Guide to LotRO's Update 5 Instances: Dargnakh Unleashed

Dargnakh Unleashed is the second of three small-fellowship instances that came with the Armies of Isengard instance cluster. Use your wit and guile to sabotage Saruman's war efforts by turning his own weapons against him!
Guide to LotRO's Update 5 Instances - Dargnakh Unleashed

Dargnakh Unleashed is the second of three small-fellowship instances that came with the instance cluster in the Lord of the Rings Online's latest content update, Update 5: Armies of Isengard. Now that you've uncovered part of Saruman's plans by discovering the dark secrets in the instance, Fangorn's Edge, it's time to investigate further... and to use your wit and guile to sabotage his war efforts by turning his own weapons against him.

"A brave band of adventurersÂ…think you that this drain is long-abandoned? You cannot imagine what lies ahead." - Saruman

Deep down in Isengard's training areas, where juvenile orcs are fortified into agents of chaos and destruction, the Many-Coloured One has captured a big, strong troll. This troll was found sleeping in a cave in Fangorn Forest, and it slew 30 orcs while they were trying to capture and subdue it. Evidently, Saruman hopes to forge the troll into another war-machine, but he has not yet managed to tame this one, and it is angrier and stronger than the others. So in the meantime, he keeps it in a big steel box - like a super-sized Gimp. This is Dargnakh.

During the introduction, a handful of orcs are standing around discussing the beast when Dargnakh busts out of his box and begins throwing a truly epic temper tantrum. The orcs attempt to regain control, but they are young, untrained and severely outmatched. The job of the infiltrating fellowship is to direct Dargnakh's wrath - to cause destruction and chaos in the war factories by "steering" the juggernaut directly into them.


In the first room, this is accomplished by using the ballistae around the upper walkway, firing down at the rampaging Dargnakh and steering his fury towards the back door. Dargnakh will move away from the ballista hits, but the bolts must hit him to have an effect. This is an exercise in add-management - mobs will pour into the upper walkway and attack anyone they see, so the group's tank (or designated crowd-controller) will need to engage them to keep them away from the guys running bolts and firing the ballistae.

Dargnakh Unleashed - ballista room

This fight requires a bit of coordination - the ballista crew will need to track the troll's movements, and the orc-wrangler will need to keep the ballista crew free from attackers. The third man has a flexible position, but should probably focus on keeping the group informed of Dargnakh's movements below - call out when he moves and stand at the ballista that will be able to hit him so the reloader knows exactly where to run with the bolts.

On Tier 2 difficulty, add management is somewhat more complicated - the mobs hit like trucks and can easily overwhelm a tank. For Tier 2, only one person will worry about the ballistae, and the other two will handle the adds. Groups with more than one heavy-armor class will have an easier time with Tier 2, but a group with 2 or more light/medium armor classes will find it hard to keep up with the healing.


Dargnakh Unleashed - barrel roomEventually, Dargnakh will go berserk and smash through the doorway, leading into the next room. Again, this room requires add-management - the goal here is to set fire to the black-powder barrels in the room below and goad the rampaging troll to the wall at the foot of the stairs. He will always try to move away from the explosions and fires. The troll's behaviour in this room can be a little bit harder to predict, and he is no longer confined to an inaccessible lower level - he may run up the stairs and be difficult to move. You don't have to "steer" him in any particular direction - just light the barrels that are nearest to him, and once you get enough of them he will move on.

This room can get chaotic. Try not to draw the attention of too many of the orcs - let them fight Dargnakh while your torch-runner focuses on figuring out which stack of barrels to ignite. If you do pick up too many adds, run them close to Dargnakh and let him hit them with area-effect haymakers. Fighting one or two adds is okay, but six at once can be overwhelming.

After the group lights enough barrels near Dargnakh to drive him berserk, he will break out and head into the ring of Isengard, and that's where things get really dangerous.


Out in the ring, you will discover that he has been subdued by a group of priestly-types holding him in place with some kind of magic. The leader of this group, Huva, steps forward and announces your doom in typical boss-villain fashion, and then the fight starts. The other kneeling priestly-types will join the fight in pairs.

Dargnakh Unleashed - Huva and the gang

With a typical Tank/DPS/Healer group, the strategy is fairly straightforward. The tank stays on Huva and the DPS handles both adds. This is a long fight - the adds are healers, and while they can be interrupted, the frequency of their healing and the fact that there are two of them makes it difficult to keep up with reliable interrupts. Focus on one at a time, interrupting his heals when possible, and they will eventually go down. Be prepared for a long fight here.

For non-traditional groups, this fight can be tough. The Instance Finder may decide that if the group has a healer, it doesn't need a tank, or vice versa. A group without a main-healing class (Minstrel or Rune-keeper) may have a difficult time keeping up with the damage dealt by three attackers, so if the group is short a Minstrel, keep the mobs separated as much as possible to spread the damage out across the group, and heal with all-green Fellowship Manouevers. A heal-traited Captain can keep up with the healing if the group has a main tank, but the tank will want to be careful - if he gets all three attackers on him, the damage can be overwhelming

When the boss is finally defeated, loot the chest and follow Dargnakh as he charges off in search of food. He has worked up a monstrous hunger, and you get to help him find it. He will charge into several small areas and begin munching on dead things lying around. When you get there, groups of orcs will come charging in. One of these orcs will be a butcher with slightly more morale than the others - focus DPS on the butcher. You can pretty much ignore the adds and kite them to the next area when it opens up, killing them there until another butcher spawns in.

Dargnakh Unleashed - running the slop bucket

Grab up the slop bucket the butcher drops when slain, carry it over to the glowing wall section and douse the wall in slop. Like the archetypical fat-guy party animal in an 80's college comedy, Dargnakh will drop whatever he is doing and go charging at the food, busting down the wall. He will always go running after the slop bucket when it is picked up, so you want to kill the butchers near the next glowing wall. If you kill the butcher far away from the wall, Dargnakh will chase you down, which makes these fights much more difficult. Slop the walls a few times and he'll charge off to a more remote area, which is the scene of the final battle.


Dargnakh Unleashed - covered arena

There are two ways you can do this fight - the hard way and the harder way. The hard way is really the proper way to do it, using the mechanics of the room to beat the angry troll down, and is he requirement for the Tier 2 challenge. Start the fight at the back right corner (to Dargnakh's right as you are facing in) and hold him there until he goes into a rampage. A text banner will flash across the screen, and the group has exactly zero seconds to get out of his huge area-effect range as he throws a tantrum. This rampage does massive damage in a large area over several pulses - anyone with under 10,000 morale or so needs to be well on the way across the room before he even starts. Healers will want to heal tanks from maximum range. Dargnakh does not "fire warning shots" - the banner pops up when he starts the rampage, and anyone near him will already be taking damage from it when the banner pops up.

His rampages come at timed intervals, and can be predicted by astute players. The interval between rampages is roughly 60 seconds - watch carefully for a buff icon to appear on his portrait and move right away, all the way across the room. With practice, it will be possible to predict exactly when to move.

The goal for this method is to take him to each of the 4 scaffolds at the corners of the room and direct his fury at them. When he takes down all four scaffolds, he will collapse the ceiling, allowing the sun to shine in, which turns him to stone. He gets more powerful after each rampage, so the fight gets harder as it progresses, but since you don't actually need to do any damage to him for this method to work, you can focus mainly on staying alive and moving when you need to.

This fight can be frustrating for healers. Ideally, the healer wants to stand at maximum healing range from the tank in order to stay out of the effect radius of the rampages. Since the goal of the fight is to have Dargnakh destroy the scaffolding, instinct tells you that you want him facing the corners. Unfortunately, with the tank tucked in the corner, the healer has to heal "through" Dargnakh, and the troll takes up a lot of room. This effectively truncates max healing range - Bolster Courage, for instance, has a max range of 25 meters, which is approximately the same range as the rampage AoE. If the Minstrel is healing the tank on the other side of Dragnakh, he is inside the 25-meter radius when the rampage starts.

Instead of trying to heal through the beast, the tank will want to face Dargnakh into the center of the room, putting himself between the troll and the healer. This will allow healers to heal from farther away from the rampage radius, and prevent them from getting crushed. Observe how it works in this Crude Illustration:

Dargnakh Unleashed - tank & healer positioning

One trick for Minstrels is to try to time the use of the Hammerhand "bubble" just before each rampage. This will help a bit to soak up the first pulse from a rampage if the Minstrel is a bit too close when it occurs.

Because Dargnakh uses a lot of knockbacks and ranged attacks against secondary targets, the tank will have to do a lot of running around and jockeying for position to keep the troll in the ideal place. This is kind of annoying, but since you don't really have to worry too much about dealing damage, it's not so bad. As long as the tank is able to keep Dargnakh close enough to the scaffolding, and is able to run away when the rampage starts, damage-dealing is a non-issue. As long as the scaffolds are within the radius of the rampage AoE, they will be destroyed and the corner of the ceiling will fall regardless of which direction Dargnakh is facing.

Dargnakh Unleashed - collapsed ceiling

The first time I ran this one, we did it the harder way, which relied on a tank with a truckload of morale, a healer capable of healing through the rampages, and my Hunter using a power-conservative stance. The Minstrel and Hunter stayed at one edge of the arena, and the Guardian tanked Dargnakh in the middle of the room, keeping himself between the troll and the ranged guys and standing at the very limit of the Minstrel's healing range.

This is not an easy feat - the Guardian stayed put for the entire fight (not including the knockbacks) and was hammered down to almost dead after every rampage, but the Minstrel was able to heal through the damage (about 10 - 13,000 each time), and neither the Minstrel nor the Hunter was close enough to the troll to take damage from the rampages... which was good, because there were a lot of them. He starts the fight with over 400,000 morale, and that takes a long time for a small fellowship to burn through. And because the rampages occur every minute and the fight took about 10 minutes, we buckled through roughly 10 rampages. Our beleaguered Guardian took about the same amount of damage over the course of the fight as Dargnakh did.

This method takes much more time than using the scaffolds and very much relies on ranged DPS, solid tanking and outstanding healing, but it is the requirement for completing the Commanders of Isengard deed.

Once the troll is down, it's loot time. You'll get a few Seals for completing deeds if this is your first time through it, and the chest will yield some sealed relics and some decent gear, plus a sigil of Orthanc which can be broken into fragments at the Ox-clan Merchant Camp. And while you're there, you can prepare for the next stop - the Pits of Isengard.

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