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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 tanks 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.
As a tank, your main tasks during the Al'Akir encounter are to remain in melee range of the boss as much as possible during Phases One and Three, as well as to react appropriately to various mechanics in the same way as the rest of the raid. This fight is not taxing for tanks.
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.
In the first phase, your aim is to avoid damage from Al'Akir's abilities while remaining in his melee range as much as possible. During the second phase, your raid will have to control adds while executing a DPS burn on Al'Akir due to his soft enrage mechanics in this phase. In the third phase, your role as a tank is no longer needed as the boss will cease to melee.
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.
As a tank, you should make absolutely sure that you are in melee range of Al'Akir when you engage him, and that you remain in his melee range as much as possible, though some mechanics will make this impossible at times.
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.
During Phase One, your first goal as a tank is to stay in Al'Akir's melee range as much as possible. Whenever you are not in his melee range, he will begin channeling Electrocute into you, which will eventually kill you. There are times when moving away from Al'Akir is unavoidable (such as when you have to move through a gap in a Squall Line or when you get knocked back by Wind Burst) but this time should be minimised, and you should use defensive cooldowns to counter Electrocute damage.
In addition to this, you should stick to the position assigned to you by your raid leader in order to prevent extra damage from Lightning Strike. You should also be wary of Ice Storm when moving to Al'Akir after a Wind Burst or when trying to go through the gap in a Squall Line.
For more detailed information on how to move appropriately during Phase One, please check the relevant section of our main guide, located here.
3.3. Heroic Mode
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
Squall Line remains present during this phase and acts exactly as it does during Phase One, and should indeed be dealt with in the same manner.
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.
Electrocute remains active and unchanged during Phase Two.
During Phase Two, it is your duty as a tank to pick up and tank all of the Stormlings that spawn. In 10-man difficulty, you will have to tank both the boss and the Stormlings, while avoiding Squall Line and keeping Stormlings away from the raid as much as possible.
This task may seem daunting at first, but with practice it will become much easier. It is also worth noting that:
Defensive cooldowns should be used when you are forced to move from the boss for a Squall Line and are taking damage from both Electrocute and Stormlings, as well as towards the end of the phase, when stacks of Acid Rain are high.
In 25-man, as the main tank, your role in Phase Two is simple: tank Al'Akir and move accordingly for Squall Lines. As the off-tank, you should simply tank Stormlings away from the raid and move accordingly for Squall Lines.
4.3. Heroic Mode
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 great relevance to tanks, and simply enforces even more strongly the fact that the Stormlings should be kept away from any raid members.
5. Phase Three↑top
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 raid members.
Once Al'Akir enters Phase Three, he no longer melees the tank, and as such, as a tank, you are relegated to the role of a somewhat handicapped DPS player and you should follow your raid's positioning, and move out horizontally when affected by Lightning Rod, as detailed in our main guide, located here.
5.3. Heroic Mode
There is no difference from the normal mode version of the encounter.
6. Tips and Tricks↑top
The Al'Akir encounter is a team effort in every sense, so most of the tips and tricks for this encounter are raid specific. As a Death Knight tank, good timing of Anti-Magic Shell during Phase Two to drop stacks of Acid Rain can be very beneficial, while Paladins can use Hand of Freedom to move freely through Ice Storm.
Warrior and Druid tanks can charge back to the boss to shorten the duration that they must endure Electrocute damage.