Raid Guide: The Fires of Smaug




Here we have my breakdown of The Fires of Smaug, the third and last raid in my series on the Erebor instances. This one is probably the most mechanically difficult, especially if you are going for the challenge quest.

Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I have completed this on tier 1 & 2 many times on my lore-master and warden, but have not completed the challenge.



Your goal here is to defeat the grim in the middle of the odd-looking contraption in order to save the dwarfs. This is easier said than done because you have two ways of failing the raid beyond the group getting wiped by damage, but I know you will try very hard to save the dwarfs. You will notice two meters when the fight starts. The top one is a timer. If you take too long, you fail the poor dwarfs. The second one is where the bulk of your effort will be concentrated and that is the smoke meter. Dwarfs don’t want black lung after all.

There are four valves, two on each side of the instance, and they have values of 0-5. This value is indicated by 5 segments of a dragon head above each valve. The value is equal to the number of colored segments. Each time a player uses the valve, it will decrease by 1. However, that player will get a 45-second debuff preventing them from using that valve again. Every 30 seconds, any valve with a value of 1-4 will increase its value by 1. If the valve is fully closed (value = 0), it takes 90 seconds to initially open again on its own.

That’s all well and good, but so what? I was getting to that, jeez. The value corresponds to the amount of smoke that is allowed through the pipes. Each time the grim passes a 5% threshold (95%, 90%, etc.) a burst of smoke will escape. According to a developer before the release of the raids, the maximum amount of smoke to fill the meter is 200. For the challenge quest, that same dev said that you were limited to 10% of that, so 20 units. I’m not sure if that’s what made it into the final build of the raid however. It seems like the amount to fail the challenge quest is lower than that. In any case, at that 5% mark, when the smoke heads through the pipes, it forces each valve’s value up by 2.

Of course, it would be too easy if that’s all the raid was, so at every 10% threshold (90%, 80%, etc.) Easterlings will spawn. They spawn on both sides. If you just came down from the mountain path and are facing the grim, they will spawn at a rock on the left and at the overturned cart on the right. These Easterlings are a mix of engineers and our old favorite, warriors. Remember, they cleave.

But wait! Call in the next thirty minutes (or don’t) and we will annoy you further with the deluxe Firetender every 25% of the grim’s HP! Yours free! The firetender will render the grim invulnerable while he is alive and will also start healing it. On tier 2, he has very high damage reduction and damage reflection effect, making it doubly hard to kill him quickly. He also has a few Easterlings that come with him. The mathematically saavy among you probably noticed that the spawn rate of the firetender and the “regular” adds overlap at 50%. That’s right. You get both. Enjoy. 🙂


Things to Keep in Mind

Given that this is another percentage-based fight, it would be a good idea to change your vitals display to percentages. If you search for “vital” it will be one of the few options lit up. It is “Cur / Max” by default.

The grim itself has a nasty melee range damage aura. It starts off not too bad, but each firetender you defeat ups the damage as a percentage of max HP. Melee dps will have a very hard time trying to damage the grim without being defeated, which is why they will be relegated elsewhere in my strategies.

Adds spawn immediately at the start of the fight, so you must deal with them first before doing anything else.

Since this involves a lot of moving around, in order to save time, bring some coffee for the +5-10% run speed boost.


Tiers 1 & 2

I’m going to describe the strategy I’ve had the most success with and it works for both tiers, but will definitely not work for the challenge quest. You need at least one tank, two healers, and one good ranged dps.

That one (or more) ranged dps will be firing at the grim, controlling what HP percentage it is at and essentially tanking it. One healer will be focused on the dps while the other(s) will focus on everyone else. The tank will mostly stand at the spawn point for the Easterling adds.

Set up 2 groups of players: One group of 2 and one group of 3. Once the initial adds are defeated, one of the groups will use the bottom valve on one side while the other group will use the top valve on one side. We used the right side, since it’s the one with easier access at the start. Then they switch places and use the other valve. At that point, both valves should be closed.

From this point onward, you only need two groups of two, since the most a valve will open is 2 at each 5% interval. The pairs will constantly swap positions and close the valves as need be. We had the 5th player play backup for when we needed an extra on valves later in the raid. This is where champions, burglars, and other tanks ended up, since they cannot really contribute safely to grim dps.

What the ranged damagers do is stop the grim’s HP at 1-2% above a threshold. When they get the all-clear from the valve closers, they pass through the 5% threshold and move to within 1-2% of the next one.

Every 10%, the tank picks up the adds and any melee or extra dps kills them before the next 10%. Unless the ranged dps are waiting for the signal to move on, they ignore the adds and leave them to melee or extra ranged dps.

At each 25% interval, all dps turns to the firetender. This is where melee dps get to be useful for what they like to do: dps. The firetender’s damage reduction is least drastic for melee dps. On tier 2, you do have to be careful of his damage reflect however. The tank need not tank the firetender, but should grab adds that spawn with him.

When the firetender is dead, ranged dps turn back to the grim and get it down to the next threshold below the 25% they were forced to stop at (71%, 46%, or 21%). More adds and smoke do not spawn while passing any thresholds that the firetender may have healed the grim back above.

That is the pattern. Close valves, be careful of passing thresholds, make sure new adds won’t spawn on top of old ones, and be quick about dps on adds and the grim. You must coordinate all of this while making sure you don’t run out of time. If you have decent enough dps players however, that part isn’t the problem.

When the grim has 4% remaining, everyone just piles on the damage since valves don’t matter anymore. Any adds still up from the last 10% threshold are ignored until the grim is dead, provided the tank isn’t in danger of being defeated.


Tier 2 Challenge

Obviously the above strategy will not work for the challenge quest. What you need to do is follow the same basics, but you must do so for both sets of valves at the same time.

The easiest method I can think of to do this would be to split the raid into 3 groups. One group is the healer and ranged dps that will stay on the grim the entire time. The other groups would consist of a tank, healer, and 3 dps each. Each group would have to kill its own set of adds and do the valve shuffle I outlined above. This would require even more coordination and very good dps.

If you can manage the smoke on the non-challenge strategy, I imagine that the problem with the challenge quest would be the timer. You are dealing with twice as many adds and only have half as much dps per set. Both valve groups would have to be balanced as far as damage goes. If one side had very low dps and could not kill their adds in a timely fashion, it would slow the entire raid down, possibly enough to fail.

I would love to hear other strategies if anyone has one.



This is a mechanically heavy raid that puts a the onus on ranged dps to control the grim HP and be able to really bring the damage when necessary. About time those “oops I tab-targeted a mob far away and hit rain of arrows” aggro pullers learned some responsibility, no? Not that I’m a bitter old tank or anything. 🙂

As always, feel free to leave questions, comments, compliments, and cheese product recommendations below.


  1. Andang /

    Wonderful job…I just hope I get people to run this with me someday.

  2. Kaleigh Starshine /

    One of the many raids lately that multiple raid leaders have told me “have no place for a Scout” *sighs*

    • Landrogorn /

      I have a level 85 hunter with a full maxed FA bow, but cannot see anyone recruiting for runs on Smaug – our kin doesn’t and I don’t want to try to recruit 12 since I haven’t done this raid before. Great guide but difficult to see people running this, even when tied to GLFF.

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