The Dread Council is the final encounter in the Dread Palace Operation as well as the Dread Master story arc. This fight culminates in a battle with the remaining Dread Masters, as well as the return of Brontes and Styrak's ghost. This fight closely mirrors the hard mode version, but adds a few additional mechanics to amp up the difficulty.
We run a standard comp on this encounter and find that having 2 ranged and 2 melee (at least one that can taunt) to be beneficial. A shadow tank with friend of the force also takes additional burden off of the healers. We clear this using a Shadow/Vanguard pairing.
Our comp for this encounter is typically:
Shadow Tank - On Calphayus
Vanguard Tank - On Bestia
DwT (Guardian) - On Bestia
Watchman - On Calphayus
Sage - On Raptus
Sniper - On Tyrans
Sage Healer - Primarily focused on Bestia Group
Commando Healer - Primarily on Calphayus Group
We start off the fight with a change from the previous difficulties. All Dread Masters enter the fight on pull, insteaded of the delayed drop of Hard Mode. To this effect we have to be ready with our boss assignments right out of the gate.
Our Team's strategy put our Shadow Tank on Calphayus and our Vanguard Tank on Bestia. Any tank roles would likely work fine for either of these boss assignments, and should not require any major tweaks to the overall strategy.
I will go over each boss separately, then build this into a complete picture.
Team: 1 Tank, 1 DPS (We use our Sentinel) 1 Healer (Healer is triaging the team, but will be staying closer to this team for support).
On pull, Calphayus drops down and will put out his first Dread Font orange Circle. Our tactic with Calphy is to keep him moving and keep the amount of time he is standing in a Dread Font orange circle to as close to zero as possible. The tank on Calphayus will be taking the highest damage taken of the group. Calphayus's crystal projection attack deals a sizable amount of damage. We can see these crystal's flying toward us and can react with a quick defensive as necessary. If playing Shadow or Guardian, we should not be using Resilience or Endure for these attacks, as they will be needed for Death Marks, unless your healers are very skilled at cleansing them off of the group.
Learning your defensive timing for crystal projection, keeping Calphy out of the puddles and your healer knowing when to focus on you are the three main areas that will need ironed out.
Calphayus will also be choosing a player at random (In my experience it has never been the tank on Calphy or either healer) and "Soa" them. This is referencing Soa's move where he lifts a player in the air and whirls them around the room. It is annoying, but causes no damage and is only meant to further disrupt the rhythm of the fight.
Dread Font - A buff indicating that A Dread Master is standing in an Orange puddle and taking reduced damage.
Dread Shield - Calphayus can only be damaged from inside of his protective shield aura.
As I pull Calphy, I begin to slowly pull him around the forks spiring out from the main arena. For Calphy tanking we reserve the righthand side of the arena, including the 3 forks on the right side. The pattern for Dread Font drops is 1 drop every 5 seconds. This comes out to about every 3 ability's used. So the pattern becomes use 3 abilities, move back (puddle drops as we begin to move back) so the boss steps out of the circle just as he drops it, repeat, repeat, repeat. Shadow's Cascading counts as 2 abilities used (3" channel). I have included my movement pattern below.
Here is a full layout of a perfect set of Dread Font (orange circle) drops. If we accidently pull the boss to far, or he doesn't cooperate on the rear most drop spot in a fork, skip it and keep going with the next planned drop. It is better to jump ahead one, verses trying to push him backward back into position. As long as you can put out ~20 drops before running out of room, the plan will work ok.
After we finish with the 20th or so circle we will start to see the original puddles dissipate. We will need to bring Calphy back to the starting point and begin the pattern again. How effective you were at placing the circles correctly will dictate how much breathing room you have in this section of the fight. Normally 3-4 circles ahead of my position (as I reset) have evaporated giving me plenty of room to maneuver.
The critical component to this is placing these in such a way that the other dread masters do not set in them either. Our main concern is Tyrans. Tyrans will teleport to our side, but so long as we kept the orange circles placed right up against the railing, he is in no danger of teleporting into an orange circle.
Calphayus will push back up to his throne when he reaches 50%. We do not want to push him munch below 58% until all dread masters have been prepped for the push. Our DPS will typically peal off (around circle drop 19-20) and focus on either Raptus or Tyrans once Calphy prep is finished. The tank must be careful not to push before the team is ready.
Team: 1 Tank, 1 DwT, 1 Healer (Healer is triaging the team, but will be staying closer to this team for support).
Tank Holds Bestia, gains a Stack of Corruption
Tank is punted
DwT takes a Stack of Corruption
In hard mode, we find it easier to have the tanks swap back and forth between Bestia and Calphayus. In NiM mode we find it to work better to keep each tank on their separate boss and utilize a DwT to taunt Bestia to allow the Bestia Tank's stacks to drop off.
Where we typically swap as tanks in Hard Mode at 2-3 stacks of Corruption (the orange debuff counting up on Bestia's active target listed below) we do our best to make sure that the tank/DwT get no more than 1 stack of this punishing debuff.
The Tank is typically the one taking every knock back from Bestia. They position themselves/her so that when the knock happens they are pushed into the center of the room. We found this made it easier on our healers (the tank would be LOS'd if being punted down the walkway.
The DwT taunts Bestia as soon as the tank is punted to hold in her place. They need to run a strong defensive while holding Bestia. Note that it is wise to wait until your healers are getting "tired" before starting use of your big defensives. Know your class and which you can cycle to always have something up. Communication here is key. The Tank jumps back in and will taunt Bestia as soon as the DwT has taken a stack of corrpution. Bestia seems to apply a stack of corruption about once every 12 seconds.
This sequence can become difficult with the "Soa" mechanic from Calphayus picking the DwT to fling around. When this happens the tank and healer needs to be prepared to mitigate and heal through higher stacks of corruption.
Bestia gets pushed to 55%, then DPS is slowed, then stopped at 51~52%. The DwT on Bestia usually needs to stick around for one more punt/swap maneuver, but can usually go after the tank retaunts and help to push other bosses. If the group is slow to push Tyrans and Raptus, 2 options are available.
1) Calphy tank and Bestia tank swap to allow corruption to drop off of the Bestia Tank. This can cause problems with orange circle placement, but can be done flawlessly with proper coordination.
2) The DwT comes back, or never leaves their duty in the first place. I recommend this option, but the strategy here depends wildly on your team's skill level. 1 is the better choice for DPS, 2 is the safer route for success. There is no enrage (that we have found), so doing this phase slower has not been a problem.
Corruption - Bestia puts these stacks on her active target about once every 12", forcing a tank swap. We swap after every punt to allow the tank's stacks to bleed off.
Team: 1 Ranged DPS
The Ranged DPS begins as pictured above.
Raptus enters the fight as soon as the fight starts.
Raptus will close and engage the player, drawing aggro on him (hopefully our bait). After a short opening, he will place down his deadly slash telegraph.
The ranged player moves through Raptus and begins movement. They will follow the line on the ground (it goes around the entire heptagon), We skip one fork/alcove and follow the line entering the bottom one. (Styrak's Throne).
Raptus will begin spin cycle as he chases us down.
When we arrive in the lower fork, spin cycle will end and he will telegraph. Move through him, and head back up to your starting location following the line.
The above is the rinse repeat method of kiting Raptus and will work for Hard Mode and NiM. In NiM, however, our Ranged bait has a good chance of being "Soa'd". Raptus will usually swap to one of our healers. Your team must be quick to point this out and the healer needs to be trained on how to continue to kiting pattern as well as your Ranged Player to keep this from going poorly. A loose Raptus will wipe the group. Again, push Raptus to about 55%. Often the Sentinel from Caphy will be coming to help at about 75%.
Team: 1 DPS
Tyrans changes the least as the difficulty scales up. His thundering blast attack hits for more and can punish the raid team enough to cause healer overload and wipe. Tyrans like the other dread masters activates immediately. This means death marks will be coming sooner. It is helpful as a raid lead, or player designated to call death marks, to keep him focus targeted and watch for the channel.
As the Tank on Calphayus, I found it very easy to predict when we were getting death marks as the same orange puddles dropped at locations 5, 14 and my return to reset (22~23) were when death marks came out.
One DPS handles burning Tyrans down. He will usually lag behind Calpayus and Bestia, but push a bit faster than Raptus. The major best bet here is to try to keep Tyrans facing away from players as he teleports. Having a thundering blast cleave 1-2 extra players is not huge. The major danger comes into play if Tyrans teleports close to Bestia and gets buffed by her aura. The tank on Bestia needs to be quick to react to pull her away from him, as a buffed Thundering blast will destroy a players health bar. We typically have a sniper or scoundrel on Tyrans. The scoundrel can move quickly and get back to Tyrans and can help turn him. Snipers have the advantage of keeping more uptime on the boss as he blinks around and has better defensives for dealing with the thundering blast. They also have decent mobility and can pivot the incoming Thundering blast. The downside to snipers here, of course, is no cleanse. This is where a shadow's friend of the force, or healers on their A game with cleanses, will be vital.
This is what we call Strategy
Putting all of the above together, the battlefield gets cluttered quickly. Players should learn their paths and the flow as a priority here. DPS will improve as consistently is found. The major wrench in the system is a player getting "Soa'd" and throwing off the rhythm. This needs to be planned for, with other players flexing into vital roles as needed, or knowing how to handle the extra damage that can be sustained during this window.
This is the tricky part and is less forgiving than Hard Mode. In hard mode, all bosses have a 30" timer once pushed back to their throne. They will heal and re-enter the fight after their 30" expires. Nightmare sees this reduce substantially and vary between the dread masters.
Tyrans and Raptus have a 15" timer and should be pushed first and second (as close together as possible).
Calphayus has a 10" timer and needs to be 3rd up.
Bestia has a 5" timer and needs to be the 4th up.
Technically, the bosses can be pushed in any order, but this is the order in which you have the most overall time/forgiveness in pushing the Dread Masters.
Once they have all been pushed to sub 55%, we make the call to begin slowly pushing them to 50%. We will get them at or a bit below 51% and push them up quickly one at a time in the order above (Tyrans/Raptus then Calphayus then Bestia). We've found patience here is the best raid tool. Working through it slowly and methodically first until the rhythm is established, then pushing for speed once accuracy was achieved worked well for us.
Phase 2 - Styrak and Brontes
The Styrak and Brontes phase of the fight has essentially 3 mini phases, which are described below. There are 2 main changes to NiM, of which I have highlighted in the text. Reaches are in my opinon the make or break of the fight. If you have too many players that just cannot stay alive through these, your team is going to struggle. Your entire team surviving this phase, pretty much equals a clear.
Subphase 1 is identically to hard mode. One Tank needs to be assigned to pick up Sytrak's Crystal, the other Brontes's.
As the phase transitions lightning will being firing across the battlefield. Players should stack up in the center and get topped up on heals. The tanks can take a few moments to collect some heals, but need to start their run for their crystals as soon as possible. If your group contained a sentinel, transcendence would be helpful here
As the tanks work out their timing of getting the crystals, the healers/group will need to plan for some extra stress at this point as Sytrak and Brontes will be targeting DPS or Healers.
When the tanks port back onto the main platform, their respective bosses will lock onto them and aggro onto a nontank target will now be impossible.
Styrak should be moved to Brontes to be burned down, so that cleaves and DoT spreads can help to push Brontes as well. It should be noted here, that tanks need to avoid moving Sytrak into orange puddles that may be lingering from Phase 1. These puddles will heavily reduce the damage Styrak takes and can lead to a wipe. It is also important to point out, that if the tanks made a mess of orange circle placement in phase 1, Brontes can teleport into an orange circle and really hamper the team's efforts. Situational awareness is still necessary in what may seem like a pretty straightforward part of the fight.
Subphase 2 begins As Styrak dies, and is new for NiM. Styrak will pop to the center and begin a chain manifestation, just like in his boss encounter. Styrak's big ghost in the center needs to be DPS'd down before the chain closes in on the group.
For this phase we use our Vanguard Tank's Sonic Rebounders. The entire group moves to the center, rebounders go out. We do not interrupt the first channel of suffering that the center Big ghost is channeling. The damage suffering does reflects back to the Big ghost, pretty much killing it for us. Some DPS is required, but this part of the fight pushes insanely quickly with this tactic. Remember to interrupt suffering as soon as rebounders are consumed and to interrupt any further channels of it. If not running rebounders, this channel needs interrupted immediately. If you are using this tactic, be aware of any classes leaping in to the Big Ghost that may interrupt the channel with their leap in.
Once the Chain Manifestation is dealt with, it is back to Brontes.
Brontes will push to the center at ~ 20% HP and begin her clock phase beam o death. The team must DPS Brontes while avoiding reaches, while not dying to the beam o death all while trying to get in a good position to start phase 3.
The Dread Masters will return to the fight in a ready or not fashion. They are on a timer from being pushed up in Phase 1. They will enter the Styrak and Brontes phase if you were unable to DPS them down quickly enough. Watch for them to re-enter play. Ideally Brontes should be dealt with, the last of her reaches will be firing off and your assigned Crystal holders will have had time to move into position before they arrive.
Crystal assignments - Just like in the previous phase, each of the 4 main bosses have a crystal that can be collected when they return in phase 3. Here are my recommendations.
Calphayus Crystal -> Tank who was tanking him in Phase 1
Tyrans Crystal -> DPS that was DPSing him in Phase 1
Raptus Crystal -> DPS that was kiting him in Phase 1
Bestia Crystal -> We do not grab this one, it is a trap.
So lets talk about Bestia first. If a player collects a boss's crystal that means that they are threat locked onto that target. If we collect Bestia's Crystal, the Tank and DwT are unable to swap, leaving no way for the Tank to drop their stacks of corruption, resulting in their dying at around 3-4 stacks of the debuff. Our best pulls saw our tank dying every time. We changed this one piece and this kept them alive. Do the mechanics on Bestia same as Phase 1.
Calphayus - If we DPS Calphayus to below 34% he will instantly wipe the group.
Raptus and Tyrans, use the same strategy as Phase 1.
Ideally we want all of the Dread Masters (except for Calphayus) pushed to around 20~25% The DPS that was on Calphayus Phase 1 should start on Bestia and help push her down. They should then help push each of the other bosses to about the same point. (Leave Bestia a little early ~30% so that the DwT on Bestia can continue to contribute.
When all three bosses are pushed to 25%, push Calphayus to about 36-38%, then tell your team to push Bestia.
In Phase 3 we use the same strategy as phase 1, with slight modifications pictured to the side. This phase will last about half as long as phase 1. Deathmarks can ninja kill the group here if the team is not staying focused on them. Remember that if you were using friend of the force, and either the tank or target of the guard died to reaches that a guard will need to go back on them.
Keep running your patterns here until your team is confident and ready to enter burn. Burn should NEVER be a surprise, stay calm and make it a calculated stress-free team decision to start pushing.
When Bestia hits 15%, all of the Dread Masters will teleport to the center in a ring around the holocron and grow in size.
Pick one (we usually start with Bestia) and kill them. This is a survival test. Use everything you have at your disposal to survive. Sniper shields work great here. Keep using Transcendence on cool down for its extra raid wide damage reduction. Keep cycling defensive abilities and focus on keeping the DPS alive. The tanks have done their part and have nothing to do but contribute at a rate of a really bad DPS player. Healers should also be putting out as much off DPS as the team can tolerate.
Whats next for your group now that Counsil is defeated? Timer attemps of course!! Here are a few things I found helpful a long the way.
The Timer for Dread Palace does not begin until Bestia is pulled. Pull all trash that can be pulled prior to pulling Bestia to save as much time as possible. The hour timer is tight. Our best runs for timer had us finishing Raptus at ~ 35-37 minutes in.
Raid buffs will often not be back off cool down at the start of every boss fight, or may not be up when your group may have been use them being available during progression. I personally do not think that there was any critical piece of any of the boss fights that saw a huge benefit to raid buffs. Some key places I usually asked for mine to be used:
Bestia off the break and again once it is available again
Tyrans sub 30% burn
Calphayus Final burn, first crystal drop (race to get it in 1)
Raptus whenever it is back up
Counsil, try to have them back up for burn
I am a big advocate that there is a best tank for a boss fight. I highly encourage tanks to play through each of the 3 classes and find their best. Though it means swapping, For DP I run Guardian (Vanguard CoTank) for Bestia, Guardian (Vanguard CoTank) for Tyrans. Then I swap to Vanguard for Calphayus and Raptaus (with my CoTank staying on Vanguard. I think swap for council and run Shadow (with my Vanguard CoTank). I find it very helpful to have a second set of gear made up for a Vanguard tank. My shadow can be a guardian and keeps gear for both specs + any tacticals needed. An Alt is set up for the Vanguard tank spec and has its own Tank gear set. This reduced time swapping characters significantly, but is an investment of time and resources to do so. I find it helpful for NiM raiding.