Darkheart Thicket is the regional dungeon that you'll be led towards during the course of the starting questline for Val’sharah, and from a lore perspective it's the final challenge that concludes Malfurion Stormrage's storyline for this section of the expansion.
In terms of accessibility you can get in there on Normal difficulty from Level 98 and upwards, while Heroic / Mythic / Mythic + difficulties await players who own the appropriate item level gear (or can cobble together a private party group). However you're approaching the challenge, in our Darkheart Thicket guide we’ll take you through the critical path through this dungeon, and provide the key insights you need for defeating each boss as well.
For the sake of maximum efficiency - and also to increase your enjoyment of the lore aspect - we really recommend you finish up the starting Val’sharah questline, which ends with the completion of “Into the Nightmare”. Do keep in mind though that you will likely come back to Darkheart Thicket many times, as it is featured in several repeatable Word Quests - not to mention quite a few profession and Class Hall questlines.
Darkheart Thicket actually only has a moderate amount of trash fights to concern yourself with, although it can often seem as though there's more due to the big chunk that fills the corridors right ahead of the first boss you face. Most of these enemies are Humanoid, Beast or Elemental, although there are some Demons as well.
As a general rule you shouldn't really need to rely on crowd-control abilities here, and you'll actually find them quite tricky to use due to the proximity of the enemies who you'll come across in packs. Not only that, and while some trash can be avoided altogether, it is recommended that players be aware of other elements of their party at all times. It really is very easy for someone to wander into a nearby pack while fighting another group of enemies, and tanks and healers should stay on their toes.
For the first version of our comprehensive Darkheart Thicket guide, we're going to take you through each boss fight, and also make note of any important trash fight aspects that you should keep in mind for a Normal or Heroic run. In a future version of this guide, we're going to overhaul our advice and provide additional tips for handling the challenge on Mythic and Mythic+ difficulty settings.
Ready to get stuck in? Here we go...
Archdruid Glaidalis strategy and tips
The path up to Glaidalis is probably the most taxing part of the entire instance, thanks to all the packs of enemies that are either unavoidable - or just plain hard to avoid. Not only are things rather cramped in here, most of these enemies have some irritating abilities that can slow the pace and recovery of your party a fair bit.
Healers need to watch out for fights that feature Frenzied Nightclaw and Dreadsoul Poisoners, as both of these enemies can drop strong damage-over-time effects that can prove fatal if they start stacking up on a team member. As well as these slow drains, Dreadsoul Ruiner can hit targets with Despair, which deals a moderate amount of damage and leaves a healing reduction debuff - dispell this as quickly as you can.
Damage Dealers should mostly worry about interrupting the Dreadsoul Ruiner’s highly damaging Star Shower spell, as well as the Mindshattered Screecher’s Unnerving Screech: this is a moderate duration stun with rather a high damage component.
Tanks should keep in mind that Crazed Razorbeaks and Festerhide Grizzlies have high damage abilities which will target all enemies in a straight line - and an arc - in front. As such, these creatures should always be tanked with their backs to the party.
The good news is that Archdruid Glaidalis himself isn't a particularly challenging fight at all. He will shift between his Humanoid, Cat and Bear forms and essentially attack the party with upgraded versions of the attacks used by the trash enemies you've already encounters.
The most important thing for all players to keep in mind is that every now and then he'll create small pools of corruption in the arena - dropped beneath random players - and which they must move out of immediately as they deal a lot of damage. As well as this, you should use your high damage dealing / damage increase cooldowns at the beginning of the fight to tear a solid chunk out of his health pool nice and quickly.
This boss moves around a lot, although the party can minise the annoyance factor by standing as close as possible to him - while of course leaving enough room to move away from any funky spots on the floor.
The Tank should keep him facing away from the party at all times, but critically so during Bear form. Healers should note that when he turns into Cat Form, he will attack random players and place a special bleed effect on them. This “Grievous Tear” effect can only be removed if the ally affected is healed to above 90% of their health pool.
Oakheart strategy and tips
The trash leading to Oakheart is a good deal less problematic than that leading from the dungeon entrance to the first boss. The main theme of this section involves enemies that make all sorts of stuff appear on the floor - Vile Mushrooms and Root Bursts - which all team members should avoid at all costs. The Tank in particular should do whatever work is needed to actively pull enemies away from any growing / grown Vile Mushrooms - player contact with these can easily prove fatal at higher difficulty settings.
Damage Dealers should be ready with their interrupts when it comes to dealing with the Nightmare Dwellers ahead of the boss. The channeled spell of these creatures will fear a target for 4 seconds once it's been cast, potentially disabling your tank or having another party member pull an additional pack of enemies. The good news is that this channelled cast is easily interrupted, so just make that your top priority.
Oakheart is a very simple “tank and spank” fight with just one twist to keep in mind: every now and then he'll summon roots below the players. After a few seconds, they become armed and lock the player in place while dealing constant damage. Note that this effect does not otherwise hamper the use of any abilities or attacks so if you get caught up in it just keep cracking on with the job.
Because periodical cone AoE attack, the Tank should focus on keeping Oakheart facing away from the party at all times, and be ready to survive his massive “Crushing Grip” damage ability.
Damage Dealers should just focus on dodging roots, and destroying any roots that do happen to catch an unwary party member.
Healers should watch out for the Tank's health on Crushing Grip, and for any party members caught in roots, of course.
More WOW Legion dungeon guides:
|Black Rook Hold guide||Court of Stars guide|
|Darkheart Thicket guide||Eye of Azshara guide|
|Halls of Valor guide||Maw of Souls guide|
|Neltharion's Lair guide||The Arcway guide|
|Vault of the Wardens guide||Violet Hold guide|
More WOW Legion guides:
Dresaron strategy and tips
This encounter can actually be bypassed, but it is not generally recommended that you do so as the extra trash to be found during the critical path can be more annoying that the relatively simple fight represented by Dreasaron him/itself.
The trash enemies leading to Dresaron will no-doubt remind veterans of Upper Blackrock Spire, as the path is lined with dragon eggs that shatter on proximity, spawning dragon whelps. These are pretty forgiving to deal with though, and should present no challenge to any party that's found themselves packing a Leeroy Jenkins wannabe.
Along the path you will also find elementals that use several knockback attacks. It's very important that players take care with their positioning and movement while fighting these monsters, so that they aren’t knocked into eggs and hatch a massive amount of whelps!
Dresaron is another “tank and spank” fight. This time around, the twist is that he will periodically flap his wings, pushing players toward the eggs that line his arena, and potentially spawning whelps as a result. These extra adds aren’t difficult to manage - and popping some is by no means a disaster - but they can be easily avoided by having players run in Dresaron’s direction while he pushes them away. Speed boost abilities are handy here, but you really shouldn't struggle without them.
Dresaron will also periodically roar, dealing party-wide damage and making debris fall on top of a player for several seconds. This debris will prove fatal if the player doesn't move out from under them in short order, so be ready to get out of Dodge when required. It's pretty obvious when you should be moving, so just get away from the rubble trouble!
The Tank should keep Dresaron facing away from the party due to a periodical cone AoE attack, and preferably keep him in the centre of the room as well. This will provide the team with some breathing room once Dresaron starts pushing them toward the eggs that line the perimeter.
Damage Dealers and Healers should just concentrate on doing their thing, while avoiding being in front of the boss, or being too close to eggs or falling debris!
Shade of Xavius strategy and tips
The trash that lines the corridor to Darkheart Thicket’s final boss has a wide selection of abilities but two are especially worthy of note here: Dread Inferno and Curse of Isolation, both of which are targeted at random players.
The former is an interruptible AoE attack with a pretty long cast. It should be interrupted whenever possible, but if it's not for whatever reason, then the affected player should move away from the others. The latter spell is not interruptible, but does not damage its target - only the people surrounding him - for the whole duration of the spell. Again, affected party members should keep their distance and be aware of any debuffs on them.
The Shade of Xavius fight consists of two distinct phases, with the second phase triggering at 50% health with a massive party-wide burst of damage. The second phase is similar to the first, albeit with the addition of meteors which occasionally tumble from the sky and leave damage-over-time patches in the arena. Damage-increasing cooldowns should be used at the start of phase one, as the increased necessity for movement in phase two will negatively impact on DPS performance.
Although Xavius does needs o be tanked due to his melee damage, all of his abilities are randomly targeted, and as such all party members need to keep a high level of awareness at all times. Most of the dangers in this fight can be avoided or minimised with proper positioning and movement, and positioning is just as important as dishing out the pain here.
Occasionally, Shade of Xavius will cast Growing Paranoia on random players, dealing moderate damage and fearing them instantly if they are too close to other players. As such, it is very important that both Melee Damage Dealers and the Tank remain spread out around the boss - although every party member should really be at a healthy distance from one another too.
Additionally, the Tank and Damage Dealers should use their defensive cooldowns when targeted by Feed on the Weak. This is a massive damage attack that will otherwise overly tax healers. Finally, they should move the boss and themselves away from those damage-over-time hotspots that start popping up in phase 2.
Healers need to keep their eyes out for when Shade of Xavius casts Feed on the Weak, because most classes will need the help of a healer in addition to their cooldowns in order to survive the onslaught. They should also focus on removing the Festering Rip debuff that Xavius randomly puts onto targets, as it does a fair bit of damage over time and decreases the impact of healing effects. If this is left to linger on the tank it can prove fatal on high difficulty settings!
With that fight out of the way you’ve beaten Darkheart Thicket! In the next update of this guide, we’ll go through some very specific tips for Heroic and Mythic modes - although you can feel pretty confident that most of the advice above is valid for Heroic mode, and will help you beat that difficulty tier without too much extra fuss at all.
In the meantime, please let us know in the comments if you have any particularly juicy tips you'd like us to share!