Wing 2 of the Battle of Dazar’Alor has some of the more interesting sets of boss mechanics I’ve encountered during my time playing WoW. In order to bring that newness to the game, each of these encounters are interesting takes on multi-target fights, with mixes of mechanics that encourage you to split your raid in multiple ways to tackle unique challenges.
This is also the point at which Horde players will be turned into Alliance characters, which ups the storytelling happening ever so slightly. The best part, as we’ll discuss with the last fight, is that this change actually also affects some of the dialogue that takes place, as the story is being retold to you (this is the mechanic that makes it work in lore!).
Visually, the rooms here are interesting, with each of the 3 bosses offering a new take on Dazar’Alor not previously available from wandering the streets of the city in the open world, although Alliance players will be familiar with Opulence and his room, as a portion of the 8.1 war campaign takes place here.
From a gameplay perspective, the second wing has some of my favorite fights so far, and King Rastakhan is a legitimate endboss of the raid in many ways. So, let’s discuss the boss mechanics now!
First up is Opulence, the amazing treasure elemental model made of swirling gold coins. This fight stands apart by offering a fresh take on a mechanic we’ve only sparingly seen in WoW – a two-team, completely separate groups approach. To start the fight, your raid splits into two groups, with each running down a different side hallway on the approach to the boss. Each of these is guarded by a golem, who uses the environmental traps coupled with two unique abilities to limit the space available to players. The left golem, The Hand of In’Zashi, uses a frontal cone Crush ability and Volatile Charge, debuffing a player with a lighting effect that drops off of them after a few seconds and periodically pulses. The right golem has a smaller, one-sided crush, but makes up for it with a flamethrower type effect that is a 270-degree cone around him, with only a small safe zone behind the boss, and he rotates in a full circle doing this, necessitating fast movement. Every 10% of health the golems lose, they move to a new room, each offering its own unique traps. At 40%, the room has gems that buff players, with only certain gems available per role. Tanks get a Diamond, which absorbs 50% of damage taken to a maximum of 300% of max health, and when broken, takes 30 seconds to regenerate. This allows Opulence to hit very hard, and you’ll know pretty quickly if a tank is without their shield. This also incentivizes smart gameplay, as damage reductions like your standard active mitigation, cooldowns, and various healer abilities can all prolong the time you spend with the shield active. Healer gems offer a healing increase and a Shadow damage reduction, which is necessary as the act of taking the gems means that after 30 seconds, you will take a lethal burst of shadow damage, unless this buff is placed on your by a healer with the appropriate gem. DPS get a myriad of damage increases and the Topaz, which grants a stacking buff for a player being split from others, and if they remain separate long enough, they will gain an aura increasing the crit of everyone in range – which also forces the player with the topaz into range of others, reducing the buff and requiring a cycle. There are also adds that spawn and must be killed, starting at the center of the room and moving to the edges. If they reach the edge alive, they will start casting and channeling a heavy damage AoE, so they must be killed. Stuns, slows, and snares all work exceptionally well to keep them locked together, allowing strong cleave and AoE to win the day.
Then there are the Loa bosses – a conclave of trolls who serve the various Loa. You start with two – Gonk (the raptor loa) and Paku (the pterrodax loa). Gonk summons a batch of raptors to attack random players and does a polymorph similar to the one in the Atal’Dazar dungeon, which means players within the circle around the hexed player will be hexed themselves when the debuff expires or is dispelled. Paku puts a haste buff up and invokes the loa spirit to circle the room, pick an edge, and channel a fierce wind just outside of his immediate reach, causing a pretty substantial amount of damage to players outside of it. After one of these two die, Kimbal comes into play. The tiger loa, his avatar hits his tank with a huge, nasty dot that stacks, and summons a tiger spirit that jumps between randomly targeted players, causing damage near the player and forcing a split. Lastly, there is Akunda, who will debuff players with a lightning charge that deals damage around the player and will do a lightning nova around the avatar. These effects can all stack, as even when an avatar dies, there main group pestering attack remains, meaning Gonk’s raptors still pop out, Paku’s spirit still flies and forces a group stack, Kimbal’s tiger spirit still jumps around at fixed intervals, and Akunda is always the last up, which means dealing with multiple spread out mechanics and then the Paku stack mechanic. The timing is split and based on the boss spawn times, meaning it is possible to try and cheese out the timing of the effects, but for a moderate raid (I’ve been in groups between 14-16 players), it is possible to both stack for Paku and deal with the Akunda lightning (the worst combo!), so take that for what it is worth. The fight is fun and makes use of the different bosses in a fun way, with layers of different taunt mechanics for tanks, lots of movement for DPS and healers, and a lot of preventable damage coupled with some unavoidable stuff that forces healers to remain active. Overall, a fun fight!
The last boss of this wing is none other than King Rastakhan, the leader of the Zandalari and servant of the loa Bwonsamdi – who also joins in on the fight! This one is an intense, 4 phase gauntlet with a lot of harsh execution checks. It starts with a simple first phase, where Rastakhan cannot be damaged but he can be hit, which splits the damage dealt between his 2 (3 on Heroic) adds. There is a large berserker troll who does a Meteor Strike, forcing the group to stack, a moving laser attack that forces the targeted player to move out and avoid moving across other player’s hitboxes, a caster that does the laser attack while also casting a moderate shadow damage spell with a single target chosen at random, and I admittedly haven’t done Heroic so I couldn’t say what that add does yet! Rastakhan, meanwhile, summons poison toads that can be easily dodged but hit hard if the player stands in their path, and uses his Scorching Detonation debuff on his current tank, the swap mechanic that does less damage the further away the tank is from the King, which means best execution is either to swap on this ability or to use a highly mobile tank on Rastakhan for this phase. When the adds die, phase 2 begins, with Bwonsamdi joining the fight. Rastakhan now summons a Zombie Dust totem, which mind controls random players and in true troll fashion, can blow your best cooldowns if they are available. He typically does this to DPS, thankfully, so he won’t usually get to hit himself with a Tranquility or Divine Hymn! Bwonsamdi has a big aura area around him that stacks a DoT very rapidly. This DoT does increasingly more shadow damage, until it quickly becomes overwhelming. However, two players must brave it – a tank, who will take a fairly large number of stacks and swaps with the Rastakhan tank on use of Scorching Detonation, and a healer, who will step into the aura only to keep the tank topped off. This debuff on the tank ticks hard, which makes the other ability worse – Death’s Caress, which hits very hard and prevents all healing on the target for 8 seconds. If a tank is not topped off prior to caress, they will likely die. Random players get Death Rifts which have to be placed specifically to allow their access during the next phase, and yet other random players will get plague of fire, which needs to be spread out as hitting another player with it makes it spread. When Rastakhan hits 60%, Bwonsamdi takes the closest players to him into a death realm, which should be a healer or two and a mix of your best DPS – mobility helps! Rastakhan brings back his original adds from the dead, who are only able to be CC’d for the first 60 seconds they are back up, meaning eventually you have to deal with them the hard way. Meanwhile, the Bwonsamdi group has to dodge death orbs and a vacuum effect that will insta-kill them if they slip too close to Ol’ Bwonsamdi, while damaging him to 50% to trigger the last phase. At this point, Bwonsamdi basically says “maybe it’s Talanji’s time to take over” and leaves Rastakhan with his power, basically making the rest of the fight dealing with the remaining ghost adds while burning Rastakhan and dealing with mechanics. The third phase is the hardest and if you make it to phase 4 with everyone alive, you’re pretty much set to win, at least on Normal.
Overall, this is a phenomenal wing of raiding content about which I have nothing but positives to say. Opulence is fun and requires group coordination to down the golem adds near simultaneously, practice which is needed for later on Stormwall Blockade. Conclave of the Chosen is a fun fight with a small degree of choice in add kill order that requires a lot of careful movement. Rastakhan feels like a properly epic end boss, with a lot of things happening.
Speaking of epic, it would be difficult to leave this piece behind without mentioning the Rastakhan RP. As an Alliance player, we get a nobler Genn Greymane, who asks Rastakhan to surrender gently and is rebuffed by the Zandalari king, where Horde players get a more sinister-sounding Greymane forcefully asking the Zandalari to serve their “true masters” in the Alliance, while Rastakhan nobly declines. This method of storytelling is awesome, and my only concern with it is that in a world where we know everything before or as it happens in the game, these things don’t quite function as the narrative intrigue I am sure they are intended to be. The setup is clear with the quests for the Alliance War Campaign, however – Genn Greymane is clearly being setup as a more aggressive foe to the Horde, and while he is nowhere near as awful as Sylvanas, I imagine that he will be the lynchpin for any eventual direct Alliance strikes against Sylvanas. The other problem I have with it is that the unreliable narrator element of the fight is hard to untangle. The Alliance players doing the fight are, in theory, seeing the real thing, as they are the force attacking Rastakhan in the story, so is the Alliance version with a softer, noble Genn Greymane correct, or does the Horde version ring true? If Genn sounded more noble in the aftermath, I wouldn’t struggle with this as much, but as it currently stands, the Alliance suffers some whiplash, with a noble pre-fight Greymane giving way to a conference of Alliance leaders and a more vicious Greymane wanting direct conflict.
But that does not directly concern the raid, and so what I am left with for Wing 2 is this – is it fun?
Mid-expansion raids have the highest hit rate in the game of being successful, wildly entertaining things that are remembered fondly for years. Look back on Blackwing Lair, Black Temple, Ulduar, Firelands, or Throne of Thunder – those mid-tier raids tend to be some of Blizzard’s strongest content (and sometimes they are Tomb of Sargeras, which is…not). For my sake, I am so grateful that Battle of Dazar’Alor is offering this calibur of raid gameplay, as it is currently the only reason I remain subscribed to the game and feel as though I am getting my value out of it. The challenge with BfA’s content structure is this, however – with what we assume to be two more patched in raid tiers (Crucible of Storms belongs to this tier technically, while we still have Nazjatar raid and likely an 8.3 raid to go), will there continue to be enough fantastic boss design, environmental craft, and narrative intrigue to drive the expansion onwards to a satisfying finale?
If you had asked me in Uldir, I would have said no.
But now, if this is the calibur we can expect from encounter design going forward? I have to say I am excited for the future if the team continues to show up as they have here.
That is a happy thought.