How to run The Grand Stair (Hard Mode) and not look like you don’t know what you’re doing

The Grand Stair (GS) is a level 56 Moria instance. It contains six bosses (three of which are killed for hard mode), the level 60 class quest for hunters, several quests which can be picked up at the Orc-watch, a handful of deeds and a challenge quest (completing which is known as “hard mode”) granted automatically upon entering the instance. This guide focuses on the challenge quest.
This is not The Only Acceptable Way to Run GS, nor is it Nifty GS Tricks for Level 65s. There are alternate strategies and there are other ways to go about things, but this is How To Run GS and Not Look Like You Don’t Know What You’re Doing. This is the most common strategy, it’s how a successful GS pug will normally do things, and it’s what to expect if you’ve never ran GS before.

The Quick Recap

Go straight ahead and fight Ilzkâl (use fear pots); go right, fight through to the bridge and send the tank on the suicide run to go and tag Nardur; go up the stairs and fight Nardur (watch the knockback); retrace your steps to Ilzkâl, take the north bridge and fight through to Igash; one tank tanks Igash, another tanks the archers, watch out for fire, ignore the Devoted; win.

The Long Version

To complete the challenge quest in The Grand Stair (also know as GS hard mode), you will need a fellowship consisting of:

  • a tank (Guardian or Warden)
  • a healer (Minstrel or Runekeeper)
  • an off-tank (a second Guardian or Warden, or a captain or champion with experience tanking)
  • three other players (having a Hunter is nice, but by no means required; once your spots for healer, tank and off-tank are filled you can fit any classes at all, really)

You will also need conhuith potions (the purple kind) which can remove fear effects of at least 58. This is not an option, it is a requirement. Every person entering GS and expecting to kill the first boss will need to have fear potions. If you do not have fear potions you will have to get some from a vendor or bum some off a fellow.

Once you have your group and your fear potions all gathered up, enter the instance. The instance is a sort of maze of stairs and bridges running every which way, and it is very easy to go the wrong way. Also, most of the bridges do not have guard rails (the place is built by dwarves, after all) and a fall will most certainly lead to your demise, so watch where you’re going and don’t try to use auto-run. Imagine that Escher painting, except with gravity functioning properly. That’s GS.

When you enter the instance, go down the stairs in front of you and you’ll find a closed drawbridge. When you get close enough to the bridge (when you brush against the differently coloured floor, to be exact), a cutscene will begin. At the end of the cutscene, one of the orcs shouts, “you have ten minutes”. From this line, you have ten minutes to activate the second boss (Nardur) and secure hard mode. Once the cutscene ends, the drawbridge will lower and you can run across and begin fighting.

The First Boss, Ilzkâl, is a remarkably easy boss. It’s just tank-and-spank and there’s only one trick. Ilzkâl will put fear effects on you, and every now and then he will call out “Feed me your fear”. When he does so, he will absorb the fear effects on people and use it to heal himself. This is why everyone must have fear potions, you must  use a conhuith potion to remove any fear effects on you, or Ilzkâl will heal himself continuously and you’ll never make it to Nardur in time for the timer.

When Ilzkâl dies run down the stairs to the west and fight through the wargs (there is no chest for the first boss). Remember that you are on a timer, so kill the trash mobs as fast as you can and keep going forward. If you do not know your way to Nardur, follow someone who does. If you run off in the wrong direction and pull random extra mobs, you will waste time and get lost (go east after Ilzkâl, then south at the next crossroads; see the map below for more clarity). Soon you will reach a larger landing with a bridge on the north edge, and gated board fences on the west and south edges. After killing the wargs on this landing, it’s time for….

The Suicide Run. The second boss must be activated within ten minutes of the cutscene, and you cannot fight through all the mobs in time, and so one player must run in, activate the boss, die, retreat and come back and fight through the mobs. Technically the tank should do the suicide run, but a minstrel can also do it with Lay of the Hammerhand activated, and a burg can also sneak in and manage it with Hide in Plain Sight.
To accomplish the suicide run, everyone gathers up at the foot of the northern bridge. If you look at the bridge there’s a sort of threshold or line across it. Do not cross this threshold or you will aggro stuff.
If there is a Runekeeper in your group, have him put Do not Fall This Day on the sacrificial lamb, that way he;ll be rezzed where the RK is standing and will be spared the trouble of running back.
Then everyone stands around and waits while the one doing the suicide run does the following. Don’t follow him, just wait for him to die and get back to where you are.
Mr. Suicide, you run straight ahead north and through the wargs and goblins and. Don’t stop, don’t fight them, just train straight through. Go across the bridge, around the pillar and up the staircase to the next landing; at this landing, go up the stairs to your left (west) and activate Nardur. You must get close enough to him that he begins walking and talking. After he’s been activated, go ahead and die (jumping off the cliff  saves you repairs) and then retreat to the beginning of the instance and run back to your fellows (or be rezzed back to them, if an RK put Do Not Fall This Day on you).
Back to your fellows who have not moved, not aggro’d anything and not gone cliff-diving while you were away.

Once everyone is reconvened at the foot of the bridge, everyone cross over to the north side of the threshold and begin fighting your way through to the second boss. If a mob is standing on one side of the threshold and is aggro’d on something that is on the other side, the mob will bug out, so everyone be sure to cross to the north side, and watch where you leave your pets, banners, runestones, etc.  You are no longer on a timer, so go ahead and take your time killing your way to Nardur. There is a number of Uruks on the landing at the top of the stairs here, you’ll want to pull them only a few at a time, so it’s best to pull them down to the centre of the stairs and fight them there.

After the landing is cleared it’s time to fight Nardur, The Second Boss.
Nardur himself is on the stairs to the west, there is a metal gate to the north, another staircase to the east and the stairs you just came up are south. Nardur has a nice big AOE knockback, so the best place to stand is with you back to the northern gate. If you are in front of Nardur you will be knocked back and if you’re not against that gate you almost certainly will be knocked off the edge to fall to your doom.
So everyone stands with their backs to the northern gate and you kill Nardur, there’s nothing else to it.
However, if a healer or ranged DPS class is utterly certain that he is NOT going to draw aggro, he can stand with his back to the eastern stairs and avoid all of Nardur’s AOE. Do this only if you are quite confident that the tank can hold aggro well and that you’re not going to be a hunter in strength stance or a minstrel who opens the fight with Chord of Salvation or something silly like that. If the tank’s a little shaky, or if you tend to snag aggro every now and again, it’s best to just stand by the gate with the rest and take the little bit of AOE.

After Nardur dies, there are two chests to loot. Everyone should personally loot both chests, as each contains one Moria Medallion.

Once looting is taken care of, retrace your steps back to where you fought Ilzkâl, and this time take the bridge leading north from that landing. You will run in with several orcs, and then a stair leading up. At the top of this stair there is a rather tricky pull. There are a bunch of orcs and they are all linked, if you aggro one, all of them will come. There are several ways to manage this pull. The easiest way is “the DF trick”. Have everyone stand back and have a hunter run in, aggro them all, and then use Desperate Flight to warp back to the entrance. The orcs will reset and their link will be broken, which means they can be pulled one or two at a time. This pull can also be accomplished with a root pull, either Rain of Thorns from a hunter or Herb Lore from a Loremaster. If you do not have a hunter, it’s best to try and keep as many of the orcs as possible mezzed while you fight the others.

After you’ve cleared out those nasty orcses, my precious, it’s time for…..

The Last Boss
Igash is tricky, the fight is mildly complex, you have to pay attention.
The room is an ordinary cave-like room with walls, there are no more cliffs to fall off of (thank Eru). At either side of the room on the way in is a banner, when you pass the banners, the fight will start. The Devoted and the Archers will spawn instantly, and Igash will begin orating and walking towards you, when he’s done bragging he’ll enter the fight.

There are four mobs in the fight; two archers, an orc called The Devoted and Igash himself.
Igash is a pretty standard boss. He has a knockback, he lays down patches of fire, he hits rather hard and he has some interesting lines lines of dialogue. Your main tank will tank Igash, and will avoid the patches of fire (standing in fire = death). Be sure to fight Igash within the room itself, if Igash passes out beyond the flags, he will re-set. This is incredibly irritating, since often when he resets there are other fellowship members still fighting on Igash’s side of the flags, which means that the fight itself will not reset and you will not drop out of combat, but Igash will re-spawn with full health and enter the fight again. For this reason, it is advisable to have everyone (this means you, Hunters) come stand on the Igash side of the banners.
The Devoted will run about shouting and poking random people, he does very little damage, just ignore him and let him do his thing. If you kill him, you fail the challenge quest, and you’ve already gotten this far, so just don’t.
The Archers will do what archers do best, they will try to range your healer to death. This is why you need a second tank for GS. Archers and Igash is usually too much damage for a single tank to handle, so we have the other tank keep the archers occupied. The archers can be killed without harming hard mode, but if they are killed they just respawn and you will have two archers throughout the fight no matter, so don’t bother killing the archers, just keep them off the healer and focus DPS on Igash.

After Igash dies, the Devoted and the Archers will disappear (sometimes it takes them a few seconds to do so), and then you can loot the chests. There are several chests, and they sometimes drop some rather nice gear for level 56-60 characters in addition to the Moria medallions and the regular IXP runes and relics.
After completing the challenge quest and looting all the chests, each person should walk away from the instance with seven Moria Medallions.


  • the circled player cursor is the entrance
  • follow the path marked in red to A (Ilzkâl)
  • follow the dark blue path to B (the bridge at the beginning of the Suicide Run
  • follow the magenta path to C (Nardur)
  • retrace your steps back to A and then follow the pale blue path to D (the spot for the DF trick)
  • follow the bright green path to E (Igash)

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