When you zone into BT you start in the sewers and work your way up to the first boss, High Warlord Najentus. Then you climb out of the sewers and into a big courtyard with Supremus at the end of it.
After Supremus your enter the foyer of BT and then there are a couple different paths you can follow. The foyer is dark and foreboding and is dominated by a huge Dark Gaurdian statue. On the right is Shade of Akama and on the back right is the way up to Teron Gorefiend. Akama’s room feels a little evil and is just right for a fight against his imprisoned soul or whatever the hell the shade is supposed to be. Teron’s area has a martial feel to it which is fitting for one of the most famous deathknights around. If you head to the back left of the foyer and then take another left you go down into the dark, dank basement which feels perfect for a crazed fel orc like Gurtogg Bloodboil.
On the near left side of the foyer you can go up to Mother Shahraz (after you kill the other bosses) through the Den of Mortal Pleasures. Lots of concubines and comfortable furniture and scantily clad statues as you make your way up to Mother. After Mother Shahraz you go through the Grand Promenade, which isn’t anything special but does contain the greatest trash mobs ever: the Random Laser Beam 1-shot Robots otherwise known as Promenade Sentinels. Then you enter the Chamber of Command where you fight the Illidari Council. These guys have a pretty neat room, and it is kinda fitting for them, unfortunately the boss fight that takes place in there is probably the most long and boring fight I have ever done. After Council you head up to the Temple Summit where you fight Illidan himself. The Temple Summit is a very neat area and just might inspire an “I can see my house from here” moment.
But in a zone that is really well designed and very aesthetically pleasing, the area around Reliquary of Souls is still able to stand out. When you go to the back left of the foyer and take a right instead of the left down to Gurtogg, you will find the Reliquary of Souls. This is may be the most unique fight in all of TBC. To get to the boss you need to fight your way through a short gauntlet. Its not as bad as the Supression Room or the soul crushing Fankriss tunnel, but it is the same idea – tanks run in and round up the mobs until they get to a stopping point and then every does AOE and when everything is dead you keep going forward because they respawn incredibly fast behind you. When my guild does it we stop 3 times to AOE before heading down the final ramp to the boss. After the third AOE you will get out of combat for a couple seconds so you can stop and drink before the boss comes out.
The area has an airy, wispy type of feel to it while being dark at the same time. There is a lot of bright blue shining through cracks in the floor and walls. I can’t even think of how to describe it and still do it justice.
During phase 1 of the fight you are against the Essence of Suffering. This poor fella has an aura that affects everyone in the room which reduces healing by 100%, reduces armor by 100% and reduces defense by 500. Sounds like fun right? It gets better – he doesn’t have an aggro table. Instead he ‘fixates’ on the person closest to him for 5 seconds at a time and at the end of those 5 seconds he will do a new range check and target the person closest to him but if that person happens to be the same guy as last time, he won’t change targets at all. Thankfully he only hits for about 1k – 1.2k during the normal part but every 60 seconds or so he enrages and starts hitting a lot harder and a lot faster. For the enrage we have a rogue take the fixate and then use evasion and after 15 seconds the enrage ends and we put a regular tank back in there. Since the aura reduces armor by 100%, anybody can tank him, but a big health pool on a druid or a lot of block value on a warrior makes life easier. Phase 1 is pretty easy once the tanks get a feel for it.
Phase 2 is the really hard part of the fight. In phase 2 you fight the Essence of Desire. Desire has an aura that increases healing by 100%, but everytime you do any damage to the boss, 50% of it is reflected back at you and it periodically reduces your maximum mana until 160 seconds into the phase you end up with zero mana. Because of the mana drain it is a huge dps race which means your threat has to be incredibly good. But that’s ok because you stacked block value like crazy for phase 1.
Doesn’t sound to bad yet does it? Well here comes the fun part – Desire is a pure caster mob and given the chance she will chain cast and never melee, but she only has 1 spell that is chain castable and if you can lock it out, she will stop casting and start to melee. That spell is called spirit shock and it is a 1 second cast that does 8-9k damage and disorients the target for 5 seconds. If she casts it on the tank and it isn’t interupted, that tank will get disoriented and the boss will deaggro and go kill someone until the disorient wears off. You have to set up a rotation for rogues to kick every single spirit shock.
To make it harder to interrupt the Spirit Shock, the boss has another ability called Rune Shield that absorbs 50k damage and increases cast speed by 100%. Mages can spell steal the shield the instant it comes up. It helps their dps a lot because they can nuke hard without killing themselves while the have rune shield. But relying on the mages not lagging or reacting fast enough is tough so we have felhunters with devour magic on autocast ready to eat the Rune Shield.
The other big ability in phase 2 is called Deaden. She will cast Deaden on her current target every 30 seconds and if it lands, it increases damage taken by 100% for 10 seconds. Deaden is reflectable and the tank needs to reflect it because a 100% damage increase on the boss will go a long way in helping your raid beat the mana drain. One of the big problems is that rogues with a twitchy finger might accidentally kick a Deaden instead of a Spirit Shock and that leads to two problems, a) your raid doesn’t get the damage increase and b) that rogue now has kick on cooldown so he can’t interrupt the next Spirit Shock.
As a tank in phase 2 rage management is everything. You need to put out huge threat numbers but still have enough rage spell reflect. I don’t shield block anymore on this fight. The boss only hits for 3-5k so crushes hit for around 4.5-7.5k which isn’t too bad and the rage you save from not using shield block makes a huge difference because you can dump all of that rage into threat generating moves instead. A lot of things have to go right to get out of phase 2 cleanly – your rogues need to interrupt every spirit shock and never a deaden and you need to reflect every single deaden and you need to generate a ton of threat so the dps can burn the boss down before they all go OOM.
Phase 3 is generally thought of as easier than phase 2 but only because it isn’t as dependant on every little thing going right. But it is just as much of a dps race as phase 2, if not more so. That means that the tank needs to put out huge threat numbers again. In phase 3 you fight the Essence of Anger and everyone in the room gets hit with the Aura of Anger which does shadow damage every three seconds and it starts at ~100 damage and increases by ~100 every tick. It also increases your damage dealt by the same amount of damage it does. So by the end of phase 3 people are doing enormous amounts of damage but they are also taking tons of damage. While that is happening the boss is hitting the tank kinda hard (5-6k) and he will be doing a frontal cone ability called Soul Scream which is a two part ability that he will cast every 10 seconds. The first part is just regular shadow damage, about 3k, but it also has a power burn component which will really mess you up – for every point of rage you have, the burn does 100 damage. So if you have a full rage bar when the boss does a soul scream, he will hit you for 10k. Since he does pretty significant melee damage and there is pretty significant aoe damage from the aura, it is really really hard to use all of your rage so full rage bar power burns are not uncommon.
Before they changed it in the last patch, a warrior could “change stances” from defensive to defensive to dump their rage right before a Soul Scream but that isn’t possible anymore – thanks for “fixing” that one Blizzard. If you don’t kill him fast enough in phase 3 then the aoe damage will destroy your raid. But since everyone also is increasing their damage over the course of the fight, the last 15% go waaaay faster than the first 15%. It is pretty common to have the aura ticking for around 3.5k when you get the first kill.
Unlike a lot of the fights in TBC, Reliquary has totally unique mechanics and the nature of the fight makes it very very intense. Add in a very cool looking area and boss and you get one of my favorite fights in WoW.