This post has been last updated on July 14th 2011. The information is still all relevant, especially to low gear level group but in the current state of the game most groups will just burn down the boss and not worry too much about the ad mechanics.
Karsh Steelbender is the third boss in heroic BlackRock Caverns and is in my opinion the one boss in Cataclysms heroics where the tank makes or break the fight. If you fail its more than likely the tank fault and if you succeed it’s because of the tank. It’s truly all on his or her shoulders this time.
So if you’re like me you’ve already heard of this boss and you were probably dreading the day you would have to tank it. You do research watch a few videos and think you got the general idea but like so many things, this boss is all in the little details. Most of the guides I’ve found were incomplete in regards to the dynamics of this fight when it came to tanking tips so this guide is here to remedy that.
It’s all about the stack
Karsh is invincible when you first meet him. While you can attack and do damage do gain aggro, he takes no actual damage from the party’s attack. The solution? Move him through the fire ring in the middle so he gains a debuff that allows the party to damage him. The catch? The debuff boost his damage, it stacks, and if you let it fall off, adds spawns.
Your goal in this fight is to stack the debuff as slowly as possible up until it reaches six or seven stacks at which point the boss start hitting too hard and you need to let the debuff fall off. Kill the adds that spawn and repeat the process until the bosses dies. Normally, this is where most guides stop the explanation but it pays off to know the details here.
So what exactly happens with this debuff?
-Karsh gains a stack two ways. When he stand in the fire pillar in the middle and when he stands in the lava pools left behind by the adds. The second way is especially important since this is often not explained in guides and it’s a frequent wipe cause when an add dies close to the boss wich makes the boss gains stack too quickly.
-Every time he gains a stack, an AoE pulse goes off that does about 10k damage. If you let him gain stacks rapidly that’s a lot of Aoe damage all at once.
-When the debuff(stack) falls off, three non-elite adds spawn.
How and when to move
The trick here for the tank is knowing how and when to move the boss. Some guides tell you to move right across the middle of the fire patch while others tell you to clip the side so he gains only one buff. My personal experience is that it’s better to move him through the side of the circle but still take the boss cleanly through the circle and not just dip his toes. Dipping his toes might work but I’ve had times when the boss wouldn’t get the debuff.
When to move is more interesting. Since the boss tends to stop moving when he strikes, you can get an unfortunate situation where he stops right in the middle of the fire column and gain a lot of stacks rapidly. In order to avoid that you can move right when he strikes you. Since he’s immobile while striking you have time to get out of melee range wich in turn means he has to run to you to land the next strike. If you run between strikes he’s free to strike you anytime since he’s still in melee range as he follows you.
When to let the stack fall off
If you’re good at stacking the debuff one stack at a time and have good dps, some groups will never let the debuff fall off and just let it stack. The fight then becomes a burn race to be able to down the boss before the healing becomes too much for the healer. Groups able to do this will kill the boss somewhere between 10 and 12 stacks.
If you want to be safer, you can let the first stack fall off at around 6 or 7 stacks. This will spawn the adds and once those are dead you can restart the whole process. Normally, you should have to do this only once during the whole fight. By the time the stack reaches the same point it’s likely the boss will be dead or very close it. I’d recommend just letting the second debuff stack up.
The add phase
When the three adds spawn, all dps should stop on the boss and focus on burning the adds down. Here however, we are going to do something counter intuitive and not tank the adds. It’s up to the dps to handle them on their own. The reason for that is that when they die they leave a puddle of lava that can add stacks to the boss. If the tank picks them up it’s likely the boss will receive extra stacks of the debuff that you don’t want there.
That’s it for Karsh Steelbender! Hope you enjoyed this little guide.
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