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This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive description of the encounter with Ragnaros 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.
Ragnaros is the 7th and final boss encounter in the Firelands raid instance. He is, by far, the most complex encounter, and arguably the most difficult one.
DPS players are only faced with two tasks, which they need to perform properly: attacking the boss (and his adds, punctually), and moving to avoid damaging abilities.
1. Overview of the Fight↑top
The Ragnaros encounter is a complex fight, split into three phases, separated by two transitional phases. For ease of understanding, we will list all of the phases, their triggering and concluding factors, and the names we are going to use for them.
DPS players need to attack Ragnaros for most of the fight while moving to avoid the many abilities he casts. The only difficulty comes from the fact that failing to properly avoid some abilities can be very unforgiving.
2. Phase One↑top
Because of Wrath of Ragnaros, players should spread out 6 yards. That will prevent unnecessary knock up.
Melee DPS should be as close to Ragnaros as possible (without being in the lava, of course), even if, due to Ragnaros' very large hitbox, he can be melee-ed from very far away. Being this close enables melee DPS to safely ignore Ragnaros' deadly Sulfuras Smash ability, which we describe next.
Melee DPS will regularly be knocked back by Hand of Ragnaros. They need to make sure this does not send them in a Sulfuras Smash or a Magma Trap.
2.2. Dealing with Sulfuras Smash
Ragnaros regularly casts Sulfuras Smash (approximately every 40 seconds). Ragnaros faces a random raid member and then proceeds to smash his hammer on the area in front of him (always about 10 yards from the edge of his lava pool). Three waves travel outwards from the hammers, as illustrated by the following diagram:
The location where the hammer hits is clearly marked with a fire effect. Anyone standing in it must move out. The three subsequent lava waves also need to be avoided. Getting hit by this ability results in death, getting hit by the subsequent lava waves very often equals to death, therefore, dealing with it properly is imperative.
2.3. Dealing with Magma Trap
Magma Traps need to be manually detonated by designated raid members, as otherwise they persist indefinitely and would end up severely limiting raid's movement space.
Specific players should be assigned to detonate Magma Traps, and they should do so only when raid members have sufficient health to take the resulting damage (around 80,000 Fire damage), ideally when everyone is almost topped off. The following classes are ideal for the task, due to their ability to avoid taking fall damage:
3. First Transition Phase↑top
Splitting Blow marks the end of Phase One and the beginning of the First Transition Phase. After an 8-second cast, Ragnaros will strike the area indicated by a clearly visible ground effect with his hammer, then he will disappear in his lava pool for the entire duration of the transition phase.
When Ragnaros' hammer strikes the platform, 8 fiery balls travel to locations clearly marked by fire jets (they appear well before the cast finishes). Once a fiery ball arrives at its destination, it transforms into a Son of Flame (125k health in 10-man difficulty and 622k health in 25-man difficulty).
These 8 Sons of Flame travel towards the hammer. They cannot be tanked or taunted and they slow down as their health decreases (Burning Speed). Whenever a Son of Flame reaches the hammer, it triggers Supernova, which will probably wipe the raid. Therefore, these adds must be killed before they can trigger Supernova.
Ideally, the raid leader will have assigned everyone 2 or 3 Sons to focus on. DPS players need to attack and slow their assigned Sons, preferably those closer to the hammer. Unfortunately, Sons are immune to most slow abilities, forcing players to resort to stun and knock back abilities.
Additionally, Ragnaros will regularly target random raid members with Lava Bolt, which cannot be avoided.
4. Phase Two↑top
Phase Two starts as soon as all the Sons of Flame are dead. If 45 seconds into the First Transition Phase, some Sons are still alive, Phase Two starts anyway.
This phase is very similar to Phase One, with the following differences:
From time to time, Engulfing Flame will cover part of the platform with fire, forcing everyone to move.
4.1.1. Dealing with Molten Seed
Dealing with Molten Seed requires precise movement from the raid. This ability places a Molten Seed at the feet of 10 players in 10-man difficulty and 20 players in 25-man difficulty. This causes 55,000 Fire damage to all allies within 6 yards (hence why spreading out is important). Ragnaros casts this ability exactly every 60 seconds.
The locations where the Molten Seeds are placed explode after a short while, dealing, dealing 135,000 Fire damage to all raid members. This damage decreases the farther away from the Molten Inferno the player is. For this reason, the raid should prepare for Molten Seed by spreading out on the sides of the platform (on one side in 10-man), and then stack together in the middle (preferably close to the boss to prevent damage from Sulfuras Smash), after Molten Seed has been cast, in order to reduce the damage taken by the explosions (since it is distance-related) and make healing more efficient.
Each explosion spawns a Molten Elemental. These adds do not have normal aggro tables. Instead, they fixate on random raid members. They have low health and do not melee hard. Since the raid is stacked up, the elementals will come to the stacking position and need to be AoE-ed down.
Once the elementals are dead, everyone goes back to their original position.
The diagram below illustrates the necessary movement (note that 10-man groups only need to use one side of the platform):
4.1.2. Dealing with Engulfing Flames
Approximately every minute, Ragnaros chooses a third of his platform to engulf in fire with Engulfing Flame. For this purpose, the platform is divided in three slices, from Ragnaros' position towards the exterior:
Players in the affected part of the platform must move away immediately to avoid taking massive amounts of damage.
This ability can sometimes be cast shortly after Molten Seed, potentially requiring the raid to move their stacking position further from the boss.
5. Second Transition Phase↑top
The Second Transition Phase is very similar to the First Transition Phase, with one exception. Ragnaros spawns two Lava Scion. These adds are to be picked up by the tanks and regularly afflict a random raid member with Blazing Heat.
Players afflicted by this ability leave a trail of flames behind them. Sons of Flame and Lava Scions passing through the trail get healed. For this reason, anyone afflicted by Blazing Heat needs to run away from the raid towards the edge of the platform in such a way that no Son of Flame or Lava Scion will walk through the trail of flames. Once on the edge of the platform, they need to continue running along the edge until the debuff wears out.
6. Phase Three↑top
Phase Three starts as soon as all the Sons of Flame are dead. If 45 seconds into the Second Transition Phase, some Sons are still alive, Phase Three starts anyway.
The Lava Scions from the Second Transition Phase need to be killed with the highest priority when Phase Three starts. Only when they are dead should DPS switch back to Ragnaros.
From Phase One and Phase Two, Ragnaros only retains Sulfuras Smash and Engulfing Flame. These two abilities still need to be dealt with as previously explained. However, the 6-yard spacing is no longer compulsory.
New adds called Living Meteors appear in Phase Three. They need to be kited by randomly selected players (can be a healer). We detail how these adds must be dealt with in the next section, but to sum things up, players not kiting these adds simply need to move out of their path.
6.2. Living Meteors
In addition to these mechanics, Phase Three presents an entirely new mechanic, called Summon Living Meteor.
Roughly every 50 seconds, throughout Phase Three, Ragnaros summons adds called Living Meteors. The location where a Living Meteor is about to spawn is indicated by flames on the ground and anyone within 5 yards of the location will take a large amount of Fire damage. Living Meteors do not have aggro tables, fixate on random raid members and cannot be effectively killed (due to their high health). They must be kited by whoever they fixate on, as contact with the Meteor deals fatal damage. More precisely, if a player comes within 4 yards of a Living Meteor, everyone within 8 yards of the meteor takes 500,000 fire damage (instant death). The effect is called Meteor Impact. Note that the Meteors cannot be kited indefinitely, and they will eventually catch up to their target.
Living Meteors have a buff called Combustible, which enables players to cause the meteor to change target. While this buff is active, an attack made on the Meteor will cause it to be knocked back several yards in the direction that the attacking player is facing. Knocking a Meteor back causes it to pick a different target to fixate on and to lose its Combustible buff for 5 seconds.
Whenever a Living Meteor is about to spawn, all players should move away from the designated location. The player being chased by the Meteor should then kite it, while making sure that it is not guided close to any other raid members.
Once the Meteor is close, the player should attack it, in order to knock it back and reset its fixate target. It is imperative to make sure that the Meteor does not get knocked back into other raid members, and that everyone is prepared to possibly become fixated upon.
7. Heroic Mode↑top
The heroic mode of the Ragnaros encounter is, by far, the most difficult and challenging encounter in all of Tier 12, especially for DPS players.
The fight will test not only your awareness and reaction skills, but also the sheer amount of DPS you can do, the requirement for which is quite brutal.
7.1. Differences From Normal Mode
The fight follows the same format as on normal mode, until the boss reaches 10% health. At this point, after a short intermission, a heroic-only Phase Four begins. Below, we list all the changes to the encounter, phase by phase.
7.1.1. Phase One
7.1.2. First Transition Phase
7.1.3. Phase Two
7.1.4. Second Transition Phase
As with the first transition phase, the spawn locations of Sons of Flame are random. Other than this, and increased health and damage done, there are no changes.
7.1.5. Phase Three
This phase is a DPS check, and your raid must bring Ragnaros to 10% health before the 3rd set of Living Meteors.
7.1.6. Phase Four
Phase Four is an entirely new phase, present only in heroic mode. Ragnaros submerges at 10% health, as in normal mode. However, he is shortly afterwards pulled back out by Cenarius, and you have to fight him once more.
At the start of the phase, Ragnaros is healed to 50% health, and he must be brought down to 0% to be killed. During this phase, your raid will have to deal with any Living Meteors which were spawned in Phase Three.
Ragnaros has the following abilities during this phase:
During this phase, three friendly NPCs come to your raid's aid: Cenarius, Malfurion Stormrage and Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem. They each provide your raid with various abilities which allow you to defeat Ragnaros.
The strategy for the encounter, up until Phase Four, is very similar to the one used in normal mode. As you can see, each phase is changed only slightly, but this does have some implications on execution.
7.2.1. Phase One
Phase One is not greatly changed. All the abilities present in normal mode are still present here, and they should all be dealt with in the same way. The only change comes from how Magma Traps are handled. Here is what you must know in order to properly handle Magma Traps:
If you are not assigned to detonating Magma Traps, then simply make sure that you do not trigger them accidentally, and if you are low on health when a trap is about to go off, use your Healthstone or defensive cooldown(s) to survive.
There will, most likely, be between 1 and 3 active Magma Traps at the end of this phase. They will be detonated at a later time, and they are not your concern. Simply adapt your movement and positioning accordingly during the First Transition Phase and Phase Two (by the end of which they will have been detonated).
7.2.2. First Transition Phase
The only change to this phase (and the second transition phase) is that the Sons of Flame can spawn in virtually any location around the platform.
This means that they can spawn spread out, or several of them in a group, and that this group could even be located right next to the hammer location.
This phase is one where your raid will have to adapt quickly, as soon as the beams of light indicate the locations of the Sons of Flame.
The more classes you have which can stun, slow, knock-back or Death Grip the Sons, the better your chances are to succeed.
7.2.3. Phase Two
The most important change to strategy, during this phase, comes from the fact that Molten Elementals cannot be allowed to melee any players while they (the Elementals) are stacked together. This is due to Molten Power which buffs the Elementals' damage significantly when they are together.
The best way to handle this phase is to follow these steps:
Keep in mind that, while together (so, right after spawning), the Elementals cannot be slowed, stunned or knocked back.
Because Phase Three is a massive DPS check, any damage you can do to Ragnaros below 40% of his health, during Phase Two, is of great benefit to you. As such, you should pool resources such as energy/rage/focus and combo points, and use them while he is casting the Splitting Blow.
7.2.4. Second Transition Phase
The Sons of Flame should be handled, in this phase, in the same way as during the first one.
Your raid should delay the last Son of Flame for as long as possible, and get as much damage done on the Lava Scions as they can.
7.2.5. Phase Three
The challenge of this phase comes from the fact that your raid must bring Ragnaros to 10% health (the end of the phase) within 140 seconds (the time until the third set of Living Meteors spawns). This is so because your raid simply cannot handle the gruelling Phase Four with any more than 2 meteors.
When Ragnaros reaches 10% health, he submerges, but he is quickly pulled back out of the lava by Cenarius, and Phase Four begins.
7.2.6. Phase Four
In Phase Four, Ragnaros is no longer stationary. He climbs out of the lava and can move anywhere on the platform. He is healed to 50% of his health, all of which must be depleted in order to defeat him.
During this phase, you will have to perform a few tasks, normally. If you are assigned to taking the Deluge buff, refer to the end of this section.
If you are assigned to taking the Deluge buff, then simply move to the Cloudburst, at the start of the phase. Once you have the buff, you will have to spend the phase running around the platform, and putting out fires from Dreadflame (by running over them).
Remember that Dreadflame will spawn at an ever-increasing rate, meaning that, eventually, you will be overwhelmed. At this time, you should aim to keep the area of the platform around the Breadth of Frost currently in use clear of fire. Additionally, you may need to carve out a path to the next Breadth of Frost, though this is likely not going to be possible.
While putting out Dreadflame, you should attempt to also deal damage to Ragnaros, when possible. On 25-man, as there are 3 players using the Deluge buff, you should assign specific areas of the platform for each, so that you can more efficiently do your jobs.