You: "I thought his ret series was titled 'Using that Mace'? And how did we go from Saurfang to the Lich King? Did we step on some funky time-machine teleporter that draws upon the powers of the Nether, draenei tails, and tax dollars?"
Me: No, silly. I just wanted to pen down my guild's strat for this fight before it escapes the butterfingers of my short-term memory. And since I tanked this fight, and will tank heroic 10-man Icecrown Citadel, I figured the main focus of a new series would be (duh) tanking.
Therefore, I present Avenger's Shield!
... Yes, like the spell. Ok look, Rhidach already took Righteous Defense, Galo got Ardent Defender, this was the best I could think of.
I'm sorry I ended that sentence with a preposition, damn vernacular.
There are so many things wrong (and right... giggidy) with this picture, but it's relevant, so it stays.
In explaining this encounter I'll be using some visual aids, a first for me (I think), so bare with the crude symbols and obviously-assembled-in-Word quality.
THE LICH KING
Well, you've made it. You've bested his minions, now you're facing the big bad of Icecrown Citadel, the Lich King. Sitting at a whopping 17.4 million health, this is a fight you're going to want to be comfortable for. (Damn prepositions, they're everywhere!)
Let's go over your pre-fight checklist:
- Comfortable headset?
- Seat cushion?
- Hot wings, Cheetos, or some other sloppy snack that will get its residue all over your keyboard and mouse?
- Gentleman's bladder or adult diaper?
The fight starts out with some RP, go figure. The Lich King will get pissed at Tirion and freeze him, making him completely useless. Honestly, it would have been nice if he would've given us a hand, but no...
For the first part of the fight (i.e. from 100% to 70%), one tank should pick up LK and the other get in position to pick up the Shambling Horrors that he summons every minute or so. The ghouls he summons, as long as they're not on ranged or healers, can mostly be ignored. Below is my diagram of positioning for phase 1 (note: I'm assuming a raid comp of 3 ranged DPS, 2 melee DPS, and 3 healers).
The Horror tank will... tank the Horrors. Also, if the Horror tank is a paladin, he or she can help dispel the Necrotic Plague from your raid members so it can jump around the adds and burn them down. The Horrors and the Lich King should be tanked at least 10 yards apart, to prevent melee from getting the plague. Otherwise, rinse and repeat until about 71%, at which time you should be ready to run.
At 70%, LK will start casting Remorseless Winter, which HURTS. Also, ice blocks rise around the outside of the platform. Every single member of your raid needs to get on these. During this intermediate "transition" phase, LK will summon two types of adds.
The first are Ice Spheres. These should be taken down by ranged. While they have low health, if they reach the raid they will throw you off the platform and kill you. Just have ranged burn these quick and then they can turn their attention to the next type of add, which will require some fancy footwork on your part.
The second type of adds during this phase are Raging Spirits. Similar to the mechanic for the Val'kyr Herald trash mobs, a Spirit will knock a player down and spawn immediately beside it. Before 3.3.3, there was a slight delay in the spawning of the add and attaining aggro, making it easy for tanks to pick them up. With the new patch, however, these start demolishing your raid as soon as they spawn, so be quick. Tank them together to achieve maximum cleave-y potential.
There will be three (3) total Raging Spirit spawns, whether you're ready for them or not, in this transition phase, which lasts a minute. After this time, the ice you're standing on will crumble and fall, so you need to get back to the middle quickly. Prepare to enter phase 2.
When you enter phase 2, you'll inevitably have at least one Raging Spirit still up from before, so just tank that off to the side, facing away from the raid (as they'll silence anyone in front of them). This entire phase centers around two abilities: Defile and Summon Val'kyr. I've assembled two diagrams for phase 2; one of what your raid should look like a few seconds before a Defile, and one for a few seconds before Summon Val'kyr. Let's discuss the pre-Defile diagram.
Your raid will want to be as spread out as possible right before Defile is cast. For this spell, the Lich King will target someone, then start a two-second cast for Defile. Once the cast is finished, a void zone-esque effect will spawn at that person's feet. That person will want to flee as far as they can to the edge of the platform, drop off the void, and get back into the middle without running into it (if any raid member sits in it, it'll get bigger and bigger, causing a wipe).
It should be noted that the rest of this encounter will involve a conscious effort of avoiding the Defile voids, so be aware of where they are and what you need to do to avoid them at all times.
Now let's look at the Summon Val'kyr diagram. This one is pretty simple. When the Lich King summons a Val'kyr, the add will fly down, pick up a raid member, and try to throw them off the platform. In order to give your DPS the maximum amount of time to burst down the valk, position your entire raid as close to the middle as you can afford (voids notwithstanding).
As you can imagine, phase 2 is very headache-inducing, as it has you spreading as far out as you can and then packing in really close. There is one more ability to add to your migraine, however; Soul Reaper.
As a paladin tank, we have a few ways out of the insta-gibbing greatness that is Soul Reaper. First, we can pop Divine Protection. Our own little Shield Wall does a good job of mitigating LK's ridiculous damage during this ability. Otherwise, receiving Hand of Sacrifice from another paladin tank OR holy or ret paladin can work as well, although less damage will be mitigated using this method. The third, and seemingly most last-resortish, is Ardent Defender. I wouldn't recommend planning on Ardent Defender, primarily because you have at least one other option for staying alive during Soul Reaper, not counting healer cooldowns.
Phase 2 will last until the Lich King reaches 40% health, at which point another transitional phase occurs. This phase is almost exactly like phase 1.5, except four (4) Raging Spirits spawn rather than 3. Again, this phase lasts 60 seconds, so have your DPS burn the Spirits down as quickly as they can. At the end of the transitional phase, the Lich King will cast Quake again and drop the edges off the platform, so hurry up and make your way back to the middle.
When you get back to the center, phase 3 begins. Although he'll still cast Defile and Soul Reaper, the Lich King will no longer summon valks. Instead, he'll cast Vile Spirits, summoning a number of... Vile Spirits. These spawn directly above LK and float their way down to you. If they reach you, or 30 seconds elapses, they'll explode, which hurts quite a bit, especially if there are several spirits stacked together. In order to give your ranged time to DPS them down, drag LK as far away from the spirits' spawn point as you can. The fewer number of spirits that hit you, the better.
Essentially, phase 3 breaks down to dealing with Defile and its voids, killing Spirits, and managing tank/healer cooldowns for Soul Reaper. Just burn that mother to 10% and, before you know it, it's game over.
LK will instantly kill you (I knew he had it in him, 'atta boy), then some more RP stuff will happen. You'll be resurrected by Terenas, at which point you'll have to burn the Lich King down from 10% to 0. Pop wings, throw your shield, toss a hammer, go nuts.
How about some loot?
Troggbane, Axe of the Frostborne King
Mithrios, Bronzebeard's Legacy
Conqueror's Mark of Sanctification
(As there is no set BiS list for tanking gear, I'll leave it up to you to decide if these are upgrades or not.)
Grats! Hopefully this (sarcasm) short (/sarcasm) explanation has been helpful. Until next time!