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It is important to note that the Rock Wraith has two forms: a Dual-blade style and a Shield style. When you first encounter the Rock Wraith, it is by default in its Dual-Blade style. Each style has its significant differences and will require a shift in strategy to keep your party alive.
- Regardless of the form, however, the Rock Wraith has high damage resistance especially at higher difficulty. Coordinating damage combo with resistance reduction abilities such as Hex of Torment is a must.
The Dual-Blade form has the following abilities and attacks:
- Default Attack: Swings blades and shoots lightning bolts. Both of these do damage and can hit separate targets.
- Spike Attack: The Rock Wraith crumbles back, transforms into a spike that lunges into a party member. Causes Knockback and heavy damage. Nearby non-flanking party members will stagger.
- Teleport: The Rock Wraith can teleport to any position in the map.
To counter this style requires heavily on your tank, while your archers and mages are out of the wraith's attention. If you can, make sure that the tank receives both forms of this damage by moving vulnerable members out of the wraith's view. The Spike attack can be avoided by strafing the tank to the side of the wraith. This requires close monitoring of the wraith's attack patterns, which is more difficult than it looks. The signature animation is the wraith's disassembly. If the Wraith crumbles back, and NOT straight down, you know a spike is incoming.
Once you've chipped its health down to 90%, the Wraith will teleport into the centre of the chamber. This attack is widespread and can only be avoided by moving your party into any of the four corners. Once this attack is finished, the wraith's core is exposed, only to be surrounded by weak Profanes. These can be easily handled with Hail of Arrows and AoE spells. When the Profane are dispatched, hit the Wraith with everything you've got.
The wraith will reassemble into a new form: the Shield form. The shield form attacks are:
- Default attack: Swipes a target for damage. Deals damage to party members nearby.
- Heavy Swipe: Has a wider angle than the default attack, causes stagger for all caught in range. This goes through the columns.
- Rolling: Forms into a ball and rolls into party members. Deals heavy damage.
- Explosion: Charges and explodes, dealing 360-degree heavy damage. When you see this, run to the corners. The pillars will block the blast. Additionally, if you are far enough away, damage will be avoided.
- Vortex: The Wraith becomes a black hole pulling your party into it.
The Shield form's damage is, luckily, reduced, but it is still capable of a lot of punishment. If you do not have a solid tank and damage dealers in your party, this fight becomes one of attrition. Dual wielding rogues aren't helpful against the shield style and are better off with equipping a bow to join with the casters. Tanks are essential, and making sure they don't drop should be key. Since the shield form cannot teleport and would rather make your party a chainmail pancake, there is time to move your archers and/or mages away from the rolling attack's trajectory. If you're lucky, the wraith will roll into one of the pillars and keep on rolling while your tank can dish damage safely.
At times, the wraith may transform into a form of shards, ready to explode. If your party is positioned correctly, the only concern should be your tank. Move your tank to a safe distance until the attack finishes.
Keep maintaining a safe level of health for all your party members and look after your tank. Spells like Barrier will help in the tight spots. The wraith can change its form anytime it wants, so keep changing your tactics. If you're confident, rogues can go dual-dagger against the blade form.
At the instance of dealing enough damage, the wraith will do its teleport and widespread attack again and Profanes will show up. In each round, more Profane show up, or less, but stronger Profane will spawn. Dispatch them and focus on the core.
If you lack a tank, try changing the difficulty to Casual to make the fight easier.
Nightmare mode strategy Edit
Due to the way the ARW switches phases based on its health percentage, certain phases can be completely avoided if enough damage is dealt fast enough. This means that this fight favours a dps setup over one more durable, as dealing enough damage can allow tougher phases such as the rolling-shield form to be skipped. In fact, with certain setups it is possible for the ARW to never get the chance to deal any damage.
Dealing enough damage is done through the combination of several key aspects.
1. DPS Setups - Place a greater emphasis towards increasing the primary attribute (strength/dexterity/magic) rather than on constitution, willpower, or cunning. A completely glass cannon setup should not be necessary, but durable tank setups are not advisable. Place an emphasis towards abilities which increase damage or deal spike damage.
2. Elemental Weaknesses - Spirit and Cold weapons and spells will deal double damage against the ARW. Additionally they benefit from the ignore armour property intrinsic to all elemental damage. Warriors have The Edge of Night and rogues have Bard's Honor. Ideally mages will use the Staff of the Primal Order due to its relatively high item level, but any spirit or cold staff will do.
3. Debuffs - Decreasing damage resistance can be useful for dealing extra damage. This can be done by a hex of torment and/or a mark of death. Hexes do suffer from reduced duration due to enemy magic resistance however. The other important debuff to consider is brand. This greatly increases the critical chance of your non-rogue characters, giving a +25% chance to deal additional damage.
4. Buffs - While debuffs are important, it should be noted that certain buffs are even more so. Especially on nightmare, using dual haste will greatly increase the damage of your whole party. Heroic Aura is another extremely useful buff to consider. Warriors can also be used to buff the party with rally. With might, this adds a fair amount of damage, albeit temporary.
5. Focus Fire - The key aspect to this fight is to focus fire on the ARW immediately when it finishes its lightning aoe and collapses in the middle. With lightning warding runes or decoy/dog, the profane can be safely ignored for the time being. Only after it starts to get up back into the lightning aoe stage should you kill off the profane.
Using these principles together allows enough damage to be dealt such that the entire shield phase is skipped and it goes back immediately into the lightning aoe (followed by its collapsed vulnerable state again). This means that all that is necessary to get through this fight is to deal enough damage, hide behind a pillar during its lightning aoe, deal enough damage, hide behind a pillar - and so on.
This should be possible for any party setup, pre-patch and post-patch - and even solo. It is noticeably easier post-patch however.
The other concept which can be helpful in killing the ARW even faster is to get a degree of party synergy happening. For example, debuffing the ARW, hasting your party, focus-firing and performing spike damage talents with cold and spirit weapons (and sufficient +%damage modifiers) all at the same time can potentially kill the ARW in less than one phase, i.e. in around 20 seconds.
To go even faster, an assault CCCs can potentially be used post-patch in conjunction with an upgraded pinning shot.
The group should consist of one tank and 3 ranged damage dealers, because the Wraith's abilities make him quite hard for a more melee orientated group. A healer is also a good choice, and cuts down on potions needed. Depending on how much you are able to avoid damage in the Shield phases, you will need between 10 and maybe 30 (elfroot) potions. If Dog is present, he should be cast on "Self: Any", the group itself on "Hold" all the time, as positioning and movement are vital.
The 3 phases in Nightmare:
- 100 to 90% health: Phase 1, Dual-Blade form: Try to keep the Wraith looking in a different direction than the rest of the group. Spread the ranged members out to avoid the Lightning hitting all of them. Besides, use the strategy described above. The wraith's single-target damage is monumental in this phase, so burn it down quickly.
- 90% to 85% health: First Lighting Sphere: Make sure you place the group shielded from the Sphere, kill the Profanes and hit the Wraith again.
- 85% to around 60% health: Phase 2, Shield form. Keep the group members away from each other, dodge the rolling stone attack and stay focused! One error can kill a party member, making the fight truly a war of attrition. Avoid melee most times. Needle the Wraith while he is rolling, provided the ranged damage dealers are out of the way.
- 50% health until the end: Phase 3, the Wraith will switch forms now. This phase begins as soon as the Wraith teleports into the middle of the room and uses his Lightning Vortex again. After you kill the Profanes, he will change to dual-blade form and using his new skill, a channeled spell which deals minor damage and draws all players in line of sight towards him. It interrupts casts every time you get drawn closer. After Vortex is cast, he tends to use his Explosion attack, so move away quickly. One or two times the Wraith will teleport into the middle and cast his Lightning Vortex and afterward draws the group closer. He may also use the Explosion skill, so avoid melee unless you are confident you can move out of the way quickly enough - it has a fairly long charge-up time.
Useful items and talents Edit
Armor Runes: It is highly recommended that as many characters as possible have armor enchanted with Rune of Lightning Warding. Most of the Ancient Rock Wraith's attacks are lightning based. Varric, for example, with 1 Rune of Lightning Warding on his armor gets 90% resistance to lightning. Even on Nightmare mode, Varric can easily tank the ranged electrical attacks and easily survive the lightning sphere out of cover. Lightning resistance from accessories is also useful if you can get a hold of some.
Weapon Runes: Spirit and Ice work the best, though Spirit Runes are not available until Act II. Avoid Enchanting a weapon with Lightning Runes, or using weapons with lightning based damage.
- Stonewall - Can stop the rolling Mode of the Ancient Rock Wraith with no damage taken.
- Hail of Arrows, Cone of Cold, ext (any AOE damage dealers) - To take out the Spawned Profane quickly. No lightning based attacks.
- Revival / Regroup - Mistakes happen and you'll need to revive some one at some point. *The Regroup regenerating health glitch can also be very helpful*
- Arcane Shield with Elemental Shield and Arcane Wall - The more lightning resistance the better.