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This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive description of the encounter with Lord Rhyolith in Firelands. It is mostly targeted to DPS who desire to have a short but detailed overview of what is expected of them during that fight.
This guide applies to patch 4.3 of World of Warcraft.
From a DPS point of view, the encounter with Lord Rhyolith is unusual as the main task is to control Rhyolith's movements by attacking his feet in a coordinated manner. DPS output only comes into play during a short but intense burn phase that concludes the fight.
1. Overview of the Fight↑top
The encounter is made up of 2 phases. Phase One (from 100% to 25% health) requires the raid to move Rhyolith around the room to break his armor while Phase Two (from 25% health to the end) is a standard nuke phase.
Initially, Rhyolith is protected by an armor that your raid needs to make increasingly less effective by having him step on the volcanoes that he regularly creates throughout the fight.
During Phase One, Rhyolith will ignore players (i.e., he does not melee and does not need to be tanked) and roam around the room. He is in constant motion and cannot be stopped. However, he can be steered left or right, according to which of his feet you deal damage to: attacking the left foot makes him go left while attacking the right foot makes him go right.
The idea here is to attack his feet in such a way that he keeps going from one volcano to another. At the same time, Rhyolith must be prevented from reaching the lava that surrounds the encounter area, as it will cause him to wipe the raid.
In addition to these particular mechanics, the raid will also need to kill adds and deal with various abilities that Rhyolith will use.
When Phase Two starts, Rhyolith's armor shatters. He then needs to be tanked and the fight turns into a regular nuke phase. The boss needs to die before he wipes the raid with a very damaging ability that eventually causes the healers to run out of mana.
2. Damaging Rhyolith↑top
During Phase One, Rhyolith's left and right foot have their own unit frames and can be attacked. Rhyolith himself is, of course, also attackable. The protection provided by his armor also applies to his feet.
The damage done to a foot is divided equally between both feet. More precisely, every few seconds, the health of both feet is adjusted so that it becomes equal. For example, if one foot is at 48% health and the other is at 50% health, then both feet will be at 49% after the adjustment.
The health pool of each foot is always exactly half that of Rhyolith. Every time you damage a foot, Rhyolith is damaged for the same amount and inversely, each time you damage Rhyolith directly, the damage is also split evenly among his feet. This mechanics means that, during Phase One, the raid will do most of its damage on Rhyolith by attacking his feet to control him.
When Phase Two starts, his armor shatters, he needs to be tanked, and his feet are no longer attackable.
3. Moving Rhyolith↑top
For this fight, your UI displays a Direction Gauge. The default UI shows a horizontal energy bar that fills and depletes. Some addons display it as a percentage bar. The value indicated/displayed by the bar shows where Rhyolith is currently steering:
When attacking the left foot to make Rhyolith turn left, or the right foot to make him turn right, there seems to be a slight delay (about 1 second) before Rhyolith eventually starts changing direction. The raid will need some practice before finally being able to make Rhyolith change direction at will. Normally, half of the raid's DPS players should be on this task at all time (usually all the melee players), with sporadic help from the rest of the DPS players.
It looks as if Rhyolith has some inertia. When the damage done to both his feet is no longer unequal, the Direction Gauge will have a tendency to go back to the middle.
It is imperative to prevent Rhyolith from reaching the lava pool surrounding the fighting area because it empowers him with a powerful ability that will, in all likelihood, wipe the raid.
4. Phase One↑top
This phase revolves around moving Rhyolith so that he steps on the volcanoes he creates, which causes his armor to lose efficiency. The faster his armor is weakened, the faster your raid will be able to make it to Phase Two, which is triggered by Rhyolith's health reaching 25%.
4.1. Target Priority
Melee DPS will be on Rhyolith at all times, following left and right orders from a designated player to move Rhyolith around (while preventing him at all cost from reaching the edge of the fighting area).
Ranged DPS need to take down the adds which are summoned every 20-25 seconds by Rhyolith. Each wave of adds is either made of 1 Spark of Rhyolith or 5 Fragments of Rhyolith. The idea is to kill a wave of adds before the next one spawns, though one tank should be able to handle 2 waves at a time. Sparks of Rhyolith should be killed with priority. They take increased damage over time so your raid leader can ask you to wait before attacking them. Fragments of Rhyolith need to be killed in less than 30 seconds in order to prevent them from suiciding with Meltdown.
If the damage output from ranged DPS is not high enough to properly handle the adds, a few melee DPS can help them out with the Fragments of Rhyolith (but not the Sparks of Rhyolith as they do proximity damage).
4.2. Avoidable Damage
There is one main source of damage that DPS should try to avoid. Whenever Rhyolith steps on a volcano, the volcano immediately turns into a crater, which releases, after 10 seconds, 4 to 6 streams of lava flowing outwards. These lava streams need to be avoided (their visual effect is very obvious), otherwise, they deal high fire damage.
Also, Spark of Rhyolith (the bigger adds) deal proximity damage within 12 yards. DPS players should avoid getting close to them.
4.3. Handling Rhyolith
Making Rhyolith step on volcanoes would normally not require the attention of all the DPS players, as the damage necessary on one foot to make him change direction is not very high (2 DPS in 10-man would do just fine, for example).
Unfortunately, ranged DPS will be busy with adds for a large portion of the phase while melee DPS will sometimes need to move away from the boss to help with the Fragments. Therefore, every DPS needs to help out with attacking the feet, whenever they can. Eventually, players will find the right balance between attacking the feet and doing their other tasks. They can also attack Rhyolith's chest if they simply want to damage the boss without interfering with his current direction.
It is important to make Rhyolith only step on active volcanoes (those who are erupting). Whenever Rhyolith steps on a dormant volcano (one that is not erupting), he gains a temporary damage increasing buff and does not lose armor.
A player, possibly a tank, since the fight is rather easy for them, should be designated to pilot Rhyolith, i.e. choose the next active volcano to be stepped on and give orders (attack left foot, attack right foot, etc.) so that Rhyolith reaches that volcano. That player also needs to make sure that Rhyolith is never moved close to the edge of his plateau. This would allow him to empower himself with Drink Magma, effectively wiping the raid (or at least killing most of it).
Should the raid manage to remove all of Rhyolith's armor before he reaches 25% health, he should no longer be allowed to step on volcanoes. This will prevent craters from spawning, removing the need of moving out of lava streams.
5. Phase Two↑top
At 25% health, the armor that was protecting Rhyolith shatters and you get to see his true self. At that point, Phase Two begins. It is a burn phase during which Rhyolith must die before he wipes the raid (with a raid-wide damaging ability that eventually causes the healers to run out of mana).
As in every nuke phase, DPS players need to use every available DPS cooldown they possess. Since the phase is rather short, these cooldowns should be used as early in the phase as possible.
Mages, Paladins, and Rogues can remove stacks of a debuff (Eruption, applied by volcanoes), which increases fire damage taken (Eruption, applied by volcanoes), by using respectively Ice Block, Divine Shield, and Cloak of Shadows.
6. Heroic Mode↑top
The heroic mode of the Lord Rhyolith encounter does not differ much from the normal mode, from the perspective of DPS players. However, the encounter is much more tightly tuned in terms of the amount of DPS required.
6.1. Differences from Normal Mode
The following differences from the normal mode version of the encounter are relevant to DPS players:
6.2. Strategy Changes
6.2.1. General Concerns and Target Priority
Superheated acts as a second, more powerful, soft enrage which works in tandem with Immolation, and which will not allow your raid very much time before wiping. For this reason, DPS is a huge factor in this encounter, and the strategy reflects this.
The number of tanks and healers will likely be small, and the number of DPS players will be high. Melee DPS players will be assigned to either one of Lord Rhyolith's Feet (it is imperative to damage the boss a lot more than in normal mode, in order to bring about Phase Two before the 5 minute mark).
Your raid leader may decide to have Fragments of Rhyolith tanked in melee range, for the AoE damage to also damage the boss. If this is the case, melee DPS players should AoE them. Otherwise, Fragments of Rhyolith will be tanked, loosely, on top of Liquid Obsidian adds, for the AoE damage to wear them down.
Because your raid will most likely use a single tank, it is important that adds die quickly, before the tank becomes overwhelmed. Likewise, it is important that Lord Rhyolith transitions to Phase Two in a timely manner. Regarding this, your raid leader will most likely call a DPS burn on one of Rhyolith's Feet (to cause him to turn on the spot and not run rampant) when the boss is around 40% health, in order to bring about Phase Two. Note that all adds despawn when the boss enters Phase Two.
6.2.2. Avoidable Damage
Heroic mode does not present any new sources of damage, although existing ones damage for more, and especially with the low number of healers your raid will be using, you simply cannot afford to take damage.
6.2.3. Handling Rhyolith
Lord Rhyolith's pilot will need to be more reactive and more vocal than in normal mode. This is because, with constant DPS on both of the boss' Feet, movement will be a lot more sudden and Lord Rhyolith's Direction Gauge will be a lot more volatile.
Breaking down the boss' armor quickly is imperative, and failing to have him step over active volcanoes is unacceptable. At the same time, letting him step on a dormant volcano is now much more punishing than in normal mode as the damage buff he gets has been increased by 150%.
6.2.4. Phase Two
Phase Two will coincide with Superheated and is a massive DPS race. Your raid will not be able to survive in this phase for more than 40 or so seconds, so it is crucial that all DPS cooldowns as well as survivability cooldowns are used here.
Unlike normal mode, you will not be able to stack together in order to make healing easier, due to Lord Rhyolith's three mobile eye beams which need to be avoided. They do not chase particular players, but rather they move around the platform in a fairly slow manner. They must be avoided at all cost.