How to Kill Nefarian - In depth Nefarian Kill Strategy
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(Last Updated: 3/12/05)

5/20/2009: Of course, now at level 80, killing Nefarian is a piece of cake. Gather all the adds, AoE them down, then kill Nefarian. Simple as that. The Onyxia Scale Cloak is still quite useful to mitigate the extremely heavy damage from Shadow Flame.

The creator of this guide has moved on to create a full 1-80 World of Warcraft Alliance & Horde Leveling Guide at - go check out how you can level from 1-80 in under six played days!

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Facts: Consumables:

Flask of Titans (for MT + OT)

Phase 1 - Drakonid Zerg

Phase 1 is arguably the hardest part of the entire Nefarian encounter. To summarize, the key to succeeding phase 1 is that on the AoE side drakonids are always kept under control by the warriors so that no drakonids escape the AoE area, and on the assist train side, that the drakonids are simply killed fast enough not to overwhelm the raid. Phase 1 ends when 20 drakonids of each color are dead, or roughly when ~42 drakonids are killed on the drakonid kill counter.

When the event is started by one person talking to Nefarian, Nefarian will exclaim "Let the games begin," go into a shadow form and becomes invulnerable. He has 4 attacks:

Nefarian will spam shadow bolt on the highest aggro person, which will often turn out to be a healer. That healer will have to be aware of his own spiking health. The only other attack of concern is mind control. If someone is mind controlled, then that person should be sheeped immediately if possible (if he isn't standing in AoE) because the mind controlled person can quickly wreck havoc by AoE'ing the group, or killing away at the healers, or whatnot. The person who is mind controlled gets a huge boost of damage and can dispatch the raid if not controlled.

At the same time, drakonids will begin flooding into the room from the left and right gates. One color spawns from the left gate; one color spawns from the right gate. These colors are fixed and will remain the same from the same gate for every future try, even if Nefarian is attempted on different days (as long as the entire instance does not reset). There are five different colors of drakonids, and one fixed spawn - Chromatic Drakonids. It is important to split up the raid to take advantage of the weaknesses of these colors of drakonids.

In general, there are certain colors that you should AoE, and certain colors that you should "assist train". AoE means mages Blizzard and Warlocks Rain of Fire, whereas "assist train" means one rogue is designated as the main assist, and all rogues and hunters assist the MA to quickly down the drakonids one at a time.

However, then it turns out that sometimes you will get two sets of colors that both ideally either get AoE'd or Assist Trained. There are basically two colors where you must NOT either assist train or AoE:

Breakdown of colors and what should happen to each color:

Meaning, if the drakonid color combination is bronze/black for example, the raid should AoE the side the bronze spawns on, and Assist-train the side the black spawns on.

In all cases where red is being AoE'd, warlocks should be helping by DoTing the drakonids in the AoE with shadow spells - Corruption and Curse of Agony. They don't Rain of Fire because Red drakonids are resistant to fire.

Advanced Note: In your first couple Nefarian attempts, you'll want to have the first "attempt" just be a wipe by everyone getting naked, seeing the colors, and setting the AoE and Assist groups on their optimal sides. However, after enough successful Nefarian kills, one can take Nefarian down on the first try all the time even by setting the groups up in the worst possible setup (for example - AoE'ing the blue side, and Assist Training the red side). In this case, one can try to beat Phase 1 by just Flamestriking blue drakes, and easing the healing load on the assist train side through the liberal use of healing consumables. But really, there is no particular drake color where AoE does not work, or assist training does not work - there's just "optimal" ways of dividing up the raid.

Phase 1 - Warrior Guide

Summary: The warrior's job on both sides is very important - simply, it's to keep the drakonids from going after the healers, who will be a constant aggro magnet through their healing.

The ideal warrior team is 3 warriors per side. The warriors set up an order and cycle through this as the drakonids stream out. The reason you do an order and not just free-for-all tanking is that as the encounter progresses it gets more and more difficult to "grab" the drakonid as it comes out because the drakonids are going to be more and more likely to be very upset with your healers. Taunt is therefore invaluable in grabbing the drakonid at the start and allowing you time to apply a few sunders, heroic strikes, shield slam, taunting blade etc. It's also helpful because it ensures a few seconds of the drakonid beating on you and thereby supplying you with some rage. By having an order you pretty much ensure each warrior enough time to have their taunt cooled down so they can catch their next assigned drakonid. One last thing to be aware of is that while the small drakonids spawn at a set interval, there are also going to be at least three chromatic drakonids per side (if you see more than 3 during stage one you are killing much too slow). The first of these will spawn right at the start so warriors in the 1 and 2 slots per side will be having a drakonid right from the get go. The other two will usually spawn just before or just after one of the colored drakonids so communication is the key to ensuring a body on every drakonid. How you set up your communication is up to you but the way my team does it is the player grabbing a drakonid calls out the person's name who is after them in the tanking order.

Taunts are occasionally resisted and that is why it is helpful to have a druid in bear form ready to taunt an escaping drakonid and bring it back to the warriors. It is a bad idea for a warrior to leave the killing area to chase a drakonid since you will often be pulling mobs with you that could do any number of bad things to those who you are trying to protect in the first place.

Unless you have 7 warriors for this, your main tank is likely to be needed for the warrior rotations. If he is then it is very important for you to try to get the mobs off him when he needs to leave to greet the landing Nefarian. If you are doing this without fear ward then you need to do the same for whoever is going to be your off tank. It is a good idea to make sure you have your OT and MT on different doors so that you have two warriors per side to try to clean the mobs off them. The MT should be on the Assist side because it is easier to break off to catch Nefarian.

Phase 1 - Positioning

The healer clump in the middle should be in range to heal the people from both gates. The Mages & Locks should stay a good distance away from the drakonids that come out from the AoE side and AoE from there. Hunters are the same - stay a good distance away from the drakonids that come out from the Assist side and shoot from there. A bear druid will stand watch on both sides to pull drakonids back to the warriors if any get loose. It is important not to spend time chasing any drakonids that run loose, because that will waste too much time - let the bears pull the drakonids back to the warriors.

AoE Side

AoE side: The first two drakonids should be focus fired by the mages and warlocks. However, past that, the casters should just constantly rain area of effect spells down upon the drakonids. The warriors will have the tough job of keeping all the drakonids in the position; healers should be aware of when they have aggro and should keep their aggro levels equal. In the event that a drakonid breaks loose and goes after the healers, the bear form druid will taunt and pull the drakonid back into the AoE. TALENTS will help a lot here. Mages with improved blizzard and one hunter with entrapment constantly lay traps / feign death will make the drakonids easier to control within the AoE spot.

Assist Train Side

Assist Train side: As each drakonid comes out, /assist the MA and kill it FAST. The MA must be quick on switching targets, and he will pick colored drakonids before the chromatic ones. There is no cap on the amount of drakonids that can spawn - simply that they stop spawning when 20 of each color are dead. If there are ever 5 drakonids or more out at any time on the assist train side, it means that you have killed them too slowly and you're pretty much screwed. If this is the case, you'll need to use more consumables, extra buffs, need more DPS on that side, etc.


Learning Stage 1 will be a gradual process. There are a number of things that can go wrong:

At approximately 42 drakonids, (when 20 drakonids of each color is dead), Nefarian will land. Congratulations, you have finished the hardest part of the Nefarian encounter - hopefully, your entire raid is intact (you shouldn't have more than 2 deaths in phase 1, and those deaths should be rare occasions where Nefarian's mind control hits an unfortunate target). Have the MT / OT break off at the "Nefarian landing in 10 seconds" message along with about 6 healers to heal the tank. Nefarian will land as his dragon form while breathing a shadow flame which will hit the entire raid (hope you have an Onyxia Scale cloak on!) The rest of the raid finishes off the rest of the drakonids. They will stop spawning. Then, the raid should get into Stage 2 positioning.

Stage 2 - Positioning

The positioning is basically all ranged & healers stand at max range from Nefarian so his Bellowing Roar AoE Fear (Range: 30 yards) doesn't hit you. The rogues are on the other side of Nefarian and are outside the range of heals: they are responsible for keeping themselves alive.

Stage 2 - Abilities

Stage 2 - Warrior Guide

This is most complicated when you have no fear ward and so the below is assuming you do not have it.

When Nefarian is going to cast a fear, the ground will shake just like it does for Onyxia. From Ground Shake to Fear, you have 2 seconds to change stances. That is not much time at all, especially if your MT just used an ability and is on his global cooldown, but it is very possible for your MT to be able to switch to berserker stance to pop their berserker rage. Possible doesn't equate to success every time, nor does Nefarian help by his unpredictable fear timer. The point here is that your MT will miss fear sometimes - while he is feared, Nefarian will ignore him until the fear times out and switch to the person he hates the most who isn't feared. If your raid likes living, this must be your off tank.

The off tank will spend the entire rest of the fight being unconcerned with damage and only with generating enough threat to be higher on Nefarian's hate list than any healers or any DPS that is not getting feared. Because you will sometimes see more than one fear in 30 seconds, the cooldown time for your MT's berserker rage, it is important for your off tank to be ready to use his berserker rage before the fear goes off so that aggro will transfer smoothly from the feared main tank to the immune-to-fear off tank. The off tank will then immediately run to the spot where the MT was tanking. When the fear breaks from the MT, Nefarian will switch back over so the MT needs to get himself back into position ASAP.

Even with fear ward it is recommended to have an off tank for the situations where fear ward is on cooldown and the MT is either unable to get into berserker in time or has his rage on cooldown for some reason.

Class Call-Outs:

At a set interval, roughly every 30 seonds, CT-Raid will announce ** CLASS CALL INCOMING ** and a few seconds later a random class call will occur.

Stage 3 - Construct Zerg

Nefarian Stage 3 occurs when he reaches 20% HP. All the corpses from the previous zerg come back to life as Constructs (similar to those in the Scholomance basement). They have very little HP and are easy to AoE down.

Preparation: Set up half your casters to AoE the left side, half your casters to AoE the right side. Have them wand to regain lots of mana from Nefarian 30% and onwards. Assign one mage each with Improved Blizzard to start blizzarding on top of the corpses so the moment they pop up they will be slowed. Assign one or two healers to each side to heal the warrior tanking the zerg.

When Nefarian is ~22%, the raid should be getting into position to prepare for Stage 3.

Warriors: All warriors will cease DPS and run through Nefarian to park them in front of the zerg. We will set up a chain Challenging Shout/Shield Wall rotation. You will have ~50 mobs beating on you for ~200 dmg per hit, so that's why you will need shield wall.

Melee DPS: Rogues can either help out with AoE'ing the constructs by throwing Stratholme Holy Water or engineering bombs at the constructs, or just keep whacking away at Nefarian. Initially, the rogues should bring Stratholme Holy Water to help AoE until your raid is familiar with this phase.

Casters / Ranged: Frost Nova rotations + snare effects and AoE the constructs into the ground. Casters, use a Limited Invulnerability Potion and go nuts! Healers: When the Stage 3 zerg occurs, send one or two healers to each side to help heal the warriors tanking the constructs.

After the zerg is finished, this fight is just a continuation of Phase 2 with no extra surprises thrown in. Keep cracking away steadily and take down the last 20%!



Timeless Requiem for their spirited efforts on Nefarian. May your first-kill cheers on Ventrillo be as ear-piercing as the ones we had.
Thanks to Pacifist for the previous guides of How to Kill Ragnaros / Onyxia Guides, the format is drawn from them.
This guide was created by Angelie of Timeless Requiem, with much help from Seiteki and feedback from the guild. Credit goes out to Bolii for the extremely in-depth Warrior guides!
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