Icecrown Citadel: The Lich King (Phase 2 & Transition)

I don’t love splitting strats into parts, but if ever an encounter warranted it, this one does. It really is simple when you break it down into its parts, and that’s what we’re going to continue with.

TLBC Strats: ICC

Phase 2 is easily the longest phase of the encounter and this is where the bulk of the coordination is going to take place. This part is probably going to take a while, but there’s good news: once you get past Phase 2 a few times successfully, you’ll probably win within a small handful of attempts.

Phase 2: It’s a Long Way Down

A little note here: Infest is carried over from Phase 1, and it will be more critical to heal through it as people will be moving a lot.

Another little note: There will probably be a Raging Spirit up from the transition, so be careful not to stand in front of them as you move back in for Phase 2, and make sure you work on getting it down as soon as you’re in position.

The meat of this phase centers around two main abilities: the Val’kyr and the Defiles. Ha, that sounds like a band. “I’m going to see Val’kyr and the Defiles this weekend!”

Oh, right, the strat.


The Lich King summons these on a timer (1 at a time in 10-man; 3 in 25-man). They will appear, swoop down, pick up a raid member, and fly towards the nearest edge. If they make it over the edge before you kill them, they will drop the raid member out into the big Icecrown sky where they’ll die, unable to be rezzed.

There are three things to know about handling Valks:

1. Group up! This one is so important. Everything you’re going to do next depends on how well your raid can stack. The valks fly to the nearest edge, which means you can control their path. Put one person in charge of knowing where to be, stick a raid symbol on their head if you have to (ours was star), and when the Valk timer is ticking down, stack on that person.

Not to the left. Not to the right. Stand on top of each other. The idea is that if you are all standing in the same spot, the Valks will all go the exact same direction, and believe me when I say this is pivotal to winning phase 2.

2. Stun & Slow. The Valks can be stunned (Holy Wrath works beautifully, so get your pallies ready) and slowed up to 50%. They fly fast, so it’s really important to try to slow them down as much as possible. There is an important note here, though: The stuns cause diminishing returns, which will eventually make them stun-immune.

To remedy this, we had pallies taking turns with Holy Wrath. In addition, we put stunners on each target (pallies with the HoJ talent and rogues were especially useful), and they were responsible for keeping up with their target and making sure they stunned it if necessary without making them immune. (DBM uses the same three raid icons each time they pop, so you can just assign stunners to a target).

Slows do NOT contribute to Diminishing Returns, so we had everyone going crazy on the slows.

3. Kill Them Quickly. Duh. Hit them hard and fast to keep your guildies from tumbling off of the Frozen Throne and plunging to their deaths.


I know, I'm sorry, it makes me hungry too.

Once upon a time on a night halfway through Wrath of the Lich King development, the Blizz devs sat around eating pizza and discussing one of their favorite topics: how to kill players. They were also discussing the Lich King fight. Then one of them looked at the grease dripping off his pizza onto the table and had a stroke of brilliance. He grabbed a pen and some paper and drew a big glob, laughed wickedly, and then threw down the paper and pen in triumph. They all high-fived and went out for ice cream, and that’s how Defile was born.*

Truthfully enough, Defile is one of the greatest raid-wiping mechanics of all time. You have to anticipate it, each individual has to react to it, and it can fill up the whole platform in a matter of seconds (I’ve seen it happen more than once!).

Throughout phase 2 (on a timer), the Lich King will target a player with this ability. That player will have no more than a couple of seconds to get to a good location before a dark puddle will appear at their feet. The player must then run out of the puddle, and no one else can stand in the puddle or run through it, because it widens all the way around every second someone stands in it.

Here’s how you deal with it:

1. Learn the Timing: I’m going to explain this here, but you probably won’t really get it until you see it in action. Valks and Defiles seem to come in a 3-part pattern that repeats throughout the phase:

  • In the first part, the Valks will come a while before the first Defile, so you’ll have plenty of time to let the Valks pick up the chosen players before you run to a good location. You’ll spread out, drop the defile, and then collapse in again for the next part.
  • The second part is a close call. The Valks will come, and then mere seconds after they pick up their last target, the Lich King will cast Defile. Watch for the third valk to swoop down. The second it does, turn and run run run to your Defile spot.
  • The third part is fairly easy again. The Defile will come first, so don’t group back up right away. Stand back and bomb the Lich King. The Defile will come and be dropped, and as soon as that happens, everyone runs back and the process starts again.

Like I said, once you see this in action, it will make a lot more sense.

2. Placement. Your raid needs to make a decision beforehand about the ideal places to put Defiles. We chose to stand on the east and west for Valks and drop defiles on the north and south. In my opinion, the best place for Defiles is near the stairs, and unless there’s a situation that calls for it to be on the opposite side, I will always run to the stairs first.

There are two places you never ever ever ever want a Defile:

  • In the path of the Valks. This is why we stood east and west and dropped them north and south. It’s also why I prefer the stair side (Valks will never fly to the stairs; there’s no edge there). If you get a Defile in the Valk path, melee can’t help dps them and, much more importantly, the stunners can’t reach them.
  • In the middle of the room. The ultimate goal is to get them outside the inner circle. While you can certainly survive if it happens, it’s exponentially harder and throws off the whole fight. Tanks will sometimes do this (our tanks practiced kiting the Lich King back to the big ice block of Tirion Fordring during Defile to try to minimize the impact).

One more note: I’d advise AGAINST using hunter frost traps. Yes, they’re a good slow, but on many people’s UI’s they cover up Defile, and it’s very possible for a raider to not realize the Defile is under the trap and stand in it. Throw a shaman with grounding totem into the mix (roots don’t work but the regular slow does) and tell the hunters to keep it in their pants.

That’s pretty much Phase 2. Getting through this phase successfully is a bit like playing the accordion, you’ll group up, spread out, group up, spread out. The whole thing will just repeat itself on a loop, going through each 3-part Valk/Defile cycle until the Lich King reaches 40%, at which point you’ll move into the second transition.

Second Transition

This transition is much like the first one, but the Raging Spirits spawn faster, so you’ll have more up when you enter Phase 3.

The very first thing to do for this transition actually happens in Phase 2. While juggling the timers, keep an eye on the Lich King’s health. When he’s getting close to 40% your raid will need to move towards the edge of the platform (careful, though! too early and you’ll end up with Defiles or Valks in bad places; too late and you’ll die to Remorseless Winter).

As soon as the Lich King hits 40%, he will run to the middle of the platform. The edges will reform and you’ll run out to them as he begins Remorseless Winter. From here, it’s just like the first transition, but both of your tanks will have their hands full with Raging Spirits.

Be especially careful about aggro here! It’s even worse than the first time through–twice as many Spirits from which to draw aggro. (I choose not to Starfall here for a lot of very good reasons, not the least of which is the goal to survive until Phase 3).

We use Heroism (Bloodlust) at this point to help us get through as many Spirits as we can before entering Phase 3. Even with Hero/Lust, though, you’ll end up with a couple of Spirits to kill after the transition is over.

That’s it for Phase 2 & it’s following transition. If you’re ready, you can go on to Phase 3!

*Any resemblance to actual events or locales or individuals, living or dead is purely coincidental. 😉

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