Soloing Kael’thas Sunstrider as a hunter
Obviously, this is the Kael’thas Sunstrider in the Eye, the one that drops Ashes of A’lar. I’m aware there are videos all over YouTube showing strategies for the fight, but unlike in those videos, the hunter used here is not wearing ilvl372+ gear, although she is pretty close to having the best gear obtainable without raiding as of patch 4.1 (minus some valor point items, because I started grinding VP on her very late and I’ve been lazy with it).
The fight is quite hard and takes a lot of practice to master. Also – I wasn’t the one who killed Kael’thas: well, it was my character, but Alieth, my boyfriend, was controlling her. (Note that while he’s an excellent World of Warcraft player in general, he had never played a hunter before.)
Backstory time! A bit ago, Alieth respecced his shaman’s offspec to enhancement, and since then we’ve been two-manning Kael’thas with me healing on my discipline priest alt and him DPSing / “tanking” as enhancement. Recently, we got to talking about how we could get a weekly Kael’thas kill for my main too and guarantee me Ashes of A’lar should they drop. A while back, I had mentioned to him that I’d seen videos of hunters gearead in heroic T11 soloing Kael’thas, so he suggested we two-man him using my hunter along with my druid main, or even have the hunter solo him with the druid on autofollow (I have two World of Warcraft accounts). I expressed doubts on whether the hunter was geared enough to solo Kael’thas. Alieth decided he wanted to try, so I logged the hunter in and told him to have fun.
All information about the fight – gear, consumables, addons and a thorough strategy – can be found in the extended entry.
Helm: Deadly Bio-Optic Killshades
Necklace: Amulet of the Watcher
Shoulders: Pauldrons of Nalorakk
Cloak: Recovered Cloak of Frostheim
Chestpiece: Breastplate of Primal Fury
Bracers: Wristguards of the Predator
Gloves: Handguards of the Tormented
Belt: Corded Viper Belt
Pants: Lightning-Charged Legguards
Boots: Treads of Malorne
Rings: Signet of the Elder Council and Arlokk’s Signet
Trinkets: Fluid Death and Skardyn’s Grace
Weapon: Jin’do’s Verdict
Ranged: Mandokir’s Tribute
All the items are of course gemmed and enchanted properly. Use of 2T5 was considered but discarded as unnecessary and potentially very detrimental, since the fight is a DPS race as it is.
It goes without saying that the better your gear is, the easier a time you are going to have. Since the character used here has an average ilvl of 354, the encounter required a fair degree of precision. Your personal experience might vary depending on whether you are geared better or worse. I wouldn’t recommend attempting it with a blue-geared character, unless you’re extremely confident in your abilities.
Hunter: 31/5/5 (glyphs used are also included in the linked spec).
Pets: two – one random DPS pet with a straight DPS spec (in our case, a spirit beast because of the extra heal from the family skill, although any Ferocity pet will probably do), one turtle or beetle (you need the extra damage reduction cooldown from the family skill) specced like this.
- A tracker for the following abilities: Mend Pet and Misdirection. What you need to keep track of is not the cooldown (neither has one, since you’re Misdirecting to your pet with the glyph), but rather the duration. The one we used is called NeedToKnow.
- An addon that will make it very brightly obvious when your pet is missing a buff called “Mental Protection Field”. We used Power Auras Classic, setting it up like this:
Begin the fight with the DPS pet. The four advisors will activate on by one; your goal in this phase is to kill them on the correct spots (as shown in the diagram). Warning: do not use Feign Death at any point during this phase – for reasons I cannot fathom, the encounter resets if you do.
Step 1: Thaladred the Darkener
Abilities: Melee, Silence (melee range, completely unimportant), Rend (bleed, melee range, stacks up to 10 times) and Psychic Blow (knockback, can be cast from 30 yards range, used on his primary aggro target).
Since Thaladred’s mechanics are fairly uncommon, they deserve special attention. He focuses on a random player and starts chasing them, attempting to switch targets every now and then – however, since he can’t focus on a pet, he will always be chasing you. The key to understanding the way of dealing with him lies in a specific peculiarity of his threat table: when something attacks him from melee range, he will briefly switch towards the attacker despite supposedly chasing after a target at range. Thus, if you send your pet at him, you’ll see a pattern emerge: he’ll switch to it, hit it for a while, knock it back and switch back to you. Try to get a feel for this pattern – Thaladred is trivial in this phase, but he’ll be extremely dangerous in p3; more on this later.
Implementation: after you’ve activated the encounter, run all the way back to the far wall (make sure you are positioned with your back towards it) and wait for Thaladred to come to you. Once he is within your range (spot 1 on the diagram below), send your pet at him: he might knock you back at that point, but as soon as the pet reaches him he’ll switch onto it. DPS him down to about 30% or so, then pull your pet back and let Thaladred follow it or you to the back wall – once he is in the correct spot (spot 2 in the diagram), finish him off. Your pet shouldn’t get more than 4-5 stacks of Rend, which is – at this stage – very easily outhealed.
Step 2: Lord Sanguinar
Abilities: Melee, an unimportant damage-boosting ability called Thrash (ignore it), Bellowing Roar (fear, 1.5sec cast time, 35 yards range).
Sanguinar’s fear can be outranged; it’s not essential, but you can do it in this phase to simplify your life. He will cast his first fear when something is actually in his range (he will not stop and attempt to fear empty air).
Implementation: send your pet at him immediately (your pet should reach him around spot 3 on the diagram above) and use Bestial Wrath when you see him cast fear while you – still standing at the back wall – outrange it. You have enough time to position and kill him before he recasts it, so pull your pet back and let him follow it. When he reaches the correct spot (spot 4 on the diagram), you want to immediately start moving towards the other side of the room and kill him from maximum range.
Step 3: Grand Astromancer Capernian
Abilities: Ranged caster, Conflagration (a 10-seconds disorient on a random target, temporarily wipes the target from the threat table), Arcane Burst (AoE knockback on everything with 10 yards that also applies a 70% movement reduction debuff).
None of these abilities are dangerous at this stage, just don’t get within 10 yards of her and you’ll do fine. Keep in mind that as a caster, Capernian is quite hard to reposition, so the next steps should be done precisely.
Implementation: since you were fighting the previous two advisors on the opposite side of the room, you need to get to her as fast as possible to avoid her moving too far down the room. Switch to Aspect of the Cheetah temporarily, prepare your Misdirect and run up until she stops and starts casting Fireball at you, and only then start shooting at her – since your pet is likely to lag behind you (remember, it starts moving from Sanguinar’s last position and therefore has more ground to cover), it avoids having Capernian move farther away from her initial spot. She might knock your pet back once it reaches her and move to follow it, but you can’t do much about that beyond killing her as fast as possible – while the “ideal spot” for her to die is displayed on the diagram below (spot 1), as long as she dies vaguely around that location, you’ll be fine.
Step 4: Master Engineer Telonicus
Abilities: melee, spends most of his time chain-casting Bomb (ranged, hits targets in a 4 yards area), Remote Toy (instant cast on a random target, 1 minute debuff that periodically – and randomly – stuns for 4 seconds).
This part is crucial: unless you are very well geared (ilvl372+ gear), you simply cannot afford to have the Remote Toy debuff at the start of the next phase.
Implementation: you want to kill Telonicus on or close to his initial spot, so start shooting at him (with MD) and send your pet at him the moment he activates. There’s some anecdotal evidence that suggests that casting Deterrence when he’s casting his second Bomb reduces the chance of you getting Remote Toy – from my experience, there’s some truth to it – and, more importantly, the ability seems to have an internal cooldown of sorts, so if you see your pet gaining it, you’ve got a small window of opportunity in which he won’t recast it. If you do get debuffed, put your pet on passive immediately and slowly whittle his health down to <20% (cancel Autoshot!) while waiting it out; kill him when there’s 1-2 seconds left on the debuff.
One other thing that you must do before Thelonicus dies is place an Explosive Trap on the red spot marked with T on the phase 2 diagram found below. Remember that it lasts for 1 minute, so if you got the Toy and are waiting it out, place the trap again when there’s around 15-20 seconds left on the debuff. The moment Thelonicus dies (and his death animation takes a few seconds, so use them well), unsummon your DPS pet and summon your tanking pet. The reason you haven’t been using the tanking pet up until now is simple: at this point, the likelihood of your pet having Remote Toy is very high. Switching pets here ensures your pet won’t get stunned at an inopportune moment at the start of the next phase.
Make sure Misdirection is up and you have a full Focus bar for the beginning of the next phase.
It is crucial to do the first few seconds of this phase right. There are seven weapons: two ranged (a staff and a bow), five melee (a sword, a shield, an axe, a dagger and a mace). You need to pick up the melee weapons with your pet and make sure none of them go after you; leave the ranged weapons alone at first – they’ll do a bit of damage to you, but not enough to matter.
Send your pet after the mace (Cosmic Infuser) and make sure it lands a Kill Command on it for some snap aggro, use Multishot once on Cosmic Infuser, then – and this part requires fast target switching – before Misdirection expires, once again on Infinity Blades (the daggers) on the other side of the arc. Recast Misdirection, use Multishot again. The melee weapons should now be in a convenient cluster and your pet should manage some AoE threat with Thunderstomp. If you have done this correctly, you can safely switch to focus firing the weapons down one by one without them going after you; the reason I specifically mention Infinity Blades here is that they usually don’t get hit by the Explosive Trap in the middle and have a tendency of going straight after you.
Your first order of business is to kill Cosmic Infuser: I suggest using Rapid Aim and spamming Cobra Shot to get it down as fast as possible, but make sure to use Kill Command every time it’s up so you don’t accidentally pull aggro away from your pet (don’t waste time on Feign Death here). Use Intimidation to stun it when it attempts to Heal; use Arcane Shot / Kill Shot to finish it off fast (once the stun wears off, it’ll immediately attempt to recast Heal – it’s best if it doesn’t).
Once Cosmic Infuser is down, things become considerably easier. Your next target should be Warp Slicer (switch your pet onto it, land a Kill Command, then unload with your usual rotation – don’t waste the global cooldowns on MD), a sword with a fairly annoying stacking bleed. Once it goes down, send your pet after the bow (yes, the bow that until this point has probably been happily shooting at you) while you yourself go on the staff. When the staff is dead, pick it up! You’re going to need it and it despawns surprisingly fast; don’t equip it yet, though.
Finish off the axe (Devastation) and the daggers (Infinity Blades), leaving the shield (Phaseshift Bulwark) for last. This is the critical point: you can’t afford to have anything other than the shield alive when phase 3 begins. If you do, it’s probably going to be a wipe.
When Kael’thas is about to resurrect his advisors – as indicated by his yell “Perhaps I underestimated you…” – equip the staff, get close to your pet and use it. (It’s best to have the staff somewhere on your action bars, so you can equip it and use it with two clicks rather than waste time rummaging around in your inventory then clicking it from your character screen.) It’s essential for your pet to have Mental Protection Field on at all times, since if it gets disoriented in any way everything will go on you instead; the Power Aura (or other addon check) you set up for this buff will warn you if you get too far from your pet and therefore need to move closer and recast. Make absolutely certain you are standing on the right spot (more or less where you placed your Explosive Trap at the beginning of the phase – the key is to be out of melee range of Capernian and still be in range of Telonicus when the advisors resurrect), have a full Focus bar, your pet has Misdirection and you aren’t autoshooting at anything, and that Kill Command is not on cooldown.
This is by far the hardest point of the encounter – failure to execute it correctly will result in a painful (albeit usually short) wipe. The key objective in the first 30 seconds or so is to pick up all four advisors while staying close enough to your pet so it doesn’t lose the Mental Protection Field buff (in other words, you must stay within 30 yards of it). This was the reason for killing the advisors on those exact spots. As an overview: you want to establish sufficient aggro on Telonicus, Capernian and Sanguinar (in that order) so they don’t go after you, then put your pet full time on Thaladred and focus fire it down as fast as possible. Keep Mend Pet rolling at all times, preferably overwriting it when it’s got about 2 seconds left so your pet is never without healing (remember, there will be a lot of abilities that might get you out of range of your pet).
The precise implementation goes as follows. If you positioned yourself according to the diagram, there will two advisors spawning close to you: Telonicus and Capernian. Send your pet after Telonicus and land a Kill Command but do not shoot at him; instead, shoot at Capernian (just one Arcane Shot is enough, don’t waste Focus) so she switches onto your pet. Once you see Kill Command go on cooldown, wait literally one second (use this time to recast Mend Pet, even if it is already up) and send your pet after Capernian. You must land a Kill Command on her before she knocks your pet away with Arcane Burst; fail to do so and Capernian will soon start attacking you – it isn’t a critical mistake, but you’re going to have serious health issues very fast if it happens. Stop autoshooting and recast Misdirection.
By this time (and you have precisely 6 seconds to get it right) Sanguinar should be coming. MD him to your pet and tell it to attack him (at this point it probably has the Arcane Burst debuff and wouldn’t catch up to Sanguinar by itself). Weather the first fear – trying to avoid it will take you too far away from your pet – but use Bestial Wrath so your pet doesn’t get feared. Again, land a Kill Command on him the moment it’s up.
Immediately switch your pet to Thaladred and use Feign Death. If everything went correctly (and it’ll probably require a few attempts for you to get this right), all four advisors should now be on your pet.
Now, there are two reasons you want to kill Thaladred first: his stacking bleed and his knockback mechanic. If your pet gets knocked back / feared away from you (or you from it) and loses the MPF buff, either of two things can happen: Remote Toy will stun it (dangerous only while picking the adds up) or it’ll get Conflagrated and everything will converge on you (deadly unless Feign Death is up). As it is, you need to be keenly aware of the relative positions of yourself and your pet and always adjust after a fear (recasting the staff buff as you do) so you are close to your pet but away from Capernian. On top of that, every time your pet gets knocked back or feared, Thaladred will switch onto you – if your pet is also slowed and can’t catch up, you’ll need to either weather a few melee hits or use Feign Death and/or Deterrence. Needless to say, these abilities can conspire to combine in nasty ways, which are impossible to predict and only experience will teach you how to deal with them properly (and the only way to deal with them, really, is to get to your pet fast and make sure you both survive). Once you get Thaladred down, your chances of getting through this phase increase dramatically, so give it everything you’ve got.
Your next target should be Sanguinar, then Capernian – if you’ve managed to survive until now, you can kill them with no issues. Once Sanguinar is down, it’s reasonably safe to bandage – just make sure you aren’t Conflagrated. Telonicus is your last priority, and ultimately harmless if your pet doesn’t lose MPF. On your first good attempt, it’s likely to still be alive when Kael’thas becomes active – it’s not dangerous at all, so don’t worry about it if it happens.
As it is, once you only have Telonicus and the shield alive, it’s time to prepare for the next phase – the initial positioning is everything. Stand between the statue and the wall as shown by the green spot in the diagram below and spam Pet Follow (default key Ctrl+2) to get the pet to come to you. You can also set it on passive and use the Move To (default key Ctrl+3) command, but I found it to be imprecise and unresponsive – use whichever method works best for you. Move further behind the statue (by whichever way is fastest) to make sure you’re out of LoS of Kael’thas’ initial position.
When Kael’thas becomes active, he’ll run towards you and – since you aren’t in his LoS – around the statue, which should take him right past your pet. Send your pet after him (and Feign Death to be sure) – picking him up is not hard at all.
There are two mechanics to be aware of in this phase.
One is his Mind Control – you must always be out of Kael’thas’ LoS when he casts it (indicated by either of two yells, “Bow to my will!” and “Obey me!”). It has a 30 seconds internal cooldown, however more time can pass between the casts – so the way to handle it is simple: hide on the other side of the statue, wait for either of those emotes, get in LoS, heal your pet, DPS Kael’thas and, once about 25 seconds have passed, move back out of LoS (a stopwatch helps – you can use the ingame one). If your pet needs some emergency healing, a good thing to remember is that Kael’thas won’t mind control while casting Pyroblast.
The other ability is Arcane Disruption – it’s a disorient and if your pet ever gets hit by it without having MPF, Kael’thas will switch onto you (with every negative implication that follows). Naturally, the way to counter it is to always have your pet buffed with MPF. Keep in mind that the statue has odd geometry and its length can actually get you out of range of your pet; you might need an attempt or two to figure out the right way to position yourself. That said, even if Kael’thas does switch onto you, use Feign Death; if he doesn’t mind control you, it should be quite easy to recover.
The only other mechanic in this phase is the Phoenixes – depending on where (and when) they spawn, there are different things you can do, but generally speaking they aren’t dangerous and at worst they risk displacing your pet when they die (they do an AoE knockback) – just keep an eye out on your pet’s position. You really can’t afford to kite them yourself, so the best scenario I found is to MD them onto your pet, then – once MD expires – when they go after you, just Arcane Shot / Kill Shot them; if they do reach you, just stand with your back to the statue and wait for them to die of natural causes. Kill the eggs as soon as possible; even if you get two or three Phoenixes up at the same time, it isn’t the end of the world – they die fast and don’t do a lot of damage. In a worst-case scenario, you can even use your pet to help you kill them, but remember than staying in your pet’s range and out of Kael’thas’ LoS takes priority.
When Kael’thas’ health reaches 50%, the last phase begins.
This phase is by far the easiest of the lot: if you get here and you don’t make any stupid mistakes, you’ll be just fine. He no longer casts Mind Control, so forget about the statue and moving around it – but there is one new mechanic that presents an easily avoidable, yet deadly danger. When he sends you flying in the air, look straight down, move away from him and make sure your pet follows. If your pet approaches Kael’thas during Gravity Lapse, it’ll get hit by Nether Vapor, its maximum health will plummet and you won’t manage to keep it up. It’s trivial to avoid if you realize it’s there.
The only other thing I encountered in this phase was the mysterious and unexpected disappearance of the staff. I don’t know if it was a bug, a soft enrage mechanic or if the weapons are actually on a timer (which I’m pretty sure they are not); if it happens to you, just weather the disorients and make sure you have Mend Pet rolling and never on less than 2-3 seconds. Your pet’s health might drop to 30-40%, but it isn’t going to die.
There will still be Phoenixes in this phase, but at this point you just MD them on your pet and quickly switch onto them, then kill the eggs. Since neither your position nor your pet’s are important anymore, they present no danger whatsoever.
Enjoy your kill and good luck with Ashes of A’lar!