and help out as much as possible.

Casters need to be careful getting to close to the Shade, as he will occasionally pulse a short range spell interrupt.

Throughout the fight the Shade randomly casts three spells. An Arcane Missle spell, a Fireball, and Frostbolt. All do a lot of damage, so healers will have to watch his targets. Assign interrupters to the Fireball and Frostbolt spells, and try to stop them just before casting – this stops the damage, allows him to waste time casting, and stops him from spending mans (more on this later). Allow him to cast his Arcane spell, only interrupting if his target is about to die (This is a channeled spell, where he has already spent his mana upfront.)

The shade also has an additional three special abilities that he uses on a longer timer.

  • Blizzard – This spell takes up about 1/3 of the outer portion of the room, and slowly circles around. The effect is now pretty obvious, but any ranged players need to make sure to get out of it. Often the best option is to run through the Shade to get ahead of the Blizzard, and then stand and get a few casts off before you need to move again.
  • Arcane Explosion – A Magnetic Pull yanks everyone to the middle of the room. The Shade then starts a non-interruptible long cast-time Arcane Explosion. This hits for several thousand damage so everyone needs to get out of it. To avoid it, you have to get to an outside wall. You will probably have a slowing effect up as well, but so long as you immediately start moving, you have time. The key is to not wait around. Sprint, Dash, Blink and Intervene all help here.
  • Flame Wreath – When the Shade starts casting this, everyone must find a place they like and park themselves there. No moving. Most of the raid will have a ring a fire (a flame wreath, if you will) appear around them. If you are inside a wreath, you cannot move. When you do move – and someone will move – the entire raid gets smashed for several thousand damage. Thankfully, the guilty party also shoots into the air (let the mocking begin). If you are in a wreath you cannot move, jump, sit, turn, accept a rez, or use any ability that auto-turns you – otherwise, keep putting out the dps or heals. Just, for the love of all this is good an holy, please don’t move. And when you do move, don’t say “I didn’t move!”. The mockery is coming, and well is deserved – just resolve to not be the guy that blows up the raid twice in a row.

Hunters and Warlocks need to watch their pets during the Blizzard and Arcane Explosion, but pets are thankfully immune to the Flame Wreath effect. Note: this does take away the “My pet blew up the raid” excuse.

Additionally, at 40% health the Shade summons four Water Elementals. Once you learn to deal with all of the above, this is the make or break point. The Elementals put out some serious damage, so everyone needs to get on them. Frost Resist Aura or Totem? Yup, use ’em here. These mobs can be feared, banished, and tanked. A pair of warlocks makes this trivial, but baring that, this is a struggle. Coordinated chain fearing (priest and warriors have fear too!), focused fire, and a lot of healing will see you through this – but many groups struggle with getting the Elementals down. Add in that the Shade keeps using all of his tricks while they are up, and this can be downright brutal. If you get stuck here, just keep working on it – it is hard for most groups.

The final thing to worry about is the Shade’s mana pool. The reason we interrupt the fire and frost spells, is to preserve his mana. Should his mana approach empty, he will polymorph the raid (free heals!), sit for a drink (catch your breath!), and then (uh-oh) pyroblast the entire raid for 6-7k or so damage. Everyone needs to have enough health to survive this, and needs to have health stones/pots ready for use. If this happens while the elementals are up, then you are almost certainly facing a wipe – so if his mana is getting low, you may want to stop dps, let the polymorph happen, and then push him to 40%. With enough DPS you can remove this threat altogether – but most groups learning this fight end up seeing this.

So that’s it. Interrupts to preserve his mana. Avoid the Blizzard. Run to the walls when he pulls everyone in. Don’t move in flame wreath. Kill/CC the Elementals. Survive (or out-dps) the Pyroblast. Easy enough, right?

Early on this fight can take 5-6 minutes (I’ve seen it go as long as 8’34”) – with more gear I’ve seen this done is as short as 2’43”.

Once you get him down, you will be able to Teleport straight up to his room from the Doorman back at the entrance – an huge bonus while learning the later fights.

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