For many tamers, this is the hardest fight in the game right now. The most bandied around piece of advice I’ve heard thus far with the Thundering tamer is to make super extra sure you grab the mini Thundering when you finish that first quest, because hoo boy, you do NOT want to even try to do THAT one again.
Well, I have to say I agree. I mean, I have this sucker down pretty well. The thing is, the nature of this particular fight can make it wildly unpredictable. I’ve blown all 3 of my pets against the first guy before, even after I had half a clue what was going on and wasn’t just sending whatever at him to see what sticks. I’ve also had kills where I used one pet and barely even had to touch a second.
My best advice here is to just keep trying. You’ll get him, I promise.
Here’s my lineup:
The order is a little screwed up… my pug Bertha should be first. She combines burrow and a decent heal with well, being a critter. The mechanical Zeppelin has some good defensive abilities, but most notably, Explode. The crab is there as a filler/tank. His most important role is to gap fill if I get a bad or weird string on Bertha, and to be alive at the end of the fight. For all three there are other options, but I’ll discuss them as I outline the fight.
First up is the Pandaren Earth Spirit. He combines stuns with big damage. His stuns are frustrating and deadly against any other kind of pet (even with the new Resilient buff, so you can no longer be completely stunlocked) those same stuns are pretty much cute against a critter’s crowd control breaking ability. His big, fairly constant damage is problematic, but my pug Bertha uses burrow to try to avoid the larger nuke on Rupture. Since the Spirit’s damage is weak against critters anyway, I get through this part of the fight pretty easily.
I like Bertha’s heal, but many tamers prefer a rabbit here for the extra speed. The critter stun breaker only kicks in at the end of the round. Since she’s slower than the elemental she ‘misses’ a round here & there because the elemental gets a stun off, and then she’s stunned the rest of the round through her turn. You really want to stick with a critter, because of the whole stunlock deal I mentioned earlier, and as shown in the screenshot above, most of the damage the spirit deals is weak against critters (the third ability being a stun with no damage). Snails are also a decent critter pick here, and hit super hard with aquatic Dive.
Another reason I choose Bertha is because her main damage ability can be Beast, which makes her able to damage the second pet, critter Sludgy, pretty well.
Sludgy’s damage is very streaky, due both to his moderate miss ability Expunge, and the way he uses (or doesn’t use) his other two abilities. One is the hard-hitting magic Ooze Touch, and the other is a fairly cruddy DoT spell, Creeping Ooze. It’s relatively random which one he uses, whether it hits or not, etc. Some fights I can plow straight through the whole way with Bertha, and others I get two shot. Hence the above pic illustrating Bertha hitting him hard with her beast damage where there’s a crab in place of poor little dead Bertha.
This is the place where you’d swap in a pet for leveling, but keep them high level for sure. Think either beast damage, to kill critter Sludgy faster, or mechanical pets, to defend against his oddly magic attacks and use Failsafe as a swap backup if he hits you too hard. I’d also pick a pet with some defensive capability if possible. I went with the crab just to get it done, and would suggest you start off with your favorite level 25 tank in the #2 spot until you get a better feel for the fight.
If it starts looking dicey and your pet is about to eat dirt, take it out. You have to have at least one pet still alive in the back row when Darnak comes out with this strategy or you’ll lose. Obviously if you’re trying to level a pet, you want that pet alive or else why even bother, right?
And now use your Zeppelin’s decoy to defend and his missile which is strong against Darnak’s Beastly self to take him to just a bit below 50% and then… boom.
Explode kills your Zep and the other guy, but you cannot use the mechanical Failsafe to res, hence why you must have one other pet alive in the back row. This is kind of gimmicky, but man is it fun, and it’s also kind of lazy. Lazy is kind of my jam. Make sure you use it when Darnak’s burrow is on cooldown though. Otherwise, I’ll have no choice but to laugh at your expense, sorry.
As another option, the Mechanical Pandaren Hatchling is very similar to the Zep and slightly more readily available, but needs a stone upgrade to rare. Clockwork Gnome would be a good choice here, but Darnak has a stoneskin ability which would negate his turret so using him is kind of futile. Stoneskin is also why you need to take him a bit lower than you may think if you go with Explode. Some tamers like to use critters instead to reduce the elemental damage from stone rush.
In closing… just… good luck.
Please feel free to ask any questions or woodshed this fight here or on Twitter. Even if you have a solid strategy, it’s still kind of a doozy.