How to defeat the bosses of the Theater of Pain in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Put in a performance for the ages.

Image via Blizzard

Nestled in Maldraxxus, the boss order of the Theater of Pain is set up a bit differently from other dungeons in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Your party will face a total of five boss battles, but the second, third, and fourth can be tackled in any order.

Affront of Challengers

The Affront of Challengers includes three unique bosses in one fight: Sathel the Accurses, Paceran the Virulent, and Dessia the Decapitator. You are free to defeat them in any order you like, but remember that using the order we just listed will make it the easiest for your party.

Each boss has an automatic ability that triggers when you bring them below 40% health. Sathel will launch a 30% health shield, and you won’t be able to interrupt anything while the shield is up. Paceran will drop Noxious Spores under each player’s location at regular 8-second intervals, and Dessia will put up her own 30% health shield while randomly targeting one party member, although you can remove this shield with Soothe. The only real trouble here is Dessia when she focuses on someone other than the tank, so if you have Soothe, take advantage of it.

Remember, the next three bosses can go in any order you wish.


Your tank’s limits will be tested with Gorechop, so get ready to use plenty of cooldowns. Hateful Strike is very powerful, so tell your healer to be on alert as soon as this ability pops up. Gorechop can summon Meat Hooks that cross the arena, forcing you to dodge and weave in and out of their reach.

At random points, Gorechop will pull everyone to his spot on the map and perform Tenderizing Smash. When you start getting pulled, immediately run in the opposite direction. Don’t let the adds get too out of hand, and Gorechop will eventually fall.


Have you ever wanted to see your party members fight amongst themselves? Well, Xav is going to force you to do just that. Two DPS characters, at random, will be thrown into the arena, and you will have to decide who comes out with a damage bonus, if anyone. The winner will receive Glorified, granting a 10% buff, while the loser (or both DPS characters if there is no winner) will get Bloodied, reducing damage by the same amount. While this is happening, watch for the Brutal Combo, which does more damage to your tank with each of its strikes.

When Xav plants an Oppressive Banner, have your whole party get rid of it. The banner stacks movement speed reduction by 15% every three seconds. Obviously, this spells trouble the longer it stays on the field.

The banner isn’t the only thing you’ll need to worry about, though. Not long after Xav puts down the banner, he’ll start the Might of Maldraxxus combo. These three moves can come in any order:

  • Crushing Slam: Dodge the green circle you see on the ground
  • Massive Cleave: Also indicated by the area on the ground
  • Deafening Crash: Stay far away from Xav and know that this will interrupt anything you’re casting


Kul’tharok only has a couple of things to watch for during this fight. When he casts Draw Soul, two of your party members (regardless of their role) will have 20 seconds to track down and touch their respective soul NPC, which you’ll see hovering around the platform. While you’re pursuing your soul, mind the Grasping Hands, which can root you for 10 of the precious seconds you need to reclaim your soul (this suddenly sounds very existential).

If you get your soul back, you’ll raise your damage by 30%. If you don’t get there in time, you’ll end up with mind control, and another party member will have to hit you to free you. Kul’tharok can also cast Phantasmal Parasite, but this can be easily dispelled by your healer.


Mordretha is not pleased with the progress you have made through the Theater of Pain, and she’s going to take out her anger on you. She has several abilities, and without any pattern, you’ll need to watch for each one, especially when they begin to overlap with each other. Let’s go over the list:

  • Reaping Scythe: A half-magic, half-physical attack that happens fairly often. Healers assemble.
  • Dark Devastation: A beam of Anima that starts with your tank and begins to spin in a given direction. Dodge this or you will take severe damage and get shoved away from Mordretha.
  • Manifest Death: This turns one of your party members into a time bomb, causing three explosions every two seconds. On top of this, after the timer runs out, it will summon an add. The add will be a caster, so if you can manage it, try to get them close together.
  • Grasping Rift: This unholy vortex will attempt to absorb everyone in your party. Run away from its pull, or else you will take serious damage at the core.

After you take away half of Mordretha’s health, she will use Echos of Carnage for the duration of the fight. This contains two possible attacks: Echo of Battle, producing grey whirlwinds you can easily dodge, and Ghostly Charge, which you can avoid if you stay away from the center of the arena. Of course, this gets difficult when you have all the other possible abilities happening at once, but now you know what to expect.