Lore-mastery: Tower of Orthanc raid guide – Saruman T1
Alright, time for the big one. You finally get to take on the old man and get revenge for all the hours of your time he’s taken up by walking slowly, oh so slowly, during the drama scenes at the start of each of the previous fights. Well, it certainly seems like hours anyway. Oh and there’s something about destroying a ring of power that will conquer all of middle earth or something. But mainly I’m here to get revenge for the slow walking. As this is the final guide for the raid, I’ll just link the previous guides for reference:
Saruman Tier 1
To me, this is a great Tier 1 raid fight. While some of the previous wings have suffered from either being undertuned (Shadow) or with silly/unforgiving mechanics (Acid), Saruman is perfectly placed as a capstone raid for a casual raid group. It’s not that it’s a ridiculously tough fight. The overall level of incoming damage is very managable when done correctly, and there’s no hugely strict DPS requirements, but there are also some extremely important mechanics which have to be learned and lots of opportunities for good group coordination to pull through for some clutch plays. While experienced raid groups would have found this a little more than a 1-2 wipe speedbump on their way to T2 (if that), casual raid groups will have to put a decent amount of learning into this fight and will certainly feel a sense of satisfaction when they’re finally able to beat it. That’s not to say it’s a perfect fight. In particular, it can be quite repetitive and there’s minimal ways to speed it up even once you’ve got it on farm – groups will often take 30-40min clearing it at first, and even as they learn it you’ll still only be able to get it down to 15-20m or so which does start to drag after a while. But hey, even if not perfect it’s still a good raid fight.
Saruman (2.1 million) and his clones (318k/278k morale)
There is no trash in this wing, you just head straight out of the Shadow room on to the top of the Tower of Orthanc. There you will see five pedestals with rings on them corresponding to the elements in previous four wings (fire and frost each get a separate ring). Saruman himself is standing in the middle. The fight begins when each of the rings are picked up, and the rings play a fairly central part in the fight mechanics. For this wing, if you are the only lore-master, you should trait 5 yellow (power and wisdom, fast loader, improved frost lore, improved fire lore and either improved sop:c or deep lore) along with two blue (light of hope and healer). Raven pet is probably the best due to the significant amounts of tactical damage floating around, although the eagle’s not a terrible option for the self res and interrupt abilities. If you have a second lore-master in the group, it’s not a bad idea for them to have at least 3 blue traits to get the reduced ancient cures cooldown which will help out during phase 3. The second lore-master won’t have significant cc or debuffing duties though, so they can feel free to mostly take DPS traits apart from that.
Each of the rings gives their bearer a new ability toolbar with 3 new skills on it. Ring bearers can only pick up one ring and cannot be the target of any of the ring skills. The Saruman fight is a 5 phase fight and before each of phases 2-5, each ring bearer will need to go to the place where they picked up their ring at the start of the fight and use the leftmost skill on the ring skill toolbar when the little glowy effect appears at the ring’s original location (see screenshot). If each of the five ring bearers do not click the skill at the correct time, the phase restarts so needless to say you want to make sure that each of your ring bearers are alive at the end of each phase. You also want to make sure they have stable internet connections and don’t need to go out for a repair or retrait, because if a ring bearer leaves the instance for any reason – including a DC – after picking up a ring then that ring bearer’s ring will be lost, which breaks the fight and you’ll have to restart the whole instance. The various rings’ skills and some suggested people to give them to are as follows:
- Lightning ring. Skill 1: 12s buff -200% induction time, -400% attack duration. Skill 2: 84,000 distributed damage attack. The first of these effects is probably best given to a hunter or fire RK, as they are DPS classes which benefit from both parts of the buff (champs and burgs don’t really have inductions). It’s best not to put rings on melee damage dealers or burglars becuase they tend to die more often. I believe that the distributed damage can break mezzes, so be aware of this and make sure to only use it in a way that is consistent with your group’s cc strategy.
- Fire ring. Skill 1: +100% melee/ranged/tactical damage and devastate chance and +25% melee/ranged/tactical and devastate crit chance. Skill 2: ~14k frontal cone AOE damage. Again, be careful not to break mezzes with this skill.
- Shadow ring. Skill 1: 12s buff, on any damage 50% chance to grant effect all fellowship members within 10 meters restore 100% morale. Skill 2: Places a corruption on the target which does an amount of damage which is dependent on the tier of the corruption (it tiers up to tier 3 after ~10s). This is a powerful but tricky ring to use. The first skill should obviously be used on a tank and the second one should be coordinated with the DPS group so they don’t remove the corruption straight away.
- Acid ring. Skill 1: Sets armour and resistance rating to 0. Skill 2: Grants a 12s buff which causes recipient to reflect 100% of incoming damage and get a 250,000 temporary power bubble. Use the first skill on your first priority DPS target and the second skill reactively to stop a tank or healer from dying.
- Frost ring. Skill 1: 12s buff that grants the recipient a 250,000 temporary morale bubble and +2,400% perceived threat. Skill 2: after an 8sec delay, supresses any learned adaptations for 20s. This is best given to your primary CC class (*cough* lore-master *cough*) and is an important part of your group’s cc strategy, which will be discussed in more detail below. The first skill should obviously ONLY be used on a tank. I once accidentally used it to save a dying healer and things got a tad chaotic as every mob in the room suddenly ran over to beat up on that poor (although temporarily invincible) healer.
As I said before, the ring buffs can’t be used on a ring bearer, so under no circumstances should a tank pick one up. Generally, for rings other than frost captains are the best options to pick these up, becuase they don’t die quickly, and they’re watching both group morale levels and the current DPS target. Apart from that, give them to any other ranged DPS/healers that you don’t plan to have as one of the recipients of the buffs (eg. don’t give it to your only hunter because you’ll want to give them the lightning buff). Using these effectively is an important part of the fight, particularly phase 5, so make sure the ring bearer’s understand that and use skills as appropriate. The skills say they have a 30s cooldown, but in reality can only be used once per phase; they reset every time a phase ends.
This is very much a warm-up phase. The mechanics of the phase are as follows. Please note that all mechanics described carry onto subsequent phases, unless otherwise noted:
- Saruman clones. At the start of each of the first four phases, five Saruman clones corresponding to the five ring elements with ~318,000 morale will spawn at their respective ring locations. My recommended kill order in all phases except 3 is the same – shadow, acid, lightning and then either frost/fire at the end. The shadow Saruman is always the first to die, because he does a decent amount of damage, heals other clones and, in phase 5, has the ability to heal himself or other clones back up to full. Acid is second to die because it gives its current aggro target a big uncurable acid bleed and in later phases does an annoying debuff. Lightning comes after that because in later phases it does the polarity special attack from the lightning wing boss. Fire and frost are last and interchangeable because, except in phase 3, they don’t really do much. Your tanking strategy should probably involve one tank being assigned lightning and frost, the other being assigned fire and acid and the shadow being quickly burned down and DPS-tanked. Tanks can kite if necessary, especially in phase 5, but be wary of stealing the other tank’s clones while running around.
- Crowd control. Some groups don’t use a crowd control strategy, but I highly recommend it as a way of reducing incoming damage during the critical early phases of each phase. For phase 1-4, you will want to have one lore-master with the frost ring cc the acid clone for the maximum amount they can, which is going to be either 30 or 35sec mez x2 plus ~5sec stun, depending on whether they have the 5 piece bonus from the ToO yellow line armour set, or the older DN set. Be warned that using the frost ring is VERY fiddly. It has a long animation time and only unlocks a window of adaptaion supression approximately 8sec after application, so you have to use it about 10sec before your mez expires for it to be effective. Also note that all Sarumans begin the fight with an adapted immunity to fear effects, which isn’t removed by the ring’s effect, so they can never be feared.
- DPS on shadow Saruman. Given that the crowd control is only going to be effective for a bit over 1min, it is important to try to DPS the shadow Saruman down. Even without using ring effects, this only corresponds to raid wide DPS of apprixmately 5,000 which is very achievable. This is especially important in the much more dangerous phase 5, so do practice to make sure you can do it even in the early phases.
- Out of combat. Before having to use the ring colour circle powers, there are out of combat breaks after phase 1 and phase 2, so don’t waste any incombat res cooldowns unless absolutely necessary and remember that you can still eat food during this break.
Three new mechanics are added:
- Environmental effects. Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot of these, but this phase introduces some truly ridiculous environmental effects. They are full scrren explosions of colour and light corresponding to one of the 5 ring elements. They swap around randomly approximately every 1min. These effects give their corresponding clone a +50% damage/-50% incoming damage buff. You probably shouldn’t bother messing around with the shadow/acid kill order even if the corresponding effects are up, but on the final three clones it is worth swapping targets if you are trying to kill the clone corresponding to the current environmental effects.
- Acid bubble. The acid clone will randomly put the debuff that was seen in the shadow wing on players. The debuffed player gets a red bubble around them and need to be healed to full morale or else they take a massive amount of damage.
- Polarity. The lightning clone gains the polarity skill from the lightning wing. As noted by JWBarry, the GFX on this skill are somewhat bugged and it is impossible to completely avoid this skill when standing in relatively close range. There’s not that much you can do about this, other than tank the boss right on the edge so only 2 polarity arcs spread out, and stack tactical mitigation so the hits don’t hurt so much.
This is the first phase that groups new to the fight will be in serious danger of wiping on thanks to the new skill that the frost Saruman gets. In fact, wipes here are probably to be expected the first few times you attempt it unless you have a fairly experienced raid group:
- Negative state effects. The frost Saruman gains the ability to throw out negative state effects – disease/wound/poson/fears. These are all ‘bomb’ type effects, which explode after 8sec for various damaging effects in an AOE radius. The wounds and poisons give ~6sec stuns (I think the wounds also give an incurable DoT), the fears give everyone an incurable terror for ~2sec and the diseases give -100% outgoing/incoming healing debuffs. These effects come quite quickly and in groups. Needless to say, these effects can cause really bad chain reactions. If people miss pots and get everyone stunned, then no one can cure their effects which causes more bombs to go off and then everyone dies. It’s not pretty. This is a really good opportunity to get your whole raid using buffbars/palantir plugins and really focus on potting these things in a timely manner. Of course, it’s also a good opportunity for lore-masters to cure dangerous wounds and diseases (if you don’t already, I recommend that you use potions to cure your own diseases and wounds, saving your cure skill cooldown for other fellowship members). While it’s still a good idea to kill the shadow Saruman first, frost should definitely be second on your hit list to stop these effects from pinging. It’s also not a bad idea to throw a single mez on the frost Saruman at the start of the fight to give the group some breathing room while they DPS the shadow down. Luckily this is a Phase 3 mechanic ONLY. Once you kill the frost Saruman in this phase, you don’t need to worry about it again.
- Environmental puddles. I’m not exactly sure of the source of these (whether it’s related to the negative state effects or if it’s caused by the Sarumans), but in this phase, damaging shadow (purple) and acid puddles will start appearing on the ground. Don’t stand in the bad.
- Frost Saruman. While the frost environmental effect is up, he does massive damage to his current aggro target if it’s moving. So make sure you’re stationary tanking him.
- Central Saruman. The real Saruman will wake up in this phase (he still can’t be damaged) and start doing quite damaging light-based attacks to random players which just need to be healed through. I’m not 100% sure if this can be reduced by frost lore, but I’ve heard it can’t so probably don’t bother.
This is easier than phase 3 and lets you relax before the insanity of the final phase. There is only one new mechanic of note:
- Healing puddles. The shadow clone gains the ability to place healing puddles down. Make sure you move him out of it while you’re trying to kill him.
This is it, the big one. The good news is that the clones all lose 10% of their morale in this phase, so they’re “only” 280k morale each. The bad news is that they’ve doubled. Yup, you have 10 clones to deal with in this wing. Good luck!
- Shadow clone full healing. The thing that will wipe you more than anything in this phase is the shadow Saruman’s ability to completely heal up clones. This can make things drag on for so long that your CC runs out and the huge amount of AOE damage going around and a massive number of clones beating up on your tanks overwhelms your healers. The full heal is an interruptible induction, but in between environmental effects, shadow/acid puddles and general craziness of 10 clones running around there’s an awful lot going on here and it’s entirely possible that people will miss inductions. Tell your champs to be very, very focussed and, as I said, it’s not a terrible idea to have your eagle pet along to help out.
- CC strategy. The cc strategy here should change from previous phases. You should pick one of the shadow clones to DPS down and mez the other one. If you can keep that shadow clone locked down without mez breaks and effectively DPS the other one down within 1min then you’ve essentially won this fight. If you have spare cc in the raid, feel free to throw some on the acid Saruman, but your tank needs to be aware that they need to pick up anything else that’s mezzed after ~30s.
- Punting eyes. This is a BIG one to watch out for. Periodically the central (real) saruman will put eyes above everyone in the raid’s head. This causes an effect which expires after about 10s which makes everyone get punted towards the edge of the tower. This will knock you right off to your death (and prevent you from completing the deed) if you do not stand in front of one of the doors to prevent the knockback from making you fall off.
- Tank strategy. It’s highly recommended that tanks kite their Sarumans during the first part of this fight, the damage levels get pretty extreme. Watch out for the frost Saruman during the frost effects phase though.
- Ring effects. Needless to say, the start of this phase is an excellent time to be using all of the relevant ring effects to DPS the shadow Saruman down and keep your stressed out tanks alive.
- Power sharing. There is a very good chance that you group, particularly minstrel healers, will start running out of power in phase 5. Get ready to share a lot; I once shared 35,000 power to a single minstrel over the course of this fight. Make sure you have good ICPR and do take along the parable consumables; share the power is an induction, so they reduce the power you use on sharing by a very significant amount.
- Debuffing strategy. There’s a few ways you can go here. Obviously your DPS debuffs should be used on the shadow Saruman, but apart from that you should try to hit as many of the kited Sarumans as possible with fire lore (deep lore trait and/or the book legacy help), and use frost lore on the lightning Sarumans.
Once you’ve managed to navigate the first minute or two of this phase, you’re on the home stretch. Things get markedly easier once the first and second shadow Sarumans are dead, and once the acid ones are taken out the fight’s as good as over. Once you finish the phase you get a chance to beat up on Saruman himself; he’s essentially a target dummy though because you’ve destroyed the power of his rings. After he’s had enough of that he does the knockback eye (STAND IN FRONT OF A DOOR!!!) and runs away. Then you get treated to a very nice peaceful ending which I won’t spoil here, but it’s a fantastic way to end what is overall a pretty great raid.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these T1 orthanc guides and welcome any feedback on them in the comments. I may take a stab at some T2 guides in the coming weeks, but I’m looking to go back to doing some more class-specific posts so no promises.