Sapphiron is the penultimate boss of Naxxramas, and can only be engaged after clearing all four wings of the necropolis and defeating Maexxna, Loatheb, Thaddius, and The Four Horsemen. In order to reach the Frostwyrm Lair where Sapphiron resides, take the blue teleport pad above the Naxxramas zone portal in the middle of the instance. There is no trash before Sapphiron, and when you first enter the Lair, only his scattered bones will be visible. The Sapphiron encounter has two phases, a ground phase and a short air phase , and is strenuous largely on healers while demanding attention to the environment from the entire raid.
Sapphiron is one of the most demanding fights in Naxxramas. While a fresh Naxxramas raid in quest blues can kill Sapphiron, they will have incredible difficulty in doing so; at a minimum, gear from Heroics is recommended, and every upgrade from dungeon loot, badge and reputation rewards, and other raid epics will make a significant difference in how easy it is to kill this boss.
Healer longevity, high DPS, and good main tank gear are the three important factors in making Sapphiron a successful fight. If DPS is high, then the fight will not take as long, meaning that your healers will not have to last as long in keeping up with the very high raid damage. Healers that gear for longevity will have an easier time lasting for the entirety of the fight, which can be as long as 8-10 minutes for a new raid group. And, finally, a main tank needs to be as well geared as possible to take what Sapphiron can dish out in pure melee damage: Sapphiron melees for around 9000 damage on a well geared warrior, and more if the main tank’s gear is not up to par. His melee hits for around 6000 on Normal mode.
Everyone in the fight should be using appropriate consumables, especially if they are new to the instance or the raid is still in the process of gearing up. Food with stamina and another ability boost is very helpful for the survivability boost, and while healers should have mana potions available, all other players should have a health potion and (if available) a healthstone for use in emergencies. There is a lot of raid-wide damage, and it’s important to be able to keep yourself alive instead of having to count on the healers 100% of the time.
Blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and tailors can create 4 pieces of plate, mail, leather, or cloth frost resistance gear for use during this fight. This helps mitigate the damage from Sapphiron’s Frost Aura as well as his other frost abilities (like Chill and Ice Bolt, described later). While this gear is not strictly required (and many raids do kill Sapphiron without any frost resistance gear) it is very helpful to a new raid whose healers might not be well geared enough to handle the massive raid damage Sapphiron can deal. If your raid has any trouble with Sapphiron, consider having each player craft 1-2 pieces of the frost resistance gear and make the fight “easy mode” this way. In any case, Mark of the Wild, Frost Resistance Totem, Frost Resistance Aura, and so on are all very helpful in mitigating Sapphiron’s damage, whether or not you use the crafted gear.
Important Note: Under no circumstances should the main tank wear any frost resistance gear. He’ll need his tanking gear in order to take Sapphiron’s high melee damage, which is far more dangerous to him than the Frost Aura.
A typical Naxxramas raid consists of 6-7 healers, 1 main tank, 2 off-tanks, and 15-16 DPS classes. This type of raid should have no difficulty killing Sapphiron. In particular, the following details are worth noting:
1. Healing on Sapphiron is the most demanding part of the fight. If your healers are experiencing difficulty keeping up with the damage, it is worth taking an extra 1-2 healers to Sapphiron because of the length of the fight and the incoming raid damage.
2. Group healing is especially useful on this fight: priests, shamans, and druids have a significant advantage over paladin healers.
3. No off-tanks are necessary for this fight; although the raid probably has off-tanks along for other encounters. Those players should put on DPS gear and do as much damage as possible (or in the case of a protection paladin, put on healing gear and help heal).
4. The main tank will take significant damage from Sapphiron; it is wise to have a well-geared tank as your MT for this encounter.
5. Because of Sapphiron’s Life Drain ability, 3 decursers are necessary for this encounter. Between restoration shamans, druids, and mages, this shouldn’t be an issue, but don’t forget!
Note for 10 Player Raids
A typical Naxxramas raid on Normal mode will have 1 MT, 1 OT, 2-3 healers, and 5-6 DPS classes. As on Heroic mode, healing on Sapphiron is quite demanding and if healers are new to the fight or under-geared for the zone, it is wise to bring 3 healers instead of 2 and to focus on healer longevity in gear selection. Also, make sure to have at least 1 class capable of decursing; 2 is better!
The Sapphiron fight alternates between Phase 1, a 60 second ground phase, and Phase 2, a 30 second air phase. These phases alternate regularly until Sapphiron is below 10% life, at which point he will not take off and enter Phase 2 anymore. Because he switches back and forth so often, the raid should have a complete understanding of both phases before engaging Sapphiron for the first time.
Sapphiron has about 13 million hit points on Heroic mode, and about 4.5 million hit points on Normal mode.
In Heroic mode, Sapphiron melees for around 9000 damage on a well geared warrior, and more if the main tank’s gear is not up to par. His melee hits for around 6000 on Normal mode.
Berserk Timer: Sapphiron has a 15 minute Berserk timer that will cause his Frost Aura to tick for 500% extra damage, which will rapidly wipe the raid. You should never encounter this timer; it is meant only as a way to prevent excessive stacking of healers to defeat the encounter.
Frost Aura: Sapphiron has an aura which ticks on all members of the raid (within 100 yards) for 1600 damage per second (1200 in 10 man). This is the main reason that healing on this fight is so demanding: there is a lot of damage incoming on every single person in the raid. This aura’s damage can be partially resisted and is mitigated by frost resistance from buffs and gear.
Life Drain: Every 24 seconds, Sapphiron will randomly target 5 people (2 people in 10 man) in the raid with a curse called Life Drain. This curse deals around 3500 damage (1500 in 10 man) every 3 seconds to its target, and heals Sapphiron for double the amount of damage dealt. Decursing this spell immediately is a priority for all mages, druids, and restoration shamans in the raid. If not decursed, a Life Drain will last 12 seconds, healing Sapphiron for a total of 28 000 health per curse.
Summon Chill: Sapphiron can summon a Chill in the room that begins at the location of the randomly targeted player. This Chill appears to be a much denser version of the mage spell Blizzard, and will expand around the room after it is cast, similar to the Archimonde spell Doomfire (see below for more details). The Chill deals around 5500 damage (4000 in 10 man) every 2 seconds to players caught inside it, and decreases movement speed by 50% to players inside the area of effect. Avoiding Chill is very important to reduce strain on healers and prevent untimely deaths. It also makes life very difficult for melee classes if a Chill is cast on or approaches the melee stack (see below). Only a single Chill can be present in the room at once, but after it disappears, Sapphiron can summon a new one at any time. Chill is probably the most challenging part of this encounter and has its own section under Raid Strategy in Phase 1.
Cleave: Sapphiron has a 180 degree cleave ability that will deal “normal melee” damage to anyone in his frontal arc. This ability is deadly to any non-tanks who get in front of him. Beware: Cleave is much larger than it looks! Make sure to always avoid Sapphiron’s front half! In 10 man, Cleave deals less damage because Sapphiron’s base damage is lower, but it is still quite deadly to non-tank classes.
Tail Sweep: Sapphiron will often use Tail Sweep on anyone standing on or around his tail, which deals around 2500 damage (2000 in 10 man) and knocks the player back 50 yards.
The raid should position themselves as described in the diagram:
1: The main tank points Sapphiron facing north, away from the entrance to the lair.
2: Melee stack up on the right side of Sapphiron, behind his cleave arc but in front of the tail.
3: The rest of the raid spreads out on the right side of Sapphiron.
The diagram is a guide to positioning, but keep in mind that all members of the raid need to be flexible in where they stand and be ready to move if a Chill comes their way. This is why the initial positioning of the raid is spread out; that way, when a Chill appears on one person, only a small part of the raid is affected at any given time, and fewer people need to relocate to avoid the Chill’s effects.
The main tank should position Sapphiron as in the diagram and does not need to move or do anything other than make threat for the entire phase. The goal of the phase is to do as much damage to Sapphiron as possible while healing through Frost Aura, decursing Life Drain, and avoiding Cleave, Tail Sweep, and (most importantly) Chill.
Sapphiron hits hard enough that a warrior or bear main tank will have no trouble with rage and should be able to generate a lot of threat, meaning that DPS shouldn’t have to worry about threat for the entire encounter. Sapphiron’s Frost Aura, Life Drain, and Chill are all dangerous abilities that need to be healed through, decursed, and avoided respectively; but otherwise each Phase 1 is 60 seconds of DPS time. This is the phase where you do your damage to Sapphiron. Little DPS can be done in Phase 2 because of range and positioning concerns. Treat every Phase 1 as 60 seconds of burn time with some dangerous abilities to avoid in the meantime.
Listed below are some notes about priorities for healing and DPS classes in Phase 1. Beyond these notes, the most dangerous (and annoying) part of Phase 1 is Chill.
Ultimate Guide Guarantee: "...within seconds of accepting a quest you will
know WHERE to go, HOW to complete it, and WHEN to do it." Click Here For Proof!
As described above, Chill is a dense version of Blizzard that deals huge amounts of damage and slows anyone caught inside it by 50% until they escape its area of effect. More importantly, however, Chill moves around and expands from its initial point of origin. Think of Chill as a semi-intelligent Blizzard whose goal is to kill your entire raid, and you will understand it better.
Chill spawns on an initial point when Sapphiron uses his Summon Blizzard ability. It begins as a very small patch of blizzard effects, but then it begins to expand. The “front” of Chill will move around the room somewhat randomly and leave a trail of more Chill where it once was, eventually becoming much larger than it started as. Sometimes, the front of Chill can “lock on” to a nearby player and try to follow them, making it even more difficult to escape. There is no way to prevent this, or to control how Chill moves; one simply has to be aware of it, and give it a wide berth. If a player sees the front of the Chill effect actively pursuing them, that player should give it even more space to either run out of time or change back to random movement. Again: Chill is impossible to control; you can only observe and avoid it.
The entire raid needs to be flexible when avoiding Chill. There is enough space in the room for everyone to give each other some space and still move around Chill without getting hit by it. This takes a lot of practice, but because Chill is so unpredictable, there is no pattern to follow or “best way” to avoid it or move the raid around in an organized fashion. Each person needs to be responsible for themselves. The only important note is that everyone should make sure they are within range of a decurser and healer at all times: put raid icons on your decursers so that everyone can see them and make sure to stay close to one if you are running from Chill.
If the main tank is hit by Chill, he should just stand still and take it. The MT is far enough away from the rest of the raid that a Chill on him will be affecting very few other people, and between Cleave and Tail Sweep’s knockback, Sapphiron is incredibly dangerous to move. Sapphiron’s melee damage is significantly higher than Chill’s output anyway, so a few ticks on the MT isn’t such a big deal.
Chill on the melee stack is a very thorny problem, especially in a melee heavy raid. As the diagram shows, there is not much space along Sapphiron’s side where melee can stand: the front is Cleave range, and towards the back is the Tail Sweep area. This means that melee have a range of only 10-15 yards where they can safely stand. If Chill lands on the melee, or comes towards them, it can sometimes be avoided by sidestepping, but sometimes Chill will cover the entire “melee safe zone” (denoted by the purple oval on the diagram). If this happens, there are two options:
1) Melee can temporarily run through Sapphiron’s model to the left side, DPSing from there until Chill dissipates.
2) Melee can evacuate the area and wait for their safe zone to be free of Chill.
Of the two of these, the first strategy is riskier and means that healers will probably have to move in order to keep range on the melee stack to heal them through Frost Aura and to decurse Life Drain. If your healers are comfortable with this, then do it. Otherwise, use the second option and have the melee move out until Chill disappears and they can go back to their positions.
The only job of DPS classes in phase one, other than putting the hurt on Sapphiron, is to not die. Chill, Tail Sweep, and Cleave are all abilities that no one should die to; DPS classes should make it their priority to give all of Sapphiron’s damage effects a wide berth, and to escape quickly if they do get stuck in a Chill for whatever reason. Mages and balance druids should prioritise decursing when Life Drain is cast and then return to DPS on Sapphiron.
Bloodlust/Heroism should be used immediately during Sapphiron’s first Phase 1, especially with a raid that is new to the encounter, because the fight will last longer than 5 minutes and a second Bloodlust/Heroism can then be used after the Sated debuff expires (if your raid has only one shaman, then save Bloodlust/Heroism for around 25%). Make sure to only use Bloodlust/Heroism at the beginning of a ground phase (which lasts 60 seconds) so that none of it is wasted during an air phase when Sapphiron is hard to damage.
Three or four healers should be assigned to the main tank during the ground phase. Sapphiron does significant damage to the main tank, and healers should make sure they have enough healing per second focused on the MT to keep him alive. The remaining healers should focus on raid healing, since the entire raid will take significant frost damage from Sapphiron’s aura, as well as the occasional tick of Life Drain or Chill. Healing druids and shamans should prioritise curse removal.
It’s important to make wise use of different healing spells on this fight. Circle of Healing and Wild Growth are superior for group healing, Chain Heal is excellent for healing the melee stack, and paladins excel at healing the MT. Healing assignments should reflect these strengths if at all possible.
Note for 10 Player Raids
In a Normal mode raid, one dedicated main tank healer (plus a stack of HoTs from any other healers in the raid) is enough to keep the tank alive. The other 1-2 healers in the raid should be focused on group healing, again paying attention to the strengths and weaknesses of each healing class when making assignments. As with many encounters, healing is more demanding on Normal mode than on Heroic, and an under-geared raid should consider bringing 3 healers instead of two, using stamina or craftable frost resistance gear, and making sure that buffs such as Leader of the Pack and Judgment of Light are available.
Frost Aura: Sapphiron’s Frost Aura continues to deal the same amount of damage throughout Phase Two as previously and healers need to continue to heal through it.
Chill: If a Chill was present in the room before Sapphiron lifted off into the air, it will continue it’s normal course (i.e. quite random) until it expires naturally. Make sure to pay attention!
Ice Bolt: During this phase, Sapphiron will cast an Ice Bolt at a random player in the raid, dealing 7500 damage (3000 in 10 man) to this player and anyone within 10 yards of them. This Bolt also turns the player into an Ice Block, which makes them immune to his Frost Breath (see below) and turns them into a shield for other players against the Frost Breath effect. Sapphiron will cast Ice Bolt three times during each Phase 2 (twice in 10 man), turning one player into an Ice Block each time, for a total of 3 blocks in the raid (2 in 10 man). The blocks last until they are destroyed by Frost Breath.
Frost Breath: After three Ice Bolts have been cast (two in 10 man), Sapphiron will drop a huge “frost bomb” into the center of the room. This frost bomb deals over 100 000 damage to anyone within Line of Sight of the center of the room, and cannot be resisted. To avoid the Frost Breath, all players in the raid must hide behind one of the ice blocks created earlier by the Ice Bolt ability; i.e. use the frozen players as shields to survive the bomb (frozen players are immune to the Frost Breath, which shatters their Ice Block but deals no damage to them).
This entire phase is an exercise in positioning. Sapphiron is out of range of most of the raid during this phase (although his aura continues to tick and Chill still needs to be avoided) and does not need to be tanked until he lands again. The entire point of the phase is to stay alive and then “hide” behind one of the three Ice Blocks in order to survive the deadly Frost Breath.
As Sapphiron lifts off, the entire raid, including the melee classes and the MT, should spread out on the right side of the room, joining the rest of the raid in their dispersed pattern. Avoiding the current Chill is still important (especially as being hit by it will slow your movement). At this point, Sapphiron will cast three Ice Bolts (one after the other) which will each freeze one player into a block of ice that will serve as a shield against the upcoming Frost Breath. However, the Ice Bolts also explode for around 7500 damage to anyone within 10 yards of the targeted player, meaning that it is important to remain spread out until the third and last Ice Bolt has been fired.
As Ice Bolts land, players in the raid should note where the closest Ice Block is for them to hide behind, and then run towards it as the Frost Breath bomb is launched towards the ground (Frost Breath takes 7 seconds to impact once Sapphiron has fired it. A good bossmod, such as Bigwigs, will display a timer for the impact). If players have successfully avoided Chill and positioned themselves correctly, everyone should be behind an Ice Block well before the Frost Breath lands. The second included diagram demonstrates how a dispersed raid should locate and then run to hide behind the closest available Ice Block, protecting them from the Frost Breath explosion.
When the Frost Breath bomb explodes, it will also cancel the debuff of the Ice Block players in the raid, allowing them to move freely about and reposition themselves for a new ground phase as Sapphiron lands.
Note for 10 Player Raids
On Normal mode, Phase Two is entirely the same with the exception of the Ice Bolts. Instead of three Ice Bolts, only two will be fired, and sometimes only one (it is not known what causes Sapphiron to sometimes fire only one Ice Bolt; probably an unresolved bug). The raid should carefully watch for the Frost Breath bomb and be ready to move to behind the available block or blocks at any time. Be careful to stay spread out, but not too spread out, or you might get caught too far from an Ice Block when the time to hide comes.
Once the Frost Breath bomb has exploded, Sapphiron will slowly begin to land and Phase One will begin again. The MT should position himself at the northern edge of Sapphiron’s circle and will be able to melee him and pick Sapphiron up well before he hits the ground and becomes “active” again, making it simple to position Sapphiron normally for each new beginning of Phase One. Threat is retained from phase to phase, meaning that the MT should have a significant threat lead at the start of each new Phase 1. If some ranged DPS has passed him during the air phase (which is possible, but unlikely) then the MT should simply Taunt Sapphiron before Sapphiron has touched the ground and become active, which will restore the main tank’s threat lead and prevent Sapphiron from running off and killing people in the raid.