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Nightbane (boss)

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This article is about the in-game raid boss. For character lore, see Arcanagos.
BossMob 32Nightbane
Nightbane
Race Undead dragon (Undead)
Level  ?? Boss
Health 1,300,000
Wealth 37Gold 15Silver 54Copper
Location The Master's Terrace, Karazhan
Status Killable
See Icon-3D-48x48

Nightbane is a summonable raid boss in Karazhan. He is a fiery skeletal dragon, transformed by Medivh from Arcanagos and formerly of the blue dragonflight. While not the ruler of Karazhan, a position apparently held by Prince Malchezaar, many consider Nightbane to be the true final boss of the tower, due to his superior difficulty in the early days of the dungeon's release. A raid member must have completed the Neutral 15 [70] Medivh's Journal questline to summon the boss. This means Heroic Shattered Halls and Sethekk Halls must be partially completed in order to obtain the [Blackened Urn], which is used to summon Nightbane.

He may be a form of emberwyrm or magmawyrm, although he was raised from the Blue Dragonflight.

Attacks and abilities

Nightbane has two phases that he transitions between several times during the course of the fight. During the Ground Phase, tank the boss on the ground in a style reminiscent of Onyxia. At 75%, 50%, and 25% health, he enters the Flight Phase and takes to the sky, during which time the raid's attention is focused elsewhere. After Nightbane finishes casting Rain of Bones and then Smoking Blast he begins a slow descent back down to the platform (to roughly the same location as the original landing) and Phase One begins anew. He is NOT tauntable.

Abilities on the ground

  • Bellowing Roar – Typical dragon fear with a 2.5-second cast time, short duration, and 30-second cooldown. Of moderate range, healers and ranged DPS at max range will be just outside its reach. Resistible with Berserker Rage, Fear Ward, Will of the Forsaken or a PvP trinket. Tremor Totem will also break the fear on pulse. He casts this once every 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Charred Earth – Chars the ground beneath a random player. All players standing inside the affected area (approximately 5 yard radius, visually indicated by smoke on the ground, very difficult to spot if your spell effect detail slider in video options is below half way) receive a DoT that deals up to 3,000 fire damage per second. Cannot be dispelled, but disappears by itself once the player leaves the affected zone. The zones remain for 30 seconds and several of them can be present at the same time. (I'm not sure, but it seems the effect is slightly larger than the mark on the ground, someone please confirm or deny this)
  • Cleave – Typical dragon cleave, frontal arc. Hits for approximately 6,000 on plate, 11,000 on cloth.
  • Distracting Ash – Reduces chance to hit with melee and spells by 30% for 40 seconds. Can be dispelled.
  • Smoldering Breath – Inflicts 5k to 6k fire damage to enemies in a frontal cone. Deals 1,688 to 1,912 damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds.
  • Tail Sweep – Inflicts 450 fire damage on enemies in a cone behind the boss, knocking them back. Deals 450 fire damage every 3 seconds for 25 seconds.

Abilities in the air

  • Casts Rain of Bones on one random player/pet:
    • Bombards the area the targeted person was standing at the initial cast with bone fragments, which deal 352-408 physical damage in a 6-yard radius.
    • Summons five Restless Skeletons. Each has the following attributes:
      • Hits for approximately 1,300 on cloth, 450 on plate
      • Has roughly 13,500 health
  • Shoots powerful Smoking Blast every second for approximately 15 seconds. Deals 1,850 to 2,150 physical damage (can be mitigated by armor, approximately 750 on plate) to the target and 3,000 fire damage over 18 seconds. The fire damage-over-time debuff can be dispelled. Targeting for this ability is determined by the individual with the highest threat on Nightbane after he goes into the air. The target is usually a healer because damage-dealers typically hit the skeletons during this phase.
  • Fireball Barrage: If any member of the raid is too far away from Nightbane while he is in flight, he pelts the raid with fireballs, each doing about 3,000-3,500 damage, casting 1 per second until all members are within range. This ability exists to prevent exploiting and is not something you will notice if you do things correctly.

Strategy

Positioning

Nightbanestrat

Nightbane Positioning Diagram

  • The battlefield consists of a long, narrow terrace, bordered by a dome on one side and row of battlements—the rectangular spaces cut out of the top of the wall—on the other.
  • Nightbane initially lands near a skull close to the dome, two-thirds of the way on the south side of the terrace. After Phase Two (flight), he lands much closer to the center of the terrace.
  • Main tanks should generally have their back to the outside wall, to direct the cleave and breath attack away from the rest of the raid.
  • Melee DPS should stand in typical dragon-meleeing position, at the hind legs on either side. Staying between the legs is important because both the tail and the head do cleaves/swipes.
  • Ranged people need to be far enough from Nightbane to avoid his Fear ability. Also, the Charred Earth ability lends itself to people staying close to walls and split into two groups. It centers itself on a player, so a player close to a wall will create half as much affected area.
    • One viable strategy is to split up the ranged members, sending group 1 to the north side and group 2 to the south. However, many raids see superior results keeping both groups on the same side, with group 1 clustered next the dome and group 2 clustered next to the battlements.
    • From the landing spot, the max range of DPS and healers should be six battlements away from the main tank (not counting the one the MT is at)
  • No one should stand on the domed roof, as this causes Nightbane to evade-bug. But shouldn't be a problem because it's impossible to wall climb up now. Players with the correct know-how of how to jump up, still can as of 2.3, although it is much more difficult. However these players must be very careful of aggro, misdirecting and aggro-dumping every chance they get. The melee, and the tank, should remain down in the "playable area".

Ground Phase

The Ground Phase lasts from when Nightbane lands until his health hits 75%, 50%, or 25%, at which point he then takes to the air for the Flight Phase. All during the Ground Phase Nightbane casts Charred Earth, Fears, and Cleaves.

Tanking Nightbane

Tanking Nightbane is a fairly straightforward affair, with the exception of fear. Handling fear is paramount to success, as one or two uncontrolled fears will guarantee a wipe. Warrior tanks can minimize the effect of fear by stance dancing. Having a macro to avoid fear really helps. For the Druid or the Paladin tank, however, things are not so easy unless Fear Ward is present. Patch 2.3 changed the cooldown of Fear Ward to 3 minutes, making it difficult to rely on by itself for the encounter. But since Nightbane will chase the tank even if the tank is feared, raid members can run out of range of the fear to avoid getting caught by a cleave or tail sweep. A tremor totem in the tank's group is a huge help for this strategy by reducing the amount of time the tank gets feared.

Everyone else

Healing in this phase is not particularly difficult, with the fight resembling a simple Tank and Spank, but be careful not to rip aggro with an early heal on the tank. Nightbane has a lot of burst potential when his melee is combined with his cleave and smoldering breath, so healers need to be somewhat awake, even though they can get outside the 5 second rule quite often.

Another ability that might be problematic during the Ground Phase is the Charred Earth. Assuming it appears beneath Group 1, Group 1 should briefly shift over to Group 2's position until the area is safe again, and vice-versa. Occasionally, both groups may fall victim to Charred Earth at the same time—if this happens, all healers and ranged must temporarily shift forward to remain in range of the tank and the boss. Consequently, both groups will be closer to the boss and vulnerable to the fear. The tank must be ready to take preventative measures as required should the raid's healers suddenly find themselves incapacitated. When melee DPS are avoiding Charred Earth, they must be careful not to move into the area vulnerable to Cleave (ahead of his front legs) or Tail Swipe (behind his back legs). Any melee-type wandering into his head area are prone to being one-shot.

This is a long, healing-intensive fight that can last upwards of 10 minutes. Timed correctly, many mana-regenerative cooldowns such as Innervate and Shadowfiend may be used twice during this encounter.

Flight Phase

Nightbane flies into the air, signaling the start of the Flight Phase. Flight Phase lasts until Nightbane has finished using his two abilities of Rain of Bones and Smoking Blast.

Preparing for Smoking Blast

Immediately after Nightbane summons skeletons while in his Flight Phase, it targets the raid member with the highest threat and repeatedly casts Smoking Blast on this target. This is typically a healer.

Smoking blast deals physical damage, so the more armor the target has, the better. Paladins would be ideal; however, due to their mechanics, it is very difficult for them to have the highest threat. Even if paladins have improved righteous fury, their healing threat generation is only 0.5*1.9=0.95 compared to the 0.7*0.8=0.56 threat (Priest or Druid with blessing of salvation, 0.595 for a Shaman) that the other healers will have. In general, it is fairly difficult for the paladin to compete with healing aggro for Smoking Blast against priests and shaman who have AoE heals.

Healers must be prepared to spam heals on whomever the affected primary healer is. This will likely occupy a majority of your healers' time, which complicates dealing with the skeletons. When formulating a strategy for killing the skeletons, remember that your healers are otherwise occupied.

Alternate Method #1 This method requires a Resto Shaman with Earth Shield. When Nightbane takes off, have the Shaman place an Earth Shield on the tank. Once the Rain of Bones begins and the skeletons start to spawn, have the tank grab aggro on as many of them as possible (Thunderclap [improved talent works wonders here] for Warrior tanks, or Swipe for Feral Druids). The skeletons will proc the Earth Shield on the tank, thus generating the healing aggro on the tank. This will limit healing in multiple ways, 1) only one to three people actually taking damage from Rain of bones, 2) Earth Shield will keep the tank up easily provided the resto shaman's gear is decent, 3) the Smoking Blast will only be hitting the tank with the Earth Shield (which will in turn proc it more). You can drop a Tranquil Air Totem if the tank is not in the healers' group to ensure that healing can still go out, but Smoking Blast will hit the tank.

Dealing with skeletons

All healers and ranged collapse to where the main tank is standing in order to avoid the Fireball Barrage. Once Rain of Bones starts, all players must immediately move away to avoid taking too much AoE damage. Five skeletons will spawn during the Rain of Bones. These hit fairly hard. To mitigate this damage:

  • Warriors and feral (bear) druids should use taunt and cleave/swipe liberally to keep aggro off of the healers. Warriors can use Challenging Shout and Druids can use Challenging Roar, during one of the phases. Grenades also work very well to establish initial aggro.
  • Pets with taunt abilities (especially hunter pets) can hold aggro temporarily
  • Paladins are uniquely suited to this phase. A Paladin should activate his DPS cooldowns from trinkets and avenging wrath and tank the 5 skeletons. The primary advantages of this strategy are that all skeletons are controlled during the Flight Phase and will not run about killing the healers, skeletons die much faster due to the AoE and all healers will be able to get the Blessing of Wisdom buff to help mana issues instead of the Blessing of Salvation buff. Warlocks and mages can then begin AoE and down the skeletons much sooner than single target DPS allows.
  • Shaman can drop Stoneclaw Totem or Earth Elemental Totem to buy healers an extra second or two
  • It also helps in the group spreads out a little bit after gathering, so the tanks can identify who has aggro from a skeleton and pull aggro from them as soon as possible. Note: Do not spread out too far as this will make pulling aggro from the skeletons even harder.
  • Hunters can drop Frost Trap on the skeletons to keep them anchored for a tank, which can be a huge help. Entrapment spec is a plus.
  • Combat rogues can save Blade Flurry, Adrenaline Rush, and Evasion for this phase, activating it to hold temporarily evasion tank the adds and keep them from moving away from the actual tank.

Lacking a good Paladin tank, it may be more effective to kill the spawns one at a time rather than AoEing them. Be warned: Due to the Smoking Blast occupying the healers, there isn't much chance for survival if a mage or warlock draws aggro from AoE.

Also, If you are still having trouble with this fight being the Skeletons still are not going down fast, people are dying or its killing the healers mana, It might be an idea to have your raid pre-prepared with Stratholme Holy Water from the Undead side of Stratholme. Using this when all 5 are up will deal decent damage, and if everyone that can't AoE uses this they should go down much quicker.

Transition to the Ground Phase

Ten seconds before Nightbane lands, all members of the raid should fall back to the previous positions, dragging whatever skeletons are still alive with them. Ideally, all adds will be dead at this point, but having one or two still up before Nightbane descends is fine. The tank must remember to keep an eye on the casting bar, and stance dance to avoid an early fear. A recent change has made this fight a bit easier for raids that do not have fear wards/tremor totems/warrior tanks. Nightbane will keep aggro on the tank, regardless of whether the tank is feared or not. This introduces the challenge of the tank being feared into the ranged group, but it does make paladin and druids tanks more of an option.

The most dangerous parts of this fight are the transitions between the Flight and Ground Phases, when the main tank must reestablish aggro. Hunters' Misdirection is especially useful here, to make sure the boss goes directly for the tank.

Ground Phase begins again when Nightbane lands, rinse and repeat at 50% and 25% until victory.

Warrior Tanks - the stance dance is thus:

  1. When you see him begin casting, hit Berserker Stance, then Berserker Rage.
  2. Switch back to Defensive stance.

Video guide

How to solo Nightbane

Loot

Nightbane Loot
Inv chest leather 06
Inv shield 37
Inv jewelry necklace 17
Inv boots chain 04
Inv boots plate 04
Inv staff 57
Inv chest plate02
Inv chest cloth 12
Inv chest chain 07
Inv shield 29
Inv chest leather 07
Inv offhand outlandraid 01
Inv enchant essencemagicsmall
Spell holy championsbond200200


Patch changes

  • Bc icon Patch 2.1.0 (22-May-2007):  Nightbane was significantly retuned with no official patch note; Rain of Bones no longer follows targets, Smoking Blast damage greatly reduced, Distracting Ash completely changed, no longer able to fear during landing, several bugs fixed.
  • Bc icon Patch 2.0.10 (2007-03-06): Nightbane's Bone Shard Spray can no longer be interrupted by using an immunity effect.
  • Bc icon Patch 2.0.10 (2007-03-06): Restless Skeletons no longer have immolation.
  • Bc icon Patch 2.0.10 (2007-03-06): Nightbane's Restless Skeletons are now immune to non-holy magical damage.
                Reverted in a hotfix several hours after the patch.

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