Home
Subscribe:
Contact:
Subscribe to this blog by RSS Follow me on Twitter
Subscribe to this blog by RSS

Dragon Soul Nerfs

Posted by Malevica on January - 20 - 2012

Blizzard has announced that from January 31st Dragon Soul normal and heroic will be hit with a 5% nerf across the board, which may or may not be followed by further nerfs. Reactions have been predictably strong.

What Blizzard Said

Let’s have some choice excerpts. You can read the full text on MMO-Champion and elsewhere.

Here’s a bit from the first announcement:

During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of January 31, the Dragon Soul raid will become enveloped by the “Power of the Aspects” spell, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the raid by 5%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Looking for Raid difficulty.

The spell can also be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul, if a raid wishes to attempt the encounters without the aid of the Dragon Aspects.

So it’s a flat 5% nerf to health and damage done, no mention of removal of mechanics or mechanic changes à la Firelands. The scale is similar to the ICC progressive nerf/buff, and just like the ICC effect it can be turned off if you want to.

Later on, a follow-up post with clarification and, importantly, explanation was posted:

Believe it or not there are actually guilds and raiding groups that are attempting to progress through Normal and Heroic raids, but are hitting a wall, and have been hitting a wall. We have actually statistical date [sic.] we base our changes on, we know exactly how many people are clearing these raids each week, we know exactly how many people are able to down just a few bosses, and how many were only able to down a few bosses every week for weeks on end and then stopped raiding altogether.

The issue we’re constantly trying to combat is the one where people feel like they’re just out of options. One way this is an issue is the content is too easy, they blasted through it, have everything they could possibly want, and have nothing else to do. Ideally that’s a small subset of very hardcore players. For everyone else it’s a feeling of just being stuck with no possible way to progress. Very few players are willing to suit up, buff up, do all the necessary requirements to raid, jump in, and then do no better than they did last week for hours and hours, only to return next week and do the same.

[…]

If they don’t have to be like us, why do they have to have nerfs to get to our position in HM Raiding?
Because they want to and they pay the same amount for the game? I don’t know, man. How is it good for the game to have 1% of players parading around for months and months and a 99% sitting around with nothing to do because they’re sick and tired of wiping?

[…]
We plan to increase the spell by 5% about every month, but we’re not sure if we’ll need to. If we see a lot of people able to keep progressing and downing bosses, maybe 5% is all we need. It’s going to be watching completion numbers and seeing where that gets us. We’re not assuming we’ll need to go as far as we did with ICC. It’s not going to be automatic, our hand is on the dial.

The increase is not automatic or set in its frequency. We will be manually controlling when it increases, if at all. It will be completely based on how many people we see able to complete the raid, and our decision to increase it or not.

Needless to say, much has been made of these two announcements.

Reactions

Taking a quick, far from exhaustive look down my Google Reader and Twitter, I can see several really great points being made. Gina at Healbot.net looks at it in terms of how it affects raiding guilds, particularly when it comes to recruitment. She describes two scenarios:

Option A) Turn off the buff. Fall behind on progression because everyone and their mother is using the buff. Fall behind on server leaderboard. Does it matter that we clear it without the nerf? Not so much, leaderboards don’t show the difference unless you look at clear dates.
Option B)
Succumb to the buff, get totally demotivated (/sigh), and let it hang over your head that you cleared from 3+ on HC after the nerf and had to do it with the buff or fall farther behind.

Looked at this way it’s a real no-win situation.

Kurn made a similar point:

While yes, it can be turned off, I don’t know that many raiders will take advantage of that option. What looks better when recruiting — 2/8 HM (no buff) or 5/8 HM?

In my experience while it’s not the be all and end all, server ranking is a major determining factor in the rate of applications received by guilds, especially those not at the cutting edge; a large proportion of applicants will simply work their way down WoWProgress, and if you’re a fair way down that list it’s a lot more work to recruit without a really good selling point. Saying that you can easily turn the buff off assumes both that your entire team is of one mind on the subject (which might not be the case) and that your team is stable enough to not be affected by turnover and recruitment.
Guilds do not exist in a vacuum, and the decision about the buff is not solely determined by in-game factors.

Gina also sums her feelings up in a way I can definitely relate to:

I feel a sense of disapointment and I’m sorry for my raid team. Sorry I didn’t push us harder, faster, and get us more HC kills.

Nerfing current content reminds us that raids, at launch, are intended for a different audience than us. Once they’ve been through the content, it gets changed to be more suitable for hoi polloi. That’s not a good feeling. I want to raid the same content, albeit a bit later and with more gear, as everyone else.
What’s more it feels slightly patronising to me, as if the game is somehow taking pity on us and nerfing bosses so we don’t have to wipe too many times.

Another thought from Kurn:

I still wear my Hand of A’dal title because of what it took for us to kill Vashj and Kael and finish the Vials of Eternity quest.

Those were my favourite days of WoW; pushing hard to achieve something, even though I was months behind others, knowing that, apart from minor tweaks and slight adjustments, the encounters were basically the same as they had been when the server first guilds had done them. (Until the 3.0 nerf, anyhow.)

Raiders like us who take their in-game achievements seriously are bothered by when we kill bosses, pre- or post-nerf. A post-nerf kill, regardless of the size of the nerf, feels illegitimate, as if we’ve used a cheat code or killed the boss’s weaker sibling. Many guilds insist on tackling heroic modes because normal mode kills aren’t enough of a challenge and therefore don’t give enough of a psychological reward; as normal modes are to heroic modes, so post-nerf bosses are to pre-nerf bosses.

Juvenate of WTS Heals (@WTSHeals) on Twitter was one of several people who brought the LFR mode into the equation:

I always thought the ICC nerfs were so that people can see the content. We have raid finder now.

When LFR was announced, I was hopeful that LFR would allow people to “see content” without needing to nerf normal modes. Unfortunately, as Adam Holisky points out at WoWInsider:

The Raid Finder, while good, isn’t for everyone. Some people really hate pugging — so much so that they’d rather not play the game than have to pug. There are some people who are just interested in running content with their guild, and if their guild doesn’t want to run the Raid Finder, then it’s normal modes.

LFR might have fixed the difficulty problem, but it has its own problems relating to the format and to the social side of raiding. Perhaps if there existed a 10-man LFR difficulty mode that a casual or otherwise less-progressed 10-man guild could elect to tackle we’d have our third difficulty level, but at it stands LFR is an entirely separate animal and can’t just be considered an easier version of the raid that people can do if they can’t handle normal mode.

Note, I’m not arguing for the removal of LFR either. The match-making functionality and the ease and speed of grouping is a huge bonus for a vast number of people, and the game experience for many people has been dramatically improved by the feature. All I’m saying is that it didn’t achieve one of the things I, and others, had hoped it might.

Finally, in what I suspect might be a regrettable slip from whoever wrote that second Blue post, there was a noticeable change in the tone of the rationale this time around. In previous tiers the changes have been framed more towards “greater accessibility” and “allowing people to see the content”. While we’ve not always agreed with the decision, the intention has always appeared relatively noble. This time around though there was some extra language which very definitely pushed Kurn’s buttons, and I can certainly see why. Here are those lines again:

The issue we’re constantly trying to combat is the one where people feel like they’re just out of options. […] For [all but a small subset of very hardcore players] it’s a feeling of just being stuck with no possible way to progress. Very few players are willing to suit up, buff up, do all the necessary requirements to raid, jump in, and then do no better than they did last week for hours and hours, only to return next week and do the same.

[…]

If they don’t have to be like us, why do they have to have nerfs to get to our position in HM Raiding?
Because they want to and they pay the same amount for the game? I don’t know, man. How is it good for the game to have 1% of players parading around for months and months and a 99% sitting around with nothing to do because they’re sick and tired of wiping?

I wouldn’t go quite as far as Kurn did in her reaction to these comments, although she’s perfectly entitled to her opinion and as I’ve said I do understand her perspective. But it is very provocative to see Blizzard effectively saying that they’re not catering for you.

The (valid) point Blizzard is trying to make here is that insurmountable roadblocks cause players to leave the game and that’s bad for everyone. Thus, they argue, if people have reached their ceiling they’ll get bored unless the difficulty is tweaked to let them progress again (until they reach another ceiling, when the number goes up to 10%, etc.). Clearly the data they have suggests to them that a large enough number of guilds have reached their ceiling to start the tweaking.

The trouble is, one size doesn’t fit all. Some of us are not at our ceiling, so we’re seeing our experience altered, our rewards diminished, our playing field made less level, for the benefit of other people. As humans, that just isn’t going to sit right with us.

And that “they pay the same money, they should be able to do whatever they want to” line was really ill-advised, and I note with interest that it’s been edited out of the forum post.

Et Moi?

As much as I’m disappointed by the nerfs to current content it’s not the first time it’s happened while I’ve been raiding and the game’s still here, I’m still raiding, and I can’t see either of those things changing in the foreseeable future. I’m happy with my current guild, and I’m enjoying the Dragon Soul encounters. Even with the 5% nerf there will still be plenty of challenge to be had.

When I look over the list of issues most of them are external, they relate to how other people will perceive me, or how I perceive my achievements in comparison with other people. So the trick is to focus on the team, focus on the encounters in front of us, and worry a little less about rankings and progression.

Possibly Related Posts:

Categories: Opinion

Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz

Posted by Malevica on January - 3 - 2012

NB: This guide will assume you’ve already read my normal Warlord Zon’ozz strategy, or otherwise know the details of the fight on normal mode.

Fight Summary

Moving from normal to heroic mode there are three big changes. The first is that Zon’ozz has an increased health pool but a very tight 6 minute berserk timer, so you need to bounce the ball more times to stack Void Diffusion higher on the boss so you can beat it. The second big difference is that during the Black Blood of Go’rath phase 8 tentacle adds will spawn around the room, and the damage dealt by the Black Blood of Go’rath is multiplied by the number of tentacles still alive. The third is that the Disrupting Shadows debuff he casts on 3 random players in your raid will deal AoE damage and and AoE knockback when dispelled, so you have to take great care with dispelling it.

Let’s go through the more straightforward two first, then we’ll come to the tentacles.

Void Diffusion

As a reminder, every time you bounce the Void of the Unmaking it gains a stack of Void Diffusion, causing it to do 20% more damage on the next bounce. It also gives Zon’ozz a stack of Focused Anger, increasing his physical damage by 20% and his attack speed by 5%. When the Void is allowed to hit Zon’ozz, he gains Void Diffusion instead, increasing all damage he takes by 5%, and his Focused Anger stacks reset. This also triggers the Black Blood phase, which we’ll deal with later.

The Void Diffusion debuff is the key to beating his berserk timer. The debuff lasts 2 minutes, so you are able to stack it up progressively over the course of the fight every time you let the Void hit him. However, in order to beat the berserk you’ll need quite a few stacks. A typical bounce strategy is to go with 7 each time, and 5 on the fourth round. After the fourth set of bounces, you ignore the Black Blood phase adds entirely, pop Bloodlust and hope to burn him down before he reaches Berserk or your healers run out of cooldowns/mana/will to live.

If your DPS is low, you might want to push an extra pair of bounces, either on the first or last sets. 7 bounces shouldn’t require cooldowns to survive (and you’ll need them later, so try and save them) but the damage will be pretty high by the end. 9 may require special treatment, perhaps a PW:B if you have one spare, or you can use tricks like having a Mage with Cauterise or a Shadow Priest with Dispersion solo one bounce.

Disrupting Shadows

On 10-man heroic Zon’ozz will cast this on 3 random players at a time. Before resistances it deals 35,000 Shadow damage per 2s, but the real danger it poses is that when it gets dispelled it deals 60,000 Shadow damage to, and knocks back, everyone within 10 yards.

Because of the significant AoE damage the dispel causes, usually no one should be dispelled before they’ve run out of their cluster. On the other hand, you don’t want too many people running out before the Void reaches your group either or the damage won’t be split widely enough and people are liable to die. So when the Void is on its way to your group, you need to heal the debuffed people through the damage, and only when you’ve split the Void damage should they run out and be dispelled. This will stretch healing, but is manageable; Disc priests can help a lot here with absorbs acting as an extra buffer.

Getting this right is one of the biggest challenges in the encounter. You need to watch the game space as well as your healthbars so you can see where people are and when they’re 10 yards away. It’s also worth coordinating who will do the dispelling so you don’t get two dispels at the same time or waste mana. We assign one healer to the ranged and one to the melee and they dispel their own clusters only.

Black Blood of Go’rath

On normal difficulty, Black Blood of Go’rath is just a raid-wide AoE, you group up and heal through it and get back to bouncing the Void again. On Heroic the Black Blood of Go’rath deals 3,795 Shadow damage per 2 sec for every one of the freshly-spawned 8 tentacle adds (one Claw, two Flails and five Eyes) still alive. What this means is that the AoE damage at the start of the fight is pretty intense, but becomes manageable once 2-3 of the tentacles have died.

The way to deal with this is to have everyone group up at the start of the phase, throw out heavy AoE healing along with a raid cooldown, and have your DPS quickly take out the nearest three tentacles. (I’ll describe our assignments in a moment). The timing is such that you will be able to use 3-minute cooldowns every other Black Blood phase, so plan accordingly; remember that if you’re going to go for a burn after the fourth round of bounces, you’ll need to save your best cooldowns for that phase, which might affect which you choose to start with.

The tentacles spawn in predictable places, which makes planning for them easier:

Heroic Warlord Zon'ozz Positioning Diagram - Screenshot with Raid Markers

Heroic Warlord Zon'ozz Positioning Diagram. Boss position is the red cross; Black Blood phase group-up spot is the blue square; the green triangle and purple diamond are the two Flail spawn positions

We split the raid into three teams at this point:

  • Left: 2 ranged + 1 healer
  • Right: 2 ranged + 1 healer
  • Middle: 3 melee

Here’s how we handle this phase:

  1. Everyone groups up on the blue marker, right underneath the Claw. The claw needs to be tanked or it’ll do substantial raid-wide AoE Shadow damage and people have a bad habit of getting owned by this.
  2. Left group takes out the nearby Flail (spawns on the green triangle marker) while the Right group takes the right-hand nearby Eye (number 4) and the Middle group kills another nearby Eye (number 3). Except for the melee everyone should be stacked up at this point to help with the healing
  3. Once these first three tentacles are dead, the Left group heads out to deal with their two assigned Eyes (numbers 1 and 2), the Right group kills their Eye (number 5) and Flail (spawns on the purple diamond marker), and the Middle group switches to the boss, cleaving the Claw down at the same time.

After this phase ends the boss continues to be tanked on the Blue marker while the ranged position shifts to the centre of the room. This positioning then remains until the end of the fight.

Spec and Glyphs

The damage is quite high, so you don’t get the natural lulls you get elsewhere, but Smiting can be very useful for helping your team kill their tentacles in time, and you can build up Evangelism stacks during the early bounces in preparation for either the later few bounces or the beginning of the Black Blood phase.

In terms of Glyphs, it’s again all about the output. Prayer of Healing and Power Word Barrier are must-haves here, and I’d be inclined to take Penance for spot-healing; towards the end of each light phase Zon’ozz will be meleeing the tank pretty hard, and people may also be low from having Disrupting Shadoew dispelled.

Prayer of Mending is a very strong Major glyph here, because of the long periods of sustained raid damage.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B should be alternated with another raid cooldown at the start of each Black Blood phase to keep the raid alive until a couple of tentacles are down. Once everyone’s grouped up you can throw it down and it makes a big difference. I’d recommend saving Divine Hymn for the final burn phase, since you’ll only get one chance to use it and that’s when you’ll need a second cooldown up your sleeve.

Pain Suppression has two uses. First, you can use it to keep the tank alive when Zon’ozz is at >5 stacks of Focused Anger (or whenever else they need it). Especially if your assigned tank healer has to run out because they were unlucky enough to get Disrupting Shadows. The other use for it is if the ranged DPS are slow to return to the middle after killing their tentacles, you can save someone who will find themselves taking a larger share of the damage.

Life Grip can be used to get people to cluster points quickly, but shouldn’t be relied upon.

The Berserk timer on the fight is 7 minutes, so if you want a second Hymn of Hope you’ll have to use it very early in the fight, pretty much just after the pull. You could spam bubbles like crazy before the first bounce and then regen all that mana, but this might not pay off. The best time to pop this, if you’re only going once, is just after everyone’s got back in position after the Black Blood phase, but not when there’s a round of debuffs coming out. The damage is relatively low at this time.

You should be able to get a second Shadowfiend cast in though, so use it early and have it ready for near the end of the fight to allow you to spam like crazy.

Other Tips

Not too much besides what I’ve already touched on. The damage profile is more ramped than spiky, so if you can build up Evangelism before the high-damage portions you’ll be in a strong position. Clever, sparing use of PW:S as a buffer can be really helpful here too, because raid members will be taking some pretty large hits from time to time. In particular, bubbling the people with the debuff is a great way of buying time to allow them to run out and be dispelled safely.

The other thing of note is that Smite and Holy Fire are affected by Zon’ozz’s Void Diffusion buff. Especially in the nuke phase at the end you can get a lot of mileage out of Smite healing. At 45k per Smite your HPS will approximate that of PoH-spamming, plus Atonement stacks DA when it crits and is smart-targeting; not to mention you could also be pushing out 50k+ DPS at a time when, especially on early kills, you’ll be right up against the berserk timer.

Possibly Related Posts:

Heroic Morchok

Posted by Malevica on December - 15 - 2011

NB: This guide will assume you’ve already read my normal Morchok strategy, or otherwise know the details of the fight on normal mode.

Fight Summary

The key difference between normal and heroic mode is that at 90% HP Morchok splits into two clones, one named Morchok and one named Kohcrom, with a shared health pool. Both have the same abilities as on normal mode; Kohcrom does his approximately 6 seconds after Morchok does his, with the exception of the Earthen Vortex/Black Blood of the Earth, which happen simultaneously.
Morchok and Kohcrom both get Furious at 20% HP.

In addition, the Stomp applies a debuff making you take 100% increased physical damage for 10 sec, so you have to split the raid into two teams spread at least 50-60 yards apart (so that one boss’s crystal can’t spawn in the other boss’s Stomp range either) or risk players, especially tanks, being gibbed. There is no Crush Armor, at least!

This splitting of the team requires some thought: in each 5-man team you need a tank plus someone pretty tough to soak the double-hit from the Stomp, which was hitting our Ret Paladin for ~140,000 Physical damage after armour. Rogues can Feint every Stomp, making them excellent candidates, otherwise you’ll need to keep your soaker well topped-off and where possible give them a PW:S too.

On top of that, you need three players to split the damage from the Resonating Crystal. It is unclear whether this targets only ranged players or just ignores the two closest players to the boss, it was merrily targeting someone on the other side of the map rather than picking on the melee DPS soaker if we lost a ranged DPS or healer. You may need to check, and maybe switch an extra melee DPS for a ranged.

A note on composition: we ended up using 4 healers for this encounter, 2 per side. You might be able to lower this eventually but I’d strongly recommend starting with 4 and seeing how you go, even if you get an offspec healer in they’ll be valuable.

Once you have the two teams sorted out, the execution is pretty straightforward, although it is fairly challenging for healers to prioritise healing where it’ll keep people alive – the long-lost art of triage.

There’s a rhythm to the fight, but the most important thing to remember is that every crystal explosion is preceded by a Stomp, so it’s important that when a crystal spawns you wait and soak the Stomp before then running for the crystal. You have roughly 5 seconds to get there, which is easy as long as the tank isn’t miles away from the crystal.
The number one cause of early deaths was people immediately running for the crystal and not splitting the Stomp.

Before the first Black Blood:

Time Korchom Morchok
0 Crystal
5 Stomp
12 Stomp
15 Crystal
20 Stomp
21 Crystal
26 Stomp

Subsequently:

Time Korchom Morchok
0 Stomp
5 Stomp
8 Crystal
14 Stomp
19 Stomp
21 Crystal
26 Crystal
26 Stomp
31 Stomp
35 Crystal
41 Crystal
41 Stomp
46 Stomp

Note that Morchok’s side takes one additional crystal each time, so bear that in mind when planning teams. For example, if your raid has limited mana restoring cooldowns it might be worth putting more on Morchok’s team.

Remember: when a crystal spawns, wait for the next Stomp, then run out to the crystal. You have ~5 seconds to get there, which is plenty of time.

Spec and Glyphs

This fight, on heroic, really rewards damage mitigation. I’d recommend a Soul Warding spec so you can cover your entire group, or at least the three people taking the crystal. Archangel/Atonement is less useful here because Prayer of Healing, with the associated guaranteed Divine Aegis absorption, is a much more valuable tool for recovering from and preventing Stomp and Crystal damage. Given the heavy weight placed on PW:S and PoH it’s probably worth glyphing those.

Cooldown Usage

Morchok takes a little over 6 minutes. To get a second PW:B in, you need to use it between the first and second Black Blood phases, and it will be available again during the Furious stage.

Pain Suppression should be used to support your tank and your Stomp soaker during the enrage, when they’ll be taking extra damage from the stomp and may not be able to rotate cooldowns for every one. Earlier in the fight, it can be handy if one person on your team is too low before a damage spike.

Life Grip can save someone’s bacon if they’re slow to run out to get away from the Black Blood or especially if they’re too slow getting in for a crystal.

Finally, the Black Blood phase is a good time to use Hymn of Hope, since there’s no damage caused while you’re safely behind the pillars. Shadowfiend is also safe from the Black Blood because it’s AoE damage, yet Morchok himself can still take damage.

Other Tips

Discipline shines on this fight, because there’s spaced-out damage spikes.

Make sure you PW:S the Stomp soaker and use a few casts of PoH to stack Divine Aegis before the Stomp, then while running to the crystal you can get PW:S on the three people that will take the damage. Once you’re back by the boss and in the ~8 sec lull before the next Stomp, bring everyone back up with Binding Heal and PoH in preparation for the next round.

Binding Heal is a real gift on this fight too, it really helps keep you alive while healing other people and it’s a nice quick cast for triage purposes.

Possibly Related Posts:

Dragon Soul Difficulty

Posted by Malevica on December - 7 - 2011

The current hot topic amongst the raiding blogo- and twitterspheres is the question of the tuning of the new Dragon Soul raid instance: far too easy and not enough to keep us going for potential 8 months? Tuned about right, when you consider it as a difficulty curve and realise that Firelands was rather flat compared to a strong curve in Dragon Soul. I also commented that I thought the raid was undertuned, but I think I may have been a little hasty in that assessment.

Some Data

<Abraxas> cleared Dragon Soul on Normal this week, taking a total of 20 pulls for the first 6 bosses and then 33 pulls on the last two together, although quite a few of those were on the Spine where we were 9-manning for practice because we had too many people LD that evening. For a better sample (albeit still small), I’ve taken the top 5 guilds on my server and averaged their pulls to kill for each boss for which data were available; it’s not very scientific, but it’s interesting:

First Week Pulls to Kill for Normal Dragon Soul 10-man

First Week Pulls to Kill for Normal Dragon Soul 10-man - Data gathered from World of Logs for the top 5 guilds on Dath'Remar-US

Caution is due here because there may have been server issues affecting guilds on later bosses, or experimentation with tactics, or less information available from the PTR, but this does suggest that there was a pretty strong increase in the difficulty throughout the raid, for whatever reason, lining up with what Rohan observed over at Blessing of Kings.

For additional data, we turn to WoL again, tracking the kills-to-total-pulls ratios for the bosses, again on 10-man normal for comparison:

Success Percentage (Kills/Wipes) for Normal Dragon Soul 10-man - Data from World of Logs for all uploaded reports

Madness of Deathwing has no kill detection so it doesn’t appear, and Spine seemed to have dodgy kill detection earlier in the week so take that figure with a pinch of salt.

With the exception of Zon’ozz who seems to be causing raids a great deal of difficulty, once again you can see a curve there. Morchok is a pushover, but then there’s a good ramping up of difficulty between Yorsahj, Hagara and Ultraxion.

Both of these data sources point to a strongly-graded difficulty curve. Compare that to Firelands:

Success Percentage (Kills/Wipes) for Normal Firelands 10-man - Data from World of Logs for all uploaded reports

Again, a note of caution. Dragon Soul is a snapshot of week 1, whereas the Firelands graph includes the effects of nerfs which I’d expect to have flattened the curve somewhat, but again it’s suggestive of a difference.

So Is Dragon Soul Actually Too Easy?

Initially I thought it was. We’re a very strong but not elite guild and we’ve cleared 8/8 bosses in the first week. And we’re far from alone: on Dath’Remar, hardly a hotbed of hardcore raiding, 7 guilds went 8/8 in Week 1, and a further 8 are 7/8.

However, the situation we’re in is atypical. Guilds like ours, high-ranked but not the cutting edge, benefited from the Firelands nerfs to gain a gear advantage that wouldn’t have been available to us in previous tiers, so Dragon Soul normal probably should feel easy to us. It’s meant to be done in ilvl378 gear, not ~ilvl388 like many of us have, and it absolutely has to be designed that way. By the time we came to the Madness of Deathwing we were very close to the Cataclysm and Berserk timers on several occasions, so a starting position closer to ilvl378 should indeed mean a few weeks of farming would be needed to meet the checks of the later encounters.

In short, I think all is as it should be with the raid, the trouble is more a consequence of the previous tier, and perhaps premature reactions to first nights from surprised raiders like myself incorrectly assuming the whole place is at the same level.

The trouble though, with guilds like us being in this position, is that we’ve lost something important in the raid lifecycle: the “inevitable kill” phase.

Working through normal modes, for a guild like us, is supposed to be something that takes a bit of time while we learn the fight, but which we always know we’re intended to kill. It’s a good feeling, it’s reassuring, and the successes help to lift our spirits and build some momentum. Now, instead, what we have to look forward to are heroic modes which are a far from a certain prospect. We didn’t kill heroic Ragnaros; most of us didn’t make much progress in heroic Tier 11 let alone kill Sinestra; heroic Lich King (even with the 30% buff) evaded many. So every kill from now until MoP is likely to be a long, hard grind, and some kills we may not even get.

You’ll forgive me for feeling a little cheated.

Possibly Related Posts:

Categories: Featured, Opinion

4.3 Dragon Soul Guide for Discipline Priests

Posted by Malevica on November - 29 - 2011

With the new Dragon Soul raid now live, it’s time to start getting ready for the new raid and its associated challenges. This guide is intended to provide a few handy tips and hints for Discipline Priests in particular. It’s focused on 10-man normal modes, with a heroic version to follow.

I’d like to acknowledge drawing on the videos and guides from Learn2Raid and Icy Veins for information, and also the summaries posted on our forums by Gravarc from <Abraxas>.

As always, input welcomed.
 

Contents

 

Morchok       (Top)

Fight Summary

There are four main mechanics and two phases to deal with: a main phase and then a special move, after which we’re back to the regular phase again. He also becomes Furious at 20% HP, increasing his attack speed by 30% and his damage by 20% while the rest of the fight remains unchanged.

In the main phase Morchok will Stomp roughly every 12-15s, which will deal 750,000 physical damage to everyone within 25 yards, and the two closest players (who should be the two tanks) will take a double share. Thus the tanks will take (before mitigation) 125,000 damage and everyone else should take 62,500 damage (or as high as 83,300 and 167,000 if all of the crystal team are out of range). The raid should typically be grouped well within 25 yards because of this mechanic.

From time to time Morchok will summon a Resonating Crystal somewhere roughly 35-40 yards from him. This explodes after 12 sec, dealing 90,000 Shadow damage split between the three closest players, with the damage increasing the further those players are from the crystal. Coloured beams show who’s currently closest, and the colour of the beam is a guide to distance: red is far, yellow medium and blue close. Those assigned, or just the three nearest people if you want to be more laid back about things, should go hug those crystals (ideally they need to get a blue beam), and will need healing back up afterwards.

Tanks will be affected by a stacking debuff called Crush Armor which reduces their armor (duh!) by 10% per stack, up to 10 stacks. The debuff lasts 20 sec and will therefore require tank-swapping at 4 stacks or so, depending on how often the debuff gets applied.

Roughly every 1 min 40 sec Morchok will pull the raid to him and stun them while channelling Falling Fragments for 5 seconds, and then casts Black Blood of the Earth, sending black slime flowing outwards which deals 5,000 Nature damage per second to anyone in it, increasing their Nature damage taken by 100% for 6 sec, stacking up to 20 times.

The raid should run outwards as soon as the stun breaks, because underneath Morchok is an Earthen Vortex which deals 5% of max HP per second to anyone close to Morchok, and should go stand behind the earth spikes left behind by Falling Fragments, which block the flow of the Black Blood of the Earth (and line of sight) and thus create safe spots. It might be helpful for healing to have the raid all run in one direction, although the damage on normal is far from life-threatening.

When the Black Blood has gone, the main phase begins again.

Spec and Glyphs

For grouping-heavy fights like this I tend to go with the PW:B and PoH glyphs. Since there isn’t much ticking damage that would make PoM worthwhile casting and there’s also nothing to Dispel Holy Nova might be worth a go on this fight to allow you to get some healing in on the raid as you’re running out behind the earth spikes.

For spec, if you’re on raid or float duties here I’d be inclined to pick up Soul Warding for this fight, depending on how much damage the Resonating Crystal does. You do have time to cover all three players without Soul Warding though, since they will be running in for 12 sec.
I also quite like Archangel for this one; the damage comes in peaks and troughs and people can be grouped up close enough that Atonement won’t be wasted, and you may be able to have boosted output for every other Stomp.

Cooldown Usage

Morchok will take around 5 minutes for the average raid, so given this fight length I’d suggest getting a PW:B in on one of the early Stomps so it should be off cooldown for one of the later Stomps under the enrage. It helps to use raid cooldowns on Stomps when Morchok is enraged, much as we do currently on Heroic Rhyolith, Majordomo or Beth’tilac. Remember that the new and (slightly) improved Divine Hymn can be used after a Stomp too.

Pain Suppression should be used to support tanks during the enrage too, when they’ll be taking extra damage from the stomp on top of his melee damage and may not be able to rotate cooldowns for every one. Earlier in the fight, it might be handy if a crystal soaker finds themselves far from the crystal; look out for any red-coloured beams.

Life Grip could save someone’s bacon if they’re slow to run out to get away from the Black Blood, but beware of getting caught in it yourself.

Finally, the Black Blood phase is a good time to use Hymn of Hope, since people should be close enough to benefit and there’s no damage caused while you’re safely behind the pillars. Shadowfiend ought to be safe from the Black Blood because it’s AoE damage, and Morchok himself can still take damage.

Other Tips

Because the damage is relatively predictable, this ought to be a fight where Discipline shines. You can use Archangel to give yourself a boost before roughly half of the Stomps and stack Divine Aegis nice and high in preparation for the other half, and if your mana can take putting a PW:S on the three crystal soakers you ought to see quite a tasty healing spike there.

 

Yorsahj the Unsleeping       (Top)

Fight Summary

Yorsahj is a complicated fight, because of the degree of randomness involved. His primary attack is a Void Bolt which deals 90,000 Shadow damage to his tank and adds a 5,000 Shadow damage per 2 sec DoT to them that stacks up to 20 times, necessitating tank-swapping after 3-4 stacks.

The rest of his abilities depend on the Blood adds that spawn, chosen from a selection of six. You get to kill only one add of the three, because attacking one heals the others to full very quickly and they become immune once one has died, so you always have to deal with two abilities each time although you can pick your combination. The key to this fight is understanding what each ability does so you can be prepared for the damage, and working out which combinations you need to avoid so that you know which add is the best choice to kill.

Those abilities in detail:

  • Blue (Cobalt): Yorsahj can summon a Mana Void. This steals all the mana from ranged casters and healers when it spawns and stores it within itself. When it dies it casts Mana Diffusion redistributing all that mana evenly between players within 30 yards of the Mana Void. Note: the tooltip says 30 yards, but also says “20 yard range”; to me it felt more like 20 yards in practice. Whatever the range is though, you certainly don’t have to hug it the whole time, so don’t waste time trying to do that!
    Having no mana has been scientifically proven to seriously impair your ability to heal, so you must be ready to deal with this when it happens through the use of mana cooldowns.
  • Purple (Shadowed): Yorsahj places Deep Corruption on every player for 25 seconds. Every time a player receives a direct heal or absorb effect, i.e. PW:S, they gain a stack of Deep Corruption. At 5 stacks, they will explode for 50,000 Shadow damage to the raid, therefore healers must be very careful with their heals. AoE heals like Prayer of Healing apply a stack to every player, so extra care must be taken with those.
  • Yellow (Glowing): Yorsahj gains the Glowing Blood of Shu’ma buff, doubling his attack speed, halving his cooldowns and changing his Void Bolt to add an AoE effect: 2 sec after he casts his usual Void Bolt at the tank, he fires a second, modified Void Bolt at the entire raid. This extra one hits for only 35,000 Shadow damage though, and does not DoT the raid. Overall, in practice, with a Glowing Blood extra tank damage is the thing to watch.
  • Red (Crimson): Yorsahj casts Searing Blood on three random raid members, dealing at least 35,000 Fire damage to them, increasing based on their distance from him. Therefore to minimise this damage the raid needs to stack up on Yorsahj.
  • Dark (Black): Yorsahj summons Forgotten Ones which fixate on random players and Psychic Slice them for 35,000 Shadow damage every 5 seconds. Again, the raid should stack up so that these can be killed quickly with AoE attacks.
  • Green (Acidic): Acidic Globules spawn, which use Digestive Acid to deal 60,000 Nature damage to random players and players (or pets) within 4 yards of them. When the Green Blood is up, the raid should be spread out.

Essentially the trick is to avoid the sucky combinations. Since Green requires spreading while Red and Black require grouping, and Purple is just plain annoying and can make healing through other effects very difficult, Green or Purple will be the top good candidates for killing.
Blue combined with Red is also a bad combination to have, because stacking on the boss (Red) conflicts with stacking on the Mana Void (Blue).

You’ll need to make a decision each time on which add to kill to get the least bad combination of adds.

Spec and Glyphs

As with Morchok, there’s a lot of grouped-up AoE healing in this fight, so PoH and PW:B come to the fore. Unlike Morchok, PoM should get plenty of opportunity to bounce around so glyphing it could pay off on this fight.

If you can spare the points, having a shorter cooldown on Shadowfiend might be valuable too in this fight so you’re more likely to have it available should a Cobalt Blood phase occur, either for use immediately after the Mana Void spawns or in case you aren’t able to get to the Mana Void to get your mana returned.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B is extremely useful when the raid is grouped up for a Red or Black Blood, especially if there is also a Yellow Blood when the damage gets highest. Divine Hymn on the other hand is more useful in a Green Blood phase, partly because of its larger range and partly because it will smart-target the few people who need heals.

Pain Suppression should be reserved for tanks during Yellow Blood phases, because they will be taking significantly increased damage.

Life Grip could be used if someone is slow to move in for a group-up phase, particularly a Red Blood phase since their damage depends on the distance they are from the boss and they really need to be in close.

Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope can be used immediately after the Mana Void has finished stealing your mana, so that you can get back to healing quickly. It may be worth coordinating Mana Tide and Hymn of Hope usage within your raid so that you always have one or the other available for a Blue Blood.

Other Tips

All I can say is be aware of which buffs are up so you know the damage profile. Yellow means high tank damage, Red, Black and Green mean higher raid damage.

Purple means be very careful of your heals. It might be better to heal people with serial Greater Heals than a Prayer of Healing if not everyone needs a heal at that time, so that you don’t add stacks to people unnecessarily which you’ll regret later. It might well be useful to assign healers to specific groups to prevent cross-healing and double-healing wasting stacks. Only “direct heals” will add a stack, so if push comes to shove you could always break out Renew because it should be safe; I’m not certain about Prayer of Mending, a glyphed PoM might be a good non-stack-building tool to use liberally.

 

Warlord Zon’ozz       (Top)

Fight Summary

This one is a very funky encounter in two phases.

The core mechanic in the primary phase is handling the Void of the Unmaking which Zon’ozz spawns near the start of this phase. The raid is split into two camps, one melee and one ranged standing at the far edge of the water pool, about 30 yards from the boss. The Void travels out from Zon’ozz, and the ranged group pretty much immediately gets in its way. When it reaches them, it casts Void Diffusion, dealing 180,000 Shadow damage split between all players within 20 yards, gains a stack of Void Diffusion, and bounces back in the opposite direction. It then travels towards the boss, where the melee group intercept it and bounce it back again. Each bounce increases the damage it deals when it Diffuses by 20%, so after a few bounces the AoE damage becomes unmanageable. Clever cooldown use allows the raid to take additional bounces, which helps later on, because…

When the raid feels the Void has done enough bouncing around, typically around three bounce cycles or 5-7 stacks of Void Diffusion depending on your raid, the melee group runs away from Zon’ozz and allows the Void to hit him. This makes Zon’ozz run to the middle of the room where he will stand and take 5% increased damage per stack of Void Diffusion. This phase lasts 30 seconds before the primary phase restarts.
During this phase the raid should all group up on Zon’ozz and get as much DPS in on him as possible. Healers will be busy too, because Black Blood of Go’rath will fill the room, dealing 14,000 Shadow damage per second to the raid. This is tuned pretty well to make you work without being too frantic.

During the primary phase, healers should also be aware that Zon’ozz will be stacking Focused Anger on himself, increasing his physical damage and attack speed by 10%, so the tank will take increasing damage as the phase goes on. He will also be putting a 35,000 Shadow damage per 2 sec DoT called Disrupting Shadows on random players. This should be dispelled ASAP, but since it does a small knockback and deals around 60,000 Shadow damage when dispelled care should be taken to ensure the person has enough time to get back in to split the damage before the Void reaches them and isn’t too low on health to begin with. One healer per camp, should be assigned to dispelling so they can see what’s going on and when the time is right.

It’s also important not to stand in front of Zon’ozz, because his primary attack is a frontal cone Psychic Drain for 120,000 Shadow damage, which leeches health if it hits people and that’s clearly a Bad Thing.

Spec and Glyphs

Once again that PW:B glyph could come in handy, as could the PoH and PoM glyphs for the AoE phase. The Glyph of Dispel Magic also might be of use on this fight, depending on your raid composition, since there’s actually some dispelling to do and every little helps, right? Alternatively you could consider Holy Nova if you’re finding yourself moving around a lot to control the Void, although that shouldn’t be the case if your raid is on the ball (pun intended).

An AA spec works well here, at least in theory, to help with the start of the AoE phases. Between bounces you’re able to build Evangelism stacks, just don’t do what I did and let them fall off every time while staring in wonder at this pretty purple ball and trying to get in its way.

Cooldown Usage

There’s a choice about when to use PW:B on this fight, because you can either use it on the ranged group to get an extra bounce in if your tank is stable and you want to push for more bounces, or save it for the heavy AoE phase. You’ll probably be able to use it every other AoE phase, so work your rotation around that. Divine Hymn, in its upgraded form, should be part of your arsenal for handling the AoE phase if it all gets a bit hairy.

Pain Suppression is probably be best used on the tank when Zon’ozz’s stacks of Focused Anger are getting high (time it for a for a Psychic Drain cast if you can, these hurt!), although bear in mind that it might also be extremely valuable for saving someone’s life if they are low health as the Void reaches their group.

Life Grip could either be used to bring in slowbies who haven’t grouped up quickly enough in the AoE phase, or for pulling back people who have been knocked away from (or otherwise moved away from) the Void as it approaches. Especially on 10-man good stacking for the Void will be important if you want to push high stacks and get Zon’ozz down more quickly.

Depending on how many bounces you take, there will probably be a quiet time after the AoE phase and before a new Void spawns, so that would be a good time to use Hymn of Hope/Shadowfiend. Get your group healed up after the AoE and then go for it. Shadowfiend should ideally be timed with HoH, as usual.

Other Tips

Bubbles are your friend on the first phase of this fight, because there are very spiky periods where 3-4 people will take a good solid chunk of damage. Plus, if you need to dispel someone, a swift PW:S immediately before or after they’re dispelled could prevent them from dying to a Void Diffusion, an occasion when the effective health bump that PW:S represents really shows through.

Do make sure to talk to your raid leader about getting the raid groups set up so that you can use PoH properly though, because the damage will affect half the raid at a time and you want them all together. Healing people up and getting DA stacked before the Void arrives helps a lot.

Also be sure to coordinate with fellow healers or raid members about the use of healing cooldowns in the AoE phase. Divine Guardian, Divine Hymn, Tranquility and so on can really help keep the healing from getting too intense.

 

Hagara the Stormbinder       (Top)

Fight Summary

Hagara is a fight in three phases: a normal phase, then either a Frozen Tempest or a Lightning Storm, always then going back to a normal phase again.

In the normal phase Hagara will do two main abilities that make keeping the raid alive more difficult. She will channel Focused Assault, dramatically increasing tank damage for 5 seconds, which requires quick healing and perhaps tank cooldowns to survive.
She will also spawn crystals around the room which will focus a player, indicated by a red beam, and repeatedly cast Ice Lance at them, dealing 15,000 Frost damage with a 3-yard splash. To help with keeping this player alive, other ranged can step into the beam and soak up an Ice Lance or two if necessary.
She will also periodically cast Shattered Ice on a random player, dealing 77,500 Frost damage to them and freezing them, so the raid needs to be kept nearly topped off as much as possible and this debuff needs to be dispelled ASAP because Ice Lance deals triple damage to frozen targets.
Finally, she will encase a pair of people in Ice Tombs which will DoT them until broken and will also block line of sight. Players targeted for Ice Tomb should move together to a designated spot near the raid and wait to be broken out. The tombs do not chain like Sindragosa’s used to, the only reason for not running to the middle of the raid is that they may obstruct the healers’ line of sight to the raid.

In the Frozen Tempest phase, Hagara is immune because she is inside a bubble of water which fills the grey circle in the middle of the platform. Standing inside this bubble will cause Watery Entrenchment, killing you quickly, so as this phase starts you should already be running to the outside.
She will spawn 4 Binding Crystals around the edge of the platform which need to be killed to end the phase. However this is complicated because of Icicles falling from above and Ice Waves, which are lines of icy spikes erupting from the floor which move clockwise around the platform, starting from the point between two crystals, forcing the raid to keep moving. To avoid the Ice Waves, you need to stay near the edge of the bubble, because if you try and run around the edge of the platform you may not be able to stay ahead of the waves.

In the Lightning Storm phase, Hagara is also immune, but her bubble is only a personal one this time. She spawns 4 Crystal Conductors which need to be overloaded to end the phase.
A Bound Lightning Elemental add spawns, which is picked up by the tank and killed near a Crystal, overloading it. This causes the Crystal to chain damaging lightning to nearby players, which can be chained to additional players in order to reach the next Crystal around the platform, overloading it in turn, eventually ending the phase. All the while, the raid is also taking steady damage from the Lightning Storm which also stacks every 12 sec or so, increasing Nature damage taken by 5% per stack.
The Chain Lightning damage can be extremely high, so your raid needs to decide who will form the chains so you get the chaining over with as quickly as possible. Have your Mages, Warriors, Warlocks and other mobile classes take the furthest positions. You need three people to form each chain, so you can have the tanks and DPS do this and leave the healers free to stand near the middle and just heal.

At the end of this phase, Hagara is stunned and takes 100% additional damage for 15 sec.

Spec and Glyphs

No stand-out suggestions here. There is moderate AoE damage in the Lightning phase, so the usual AoE glyph selection would work. Choose between Holy Nova which you might find useful in the movement-heavy Frozen Tempest phase and Prayer of Mending which should be bouncing happily in the Lightning Storm phase, to suit your playstyle. However, the raid will be very spread out in the Lightning phase and you’ll find yourself firefighting quite a lot.

Cooldown Usage

The best use of PW:B is on Ice Lance targets in the normal phase. Assuming the raid is fairly clumped up, you should be able to get all of them within range of the PW:B, and this helps a lot with survivability.

Because of the Focused Attacks ability that Hagara uses, Pain Suppression is be very useful to keep a tank alive through it, or otherwise you might find it useful if people end up taking damage from the chain lightning for too long while you’re coordinating the overloading of the Crystals.

Life Grip, once again, comes into its own for rescuing the slowbies, especially in the Frozen Tempest phase where people may find themselves trapped on the wrong side of Icicles or a little too close to Ice Waves. Be sure that you yourself are far enough away from the Ice Waves that the recipient of the yoinking can re-orientate themselves afterwards though.

Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend can be used at your discretion. The Frozen Tempest phase would be a bad time due to the high movement, and while the normal phase has low movement the healing demands may prove to be too high to fit a full channel in. Go with what works for your raid. I noticed that the best time was actually right at the beginning of the Lightning phase, using my Shadowfiend on the add and popping Hymn of Hope.

Other Tips

If you have a Holy Priest in your raid it might be worth going easy on the PW:S in the Lightning and especially the Frozen Tempest phases, because Body and Soul may be a big help for positioning and getting the hell out of the bubble/Ice Wave respectively.

In the Lightning Phase, finding a suitable place to stand and heal will be the order of the day; you really don’t want to be chasing your raid around like a lost puppy, so work out in advance if you can where they’re likely to be and where they’re likely to go to, so you can plan ahead.

This one doesn’t feel on the whole like a healing-heavy fight so much as a whole-raid execution fight, although there will undoubtedly be some heart-stopping moments in Phase 1 and the Lightning phase if your raid are slow, so quick reactions are essential.

 

Ultraxion       (Top)

Fight Summary

Ultraxion is a one phase fight with a very tough 6-minute enrage timer and some instagib effects to watch out for and react to, but little movement.

Before the pull, Ultraxion will draw the whole raid into the Twilight Realm, and all players gain the Heroic Will ability, which an take them out of the Twilight Realm for 5 sec.

All the while the raid will take damage from Unstable Monstrosity, which deals 300,000 Shadow damage split between all players in the Twilight realm. Every minute throughout the fight, the time between these casts goes down by a second, from 6 sec at the start to 1 sec by the end, increasing the damage commensurately.

Every 15 sec, then 30 sec, then 15 sec (alternating depending on whether or not there is an Hour of Twilight cast in between) Ultraxion will place the Fading Light debuff on his current tank and one random raid member which will kill them after it expires (this can start anywhere between 5 and 10 sec) if they are still in the Twilight Realm, so they should use their Heroic Will ability to get out in time. The player affected will generate no threat for 10s after this effect ends, so a second tank will need to taunt just before the previous tank uses Heroic Will, so be prepared for tank swaps.

Every 45 seconds Ultraxion will cast Hour of Twilight, which deals 300,000 unresistable Shadow damage to anyone left in the Twilight Realm. If no player remains, the Aspects take the damage instead and the world ends (and worst of all, you wipe). Players must use Heroic Will to get out in time and one player needs to remain behind with a cooldown to take the Hour of Twilight damage, which may be a tank or a Shadow Priest with Dispersion, depending on your raid’s preference. The timing is such that the tank who pulls will take every Hour of Twilight, but will not necessarily have enough cooldowns available for every one, so have backups assigned before you begin.

That’s pretty much it for things to deal with on the fight. There is one more aspect to it though (no pun intended this time), which is the buffs granted to players by the Dragon Aspects in the room.

  • Tanks gain a buff from Thrall at the start of the fight which allows them to use their defensive cooldowns twice as often and doubles their duration, which is extremely useful for surviving the fight and particularly the Hour of Twilight.
  • Three of the five Aspects each spawn a crystal in the room which can be clicked by healers (the game knows!) to provide healing buffs. Each crystal will only provide its buff once, and each healer can only have one buff, so these need to be agreed in advance. The buffs are:
    • Gift of Life (Red): Spawns after about 1 min 30 sec. Gift of Life increases all healing done by 100%.
    • Essence of Dreams (Green): Spawns after about 2 min 30 sec. Essence of Dreams causes each heal or HoT tick above 1500 from the player to also heal the entire raid for the same amount, shared equally among all players within 50 yards.
    • Source of Magic (Blue): Spawns after about 3 min 30 sec. Source of Magic reduces mana cost of all spells by 75% and increases spell haste by 100%.
  • After about 5 min, Nozdormu grants every player Timeloop. This buff prevents one death per player by healing the player to 100% and removing the buff from them.

The key here is fighting over who gets which of the healing buffs because, let’s be honest, we all want all of them!

Gift of Life (Red), which doubles the players healing output, is probably better suited to a high output raid healer. Single-target healers (read: tank healers) may find this just translates to more overhealing on the big heals, and it’s important to note that it does not affect absorbs directly (although DA would benefit, PW:S would not). Discipline Priests spamming Prayer of Healing can benefit from this one quite nicely, but it’s less useful for tank healing.
I should point out here that with the new Holy Radiance Holy Paladins might actually prefer the raid healer job on this fight instead of tank healing, in which case this buff might be a good one to give to them.

Essence of Dreams (Green) also more or less doubles your healing output, but spreads the extra healing out to the whole raid as a steady AoE trickle. This one should go to the player who naturally pumps out vast quantities of heals, and my prime pick here would be a tank-healing Holy Paladin; they can certainly crank out the numbers and the extra healing is far less likely to turn into overhealing than if they took the red buff.
Note: as of a Hotfix of 1st December 2011, HoT ticks need to be above 1500 to trigger Essence of Dreams, so bear this in mind. The ticks from Holy Radiance will often be too small to trigger this, as will Earthliving, Wild Growth and Regrowth. Rejuvenation should be fine, as should a Holy Priest’s Renew. Essentially this is being restricted to “real” HoTs, possibly to reduce load due to vast numbers of little procs.

Source of Magic (Blue) is most people’s preferred buff, and it’s a lot of fun as a Discipline Priest. Whatever your spec, if you get this buff, it’s time to blow your biggest, costliest and most impressive heals over and over again. Bear in mind that PW:S doesn’t get much benefit from this, except in terms of mana cost, because you’ll end up GCD-capped and won’t gain the full benefit of the haste bonus; PoH spamming, on the other hand, gets you nearly doubled HPS at a mana cost that allows you to spam it freely.

Whichever buff you get, a Discipline Priest should see a pretty similar benefit. The least valuable is probably the Green, since the Red and Blue let you get double the benefit from DA while the Green doesn’t. In the end we’ll probably be determined by the other healers and which buffs they take.

Spec and Glyphs

The fight is essentially an AoE healing extravaganza, so come glyphed and equipped for that. If you end up with the Blue buff you might find the Glyph of Power Word Shield valuable here, perhaps in place of the Glyph of Prayer of Healing (the HoT probably won’t get more than a tick or two in before it’s overwritten), although I’d have to do some testing to be sure.

Given the existence of the Blue buff, I might also be inclined to pick up Soul Warding again for this fight. With a 75% reduced mana cost the liberal application of PW:S may well become viable again, and PW:S is still our highest throughput spell, although this will need to be tested to know for sure.
Edit: Didn’t get the opportunity to test this out this week, instead I stuck to PoH spamming with a bit of PoM thrown in and a Divine Hymn for good measure. It seemed to work out acceptably. Next week it’ll be time for a bit more experimentation though.

Cooldown Usage

The raid will be stacked up in the same place for the entire fight, so PW:B is ideally suited. Since the Unstable Monstrosity damage ramps up as the fight progresses, and is pretty punishing especially in the last minute of the fight, make sure it will be available for that time. Don’t be afraid to use it early though, so you can use it twice. Unfortunately you will only get one Divine Hymn whatever you do, and again it’s worth saving for the last minute if you can. If you get the blue buff, Divine Hymn is simply amazing!

You may be required to use Pain Suppression on a tank to help them survive the Hour of Twilight, but if not then don’t be afraid to use it on yourself or another raid member if their health gets low, or on your tank anyway if you or your fellow healers need a mana break. This fight has the potential to tax healers’ mana, so every little helps. As with PW:B, use it early, use it twice.

Life Grip sadly won’t see much use here since the raid ought to be pretty much glued to the spot, but you never know!

Because of the enrage timer you will only get to use Hymn of Hope once, so I’d recommend using it early along with Shadowfiend so that you can get another Shadowfiend in, albeit late in the fight. There’s not a particularly quiet time to use it, but do watch out for the Hour of Twilight and Fading Twilight counters so that you can try and avoid wasting the cooldown by having to use Heroic Will at an inopportune moment.

Other Tips

Make sure your raid stacks at the base of the stairs, because this is where the crystals will spawn. They will still be in range of Ultraxion, and it will prevent you from having to move to get your assigned healing buff.

When Hour of Twilight is cast you have 5 seconds before you need to cast Heroic Will, so you can squeeze out one or two more heals, although if you fail you die, so be sensible with it.

If you raid with a Holy Paladin, remember that they are going to be very powerful raid healers on this fight (and many others too), so you may find yourselfhelping with the tanks while they take on the raid healing duties, especially if they’re assigned to an early buff. That said, the raid is where the vast majority of the damage is focused, especially later in the fight.

A final tip comes from the Icy Veins guide:

[Heroic Will] cannot be keybound, and it may not display properly (or at all) if you are using any action bar add-ons. Fortunately, you can use the following macro:

/click ExtraActionButton1

Clicking this macro (which, of course, can be keybound), has the same effect as clicking the Heroic Will button.

This may well be extremely valuable to healers and others who rely on action bar mods. I know from my own experience that Bartender has been updated and lets me see this button. (Other bar mods are available).

 

Warmaster Blackhorn       (Top)

Fight Summary

This fight is a two-phase fight aboard the gunship Skyfire. The first phase is an add phase, and once this is over you fight Warmaster Blackhorn himself.

In the first phase, you are dealing with Blackhorn’s dragon, Goriona, and a few types of adds.

Goriona’s only ability in this phase is to cast Twilight Onslaught at the gunship’s deck roughly every 35 seconds, leaving a 10-yard purple swirly void zone that the entire raid must stand in. Twilight Onslaught deals 800,000 damage split between all players within it. If no one stands in it the Skyfire takes the full damage instead, which is bad.

Twilight Assault Drakes, after dropping off their riders on the deck, cast Twilight Barrage from range, dealing 300,000 Shadow damage to anyone within 5 yards of the impact point. These are essentially the same as Twilight Onslaught, and at least 2 players should move in to soak them up. Letting some through is not the end of the world but you will need to soak some; keep an eye on the Skyfire’s HP and make a judgement call.
Ranged DPS will be assigned to killing the Drakes; the harpoon guns on the deck will automatically chain them and pull them in for a while before they break free again.

Twilight Elite Dreadblades and Slayers both Blade Rush a distant enemy dealing 100,000 Physical damage to anyone in the way, marked in advance by a line of red circles. Dreadblades also have a frontal cone attack, Degeneration, which deals 80,000 Shadow damage to enemies in front and applies a stacking 6,000 Shadow damage per 2 sec DoT which lasts 1 minute, while Slayers instead use Brutal Strike, which deals 150% weapon damage and applies a stacking 6,000 Physical damage per 2 sec DoT lasting 1 minute.
These should be picked up and tanked facing away from the raid and each other, and the melee should work on killing them off.

Finally Twilight Sappers will spawn from time to time, and will run to the ship’s bridge and attempt to blow themselves up. If they do, they will take off 20% of the Skyfire’s HP, so it’s vital that everyone switches to these as soon as they spawn and burns them down quickly. After they spawn near the front of the ship, on alternating sides, they cast smoke bomb and disappear for a while, only to reappear about halfway down the ship. They can, and should, be stunned and slowed to enable your raid to kill them in time. They can spawn at the same time as Onslaught, so you’ll really have to pay attention to controlling them during these conjunctions.

After 3 waves of adds, Warmaster Blackhorn himself will land on the deck while Goriona stays in the air bombarding the raid with Twilight Flames, which stick around for a while as a patch of purple fire and deal 30,000 Fire damage to anyone within the 7-yard radius. Players should move out of these patches to avoid the damage.
Ranged DPS should DPS Goriona until she’s had enough and flies away, then go join the melee in DPSing Blackhorn himself.

Ranged and healers should stay around 15 yards from Warmaster Blackhorn, so that they are outside the range of his Disrupting Roar which deals 65,000 Physical damage and interrupts spellcasting in a 10-yard radius, while staying close enough that moving out of the way when he Shockwaves a random target for 100,000 Physical damage is practical. Meanwhile the tanks will need to swap due to Blackhorn using Devastate, reducing his target’s armour by 20% per stack for 30 sec.

The final mechanic to make things tricky is Vengeance, which increases Blackhorn’s damage as his health decreases, making the fight much harder on healers the longer it goes on.

Spec and Glyphs

Bursty AoE damage makes the Glyph of Prayer of Healing an appealing choice here, and PW:B will also be handy for dealing with Twilight Onslaught in phase 1 and Disrupting Roar late in phase 2, so it’s probably worth glyphing it. There’s nothing to dispel, so the choice between PoM and Holy Nova will come down to playstyle, assignment and how much movement the fight actually entails in practice.

Spec choice is pretty much down to assignment and playstyle. An AA spec could be handy to lend some extra DPS to the raid and be ready for healing up after the Twilight Onslaught.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B and Divine Hymn (to complement another cooldown) can be part of a raid cooldown rotation for the Twilight Onslaught, and may also be valuable later in the phase 2, particularly on the melee group and tanks, when Disrupting Roar starts to hit especially hard. Pain Suppression will also be very useful towards the end of that phase when tanks will be taking a serious pounding.

Life Grip should be at your fingertips here, both for getting people to stack for the Twilight Onslaught and for getting people out of Blackhorn’s Shockwave once he engages.

There are lulls between Onslaughts where Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope can be used more or less safely, and if you get a second bite at the cherry then try and go as early in phase 2 as possible so that you don’t run out of mana just as Blackhorn is at the hitting like a truck stage.

Other Tips

As a healer you need to heal and not spend too much time running around, but it’ll make everyone’s lives easier if you can help soak up some of the Twilight Barrages that are near you. Spreading out to different parts of the gunship will help reduce each healer’s movement.

In the first phase, you should be able to prepare to some extent for the Twilight Onslaught, and remember that you don’t need to immediately spread out again afterwards, just take your time and heal the raid for a few seconds.

In the second phase, again you can prepare for the Disrupting Roar. Don’t worry too much about the melee, you get quite a while between Roars to heal people up and since this is the only source of unavoidable damage they’re not going anywhere!

 

Spine of Deathwing       (Top)

Fight Summary

The Spine of Deathwing is the first of two parts to the defeat of Deathwing. In this fight you are deposited from the Skyfire onto Deathwing’s back, where you need to defeat waves of adds to remove the armour plates from his back and weaken him. There’s a cinematic each time, if you press Esc you skip it and can begin immediately. Either all do it or none though!

When the fight starts there will be four Corruption tentacles. These will infrequently (roughly every 30 sec) stun a random player for up to 30 sec with Fiery Grip, also dealing 60,000 Fire damage to them every 3 sec until the stun is broken by enough damage being dealt to the Corruption. They also chain cast Searing Plasma on a random player every 8 seconds, which deals 10,000 Physical damage to the target every 10 seconds for 5 minutes or until the player has received 200,000 healing, all of which will be absorbed by the Searing Plasma.

For healers, Searing Plasma is the main, crucial mechanic to handle. You have to be proactive in getting this off players by pumping 200,000 healing into them, because you really don’t want to have it up on many people during any of the raid damage portions of the fight (Superheated Nucleus or a barrel roll) because that’s how people die, especially if they get stunned as well.

Killing a Corruptions allows two types of adds to spawn from the holes they leave behind, which are needed to complete the fight. This gets complicated, so bear with me!

Firstly there will be one Hideous Amalgamation. This is a large add which needs to be tanked and held near an Armor Plate. It deals manageable melee damage initially, but this will increase as it lives longer. The second type of add that spawns is Corrupted Blood. These are also tanked, but do extremely weak melee damage.

Because of the stuns, and more importantly the ridiculous healing-absorbing debuffs, the Corruptions do, the best way to start is to kill 3 of the Corruptions, then make Deathwing do a barrel roll to get rid of the Amalgamations again before killing the final Corruption and starting the fight from there. To make Deathwing do a barrel roll the whole raid needs to move to one side of his back. This will dislodge all Amalgamations (but not Corrupted Blood) and any players not rooted to the ground either by Fiery Grip or by the Grasping Tendrils debuff gained from standing in the holes in Deathwing’s back.
Note that there will always be at least one Corruption active; when you’ve killed the fourth one a fresh one will spawn to replace it pretty much immediately.

Corrupted Blood adds need to be brought near to the Amalgamation and killed. When they die they leave a burning ball on the ground which the Amalgamation gets dragged over to gain a stacks of Absorbed Blood, which increases the damage of the Amalgamation by 10% and its attack speed by 20% per stack, up to 9 stacks. They also Burst, dealing 10,000 Physical damage to the whole raid. Corrupted Blood constantly respawn from the lava patches, and as the fight goes on there will be more lava patches and thus more Corrupted Blood.

When the Amalgamation reaches 9 stacks it gains the Superheated Nucleus buff, and begins to pulse 15,000 Fire damage every 3 seconds to the whole raid. It should be at around 5% before you reach this point, so it can be killed quickly next to an Armor Plate. On death, it will spend 5 seconds casting Nuclear Blast, dealing 350,000 Fire damage to anyone caught within 10 yards and raising up an Armor Plate exposing a Burning Tendons (one creature, plural name). The raid needs to quickly target this add and kill it before it finishes casting Seal Breach after approximately 23 seconds, or the plate will re-attach (although the Tendons do not heal up again) and you’ll need to start with a new Alamgamation. Note that each plate is actually sealed by two tendons, one on the left and one on the right; which one is exposed depends which side of the centre the Amalgamation is killed, and you only need to kill one to remove the plate. If for any reason you do fail to kill a Tendon in one go, make sure you reveal the same one again.

Once you kill the Burning Tendons is dead, and the plate flies off, two more Corruptions will where it used to be, allowing you to spawn new Amalgamations and start the cycle again. The recommendation is to spawn two Amalgamations by killing the old Corruption and one of the new ones, barrel roll to get rid of them, then spawn the second new one and use it to deal with the next Armor Plate.

Spec and Glyphs

The bulk of the damage in this fight will come from Burst on melee and Superheated Nucleus on everyone, making it another AoE-heavy encounter. It isn’t movement-heavy and there’s nothing to dispel, so the Glyph of Prayer of Mending might be a good pick for a Major slot. You may also consider taking PW:S instead of PoH in a Prime slot too, because I reckon you’re best off focusing on mitigation and that means bubbles.

I would also recommend a Soul Warding spec for this fight. As a Disc Priest it can feel distinctly not-great to be designed around doing lower actual healing and making up for it with absorbs when you’re faced with the majority of the healing you do being straight-up absorbed. However, where Disc comes into its own here is in preventing people who can’t be healed up from taking damage in the first place by throwing them a PW:S and putting down PW:B before Superheated Nucleus. Soul Warding lets you cover everyone with Searing Plasma in a hurry, which is a big help. If you’re going to do that, try and grab Veiled Shadows too, as much for the DPS boost it’ll give your raid as for the extra mana on what can be a long and draining fight.

Of course, don’t neglect to heal people, but there are other healers and they can get the debuff off as well.

Cooldown Usage

The raid can safely group up because the adds do not cleave. PW:B is extremely useful on the Superheated Nucleus phase (which should be very short if the add is brought low before soaking up the Corrupted Blood, but may not be), and Divine Hymn is great for mopping up after the second Superheated Nucleus when PW:B will probably be on cooldown. PW:B should come off cooldown again before the third time around.

Because of the stacking damage increase from Absorbed Blood, the Amalgamations will hit progressively harder as the fight goes on, making Pain Suppression very valuable as a tank cooldown. Your tank can delay this for a while through careful movement and the raid can help by not cleaving, but some Corrupted Blood will end up dying under the Amalgamation anyway. It’s probably not strong enough to save someone from Nuclear Blast though, which is why we have Life Grip, so keep it handy!

During the first Burning Tendons phase is the best time to pop Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope. There’s a small lull in raid damage, and assuming your raid handled Superheated Nucleus properly there shouldn’t be too much to heal. Plus, the extra damage ensures you get it killed in one go. It may come off cooldown again before the third Armor Plate, depending on how efficient your raid is, so you may get a second bite at the cherry.

Other Tips

As the Amalgamation reaches high stacks, begin preparing for the Superheated Nucleus, which will deal a lot of damage until the Amalgamation is killed. Priority is to get PW:S on the people with Searing Plasma (because they can’t be healed with the debuff) and PW:B on the stack point if it’s off cooldown. Then pop AA (if you have it) and lay down some DA or PW:S on everyone else. If you have spare capacity, it’s worth sending a PoM bouncing too.

You’ll spend most of your time working on the raid, because the tank damage is pretty low on the whole, but do watch the tanks’ health be ready to support them as the Amalgamation’s damage climbs with their Absorbed Blood stacks.

If you really don’t have anything else to do, look for people with Searing Plasma on your raid frames and throw heals (greater or regular, as your mana allows) at them to help remove it.

 

Madness of Deathwing       (Top)

Fight Summary

The final fight in the Dragon Soul, where we finally get to help Thrall and the Dragon Aspects defeat Deathwing once and for all. Probably. Until the next time…
After we weakened him, Deathwing has crashed into the stormy waters of the Maelstrom, grabbing onto each of four islands with his claws.

In Phase 1 the raid needs to defeat each of his limbs, labelled as Arm or Wing Tentacles, before you finally get to attack his head in Phase 2. A Dragon Aspect starts off flying above each island, granting you a buff:

  • Alexstrasza (Left): Grants Alextrasza’s Presence, increasing maximum HP by 20%. She also destroys Blistering Tentacle adds which spawn in Phase 1.
  • Nozdormu (Middle-Left): Grants Nozdormu’s Presence, increasing haste by 20%. He also casts Time Zone on the current platform, slowing enemy attack speed and slowing down the approach of Elementium Bolts, giving the raid time to kill them before they land.
  • Ysera (Middle-Right): Grants Ysera’s Presence, increasing healing done by 20%. She also gives all players the Dream ability, which is a 5 second 50% damage reduction cooldown on a 30 sec cooldown.
  • Kalecgos (Right): Grants Kalecgos’ Presence, increasing damage dealt by 20%. He also gives the raid the Spellweaver buff, which makes all attacks also deal 23,000 Arcane damage in a 6-yard radius.

When you clear a platform, that Aspect will break off to begin attacking Deathwing, removing their buffs from you. So the order in which you clear the platforms can significantly affect how difficult the fight becomes.
The recommended order, although your raid may wish to alter this, is:

  1. Ysera’s Island
  2. Alexstrasza’s Island
  3. Nozdormu’s Island
  4. Kalecgos’ Island.

On the islands, you will need to deal with several types of adds, and these take priority over killing the Arm or Wing Tentacle.

Shortly after the Tentacle is engaged a Mutated Corruption tentacle will spawn near the back of the island. This Impales the main tank dealing 400,000 Physical damage to them, requiring the use of Dream while available and tanking cooldowns on subsequent platforms. You also need to tank-swap, because the debuff left behind increased Impale damage by 100%, making it tricky to survive even with cooldowns. Mutated Corruptions also target a random player and cast a frontal cone Crush in their direction for 100,000 Physical damage, so the raid needs to spread out to keep as few people from being hit simultaneously as possible.

45 seconds into each platform stage, Deathwing will send an Elementium Bolt at the platform. When it lands, and every 5 seconds after that, it will pulse Elementium Blast dealing up to 390,000 Fire damage each time, decreasing dramatically the further you are from the landing site (marked with a yellow swirl). It has lowish HP and while Nordormu’s Time Zone is up it should be targeted and killed by ranged DPS before it lands. Once Nozdormu’s buff is gone, the Elementium Bolt will shoot in at high speed and just hit the ground, although you get several seconds warning before it lands. The raid needs to get the hell away from the Bolt, and then quickly target it and kill it as quickly as possible. Raid cooldowns and personal cooldowns are very useful here.
Once the Bolt is dead, switch back and finish off killing the Mutated Corruption.

90 sec after the Tentacle is engaged it will begin to haemorrhage, spawning 6 Regenerative Blood adds. These have an energy bar which fills over 10 sec (or 20 sec if they’re taken inside the Time Zone); when the bar is full they heal themselves back up to full. AoE should still be enough to kill them while you have Kalecgos’ Presence, although if this proves problematic then you may need to switch to focusing them down one at a time.

The final set of adds is spawned by the Arm or Wing Tentacle at 75%, 50% and 25% HP. Blistering Tentacles deal pulsing AoE Fire damage via Blistering Heat; each application deals 2,500 Fire damage and increases Blistering Heal damage taken by 5%. While Alexstrasza is assisting you these will be killed off automatically, but on the later platforms you will have to kill these off yourselves. They are immune to AoE and so must be killed using cleaves and single-target attacks only.

Finally, after 2 minutes on each platform Deathwing will begin casting Cataclysm
unless the Arm or Wing Tentacle is dead. While this is casting (for 60 sec) the Aspect assisting you will grant you a 100% damage buff. If the cast completes, you die instantly, and you also take 1,500,000 Fire damage just to make sure.

Once all 4 platforms have been cleared, Deathwing’s head will drop forward onto Ysera’s platform and you can finally get to killing him.

However in phase 2 there are yet more adds to handle.

Three Elementium fragments (small orange tentacles) spawn first, and fire Shrapnel at a random raid member each. This is a 6-second cast that deals 200,000 Physical, armour-piercing damage to a random raid member. To survive it you need a cooldown, and it just so happens Ysera has given you that handy Dream button again. Watch for a debuff called Shrapnel, that’s your warning you’re being targeted.
The two Elementium Terrors should be picked up by the tanks, one each, and killed quickly before their Tetanus DoT, 20,000 Shadow damage per second, stacking, kills the tanks. Tanks should chain cooldowns (if any remain) to survive, because the damage is brutal.

Adds spawn every 90 seconds, and in the mean time DPS should be doing their utmost to put Deathwing out of his misery.

Spec and Glyphs

The fight varies so much, so go with what your composition requires of you. The Mutated Corruption, especially with the Impales, really requires decent tank healing, as does phase 2, but there’s also a fair degree of burst AoE to make AA valuable, as well as times when Soul Warding would come into its own as well (multiple people get Crushed, pre-shielding for the Elementium Bolt in P1 or Shrapnel in P2). If you have a Paladin they’re best assigned to the Mutated Corruption tank because they can bubble through the Elementium Bolt landing, so I’d say go with a raid-healing spec with SW and be looking to see if you need to change.

There’s nothing to dispel here and little movement requiring healing, so I’d run with the PoM major glyph unless you find you need the survivability boost from Inner Fire.

Cooldown Usage

PW:B is an excellent tool for mitigating the Elementium Bolt’s initial damage. Plant it near the Arm or Wing Tentacle and have your raid group up underneath it while the bolt lands. In theory if you get the timing right it will still be up for the pulse 5 seconds later, but in practice you need it down for a couple of seconds to let your raid get to the right spot and so you don’t miss the Bolt, so this probably won’t work every time.
Once the Elementium Bolt has landed, this is a great time to hit Divine Hymn as well, for the added healing boost and to get people up to protect them from a possible pulse or a Crush from the Mutated Corruption.
The very high amount of damage this combination represents is why it’s recommended to take Nozdormu as the third island, so you only have to deal with it once.

Depending on the speed with which you clear the islands, your tanks may run out of cooldowns for Impale at some point, so be ready with a Pain Suppression (and PW:S) for them. We found it was consistently happening to the first tank on the third island. Remember that tanks will have 50% cooldowns and smaller 20% cooldowns, but the 20% version alone will probably be insufficient, so communicate with them about when they’ll need an external cooldown; it should be predictable, your raid’s DPS shouldn’t vary too much.

I haven’t had to use Life Grip on this fight yet, although it would be useful to get people out of the way of the unslowed Elementium Bolt, so do keep an eye out for that.

Finally, those mana cooldowns. It takes approximately 11 minutes to reach phase 2 and approximately 3-4 minutes to complete phase 2, so you should be able to get three Shadowfiends and three Hymns off during that time. Except for Phase 2 the damage is manageable most of the time, so use SF and HoH at the most opportune moment, to line up with Bloodlust and/or +intellect procs. Your raid may use Bloodlust once or twice over the fight (once either in phase 2 or on the last island as required, and then possibly one at the very start) so find out this information and SF appropriately.

Other Tips

If you haven’t already got it included, add Shrapnel to your custom debuffs, so you can see who’s about to take a huge hit from the Elementium Fragments. Also, make yourself a PowerAura or whatever for it, because it’s easy to miss this debuff on yourself and it’s a killer if you don’t hit the Dream button or pop a cooldown in time. Beware: the cast time of Shrapnel is 6 seconds while Dream’s duration is 5 seconds, so don’t hit Dream too early!

Power Infusion will be up every time Deathwing casts Cataclysm, which makes the limb tentacle take 100% increased damage, so if you can spare it, consider casting it on a DPS at this point for a nice boost to them.

Possibly Related Posts:

Categories: Advice and Strategy