As a hunter you may be called on to tank one of the ICC blood princes, Keleseth. While there are a number of approaches to tanking him for different classes, this post will describe how a hunter can do it and do it well.
I will first write about the actual act of tanking Prince Keleseth and then list the things you can do beforehand to make the fight easier for you and your healer. This may seem like a backwards way to structure the post, but I chose this order so that the fight description paves the way for the later spec, gear and buff recommendations to make sense.
The core mechanic of the encounter is that an empowering buff transfers between the three princes. When one prince has the buff, he both has improved attacks and has a health pool. This makes him the primary dps target and the guy whose cast bar people are trying to watch. When a prince is not empowered (two princes will be disempowered like this at a given time), he will have an unchanging health pool and will only do his normal attacks. Periodically, the buff will transfer to a new prince and with it will transfer a reducible health pool and all reductions previously made to that health pool. This means that if the buff leaves Valanar when he is at 80% health and goes to Keleseth, Keleseth will begin his term with the buff at 80% health. This makes the princes like the twins in ToC in that they effectively share a health pool. They are different, though, in that only one prince can take damage at a time. Your prince (Keleseth) will become empowered more than once during the fight, but he will never be the first prince to get the buff. This means that you will be alone in attacking Keleseth for a while at the beginning.
Let’s go over the encounter in sequence. You will begin by moving up to the three princes with the other tanks. Keleseth is the leftmost prince. You need to take agro on Keleseth right away so that he is not sending his Shadow Lances at anyone other than you. Because you will be taking heavy shadow damage early in the fight, it helps to have your shadow resistance buffed and to have a healer specifically assigned to you. You do not have to worry about taking melee damage, though. Keleseth is more than happy to just stand there and shoot you from a distance. [ed: I knew there was a reason I liked this guy!]
At the start of the fight, Dark Nuclei (large floating blueish-purple spheres of gas) will begin to spawn. They can appear almost anywhere in the room, and since you need to see them when they spawn it helps to (1) have your camera panned all the way back and (2) always be panning your camera around. When one spawns, you need to shoot it once (once is enough) to gain agro on it. This may require you moving a long way because one may spawn on the opposite side of the room from you. Disengage can really help when you have to go a large distance. However, try to avoid leaving your healer too far behind you to catch up with heals.
When you have a Dark Nuclei on you, you will take some shadow damage but also receive a buff reducing shadow damage by 35% for each Dark Nuclei attacking you. Most reports have it that this damage reduction stacks multiplicatively rather than additively. This appears to be the case because even with a whole Macy’s Day Parade of nuclei on me, I would still take shadow damage. In fact, in every attempt I took as much damage as the other tanks, despite my possession of enough nuclei to recreate the movie Up.
What does this mean for your tanking? It means that more nuclei is indeed better, and that you should not listen to people telling you that you only need three because they think 3×35%=105% damage reduction. This is not correct. You want at least four nuclei on you at a time. There also will never be a point when you are not taking damage from Keleseth or the nuclei, so you do need heals from a dedicated healer (big ones when Keleseth is empowered). Because Dark Nuclei disappear eventually, you will need to be gathering them throughout the fight to keep several stacks of shadow damage reduction up on you at a time. However, since they spawn faster than they disappear, having many of them on you at once is not hard to accomplish.
Your nuclei will usually be quite content in just following you around the room. However, try to keep your nuclei away from anyone doing multi-target damage. One hit is enough for anyone, not just you, to agro a nuclei (healing doesn’t agro them from what I’ve seen). As such, it’s important to never go near the current dps target with your nuclei (even when it’s your own prince). That can require you to go the long way when picking up more big blue balloons.
By the time you have several nuclei on you, and by the time you’ve built up plenty of threat on Keleseth from attacking him by yourself for so long with plenty of kill shots (when unbuffed his health is effectively below 20%), Keleseth may have the Invocation of Blood buff transferred to him. Keleseth may be the second or third prince to get the buff, it seems to vary. Regardless, his getting the buff is when the need for having several stacks of shadow damage reduction becomes serious. While buffed, Keleseth will chain-cast empowered shadow lances at you. They will do high amounts of damage to anyone who does not have the absurd levels of shadow damage reduction that you do. As such, no one but you will really be able to handle Keleseth when he’s buffed. After attacking Keleseth for so long by myself, I didn’t seem to have any trouble holding agro on him even when he’s buffed and is the main dps target.
So far I have discussed the basic mechanics of tanking Keleseth. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind.
Stick your pet on Kinetic Bombs. Prince Valanar will summon bombs high up in the air that drift toward the ground and explode on impact. Because we don’t want them to explode, we make use of the fact that doing damage to the bombs will keep them in the air. One hunter pet (even a melee one like your wolf) is enough dps to keep one in the air until it despawns (it’ll take about a minute to despawn). Sicking you pet on a bomb will make it easier on the ranged dps assigned to bombs and put your pet to good use. I recommend keeping your pet on passive, that way it’ll come right back to your side when it’s ready to be assigned to a new bomb.
Stay away from other players. This is key not only for keeping agro on Dark Nuclei, but also for other mechanics that require players to be spread apart from one another. Try to be 15 yards apart from anyone else.
Don’t run into Shock Vortexes. This will do damage to you and knock you back, probably in the direction opposite the one you wanted to go in. Shock Vortexes look like stationary, white electric tornadoes.
Help mitigate empowered fire balls. One of the other princes, Taldaram, will when empowered cast a fire ball that will one-shot the targeted player if it isn’t diminished by doing splash damage to other players along its trajectory. Step in the path of these fire balls when you can.
Now let’s go over the preparations you may wish to make for the fight. Since you will be tanking and not dpsing, we need to concentrate on survivability. While not every single change I recommend will be strictly necessary for staying alive, I will provide a sizable list anyway for two reasons. The first is that knowing about a variety of possible changes will help you to figure out all those that you can or would like to make. The second is that since your staying alive is (1) more important than your dps and (2) essential to avoiding a wipe, having a large safety buffer of health does not hurt at all. My healer told me he found it helpful that I had 40k health, and so I plan to keep it that way when I tank Keleseth in the future. I have heard of people doing it successfully with less than 40k, and I’m sure someone will comment that they did as well.
Spec and Glyphs
I use my extreme soloing build while tanking Keleseth. It is designed for keeping the hunter and the pet alive as well as possible and so it has some advantages for tanking Kelseth. Importantly, it has three points in Hawk Eye, which I find very useful for not having to run as much to grab Dark Nuclei.
If you want a Keleseth-specific build, try this one. It focuses on buffing health, reducing damage taken, increasing healing taken, easing the acquisition of Dark Nuclei, and increasing pet damage and crits (for bombs and Ferocious Inspiration). It has points in Focused Aim under the assumption that your hit is being reduced by wearing stamina gear.
As far as glyphs go, consider Glyph of Disengage for moving around the room to grab nuclei easier. This and Survival Tactics will mean being able to Disengage a lot more than normal. Glyph of Kill Shot can also be helpful for building agro on Keleseth, since his health is technically below 20% while he is not buffed. I haven’t been able to find much information on how agro works on unbuffed princes, though, and so the worth of the kill shot glyph is speculative here.
Regarding your pet, having a BM tree will give your pet 4 extra talent points (assuming you’re not BM already). Consider putting some of those points into movement speed increasing talents so that your pet can get to a low-hanging Kinetic Bomb faster.
One of the easiest ways to get more stamina is to take old gear out of the bank and gem and enchant it for stamina. An old Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate is great for this, for example. Also think about getting some of the Icy Scale gear, crafted by leatherworkers. It has high amounts of stamina and plenty of gem slots. PVP gear is great, too, because it preserves a lot of the stats you like for dps but also has a lot of stamina.
Also consider boosting shadow resistance where and when you can.
You want tank buffs. That means asking for Sanc from your pally tank if you have one. I would also suggest asking for shadow resitance from either a paladin aura or a priest.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate that all the preparations I recommend here may not be necessary for you specifically. At the same time, even if they may not be necessary, they will be helpful.