Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Raiding 101: Dragons!

They've been a one of the most revered and feared mythological creatures throughout time with their portraits etched in stone from every corner of the world. Sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel tyrants, and more often than not found perched atop a mound of treasure any adventurer would covet... they are Dragons!

And in this blogger's opinion they should come hand-in-hand with boobies more often!

WoW is no stranger to these beautiful and powerful creatures, and throughout the game you'll find these dragons exhibit similar attack patterns to those found in classic pen and paper games like Dungeons and Dragons.

There are several static dragon attacks that can almost always be counted on. This is not a comprehensive list of all dragon abilities throughout all of WoW raiding, but will provide a baseline understanding of the types of attacks that all dragons share. As with any encounter, it's ultimately necessary to have a good grasp of the mechanics that are specific to the fight you're currently working on, but knowing what kind of generic mechanics this awesome creature type exhibits can make learning a new encounter that much easier.


Most dragons will use a frontal cleave that will hit anyone in front of them in a fairly large arc. This is generally a quite powerful hit that only the tank should be taking.

Breath Weapon

All dragons have a frontal cone breath weapon. Many have different mechanics associated with them, but this is another attack that really should only be hitting the tank. Just like all cone mechanics the area of effect gets wider the farther away from the boss you are. If you find yourself in front of a dragon book it to the left or right as soon as possible to get out of the area of effect, noting that you'll have to run farther to find a safe spot the further away from the boss you are.

Tail Swipe

Most dragons, with Malygos being the exception, have a tail swipe attack. This attack is, in effect, a rear cleave with a knock back.

Take special care not to be standing behind the dragon and eat one of these attacks as often there are environmental mechanics to avoid and getting knocked back by a tail swipe can put you face to face with a clutch of dragon eggs or drop you in a bath of hot lava!


Fear is a classic dragon mechanic back from the Dungeons and Dragons days, and not all dragons in WoW have a fear mechanic. It is, however, something to be aware of. Dropping a tremor totem or using trinkets and class abilities to break fear can help long term survivability.

Generally when a dragon fears it fears the entire raid, so take advantage of fear breaking mechanics whenever possible on these fights.

Safe Spot

Now that nearly the entire encounter area around a dragon boss has been cordoned off by various attacks it's a good to mention where the best place to stand is.

As you can see in this picture of the Sindragosa fight in Icecrown Citadel, the cleave, breath weapon and tail swipe are marked in orange around the boss. These attacks create a safe spot on each flank of the boss. The best and easiest way to identify these areas mid fight is to simply stand between the dragon's fore and hind legs.

You may also notice there are no orange areas directly overlapping the dragon. This creates a safe zone directly beneath the dragon that can be used to pass through to the other flank if environmental or grouping issues call for it. Don't be afraid to take advantage of this, just be aware of any other issues that may cause the boss to move like phase transitions or tank swapping and/or repositioning.

When in doubt, stay between the two legs on the dragon's flank.

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