Windlord Slaying For Dummies

21 February, 2011

“There are two kinds of spurs in this world, my friend; ‘those who come by the door: and those who come by the window”–Tuco, The Ugly

Al’akir, being end of instance boss (even if that instance is very short), is a step up in difficulty from the other fight in the instance. Usually this increase in difficulty is rewarded by a windfall in epics. Cho’gall and Nefarian drop 8 items! Al’akir? He drops a measly 5 epics of random-enchanted gear. Bleh!

Why spend the time to kill this boss? A boss with a learning curve and one with little payoff. You can spend that time on heroic bosses in the other two raid zones just as easily.

I disagree with this line of thinking. While the payoff for killing Al’akir isn’t in the loot department, you can find it in other, intangible places:

Defender of a Shattered World: It is both a title and a mount (with Guild rep at exalted). Neither has anything to do with more DPS or more healing, but it is a great morale boost. That may seem insignificant, but showing that you are a guild that takes on challenges, even if the epic reward is low, is a message to those looking for a guild and those already in the guild.

Second, his loot isn’t great, but he does give 90 valor points and the epics can be turned into Maelstrom Crystals. On Zul’jin those materials go for over 2000g each. With enchants costing as much as 6 per, you don’t want to waste that opportunity.

Lastly, I think clearing an entire tier is very important from a raid-measurement point of view. Al’akir is hard, but it isn’t nearly as hard as ANY heroic boss. Putting your raiders in as many situations as possible helps refine their skills. Al’akir is a big time personal responsibility fight. That’s the trait you want to reinforce the most.

There’s my pitch for actually doing the fight. Now I’m going to attempt to give you some tips on making this fight more manageable.

I’m going to refer to this diagram a lot, so take a look at the symbols and their arrangement.

The platform in BossBlueprint‘s map is arranged to have a “spade” at the bottom. Our raid sets up on the circles between the spades. We found the tornado spawn points to be more forgiving this way. This strategy also assumes a 6 healer arrangement, you can add a 7th to the tank’s spot easily.

Hot Spots

The tornadoes (Squall Line) spawn at fix locations on the platform (near the Orange Circles).  Tornadoes on the west go counter-clockwise, tornadoes on the east clockwise. Combine this with the Wind Blast cooldown and you create areas on the platform that are more difficult to stand than others.

The hardest sectors are the ones marked with Diamonds. Put your best/fastest learners there. This shouldn’t excuse poor play, but some people are just better at these kinds of fights. Timing a Wind Blast to get knocked off or not, timing with the tornadoes, all that takes time. Those positions will never be easy.

On the other hand, the positions marked with Circles are very easy. The Wind Blast and tornadoes are perfectly offset and you’ll never have to deal with both. Very straightforward, not a lot of decision-making.

The spot that I marked with crossed swords is where I put all of my rogues/other melee. In 25 man, obviously one sector will need 4 people. Load up that spot with melee that can mitigate damage/self-heal.

Note: When Wind Blast is casting, Al’akir cannot cast his lightning AOE. Use that to your advantage to get through a Squall Line quickly, but don’t linger! You’ll kill some raiders!

Healing Tips

Heal quickly. Use your quick, inefficient heals to top people up as soon as possible!

1. You’re going to be running around (and flying) a lot, you might not get a chance to heal them if you wait.

2. That group’s healer might not be able to heal so cross-heal and overheal if necessary

3. You get tons of regen time in this phase because of (1), don’t worry about your mana, the goal of the phase is to survive.

Phase 2, Stormlings, Feedback

Ranged DPS on the adds, melee DPS on Al’akir full time.

DPS the first Stormling to 50%, hold it until there are 3 Stormlings active, and then start killing them one at a time (we have our tank mark the kill target). This will allow you to keep the Feedback stack rolling and climbing. It will become more difficult to keep the stack as the adds will spawn as the debuff gets closer to finishing.

If you are quick, and wait at the proper times (kill the adds just before Feedback goes away), you can get crazy dps numbers. Our highest stack was 12!

Hit Herolust Warp at 7 or 8 stacks. If you can get the stack above 10 I recommend all dps switching to Al’akir and burning until Feedback goes away, then restart the stacking (you’ll be out of Phase 2 at this point).

Phase 3…go down…go down…go down…go down…

Start at the top. When you enter Phase 3 immediately fly as high as you can go. Stare the boss in the face and give him the finger.

Mark one player and go down after each cloud appears. After Wind Blast be sure to fly under the clouds if a new one has spawned. If you go below the marked person or bad things will happen. Don’t wait for a call! If you wait for the call on vent, you’re already too late. Look at your character from the side so you can see the clouds (they are faint if viewed from above).

Lightning rods: strafe to side to avoid killing everyone. You learned this lesson on Ascendant Council, just don’t go out of healing range.

Fin

This is by no means a full fledged strategy as I’ve left several mechanics out, but this should clarify some of the more difficult parts of this encounter. Use one or use them all, but don’t skip this boss. Get it out of the way. Collect Maelstrom Crystals, get people confident in the fight. You’re going to have to kill it eventually, might as well do it now.


Shameless Belated Self-Promotion

2 January, 2011

80% of success is showing up – Woody Allen

Someone asked me the other day “where can I find your podcast, do you have a link on your blog.”

I quickly realized that not only did I not have a link, but I didn’t even make a post about the podcast at all! Over the last couple weeks I kept pretty quiet about it, in general, just based around superstition. Matticus, writer whose blogging website bares his namesake, put out a casting call for co-hosts on a companion podcast the site. I spent about 2 days debating on whether or not I should send in a clip and I ended up doing so. The rest is history…or at least I hope it will be.

On Sunday nights, Matt, Brian (of Raid Warning and Creep fame), Kat (light and leafy), and myself will be discussing the same topics you see on this blog: Raiding, Guild Management, Leadership, and (primarily) Healing. Even if you just listen on the website, throw down a subscription on iTunes and send in some reviews (5 stars only, thankyouverymuch!)

The leading topic on this week’s podcast will be related to healer class balance, and we’ll be fielding questions and comments from listeners/readers on the subject.

If you’re curious about the kind of tangents I go off on in a raid or in post-vent chatter, this will be the podcast to tune in to.

Matticast on iTunes


[Healing] Are you quitting on me?

23 December, 2010

Coming up a little rant on healing and then a quick blurb on Halfus Wyrmbreaker

A quick excerpt from one of my first blog posts here at Borsked:

Without [these qualities]: confidence, the ability to work without thanks, adaptability; you are doomed as a healer.  Accepting that you can’t heal and continuing to do so is a disservice to those you play with.  It’s ok, healing is a deceptively hard job.  It is one where mediocrity is celebrated and greatness is rarely noticed.  You know you just saved the raid, but nobody cared, and nobody is really going to care when you say “we wouldn’t have won if I didn’t…” No.  That is your job.  If you aren’t making 3 to 4 raid saving heals a pull then you are not properly utilizing your ability.

DPSing and beating an enrage timer is acknowledged as a group failure.  Seventeen players couldn’t get it done.  Healing is nearly always boiled down to 1 or 2 individuals.  If you cannot handle the blame of a wipe being placed on your shoulders then healing is not your game.

We aren’t the guys putting up the high scores, we’re the ones keeping the machine running.

It would be a moderate understatement to proclaim the current healing model is drastically different than previous expansions. More than ever healers are placed in a difficult position in heroics and raids. A sub-standard DPS or mishandling of mechanics can lead to a significant amount of damage that is (sometimes) un-healable.

But I’m not letting any of you off the hook.

This is what you signed up for. I’m not sure exactly when you clicked through and applied a healing spec to your favorite class, but depending on when that was probably has a lot to do with your current feelings toward the healing game in Cataclysm. It isn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be easy.

As I had hoped and prayed for on this blog was that Blizzard would force me to intelligently use my global cooldowns. At this gear level, they have done that. If I mis-place a healing rain or cast too many chain heals on single targets, I will pay for it. If I cleanse the wrong players or double-cleanse when I don’t need to, I will pay for it. Every decision affects your mana bar. Choosing the right tool for the moment is exactly what healing is about and always will be about.

I’ve received tells from various players asking why healing is so hard and expressing that they might just go back to DPS after-all (some already have). Good. Wrath of the Lich King healing was too easy and now we’re all are suffering for it. Growing pains and adjustment are always a big part of a significant mechanics change.

I’ll admit that I’ve played poorly in some of our first few raids. Everything from over-healing to healing the wrong thing or simply just not casting enough. What’s good is that we’ve been successful and I can see some room for improvement. Playing a healer is no longer about how fast you can push those buttons but if you can push them quickly while using the correct spells.

To the players out there that are truly dedicated to healing and want to get better: stick with it. Just one week of heroic gear gave me a gigantic boost in my ability to heal through some of the worst situations. Now if a tank mis-pulls or breaks a CC early, I won’t have to scream for cooldowns. If you thought being a good healer before Cataclysm was an indispensable role, the need for solid healing is off the charts right now. You’ll get it, I have faith, but if you’re only going to complain about how hard it is and let groups wipe because you “can’t do it” then just roll a rogue and be done with it.

Rant off.

(editor’s note:  this is not directed at you. maybe you, but definitely not you or anyone in particular)

Halfus Wyrmbreaker

I can still fondly remember those moments before pulling Chromaggus when we sat in anticipation; waiting to find out what combination of colors the server gods had graced us with this week. It’s now the same feeling I get as I round the corner to Halfus’ balcony in the Bastion of Twilight. There are some drakes that both grant Halfus an ability, but also hold their own ability to take it away should you set them free. You get 3 per reset and there are 5 total (2 deactivated for the week).

(editor’s note: this is all for the normal version. The priorities could be completely different on heroic)

Storm Rider: Grants Halfus Shadow Nova. Release the Storm Rider to make the Shadow Nova interruptable.

This is the “Bronze Aspect” (to borrow a Chromaggus phrase) of Halfus. It requires a melee kick rotation to prevent a large amount of shadow damage/knockback.

Time-Warden: Grants Halfus’ proto-drake a buffed version of his fireballs. Release the Time Warden to slow the fireballs (a puff of red fire will appear where a fireball will eventually land).

While this is actually a bronze dragon, it is an easy mechanic to deal with: just move. It will reduce your dps and healing because of the movement, but it’s only a little annoying.

Slate Dragon: Grant’s Halfus the ability Malevolent Strikes (stacking debuff reducing healing done, 30 second duration, 15 stacks =90% reduction).

Let it stack, switch tanks, tanks will swap when their debuff fades

Nether Scion: Increases Halfus’ attack speed by 100%. Releasing the dragon will debuff Halfus to negate the attack speed.

Whelp Cage: Contains several green whelps. Release them to reduce the damage done by the proto-drake’s fire breath (raid-wide AOE).

  • Generally speaking, if we have 2 drakes, we release them both at the same time to nerf Halfus as much as possible
  • Each drake is burned down and then the whelp cage is opened. Kill the whelps, burn down Halfus
  • At 50% Halfus will gain a shout that will hit you 3 times in a row dealing physical damage on each hit (30 second cooldown).
  • If you need to interrupt Shadow Nova (Storm Rider was active), you’ll need to either heal through it, have a mage blink through the 3rd shout tick, or have a paladin HoP an interrupter of some sort.
  • Keep in mind the berserk timer. We lucked out out this week and the Slate Dragon’s debuff stunned Halfus as he enraged (giving us a kill over 30 seconds after).

(note: I’ve only ever seen 2 Drakes + Whelp Cage. I’m not entirely sure if you can get 3 drakes and no whelp cage)

And to sign off, Happy Festivus, everyone! Festivus:Yes. Bagels: No.


Cataclysm Raiding: Do It Right, The First Time

13 December, 2010

You know, as I lie here, I can’t help but notice… the reason I am out of nine millimeter rounds is that I was not properly briefed. And the reason for that is that this mission was not properly researched. If certain people had bothered to gather intelligence on the creatures before bumbling into the situation…-Burt Gummer, Tremors II

By now you’ve likely experienced the rush of leveling. The grind out of the gate when you hit the floor in Hyjal and were knee-deep in dead NPCs. Dozens of random cut-scenes, hundreds of quests (and maybe a dungeon or 2 later), you are 85 and ready to enter heroics.

The most likely outcome? Your group crashed and burned by the second trash pack while your healer sat gasping for mana. This was the case for me, and it was one of those “we’re doing something HORRIBLY wrong” situations. What you’re doing wrong is ignoring the individual abilities of the trash mobs (or bosses). Not standing in cleaves, avoiding aoe damage, interrupting, and over-CC’ing willl make your heroic dungeon experience infinitely easier. Do you need to CC 3/4 mobs in pack? Probably not, but better safe than sorry on your first trip.

It’s no mystery that the first foray for our a group through a particular dungeon was painful. Figuring out the nuance in each trash pack and what makes a certain boss simple as opposed to a healing nightmare is a refreshing change. You need to learn what is going on and actually deal with it correctly.

Saying Hello With a Punch to the Face

This leads me directly into a discussion on Cataclysm Raiding. I decided to schedule a quick impromptu 10-man raid on Sunday (12/12/10). The usual process followed for brand new content: look and see which starting boss was killed the most and go for that one. That boss was Omnotron Defense System. A pseudo-council boss sitting in the right-hand wing upon entering Blackwing Descent. For those who haven’t traveled there, BWD opens with two bosses (think Ignis and Razorscale). Each boss has has 1 (Omnotron) and 2 (Magmaw) trash pulls respectively.

I immediately say to myself: “SELF! Only one trash pull, this will save tons of time.” A crazy zerg shit-storm later and we have it down…the trash pull.

Yikes.

Trash mobs with 6.5M hit-points using abilities that will two shot anyone and put tanks in constant danger? Where are the AoE flowers and robots that I can ride? Maybe they are found deeper in the dungeon but they certainly are not present in the front of the instance. Assigned healing, something that floated out of existence for an entire expansion, has returned. The two sentinels standing guard in front of Omnotron were merely an introduction; a sample of what was to come.

Mr. Obvious Gives You Advice

A one sentence overview of Omnotron Defense System: It will punish you severely when you do it wrong, and will become simple to execute when done correctly.

“I know, Mr. Obvious, of course if you do the fight correctly it will be simple.”

This has not always been the case. Having only one in-combat rez and a disadvantage in the gear department compounds the above statement. Omnotron has abilities that directly (and serverely) punish the raid if they are not properly handled. Travel to wowwiki and read up on the fight if you aren’t intricately familiar, but here is the basic idea. A robot activates and fights you. After a certain amount of time he will put up a shield which turns on a new robot. When a robot runs out of mana he shuts down (post-shield). This rotates around until their shared 32.5 million hp bar is depleted and you can collect your epics. By their names you can guess what they do (kind of).

Arcanotron. Magmatron. Toxitron. Electron. Not always in that order.

1) Don’t DPS the Shield

With a few attempts under our belts we decided to adopt a “Don’t DPS the shield” strategy. Nothing good can come of damaging the shield. The difference in raid damage is immediately noticeable. This made it easy for us to debug problems in the strategy in regards to positioning and how folks are handling the other RSTS abilities. We placed all of the trust in our tanks to pick up the newly activated robots on time and told the DPS to start immediately.

2) Identify When to Group Up

The only robot that is sensitive to raid positioning is Electron (chain lighting). While all of the others are active, be closely grouped to make it easier on your healers. My default command was to call group on Arcanotron” when he was active. The pool he drops will be on the raid immediately and it will allow your healers to sustain this ~9 minute fight. The team of Arcanotron and Magmatron plays very nicely with this strategy.

The hardest combination to heal is Magmatron and Electron since they have conflicting abilities (chain lighting, raid wide fire area of effect). Healing Stream Totem glyph is handy.

3) Tank Cooldowns When New Robots Activate

There will be a small window of time when all 3 robots will be active. As a tank is changing from his shielded robot to the newly activated one, have them pop a cooldown to buffer the damage. Magmatron, in particular, hits hard and getting behind can cost you some vital mana reserves right as an ability is about to be used. If the tank is out of cooldowns, throw on an external one. Since our healing crew was druid-shaman-shaman, we didn’t have that option but did ok nonetheless.

4) Handle the Abilities

If you don’t put Magmatron’s laser away from the raid, kite Toxitrons slimes, or interrupt (most of) Arcanotron’s bolts, you will pay. It’s not a “woops get the next one” situation at this gear level. Each player needs to know how to react when things target them or the robots do certain things. It is not the most complicated fight I’ve ever done, but it will test your abilities and give you a quick introductory course on what to expect this expansion. The closest fight it resembles from WotLK is a slightly easier Mimiron.

Everyone but the tanks were working under completely new rules when it comes to playing their characters in a raid. We all had our toons geared through heroics, but amping it up and doing full (correct) dps rotations or properly healing to sustain a fight of this length is a test. If you can do this fight, you’re ready to go. All of the elements to a raid encounter are present.

  • Don’t stand in the Bad
  • Identify the Good, stand in it
  • Listen for vent calls on positioning
  • Switch targets on time
  • Keep your DPS/Healing up while moving/handling abilities

Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to take a step back and see why you keep wiping. Have your tank look at his death log. It might be something as simple as an interrupt or mob-facing. Be sure that you are accounting for each ability (heroic, raid, or otherwise) and over-compensate for them. One thing is certain: you will waste far more time wiping to blissful ignorancethan searching wowhead for the abilities and some tips to help out.

So far, so good. On to Magmaw.

I’m not comfortable giving a complete breakdown of our strategy (and my healing strategy) yet; not for “secrecy’s” sake, but for correctness. I think there’s a few things I can do better to improve my output and make the most out of my mana bar.


Tree Pruning: Restoration, Gristle-Free

14 July, 2010

If I have to tell you again to back off, you an’ me are gonna go round and round. — Mr. White

Revolutionary Beta Restoration Build

One of the buzzwords that floats around our office after every meeting and training seminar is “The Delta.” Basically, what’s the difference between what we know or do now and what we used to know/do. The delta just refers to anything that’s changed or is different. I thought I would do a typical nerd thing and apply that to the new 31pt talent trees that broke last night.

There’s been an expected avalanche of bitchingcommentary on this newly released info, but let’s give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt and take our time to break it down.

Restoration

Losses

  • Improved Healing Wave
  • Improved Reincarnation
  • Healing Grace
  • Tidal Force
  • Healing Focus (Moved to mastery)
  • Tidal Mastery
  • Healing Way
  • Focused Mind
  • Purification (Moved to mastery)
  • Earth Shield/Improved Earth Shield (Primary Tree Ability, Level 10)

Gains

  • Ancestral Resolve – Tier 1 – Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 5/10%.
  • Spark of Life – Tier 1 – Increased your healing done by 2/4/6% and your healing received by 5/10/15%.
  • Focused Insight – Tier 2 – After casting any shock spell, your next heal’s mana cost is reduced by 25/50/75% of the cost of the Shock spell, and its healing effectiveness is increased by 10/20/30%.
  • Nature’s Blessing – Tier5 – Increases the effectiveness of your direct heals on Earth Shielded targets by 5/10/15%.
  • Telluric Currents – Tier 6 – Your attunement to natural energies causes your Lightning Bolt spell to restore mana equal to 20% of damage dealt.

Enhancement Sub-Spec

  • Ancestral Swiftness – Moved up to tier 2 making it accessible to restoration shamans. Improved Ghost Wolf is also rolled into this talent:

Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 1/2 sec and increases movement speed by 7/15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

The enhancement sub-spec is the same as it was in Wrath of the Lich King, it’s just less talent points.

Elemental Sub-Spec

There still isn’t one for PvE Restoration.

Read the rest of this entry »


Current Events: Shaman Cataclysm Preview

6 July, 2010

Son of Odin, Thunder God, Master of War. Asator

The lift of the NDA on in-development Cataclysm content and the opening of closed beta has unleashed an avalanche of information (or tidal wave, I suppose would be more appropriate for this expansion) onto the web. Most of it is a lot of stuff that doesn’t get a big rise out of me anymore. Seeing flyover shots of zones and new NPC models just isn’t very interesting to me. We’ll be looking at all of it for the next 2 years, probably, so it’s nice to leave at least some of it discovery.

I was in the Burning Crusade beta test, and I ate up every bit of released information. Every single screenshot, video, and new dungeon to test. I did it all. For Wrath of the Lich King it was the opposite. My experience with each expansion was largely the same.

Actually, I don’t really want to spend several hours of my day flipping through 20 high res pictures of the same animal in different colors.

The shaman talent tree, on the other hand, is something that is very intriguing. There are a couple changes from the preview that puts a different spin on some of the comments I had before.

Improved Earth Shield

Improved Earth Shield is no longer a member of the Restoration talent tree. Earth Shield is now a 1 talent point ability that will have 9 charges as a base amount. Not an expected change, but a welcome one since adding 2 more charges to Earth Shield by spending 2 talent points is one of the most uninteresting/boring-but-required decisions one makes when filling out a resto spec.

Empowered Healing

In place of Improved Earth Shield we have Empowered Healing, we have a new 3 point talent:

Your Greater Healing Wave spell gains an additional 7%/14%/20% of your bonus healing effects, and your Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave spells an additional 3%/7%/10%

Nature’s Blessing is prerequisite for this talent that exists in the bowels of the tree on tier 9. To me it’s a little bit ‘meh’. Basically, you’re going to take both of these talents to make sure your output is at a maximum, so there isn’t much to talk about here. As you’ll see a bit later in this post, you lose nothing by having to take this talent.

Telluric Currents

Another new talent since the first preview:

Your attunement to natural energies causes your Lightning Bolt spell to restore mana equal to 15%/30%/45% of damage dealt.

A tier 10 talent to improve Restoration DPS? Interesting. Well, it improves our DPS by making those weak-ass lightning bolts not hurt our mana pool all that much. Before I give my comments on it, let’s take a look at the beta build I would use if I had a level 85 shaman on the beta: 0/18/58

I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether or not the current restoration talent tree is a blessing or a curse. Even with this second iteration, a PvE/Raiding Focused Shaman can take every talent that they need to improve their output. Perhaps I misunderstood Blizzard. They once said they would put enough talents into the tree that you wouldn’t be able to get everything you want.

However, that isn’t the case for me. Maybe my priorities of trying to maximize my output for raiding are different from players that might dabble in a little PvP, but it seems like going “all-in” to the resto tree still allows me to get some great utility talents like Enhancing Totems, Ancestral Swiftness, and Telluric Currents (and even Improved Reincarnation if you want to count that).

This isn’t a bad thing, in terms of making sure you’re getting the most out of your spent talent points, but some may say it doesn’t allow shamans to differentiate themselves within a raid (tank vs. raid healing). If you want to do something other than be a primary raid healer, then you need to change classes. Roll a Paladin, maybe test the waters of Discipline within the Priest realm, but don’t cry about (possibly) sub par single-target throughput when you have some of the best raid healing tools in the game on your side.

Fghtin’ Words

Back to Telluric Currents. These days in the land of milk, honey, and “hard mode” content, we healers find ourselves a little bored in some parts of a fight. There is no worse feeling than sitting in a fight as things are going on and not contributing at all. Every fight requires a minimum amount of healing, tanking, and DPS. Unlike healing and tanking, DPS has no maximum. The first thing a raid leader does after putting a fight on farm, or trying to shorten a phase or beat an enrage timer, is find a way to drop the total number of tanks and healers.

Even then, there will still be times as a healer where you’ll stand waiting for the next event so you can heal up. Maybe giving us the ability to provide some DPS will stem some of that boredom, but in the end if it isn’t a meaningful amount of damage (and it won’t be for various reasons) then healers will just zone out anyway. Another primarily-pvp addition which is probably needed.

I’ll take the talents because there isn’t any more to take (output-wise) in the tree. There are various talents like Nature’s Guardian, Focused Mind, Healing Grace, Totemic Focus, Healing Focus, and Focused Insight that other shamans will take instead.

This brings us to the Blue Post on DPSing as a healer:

Opportunity 1: Leveling or soloing. Not every healer wants to use their dual spec on say Elemental or Shadow.

So basically we’re looking at the mythical healer that needs a PvP and PvE healing spec while leveling. Those don’t exist, no matter how ambitious. If you are one of these healers then you get my usual response: just level up. There is no reason to use a healing spec when you’re leveling unless you are paired with a DPS class as a leveling partner (as I did for WotLK). If you are stubborn enough to have 2 healing specs while leveling solo, you get to suffer. With dual-talent specialization, you get the opportunity to do two things very easily. If you want to do 3 things then you have to do what everyone’s been doing since  release. No big deal.

Opportunity 2: PVP. Good healers, especially priests in today’s game, can contribute a lot of damage.

The talents that resto shamans currently get do not increase our damage unless you stripped out a few of the more PvE oriented talents and dipped into elemental. I’m stepping out of my element (pardon the pun) and into PvP so I’ll just move on.

Opportunity 3: Dungeons. This is particularly true when the content is easy and you want to get through it quickly. Healing more doesn’t make things go any faster. Dealing damage does.

DPSing in a healing spec with the talents we have now (beta+) is about as fun or interesting as playing with a paddle-ball blindfolded. If we’re talking about speeding up a 5 man when “content is easy,” then I might get to cast one lightning bolt (maybe two) per pack. How that contributes to speeding up content, I’m not real sure.

Opportunity 4: Raids. No matter how challenging the content, there are moments when nobody is taking damage and you can spare the mana. Your choices are do nothing, tab out to YouTube, or maybe do a little damage.

As a raid leader you can also add “cat herding” to that list (in place of do-nothing). If I wasn’t a raid leader then I’d pick do nothing or YouTube. DPSing as a healer, again, consists of throwing out a base spell and then saying on vent “woohoo a [1/4 DPS spec] damage lightning bolt!” The short version of all of this: if you find yourself really wanting to DPS, use your secondary spec for DPS, otherwise suck it up. That’s why it’s there.

The real way to make healers happy is keep them interested by healing in raids even towards the end of the content’s life-cycle. I’m not sure if that’s possible, so I’ll just consider it a reward for being the hardest working role at the beginning of the tier.


Halion Post #72653: This is the good Twilight

1 July, 2010

Rebels souls, deserters we were called. Chose a gun, and threw away the sword. Now these towns, they all know our names. Six gun sound is our claim to fame. — Bad Company

You’ve already watched the TankSpot video, you’ve read the brief strat write-ups on WoWHead, and maybe even dabbled in a bit of the lore. Going back over all of that is just going to be a waste of your time, and mineso here are my brief (not) impressions/opinions on the last raid of Wrath of the Lich King.

Overall, I was pleased with the new visuals and layout of the instance. It’s only one room so my expectations weren’t amazingly high, but they did a good job capturing the Red Flight’s theme that you see in Dragonblight.

The mini-boss concept is something that they’ve opened up in Wrath of the Lich King and I hope continues into Cataclysm. The dogs and the valkyr in Icecrown Citadel, along with the drakes in Obsidian Sanctum and Lieutenants inside Ruby Sanctum, break up the trash clear in a good way.  They have mechanics that you actually have to worry about and give your DPS some time to actually ramp up and use their real rotations.

For healers, we get to glance back at the monitor during trash which is nice. So far in Wrath there has been no trash other than maybe Crimson Halls that required any sort of real attention.

Halion Phase 1

Being outdoors in an open grove, you immediately get the sense that you are going to need to use most of the area and do a lot of movement. The first step that I always try to take when setting up a fight like this is try and maximize the raid’s usable space, if possible. The fiery wall surrounding the fight area is a nice border you can park Halion’s side against. The breath and tail aren’t really a problem, and if a meteor or poorly placed “void zone” force movement, you can just walk along the outside rim.

Phase 1 is a big time joke. There is nothing in this phase of the fight that can kill you (even if you try). You can take  a meteor to the face and still live. Why? I have absolutely no idea. If it was so important to move out of it, why make it take so long to land or even give much of a warning at all. As it stands, anyone that’s even barely paying attention will reduce the raid damage to nothing.

Conversely, a raid with lower DPS might have to deal with more meteors and void zones. Our raid comp ended up being 2 tanks (Warrior/Paladin), 5 Healers (Shaman/2xPriest/2xDruid), and 18 DPS (10 ranged, 8 melee), which is very DPS heavy. As we reached 75%, we were consistently getting 2 void zones and 1 meteor. Yawn.

Zone into the Twilight. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Hallion Phase 2

BloodlustHeroism as soon as everyone is phased in.

Going into this fight, you might ask yourself: “self, how the heck am I going to see the people to cleanse in the right spot while I’m running around dodging this big lazer!?” The answer is simple, just cleanse it right away. We tested fairly early on that the damage done by the void zones (both shadow and fire) in normal mode are easy to heal through for quick bursts.

Cleansing people immediately in the Twilight gives you these benefits

  1. Mindless. Your healers won’t have to think a lot about people’s position and whether it’s “safe” to cleanse. The debuff pops up on your grid and you just knock it right back down.
  2. Small void zone. An immediate cleanse creates a void zone that’s about 8ish yards across. Even if it’s dropped in melee, Halion’s hit box is so big that you almost don’t even notice it. They disappear in enough time

Phase 2 doesn’t last all that long (a trend from Phase 1).

Halion Phase 3

Shieldbubblebear Wall while people are zoning in/out and healers are making sure the Physical Realm team is safely ushered back upstairs.

If assigned, zone out into the Physical Realm. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Your raid is now split in two. We sent the melee upstairs (+hunter) and kept the ranged DPS downstairs. The Twilight Cutter is impossible to get hit by if you’re a ranged dps unless you’re standing right on top of an orb. Conversely the melee are always in danger of getting caught up in their rotation and being zapped.It’s also easier to just say “melee up, ranged down” and you don’t have to bother with pesky group assignments.

Physcial Realm (Top)

One Healer. One Tank. A little bit of fire. We started off with our healing split being 2 down (Me and a Druid) and 3 up (Druid + 2 Priests). We then went to 2 up, 3 down (Me/Druid/Priest), and by the time we killed him we determined that the top can be easily solo healed. Four healers, split between tank and raid, is good insurance for the Twilight Realm which is significantly…more involved than the Physical Realm.

Twlight Realm (Bottom)

Healer tips for those that are new:

  1. If your tank is closely following the beam (like he should be), a good place to stand is right on the bosses front leg. This will keep you in range of him with some buffer if a void zone is dropped oddly, but will also keep your DPS healing targets within 40 yards.
  2. That being said, make sure you don’t get cleaved or breathed on, it’s easy to lose track of which way the dragon is facing while you’re running.
  3. The tank is your number one priority, do not focus on keeping raid members topped off 100% of the time. Make sure you are keeping them in a safe range, certainly, but this fight is over immediately if that tank drops. Dead raid members can be battle-rezzed (also: ankh, soul stone) and take the portal back down.
  4. Riptide and LHW are your best friend. Being soft-capped on your haste is a good thing here.
  5. Communicate with your tank and let him know if you’re out of range for any length of time. Even if it’s only for a little, Halion hits hard enough that an unlucky avoidance streak will equal a wipe.
  6. I found myself hitting my NS cooldown as soon as it came up and waiting on it for a quick burst when I was moving (prelude to Cataclysm and spirit-walking).

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to do a melee up, ranged down strat, Halion’s corporeality will dip under 40% quite often as the ranged DPS will be forced to move as a group much more often than the melee. Just have the Physical realm pause for a bit and let it come back up.

Stay out of the Twilight Cutter and you’ll have little problems. Like I said above, a competent healer can handle the Physical realm on their own. Even with the movement requirements in the Twilight, I never felt overly stretched. Though, after healing Putricide(HM) Phase 3, Halion phase 3 is a bit of a breather.

Impressions

I made the comparison of raids to Theme Parks a few posts back, and that analogy holds true for Halion. Halion is a boss that’s all about making you feel like you’re about to die at any moment, but never actually does anything that will kill you. The void zones aren’t really void zones, you can run across one and live with just a couple heals (if any). The Twilight Cutter is dangerous but the extensive emotes and the slow movement mean you really have to leave your computer to be killed by it.

We obviously haven’t done heroic mode (yet), but I’ve read enough about it to know that there is a lot more potential in this fight. Heroic additions such as adds from meteors, void zones appearing in both realms, and two simultaneous twilight cutters means that if you didn’t have enough things to not stand in before, you can rest assured that you’re available space will be much tighter.

Anyways, as far as the normal mode version of the encounter goes, it was a fun and refreshing take on YADF*. Anything that splits the raid in half is always a challenge of balancing and coordination. You never quite know what is going on so it forces you to actively communicate and keep vent cleared. The vent clogging can get out a bit out of hand as the Twlight Realm will be talking a lot more than the Physical Realm.

The first two phases were just too short for even very average DPS. Because of this, you don’t really deal with any of the mechanics until the last phase and by that time, as long as your tanks stay upright you can limp home if needed. The meteor and void zone timers do not require your movement and positioning to be as strict as I thought they would. Things tend to disappear rather quickly.

I stayed in the Twilight Realm, but from what I heard over Vent, the Physical Realm is the trivial portion of the encounter.

On hard mode with the adds and additional damage/void zones, it will likely be the more complicated half of the raid. The disappointing thing about normal mode, sadly, was that we only got one upgrade (Caster DPS trinket). The other pieces were given to offspecs/side grades. We’ve spent a lot of time farming hard mode ICC, so that is expected, but it seems like we could have used this boss maybe 2 months ago whenever we were plodding along still with some 251 gear.

My question is: Why not have encounters in all of the Wyrmrest portals? Both Sartharion and Halion were incredibly enjoyable experiences top to bottom. It would end up being a set of 1 encounter dungeons that would form a pseudo-full instance. There were a lot of breaks in content throughout Wrath of the Lich King, adding fights for the Green (with Ulduar?), Blue(with ToC?), and Bronze (with ICC?) flights would have been really cool.

All in all, we notched another boss kill in about 6 attempts. By ICC standards it ranks on the low end of difficult fights, but nothing I didn’t expect. In the next couple resets I hope to get into hard mode (10 man and possibly 25) to see what’s in store to snag some i284s.

Bottom-Line: Very fun and engaging encounter, but lacks a real danger factor once you’ve seen how tame some of the mechanics really are. A nice punctuation mark on a successful expansion.

*Yet Another Dragon Fight