Troubleshooting Gurtogg Bloodboil: A Healer’s Perspective

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syderatagimageIn my mind, Gurtogg Bloodboil is the toughest boss to heal in Black Temple. Many guilds stagnate at 4/9 in BT, and others continue to have difficulties with Bloodboil long after their first kill. From my own personal experience, nothing turns a happy tree into a miserable pile of mulch faster than an untimely Fel Rage! This boss is never truly on farm status: every time you bring a new healer or try a new group composition, you might spend hours relearning the fight. The lessons of Mr. Bloodboil are important ones for any healer to learn–they reveal how Blizzard conceptualizes endgame healing and healers’ roles in a raid. The skills you must master in order to take this boss down consistently are the same ones that will allow you to succeed in any of the demanding fights at the finale of the Burning Crusade.

This article will help your raid win at the Bloodboil encounter even if you do not have the ideal group makeup. In a perfect world, a guild would always have ten healers and two shadow priests just itching for a chance at this encounter, but in practice, we all have to learn to work with the tools we have available.

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The Boiling Basics

This encounter alternates between two phases, both of which are fairly hectic.

Phase 1

Tanks: The fight requires three main tanks, all of whom will trade Gurtogg’s aggro around like a hot potato. They will suffer a stacking debuff called Acidic Wound, and all three will need consistent healing even when they are not the boss’s active target.

Healers: Split them between the main tanks and the bloodboil groups. Melee needs some, but not much, attention. Heals over time are extremely useful for the two tanks who are not Gurtogg’s current target.

DPS: Your mages, warlocks, and other aggro monkeys can pew-pew as usual, with the caveat that they must stay below all three tanks on threat.

Bloodboil: Gurtogg applies the “Bloodboil” debuff to the five players furthest from him every three seconds. This damage over time spell is En-Ay-As-Tee-Why. To survive the dreaded boils, a raid must rotate the players who soak them–the ability stacks, and if a person gets “double-boiled,” well, she’s a goner. Typically ranged dps and healers make up the bloodboil sponges. We designate groups 3-5 as bloodboil groups, and we have a caller whose main job in the fight is to indicate when groups should move into the waterfall area furthest from the boss to take the DoT.

Phase 2

Fel Rage: Gurtogg afflicts one lucky player with Fel Rage. If this is you, congratulations! On the plus side, you become a giant version of yourself and gain 30,000 health and 15,000 armor (sweet!). Moreover, your healing done increases by 100%, and your damage output increases by 300%. Sounds great, right? However, on the minus side, Gurtogg has been buffed too, and now he’s targeting YOU. If you are the victim, you must do everything you can to heal yourself or mitigate the damage.

Bloodboil: You guessed it! Still ticking.

Geyser: Gurtogg casts this AoE damage spell on the Fel Rage target at the beginning of the phase. Spread out to avoid too much splash damage.

Tanks: Acidic wound continues to tick, so they need maintenance healing. Heals over time are ideal.

Healers: Healers must pick up the Fel Rage target immediately and spam that player with with their largest heals, always of maximum rank. If the Fel Rage target dies, Gurtogg will revert back to the tank with the highest threat, and in his strengthened form, he will make mincemeat of him. Meanwhile, raid and tank healing must continue.

DPS: Every player except the Fel Rage victim receives the (resistable) debuff “Insignificance.” The insignificant ones can unleash all the pain they desire on the boss without fear of pulling aggro.

In order to take this boss down, your raid has to survive the horrors of Phase 1 and Phase 2 multiple times. How is this possible? It isn’t easy, but the tips below will certainly help. These tips will carry over into the rest of your Burning Crusade healing–master them, and you will be ready for Illybeans, Archimundo, and the whole Sunwell gang, who deal out the splash damage like candy on Halloween.

gurtogg defeated

Four Key Tips
Tip #1: Make detailed assignments

For this boss, healing assignments must be exact and phase-specific, and they must suit the individual healers’ abilities. See the table below for sample healing assignments by phase and class. Many groups, including my own guild, find that this fight is easiest with ten healers, but an experienced raid can use eight. If your raid is learning this fight, asking a priest to re-spec for Pain Suppression can be very helpful.

Healer

Ideal Class

Other Options

Phase 1

Phase 2

1

Paladin Priest Gurtogg’s Current Target Fel Raged Player

2

Paladin   Gurtogg’s Current Target Fel Raged Player

3

IDS priest (extra credit for Pain Suppression

Paladin Gurtogg’s Current Target Fel Raged Player

4

Druid Shaman

HoT all tanks

HoT all tanks

5

Shaman Priest Melee

Fel Raged Player

6

CoH Priest

Shaman

Bloodboil Group #1

Bloodboil Group #1

7

CoH Priest

 

Bloodboil Group #2

Bloodboil Group #2

8

CoH Priest

 

Bloodboil Group #3

Bloodboil Group #3 (until the debuff clears, then Fel Raged Player)

9 (optional)

Druid Any

HoT all tanks / Swing Healer

Fel Raged Player, subs for any other healer who is Fel Raged
10 (optional) Any Any

Gurtogg’s Current Target

Fel Raged Player
Tip #2: Change targets efficiently (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Macros)

Make sure you have macros that let you switch targets in a timely manner. To pick up Gurtogg’s target, my guild’s healers use the following macro:

/target gurtogg bloodboil

/cast [target=targettarget,help] [] Holy Light

For “Holy Light,” sub in your largest heal. You will need it for the Fel Rage victim!

Even as a resto druid, I find this macro very useful, as it helps me identify either the tank of the moment or the unlucky soul with Fel Rage. I use it with Regrowth, but if I am healing the Fel Rage target, I will switch to Healing Touch spam after some initial HoTs. I also use a separate macro to help me pick up each of the three tanks. In this fight, there is no time to waste on targeting! If you hesitate, someone will die. I find some version of this basic macro useful in many different fights.

Tip #3: Don’t be a hero

In earlier content, a healer might get away with covering someone else’s assignment. In this particular encounter, it will always look like there isn’t enough healing on group 3, or the tanks, or the Fel Rage target. Healing is a scarce resource in this fight, and the whole darn thing is an emergency situation. You must stick to your assigned target, no matter what. Several weeks after we first killed Gurtogg, my guild spent an entire evening wiping to him. When we looked at wws, we found that healers were not adhering to their assigned targets–when you try to “save” people in this fight, you let your whole raid down.

Tip #4: Do a post-mortem analysis

It’s entirely possible that your healing team is already following tips 1-3. Yet, Gurtogg is still laughing in your faces as he slaughters the Fel Rage target every single time. In order to identify problems and difficulties, use both your own powers of observation and diagnostic tools like Recount and wws. When my guild has had trouble with Gurtogg, it has always been due to one of the following five classic blunders. Take this boss as a primer in troubleshooting: if you can diagnose the problem with Bloodboil, you can do so again when you face the end bosses of T6. For each boss you encounter, keep notes on the usual causes of failure–never let your research go to waste.

Potential Problem Areas
Problem #1: Your bloodboil rotation is off

This is the primary thing that has killed Collateral Damage while we were supposed to be “farming” Bloodboil. Check and make sure that people are moving in and out of the waterfall area with perfect coordination. The bloodboil groups are performing a lovely little dance–make sure everyone else isn’t spoiling the ballet by being too far off to the sides. You must also have designated bloodboil substitutes in case one of your original soakers dies.

Problem #2: The healing assignments don’t suit your group

Healers should confer with each other after unsuccessful attempts. If someone was unable to do his job properly, find out why! It may not be his fault. Many times, the arrangement that worked for a previous group has to be adjusted when new players enter the field. You can still win if your healing roster isn’t ideal–try scrambling around the assignments after each attempt until you find what works.

Problem #3: The Fel Rage targets are caught by surprise

Everyone who gets Fel Rage must do everything possible to lessen the burden on the healers. Panic is deadly–every player should have a Fel Rage plan before the boss is pulled and stick to it when the time comes.

Problem #4: Fel Rage healers are over-confident

Some Fel Rage healers forget that healing needs increase throughout Phase 2. You have to keep spamming those heals, even if your target looks stable. In a moment or two, they won’t be.

Problem #5: Your raid’s dps is low

Sometimes it’s just not a healer’s fault. Even if the team is doing everything right, Gurtogg will eventually overwhelm the raid if you go through too many Fel Rage cycles. I’ve seen us lose people to Fel Rage and still win, but only if the dps is good. The bad news is that the wipes will always look like the healers’ fault. You will need to check wws to see if your dps was on track for the attempts in question.

In summation, Gurtogg Bloodboil is a complex fight, and a win or loss depends on many factors. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to that perfect one-shot.

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