Hunters are capable of soloing Altairus in the Vortex Pinnacle on normal mode, and this is nice since he has a chance to drop a mount. Other guides already exist for soloing this guy (Gavendo’s – text plus vid, Retal01’s – vid of a whole run, Atrakinze’s – Jan. 1 vid of kill only, etc.), but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have one that’s up to date for 4.2 and that includes some useful insights that I didn’t see elsewhere.
This post assumes that you’ve got gear from the current patch, around ilvl 359 or above, and can do dps to match. It also assumes that you’ve run the Vortex Pinnacle as a dps before and don’t need the place or its mechanics explained from the ground up.
Here’s a checklist of things to have on hand:
- a tank pet: A turtle is not necessary for this run; any tenacity pet with tanking talents will do. And you should still use the Glyph of Mending, of course.
- sources of Frost resist (only for Altairus): Prismatic Elixirs (+90) are great, as are drum kings (+52), the old LW bracer enchant (+70), and the dwarf racial (+85). You may not have access to all of these so just use those that you can. There is also the old WotLK Icy Scale gear, but I really don’t think it’s worth the stat loss. The racial, the enchant and the elixir all stack, resulting for me in a 30% Frost damage reduction. Drum kings does not stack with the racial but is still nice for the other stat bonuses regardless.
- bandages: They are no longer strictly necessary for a well-executed run but are great to have on hand in case you mess something up.
An MM spec is very helpful for this run owing to its self-healing via Chimera Shot. However, if your dps is high enough (15k+ or so on Altairus) and you’re good enough with Deterrences, Feigns, bandages, etc., an MM spec is not strictly necessary. The same goes for glyphed Raptor Strikes, Spirit Bond, fort scrolls, etc.: they are certainly helpful but not as important as they were in previous patches. Of course, if it’s your first attempt or you find yourself struggling, I’d encourage you to consider employing such things. The one tool I’m tempted to discourage is 2t5. It is not necessary for pet healing for any part of this mount run and the stat loss from wearing it will likely slow you down.
You don’t have to kill any trash but you do have to kill at least the first boss in order to open the way to Altairus’s set of platforms. The run to the first boss should take about a minute, the first boss fight about two minutes, the run to Altairus about a minute and a half, and the Altairus fight around two minutes, resulting in roughly a six and a half minute run. Given the free teleport to the start that comes from falling off any edge, there should not be much downtime between runs either.
Trash Before the First Boss
- Dismiss your pet, hit Cheetah and Camo and then start running to the first boss. You should be able to make it there within the duration of one Camo.
- Remember that while in Camo that agro is still based on proximity and that you’re more likely to avoid agro while behind a mob than while in front of it. For more on how Camo works, check out the guide here.
- On the long downward-spiralling ramp with all the air elemental packs, hug the inside of the spiral rather than the outside. This should shave many seconds off your run time and make it easier to do the whole run to the first boss in one Camo.
- If you happen to take agro, you’ve got options. Since your pet isn’t out, you can just Deterrence, Disengage to a clear spot, and then Feign. You can also jump off an edge into thin air to reset your run and start back from the beginning (it’s better than dying).
The First Boss, Ertan
- Aspect of the Wild makes this fight quite smooth. It is not necessary, but I recommend it.
- Indeed, the fight is so easy on pet damage with AotW up that you can use a ferocity pet. How can you get away with this? The answer derives entirely from the fact that all of the damage in the fight is nature spell damage; there are no melee attacks. This means that there is no advantage to be had from many pet tanking talents like those related to higher armor and melee crit immunity. It also means that Aspect of the Wild covers all damage for this fight. Not only does it dramatically reduce the damage you take, but it basically cuts in half the damage your pet takes because pets currently double dip into AotW (they get the resist twice). Altogether this means that as long as you’re running AotW you can easily get away with using a ferocity pet. With a few more Mend Pets I believe you could even get away with using a ferocity pet without AotW up.
- Try to not stand near the tornados to avoid the slows and lightning. I usually stand on the pinkish ring of stones just beyond the boss’s hitbox.
- Use Deterrence if you find you’re taking too much damage when the tornados collapse and start zapping you. You can use Deterrence twice in the fight if you’re smart about Readiness usage and you’re MM. Feign does not work.
Trash Before the Second Boss
- Dismiss your pet. Hit Camo and Cheetah and start your high-speed sneaking again.
- Camo will not let you get past the Howling Gales on the bridge between the first and second platforms in Altairus’s section of the dungeon. This means you’ll have to break Camo, damage them to get past, and then wait for Camo to come off cooldown again before continuing on. You can walk without Camo around the edge of the area after the gales up to the ramps with the lined-up elementals in order to save some time while waiting on Camo’s cooldown.
- An alternative to the above bullet point is to not use Camo before the gales. Deterrence past the first set of elementals, Disengage once you’re up the ramp, and then run past the drake to the gales’ bridge before feigning. This done, Camo is ready to go right away once you’ve passed the gales. This tactic is fairly risky relative to the small amount of time it saves you, though.
The Second Boss, Altairus
- Just as a reminder, you will want a standard tanking pet for Altairus since he’ll being doing several hundred of thousdand melee damage over the course of an attempt.
- Open by MDing him more toward the middle of the room so it is easier to get upwind of him on any side for the haste buff (which you definitely want). Simply starting to shoot while your pet is still next to you should suffice; they’ll meet eachother halfway.
- Disengage is fantastic for moving upwind quickly. Wind direction changes occur on roughly the same CD as glyphed Disengages.
- Chilling Breath is really the only thing that could cause you to wipe and it is why you want Frost resistance.
- The breath will always target you since you’re the only player there and it cannot be avoided by moving, by out-ranging it or by interrupting it (I didn’t notice Silencing Shot working). If left alone without resists, Deterrences, etc., the breath will likely deal more damage than you have health.
- Don’t stand in front of the boss where you pet is. This will ensure that when the boss does his breaths, they won’t also hit the pet.
- Deterrence works very well for breaths. Use it for two breaths via Readiness if you’re MM. Make sure to cancel it once Altairus turns back to your pet so you can start dps again quickly.
- Feigning at the right time also works. If you Feign during the beginning of the cast, it will cancel the breath and set the ability on cooldown. It really helps to have a boss mods bar telling you when the ability is about to come off cooldown since the timing is fairly precise and the cast time is short.
- If you find yourself struggling with breath damage, I heartily recommend taking additional measures like spec’ing MM, putting points into Kindred Spirits, using bandages, using fort scrolls, and/or employing glyphed Raptor Strikes. Race changing to a dwarf and picking up leatherworking would also help but might be more of an investment than you’d like to make for one mount.
It is not necessary to hearth or die to get out of the dungeon and start a second run. Just jump off some edge into thin air and you’ll be taken back to the beginning of the dungeon.
Good luck on your mount!