Paladin Healing in Heroic Ulduar

This is a guest post by Adgamorix with some tips for Holy Paladins working their way through Ulduar.

3.1 and Ulduar are upon us, and the tears of Healadins fill the forums, feeding Yarg-Saron and keeping XT’s joints lubed. Bloggers and forum goers alike lament the death of Flash of Light as a useful heal, and wonder if the new Infusion is even worth it. 10% extra crit on a Holy Light? I want my haste back! I need to raid heal!

Can you taste the tears?

My question is what is the real issue? Granted, my guild hasn’t cleared Ulduar yet, but we did get six bosses down in the first week (no hard modes), and I haven’t seen the problem. As we’re a 25 man raid guild, we typically run with seven healers: two Paladins, Disc priest (dual spec’d for Holy which some Priests just aren’t good enough to do *wink*), Holy Priest, two trees, and a Resto Shaman. Our tanks are a mix of all the tank classes, and we run a fairly balanced mix of melee vs. ranged (though we do have a lot of hunters – fortunately no huntards).

Given a balanced raid makeup, I’m very happy with where paladin healing is right now. On any boss fight that we’ve done so far, I’m confident in putting my paladin partner and I on the tank and letting the other healers take care of the raid, off tanks, etc. Between Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield, we can run a steady rotation on the tanks, and it hasn’t failed us yet. Granted, I haven’t seen the fights in 10 man yet, but I’m confident that it’ll be ok.

Note that I’ve said ‘balanced raid makeup’ a couple of times here. Even though we’ve been told to “bring the player and not the class”, I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect to waltz through Ulduar with nothing but a pocket-full of rogues and no ranged DPS… at least not for a while anyway. Having a mix of buffs and abilities is part of what makes raiding so much fun. It’d be boring if any 25 people (regardless of class/spec) could walk in and down the content during the first week.

I think the problems being experienced by some paladins can be explained with the same explanation we had when our MT pulled XT with his face the first time, leaving all his healers 40 yards behind him.

“You’re doing it wrong!”

Ulduar isn’t Naxx, and I’m glad. The trash is harder than most Naxx bosses, and “gasp” we have to use crowd control again. XT’s trash brought back nightmares of old Kael’Thas trash (with a mix of Void Reaver), and it takes some getting used to. Healers can’t snipe any more, and target assignments are crucial. Trusting your raid mates to do their assigned task, and focusing on yours, keeps the raid alive. I generally can’t spare the GCD to hit someone else, and I count on the raid healers to cover me when I’m not beaconed. Sure, I’m lower on the meters than I used to be, but our strategy works and bosses die.

I won’t disagree that it would be nice to have another tool in my box, but I love the healing aspect of my paladin so much that my Resto Shaman has been collecting dust for two months. I like the challenge of healing without a designated ‘raid heal’, and learning new ways to cope with the incoming damage.

Here’s how we’ve pulled off each boss so far

Healing rotation: This healing rotation is similar to what we use for every boss we two heal. My partner will spam HL while I run FoL/HS rotations. I generally keep my SS up on the tank, and we beacon an OT if they are close, our we just beacon ourselves. After about one minute of this, we switch roles, and she hits DP to start her regen (I usually hit Illumination right at the start – I also pop my haste gloves). This continues for one minute, and then we switch again (this time I Plea). With this rotation the MT is getting around 30k in healing every 2 – 2.5 sec (lag depending), and there is always a heal landing.

Flame Leviathan: All I can say is, flying through the air with a boom-chicken by your side is worth it. I beacon the boom-chicken and unleash my holy DPS on the turrets. Instant FoLs on myself are enough to keep us both alive without any stress (hard mode may be different).

Ignis: Pallies beacon themselves and do nothing but roll heals on the MT. We have our Disc priest on the OTs, with the druids dropping HOTs on them as they race by with the constructs. Raid healing is covered with the shaman and holy priest, and the druids kicking in after a flame jet.

Razorscale: This fight is a lot less coordinated. Generally I sit on our DK who picks up the whirlwinders and also stays closest to Razor so he gets her fire patches. I beacon myself, and just roll FoL on him until the fight ends. I’ll also run in and hit the boss a few times while she’s harpooned, that way I have a full mana bar at the start of phase 3 (phase 2 if you don’t count the chained phase) so I can just bomb the tanks with HL.

XT-002 Deconstructor: We handle this fight just like Ignis. Prot pallies on the tank, Disc Priest on the add tank, and the rest of the healers on the raid. The only change up is during the earthquake/pound one of us will switch off the MT and drop HL bombs on the melee to help with the damage.

Kologarn: See previous strategies. I usually beacon the add tank on this one, since he’s close enough to always receive my heals. Only one of the tanks holding Kologarn should be taking a significant amount of damage, so we focus on them individually. A Resto shaman is also amazing for the folks caught in the grip.

Assembly of Iron: This one we switch up just a touch. We’ve only downed this once, and that was in the ‘easy’ mode. Here we flip the disc priest and a holy paladin, beaconing the off tanks and healing through the damage. A shaman is an ideal healer for the tank on Stormcaller, as they can interrupt the chain lightning and the lightning whirl.

Holy and Disc Too Costly for Dual Spec

At least, those are the conclusions I’ve reached when I tried it.

On Monday night, the Conquest raiding crew was getting hammered by Kologarn. We simply could not heal raid damage of that magnitude. Some assignments were changed around and I activated my dual spec to Holy to see if I could help alleviate some of the stress.

But alas, to no avail. Being specced Holy and geared for Discipline means you rocket through your mana insanely quick. My mana pool lasted about 2 – 3 Right Arm deaths on Kologarn before I ran out of tricks. Pots used, Shadowfiended, and Hymns were already used. This is just because of the way my augments are setup. I don’t have enough Spirit gems and enchants. It’s too costly and too much of a hassle to augment when I need to switch to Holy.

So it is with a heavy heart that I used my (free) talent refunds on Tuesday. I set aside talent 1 for Discipline and talent 2 for Discipline.  The basic structures were the same. Some points were allocated differently and there were a few minor changes to glyphs.

  Endurance Disc AoE
Spec 53/18/0 54/17/0
Major Glyphs Flash Heal
Hymn of Hope
Penance
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Healing
Penance
Minor Glyphs Fading
Shadowfiend
Shadow Protection
Fading
Levitate
Shadow Protection

Endurance

The deal with Endurance spec is that you’re trying to stretch your mana pool to go even further than before. This involves talenting into Improved Healing for the 15% mana cost reductions to Greater Heal, Penance and Divine Hymn. The glyphs also represent the endurance method with Hymn of Hope and Flash Heal. If your Shadowfiend manages to die, you still get some mana back rather than none. This would be more of a progression spec, I think. In case your raid group loses one or two healers, the idea is that your mana supply can hold and last long enough while you compensate for their deaths until they get Rebirthed or until the boss dies. Out of the upper level Disc talents, Grace is one talent where I felt 1 talent point might be enough to maintain the buff considering the amount of heals you’ll be dumping on the tank anyway.

Disc AoE

With Disc AoE, you’re still going to be focusing on one or two key tanks. But on fights with enormous amounts of AoE damage, you won’t be locked out entirely. Your fast Shields should be placed quickly on players who have taken damage. Your Prayer of Healing adds a HoT effect. At least you won’t be as handicapped during Tympanic Tantrums or anything like that.

This is the result of my experiences in Ulduar so far. It’s still going to be subject to some more tweaking.

How to be a Tree in 3.1

How to be a Tree in 3.1

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Even though the new patch has been out only a week, I thought it might be interesting to share what I’ve observed while raiding the first few bosses of Ulduar. So far, Conquest has brought down Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, and XT. The first night we spent a couple hours on a bugged Ignis. I’ve also tagged along on a short 10-man raid whose purpose was to reach Ignis and see if he’s still bugged. All I can say is that he seems a little easier than he did, but I’m not sure if the two pulls we were able to do on him before we ran out of time can be taken as evidence. At least he didn’t melee any of us in the Slag Pot–those of us who were chosen got to be happy little Hot Pockets.

I also spent some time going over two combat log parses, WoW Meter Online and WWS, to check on my performance in these raids. There is a long-standing debate about meter reading among raiding healers, and I stand in the middle. I use reports mostly to see my ability rotation and how effective each thing I cast turned out to be. I do look at overall numbers, though, when I can compare myself to another druid who had the same assignment.

General Impressions

I’ll confess that in two nights of Ulduar this week, I had one bad performance and one very good one. Our first night in, I managed to patch just moments before we pulled, and I only had one spec. I also used that spec very, very badly. I’ll explain below, but first, here are some of my first impressions of the new instance.

1. Flame Leviathan is really cool. The encounter doesn’t feel like the rest of WoW, but it’s quite fun. On the 10-man version, I begged to be one of the people launched onto the boss. I absolutely loved that part.

2. I’m not really running out of mana. I pretty much did what I usually do, except that I let my Lifebloom bloom almost all the time. They really did reduce OOFSR regen, so all I can think is that druids must not have spent as much time out of the five second rule as we had previously thought. My observations match up to Lissanna’s, so I bet it’s a common experience.

3. Dual spec is really convenient. At current, I have both a tank healing and a raid healing spec on my druid. On our XT attempts, I switched specs when I traded places with Mallet to heal the main tank through spiky damage. Being able to do that so seamlessly with just the talents I wanted was brilliant.

4. The difficulty level of Ulduar is quite high. I was expecting Serpentshrine Cavern, and it seems that I got Black Temple. Think about the look and everything–it’s actually very similar to BT. Now, I didn’t raid on the PTR, and I’m at my worst when I’m surprised, but I swear that Ignis fellow is overtuned for his position in the instance. Even his trash is challenging! It seems at least as difficult as the Tempest Keep trash pulls leading up to Kael’s room, which is pretty much wrong for its position in the instance. Ignis’ trash should, at most, be at the level of Morogrim’s trash (remember all those pretty murlocs?). In our attempts on Ignis on 10 and 25, healers were able to learn the abilities and adjust to them, but the adds are still out of hand. I think that the melting, freezing, and cracking mechanism is a little much to handle at that speed. In contrast, I thought that both Razorscale and XT were pretty manageable.

5. The gear in Ulduar seems odd. Granted, I’ve only seen a few pieces, but they don’t seem to be much better than the stuff from Kel’thuzad or Malygos. In contrast, the gear requirements for the dungeon feel very high. Briolante, our warrior tank, is full best-in-slot from Naxx, but Ignis was still ripping him up. He got a new weapon from Flame Leviathan, but it’s a marginal upgrade at best over his previous weapon–and the new weapon is an i-level 232. Weapons, in my opinion, should be significantly different between tiers. I can imagine that the ordinary 226 items might not be an upgrade at all over the scattered 226 items that a player is likely to have from the opening tier of raid content. I’m not sure why they decided to have Ulduar gear not be a progression from our current best-in-slots. I think the claim is that it’s better-itemized, but that’s certainly not true for druids. It’s the same old crit/haste itemization that we dealt with in Naxx.

6. I seem to always want my fast heals. I was skeptical about glyphing Healing Touch for raid healing, but in the middle of our attempts on XT, our other resto druid went to respec and glyph for it as well. Healing in Ulduar is quite spammy. There are some breaks, like the exposed heart phase on XT, but when damage occurs it seems to be both deep and wide. Ulduar uses a combination of heavy hits on the MT with directed raid damage and also AoE splash damage. This is a change from previous content, which seemed to test only one skill at a time. The only thing I can think of to compare some of these fights to to is Gurtogg Bloodboil, who ripped up raids with a combination of hard hits, regular AoE damage, and targeted damage to a raid member.

Trees on the Meters

I won’t go over the exact details of my meter performance, but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to compare my numbers up to two other resto druids who were more or less doing the same tasks as I was. On our second night of raiding, I put in a competitive performance and I thought I did my job well. Here are my tips for putting in decent numbers.

1. Remember that you are a HoT healer. The buffs to Nourish may have distracted you, but HoTs are stronger in Ulduar than they are in Naxx. Both HoTs and shields are at their strongest when damage and difficulty are high.

2. Let your Lifebloom bloom. You could probably roll it on some bosses, and the bloom will be mostly overheal, but if you never let it bloom, you are wasting buckets of mana. On some fights, I got as much mana “back” from blooms as I got from Replenishment.

3. The druid talent Revitalize is still bad. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other sources of mana return, and I’m going to take it out of my build for a while and see if I feel the effects. If not, it’s staying out.

4. Do not use Nourish without HoTs as a raid heal. It’s slow compared to other Flash Heals and it has low throughput. This mistake is what led to my being at the bottom of meters the first night in Ulduar.

5. Glyphed Healing Touch (with talents) is very strong. This is the Flash Heal you want, not Nourish. I was skeptical about putting this in my raid build but both my own comfort level and my effectiveness on meters improved. I was actually fast enough to save Slag Pot victims, and I was well able to heal Light Bomb and Gravity Bomb with a glyphed HT.

6. Lifebloom is an okay raid heal. It still ticks fast, which gives it an advantage over Rejuvenation. I’m actually using Rejuv less than I did in Naxx or Sarth 3D, because the chance of imminent death for my targets seems higher. I really, really want my 4pc T8 set bonus, however, which will effectively fix Rejuvenation.

7. Innervate is still useful. I have mine glyphed, and I get not quite a full bar out of it.

That’s about all I have. I’m still working out the kinks, so to speak, in Ulduar, and I’ll report back again if I have any startling new observations as we progress. The jury’s still out on whether I like this instance. It’s much better than Naxx, but I’m still comparing it in my head to my favorite BC instances, Serpentshrine Cavern and Black Temple. Ulduar has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed the bosses we took down, but Ignis disappoints me. In addition to being overtuned and buggy, this guy reuses a model from a 5-man instance. That’s pretty disappointing to me–the art is one of the aspects that most affects my enjoyment of the game. In addition, I like Thorim’s new golden-boy model much less than his old, crusty, blue-skinned look. The old Thorim was much more melancholy, which really fit his quest line. Hopefully once I get into Ulduar proper I’ll be able to ooh and aah at the new art.
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Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

Healing Ulduar: XT-002 Deconstructor

xt002_banner

Welcome to Ulduar folks. If you made it past the lag, the vehicles, and the guard-dragon, and you didn’t get sidetracked by Ignis’ Hot Pockets, chances are you’ll soon find yourself standing in front of my favorite shiny robot in the game, the XT-002 Deconstructor. She just wants to give everyone a big hug . . . a spine-cracking hug, that is. She reminds me of eeeevil pet collector Elmyra from the Animaniacs. In all seriousness, Blizzard outdid themselves here. The boss’s animations and voice are oh-so-entertaining, and this fight provides a juicy-yet-manageable challenge for healers. Conquest downed XT on 4/21 using this strategy.

Essential Abilities

To effectively heal this boss, all healers need to make sure that their unit frames show the following three abilities. If you are a Grid or Pitbull user, add these to your custom debuffs.

Gravity Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player. They need to move away from others to avoid causing AoE damage. This debuff does not tick immediately but rather does a significant chunk of damage at the delay of a few seconds. A player with Gravity Bomb will need a large heal once the ability triggers.

Light Bomb
This ability places a debuff on a player, and as with Gravity Bomb, the player must move away from others to avoid causing AoE Damage. This debuff is a strong, fast-ticking dot, and it lasts 9 seconds, dealing 3500 damage each tick. A player with Light Bomb needs immediate and steady attention.

Tympanic Tantrum
Of the three abilities, this one is the most dangerous. Tympanic Tantrum deals damage equal to 10% of each player’s maximum health every 1 sec for 12 sec. Nearby enemies are also dazed for the duration. Every player in the raid needs to receive a medium amount of healing in order to survive this ability. AoE and group heals (Divine Hymn, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing, Wild Growth, Tranquility) are good solutions.

Healing Assignments

In order to meet the dps minimum for the boss, you will probably need either 6 or 7 healers. These assignments will assume 6. Consult the following diagram for the optimum positioning of your 6 healers.
xt-healing1

As always, the diagram is coded by class color. Our favorite arrangement uses a paladin and a tank healing-specced druid on the MT. On the raid, we have had good luck with using two priests, one shaman, and one raid-healing specced druid. In this diagram, you’ll notice that H3 and H4 are standing together, as are H5 and H6. The raid splits into two groups, and ranged dps stacks with raid healers. This grouping makes it easier for the person with Light Bomb or Gravity Bomb to run away. Your MT healers will have to cheat forward a bit of the pile of players in order to be in range of the tank. XT is big–approximately 10 yards across–and your tank will be on the far side.

Techniques

I’ve had the pleasure to both MT and raid heal for this fight, so I can share with you my top strategies for both positions. The key to this fight is using your abilities wisely.

MT healing
Two healers are necessary because this bot hits hard! Damage is spiky because the boss hits hard but swings slowly. We found a combination of a Resto Druid and a Holy Paladin to be very successful. The druid can keep some HoTs on the MT even through the Exposed Heart phase, in which there is no damage to the tank. We’ve lost the tank before when XT has come back with a vengeance, so be prepared with some HoTs or shields. Throughout the fight, the druid will probably be able to make a small contribution to raid healing. During Tympanic Tantrum, both MT healers will raid heal, and during the Heart phase, the paladin can probably dps, with the druid contributing as well if she is able to afford the mana hit.

Raid Healing
I learned the hard way that HoTs won’t cut it for Gravity Bomb and Light Bomb. For Gravity Bomb, have raid healers shield or pre-HoT and then time a big nuke heal to land as the bomb explodes. For Light Bomb, the player will need a series of quick heals (Flash of Light, Flash Heal, Lesser Healing Wave) or a combination of HoTs and direct heals. A Rejuv+Swiftmend is not enough. With my raid healing build, I was using HoTs + glyphed Healing Touch to good effect. Light Bomb is the more dangerous of the two bombs because it hits fast and hard.

For Tympanic Tantrum, HoTs and AoE heals are king. I was having great luck with Tranquility, Wild Growth, and Lifebloom during this phase. When you assign raid healers, make sure you distribute your AoE healers evenly on both sides.

Melee and Offtanks
There’s no way to get around doing double duty on this fight. At least one offtank will assist a couple of ranged dps with controlling the adds. Specific Raid Healers (perhaps H4 and H5) should be assigned to keeping the adds team alive.

Melee will need some attention, but Judgement of Light, if you have it, goes a long way towards keeping them healthy. We assigned our Resto Shaman to chain heal the melee group when she could.

DPS the heart!

All of the non-tree healers in your raid should switch to dps-ing the heart when it is exposed. Every little bit helps you meet the very high dps demand! I also recommend that any raid-healing druids switch forms and dps the heart. However, the MT healing druid should keep her HoTs on the tank, because XT returns suddenly and with a vengeance. If she can sneak a Moonfire in there too, by all means.

Mana Control

This fight has a few moments that will allow for OOFSR regen. It’s fairly tough on mana, and you will probably use a potion and your mana-restoration abilities (Innervate, Shadowfiend) if you are only carrying six healers. The fight is short with a 6 min enrage timer, but it’s fast and furious, so you can blow your mana if you’re not careful. If you find yourself running out, take a break instead of using your mana for offensive spells when the heart is exposed.

A Healer Check?

This boss tests healers in more ways than one. I like to think of it as a healing assignment check. Everyone has to do his or her specific job, and there’s no time for sniping. Moreover, you need a good balance of single-target and AoE heals to pull this off with 6 healers. There is both heavy Main Tank damage and extensive raid damage. Expect to use all of your skills.

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Healing Ulduar: Razorscale

Healing Ulduar: Razorscale

razorscale

For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing strategy page.

Conquest was able to clear out Razorscale on day 2 of Ulduar. It’s a fun encounter and places a lot of emphasis on ad control.

Quick notes

  • 3 phase encounter
  • Repeated waves of incoming trash

Pre-boss preparation

Suggested makeup

  • 3 tanks
  • 7 healers
  • 15 DPS

As raid leader, I like to split my raid into groups that have meaning in the raid frames. In other words, I set aside groups 1 and 2 to deal with trash ads coming in from the left side. Groups 4 and 5 would take care of the right. I made sure there was 1 tank and 3 healers in each ad control team. Try to split up interrupters as best as you can since you’ll want them to disrupt as many chain lightning casts as possible. It’s difficult to evenly split the DPS so use your discretion there accordingly.

Group 3 consists of your third tank and the 4 healers that were unable to fit into either teams.

Warrior tank Hunter Druid tank Hunter Paladin tank
Resto Shaman Rogue Disc Priest Rogue Resto Shaman
Mage Death Knight Resto Druid Death Knight Warlock
Mage Balance Druid Holy Paladin Ret Paladin Mage
Shadow Priest Resto Druid Holy Priest DPS Feral Druid Hunter

That’s a rough visual representation of how I split my groups. Dark blue team on the left, light blue team on the right. Gold team is responsible for big, bad whirlwind titan’s which I’ll elaborate on in a moment.

Process

Phase 1

On the ground, the things you have to worry about are the incoming mobs that spawn from the different drill-shaped ground pods. Meanwhile, Dwarven expedition teams will be repairing the four harpoons.

Razor’s attacks

Fireball: Fire damage to players

Flame buffet: Increases fire damage taken by players. I believe this ability stacks. It’s duration is ~1 minute.

Devouring Flame: Spits a Lava Bomb at a player inflicting fire damage and leaves a fiery patch on the ground dealing fire damage to everyone within 6 yards.

She enrages after 10 minutes.

Add attacks

Dark Rune Guardian: Puts a magical debuff on your raid. Dispelable. Will go after your friendly expedition dwarves. 

Dark Rune Sentinel: Whirlwind. These guys typically spawn in the middle.

Dark Rune Watcher: Interrupt their Chain Lightning when possible. Their Chains can hit up to 5 targets.

razor-process

Adds will show up from the left and right. Dark blue and light blue teams will have to take care of them via DPS and CC’s if necessary.

Now gold team gets to have some fun here. That Devouring Flame ability I mentioned above? Here’s a hint I found out from the Plusheal forums. Devouring Flame can be predicted and controlled. Razor shoots Devouring Flames at the player closest to it. So all gold team has to do is stay under the boss as much as possible and soak up incoming flames. The Disc Priest in that group (me) just heals him. At the same time, gold team needs to pick up Dark Rune Sentinels that show up in the middle.

devo-flame

Gold team in action

The tanking Druid played first person and looked up. I stayed within range in support. When I see a Sentinel spawn, I’ll cue him and let him know there’s a sentinel and he’ll pick it up right away. Once gold team establishes aggro, he calls for ranged DPS to focus and nuke. Once the sentinel is down, it’s back to add control.

There are four harpoons. When they’re all repaired and fired, Razorscale is brought down to the ground. Get three harpoons fired and hold on the fourth one. You fire them by having a player from either blue teams right click on the turrets. Your raid leader should call when to fire the fourth one. When most of the ads are dead, cue the fourth turret call.

When a Harpoon is fixed, it will flash on your screen. I personally like to say things like “harpoon 1 fired, harpoon 2 fired, harpoon 3 fired, harpoon 4 standing by” so that the entire raid knows where we’re at.

turrets

Phase 2

When the raid leader calls for harpoon 4 to be hit, all DPS should be switching off ads. Anything extra should be CC’d in the process. Razor will fall to the ground and remain stunned for seconds. Full DPS on Razor at this point. Stay away from the front of this boss. After time is up, Razor will do a wing buffet knocking everyone back and light a conical flame breath. She’s facing the entrance into this area while she’s stunned.

After the stun wears off, the turrets will explode and have to be repaired again. Razor flies back into the air and triggers phase 1 again.

This would be the phase to hit Heroism or Bloodlust to push Razor into phase 3. If Razor’s health isn’t low enough then you have to do phase 1 all over again.

Phase 3

Have your main tank of choice pick up Razor and immediately face her away from the raid. A good position would have Razor face the entrance just past the turrets. She’s going to continue to do AoE knockbacks (Wind Buffet), Devouring Flame, and Flame Buffets. The Flame Buffet debuffs will continue to stack. If it reaches a certain point, it’s going to insta-kill your tank.

Fused Armor is another debuff your tank will take. When it reaches 5 stacks, your tank is not going to be able to move, use skills or taunt. You’ll have to change tanks before it reaches 5 to buy enough time for your raid to finish her off.

Your raid positions themselves and spreads out behind the boss during this part.

Healing strategy

For both blue teams, you’ll want 2 raid healers and 1 tank healer on each side. You’ll also want 1 tank healer in the gold team. Stay as far back as possible to avoid any chain lightnings that manage to get through. Use strong AoE heals to mitigate them as well. During phase 2 when DPS switches over, the tank healers need to remain on the tank if they’re on any ads. Any idle healers are encouraged to jump up into the play and DPS the boss during phase 2.

Healer drops

Belt of the Fallen Wyrm – Mail

Bracers of the Broodmother – Leather

Guiding Star – Mace

Razorscale Shoulderguards – Plate

Shackles of the Odalisque – Wrists

3.1 Initial Impressions or How I Learned to Love the Crash

3.1 Initial Impressions or How I Learned to Love the Crash

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3.1 dropped with about as much stability as we’ve come to expect from major content updates. Servers were down for extended amounts of time with updates every hour asking us to be patient and wait. Stories were filtering in through twitter and various blogs of people not even able to apply the patch. Slowly realms came back up one by one and people began to log in. The gates to Ulduar were opened and raiding commenced after guild logs were flooded with Dual Talent Specialization achievement spam. Life in Warcraft slowly began to creep back to its normal pace. Raids started, on some servers later then normal, and players shuffled in to test out their new shinnies. Some braved the lag at the portal to Ulduar to get a glimpse of the new content, while others were content to hit Naxxramas one last time in the hopes of getting a long sought after drop (looking at you here Zabos!)  On some servers, things went smoothly, on others… not so much.

Here’s my tale of excitement and woe.

The day started out fine, I was a little disappointed that it was patch day to be honest, but I schlepped my laptop to work and set my home computer’s vpn up so I could update both machines. The first bit of news I see on my RSS is that WoWMatrix is dead! Now while this isn’t earth shattering, for me it just meant my job pre raid was going to be that much more difficult as I have a lot of mods I use to monitor things. Looking at them while trying to patch I realize I ran between 80-90 mods (now since reduced!). My hopes were restored when people on twitter pointed out curse had released a new beta client for mac, one that hopefully worked. I work full time, getting time pre raid to mess around with mods doesn’t happen often.  I go to log into my system at home and start the patch process when I get an odd error saying it can’t validate my account. I try again, receive the same error. At this point I start digging around and sure enough, battle.net accounts are having a difficult time downloading the patch. I decide to say meh and wait for BigDownload to get it and entertain myself by conversing with people on twitter (thank you guys again for that as always =D)

I get home, get patched up and installed, get everything that has an update updated and find that my server is still down. After about 30 or so minutes, it comes back up. I log in, get myself over to Naxx and get ready to go. Everything was going fine and dandy until Loatheb. We didn’t wipe, but at about 1.2m hp left to go, the instance server freezes. We can still type in guild / raid / say / tell and we can log out and log back in on alts, but we were treated by a lovely scene of Loatheb’s backside. Those of you on twitter got to read my lamentations that quickly rose to comedy. The jokes and statements of my fellow guildies more then enough to lift anyone’s spirits by pointing out the sheer comedic value of the situation. While not the most exciting patch day (think 2.0) it was better then I assumed it would be, and to be honest it had been a lot of fun taking bets on which healer would spontaneously go from tree to crit – chicken or go careening off to smack a boss with their hammer. Stuck in the instance we logged out and back on alts and then out for the night. All things considered it was a pretty fun night for me, got a lot of laughs out of it.

How about you guys? How was your first experience of patch 3.1? Any good patch day stories to share?
Till next time

~Lodur

Feel free to follow on twitter http://twitter.com/LodurZJ And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Healing Ulduar: Flame Leviathan

Healing Ulduar: Flame Leviathan

flame-leviathan

For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing strategy page.

I managed to squeeze some PTR time on this boss earlier in the weeks before. But here’s a step-by-step break down of what you need to do in order to get through the encounter.

Quick notes

  • Vehicular fight
  • Trash should be cleared using your vehicles
  • After ~two attempts on the boss, trash will respawn (not sure if there’s a link to time)
  • Four towers control the difficulty of the boss
  • Vehicle health is based on item level not stats

Map

fl-map 

Trash phase

This is not a Hyjal style waves encounter. Your raid group will have access to vehicles first. When your raid is ready to move out, speak to Brann Bronzebeard to engage the Iron army.

bronzebeard-thumb

(Click image for dialogue)

Tower information

Your targets are the four towers throughout the area. The difficulty level of Flame Leviathan can be controlled based on which towers you leave up. Towers are easily identifiable because of the color of their glow. Location of the towers are shown in the map above. Use your vehicles to bring them down.

Storm beacons will summon additional units. Destroy them to stem the tide of incoming spawning mobs.

Roles and vehicular abilities

There are different roles that each vehicle plays. I’ll break them down below.

Carrying capacities

Chopper: 1 driver + 1 passenger
Demolisher: 1 driver + 2 passengers
Siege engine: 1 driver + 1 turret + 2 passengers

Chopper abilities

Sonic horn (20 energy): Conical DPS within 35 yards to all enemies
Tar: 10 yard pool of tar that slows down enemies by 75% (important)
Speed boost (50 energy): Increases vehicle’s movement speed by 100% for 5s

Demolisher abilities

Driver

Hurl boulder: Throws a really big rock at variable range. Think Wintergrasp or Strands type. Ignites Tar upon impact.
Hurl pyrite barrel: Using 5 pyrite, will do ~30000 damage
Ram: Damage and knockback effect
Throw passenger: Used only when the passenger is in the catapult. Dwarf tossing is finally a reality (important)

Passenger

Cannon: Fires a missile. Upon impact, deals damage to enemies within 10 yards. 50 yard range.
Grab crate: Uses a hook and chain to grab crates. Lets you pick up pyrite off the ground.
Increase speed: Uses pyrite to add extra speed to the demolisher. Lasts 1 minute.
Load into catapult: Self explanatory. Passenger gets into the catapult. (important)

Siege engine abilities

Driver

Ram (40 energy): Damage and knock back effect
Electroshock (38 energy): 25 yard conical, interrupts spells, and 4 seconds of locking out the magic school (important)
Steam Rush (40 energy): Sort of like a sprint effect.

Turret

Anti-Air launcher (10 energy): Fires missiles at aerial targets.
Cannon (20 energy): Up to 70 yard range. It’s a gun that shoots stuff.

Siege Engines

The Flame Leviathan will only lock on to one siege engine at a team. The targeted engine must kite the boss around.

Non-kiting siege engines will have to stay close to the rear of the Leviathan as much as possible and should interrupt Flame Jets. After 30 seconds, Flame Leviathan will switch and target a different Siege Engine and chase after that. Use Steam Rush to build up some distance.

Here’s a kite path you can try out.

kite-path

Blue line: Opening route. The boss will be weapons free at this time (as in engage-able).

Siege engine passengers should be targeting pyrite ammo that’s floating in the air. If there aren’t any available, switch fire to the boss.

If you’re out of siege engines, FL will go after demolishers or choppers.

Choppers

There should be 1 chopper following the targeted siege engine. Choppers will be laying down tar directly in front of the Flame Leviathan to slow him down and the tar can be ignited by Boulders from demolishers.

Choppers also have to extract the FL Unit (explained further).

Demolishers

Stay as far away as you can. DPS with Hurl Boulder. Firing Pyrite Barrels should be held off until FL is stunned.

Demo passengers not being thrown up will need to work the catapult to load up Pyrite.

Flame Leviathan stun unit

Your demolishers have the capability to launch players onto the Flame Leviathan. The FL unit is going to comprise of:

  • 3 DPS (Suggest Druid, Death Knight, Rogue)
  • 1 Healer (Suggest Paladin or Druid)

I suggested those classes because they’re going to be under fire from various guns while up there. You’ll want maximum survivability.

Both players must be in the passenger seat of the demolisher. There’s an ability called “Load into Catapult” which places them in the throwing arm of the demo as a projectile. When it’s called for, your demo’s close in. The driver then hits “Throw passenger” which launches the passengers on top of the Flame Leviathan.

When the FL unit is on the back of the boss, they will be able to take out all 4 turrets. When the turrets explode, there’s a button. You hit the button which starts a 10 second channel resulting in a stunned boss and a damage taken by Flame Leviathan by 50% and resetting his speed.

The FL unit will then be ejected and parachuted off the boss. Your choppers must swoop in and extract them back to the demolishers. You’ll want to stun Leviathan while he’s in a tar’d area.

Video

For a visual “how to”, see this video below. Actual encounter starts around 20 seconds or so in. Note the positioning of siege engines and how the tar is laid out.

Healer drops

Heroic

Constructor’s Handwraps – Cloth gloves

Embrace of the Leviathan – Cloth belt

Freya’s Choker of Warding – Necklace

Glowing Ring of Reclamation – Ring

Steamcaller’s Totem – Ranged slot

Steamworker’s Goggles – Mail Helm

Boots of Fiery Resolution – Cloth feet – (Hard mode only)

Shoulderpads of Dormant Energies – Leather shoulders – (Hard mode only)

Suggested Restoration Spec and Glyphs for 3.1

3.1 is upon us and it’s free respec time. Here’s my suggestion feel free to edit it as you see fit. I’m going to quote matt here from his post previous to mine

WoW Insider has a great roundup toeverything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Restoration Shamans were largely untouched in this patch (yay) but some things have shifted around allowing use to move some talent points and gather up our talents.

0/16/55

Restorative Totems: Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 45%

This is still a must have, if for nothing else with mana spring totem no longer staking with Blessing of Wisdom, you’ll be using healing stream totem a lot more.

Healing Way: Your Healing Wave spells have a 100% chance to increase the effect of subsequent Healing Wave spells on that target by 18% for 15 sec.

With the talent points being freed up, there is no good reason not to take this

Thundering Strikes: Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 5%.

More crit is always good

Elemental Weapons: Increases the damage caused by your Windfury Weapon effect by 40%  increases the spell damage on your Flametongue Weapon by 30% and increases the bonus healing on your Earthliving Weapon by 30%

People may scoff at this one, but with the points floating around, taking this with it’s full 3 points is a great way to give your spell power a bit of a boost.

The spec lets you get everything and the kitchen sink, foregoing the more pvp centric ones. The movement of the talents to different tiers and just a couple point changes really give us everything we need.

As far as glyphs go it might be time to change it up a bit, I’ll list the ones I feel are the great contenders

Water Mastery
Healing Stream Totem – With the change to restorative totems this is worth a second look.
Mana Tide Totem
Earth Shield – NEW 20% increase in the healing done by your Earth Shield is always a good thing.
Riptide – NEW while it might not seem like much, increasing the duration of riptide makes it more into a true HoT instead of just a Chain Heal buffer.
Chain Heal

Now as far as totem mods go, I will make an endorsement here. Totem Timers worked for me on the PTR’s latest build when Yata and Flototem failed me. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out. Tracks Earth Shield charges, water shield, lightning shield, all totem schools, has a totemic recall option and is pretty light weight.

Good luck in Ulduar!

As always feel free to follow on twitter http://twitter.com/LodurZJ And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Ulduar Caster Weapons and Tier Gear: A Primer

Here’s a list of all spellcaster related weapons that drop from Ulduar. Items are sorted in the rough order of progression that raiding groups will be going in. I linked all currently known spellpower weapons and off hands so that your raid group can get a general idea of what item to go for and what items are better off in the hands of other players along with the rough order they will appear in. It seems heroic mode drops slightly more weapons. Loot tables for some of the bosses are still unknown at this time (like Yogg-Saron and Algalon). Read the bottom of the post for a theory of tier gear drops.

Heroic Mode weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Overcharged Fuel Rod OH (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Intensity 2H Staff (Spell hit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Scepter of Creation Wand (Spirit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Guiding Star 1H Mace (MP5/Haste) Razorscale
Quartz Crystal Wand Wand (Spell hit) XT-002 Deconstructor (Hard mode)
     
Rapture 2H Staff (Spirit) Iron Council
Ironmender OH (Spirit) Kologarn
Runescribed Blade 1H Sword Auriaya
The Lifebinder 2H Staff (Spirit) Freya
Staff of Endless Winter 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir (Hard mode)
Scepter of Lost Souls Wand (Haste/Crit) General Vezax

 

Normal Mode Weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Firesoul MH Sword (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Plasma Foil 1H Dagger (Spirit) XT-002 Deconstructor
Pulsing Spellshield OH (Shield) XT-002 Deconstructor
Stormtip 1H Dagger (Spirit) The Iron Council
Nurturing Touch Wand (Spirit) Auriaya
Pulse Baton 1H Mace (MP5) Mimiron
Unraveling Reach 2H Staff (Hit) Freya
Icecore Staff 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir
Ice Layered Barrier OH Shield (MP5/Haste) Hodir (Hard mode)
Pillar of Fortitude 2H Staff General Vezax

Tier gear

All we know right now is that Mimiron drops tier 8 gloves. I’m assuming Yogg-Saron either drops the chest or the helm. I have a sneaking suspicion the other 3 Titans (Freya, Hodir, Thorim) drop the other 3 tier 8 pieces. My theory is unconfirmed, however. But I think it’s a decent assumption that the 4 titans along with the “end” boss of the instance are the ones that drop the tier pieces.

Suggested Healing Priest Specs, Glyphs, and Addons for 3.1

Not sure how to spec or glyph for 3.1? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to modify accordingly. WoW Insider has a great roundup to everything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Discipline Priest Specs

57/14/0

Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of Power Word: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Shield by 30%.

Absolution: Reduces mana cost of Dispels and Disease curing spells by up to 15%.

Focused Will: Increases your spell critical effect by 3% fully talented. If you get crit, incoming damage is reduced by 4% and healing effects on you increase by 5/10/15%.

3 points can go either into Absolution or Focused Will. With the amount of cleansers and dispelers in my arsenal, I opted for the increase crit for the time being. But that might change later.

Improved Flash Heal: Must talent, I think. Reduces mana cost of Flash Heal by 15% and increases the crit chance if your targets are below half health.

Rapture: It’s different now. When your Shield is absorbed or dispelled, you instantly get back 2.5% of your total mana and your target gains 2% mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. Works every 12 seconds.

Discipline Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Power Word: Shield
Glyph of Penance – NEW: Your Scribes will have to be lucky here.
Glyph of Prayer of Healing – At least it’s some form of AoE healing if the fight calls for it

Holy Priests Specs

14/57/0

Blessed Resilience: For 3 points, it increases your healing effectiveness by 3%. The stronger your healing effectiveness, the better this talent will be. For the time being I opted not to get it.

Serendipity: A haste inducing talent. Requires you to Flash Heal or Binding Heal before it adds a 12% haste buff per stack up to 3 (total of 36%). Makes your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing faster. Note: Binding Heal used to grant 2 haste buffs per one cast. It doesn’t do that anymore.

Test of Faith: No change here.

You’re going to end up with 6 talent points. You can only invest in two of the above abilities. I recommended Serendipity and Test of Faith.

Empowered Renew: Another instant healing spell added to Priests. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s an inverse Lifebloom. Instead of tick, tick, tick, BOOM! It becomes BOOM! Tick, tick, tick.

Holy Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Hymn of Hope
Glyph of Renew
Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Guardian Spirit

Things will be very busy in the World. New places to explore, new dungeons to conquer. All of us will do our best to provide the advice and guidance in the challenges ahead.