The Lich King

Arthas, the Lich King is the last and hardest encounter in Icecrown Citadel and one of the most complicated encounters in the game.  There are three distinct phases to the fight as well as a transitional phase that occurs twice in the fight. Almost anything you can think of that could occur in a boss encounter seems to be going on in this fight.  There are adds, debuffs, movement, adds, tank swaps, and much more.  Like I said, it is very complicated so pay close attention and you just may get him down.  Oh, and you only have 15 minutes before he enrages and wipes the group.

Phase One

When the fight starts the main tank needs to establish agro on the Lich King and position him along the outer edge of the platform, this becomes important later on.  All DPS and healers should stack up on Arthas, other than the off tank. Players need to be careful of threat right away as the tank will take a while to gain threat as Arthas is slow moving to the outer ring, being busy casting spells and abilities.  In this phase he casts a spell called Infest roughly every 30 seconds that hits everyone for damage and places a DoT on them.  The DoT can only be removed by healing players over 90% health.  The DoT stacks and does more damage the longer it stays on a person, so it is important to get it off everyone quickly. 

The Lich King also casts an ability called Necrotic Plague on a random target which is a DoT that inflicts huge damage after being on the player for 5 seconds. The trick here is that when dispelled or when it kills its target it jumps to the next nearest target, friend or foe.  This is how you deal with the adds, which we will talk about next.  Important to note though is that the Lich King gets stronger each time the plague is dispelled. 

In this first phase you are forced to deal with two different types of creatures in addition to the Lich King.  These creatures are ghouls and shambling horrors.  The ghouls can pretty much be picked up by the off tank and then ignored, since any AoE damage will kill them over time.  The real issue is the shambling horrors which need to be tanked away from the group.  This is due to their shockwave attack that hits everyone in their front arc and can kill anyone that is not a tank. 

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 260px;" /> target="_blank">Arthas awaits

The best way to deal with the shambling horrors is to have have them all tanked at range with the off tank then whoever gets the plague runs to get close to them and have it dispelled.  The plague will then jump to them, kill them, and then jump to the off tank.  This way it can be cleansed off of them to another tanked creature and you rinse and repeat until you get the Lich King down to 70% health at which point you enter a transitional phase.


In the transitional phase Arthas will run towards the center of the platform and start casting Remorseless Winter.  This spell does damage over time to anyone on the platform, and does enough to kill anyone very quickly.  To escape it you need to step out onto an extension of the main platform that will spawn in this phase.  This spell is why you tank Arthas near the edge in phase one, so that you have a little more time for everyone to gather at the edge while he runs to the center.

In the transitional phase there will also be three raging spirits summoned, one every 20 seconds, that silence anyone in their front arc, these need to be DPSed very quickly.  Also frost orbs will be launched at you from the center of the room, and need to be DPSed before they reach the group or they explode knocking players off.  Lastly Arthas applies a DoT called pain and suffering to a random player and it does damage to that player and spreads to anyone close by each time it ticks.  It also stacks, so staying close together can lead to wipes very quickly.  The transition lasts for one minute.

Phase Two

In the second phase of this fight Arthas needs to be tanked in the middle of the platform. This is due to the Valkyr that get summoned and pick people up and try to drop them off the edge of the platform. The Valkyr spawn at the outside of the room and fly in, therefore everyone should bunch up near the center to allow you more time for ranged DPS to get them down.

Arthas also gains two abilities, the first is called Soul Reaper and is cast on the tank every 30 seconds.  It lasts for 5 seconds and then does 50k damage to the tank and buffs the Lich King so that he gains 100% haste.  All tanks have methods to deal with this however Paladins seem to be the best due to Ardent Defender procs and reduced damage from any hit that will take them below 30%.  You can also chose to have the other tank taunt off the main tank to hold Arthas while the DoT expires. 

The second ability is called Defile and is cast at a random target.  A cloud spawns around the target and does damage to anyone inside the area.  The area also expands any time it damages someone, so players really need to be careful or it will grow too large to avoid very quickly.

Also during this phase he continues to cast infest, but does not cast plague. You need to get Arthas down to 40% before he enters the next transition.


Between phase two and three there is a repeat of the transition described earlier. The only difference is that four raging spirits will spawn meaning that you will likely have two up when the transition ends.

Phase Three

After the transition to phase three the Valykr stop appearing, but Arthas continues to cast Soul Reaper, and Defile. Arthas also gains two new abilities, the first is the ability to summon Vile Spirits, and the second is a new ability called Soul Harvest. 

Vile Spirits are summoned 10 at a time and move towards random players in the raid.  When they reach them they explode, so it is critical that ranged DPS kills them before they get to their target. 

Soul harvest is an ability that does a large amount of damage over 6 seconds.  In 10 man raids it deals roughly 40,000 damage.  Healers really need to be on the ball and top off anyone who is targeted.  Assuming the player survives they are then teleported into a spirit realm inside Frostmourne. 

While inside Frostmourne you must assist King Terenas in defeating a Spirit Warden.  If you are a healer you can simply heal the King and let him defeat the Spirit Warden, if you are DPS you must burn it down before he kills the King. Also while inside Frostmourne you gain a buff that increases your damage by 100% for 60 seconds after which it kills you.  If you die inside of Frostmourne the Lich King is healed to 100% and the group will surely wipe as you will hit the 15 minute enrage timer.

This phase lasts until you get Arthas down to 10% health.

Final 10%

If you manage to get the Lich King down to 10% health he will use an ability that immediately kills the raid.  Don’t panic just yet, this is a mechanic and lets you see part of the storyling.  After a brief interruption in the fight you are resurrected and can finish the Lich King off while he is trapped.  Then you get your real reward, a chance to see the video sequence that follows.  Sure, many players have seen it online already, but this time you will have earned it.  Congratulations on defeating one of the hardest bosses around.

Heroic mode – Lich King

The Lich King is an already extremely complicated fight and one that many guilds have not even successfully completed on normal mode.  As would be expected on heroic mode the fight becomes much harder.  In addition to more health, the Lich King also causes a lot more damage.  Also several of the mechanics in the fight change.

In the first phase in addition to all the adds that you need to deal with, the Lich King also throws out shadow traps.  These are shadow traps that last for a while and sent you flying off the platform when they detonate.  This can add a lot of movement to the fight depending on where they land.

In the second phase the Val’kyr change substantially.  First, their health pool is almost tripled making them harder to deal with.  Secondly, they will drop the player they are attempting to carry away at 50% health instead of when they die.  However, once a player is dropped they will move over the center of the raid and start casting Siphon Life on random players in the raid until you kill them.  This makes DPS on them a high priority, they must first drop the player quickly and then be killed.

The third phase gets a huge change, where instead of a single player being pulled into Frostmourne, the whole raid is.  The mechanics remain the same, and therefore no one can die or the Lich King becomes buffed, likely leading to a wipe.

As you can see, finishing off the Lich King on heroic mode will truly be something for your guild to celebrate as it will not be easy.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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