A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Deathbringer Saurfang

The fourth boss in ICC (and the last one available as of the date of this post) is by far the most challenging.  He has an interesting fight mechanic that will challenge your raid’s awareness and control.

The primary mechanic in this fight is the boss’s Blood Power.  You can see it in the boss’ unit frame where his mana/rage/energy bar would be.  It starts at zero, and it will increase during the course of the fight. Saurfang gains Blood Power every time either he or his minions do damage to anyone in the raid.

For each point of Blood Power he gains, his size and damage will increase by 1%.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, if it reaches 100 (a full bar) then Saurfang will place a Mark of the Fallen Champion on a raid member.  That raid member will take continuous damage.  The Mark cannot be dispelled, and even persists through death.  Not only does the Mark do damage, but that damage will also contribute more points to Saurfang’s Blood Power gain.  His Blood Power returns to zero when he casts Mark of the Fallen Champion, and the process starts again.

As you can see, the key to this fight is to avoid damage as much as possible to minimize his Blood Power gain.  No matter how good your tanks and healers are, if there are too many Marks of the Fallen Champion on the raid then the fight is lost.

Here are the ways he does damage (and gains Blood Power):

  • Boiling Blood – a debuff cast on random raid members.  Its unavoidable and can’t be dispelled, although a priest’s Power Word: Shield.will block the damage on you (and prevent Blood Power gains).  Don’t waste your CoS trying to get rid of it – it won’t work.  (I don’t think it even prevented the damage ticks – can anyone else confirm this?)
  • Blood Nova – this is only cast on players at range, so it shouldn’t have any impact on us rogues.  The person with Blood Nova doesn’t take damage himself, but does damage to anyone within 12 yards.  Ranged players must stay spread out to avoid this.
  • Rune of Blood – cast only on the tanks, so rogues won’t get this either.  The target with this takes debuff extra damage, and the damage heals Saurfang for 10x the amount dealt.  For this reason, tanks will swap during the fight.  Be aware of that in case it causes threat issues.
  • Summon Blood Beasts – he will summon minions (2 on 10-man, 5 on 25-man) who give him a point of Blood Power each time they hit someone.  It is imperative that no one gets hit by them.  They are mostly immune to AoE damage, so they must be focused down.  They can be slowed and snared.

The most important, and most challenging,  part of the fight is to prevent the Blood Beasts from hitting anyone.  If your players can do that, then Saurfang’s Blood Power gain, while inevitable, will be slow enough that you can kill him before his Marks overwhelm the raid.

The “textbook” strategy listed in all of the guides is to have the ranged dps get aggro on the Blood Beasts and kite them, using slow and snare effects, so that they can be killed before they reach anyone.  If your raid can accomplish that, then the melee dps is free to stay on Saurfang for the entire fight.  As long as rogues stay in melee range on the boss, they will avoid the Blood Nova, get healed through Boiling Blood, and ignore the Blood Beasts.  Its a very simple fight for melee, in that case.  All the pressure is on the ranged dps to kite and kill the beasts, and the healers to heal through the Marks.

One way a rogue can help other than pure dps is to Dismantle Saurfang when he gets to higher levels of Blood Power.  Since his damage is increased at this point, it will help minimize the severity of hits on the tank.

When my guild did this fight, we found that the Marks were a real issue for us.  When someone gets a Mark, not only does that divert healing but it also speeds up the rate that Saurfang gets Blood Power, making the second Mark come faster.  We made the decision to let the first Marked player die if it was a dps.  The slower Blood Power gain was more important than the loss of dps.  That worked well for us, although it was a bummer for the person who got the first Mark.


What if your raid Doesn’t have the ranged dps to kill both Blood Beasts quickly?  What if you have a melee-heavy group?  That’s what my guild was faced with when we fought Saurfang, and we came up with a different strategy that worked.  In fact, we got the achievement I’ve Gone and Made a Mess on our first kill.

We were in 10-man ICC so we had only two Beasts to deal with.  Our raid leader assigned one of the Blood Beasts to ranged, and the other to melee.  In order for this to work, melee had to burn down the Blood Beast without getting hit.  The key was having multiple stuns available from the melee group.

When the two Blood Beasts spawned, our ranged dps pulled and kited one and focused it down.  The other one got immediately stunned where it spawned by one of our tanks.

During the stun, melee dps would open up on it, which gave me a chance to build up some combo points quickly.  When that first stun broke, the ret paladin in our melee group taunted it and pulled it a short way away from the tanks, and then he would stun it a second time.  During this stun, I popped my TotT on the main tank.  When that second stun broke, I had enough combo points to hit it with Kidney Shot and stun it a third time.  If it wasn’t dead by the time that third stun was finished, then it would start moving back toward the tank (from my TotT) and we would kill it before it got there.

If, by chance, I got aggro on the Blood Beast (usually due to the pally’s stun being on cooldown) then I could use Evasion to avoid damage, or Vanish and Cheap Shot to get another stun, or get a PW:S from a priest as a last option.

This strategy can be varied depending on the group makeup.  It is dependent on your melee having several stuns available, and it would be easier with multiple rogues to alternate stuns since they have a longer duration and shorter cooldown than pally stuns.

After he is killed, there is a nice bit of lore that you watch, and then the loot is found in a chest off in a corner.  He drops some nice stuff. On 10-man, you’ll be watching for the Scourge Stranglers for your hand slot or Saurfang’s Cold-Forged Band as a nice ring.

If you’re in a 25-man raid, you’ll keep your eyes open for the Bloodvenom Blade if you are Combat Swords.  Toskk’s Maximized Wristguards are a nice wrist item as well.  Most interesting is Deathbringer’s Will.  Its a trinket with 155 Armor Penetration, which is nice on its own for combat rogues.  However, it also has a proc that is unusual.  When it procs, it will give you either 1200 AP, 600 Agility, or 600 ArPen.  While the unpredictability is inconvenient if you’re trying to stack Armor Pen to the cap, it still a really nice proc no matter which way it goes.  Its slightly better for combat rogues than mutilate rogues, but definitely worth it for either.


12 Responses to “A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Deathbringer Saurfang”

  1. 1 Stunningly
    December 30, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Great posts on ICC. Much appreciated.

  2. 2 Sealskjaer
    December 30, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    In our 10 man group we found that the easiest way even with enough ranged dps to kite is to just stun and burn the blood beasts down when they spawn. With all 5 dps on a beast it only lasts a few seconds anyway. That way all your dps have maximum uptime on saurfang and it ultimately reduces the number of marks he can put out.

  3. 3 MegaMick
    December 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Yes, loved the ICC posts.

    I’ve tried CoS during the Boiling Bloods a few times. It didn’t prevent any damage tick, but I am not certain if it did or did not prevent the boss from getting Blood Power from those ticks.

    So far, I only had the chance to do ICC with pugs, and boy does Saurfang really hate pugs!
    I haven’t killed him yet, and the only strategy I’ve ever tried was the classic one: Melee staying on boss, ranged kiting and nuking adds. (Except for a few tries where I helped with the adds)

    Generally speaking, what went wrong most of the time was us wiping with just 1 or 2 marks on the raid (that, or simply kite failing). So it was probably the healers not yet used to that fight. The people with the marks usually just died even before we hit frenzy… And the boss heals a lot with their deaths. We actually hit the enrage timer once, thanks to those heals, and the boss hadn’t even frenzied (~33% hp) yet… Healers, please setup GRID to show an icon for players debuffed with Mark of the Fallen Champion. Makes it a lot easier to let you know who’s going to need serious healing besides the tank!

    Personally, I think that letting a dps die from the 1st mark is a bit harsh. The boss will heal 5% from that death, and add to those 5% the dps that the dead player won’t do from there on… Which in 10men is probably in the range of 5-10% more. So you’re virtually healing the boss for 10-15% hp. Of course, you win a lot of time due to the dead player’s Mark not increasing the boss’s Blood Power for every boss hit… But is it worth it? The boss’s heal and the lack of dps from the dead player? I wouldn’t say so, but in the end it depends on the raid setup. And I guess it’s always worth a shot if the normal way fails.And, well, you’re the one with the achievement!

  4. 4 Bullybeef
    December 31, 2009 at 5:05 am

    our tactic for this fight was to have our paladin healer ready to taunt one and a rogue with crippling poison ready to slow him down, while a mage pulled the other I put tricks on him and then KS the beast, he usually died soon after the first KS but if he was getting close the mage would just trap him. Seemed to work quite well for we got the achieve also.

  5. 5 Valker
    January 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

    We do this on 10 that way:
    rogue (me)
    DK dps
    DK tank
    Warrior tank
    2 healers:
    Disci priest with all bubbles:P and Shaman
    4 ranged dps who takes adds easyily:P
    druid with root etc, 2x mages with slow and hunter with trap;)
    Boss can’t cast any mark;)
    On 25 we do this with achievement too;) but i can’t tell you what was the team;)

  6. January 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    One thing I didn’t read here is what to do when Saurfang targets a Rogue for Mark of the Fallen Champion. Although it can’t be dispelled or gotten rid of once it’s been cast, there is one thing a Rogue can do. When Saurfang reaches 100 blood power he is going to target a party member and then instant cast Mark. If you see he has targeted you (as a Rogue) hit Vanish. It’s a very small margin of error but you have nothing to lose by doing it. If you do it to early he will change targets to another raid member. If you do it to late it doesn’t do anything, except give you your overkill buff. If you manage to get it just right he will not cast Mark of the Fallen Champion and his blood power still goes back to zero. It’s a great tool and can take a hit off of your healers and tanks as Deathbringer won’t be gaining Blood Power as fast.

    I read this in the Encrypted Text guide and have succesfully done it a few times. Other times I did it prematurely and he then targeted another raid member.

  7. 7 Trynyti
    January 5, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Another great post! I raid lead 2 10m ICC’s (one as priest, one as rogue) a week and we down Saurfang everytime. We 2 heal this, so it’s nice to have one of your 3 healers dual spec’d for DPS. Here’s how we handle the blood beasts.

    Raid 1: 1 DK tank, 1 Pally tank, 2 Priest Heals, 1 Rogue (combat), 1 Hunter, 1 Warlock, 1 Mage, 2 Druids
    Raid 1 Teams: (This raid downed Saurfang with NO marks on first attempt of this lockout)
    1 Rogue + 1 Feral Druid + 1 Mage + 1 DK Tank = Rogue tricks mage, DK Tank Chains blood beast, while rogue builds combo points, Rogue kidney punches, before it gets to mage it’s dead.
    1 Hunter + 1 Druid (Boomkin glyphed Typhoon so no knockback) + 1 Warlock = Hunter frost traps and all 3 ranged burn it before it gets off frost trap.

    Raid 2: 1 DK Tank, 1 Pally Tank, 2 Shaman Heals, 1 Rogue (mutilate), 1 Hunter, 1 Ret Pally, 2 Druids, 1 Mage
    Raid 2 Teams:
    1 Rogue + 1 Druid + 1 Shaman = Shaman Earthbind Totem, Rogue tricks Boomkin, Kidney punches at 3+ combo points, if blood beast gets close to Boomkin he typhoons it back, it’s dead before it gets there usually.
    1 Feral Druid or Ret Pally (Pally when stun was off CD, Druid otherwise) + 1 Shaman + 1 Mage + 1 Hunter = Earthbind totem, frost trap, Pally or Druid stun as it nears end of frost trap (other stays on boss) and burn it before it gets to hunter or mage. (This method was problematic with melee getting aggro, we had to have them hold off for a few seconds so hunter/mage could build threat)

    We also did this with two rogues, one on each blood beast, tricks’ing a ranged and using the kidney punch method. The loss in DPS of having the rogues peel off the boss was negligible in comparison to having raid members hit by a blood beast.

    I’ve thought about using crippling poison, but as a mutilate rogue, the loss in DPS is just too great. I tricks the boomkin 2-3 seconds before the blood beasts spawn, then wait for the blood beast, as soon as it spawns I start mutilating it then kidney punch is ready usually before it’s even gotten to the bottom of the steps. With the boomkin and I on the one blood beast it’s usually dead before it comes out of the kidney punch. One word of warning though, if it comes out of kidney punch it seems to charge (like a warrior charge) the boomkin, so he needs to be ready with typhoon to knock it back.

    Sorry for the wall of text, but hopefully it might prove useful to someone. 😉

    Trynyti/Yz (Twisting Nether)

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