Guildies are telling me that PUG groups for Tower of Despair are failing more than ever before on Khyber. Some fail because they haven't got a clue; but mostly it's because they use a basic strategy that doesn't really have any way to recover if things get ugly. They wipe, and then blame 'bad luck' for the tank dying during a Blasphemy, or being Disintegrated, and the raid wiping in chaos 35 seconds later.
Here's a strategy that works on Normal, Hard and Elite, and that has built-in failsafes if bad things happen (like tanks rolling a 1 on Disintegrate). I've tested it on a couple of mostly-guild Elite+Suulo runs (including the first 0 mana potion Elite+Suulo I heard of on Khyber) as well as many a PUG Norm/Hard + Suulo run.
This covers only the final fight. On Normal and Hard, part 1 is pretty easy, and part 2 has a very simply explained strategy that is easily learned (although it can be tricky to execute). Part 1 Elite is brutal, but if you are up to running this raid on Elite, you should be able to figure out how to beat it yourself. Part 2 Elite is the same as Normal, but longer and more unforgiving. The same strategy works, but it is harder to execute than Normal.
Note: This was written before update 9. Minor changes might be needed.
The Horoth-Suulomades Raid Primer
If you've run the raid more than two or three times, you probably know most of this part and can skim it or skip to the strategy heading below (60% of the way down the post).
The foes, in a nutshell:
Horoth - Horoth is a hybrid melee/caster that deals the highest melee DPS of any raid boss except Epic and Elite Lailat. He has 200k HP on Normal (scaling to 350k on Elite), hits in melee for ~100 damage per swing (attacking around 60 times per minute), his melee attacks sometimes proc a very long lasting damage over time effect, and he casts two deadly spells that significantly affect the encounter - Disintegrate (~500 damage, Fort DC 30/32/34, cast on the person with the highest threat) and Blasphemy (huge area of effect stun, no save, and chance to teleport you to the Marketplace, which removes you from the raid entirely with no way to return). Will Save DC on the banishment effect is 30/32/34.
Horoth has negligable AC (IIRC it's 48 on Elite), but significant DR/Good AND Silver (15/25/35) and 50% Fortification. Bring appropriate weaponry.
An AC of 80/85/90 is an extremely potent defense against the Fiend's melee attacks, and an AC 5 points lower is very useful. Blur and Displacement have no effect against Horoth's attacks; however they are recommended as being attacked by Horoth and Orthons at once is even worse when the Orthons aren't missing much.
Horoth heals ~20% of his health whenever a player dies in the encounter. This is a bad thing. Stay alive. He cannot heal any other way.
In addition, Horoth moves very quickly. This makes him difficult to kite.
Suulomades - Same monster as in A Vision of Destruction, except he has +4 to nearly everything from the Shavarath Environmental Effects. Suulomades will spawn in the same place Horoth spawned when Horoth falls to 75% health. Hits for ~50/65/70 on average. On a critical hit (including one that deals only standard damage due to fortification), Suulomades places a curse that prevents the victim from recieving any divine healing. As such, it is recommended (but not required) to use a Warforged threat tank on Suulomades. An AC of 77/81/85 is an extremely potent defense against him, and as his spells are pathetic, a tank with these levels of AC will take next to no damage.
Players may elect not to kill Suulomades. If they do this, they miss out on a chest that has a significant chance to drop large Shroud ingredients and a very slim chance to drop +4 tomes. This chest can also drop minimum level 20 weapons, most of which are utter garbage, but they theoretically could include a +5 Holy Burst Silver Khopesh of Greater Evil Outsider Bane, race required: your character's race. I recommend that most ToD runs be run at the hardest difficulty that you are confident you can defeat Suulomades on.
He has similar HP to Horoth (and less HP than Horoth on Normal difficulty).
It should be pretty obvious that having Suulomades putting Healing Curses on a person that's taking the savage beating only Horoth knows how to give is a Bad Thing. If both bosses are attacking one person, you probably have less than 20 seconds until everyone is dead.
Orthon trash - These spawn on a fixed timer (2 appear every 30 seconds, although they are a tad slower to spawn in the first 2 minutes). They are immune to instant-kill effects (except on Normal and maybe Hard difficulty they are not immune to 30 HD Trap the Soul, on all difficulties they are susceptable to Greensteel/Epic Souleater procs of that same spell but will usually save) and have very high saves and (on Normal) around 4000hp. Individually they do not do much damage (they hit hard but very slowly), but in numbers they become a threat. They are at their most dangerous when they are attacking the same player Horoth is attacking.
Dealing with Disintegrate:
Disintegrate doesn't often hit for full damage, but when it does, it is extremely dangerous. Anyone that has Horoth's aggro needs to be able to survive the ~500 damage even after taking a couple of melee hits. As such, it is almost mandatory to ensure that players with under 600hp never have Horoth's aggro.
For this reason, this strategy recommends the use of a 'threat tank' - someone specced for survival that holds Horoth's aggro and is primarily kept alive by single-target heals. (Players familiar with A Vision of Destruction will have seen this strategy used there; it's also very common in other MMOs).
Only the most geared and experienced players should even consider a tank-less strategy, and even then, only when attempting to set a speed record - such strategies will not be detailed in this guide.
At nearly any time, the tank can just randomly die due to a Disintegrate landing at an unlucky time - as such, this strategy uses a backup tank as well.
Dealing with Blasphemy:
Blasphemy's Banishment effect has a huge area of effect. As such, wearing Boots of Anchoring is (almost) mandatory for this raid, and absolutely mandatory for the Horoth tank and any backup tank. These make you immune to Banishment, Haste and Displacement (however, this effect does not remove Haste or Displacement if you are already affected by one). Players that are not meleeing either boss may elect to use a Mantle of the Worldshaper or upgraded spell absorption Ioun Stone in place of the Boots of Anchoring - doing so is risky and not recommended.
Spell Resistance can stop Blasphemy, but players cannot attain SR high enough to rely upon (even on Normal, Horoth almost never fails to bypass a Cleric-cast Mass Spell Resistance buff).
Blasphemy has a 60 second cooldown. If you are hit with Blasphemy, it is completely safe to remove your Boots of Anchoring to recieve a fresh Haste and Displacement, and/or to trigger Madstone Rage. Remember to re-equip your Boots once you are rebuffed. Being banished is a bad thing.
Do not rely upon a high Will save to get through Banishment. You can, and will, roll a 1 eventually. (Yes, I've had this happen to me in the first three seconds of the Horoth encounter).
Blasphemy is deadly due to the massive area of effect stun, and the likely scenario of healers being stunned. This can be mitigated by having a light monk in your party, but one of those is not always available. The strategy presented does not assume a light monk is available. If one is, they should keep Grasp the Earth Dragon active on the main healer at all times, and you can be a bit more reckless at times.
What to expect: Tanking Horoth
Expect to suffer 70/85/100 (n/h/e) damage per second from Horoth's melee attacks, and enormous spikes of damage from Meteor Swarms, Disintegrate and Delayed Blast Fireball. Expect to suffer 30 damage per second from Horoth's damage-over-time effects (players usually call these 'badges'). Expect your healer(s) to go through brief phases where they cannot heal (due to Blasphemy stuns) and be ready to call out in voice chat for help if this happens.
Whenever you are under about 530hp, you are at risk of being one-shot by a Disintegrate if you fail a save. Whenever you are under about 300hp, you are at serious risk of being two-shot by a combination of one melee attack and one of Horoth's nastier spells (Meteor Swarm and Delayed Blast Fireball). If you have any emergency healing options (such as Lay on Hands), use them if you fall below the 300hp threshold.
If Horoth 'switches aggro' and starts attacking someone else, do everything you can to get aggro back, fast. Only attempt to use Intimidate if your skill is in the 60s or higher. Using Intimidate for long-term aggro control of Horoth is not recommended.
What to expect: Healing a Horoth tank
Unlike any other boss (except Epic and Elite Lailat), you will not be able to heal a Horoth tank with only scrolls; Horoth deals far too much damage. I recommend throwing a Heal scroll every cooldown (this means coming equipped with 100+ Heal scrolls), and use a Heal spell on the tank whenever they fall under 60% HP. If the tank falls under 50% and Heal is on cooldown, you are in serious trouble. You should use all available spells (Max-Empped Cure Critical Wounds, Mass Cure Critical Wounds, etc) to get them over 60% ASAP, then wait for Heal to become available. This will involve spending a lot of mana.
Use any SP regen clickies (such as Mysterious Bauble) early, but only when the tank is at 100%.
If your SP falls under 20%, drink a mana potion immediately. Decide in advance how many potions you are willing to spend to keep the group up if things go wrong. While most runs use few if any potions, my personal limit is 5 on a Normal run, and 20 on an Elite run. Be open with the group about your limits.
As a general rule of thumb, don't raise anyone unless the raid leader tells you to, as multiple deaths are a bad thing. Try to use only True Resurrection and/or Resurrection. Very experienced healers can ignore this recommendation.
Horoth's Blasphemy - Stun has the same range as your Heal spell. If you can heal the tank, you can be stunned. The cleric or favored soul with the Enlarge Spell feat is a very rare breed, but if you happen to have this feat, you have access to a genuine 'easy button' for this raid.
High tiers of Scroll Mastery are valuable in this fight (however, they are not required).
Finally, Radiant Servant auras. These can be very useful if you can survive the splash damage from Horoth's spells. I recommend that you only stand close enough to use this on the main tank if you have 450+ hp.
What to expect: Meleeing Horoth when not the tank
Horoth attacks about a 270 degree arc with his bite and claws. As such, if you stand behind him (experienced melees will happily show you where), he won't hit you in melee but you can attack him.
You will still be hurt by Horoth's AoE spells. Meteor Swarm deals ~100 bludgeoning damage (no save) and four packets of ~75 fire damage (each one gets a Reflex save, DC 30/32/34, for half damage). Delayed Blast Fireball deals ~250 fire damage (Reflex 30/32/34 for half). As such, fire resistance is mandatory; items pushing fire resistance over 30 are even better.
If you (or another melee) deals too much damage, Horoth will turn around and start attacking a new target. This is a bad thing. If this happens (regardless of whether he is attacking you or attacking another player), IMMEDIATELY stop attacking and 'turtle up' by holding Shift to actively block, and if you have a shield, equip it. Let the tank recover aggro. If this happens frequently, you might want to consider changing tanks, or alternately having those melees that are taking aggro reduce their damage output. (Most groups will have the person that is consistently taking aggro take over as tank, but it's your group leader's call. Under no circumstances do you want a 400hp rogue, ranger or monk filling in as tank, even if they do enormous damage)
What to expect: Playing as an arcane caster
You won't be able to do appreciable damage to the two bosses in this encounter (unless you are willing to guzzle mana potions). Your primary roles in this fight are to control Orthons, to stay alive, to provide concealment bonuses, and to use Reconstruct to heal Warforged party members (in most groups, the Suulomades tank will be a Warforged). Web and Flesh to Stone are the most common ways of neutralising the Orthons, possibly with Energy Drain added to soften them up first. Many other approaches work too. If you do successfully Flesh to Stone an Orthon, I advise you to hit it 5-10 times with a Life Stealing weapon such as Dreamspitter, if you have one.
If you are a Sorceror, please swap out a spell to take Reconstruct before joining a Tower group. Scrolls alone have too long a cooldown. Yes, this includes YOU, fleshy sorcs. Your job might be to play a healbot role - or alternately, you might need to throw a Reconstruct on someone while chasing down Orthons.
At all times, ensure that there is a Cloudkill or Acid Fog active and covering Horoth and the Horoth tank. This isn't for damage (although it might do a little) - it's to cause Horoth to suffer a 20% miss chance with his melee attacks. It's recommended, but less important, that you do the same on Suulomades. Scrolls are acceptable here, however they can be difficult to come by at times.
The fight is divided into three phases:
Phase 1: Horoth only
Phase 2: Horoth and Suulomades
Phase 3: Post-Suulo - Horoth (and possibly a lot of Orthons)
A lot of damage needs to be done to Horoth and Suulomades to win, however, the keys to the fight are surviving, and keeping Horoth under control.
Apologies for my strange abbreviations here.
1 Horoth Main Tank (T): A melee that can hold aggro reasonably well, and can survive a Disintegrate and two melee attacks. I personally recommend a Barbarian, Fighter or Knight of the Chalice Paladin with high healing amplification, although many other classes can do the job. If a Clr20 is available, their Divine Intervention should be used on this player near the end of Phase 1.
1 Horoth Offtank (OT): A backup to the main tank. Ideally this is someone that could also fill the maintank role; however, any moderately sturdy (600+ HP) melee will do, and in a pinch, any melee can fill this role. This role is not used frequently in PUG Towers on Khyber, and most failed runs could have been prevented by making using of one. If two Clr20s are available, the second one should use their DI on this player near the end of Phase 1. Evasion is a big plus for this role, but is certainly not needed.
Horoth Main Healing Team (MH): These are the people responsible for keeping the Horoth main tank alive (they should also heal other party members when possible, but the tank comes first). Inexperienced groups are advised to take two divine casters (Clr/FvS) and one bard; experienced groups will often have less people here. If the main tank is a warforged, you can replace divine casters with arcane casters here; if your bard is specced for melee rather than healing (as both of mine are), then don't count them in this group. If in doubt, take more healers. The raid will take longer, but will be more likely to succeed.
1 Suulo Tank (ST): This person (preferably a Warforged or a high AC build) just needs to be able to hold Suulomades' aggro. Any melee can do this, but runs are smoother when they are a high HP build with Warforged Brute Fighting enhancements. If in doubt, give this job to the highest DPS melee in the raid, as they have to hold aggro on the boss that everyone is trying to kill quickly.
Main DPS team: This will be the bulk of the raid (often five players). These are melees with no special jobs - they are there to work through the 350-700k HP of boss hitpoints as quickly as possible while taking as little damage as they can. I highly recommend that one of these people (at least) can use Heal scrolls. In many groups, your bard will be in this group. The less people you have here, the longer the fight will take, increasing the chance that the Horoth tank will roll a 1 on Disintegrate, or that an absolutely urgent Heal will be interrupted by a Blasphemy. In addition, the longer the fight goes, the more Orthons will spawn.
'Other' team (OH): This includes arcane casters and the person/people responsible for healing the DPS team and Suulo Tank in phase 2. Often just one arcane caster, one arcane plus one bard, or one arcane plus one divine.
Here is a rough map of Horoth's throne room, listing the positions where I recommend you fight. (This is the Phase 2 positioning; read below for where to stand in the easier parts). http://i92.photobucket.com/albums/l22/sirgog/Horoth.jpg The pink circle is an approximate boundary to the Banishment effect (it's actually larger than drawn). This map is not to scale.
Everyone should have 30 (or better) Resist Fire, Electricity and Sonic; Deathward; and all the other buffs you want (Rage, Stalwart Pact, etc). Freedom of Movement is not needed on any difficulty. Anyone that might get Suulomades' aggro should have Greater Heroism.
Inspire Recklessness is safe, as all of the foes in the encounter critically hit for only double damage. Even on Elite, Horoth's melee crits do less damage than his Meteor Swarms. However, I advise that the main Horoth tank does not have Recklessness unless they are a Warforged.
The main tank should engage Horoth (there is a long dialogue first; ensure you cast extended Haste on the raid and Displacement on T, OT and ST near the end of it and cast Invisibility on anyone that will be only healing), and drag him to the position marked with a H in a circle on the map (between two thrones; this reduces Horoth's ability to shuffle around the tank, which makes it easier to attack him from the 'safe spot' of behind him).
Portals will spawn. Ignore them, they aren't worth attacking.
MH and OH should keep T healed while dealing with Orthons, aiming to use as little SP as possible (Phase 2 is very long and SP intensive; all healers should aim to have 90% SP left when it begins).
Melees should watch Horoth's health bar. When the tank has done enough damage to make Horoth lose four pixels of health (~4000 damage on Normal, ~7000 on Elite), they should all position themselves at the position marked OT on the map and attack Horoth from behind.
Orthons should be neutralised or killed ASAP. Flesh to Stone is a death sentence to them if you can land it.
If a light monk is available, keep MH immune to stuns at all times. If not, position one person capable of using a Heal scroll (or spell) at the position marked OH - in the event of a stun, that person *immediately* throws a full Heal on one of the MH team (which will clear the stun), then runs in and throws any other healing they have on the tank.
Slow but steady damage here is the key - only speed this phase up if you can do so while keeping control of Horoth. In particular, DPS'ers should conserve limited resources such as Smites and Haste Boosts for later phases (although the tank should use them here). At 75%, Horoth will summon Suulomades, and Phase 2 begins with Horoth talking in general chat.
Horoth summons a bunch of Orthons and Suulomades pretty much all at once - a Blasphemy at this time is quite nasty.
The ST should disengage from Horoth and run to get Suulo's aggro and position him where the S is on the map (this position is comfortably out of Blasphemy stun range). The main DPS team should immediately kill all active orthons, then once that is done, they should run over to Suulomades and attack him from behind. They should take almost no damage from Suulomades unless an aggro switch occurs, in which case they should actively block and (if needed) drink Remove Curse potions while ST gets aggro back and the raid leader decides whether or not to change the Suulo tank.
T and OT continue to attack Horoth. If at any time T dies (or survives only due to a Divine Intervention), OT takes over the job of tanking Horoth until T is raised, rebuffed and back to 100% health. Healers beware - OT may be far harder to heal than T was.
If a tank death occurs early in this phase, one of the DPS team, or ST might have more threat than OT - if this happens, Horoth will run across the room to them. Losing control of Horoth is a bad thing, and the leading cause of ToD party wipes. To avoid this, ST and the DPS team can take it easy on their damage output in phase 1, especially if they know they outgear the rest of the group.
As in Phase 1, the MH team is at risk of being stunned by Blasphemy. If it happens, call it out over voice - and someone in OH or the DPS team should be ready to throw a Heal scroll on a member of the MH team when a stun occurs, allowing them to get back to healing.
This phase is a race - can you kill Suulomades before the healing team runs out of mana? As such, more damage output here is a great asset. However, it is more important to stay alive and prevent player deaths than it is to deal damage in this phase. If you have the choice between hitting Suulo for three seconds and dealing ~1000 damage, or pulling out a Heal scroll and using it on a player that's at 40% hp, do the latter. Any player death will massively heal Horoth, significantly elongating Phase 3.
If Orthons get too numerous for OH to deal with them, or if they start to attack T, they should ask for help. When this happens, one or more of the DPS team should focus on Orthons for as long as is needed. Ignoring Orthons until seven of them gank your main tank is another major cause of wipes.
When Suulo falls to ~30%, this is the ideal time to chain-smite, use Haste boosts, and so on.
Once Suulo is slain, clean up the surviving Orthons and it's Phase 3.
Alternate Phase 2 approach for the main tank:
In most groups, the main tank will continue attacking Horoth (as will the OT). In some groups, players will elect to have the main tank 'turtle up' rather than keep attacking (turtling up means equipping a shield with very high DR and blocking) while the OT focuses on killing Orthons from a position far from Suulomades (if the tank dies, they run to Horoth ASAP). This approach results in longer runs, but will make healing Horoth's melee damage easier. I only recommend this approach if your run is going poorly, and your healers have an abundance of Heal scrolls but are not carrying many mana pots. Horoth still hits like a truck even when turtling, but the required healing per second is significantly lower.
This is just like Phase 1, except victory is closer to hand.
All melees except T should kill any remaining Orthons (there's probably a few of them). Then, return to the Phase 1 strategy.
Every 1-2 minutes (if the fight goes that long), melees should break off to kill Orthons again.
Don't get complacent, don't ignore Orthons, and victory is yours. In the event of a tank death here, OT should still have aggro. Everyone should block while OT moves to where T was, and OT becomes the tank for the rest of the fight. T should be raised, rebuffed and should play a DPS role until the end of the fight.
Two important bugs to mention about this encounter.
Firstly, summoned monsters cause Horoth to do Bad Things (such as casting Blasphemy on the entire raid before the fight even begins). Never, EVER summon anything after Nytharios is slain. If for whatever reason you summoned something in part 2 and Nytharios did not kill it, please wait out the five minute duration of the summon spell.
Secondly, IF you are an Angel of Vengeance Favored Soul, DO NOT, ever, EVER cross the line on the floor (it's pretty clear, the one connecting the two pillars) during the pre-fight event.. Doing so will also cause Horoth to aggro early.