Copy-pasted from a thread on the General board (if you have time, go check that thread - there's a lot of info in there that isn't in this summary)...
By request, I'm compiling the most popular and widely-accepted strategies here. This is a work in progress as I check bit by bit into this whole long thread, so bear with me. Please note that I said "most popular and widely-accepted strategies" - I will include some promising ideas but will list them as such.
NB: I'm adding stuff to this as I go, so if you're actually consulting this to get a broad view of all the working strategies, I'd like to suggest that you read other people's posts further down the thread as well - interesting stuff.
General guide to mana
Maximum efficiency requires primarily a careful management of the group mana pool. This entails a two-part plan:
1) In the VoN 5 end, all mana users MUST top off their tanks at a shrine (thanks for that addition in Mod 3, devs!) at the last possible moment - i.e., just before the fight with Arach's Knight (I'll leave strategizing for THAT to others - I haven't seen significant problems with that big boy).
2) Mana users should lay in an OVERSUPPLY of scrolls and wands for non-combat magic (see the list of buffs below; healing wands and Raise Dead scrolls are also very useful). Non-mana users are greatly appreciated when they A) come prepared with such items and hand them off to the casters/healers and/or B) are willing to help defray the costs of such things. Basically, except for the dragon fight itself, the goal is to spend NOT ONE SINGLE SPELL POINT on magic that isn't going to hurt the dragon or help the players who are hurting the dragon, and the whole party should help with this.
3) "Junk buffs" - for reasons that will be outlined below, EVERY player should buy a double supply of cheap buffing potions (inexpensive potions such as Jump, Tumble, Fear Removal, etc. - the longer the duration, the better). Do NOT forget to get a double or triple supply of Resist Fire and Protection from Fire potions.
The quest leader goes up from "home plate" to the "pitcher's mound" and calls players one-by-one to join him. As a time-saver, the next invitee can be called as soon as the previous one tops the rise; this seems not to annoy the dragon into fireballing the bridge (because of the more-than-one-player-on-a-bridge-at-a-time aggro thing).
Dealing with "base" monsters
- Common wisdom, tested out by multiple persons, is to have one designated puller, a high-Reflex-save character (rogue, barbarian or paladin) to handle this. A high Reflex save is absolutely necessary here, primarily to avoid the earth elementals' Earthgrab (which nullifies the Reflex save if successful and turns the puller into a piñata).
- Buff the snot out of the puller before he's sent off to his job - Barkskin, Stoneskin, Heroism, resistances, Blur/Displacement, Jump (sometimes you might have to jump over an unexpected "shield wall" by the monsters)... anything that makes him harder to hit. No Haste, however - despite mephits' steroidization post-Mod-3, they're still not all that fast.
- There are two common methods for the how of pulling:
1) The puller gets the bases one by one, going to a base and stirring up the hornets' nest to get aggro, then kiting them back to "home plate" and letting himself get beaten to death as deep into home plate as possible. A cleric, preferably armed with a Raise Dead scroll (see above), trots out from the pitcher's mound a short distance. The puller then runs his ghost towards the pitcher's mound, preferably with a voice countdown of how many seconds are remaining until "snap-back" to his stone, and the cleric uses the Raise Dead scroll on him as quickly as possible. Most often, there will only be a second or two left between the time the spell lands on the puller and the time he's going to snap back to his stone, so most pullers will LET themselves snap back and then run up to the pitcher's mound as far as possible before clicking "Accept" - the reason for this is to avoid lag issues and keep from being raised while snapping back to home plate (one more useless death). One the puller is raised, lather, rinse, repeat until all the base monsters are milling around home plate. NB: Whenever ANYONE is going to be passing home plate to go to one of the bases, Sneak mode is IMPERATIVE - you do NOT want to get the attention of the mob at home plate. Best to be overcareful - put Sneak on earlier than absolutely necessary and take it off later than absolutely necessary.
2) The puller does ALL the bases in ONE GO. The generally-agreed-upon method for this is running the bases clockwise, starting with "third base". The flensers at third are pretty fast, so just charge right through them on your way to second. At second, mephits are faster than they used to be, but they're still slowish, so you might want to circle at second or go back-and-forth a time or two to make sure ALL the mephits are following you. If possible, get 'em grouped up in a tight bunch so you can keep an eye on them more easily. Head to first, where the elementals are just itching to finger you . Once you have all the elementals aggroed, head for home. It seems to be a good idea to zig-zag on the home stretch, both to help with avoiding Earthgrab and to keep your advancement slowed down to a pace that all the monsters can keep up with. Once at home plate, try to gather them up again and zig-zag closer and closer to the entry gate - your plan is to get them all buried as deeply as possible at home plate to avoid future aggro. Once they're all in position, bend over and take it like a man. NB: If you're buffed TOO well, it's possible that they can't even HIT you, or they hit you so rarely that you're going to be a long time dying. In this case, in the interests of time management, don't be afraid to do the /death thing. Once dead, head for the pitcher's mound for another round of buffs, then take one more trip around the bases (remembering to Sneak past home plate!) to make sure no pesky monsters are remaining.
2a) ALTERNATE PULLING - "no deaths" As you'll see below, it's been suggested that CC methods can eliminate even that one token death. By having a bard Fascinate incoming critters at home plate, or by using other methods that freeze the beasties in place, staying to make sure to keep them there until the "pillar killers" have finished their work (see "Pillar management" immediately below) and then leaving quick-death stoppers on their way back up to the pitcher's mound, some groups have avoided all deaths on the pulling and ended up facing the dragons with no xp loss behind them. Choosing this method depends on how much of a mana miser you are, but it's reportedly effective.
Once the puller's job is done, take your top 3 melee damage dealers with their best straight-up two-handed weapons (simple +5 is best - there seems to be argument about whether energy damage even affects the pillars, so to avoid argument, ignore weapons with energy damage). You'll want them all to be pretty equivalent - if one character is significantly weaker or stronger than the other two, that can produce a problem.
Ideally, for purposes of time management, you'll want to use the all-at-one-go base pulling method, because you'll then be able to handle the pillars a lot more effectively, as follows:
1) While the puller is taking his second run, the "clean-up" run, around the bases, you can send the "pillar killers" out following him one-by-one, making sure to have at least one baseline between the puller and the first pillar killer (with at least as much space between each pillar killer - as mentioned above, having two people on the same general section of the "baseball diamond" will get Velah's attention, and she'll fireball the wooden bridge, destroying it and pretty much guaranteeing a failure).
2) When the first pillar killer gets to third base, he goes to the pillar there and starts working on that pillar. You'll want to get it down to about 10% "health" but not much lower, as the pillars can "bleed out" - when that happens on one pillar and not all three at once, the "bled-out" pillar immediately goes back to 100% "health". This is not necessarily an auto-failure, but it adds time.
3) Once the third-base pillar is down to 10%, that pillar killer proceeds to second base and pillar killer #2 goes to third and waits for #1 to finish taking the second-base pillar down to 10%. Repeat - send #1 to first base and bring #2 to second base and #3 to third.
4) From home plate, the leader can usually target all three pillars. Check their "health" and if there are differences in the amount of "health" left to any pillar, direct the killer at that pillar to chip it down SLOWLY (avoiding going too far) until all three pillars are as close to identical health as possible.
5) Have one person with voice give a countdown for the pillar killers, because they want to start swinging at the same time so they can be in synch.
6) If all three pillars are destroyed within 10 seconds or so of each other, the energy gate between the rest of the party at the pitcher's mound and the dragon platform will drop and stay down.
7) IMPORTANT: It is conceivable that a mephit can be missed on the pulling (they're invisible unless attacking). In this case, one of the pillar killers may be rudely attacked while going about his business. Avoid killing the loner if at all possible, as any monsters killed while the pillars are still active will respawn at their original island. However, if the pillar killers can finish their job and bring down all the pillars at the same time and deactivate the gate, it suddenly becomes open season on the rude uninvited guest.
8) Once the gate is down, bring the pillar killers in. Best to keep them moving in the same direction they were going to get to the pillars - i.e., killer #1 starts for home, #2 starts for first base and #3 heads to second base. Just to be safe, don't start them off at exactly the same time; leave 5-10 seconds between each start.
9) REMEMBER: Put on Sneak as you're approaching home plate and only take it off when you've gotten halfway from the "base path" to the pitcher's mound.
PART 2: SPANKING THE DRAGON
Once all the monsters are safely buried at home plate, the pillars are down and the gate to the dragon platform is open, the fun begins. A few general things to remember about Velah: She has high saves, high AC (low to mid 30s according to most) and high to-hit.
NB: There are a number of strategies that involve, well... exploits - some more effective, some less effective, but all at least on the edge of "intended" behavior. I'm not going to include these, because a lot of people don't like using strategies that seem too much like exploits or because the people who DO use them don't want their "surefire" strategies to be published and inevitably nerfed. Sorry, but them's the breaks.
1) Everybody takes one step forward onto the section of the bridge that's BETWEEN the gate's frame and the dragon's platform. For safety's sake, don't step onto the platform yet.
2) BUFFS! Remember all those "junk buff" potions I mentioned earlier? Now's the time. NOTE: There are two differing schools of thought regarding the ORDER in which you take your buffs. They are:
2a) Take the "important" buffs (e.g., Resist Fire, Prot Fire, Barkskin, Heroism - anything you want to KEEP on you) first. People who espouse this approach say that the dragon's Dispelling Breath attack strips off the LAST buffs you took FIRST.
2b) Reverse that order, taking the "important" buffs LAST (people in this camp believe she dispels the OLDEST buffs first).
Essentially, whoever you believe, make sure you have a nice handful of junk buffs there as breath fodder, intended to be dispelled before your good buffs can get dispelled.
3) Mana buffs - bard's Good Hope is always nice, Haste is excellent, that sort of thing. Again, it's going to be up to your group to determine how much of whose mana is or isn't going to get used in this, if at all. A good bard in your group can help take the load off the other casters, and bard song is NOT dispellable.
4) Once all the buffs are in place, CHARGE! Again, there are multiple schools of thought as to the order and even number of chargers:
4a) The "hero method" - Some guilds choose the biggest, baddest melee combatants (sometimes even just one or two of them) to go lay a personal, face-to-face beatdown on Velah. If this is the method you choose, every person capable of casting a spell or using a wand is focused ENTIRELY on keeping the hero(es) alive and swinging as well as possible - wand-whip with Cure wands, casting Haste and other melee-happy-making buffs, etc.
4b) High saves FTW! With this method, the first person sent out to gain Velah's aggro (and keep it by any means possible) needs to be the person with the highest saves, especially Reflex paired with Evasion - minimizing damage from Velah's fire breath goes a long way towards surviving. High AC, against her melee attacks, is also a very good thing. The rest of the melee characters arrive after the first guy has her aggro.
4c) All But Clerics. With this method, the clerics stay in the "dugout" (the area talked about above, between the gate frame and the dragon platform). One school of thought has them doing NOTHING until/unless the rest of the party (including casters) is killed, then bringing them in to the dugout to be rezzed one at a time; once everyone's back up, it's a lather-rinse-repeat (simply repeat the previous steps, treating it like an entirely new shot at the dragon). Another school has them spam-healing the entire time. An entirely DIFFERENT method has them running up with the rest of the party to get into Velah's face. NOTE: These competing schools of thought are ENTIRELY based on differing understandings of how Velah runs her aggro system (who gets it and what she does as a result). These differing sides seem to be equally certain that their way is the right way; I won't offer a judgement, so you'll have to sift input for yourself.
5) Casters - Niac's is highly thought of against the dragon (it may require a low save, but when it gets through and is maximized/empowered, it delivers a very good fonging to Velah!). She likes to have Shield on herself, so MM is out unless Shield is not on her. Acid Fog/Rain is also reported to be a real buzzkill for Velah. Other than that, I'm a little fuzzy on what casters need to do (I speed-read this whole thread and may have missed a number of things), so if you have a tried-and-true magic approach, please respond and I'll put it in here.
6) Melee monkeys - Go for the biggest to-hit and the biggest damage you can use. Essentially, what you're looking for is max DPS. NOTE: There is disagreement over whether or not you can switch weapons while on the dragon platform (this reportedly ticks Velah off and causes her to pull a nutty), so if you're thinking about using that Destruction weapon or something like it, then switching to a big-DPS gun, you might want to search around for an opinion you trust before deciding whether or not to switch. However, most opinions on these boards tend towards the thought that you should NOT switch from the weapon you had in hand when you stepped on the platform. That goes for clickies, too. In short, by this school of thought, you shouldn't switch ANY gear while on the platform. Up to you and your group to decide whether or not you believe this, though. NOTE 2: Stat draining weapons (Wounding, Weakening, Enfeebling, etc.) do NOT work on Velah. Nor do other debilitating weapons (Cursespewing and the like). So you're going for simple brute force in your weapon choice. However, a big-gun weapon that also has Holy or Frost/Icy Burst is also good against her - I've personally seen someone with a high-plus Frost/Icy Burst weapon tear Velah a new one. So, in summary, melee weapons need to be chosen based on top DPS as pertains to Velah.
7) Positioning. This seems to be a bone of contention. As you've already seen, some want everyone to stay in the dugout but a select few, some insist that the whole crew needs to get up in Velah's face, and some are in between these two ideas. Whichever one you choose, those who are up fighting Velah need to be in FRONT of her front leg - being behind it opens you to the flame traps back there, and with the Mod 3 nerfing of Protection spells, you can no longer stand in flame with impunity. Getting on her shoulder (between the front leg and neck) seems to be well-thought-of.
7a) Two schools of thought regarding non-melee people; the first one is that they need to be up on the platform but just beyond reach of her claws and jaws (these people believe that if you're excessively out of her melee range, she'll pull a nutty and start fireballing everything in sight, or even summon her own elemental pets, which is a Bad Thing).
7b) The second of these schools of thought holds that melee combatants are the only one who even step onto the platform. I'm personally doubtful of this, because every time I've seen people stay in the dugout and DO anything, Velah's gotten annoyed and burned them all to a crisp, faster than they can do anything about it. But some people swear by this method.
8) (Omnibus) PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Whoever you believe, whatever you decide to do, make sure everyone KNOWS it and FOLLOWS it to the letter. This is a very unforgiving quest, and ensuring that nobody freaks out and starts to color outside the lines will at least give you a chance of success.
1) Buffs (in order of your choosing). BYOB. And bring items/plat for helping mana users, especially clerics.
2) Make sure you have a PLAN for getting and keeping her aggro on the people you want it on. Make sure EVERYONE knows the plan and STICKS to it. The best time to come up with the plan is either before the entire raid (if everyone is mostly familiar with the raid already) or right after taking down Arach's Knight but before zoning in to the Plane of Night (to refresh memories or to educate first-timers).
3) Casters need to make sure they have max-Velah-damaging spells memmed at the last shrine before Arach's Knight.
4) Put everyone in predetermined spots doing predetermined things in a predetermined way. The design of this quest doesn't permit more than a gnat's hair of improvisation.
5) MANAGE YOUR TIME. There is a 45-minute clock on this quest, so you want to have it all figured out BEFORE stepping through the gate from VoN 5, and executed quickly and efficiently once in the quest. As much fun as we all have (guilty here) yapping and chatting, there just isn't time to start discussing while in the quest, so keep chatter to a minimum. Preferably, the only talk should be from the person directing the quest and from the people who are doing a particular job at that time (e.g., pillar killer #1 saying, "Just got third base pillar down to 10% and heading to second - it's okay to send #2 to third", that kind of thing).
This is intended to be a fairly global harvesting of various successful strategies, but I'm certain that I've missed or forgotten a few things in my haste. Please feel free to comment in DETAIL if you know for certain of a tried-and-true tactic that I haven't covered here.
Good luck and good hunting!