And now for the tough cookies, the instances that will make you break a nervous sweat, and where you’ll have to be in top shape. Don’t attempt unless you’re very comfortable tanking multiple mobs, and ideally you have top notch DPS and a great healer having your back.
As for the exact order, a lot of it depends on your group makeup. If you run with a bunch of people you are used to, who are skilled, provide big heals or big DPS, then those hard ones will probably all seem equally challenging. If you run with a PUG, a scale of 5 might not be enough.
Not rated: Mana-Tombs and Auchenai Crypts.
11. Shadow Labyrinth (4/5): When I first ran this, I was surprised that the trash didn’t really feel that much harder than on normal. But when you think about it, it is one of the tougher instances for young 70s, and the heroic version has the same risks than the normal instance does. For CC, you will want to bring a mage for polymorph, a capable hunter for trapping, a rogue for sap, a shadow priest for MC or a warlock for seduction/fear, as almost all of the mobs in there are humanoids.
Most difficult pull: No doubt the three six mob pulls in Blackheart’s room. You will need some form of CC here. Your kill priority should be to kill the shadow priests first, because their Mind Flay is eeeeevil. Seriously, it hurts a lot. If you happen to have a shadow priest in your own party, Mind Control totally kicks ass here, for the immense damage these guys can then supply to your group. As second mob you might want to kill the Acolytes or leave them CCd through the end. Have someone with high burst damage take out the minion of the warlocks on their own, they need to go down quickly as well. These are tough pulls, but not much harder than they were on normal. You just need to be prepared to tank three of those guys and pick up the rest as quickly as possible.
Other notable pulls: The Cabal Spellbinders at the end cast a channeled Mind Control called Brainwash. Shield Bash it as quickly as you can, and you’ll be fine. None of the other trash is really remarkable or notably different from the normal version of the instance.
Bosses: Ambassador Hellmaw is basically a free badge of justice, if you’re decently geared. Only danger is that you take massive damage while the healer is feared, but that’s really rare. However, he has a 3 minute Enrage timer, so make sure that your DPS hits him hard. Blackheart the Inciter continues to be as random on heroic as he is on normal. His mass Mind Control tends to be a bit more dangerous on heroic, because everyone is a lot better geared than when you first engaged him in normal mode. He hits harder, and is still as annoying. As tank, be ready to Intervene, if need be Intercept to get his aggro back after every Mind Control. There is no different strategy for him on heroic. Grandmaster Vorpil is one of the harder bosses in there, but his basic mechanic is the same as on normal. Summons voidwalkers, etc. As extra twist, he will banish a random party member, which can include the tank. I still find the good ol’ tried kiting method best here. Walk him southwards, after the first port take him down the other hallway, and if he still isn’t dead by then, you go back down south again. Finally, we have Murmur, and you get to say ‘Muahahaha’ to the rest of the group, as you won’t be the only one who has to run out of the Sonic Boom. As Murmur has an ability called Thundering Storm that hits everyone outside of his ring, everyone will want to be in there, but has to run out for the Sonic Boom. However, as soon as no one is in his melee range, he will start casting Resonance. Check with your healer if you can afford staying inside during the boom to avoid Resonance, but make sure everyone else runs.
12. Shattered Halls (4/5): Multi-tanking galore! Bring an array of humanoid CC as your DPS, and prepare for some adrenaline-rushing moments of huge mob groups on you.
Most difficult pull: The gauntlet of fire after the first boss can be a terrible experience. The wittle non elite guys rushing at you hit like trucks, as I recently had to find out the hard way on my rogue. What has always worked best for me in there is to move ahead as the tank, but slowly. Tank a group of runners, pull the static group, move forward. Focus-fire them down, avoid AoE, as that will kill your party members and will make you chase for aggro. Move into the last room as soon as you can to stop the trash spawns. Your healer will be hard-pressed for mana. Like most gauntlets, slow and steady is the way to go.
Other notable pulls: I have to admit that I end up struggling with the two large pulls in the Gladiator hallway after the gauntlet. I don’t know if it’s me, if it’s a bug in the instance, or whatever, but I often get one side as adds while doing those pulls. To this day I do not know why. My superstition makes me only pull the Legionnaire now when he’s smack in the middle of the hallway. I always pull both large groups back into the room, around the corner, for breaking caster LoS.
Bosses: Grand Warlock Nethekurse knows no new tricks at all. Make sure to not stand in the void zones and inspire your DPS to burn him hard once he’s under 20% health. Bloodguard Porung is only around on heroic, and is the named guy at the end of the gauntlet, where on normal there’s just another archer. He has no special tricks at all, so I guess his badge is the reward for making it through the gauntlet. Warbringer O’mrogg has two heads and two separate aggro tables. A strategy that works very well is that once he switches aggro tables, everyone but the tank stops DPS. That way you quickly get aggro back. The faster you get aggro back, the less likely it is for one of the party members to die. Last but not least, we have Kargath Bladefist himself. He is rough on heroic, very much so, for me the hardest part of the instance. His adds have a high health pool, and as we have tried, it’s not feasible for most cloth DPS to try handling the adds, as they will eat casters for breakfast. Tanking Kargath by the steps and picking up adds for tanking will be more successful. Try to tank additional adds, and use CC like Polymorph or Fear for others. Your healer will have a hard time topping everyone off, the Blade Dance really hurts.
13. Magisters’ Terrace (5/5) The most recent 5-man to be added to the game is special. In normal mode, it’s at least as difficult as the easier heroics. In heroic mode, it can get overwhelming very quickly. The more humanoid CC you bring, the better off you’ll be. An ideal DPS composition would be mage, warlock and rogue or hunter. Mage for polymorph, warlock for enslaving and seducing, and one other form of CC. Which bugs me about this instance, because you become so dependant on crowd control. Sorry, shamans and other non-humanoid CCers, I feel your pain in finding groups for this.
As general rule of thumb, learn to take the most advantage of LoS that you can, and as always warn your group when you pull like that. Aside from the first pulls up to the first boss, you can use line of sight everywhere. There’s always a niche to duck in to, a corner to run around, to bring all the casters to you. Also, use spell reflect as long as you still have casters up in the pulls. This will minimize a lot of damage you’ll take, and help with threat. Use it every cooldown.
Most difficult pull: Right before you meet Kael’thas, there’s a huge pull of five nasty trash mobs. If you wipe here, they’ll all be back, good times. My tank trick is once again to use line of sight here to your advantage. Pull, run back down the steps around the corner and tank them there. Your CCers can apply CC while the mobs are on their way. One of the most annoying mobs to tank is the Ethereal, as they blink around and spam Arcane Explosion. Keep healers CCd if you can. As with all the pulls, if you have a warlock and there’s a succubus in the pull, have her enslaved. She does loooots of damage and can take some tanking burden off you.
Other notable pulls: The first group pull requires you pull back very far, or you are in danger of getting adds. No one wants adds in MgT, ever. All trash pulls after Vexallus are pretty tough, I can only repeat my general rules for tanking here.
Bosses: Selin Fireheart is the easiest boss in here, and pretty much is like the end-boss in Steamvault. I’ve used different strategies here, either destroying the crystals or just burning him down quickly. Depends on your DPS. Shouldn’t be much of a problem. Vexallus on the other hand is a big headache. I haven’t been back to MgT since the 2.4 nerf, I can only hope he’s easier now. The only strategy that worked for us in the past is to actually stop DPS to have the debuff wear off, once the classes that can remove the debuff (mages, rogues) have dealt with the adds. As tank, be prepared to take one or two of the adds as well, and quickly, don’t let them get into the group. Thunderclap won’t work, so either tab-target to them or Cleave when they are spawned. At 20% everyone needs to go all out and burn him. Next up is Priestess Delrissa who holds two of the absolutely best tanking trinkets in her possession: Shard of Contempt and Commendation of Kael’thas. Both are fantastic. The shard is wonderful for threat, and the Commendation has saved my butt on hard-hitter bosses many times. I feel very lucky that I have gotten both trinkets in my first two runs. However, the boss herself is a tanking nightmare. Slap on your DPS or PvP gear if you have any, and do your worst. Personally, I usually focus on interrupting Delrissa’s heals and hamstring every single uncontrolled mob for those extra precious moments of time, use Intimidating Shout as well. I have virtually no PvP experience as warrior, so it’s kinda rough. As you initiate the pull, make 100% sure to pull all the way back to where you cleared the trash. You will want to use fear and at least one of her companions can fear. You don’t want any adds whatsoever to survive here.
We finally come to Kael’thas himself, and he gets his own paragraph from me. As protection warrior I am used to running in to a boss and starting a fight with Shield Slam, but not on Kael’thas, nuh-uh. You’ll be taking a lot of damage from his fireballs and you can minimize the impact by starting off with a well-placed Shield Bash to interrupt his first fireball. Once he starts casting again, you probably have enough rage for a Spell Reflect, and from there on you can alternate between Shield Bash and Spell Reflect. Your healer will be extremely grateful. Also, make sure to move out of the Flamestrike. If your group gets close to 50% and you haven’t had a phoenix for a while, slow the DPS down, as you really don’t want gravity lapse + phoenix for insta-wipe. On heroic. Kael will shield himself after 60 seconds. The shield needs to be hit with 10k damage so that you can interrupt the Pyroblast in time. If the Pyroblast is not interrupted, you take 40k fire damage to the face. Been there, done that. At that point it doesn’t matter anyway, because by that time it’s almost Gravity Lapse time, and you’re absolutely unneeded for that phase of the fight. To sum it up, use your unique warrior goodness to minimize spell damage, interrupt the Pyroblast or you bite the dust, and don’t stand in the fire. The universal truth of almost all fights in TBC, don’t stand in the fire.
14. Caverns of Time: Escape from Durnholde (5/5): Take this review with a caveat. This instance is last on my list because I have never been able to successfully run it. My first try was so discouraging I never went back. I have heard it’s been seriously nerfed since then, so I will have to go back and give it a proper review. All I can suggest at the moment is that you bring lots of CC you can use on the move (hunter, mage, warlock), and try to avoid melee DPS. As I only ever made it to the second boss in there, I won’t go into details. I promise a more in-depth review once I have finished the instance. However, as I really felt it was excruciatingly difficult, it remains last on my list.
Unrated heroics: Mana-Tombs and Auchenai Crypts. I have yet to set foot in there on heroic. I can see myself running Mana-Tombs, but I always felt Crypts was disgusting in normal mode, I have no desire to do it on heroic. However, I think I might sacrifice myself and run both, so that this will be a complete guide. I will update the guides accordingly once I am done there.
As always, I welcome feedback, criticism, suggested changes, and I hope you enjoyed this overview of TBC heroics.