Lightsworn: Conquering The Highlord’s Return
Hey, Blizzard Watch 2.0, it’s hammer time! Since we first saw it in Legion beta, Protection Paladins coveted the Crest of Holy Fire, the hidden Artifact appearance which turns our sword into a flail like the Diablo 3 Crusader. The Crest of Holy Fire is our challenge appearance awarded by vanquishing Highlord Kruul. Sorry, Kruul, but when it comes to being the Highlord, there can be only one.
Even after numerous nerfs to the encounter, they might have undersold the difficulty. A challenge is helping my teenage daughter with her math homework. Kruul is more like a Tough Mudder. Sure, you can do it, but you’re not hoping off your couch and completing it without preparation and training.
You first learn of Kruul during the quest line to open up your Empowered Artifact traits. Like the other Artifact challenges, Kruul is only available when the Mage Tower is up. Your first attempt is free, but each subsequent attempt costs Nethershards. I advise you save up. You are going to need many, many attempts.
At the most basic level, this is a two phase encounter with interrupts and add management. Velen joins you as well, along with demon hunter, Kor’vas Bloodthorn. Velen is at least somewhat useful and will put down wards in the fight that heal you and stun all enemies. Kor’vas, however, gets put in a Legion bubble 5 seconds into the fight. I guess he didn’t sacrifice enough.
Like most evil overlord types, Kruul first sends a lackey to deal with your petty intrusion into his lair. You’ll open the fight against Inquisitor Variss. Variss has an aura around him that places a debuff on you that reduces your maximum health. He chain casts either a hard hitting Mind Rend nuke or a channeled Drain Life. Variss brings friends to the party with Tormenting Orbs, Nether Horrors and Smoldering Infernals. The Infernals will lose health and fall to pieces all on their own only to reform again a few second later.
When Variss falls, Kruul joins the fight. The Nether Horrors keep coming and the Infernal continues his Sisyphusian routine. The Orbs no longer spawn, instead purple beams will try to push you off the platform.
Kruul has three mechanics himself. Mishandling any of them leads to a quick defeat. Twisted Reflection puts a debuff on you that heals Kruul when he hits you. With Netherstomp, Kruul jumps to you and puts a patch of fel down that ticks damage every second you are in it. Annihilate does damage and puts a stacking debuff on that makes the next Annihilate do more damage. If you didn’t want to kill Kruul for the appearance, kill him for teaching Annihilate to Spellblade Alueriel.
The designers balanced the encounter around a 920 item level. Paladin @driassetto completed the challenge at 915. My own attempts at 898 have been less successful.
You should think of the fight as a mini raid encounter and prepare likewise. Be sure you have all your gear gemmed and enchanted. Phase 1 is heavy magic damage, but I still use Mark of the Heavy Hide. Some guides recommend Versatility gems and enchants, but for this encounter, I think Haste is more useful for the ring enchants and the gems, along with a Binding of Strength for the cloak.
For temporary buffs, Drums of Fury gives you access to Heroism, and its recommended you save them for phase 2. Prepot with a Potion of the Old War or a Potion of Prolonged Power.Use your standard raid flask, Flask of the Countless Armies and a Defiled Augment Rune.
For food, there is some debate between Koi-Scented Stormray, Azshari Salad, Lavish Suramar Feast or Bear Tartare. Mobility is critical in this fight and you’ve always got Nether Horrors that you can kill to proc Bear Tartare, but I went with the salad because the Haste helps you get through phase 1 and also because I’m watching my dwarvish figure.
Befitting a skill challenge for Protection Paladins, at progression item levels (910-920) this fight requires proper management of Seraphim.
- Blessed Hammer – I tried Holy Shield at first to mitigate Variss’ Mind Rend and because much of phase 1 is magic damage. I switched to Blessed Hammer because the Orbs are immune to Hammer of the Righteous‘ physical damage, but not immune to Blessed Hammer’s magic (Holy) damage. I also needed the AoE, and another chance to proc Grand Crusader for interrupts.
- First Avenger – Phase 1 is as much a DPS race as it is a tanking challenge.
- Repentance – I used this to help keep Variss under control while I gathered adds.
- Cavalier – At some point in the fight, I mess up the Orbs and get knocked back. As long as I didn’t go over the edge, Divine Steed gets me back in the action. This is also the primary way I deal with Netherstomp.
- Hand of the Protector – Shorter cool down on Light of the Protector and you can cast it on Velen if you can get some procs form your T19 4 piece.
- Retribution Aura – This is my standard DPS talent and it also helps if the Horrors get a couple of swings on Velen.
- Seraphim – This is your flux capacitor talent. It’s what makes your strategy possible. You need to manage Seraphim to get maximum uptime, and make sure you’ll have a Shield of the Righteous up for each Annihilate.
While the first phase feels like a DPS race, each mechanic tests an aspect of tank skill. The Tormenting Orbs test your situational awareness. To counter their effect, you have to look at them like the Inquisitor Tormentorumin fight in Vault of the Wardens. With the Infernals, you are using your kiting skills.
Your add pick up skills are exercised by the Nether Horrors. You’ll need to lock them down before they go eat Velen. If he dies, you lose. Thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you, and the home game.
Open the fight by going all out on Variss with Avenging Wrath, Seraphim, and Potion of Prolonged Power. After about 8 stacks on the health reduction debuff, hit Variss with Repentance and work on adds. Once the debuff drops off, bring the adds to Variss and cleave off of him. Remember that if you interrupt Variss (like you will every time you hit him with Avenger’s Shield), he will follow you and take his debuffing aura with him which will make it harder for you to drop stacks.
While away from Variss, you still have to keep an eye on him to interrupt Drain Life, especially if he casts it on Velen. I made Variss my focus target so I could see what he was casting and saved Avenger’s Shield (and any Grand Crusader procs) to interrupt him. The use of a focus macro is recommended.
/cast [@focus,exists] Repentance; [@mouseover,harm] Repentance /cast [@focus,exists] Repentance; [@mouseover,harm] Repentance
At that point, it’s a matter of juggling all the mechanics. Dance in and out of the aura to manage your stacks, pick up loose Horrors, dodge Infernals and look at the Orbs. Aren’t they pretty?
The transition is a great time to pop one of Velen’s wards. You’ll still have stacks from Variss and the stun should give them time to fall off. Twisted Reflection tests your ability to interrupt because clearly Variss’ Drain Life didn’t cover that well enough in phase 1. If he gets it off, you might as well say ‘the victory is yours’ and concede. Netherstomp tests your mobility. You need to Divine Steed out of there as fast as you can.
Annihilate tests your cooldown usage. Its useless to interrupt it because he simply casts it again, plus you need to save your interrupts for Twisted Reflection. You’ll need to have planned out cooldown rotation to cover each Annihilate. Eventually, you’ll run out of tricks which serves as a soft enrage for the encounter. I use the cooldown strategy posted by Liminara, creator of TankChat, and moderator of the Paladin Discord.
Each Annihilate is countered with a Shield of the Righteous. That’ll get you through the first one but after that you’ll need more. Combine Shield of the Righteous with Eye of Tyr for the next one, then Guardian of Ancient Kings, and then Ardent Defender. Now you’re down to the Bubble (Divine Shield). After that, its game over, man, game over. You can’t use Guardian of Ancient of Kings in phase 1 because it won’t be back up in phase 2. Ardent Defender should be okay depending on how many points you put into Unflinching Defense.
I know many of the guides talk about which Legendaries to use, but I don’t find that helpful. You’ve got the ones you’ve got. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention how helpful the new legendary ring coming in 7.2.5, Soul of the Highlord would be for this fight. If it turns out to be a reputation item, I would prioritize acquiring it.
At item level 910 and above, you can defeat Kruul if you have amazing skills. For the rest of us, do a couple of attempts each time the Mage Tower is up to learn the mechanics, but wait until you’ve got some Tomb of Sargeras gear to put in a serious amount of attempts.
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