WoW Classic Onyxia’s Lair Guide

Wow Classic Onyxia’s Lair Guide

Welcome to our guide for the raid of Onyxia’s Lair! Unlike most other raid instances, Onyxia’s Lair is an extremely short raid, consisting of just a few trash mobs and a single boss. Despite being the only boss, the mighty dragon Onyxia should definitely not be taken lightly. Not only is Onyxia a tough foe herself, but there is a lengthy attunement process required before you can even step into her lair! We’ll cover everything you need to know about Onyxia’s Lair in the rest of this guide!

On paper, Onyxia’s Lair is a very basic raid. Besides Onyxia, there is only a single type of trash mob that you’ll encounter before reaching her, although there are a decent number of them. As mentioned above, you’ll need to attune with the raid by acquiring a Drakefire Amulet to enter the instance.

You’ll also want to know the abilities Onyxia will use and how the fight will actually look. Not to worry, because we’ll cover just how the Onyxia fight will play out and the best strategy your raid team can employ to defeat her!

Before you even think about stepping into Onyxia’s Lair, you’ll want to collect as much fire resistance gear as you can. Because Onyxia is a fierce dragon, she uses plenty of fire-based damage to try and blaze your party to mere ashes. Some of this damage is avoidable, but a good portion of it cannot be avoided. To minimize the overall effect, you’ll want to make sure you have as much fire resistance so you reduce the workload for your healers.

Much like any other raid, you’ll also want to have a good supply of consumables on hand to use. This includes flasks, potions, food, ammunition, and anything else that can help boost your damage output or overall survivability. Getting the most out of your character can make the difference between an Onyxia kill and a wipe at 1%.

For a full list of items that can be acquired please see our WoW Classic Onyxia’s Lair Loot List!

Season of Mastery Changes

With Season of Mastery, Onyxia’s Lair and other raids are updated with new mechanics and an increased difficulty to each boss encounter. The following changes are what you will face in the encounter with Onyxia hereself for Season of Mastery:

  • At the start of the encounter, two drakes will land on the ground and will require the off-tank to tank them. The rest of party, except for the main tank, can focus on these drakes. This allows the main tank to build threat on Onyxia herself.
  • When Phase 2 of the encounter with Onyxia begins, an Onxyian Warder will spawn on the ground and will need to be tanked.


Attunement with Onyxia’s Lair is no small endeavor. As a matter of fact, it is the longest attunement process in the entire game. Aren’t you excited? Well, whether that sounds thrilling or not, you won’t be claiming Onyxia’s head without acquiring a Drakefire Amulet.

You can find the complete attunement process required to acquire a Drakefire Amulet over on our Onyxia’s Lair attunement guide, including a complete breakdown of the requirements for both Alliance and Horde players. Not only do you need a Drakefire Amulet to actually enter the raid, but it will also come in handy during the fight because it offers +15 fire resistance.

Trash Mobs

Onyxia’s Lair is home to just one trash mob, the Onyxian Warder. You’ll encounter four of these before reaching Onyxia, but they aren’t anything difficult to deal with. They can be dealt with a fairly traditional tank-and-spank method, but there is one ability you’ll want to watch out for.

Fire Nova is the only ability you’ll want to keep an eye on. This deals a large amount of AOE fire damage, which can easily kill melee units if they aren’t healed up in time. To make things easier, you can simply wait for it to cast Fire Nova once before letting melee attackers get in range.

The only other thing of note about Onyxian Warders is that they do respawn while you are in combat with Onyxia. This is primarily to prevent any players from hiding inside the chamber leading up to Onyxia’s actual lair. After killing Onyxia (or wiping), all of the Onyxian Warders will once again despawn.

Onyxia’s Abilities

Onyxia is definitely one of the tougher challenges within WoW Classic. This is due to the sheer number of mechanics in the fight, not to mention the length of time the fight actually takes. Onyxia has a mix of passive and active abilities. Her active abilities will differ depending upon what phase of the fight you are in.

Passive Abilities

Fire Immunity

Not only does Onyxia deal a large amount of fire damage, but she is also immune to all sources of fire damage. Hope you don’t have a fire mage in your raid!

Taunt Immunity

An interesting mechanic, Onyxia is actually immune to targeted taunt spells. This does not mean that Onyxia is immune to threat. What this actually means is that your tanks will need to use threat-generating abilities to actually build threat during key moments in the fight rather than relying on the convenience of a taunt spell. You’ll also need damage dealers to slow down at these periods to allow your tank to generate aggro.

Teleport Enemy

Onyxia is another raid boss that doesn’t take kindly to players running with their tails between their legs. If you get too far away from Onyxia during combat, you’ll be conveniently teleported right next to her! Thanks Onyxia!

Warder Respawn

As if teleporting you next to her if you try to run away wasn’t enough, Onyxia actually makes her Onyxian Warders temporarily respawn while you’re in combat with her. This is also done with the intention of forcing you to stay in her lair and fight. If you’re victorious in killing her (or you wipe), they’ll despawn once again.

Whelp Eggs

Once you actually get inside Onyxia’s Lair (the main chamber), you’ll notice a long tunnel with several spiky eggs near the entrance. These are actually whelp eggs. If you get too close to them, whelps will actually hatch from the eggs to attack you! These eggs are later used for periodic, unavoidable spawns by Onyxia later on during the fight.

Active Abilities


Identical to the warrior class ability, Onyxia uses her claws to deal physical damage to any targets directly in front of her.

Flame Breath

This is a very nasty, conical fire attack that can easily decimate your health bar as it deals up to 4000 damage. This hits enemies that are directly in front of her, but will also extend out to the sides. It may take some practice for you to learn the full width of flame breath’s arc.

Knock Away

Sometimes Onyxia just has enough of her current target. She’ll use knock away, which knocks back her primary target. Not only that but it also reduces any threat the target has built on Onyxia by 25%. You may want to slow DPS after she uses this to help your tank hold aggro.

Tail Sweep

This attack is more annoying than it is dangerous. Onyxia uses her tail to sweep at all enemies behind her. The damage is fairly insignificant, but it will send your character flying. If anyone gets knocked into the whelp cave, this can easily wipe the entire raid, so you’ll want to be careful about your positioning if you’re in range of a tail sweep.

Wing Buffet

This is another knock back ability Onyxia uses. Unlike knock away, it is conical and actually hits multiple enemies. It does not reduce any built threat for targets that it hits. Melee units should never be in front of Onyxia to ensure abilities aren’t parried/dodged, but this gives a further incentive to avoid doing so.

Engulfing Flames

During the second phase of the fight, Onyxia chooses to be a sneaky little bugger and shoot fireballs from above. These fireballs actually pack quite a punch and they also splash onto any nearby players. They can hit for 3000 on the primary target, and half as much on splashed targets. Onyxia will usually pick the target that has built the most threat against her, which is often your main tank.

Upon being hit by engulfing flames, all threat that has been built by the target will be wiped. Because Onyxia will still be in the air during this time, you’ll need to allow your tank time to rebuild threat once Onyxia lands for phase three.

Deep Breath

Deep breath is probably the most iconic (and most deadly) ability Onyxia has at her disposal. She only uses it while in flight during phase two, and it can easily kill you if you aren’t prepared to reach a safe spot in time. Making matters even worse, the trigger for deep breath is completely random. This does mean that if your raid group’s damage is high enough, you might get through an entire phase two without seeing a single deep breath.

More likely than not though, you probably will see at least one or two deep breaths throughout a fight. With that in mind, you’ll want to understand how to actually handle the ability. When Onyxia begins to use deep breath, she will put an emote into the chat box indicating that she is taking in a deep breath. From the position she does this in, she will travel in a straight line to the opposite corner/side of the room.

If you are directly in the middle of this attack, say goodbye as you were just hit multiple times by the attack and died. To actually survive the attack, you’ll need to immediately run to the side of the attack so that you are only hit once (or not at all).


As the name suggests, Onyxia will physically enter the air and cannot be hit by melee attacks. Special abilities, however, can actually hit Onyxia. Onyxia only uses flight during phase two.

Whelp Spawns

During phase two and less frequently during phase three, Onyxia will cause whelps to hatch from the eggs in the tunnel around her lair. Phase two has one massive group of whelps that spawn at the beginning with a few smaller group dispersed throughout. Phase three has infrequent spawns of small groups of whelps. These spawns are different from actually running into whelp eggs, which will spawn far more.

Bellowing Roar/Eruption

Another iconic Onyxia ability, bellowing roar and eruption only happen during the final phase of the fight. The timing of bellowing roar is random, but it generally between 10-30 seconds. When she uses it, every player in the raid will become feared, sending them running in a random direction. You’ll know the ability is coming when your screen starts to shake. As if the fear wasn’t enough, all the lava cracks in the lair will spit lava at your raid, dealing up to 1500 damage.

Phases of the Fight

The fight with Onyxia is broken up into three, distinct phases. The first and third phase are fairly similar, as you’ll fight Onyxia on the ground. The key difference between the two is that Onyxia will also use bellowing roar and eruption in the last phase. Phase two is entirely different, as Onyxia takes to the higher reaches of her lair and rains fireballs from above. Each phase is triggered by bringing Onyxia’s health to a certain percentage mark.

Phase One (Ground)

Phase one serves as the first part of the fight, and is fairly simple to start off with. During this phase, Onyxia uses her core abilities to give you plenty of time to learn the fight. Once you master phase one, you’ll have everything you need to tackle phase three.

Here are the abilities Onyxia uses during phase one:

  • Cleave
  • Flame Breath
  • Knock Away
  • Tail Sweep
  • Wing Buffet

Phase Two (Flight)

Upon bringing Onyxia’s health to 65%, she’ll start to grumble and will take to the skies. At this point, auto attacks from melee units can no longer reach Onyxia. It is also during this phase that you’ll be swamped by whelps while needing to avoid the randomness of deep breath. You’ll probably spend most of your time learning to handle phase two. If you can clear phase two, you’ll have no problem killing Onyxia.

Here’s what abilities Onyxia uses during phase two:

  • Flight
  • Whelp Spawns
  • Engulfing Flames
  • Deep Breath

Phase Three (Ground)

Once you manage to have spellcasters bring Onyxia’s health down to 40%, phase three will begin. Don’t forget that your tank will have had all their threat wiped by engulfing flames during phase two, so you’ll want to give them time to rebuild threat once Onyxia lands. There are just a few extra mechanics to handle, mainly requiring extra work from your healers.

Here’s all the abilities Onyxia will use during phase three:

  • Cleave
  • Flame Breath
  • Knock Away
  • Tail Sweep
  • Wing Buffet
  • Bellowing Roar/Eruption
  • Whelp Spawns (Minor)


We’ll break the fight strategy down by phase. Before starting, you’ll want to establish roles for your raid team. You’ll want to have an effective healer rotation that will allow you to keep your main tank and damage dealers alive while not exhausting the mana pool of your healers.

You’ll also need to dedicate where groups go for phase one and two. You’ll want to have half the raid go left, and the other half go right. While you can create this division anyway you want, a convenient way is to use raid groups. You can have odd numbered groups (1, 3, 5, 7) go left while even numbered group (2, 4, 6, 8) go right. Furthermore, you’ll need two of these groups dedicated to killing whelps in phase two. It is often a necessity that there is at least one mage in these two groups, but there must also be a warrior and at least one (preferably two) healers. Often times, group 7 and 8 are assigned to whelps.

Phase One

For phase one, your primary focus is not on damage, but rather on establishing a comfortable hold on the fight. This means getting all raid members to the correct positions, while also allowing your tank to build threat (because Onyxia is immune to taunt) which does require damage dealers to go slow to allow your tank to build this threat.

When starting the fight, you’ll have your main tank pull Onyxia, running past her so that Onyxia is facing the north wall while all other raid members follow and get into position. Damage dealers won’t even touch Onyxia for a few seconds after the pull. During this phase, it is absolutely critical for damage dealers not to pull, otherwise there is a chance for Onyxia to use flame breath on several members of your raid when she turns around to attack.

Phase Two

Once you’ve managed to drop Onyxia to 65% health, your focus is now on damage. The ultimate goal of phase two is just to get to phase three. During this phase, that will be made tougher by a slew of whelps and damage from engulfing flames and deep breath.

Your two whelp groups will be entirely focused on killing whelps. At the beginning of this phase, a massive group of whelps will spawn to attack your raid group. After killing this initial group, more smaller groups will spawn throughout the rest of this phase, necessitating two whole groups to focus on killing them during this phase.

The rest of your raid will want to focus on avoiding deep breath, minimizing engulfing flames damage, and bringing Onyxia to 40% health. Engulfing flames is a fireball that splashes, so it is important for your raid group to spread out to minimize the impact of engulfing flames. Making this difficult is Onyxia herself, who will constantly fly around the room, requiring you to constantly readjust to get in range.

The hardest part about this phase is deep breath. Deep breath is entirely random, but is a quick way to wipe your raid if members aren’t prepared to deal with it. Because of this, you’ll want to have a hunter tracking dragonkin at all times. This will make it easier to keep an eye on where Onyxia is actually located in case she begins to cast deep breath. Once she does cast it, she will fly straight to the opposite side or corner of wherever she started the cast. This means that anyone directly in front of here will need to immediately run to the side to minimize damage received. It is possible to avoid deep breath with high damage output, but this isn’t likely to happen during your first kill, so you’ll need a strategy to handle deep breath.

Phase Three

Once you enter phase three, you’re in the home stretch. And honestly, the hardest part of this phase is the transition from phase two. This is because of the way engulfing flames works. Not only does it target whoever has the highest threat on Onyxia, but it also proceeds to wipe that threat upon hitting them. So all that hard-built threat on Onyxia (because she’s immune to taunt and you needed time at the start of the fight to generate threat) will completely disappear.

This means that you’ll need to completely stop DPS once you start nearing 40% health, and save any threat reducing abilities like Feign Death and Feint for this point. You’ll need to give your main tank ample time to rebuild hard threat on Onyxia. Once this is done, you’ll want to establish positioning once again in the room.

Once you manage to position Onyxia and build threat, the final phase plays very similar to the first phase. Damage output is not a priority and careful positioning is crucial to avoid hatching whelps. Adequately put, slow and steady does win the Onyxia race. A few groups of whelps will spawn throughout this phase, so you’ll want to make sure your whelp groups remember that this is part of their job in phase three.

The only other thing that makes phase three tricky is the use of bellowing roar and eruption. Every 10-30 seconds, Onyxia will briefly fear everyone in the raid and erupt lava from all the cracks in the floor. This mechanic cannot be normally avoided, so you’ll want to ensure you quickly reposition Onyxia after the fear, and that health bars are high enough to withstand the lack of healing during the fear.

Onyxia’s fear can cause quite a lot of havoc, especially if your tank runs sideways and Onyxia decides to use flame breath when she’s facing your entire raid. To combat this, you can also choose to have a priest as your main healer in phase three. Priests have access to the fear ward ability, which will prevent your tank from getting feared and moving Onyxia out of position.

The fight with Onyxia is very long, so you’ll need plenty of patience and dedication to secure your first kill! Only the second phase is a DPS race, so take your time, get your raid squarely into position, and follow through on mechanics perfectly to kill Onyxia! Don’t you dare spawn any whelps, or you’ll be hit with a 50 DKP Minus!


About the Author


If I'm not working or spending time with the family I'm probably gaming. Some of my favorite recent games I've played are Far Cry 5, World of Warcraft Classic, and 7 Days to Die.
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