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This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive description of the encounter with Al'Akir in Throne of the Four Winds. 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.
The Al'Akir encounter provides DPS players with a challenging fight in terms of movement and positioning, especially during Phases One and Three, while during Phase Two it is a serious gear check, due to the phase's soft enrage mechanic.
1. Overview of the Fight↑top
The Al'Akir encounter consists of three phases. The first phase lasts from 100% to 80% of the boss' health, the second phase lasts from 80% to 25% of the boss' health and the third and final phase begins when the boss reaches 25% health and ends when he is dead.
During the first two phases, you will face Al'Akir on his platform, while in the third phase, Al'Akir will shatter the platform and your raid will gain the ability to fly for the remainder of the encounter.
2. Preliminary Concerns↑top
Al'Akir will not aggro on proximity to players, and only when attacked. He has a massive hitbox, which allows players to melee him from seemingly very far away. This can cause problems with players accidentally attacking and thus engaging the boss, especially while attempting to click things such as Soulwells.
It is important to know that, both before the fight starts as well as during the fight, it is possible to fall off of Al'Akir's platform. If this happens before you enter combat, you will simply be sent back to the starting platform. If it happens during combat with Al'Akir, you will be teleported back up onto Al'Akir's platform. You do not take any damage in either case. Despite this fact, the location on Al'Akir's platform where you are placed is not under your control, and as such it may cause you to take damage from other sources.
If, however, you were taking damage already when you are thrown off or jump off, and you die off the platform, you cannot be resurrected. There are three ways to fall off of Al'Akir's platform: jumping off, moving too close to the edge and being transported off by means of a wind current, or being knocked off by one of Al'Akir's abilities.
As a rule, falling off the platform should be avoided, though in certain cases it may be preferable to another outcome.
3. Phase One↑top
Lightning Strike is an ability Al'Akir will cast roughly every 10 seconds, though this does vary sometimes. Lightning Strike will damage everyone standing in a 25 yard cone of a random target for a moderate amount of Nature damage for each affected target. In other words, the more people located in range of the target of Lightning Strike, the more damage the ability will do to them.
Squall Line is a wall of 7 cyclones which Al'Akir will spawn repeatedly during this phase, approximately once every 40 seconds. The wall spans from the center of the platform, where Al'Akir is located, to the edge of the platform. It will complete a full lap around the platform before disappearing, and anyone touched by it will be picked up and dragged some distance within the cyclones, also taking large amounts of damage and being incapacitated. Shortly before a Squall Line disappears, a new one spawns, so there is a brief period of time when there are two active. However, the Squall Line that is about to disappear loses consistency and no longer causes its negative effects to players.
There is always a gap in the wall, in varying locations, which players must aim to make their way through in order to avoid the aforementioned negative effects. Essentially, the gap can be located in the place of any of the 7 cyclones, and as such it can be anywhere from the edge of the platform to right up close to Al'Akir.
There is no fixed spawn location for Squall Lines, although they appear to prefer spawning on either the far right or far left side of where the tank is. Before spawning and dealing damage, there are about 5 seconds when the Squall Line is visible but not yet fully formed, giving players enough time to react accordingly.
Wind Burst is an ability that Al'Akir will repeatedly cast during the first phase, roughly every 25 seconds. It has a 5 second cast time, at the end of which Al'Akir will knock everyone on the platform back roughly 30 yards as well as damage them.
Ice Storm is an icy rain which Al'Akir will cast regularly, targeting random areas of his platform. The rain leaves frost on the ground, which slows and damages any players standing there.
Electrocute is an ability Al'Akir will channel into his main aggro target if this target is not in melee range. The spell will deal increasing Nature damage to the target (generally the tank), who must return to melee range to prevent it from damaging them further.
As a DPS player, Phase One revolves entirely around damaging Al'Akir to 80% health while avoiding his various mechanics, as detailed above and in the main guide. While it is true that the sooner the phase ends, the better it is for the whole raid, personal survival and correct movement should be prioritised above higher DPS.
For more detailed information on how to move appropriately during Phase One, please check the relevant section of our main guide, located here.
If you overaggro the tank and are being Electrocuted, note that the Electrocute will not stop once the tank has regained aggro unless you also move into Al'Akir's melee range.
3.3. Tips and Tricks
Most classes can make use of certain abilities to either bypass mechanics like Squall Line entirely, or simply to facilitate movement during this phase.
3.4. Heroic Mode
Static Shock is an ability which Al'Akir will use to often interrupt any casters who are in his melee range.
Because Lightning Strike persists in its location for 30 seconds, you should be prepared to move out of the affected area until the effect subsides. Simply move to either the left or the right of the affected area. It is advised to assign beforehand which player runs to which side, so that one side of the Lightning Strike area does not become over-crowded, thus causing a subsequent Lightning Strike hitting there to cause too much damage.
Squall Line does considerably more damage to players.
4. Phase Two↑top
Acid Rain is Al'Akir's new ability in this phase. It is a stacking DoT that Al'Akir applies to all raid members every 20 seconds. It deals 500 Nature damage per stack, and it constitutes a soft enrage timer for this phase.
In addition to this, Al'Akir will summon adds, called Stormling, which do Nature damage in an area around themselves, and on dying apply a stacking debuff to Al'Akir, called Feedback. Feedback increases the damage that Al'Akir takes and is instrumental in bringing him to Phase Three before the raid becomes unhealable.
Phase Two provides DPS players with a rather strict DPS challenge, as well as very precise and delicate handling of Stormlings so that they do not die prematurely, or too late.
Your raid leader should assign one or more players, depending on your raid size, to specifically handle the Stormlings. For these players, it is of utmost importance that they understand exactly when a Stormling must die and the reason why this is so. For this, we recommend the relevant sections in our main guide, located here.
DPS not assigned to Stormlings should simply aim to do as much damage as possible to Al'Akir, and all DPS (and indeed, all raid members) should avoid getting caught in Squall Lines, while at the same time maintaining a safe distance from any Stormlings.
4.3. Tips and Tricks
Because as Feedback stacks higher, damage done to Al'Akir increases as well, DPS players should aim to save their offensive cooldowns for a time when the stacks have reached a considerable number - over 4.
A few DPS classes can help out the raid's survivability and make healing easier by dropping their stacks of Acid Rain, when their number reaches around 10, through the following abilities:
Other defensive cooldowns can and should be used when stacks of Acid Rain become high.
4.4. Heroic Mode
Static Shock persists during Phase Two and should be dealt with in the same way as in Phase One.
On heroic difficulty, Stormlings also increase the Nature damage taken by 25% for 2 seconds by all players within 10 yards of the Stormling, in addition to the damage that they normally deal. This effect is of no consequence to DPS players.
5. Phase Three↑top
Phase Three is comparable in difficulty to the second phase, but is still arguably easier than the first phase. Al'Akir will destroy the platform on which you had been fighting him up to this point, and all raid members will get the ability to fly thanks to Eye of the Storm.
During this phase, you can fly up and down freely from Al'Akir's head all the way to his feet. In addition to this, you can also move sideways, and back and forward. You can, indeed, move all around Al'Akir's massive body.
There are three limits to the area where you can move:
Wind Burst returns in this phase, though it is less problematic than it was during the first phase.
Lightning Clouds is an ability Al'Akir will cast every 15 seconds. It will target a random raid member and place a large cloud covering the entire (horizontal) level where that raid member was located. After 5 seconds, the cloud will begin dealing massive damage to anyone still inside it.
Lightning Rod places a debuff on a random raid member which causes them to deal damage to everyone around them (both vertically and horizontally) until the debuff runs out.
Lightning will damage random players and is unavoidable.
Players affected by Lightning Rod need to move horizontally out of the raid to avoid damaging anyone else, and remain there until the effect runs out.
In order to deal with Lightning Clouds, your entire raid should move in unison, following the directions of your raid leader or other marked raid members, as detailed in our main guide, located here.
5.3. Heroic Mode
There are no changes from the normal mode version of the encounter.