World of Warcraft: Onyxia Strategy Guide

Written by Nellorae

As a celebration of World Of Warcraft’s 5 year anniversary, Blizzard breathed new life into one of the early game’s most iconic foes: Onyxia, the broodmother of the Black Dragonflight (featured in this video). She has been remade as a raid boss in the new style, offering both 10 and 25 person raid groups the chance to defeat her once more… or for the very first time depending on when you started playing. Further fostering a sense of nostalgia for long time players, her loot table consists of the some “old school” item names and models, with their stats updated to an item level appropriate for the new challenge.

Raid Preparation

In order to keep up with the numbers required in this fight, an appropriately geared raid will have members with an average item level of around 213+ for 10 man, and 229+ for 25 man.

As usual with any raid, do your best to cover as many buff types as possible, and to balance melee and ranged DPS. Here are the specific breakdowns:

10 Man

1-2 tanks
– Main tank (“MT”) to handle Onyxia when she is on the ground and to pick up the Onyxian Lair Guards that she summons when she is flying.

– Possibly an off tank (“OT”) to handle picking up all of the Onyxian Whelps Onyxia summons when she is flying, and any additional Onyxian Whelps spawned by raid members straying into the egg pits. Most raids will find that their MT can handle both the Onyxian Lair Guard and the Onyxian Whelps.

2-3 healers
– 1 healer for the MT, who will also need to watch the raid.

– 1 healer for the OT, who will heal the raid when the OT is not tanking.

– Possibly a third healer, if your raid struggles; usually not necessary.

5-6 DPS
– Your raid will need to include at least 1-2 ranged DPS, as melee are unable to damage Onyxia during Phase 2.

– It also makes handling the Onyxian Whelps much easier if you have at least 1-2 DPS with solid area of effect (“AoE”) damage.

25 Man
3 tanks
– MT to handle Onyxia when she is on the ground, and to pick up the Onyxian Lair Guards that she summons when she is flying.

– OT to handle picking up all of the Onyxian Whelps Onyxia summons when she is flying, and any additional Onyxian Whelps spawned by raid members straying into the egg pits.

4-5 healers
– 2 healers for the MT.

– 2-3 healers for the OTs and the raid.

17-18 DPS
– Your raid will need to include at least 4-5 ranged DPS, as melee are unable to damage Onyxia during Phase 2.

– It also makes handling the Onyxian Whelps much easier if you have at least 4-5 DPS with solid AoE damage.

As usual, the raid will likely go more smoothly if you have at least one form of misdirection, a shaman for Bloodlust/Heroism, and some source(s) of replenishment. At least one form of a disarming effect will help when dealing with the Onyxian Lair Guards. Priests are also particularly useful, as Fear Ward helps quite a bit in Phase 3, especially if you don’t use a warrior MT.

Boss Abilities

Onyxia

4.8 million health in 10 man; 22.3 million health in 25 man.

Phase 1
Onyxia melee swings for roughly 13,000 in 10 man; 18,000 in 25 man, on an appropriately geared tank.

Flame Breath – This is a frontal cone fire damage attack, with a ~30 degree arc, and a 45 yard range. Everyone but the MT must stay behind Onyxia’s head to avoid this.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Cleave – This is a frontal physical attack, which hits Onyxia’s current target and up to 10 nearby allies, within a 5 yard range. Everyone but the MT must stay behind her head to avoid this.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Wing Buffet – This is a frontal cone physical attack and knockback, affecting a ~30 degree arc, with a 20 yard range. Everyone but the MT must stay behind Onyxia’s head to avoid this, and the MT must tank with his/her back against the wall so as to not be knocked back.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Tail Sweep – This is a rear cone physical attack and knockback, affecting a ~30 degree arc, with a 30 yard range. Everyone must stay in front of Onyxia’s back legs to avoid this.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Phase 2

Summon Onyxian Whelp – This ability summons a clutch of Onyxian Whelps from the egg pits (20 in 10 man; 40 in 25 man). It is cast at the start of Phase 2, and again approximately every 90 seconds thereafter, until Onyxia is damaged enough to start Phase 3. See below for the add abilities.

Summon Onyxian Lair Guard – This ability summons 1 Onyxian Lair Guard in 10 man, and 2 in 25 man. It is cast at the start of Phase 2, and again approximately every 30 seconds thereafter, until Onyxia is damaged enough to start Phase 3. See below for the add abilities.

Fireball – This ability is targeted on a random raid member, and hits the target and all other raid members within 8 yards of the target with fire damage. Everyone must stay spread out as much as possible to minimize damage from this.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Breath – This is a jet of fire cast in a line across the room. The fire does less damage the further one is from the center of the line. It ticks every .25 seconds, and lasts for 6 seconds. Everyone must run out of the way of this giant patch of fire, or they will die.
(details: Details)

Phase 3
Onyxia will use all of the abilities listed for Phase 1, and also use:

Bellowing Roar – This is a 3 second raid-wide fear. The MT must stance-dance or be Fear Warded, to keep Onyxia from shifting positions while the raid is feared.
(details: Details)

Eruption – This ability causes lava to burst up from the cracks in the floor, doing fire damage to anyone standing on them. Everyone must make sure not to stand on the cracks in the floor.
(10 man details: Details)
(25 man details: Details)

Onyxian Whelp

63,000 health in 10 man; 189,000 health in 25 man.
These only attack via a weak melee swing, for ~1,000 in 10 man; ~1,500 in 25 man, on an appropriately geared tank.

Onyxian Lair Guard

189,000 health in 10 man; 630,000 health in 25 man.
The Onyxian Lair Guards melee swing for roughly 8,000 in 10 man; 12,000 in 25 man, on an appropriately geared tank.

Cleave – This hit does physical damage equivalent to 110% of a melee swing, and strikes up to 3 nearby raid members in addition to the current target. It has a 5 yard range. All melee DPS must stay to the rear of the Onyxian Lair Guards to avoid this.
(details: Details)

Blast Nova – This is an AoE fire attack, affecting a 15 yard radius around the Onyxian Lair Guard that cast it. All melee DPS must run out of range when this is cast.
(details: Details)

Ignite Weapon – This ability causes the Onyxian Lair Guard’s melee swing and Cleave to do a large amount of fire damage to all players in melee range of the Onyxian Lair Guard. Keep the Onyxian Lair Guard disarmed so this cannot be used.
(details: Details)

The Encounter

Organisation

Before starting the fight, your raid will need to be divided, with roughly half planning to stay on the left (East) side of the cave, and the other half planning to stay on the right (West). For an example of a typical raid split, see the chart below. The general idea is to split each role type as evenly as possible between the two halves.

10 man

Group 1 – left sideGroup 2 – right side
main tankmelee DPS (or OT if you use one)
main tank healerraid healer
melee DPSmelee DPS
melee DPSranged DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS

25 man

Group 1 – left sideGroup 2 – right side
main tankoff tank
off tankoff tank healer
main tank healerraid healer
off tank healerraid healer
melee DPSmelee DPS
melee DPSmelee DPS
melee DPSmelee DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS
ranged DPSranged DPS
ranged DPS

Phase 1 – On the Ground

Once your raid is fully prepared, have the MT run in and engage Onyxia. The rest of the raid should follow the tank into the room, but peel off to the sides so that, as she turns around and is positioned against the back wall, the raid is clustered out to her sides. It is important that everyone be aware of their position relative to Onyxia as she is moved, so they avoid being in range of either her frontal or rear cone attacks (Flame Breath, Wing Buffet, and Tail Sweep). The final positioning for Phase 1 should look like diagram A.

Onyxia Phase 1 and 3 (Diagram A)
Once positioning is settled, and the MT has a good lead on threat, damage can begin in earnest. The remainder of Phase 1 is fairly straightforward. As long as no one gets behind her, and only the MT is in front of her, healing needed should be minimal, and healers may even be able to help do damage. Phase 2 will begin once Onyxia is brought to 65% health.

Phase 2 – She Flies!

As soon as Onyxia launches into the air, the raid should move into position to deal with the incoming adds. See diagram B for positioning (in the 10 man raid, only a single pile of ranged and a single pile of melee will be needed).

For the 25 man raid, the off tank(s) will need to run south and pick up the Onyxian Whelps as they flood in from both egg pits, and the MT will need to run even further south to pick up the Onyxian Lair Guard(s). Melee DPS should follow the tank on their respective side, and ranged DPS/healers should spread out on their sides, to minimize splash damage from Fireballs as Onyxia begins to cast them on random raid members.

For the 10 man raid, positioning will be a bit different. It generally works best if everyone tries to spread within the south-central area of the room, so that all members are within range of both healers, and so that the main tank (or off tank if one is being used) can easily pick up any stray Onyxian Whelps.

Onyxia Phase 2 (Diagram B)
Everyone needs to watch their positioning within the room, and be certain to never stray into the egg pits on either side. Doing so will cause extra Onyxian Whelps to spawn.

(Of course, if your raid is trying to get the Many Whelps! Handle it! achievement, you will need to have raid members intentionally go into the egg pits. To get the achievement, the raid must spawn and kill 50 Onyxian Whelps in addition to the clutches of them that spawn in the normal course of the fight, and then successfully kill Onyxia.)

At this point, DPS will need to split between killing off the adds and continuing to damage Onyxia herself. Try to keep a good balance; Phase 2 won’t end until Onyxia is brought to 45%, but if you start Phase 3 with too many adds still up then your raid might have problems staying alive through the Bellowing Roar fears. For some raids, it will work best to assign certain members to each DPS duty, and for others it will work better to just have all DPS focus on killing off the first sets of adds and then bringing down Onyxia together, switching back to adds if/when a second wave comes.

Throughout Phase 2, there are a few abilities that must be watched for and avoided:

– Melee DPS need to watch for each time the Onyxian Lair Guard(s) begin to cast Blast Nova, and run out of melee range to avoid getting hit by it.

– The tank handling the Onyxian Lair Guard(s), as well as any DPS with a means to do so, should keep said Onyxian Lair Guard(s) disarmed, as this prevents the use of Ignite Weapon. If Ignite Weapon does get used by one of the Onyxian Lair Guard(s), all melee will need to run out at least 15 yards from it, until either the effect wears off or someone can cast a disarm effect on the mob.

– Everyone will need to pay attention to the raid announcements; when the message “Onyxia takes in a deep breath” appears, ascertain which direction she is facing, and then get out of the way of her incoming Breath. It is helpful to have a ranged DPS or two call out what direction everyone should be moving (ie “run to the side walls” or “run north”, etc.).
(there is an achievement to be earned if no one in your raid gets hit with Breath at all during the fight: She Deep Breathes More)

Once Onyxia is brought to 45% health, she will land, and Phase 3 will begin.

Phase 3 – Grounded for Good

Phase 3 works much the same as Phase 1, with just a couple of abilities added in. Positioning is the same, so refer once more to diagram A. Have everyone run back to their positions immediately when she starts to land, so that no one is behind her (and potentially getting hit with Tail Sweep) once she is grounded. After safe positioning is reestablished, all DPS should finish off any adds before resuming damage on Onyxia.

Onyxia uses two new abilities in Phase 3, as well as all of her previous ground phase abilities from Phase 1. These are a raid-wide fear called Bellowing Roar, and an Eruption that causes anyone standing on one of the cracks in the ground to take spikes of fire damage.

It is very, very helpful to have either a warrior MT that can shift stances to avoid getting hit with Bellowing Roar, or to have priests rotating Fear Ward on the MT. This is because Onyxia will otherwise shift position to chase the tank while he/she is feared, and might hit the rest of the raid with one or more of her cone attacks (Flame Breath, Wing Buffet, and Tail Sweep). Since healers will also be feared at this time, such a cone attack will probably wipe your raid. Such shifting also greatly increases the risk of someone accidentally getting knocked back into the egg pits, which will bring another clutch of Onyxian Whelps in on your raid.

Otherwise, as long as everyone watches their feet to stay off the cracks, and resumes a safe position quickly after each fear, Phase 3 is nearly as straightforward as Phase 1.

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