R-4 Hard Mode Kanoth
Kanoth is the third boss encounter in the new R-4 operation. This boss is a fast-paced and long fight, with most clears taking over 10 minutes. The hard mode version of the fight adds in new tank swap mechanics not found in story mode as well as much more punishing damage from seeds of echoes, which now applies a DoT burn and will force ops members not to stack. This guide largely assumes your team has cleared the fight on story mode and are familiar with those mechanics.
My Preferred Group Composition:
Tank: Guardian or Shadow
Any Ranged Dps
Sage Dps (for rescue)
As with any boss encounter in the game, Kanoth can be cleared with any group combination. I find this particular combination to provide the highest utility for the fight.
Guardian Tanks have the highest utility of the three here, having saber reflect to boost some extra damage from saber reflecting in hardened nihrot, they can prevent the knock back from kanoth's repel ability, they can use focused defenses to self-heal through kanoth's abduct ability (tank held in nihrot) and their AoE taunt works well to pick up the add spawns without needing to target them (like the vanguard would need to). Add in the Guardian's ability to leap to friendly players to move quickly, and it has easily become my go to for this fight.
Sages are very handy to help the tanks and aide in the flow of the fight. Their ability to friendly pull a tank out of nihrot (during the abduct) makes things very easy.
Sentinels transcendence movement raid buff is helpful, though movement is low in this fight. The benefit here is more so for the raid wide 10% DR which can be timed as seeds of echos come out.
The commando healer's trauma probes make needing to cleanse the affliction DoT from seeds of echos rather unnecessary, so long as your Dps are cycling their defensives and not stacking.
More than 2 melee Dps can become a bit crowded, but not an issue with skilled players to the fight. We have cleared with 3 dps many times, and it goes well as long as folks are attentive to the fight.
Setting up the fight
Unlike the melee group, the arrangement of the ranged and healers can vary wildly, and there is certainly no reason to micromanage it out here. If your team is having issues with nihrot control, or the healers being LOS'd this may help. This set-up dictates who is responsible for clearing which tiles of nihrot growth.
Tanks will always be responsible for clearing the boss's nihrot channels, growth seed and fortify growth. Growth seed is applied to the current target of kanoth. After the debuff expires, nihrot will grow on the tile under the player. Fortify growth goes out under the boss immediately as the channel finishes.
One tank should be assigned to always use their grenade to clean growth seed, the other should get fortify ground. Note that the grenade can be thrown as soon as the channel is seen and will clean the tile even if it is thrown early. (The first fortify ground always comes right after the first seed of echos channel.) I throw my grenade as that channel is ending, and it cleans the first fortify ahead of time. On another note, the nihrot can take a moment to register that you have grenade it. Do not panic if it persists for a second or two.
As per the example positioning above, we have 3 melee dps in this composition. If your team does to, the third melee stays in the boss tile.
Tanks should hold Kanoth as close to the corner of the next row of tiles as possible and keep kanoth pushed into his tile. Tanks should stack right on top of each other (Like NiM Nefra) to keep the boss from shuffling into the tank tile as the taunt swaps occur. If kanoth enters the tank tile, there is an increased chance that the tank tile will harden from nihrot forcing a positioning change. Should the tank tile harden, we swap sides and simply mirror our positioning (tanks stand on 4th tile in top row instead of second. If the boss tile hardens, we move one row down, forcing the whole ops group to push towards the front of the room.
Normal on the left, hardened on the right on low graphic setting.
Normal vs Hardened Nihrot
Nihrot can be cleaned by the supplied grenades, hardened can only be burned off with the fire probes. Hardened nihrot is not the end of the world, but it can cause a shift in positioning depending on the afflicted tiles. Hardened Nihrot looks different depending on your graphics settings. Be sure to get familiar with what it looks like as to not waste grenades trying to clean it.
Handling The growth Lines
As the fight progresses and several times in phase 1, Kanoth will channel Lateral Growth, causing a Line to form on a player. In phase one, we do not place that line in such a way that it will grow nihrot over the tank or boss tiles. Anywhere else is fine, and we encourage putting it over top of the melee or ranged/healers to make it easier for them to clean it off. There is little reason to run to the other end of the map. There are only 2 tiles that need to be avoided.
Note here that our melee dps behind kanoth gets the line. If it were to go off where they are at it would infect the boss and tank tiles causing a disruption to our "grenading". They see they have it and responsibly take it away from those tiles, dropping it for the ranged/healers to handle. Your melee dps have to be working the nihrot to help the tanks. If they are not, well....
Kanoth is a very fast-paced fight for tanks. Tanks need to taunt off of each other before the other tank reaches 5 stacks of the debuff left by his infesting strike attack (which comes out quite frequently at some points and slows down in others). If a tank is allowed to get 5 stacks, they begin to drop nihrot on tiles until they destack. In burn phase, this can be the entire room. I highly encourage tanks to communicate constantly about their stacks. We tank swap on 3 stacks (much like NiM nefra) and communicate with each other. I will say "3", my cotank will say "taunting". Its important for both tanks to stay "awake". This is a long fight, and this mechanic does not stop for the 10+ minutes this fight goes on. It is very important to keep each other focused on it.
Infesting Strike is on a lower priority vs kanoth's other abilities. When his other abilities are on "cool down", however, he can 5 stack a tank very quickly. The first tank swap happens about 3 seconds into the fight, so be ready to swap quickly. I open here with an immediate taunt when I pull.
But I am still at Three! Yes, this happens. If you have been taunting on 3 this will happen less often. This usually pops up if a tank 5 stacks during a fight. Stacks bleed quickly, keep a close eye on your cotank and taunt immediately if they hit four, or when you destack. Most of the time it is safe to taunt even if you are still at three. The flow of the fight typically will allow your stacks to keep reducing, even if you are tanking him. If he is channeling, he is not infesting you. Trust the flow, taunt on 3.
In all phases of the fight, kanoth will "abduct" his current target. It is very predictable in phase 2 onward, but can be hard to nail down when it will happen in the first phase.
"Pulling" the tank out with a sage rescue is my preferred method of dealing with this. Having the sage pull the tank will drop threat on that tank, forcing kanoth back on the other tank. This is game changing for phase 2.
Repel is a 3" channel, same as in story mode. This channel throws kanoth's target away from him in. It is more annoying than anything. If the tank is going to "take the knock" I recommend swapping here to help keep kanoth in place. Sometimes he does another channel right after repel and he will stay in place anyway. More often than not, though, he will chase down the tank he just threw. Guardians can run back and jump in (like in master/blaster) with the front-line veteran passive (at 64) to resist the knock backs entirely.
The most overwhelming aspect of kanoth for healers is dealing with the massive raid wide damage caused by seed of echoes. It can be helpful for raid groups to call "seeds" as they prog the fight to remind party members to use defensives and self-cleanse if they have it.
Tanks should not be getting seeds. If they are getting the debuff, their melee dps have entered their tile, or the tanks are out of position. If a healer sees the tank with the debuff consistently, they should speak up. Any players receiving 2 stacks or more of seeds of echos should also be coached on handling it, as it will overload your healers. Kanoth is one of those fights where you want low heal numbers. Anything above 20k eHps and your group is taking too much damage. The lower the ehps here the better. Teams should focus on taking less damage, not trying to get the healers to heal more. 18-22k ehps is perfect.
Seeds coming out is signified by a sound and this pink arrow pointing at the affected players.
The grids will light up with a white border on which tiles were affected. Note that we have seen plenty of instances where the tanks were not in a dps tiles but still received the debuff. We believe that being inside the white box will give the debuff and as the white box is larger than the tile itself there is some cross over. The player Jafa here for example is in their own tile but gets hit by both his and the player's beside of him because he is standing in the overlap. I recommend standing back a bit when seeds come out to prevent this.
Your healers will cry if they see this. If it happens, it is a coaching moment. Clean off the players with 2 stacks and keep healing. Do not try to remove every debuff it ticks too fast. Do not try to take cleanse the agony tactical to cleanse faster. Overfocusing on cleaning this debuff will cause more problems. Heal through it, lean on the commando's trauma probes to heal for its ticks of damage. Remember to refresh trauma probes after each seed of echos to keep players healthy and ready for the next one. Most class's defensive abilities allow them to handle the damage. Cycle these to keep from stressing your healers. The ballistic dampeners from the sniper class, for example, can be refreshed as the DoT is ticking on you, for example. When your ballistic dampers run out, get out of cover and back in to get 3 more stacks. Snipers thought they cannot self-cleanse can handle the damage through their massive defensive tool kit. If your team is struggling with seeds, I would make sure each player knows what their defensives are and be sure they are cycling them and not burning all of them. Defensive abilities should not be used by DPS outside of seeds of echoes. Self-cleaning on a class that can (sage, for instance) can be helpful, but it is a dps loss. I prefer to rely on trauma probes and an off the GCD self-heal or Defensive ability. Cloud mind + Force Mend, for example. In the end, you cannot be the stress of your healers. An extra 15k hit of damage does no one any good if you are dead.
Into the fight - Phase 1
Not every tile needs to be cleaned. Dps should not be focused on cleaning every single tile on the battlefield. My rule of thumb is stick to my three. Melee DPS should be supporting the tanks by keeping their tile clean and the tiles that could "infect" the tank or boss tiles from a directional growth channel. Direction growth puts yellow arrows by nihrot indicating which way it is spreading. The tiles behind the tanks (top left corner) or behind the boss's (4th in the top row from the left) can spread into the tank and boss tile when directional growth happens. Your team never wants the tanks or the boss standing in nihrot. Kanoth hits harder the longer he is in nihrot and gains a stacking damage reduction that can kill damage output.
Keeping the "Add burn" and "Taunt" Tiles clean will help the transition phase. Ranged and healers should be very focused on these tiles and center should always stay clean (ALWAYS).
This is not a movement heavy fight. If your team is scrambling all over the place, you are over doing it. Outside of having to take a yellow growth line out of the group, everyone should be pretty fixed in place. Keep burning the boss and keep the tank swaps and tile cleaning happening, and this is a pretty uneventful push to 72%. Kanoth has a ton of HP (43 million something) which is the primary reason this fight is 10+ minutes. Phase 1 is something like 2 and a half minutes long and is very uneventful if all goes as prescribed above. Check out a clip from Captain Roman's (my cotank) stream of the fight.
Transition Phase - 72%
Transition phase can be an absolute disaster if not handled with a plan. Tanks need to hustle to get into position quickly to handle the two monsters that are getting ready to spawn at the entrance. These monsters will go straight for your healers and global them. As soon as Kanoth channels Sweep (72% HP) the tanks should disengage. He's done moving and doing anything. After sweep, he will start walled garden and for 5 seconds he will ball up and sit there. DPS should keep hitting him. This all begins with the voice line: "Not this time...." The adds will spawn as he starts cackling at you. Your tanks must be in position long before this happens.
This is the set-up for transition. DPS and Healers need to follow kanoth to the center tile and keep dpsing him to get a head start on breaking his barrier.
Tank 1 heads to the center front tile near the door and AoE Taunts as soon as the adds come up. I usually wait a second or two just to make sure they are active. Here is where a Vanguard Tank struggles. Their AoE Taunt will not pick up "Both" as it will only target one, missing the second. A different strategy will be needed if both your tanks are vanguards.
Once both adds are on tank 1 (the taunt platform). Tank 1 grenades them to break their barrier (a change from Story mode). They begin building threat as they walk to either add burn tile (I prefer the right side, either works). As soon as they are within range of Tank 2 they should AoE Taunt them and regrenade them after a GCD or Two.
DPS should be called to engage at this point (this whole process should take at most 4-5 GCDs).
Tank 1 should single taunt one of the monsters back off of tank 2 (triple taunting) and tank 2 should retaunt the one that is still on them. This process of triple taunting will ensure that a dps does not pull a monster off of the tank. The monsters do cleave, they must be pointed away from the group and ideally not at your cotank. Tanks should grenade on cool down during the monster burn to keep their shields down and the nihrot off the floor. When the monsters die, they will infect the tile under them and those adjacent to it.
After the monsters are dead, the team jumps back to the middle and breaks kanoth out of his barrier and phase 2 begins. (We raid buff as soon as the shield breaks)
Phase 2 is where the trouble begins for most teams, and I believe the most challenging part of the fight. Here we will burn Kanoth down to 48%. High DPS helps this phase dramatically. Having low dps will mean more adds spawning and more and more nihrot to deal with. Tanks will have to be point on with handling the adds and keeping track of their stacks of infested. I believe 17k+ dps on the entire Kanoth fight to be pretty much the minimum for a smooth run. 22k+ is what I would consider exceptional. Lower than 17 and your team will be seeing additional adds and struggling to clear the encounter. Note that these numbers are from my experience and feel for the fight. I have never seen an enrage for this fight and have been part of very low output dps teams that still managed a clear. It is 100% about running the mechanics and not getting overwhelmed by nihrot growth.
Phase 2 starts as soon as Kanoth's barrier breaks from the transition phase. Keep an eye on which tank he is targeting. If you want a certain tank to start phase 2, he can be taunted while he is in the barrier to set that up.
A growth line will be the first thing to happen in phase 2. The growth line should be taken out of the center tile, and everyone should stay stacked in the center until the line happens. After the line goes out, burn all the fire probes to clear the room. (note that if your dps were fast the entire room may not have filled with nihrot, part of our typical plan for phase 2 is to save a fire probe for emergency cleaning during phase 2. If your group is not able to do this, be even more diligent about cleaning nihrot.)
We change our positioning for phase two, bringing the boss in one row. We ignore (for the most part) the exterior row of tiles and focus only on keeping the inner 9 tiles clean (for the rest of the fight). Growth lines cannot be taken through the center of the room. They must be taken to the exterior tiles with haste. I have watched many players run from the back of the room toward the front, putting a growth line right through the middle of the room. Always go toward your closest exterior row.
It is extremely important to make sure that the tank and boss tiles stay clean. Directional growth will come several times during phase 2 and has the potential to contaminate these tiles. I recommend having your melee stay focused on cleaning not only their tiles, but the ones that can infect the tank/boss tiles. Tanks should keep up with their discipline of cleaning growth seed and fortify ground. The tanks 3 stack from their infested debuff RAPIDLY after the first yellow growth line goes out. The first 10 or so seconds after that are critical to getting the boss positioned and keeping the floor clean. A tank 5 stacking here will harden several of the inner 9 tiles and likely lead to a wipe.
There will be several tank swaps, keep strong watch up to his beckon channel and be sure not to miss that one. The tank not on kanoth (currently destacking) will need to handle the add. That tank will need to head to one of the add burn tiles and taunt the add as it spawns. Be sure to head to the side it is spawning on. You will see the water move as it pops up. I like to set up in the center and flex over. DO NOT HOLD THE ADD ANYWHERE BUT THE ADD BURN TILE. Holding it in mid will result in nihrot everywhere. Shortly after the beckon channel, Kanoth will abduct the other tank. A sage should be ready to pull that tank. This will drop that tank's threat and send him over to the other tank, who is holding the add. Wait until your cotank 3 stacks, then pull kanoth back over to you and reposition him back into his tile.
The tank on the add should immediately grenade the add, build threat with 2-3 GCDs then call for DPS on the add. Use your AoE taunt as soon as DPS begins to hold threat. By this time, you will probably have kanoth on you. Do not worry about what he is doing. Call for DPS to regrenade the add after they have done about 3-4 GCDs worth of damage. As soon as your grenade comes back off of cool down, use it again. Have the dps regrenade +/- 6 seconds later if the add is still not dead.
Kanoth should be back on your cotank before the add dies. You do not want kanoth anywhere near the add when it dies. The faster the add dies, the easier this phase becomes. You will be taking kanoth almost immediately after the add dying. Ranged DPS and healers should help clean up the nihrot mess left behind from the add's death.
Phase 2 ends when Kanoth hits 48% and resets to the center tile. Keep dpsing him until he vanishes. Groups with outstanding DPS can push this phase with only 1 add to manage. Most groups have to deal with a second add. If your group is getting 3 adds, dps is way too low and you will have problems clearing phase 2.
Ghost Transition - 48%
Aberrations, Statues, Ghost. I have heard them called everything. They are a transitional mechanic that have the potential to one shot unsuspecting players. As soon as the fire probes are available to be burned, everyone should help activate and fire them off. This is priority 1. I have an entire page dedicated to handling the kanoth "ghost" phase. Kanoth Ghost. Generally, stay behind the ones with the purple circle in front of them and be sure that another one with a purple circle is not pointed directly at you. The call is quick here, and you have to be ready to run for it. The sentinel's transcendence raid buff is great here. You'll see in the clip we struggled a bit having an add up for ghost. We didn't do ourselves any favors here, but it is manageable.
We are through the hardest part of the fight. No more growth lines from here out, making the management of nihrot much less stressful. The boss learns a new trick though, creeping growth. Creeping growth will cover many tiles. It is pretty simple to handle, though.
Everyone takes a tile. Healers or ranged dps should double up and help take out the extra one. Tanks continue to get growth seed and fortify ground tile cleaning. The boss is moved one row down, with the tanks, and the fight resumes.
If the tank tile hardens, shift over the other side of the room, keeping the boss in the middle. Hardened tiles happen and will add a bit more restriction to where your team can position, but should only be seen as an opportunity to saber reflect.
Adds will continue to come in. Kanoth will continue to abduct and repel the tanks. As soon as creeping growth is channeled, everyone should throw their grenades at their feet. This will clean the tile under them. Tanks may struggle with creeping growth as they may have their grenade on cool down from cleaning a growth or fortify. It is critically important the tank tile does not harden from creeping growth. You will likely get a second kanoth ghost transition around 38-25%.
Kanoth will channel supreme garden at 17%. Everyone should move to and stack in the center tile (assuming it is not hardened).
Burn phase is rapid. Tanks will need to ping pong kanoth back and forth as the dps race to burn him down before the room is covered in nihrot. It often happens that a team will get to 100k hp and be unable to finish him off due to kanoth being in nihrot. Once the room is filled with nihrot it is almost certainly a wipe. Keep trying, obviously, but the DR he gets will grind your dps to a halt. The strategy here is much like HM Nahut from gods from the machine.
Tanks will take turns taunting and kiting. The first take will get growth seed and should position themselves just inside the tile they are infecting, keeping kanoth just outside of it.
Tanks must taunt during the channel. Delaying a taunt will cause the other tank to 5 stack, painting the entire room with nihrot and ending the fight very quickly. You will need to get close enough to AoE taunt at times. Your main taunt will not refresh fast enough.
Keep crisscrossing and mirroring each other's position.
Tank 1 starts, as growth seed channels tank two taunts and runs for it!
Tank 2 will have fortify, they will need to bring kanoth gently into the tile they want to infest.
Tank 1 taunts back during the Fortify channel. They move to the next corner, tank 2 sets back up
If he's not dead by this point, your tanks are probably 5 stacking because of the reduced travel time not allowing them to destack. Raid buffs are usually back up for burn.
Congratulations in anticipation of your clear. Progression on this fight is fun and usually revolves around positioning, tank swapping and getting that second phase down. Kanoth rewards 2 players with tokens for purple 340 ear, chest or offhand.