Tag Archives: Dragon Soul

Dragon Soul Retrospective

We’ve been raiding in Dragon Soul for almost 8 months now. I thought I’d take a look at how enjoyable (or not) the instance was as a healer.

Bosses

My guild cleared the raid on normal within 3 weeks of the instance being released, so I’m mostly going to focus on the hard modes. To give a sense of perspective, I’m including the nerf level the instance was at when we defeated each one.

Morchok

Heroic mode killed pre-nerfs

Morchok was disappointing. The first boss should be the easiest, but not *that* easy. Walking into DS for the first time and one-shotting him was not expected.

In heroic, Morchok wasn’t a whole lot harder, and was certainly easier than a number of the later normal mode bosses. The healing wasn’t particularly difficult, and the Black Blood of the Earth phase was more of an annoyance than a challenge.

Enjoyment factor: 3

Hagara

Heroic mode killed pre-nerfs

Normal Hagara wasn’t tuned to be very difficult, but I did enjoy the components of this fight. I liked that every phase was distinct and that there was a lot of movement (hey, I’m a Druid I like to run around in circles). My biggest problem, which is a complaint I have about most normal modes, was that there wasn’t enough damage to heal.

Heroic Hagara was interesting, but many of the mechanics could be brute-forced. Focused Assault should have made this a 2-tank fight but with enough cooldowns (and a DK) it could be single tanked. Frost phase should have required everyone to run around and dodge Ice Waves but it was easier for all the healers and ranged to stand in the middle and heal through the Watery Entrenchment. The one part of the fight I did find challenging was lightning phase. The damage got pretty intense if the lightning wasn’t quickly chained, and this was definitely a challenge to heal through while learning the fight.

Enjoyment factor: 5

Yor’sahj

Heroic mode killed at 5% nerf

Normal Yor’sahj was a complete bore. It was another fight that we one-shot our first night in Dragon Soul, and to me, it was even easier to heal than Morchok. It’s been a while since I’ve done the fight on normal but I remember there being very little healing to do. I was hard-pressed to even find a time to use ToL and Tranquility because there was so little damage going out through the fight.

The difference between normal and heroic Yor’sahj is night and day. Heroic Yor’sahj is my favorite fight in Dragon Soul. It’s amazing the difference an extra ooze (and a whole lot of extra health and damage) can make. Heroic Yor’sahj is a dynamic fight and required a lot of coordination. It was  really fun and challenging when we started learning it. I remember trying to work out cooldowns for the fight and having 2 groups of CDs to use, based on whether or not purple was up, and calling them out when needed. RNG could make the fight extra challenging as having a red-black-yellow phase followed by a red-black-blue could easily use up all the cooldowns and leave you with none for the next set. I also really loved how each combination required you to heal in a different way. One combo required you to put out as much HPS as possible, while the next required planning and control. The purple ooze was a really nice challenge. Though I never found using ‘tricks’ (like Swiftmending pets) necessary on the fight, I liked how it made me heal differently than normal. Not using Wild Growth is harder than it sounds.

The one downside to Heroic Yor’sahj is that the increasing nerfs really killed everything interesting about this fight.

Enjoyment factor – 9

Zon’Ozz

Heroic mode killed at 5% nerf

I don’t have a strong opinion on the normal version of this fight. It was a step up in difficulty from Morchok and Yor’sahj, but it was rather simple. The biggest difficulties usually came from bugs with the void ball. I did like that the fight involved some dispels, which had been absent through most of tier 12.

Heroic, on the other hand, was a lot more fun. The first phase isn’t too challenging, as long as you had enough people capable of bouncing the void ball without dying. Black blood phase is where things got interesting. There were many adds to deal with and a ton of raid damage going out. What made this part enjoyable for me was that people were spread out all over the room. Where much of the healing in Dragon Soul amounts to “group up in one place and use all your AoE and ground heals,” phase 2 of Zon’Ozz made you do something different. Healers were each responsible for their own group. Since my group consisted of 2 melee, 2 ranged and myself, I got a chance to flex my single-target healing muscles.

Enjoyment factor : 7

Ultraxion

Killed at 10% nerf

This was the epitome of a tank and spank fight and it was pretty dull. The only complication was having to use Heroic Will, and healers got the simplest job of anyone as we didn’t even have to deal with Fading Light.

Heroic Ultraxion, from my healer perspective, wasn’t much different from normal. I don’t have any damage mitigation cooldowns (besides Barkskin, which isn’t really good enough) to allow be to be a soaker, so my job didn’t change. The huge problem with Ultraxion was how inconsistent it was in terms of outgoing damage. The first 3-4 minutes could be easily 2-healed. But once you get to Timeloop, you need 5. The transition from dull to nerve-wracking was jarring.

This fight was interesting for me in one way though. When we were working on this fight at the 5% nerf, it was still a very tough dps check for my raid. This pushed me to put out as much damage as I possible could during the first minutes of the fight when little healing was needed. It was fun to tweak my spec and glyphs in order to do as much damage as possible, while making sure I could still put out as much healing as possible at the end of the fight. A few million damage from a healer could be the difference between a 0.2% wipe and a kill.

Enjoyment factor: 4

Blackhorn

Killed at 15% nerf

I really can’t even remember normal Blackhorn. I have so much time and so many attempts on heroic Blackhorn, I think it has erased all my memories of normal mode. DBM shows I’ve only wiped to this on normal once, so it couldn’t have been too difficult.

Heroic Blackhorn was one of the most frustrating fights in DS for me. First because of how buggy it was. We got to see (or rather not see) invisible monsters one-shoting people on the pull. We had to distinguish between real deck fire and fake deck fire. And I can’t even count the number of times deck fire continued to spawn all over the boat during phase 2, making Shockwaves all but impossible to see and leaving us nowhere to safely stand.

Second, soaking barrages really showed my raid’s flaws in terms of movement. We had so many sub-30 second wipes called after a handful of people died to barrages almost immediately. Blackhorn made it really easy to play the blame game when you ended up dying because you solo-soaked a barrage. Not fun.

The other thing that made Blackhorn less enjoyable was that by the time we got through our kinks in phase 1, phase 2 was a complete pushover. When we killed this at the 15% nerf we really didn’t even need to use our cooldowns properly in order to survive any Roars.

Enjoyment factor: 4

Spine of Deathwing

Killed at 20% nerf

Spine is the first normal fight that provided a healing challenge. The Searing Plasma debuff was something new to worry about and it was fun learning how to deal with.  But once you got beyond that, this fight was very long and repetitive.

Heroic Spine was the most difficult fight in the instance. The healing, even when the fight had been nerfed quite a bit, was very challenging. Combining the debuff, bloods bursting, grips, heavy damage on up to 3 tanks, and the Superheated damage meant the healers not only had to put out enormous healing, but also had to correctly prioritize who they were healing. I actually really enjoy healing this fight, and don’t dislike it as much as a lot of people do. It has it’s downsides – it is too long, and too repetitive, and the difficulty scales up incredibly on the 3rd plate, but I like to be challenged, and this fight challenged me.

The one major thing I would change about this fight is the tendon burn phase. As a healer it’s not something that really effects me, but I sympathize with the dps having to respec and reforge for maximum burst for one tiny portion of the fight. It really disrupted raid continuity.

Enjoyment factor: 7

Madness of Deathwing

Killed at 20% nerf

Like Spine, Madness is very long and very repetitive. The mechanics on normal aren’t terribly interesting. The 4 platforms felt almost exactly the same and that got boring fast.

On heroic, Madness was a letdown. My raid had to work long and hard to get Blackhorn and Spine down, and Madness took about a quarter of the time that Spine did to defeat. Very anti-climactic for the last boss of the expansion. The Impale mechanic was a bit of an annoyance. It seemed like a test of how many damage mitigation cooldowns you could throw at it and as a healer without any, made me feel a bit powerless.

The worst part of the fight for me was that the first 3 platforms were simple, the 4th platform was more challenging to heal, but barring large screw-ups, not too bad. Then the final phase was exponentially more difficult. When learning the fight we were seeing wipes happen around the 12 minute mark. It was very frustrating to have to go through 12 minutes of the fight just to get a little bit more practice on the last phase, which required the most coordination and effort. That said, I do enjoy the last phase of the fight. It’s very stressful to heal – I’m a little in awe of those raids who did this fight at the 5% nerf. After 12 minutes of fighting Deathwing, you’re running low on mana, you’re getting a little tired, and both the tanks and the rest of the raid start taking crazy damage. I felt like the last phase of the fight really pushed me to put out at much healing as I possibly could, pushed the rest of the raid to mitigate as much damage as possible (“use your goddamn Dream!”), and I still breathe a sigh of relief every time we finish the fight.

Enjoyment factor: 5

Atmosphere

I’ve heard many people complain about the recycled environments in Dragon Soul, but I really didn’t have a problem with it. I liked having Wyrmrest Temple as a backdrop for Morchok and Ultraxion, it gave it an epic feeling. Not all the boss areas were as impressive however. Zon’ozz and Yor’sahj were in rather boring areas. I think the two Deathwing fights could have been done much better but at least the environments were unique.

The biggest issue I had with the Deathwing fights was a problem of scale. Fighting on a dragon’s back should have been amazing but the actual fight area and camera angles made it very difficult to tell what was going on. Similarly, Madness was disappointing because you couldn’t really see Deathwing. It didn’t feel like you were fighting an awesome, fear-inducing, world-destroying, dragon because you could only see parts of him at a time – a wing here, a tentacle there. I think it was a huge misstep that we never got to encounter Deathwing in his human form – it’s an amazing model, and we never got to see it. Rades wrote an excellent post about lore disappointments in Cataclysm and how the way Deathwing was presented was one of the most disappointing things. Had Deathwing been better presented (both in character and in the form he takes), fighting him at the end of Dragon Soul would have felt much more exciting. The area where you fight Madness, surrounded by the dragon aspects, is kind of cool when you have the time to look around, but during the course of the fight you really don’t.

Overall

Overall, I’d say that Dragon Soul was okay. There were some disappointing bosses, but there were also quite a few that I found really fun to heal. I like that the environment varied – it was a nice change after Firelands where everything was red (and on fire). The worst thing about Dragon Soul was the nerfs. While I’m grateful for some nerfs (my guild never would have killed a fight like Spine without them), they come too fast and go too far. There were a number of fights – Yor’sahj, Ultraxion, Spine – that I felt we could have killed with just a little more time and effort, then the next level of nerfs came in and they were a cakewalk and much less satisfying to conquer. At 25% we’re pretty much stomping over everything, and next week the nerf is going to 30%. It’s gotten to the point where the mechanics don’t even really matter. One positive thing I can say about Dragon Soul is that I’m not nearly as sick and tired of it as I was of Icecrown Citadel at the end of Wrath. Of course, if you ask me again in another 2 months, that may change.

Thursday Tidings

The last week or two in WoW have been fairly eventful for me, even with so many people distracted by Diablo 3. I haven’t put a ton of time into WoW, but I feel like the time I have spent has been productive and rewarding.

Podcast

Team WaffleFirst of all, I was on the Team Waffle Podcast on Friday night. We talked about the latest changes to Druids in the beta, the new talent trees and how I feel about Heroic resto raiding in Cataclysm. The podcast is now available on the Team Waffle site, or on iTunes. (I’ve also added a new page to my blog under About, with links to all the podcasts I’ve done – Jasyla Speaks.)

Raiding

Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider

After killing Heroic Madness of Deathwing 2 weeks ago, Apotheosis spent the last 2 weeks doing all the meta achievements for Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider. Now all of our raiders have shiny new Twilight Harbingers (though some of our Initiates still have an achievement or two left to get). Getting the meta achievements was a lot of fun. My favourite part was doing the red-green ooze combination on Heroic Yor’sahj – I could practically feel all the healers holding their breath as the oozes hit and our ranged dps started taking 150k Searing Blood hits. We lost a few people, but got through it without too much problem. The worst achievement, without a doubt, was Holding Hands on Hagara. We attempted this a number of times on 25 and it is just so, so buggy. Kurn meticulously placed every raider around the room so the lightning would chain properly, everyone stood where they were supposed to, and then the lightning just wouldn’t chain. It would hop from person to person and then at some point, it would just stop and refuse to hop again. We ended up doing the achievement on 10-man mode which was much easier, but it was annoying that we had to do that.

Next week we’re back to clearing heroics to get everyone all the gear they want and get as many Lifebinder’s Handmaiden and Blazing Drake mounts as we can. I really, really want a mount that looks like Alezstrasza. 🙂

Apotheosis is still recruiting, so if you are an excellent player (especially a warlock or a shadow priest) and would like to come clear Dragon Soul with us and have a great place to raid in Mists, come apply.

Twilight Harbinger

PVP

I’ve been doing a lot of PVP over the last few weeks. I’ve been doing the arena pass with a Rogue and shadow Priest. We were mostly doing it for the pet and title and last night we finished our 100th game. We ended the tournament with a rating of 1640 which puts us in the top 500 on the arena ladder. I’m happy with that, though 3s always make me feel a little underpowered as a Druid. Looking through the comps of all the teams in the tournament is very telling. Out of the top 2000 teams, the healer class breakdowns look like this:

  • 511 teams have a Priest healer
  • 456 teams have a Shaman healer
  • 341 teams have a Pally healer
  • 100 teams have a Druid healer

What makes it even worse is that 80% of the teams with a Resto Druid have a rating of less than 1500 (while only about 60% of the teams with any other healer are below 1500). The only thing that makes me feel good about being a Druid in the tournament is that my mana bar seems to go on forever while the other healers go oom much more quickly – 95% of the time I give my Innervate to the shadow Priest. But other than that, I feel like being a Druid is a bit of a handicap. Here’s hoping that resto PVP is in a much better place in Mists.

In other PVP news, last night I reached 1800 rating in RBGs. I’m really excited about this one. Knight-Captain Jasyla has a nice ring to it. Now I just need 24 more wins to get my Spiky Pony – I love that mount.

Knight-Captain Jasyla

More Achievements!

Lastly, after months (or years) of spending time roaming around Northrend looking for rare spawns, I finally found Vyragosa and King Krush to give me the Frostbitten achievement.

Frostbitten

Now I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I’m waiting on arena/BG queues. Maybe fish for a sea turtle?

All the achievements from the last few weeks have put me up to 13380. I’m hoping I can get up to 13500 at least before Mists.

What have you been up to?

Saviours of Azeroth

Apotheosis kills heroic Madness of Deathwing, 25

This picture was shamelessly stolen from apotheosis-now.com since I was too distracted to take a screenshot myself.

Well, we did it. Apotheosis killed Deathwing. After far too many attempts to get down Blackhorn and Spine we got through the final boss of the instance relatively quickly. On our 8th attempt last night we got ourselves a very clean  kill that took just under 14 minutes.

I’m so happy to have cleared all of the raid content before the next tier came out. This is the first time this has happened for me since hard modes were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. There are things left to do – make sure all the Apotheosis raiders who missed the first kill get to kill him, finish up the meta achievements and collect mounts – but it feels nice to have conquered all the bosses.

According to GuildOx, Apotheosis is now ranked 250th of all the 25man guilds in the US, which I’m pretty chuffed about.

Apotheosis is still recruiting!

If you want to join us for some Deathwing kills, get a fancy meta drake and have a great place to raid in Mists of Pandaria, you should come fill out an app.

We are particularly looking for Warlocks, Hunters, dps Warriors, Ret Pallies, Shadow Priests and a BearCat, but we will consider any strong dps.

Jasyla, Savior of Azeroth

Barkskin in Dragon Soul

Damage mitigation is not just for tanks or PVP. Good use of your damage mitigation abilities make for happy healers and happy raid leaders.

Barkskin is a druid ability that is full of win:

The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Usable in all forms. Lasts 12 sec. 60 second cooldown.

Barkskin

It costs no mana and triggers no global cooldown so there’s really no excuse for not making the most of it.

Here are some ideal times to use Barkskin for each boss in Dragon Soul. Most of these situations are also good times to use Divine Protection if you are a Paladin since the two talents are quite similar.

Morchok

Normal and Heroic: Barkskin should be usable once every crystal phase. The best time to use it is just before a Stomp. If you are one of the crystal soakers, you can time your Barkskin so it is active for both a Stomp and the following Resonating Crystal damage.

Warlord Zon’ozz

Normal: Barkskin is best used during the Black phase on this fight to reduce the damage taken by Black Blood of Go’rath.

Heroic: Use Barkskin at the beginning of the Black phase, as that is when raid damage is highest (as adds are killed there is less damage going out). You could also use Barkskin when you are affected by Distrupting Shadows if it will not be cleansed off.

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping

Normal and Heroic: The ooze combinations on this fight are unpredictable, so it’s hard to time your Barkskin to get the most use out of it. In general, try to use Barkskin whenever the raid damage is heavy. The Red oozes will cause the most damage, so using Barkskin anytime that is up is a good idea. Make sure you’re popping Barkskin after the oozes reach the boss – there’s no damage while they’re travelling to them. It’s also a good idea to use it when Black is active and you have an add hitting you.

Hagara the Stormbinder

Normal and heroic: Main phase – use Barkskin if you are soaking Ice lances. You can also use Barkskin if you are placed in an Ice Tomb.

Lightning phase – Damage during this phase ramps up the longer it lasts, so wait a few seconds before using Barkskin.

Ice Phase – Use Barkskin if you are standing in the Watery Entrenchment (this is a strat you’re more likely to use in heroic mode). If you aren’t in Watery Entrenchment, you shouldn’t be taking any damage so Barkskin shouldn’t be needed (though you can pop it just to be safe in case you get hit by an Icicle).

Ultraxion

Normal and heroic: Use Barkskin on cooldown to prevent as much damage as possible from Unstable Monstrosity. If your Barkskin comes off cooldown just before an Hour of Twilight is going to be cast, hold off and use it after you come back out of the Twilight Realm.

Warmaster Blackhorn

Normal and heroic: In phase 1 use Barkskin whenever it’s available and you are about to take damage from either a Twilight Barrage or a Twilight Onslaught.

In phase 2, use Barkskin before as many Disrupting Roars as you can.

Spine of Deathwing

Normal: There are a lot of good opportunities for Barkskin on this fight. You’ll want to use it as often as possible, when you’re affected by one of the following:

Grasping Tendrils – You will be taking a fair amount of damage while you’re waiting for Deathwing to do a barrel roll.
Fiery Grip – You will be stunned, but you can still use Barkskin.
Superheated Nucleus – This happens when the Amalgamation is about to explode. The whole raid will take significant damage for a few seconds until it dies.

When you’re affected by one of the above and Searing Plasma, Barkskin is particularly effective since any healing on your will be absorbed.

Madness of Deathwing

Normal: During phase 1, there are two times when Barkskin is particularly effective. First, when an Elementium Bolt is going to hit. Second, when Blistering Tentacles are up and you are taking damage from Blistering Heat.

In phase 2, use Barkskin when Deathwing’s health reaches 10% and you are taking extra damage from Corrupted Blood.

Also don’t forget to use Dream during this fight. In phase 2 you want to save it in case you get targeted by Shrapnel, but during phase 1, you can use it whenever you’re taking damage.

Heroic Yor’sahj (25)

Heroic Yor’sahj is my favourite encounter to heal in Dragon Soul so far. It has some random elements, so you need to be on your toes. It has periods where everyone takes damage and you need to spam heal your bark off, and it has periods where you need to heal smartly, lest you blow up the raid.

Yor'sahj the Unsleeping

Heroic Yor’sahj was also the first fight I had to help coordinate as the new healing lead for Apotheosis. At first keeping track of everyone’s cooldowns and doing callouts while trying to figure out how to heal the fight myself made my head explode a little, but after a night or two or attempts we had a pretty good grasp on the healing. Here’s how we handled healing assignments and cooldowns, along with some specific tips for healing this fight as a resto Druid.

The Oozes

In heroic mode, you will always have 3 oozes up at a time. Here’s what they do:

Purple – Gives everyone (except pets) Deep Corruption. Every time someone is healed, they get a stack. If they reach 5 stacks they explode, doing massive damage to the raid.

Red – Yor’sahj will cast Searing Blood on 8 random raid members, doing more damage the further away they are.

Green – Yor’sahj will cast Digestive Acid, which does moderate damage to random targets which will splash to everyone within 4 yards of them.

Yellow – Gives Yor’sahj Glowing Blood of Shu’ma which makes him attack 50% faster and use his abilities twice as often.

Blue – Creates a mana void. This will drain everyone’s entire mana pool. When it is killed it will explode and return the mana to everyone within 30 yards.

Black – Spawns small adds which will focus on random targets and use Psychic Slice.

Which Oozes do you kill?

There are only 6 possible combinations of oozes that will spawn.

1. BlackBlueGreenPurple
Kill Black

2. BlackBlueGreenRed
Kill Green

3. BlackBluePurpleYellow
Kill Yellow

4. BlackGreenRed Yellow
Kill Green

5. BlackPurpleRedYellow
Kill Yellow

6. Blue – GreenPurpleYellow
Kill Yellow if no adds are up. If adds are up kill Green.

Healing assignments

The groups were set up like so:

Group 1 – 2 tanks, 3 healers
Group 2 – 5 melee
Group 3 – 1 healer, 4 ranged/melee dps
Group 4 – 1 healer, 4 ranged dps
Group 5 – 1 healer, 4 ranged dps

We had a holy pally and disc priest (in group 1) on the tanks. A second holy pally healed groups 1 and 2. Then we had the other 3 healers (some combination of 2 resto druids/1 holy priest/1 resto shaman) responsible for the group they were in. These healing assignments were very strict for any phase with the purple ooze active. When there was no purple ooze, there was a lot of cross-healing.

COoldowns

There are 6 possible combinations of active oozes you will have to deal with. From most hurty to least hurty, they are:

BlackRedYellow
BlackBlueRed
BlackPurpleRed
BlackBluePurple
Blue – GreenPurple
Blue – PurpleYellow

I set up two separate cooldowns orders based on how much damage was going out and whether or not the purple ooze was active. To make things easier for everyone else, I would track the cooldowns and call for them as they were needed over Mumble.

Black – RedYellow
Black – BlueRed

These are the most hurty combos. Throughput cooldowns are great here, but mitigation helps as well. Good cooldowns for these combos.

  • Aura Mastery
  • Divine Hymn
  • Tranquility
  • Frenzied Regeneration (with 4-set bonus)
  • Vampiric Blood (with 4-set bonus)

For BlackRedYellow the cooldowns had to be chained. For BlackBlueRed the damage is not so intense so they can be spread out more.

BlackPurpleRed
BlackBluePurple

These combos don’t hurt quite so much, but they are difficult because the purple ooze means that AoE healing can’t be used. Here mitigation cooldowns that don’t cause stacks are the way to go:

  • Divine Guardian
  • Shield Wall (with 4-set bonus)
  • Power Word: Barrier
  • Spirit Link Totem

For BlackPurpleRed the cooldowns are chained. For BlackBluePurple you generally will only need 1 or two for the whole phase.

BlueGreenPurple
BluePurpleYellow

No cooldowns are needed.

How to Deal with each Ooze Combo

BlackRedYellow

With this combo you’ve got adds beating on random raid members, and a huge amount of damage coming from the Searing Blood, which is hitting twice as often as normal due to the presence of the yellow ooze. On the bright side, everyone can stack up in the boss’s hit box and you can make the most of group/ground heals.

Cooldowns will be needed with this combination. The cooldowns we use here are:

  • Aura Mastery (we usually have 2 in a row)
  • Tranquility
  • Divine Hymn

We’d use four cooldowns, back-to-back.

Tree tips: Heal all the things! Keep up your maximum throughput rotation: use Swiftmend and Wild Growth on cooldown, keep a LB rolling and fill in the gaps with Rejuv and Regrowth. Use Barkskin.

BlackBlueRed

This combo has damage from adds, searing blood and the raid’s mana gets drained. The damage during this is significant, but not nearly as bad as Black – Red – Yellow above. We use the same types of cooldowns (AM, Tranq, Hymn), but spread them out more. Generally we can get through this phase using only one or two of the cooldowns.

Tree tips: This is a good combo to use Tree of Life on. You can get out a lot of Lifeblooms and Regrowths on OoC procs while your mana is low, and the 15% extra healing helps too. I generally do not use my Innervate on the first blue phase. I will save it for an emergency (like not being close enough to mana void when it dies).

BlackPurpleRed

This combo has pretty heavy damage from the red and black, plus the healers have to be careful because of the purple. Everyone must only heal their assigned groups.

On this combo we use cooldowns which prevent damage and don’t cause stacks:

  • Divine Guardian
  • Power Word: Barrier
  • Spirit Link Totem

We’d generally need to use all 3 cooldowns during this phase. I found Spirit Link to be especially awesome. It was so nice seeing people close to death being brought up to safe levels of health without getting extra Deep Corruption stacks.

Tree tips: When you first encounter the purple ooze it can be a little freaky. You don’t want to be the one who heals too much and blows up the raid. But I have to say: Don’t be afraid to heal (as long as you stick to your assignment). The Deep Corruption debuff only lasts 25 seconds, meaning it will reset midway through the phase. With this combo I will cast a Wild Growth and get an Efflorescence on the ground just before the oozes reach the boss. Once the oozes hit then you need to start being careful. I will generally cast a Rejuv on those in my group who are being targeted by an add and use Regrowth as a spot heal. I will also use Swiftmend when it’s available as Efflorescence causes no stacks. If you want to be really cautious you can cast Rejuv/SM on a pet so you get the benefit on the Efflo without causing stacks on anyone, but I never found this was necessary. Do not use Wild Growth here.

BlackBluePurple

This combo has damage from adds, a mana drain and Deep Corruption. The damage isn’t too bad, but using one or two mitigation cooldowns can be useful. Everyone stays grouped up and healers must stick to their assignments.

Tree tips: This is a fairly easy combo to heal. The tips from Black – Purple – Red above apply here as well.

BlueGreenPurple

This combo is the only one the raid needs to be spread out for. I find the hardest part about this combo is making sure you’re in range of the mana void when it dies while still being 4 yards apart from everyone to avoid splash damage. Other than that, this phase isn’t too tough. Healers must stick to their assignments.

Tree tips: This is a fairly easy combo to heal. I will generally cast a Rejuv on anyone taking damage in my group and use Regrowth if anyone’s health gets too low. Swiftmend is also useful, though usually only one person will benefit from the Efflorescence.

BluePurpleYellow

This isn’t a combo we saw often. It only happened when Blue – Green – Purple – Yellow spawned and there were still adds up from a previous phase. We would kill Green rather than Yellow so that we could stack up to finish off the adds. This isn’t a healing-intensive combo.

Tree tips: This is a fairly easy combo to heal. The tips from Black – Purple – Red above apply here as well.

The Tough Parts

How do you handle mana voids?

When we get a mana void for the first time in the fight, we use all the group mana returns (Hymn of Hope, Mana Tide Totem) after it drains our mana. Then we have 2 hunters work on bringing it down, but don’t kill it until the next time a mana void spawns and drains our mana. This way we get our mana back almost immediately for the second and subsequent blue oozes. Be sure you are in range of the mana void (30 yards) when it is killed, or you get nothing.

Who heals the non-active tank?

We have both our tank healers on the active tank. However, the non-active tank is still taking significant damage from the Void Bolt DoT and any other raid damage going on during the phase. We found the best way to deal with this was to have our raid-healing paladin look after this tank. They have a lot of tricks to use (Beacon, Word of Glory) that don’t cause any stacks.

What happens when the next wave of oozes spawn and there are still adds up?

Run after the dps as they head towards the ooze. Continue to heal the people in your group who are being attacked or they’re going to die.

What happens when you’re out of cooldowns?

This sometimes happens. I have certain cooldowns assigned to more than one ooze combo each. We have, for example, seen a BlackRedYellow, used all of our output cooldowns, then had a BlackBlueRed immediately afterwards. When this happens, you need to improvise. I’d start calling for the damage mitigation cooldowns in this case, then mentally plan ahead for what we’d need and what would be off cooldown for the next hurty phase. A cooldown monitor (like the one in ORA3) is extremely helpful.

Heroic Hagara (25)

Heroic Hagara is a really fun fight to heal. It can be frustrating and stressful when you’re learning it – especially before people get the hang of the lighting phase – but once people start mastering the mechanics, it’s  a blast.

Hagara the Stormbinder

Here’s an overview of how Apotheosis tackles this fight, along with tips for druid healers.

Main Phase

There are 4 damaging abilities to worry about in the main phase.

Focused Assault – The tank will take a large amount of damage over a 5 second period. Unlike normal mode, the tank can’t just sidestep this ability. This occurs every ~15 seconds. Cooldowns will need to be used. Usually we handle this using a rotation of: tank cooldown, Hand of Sacrifice, Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit.

Tree tips: Keep Lifebloom and a Rejuv rolling on the tank for the entire phase. Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch can come in handy during the Focused Assault if you see the tank’s health drop dangerously low.

Ice Lances – These do damage to the person in their path every second and apply a stacking debuff that increases frost damage taken. We assign 2 ranged dps to cover the Ice Lances in each quarter of the room, along with a healer to keep them healed and soak the Ice Lances when necessary (because one of the dps is dead, or tombed, or lost). The Ice Lance soakers swap every 5 stacks.

Tree tips: If the soakers are swapping correctly every 5 stacks, they shouldn’t need too much healing. Usually a Rejuv followed by a Regrowth on the soaker will do the job. Follow it with a Swiftmend if they take an extra stack or two. If you need to step in and soak the lances, make sure to use Barkskin.

Shattered Ice – Will deal a large amount of damage to a random target and reduce their movement speed. When people have stacks from Ice Lance, they will take more damage from this. This will also leave a debuff that slows movement speed.

Tree tips: Try to keep people topped up and dispel the debuff when you can.

Ice Tombs – This will trap 6 targets in ice blocks and do damage every second while they are entombed. All people targeted by Ice Tombs stack up on a marker near the middle of the platform, as close together as possible. The tank keeps the boss near the Ice Tombs to make the most of splash damage while the tombs are being broken. Ice Tombs do not occur on the initial phase of the fight.

Tree tips: Make sure you can see the people targeted by ice tombs on your raid frames. You can’t cast heals on people when they are in the tombs, so try to get a Rejuv on as many of them as possible and toss out a Wild Growth just before the tombs hit so they receive some healing. The tombs will cause line of sight issues, so make sure you’re not in a position where the tombs are between you and the tank.

Lightning Phase

Lightning phase can go two ways. It can last 30+ seconds and become horrendously painful and make healers want to tear their hair out. Or, with proper setup and execution it can be quick and relatively painless. When Apotheosis does this fight we use a cross formation to conduct the lightning quickly to all 4 crystal conductors. (Yes, I know this is a picture of Al’Akir’s platform, not Hagara’s).

Heroic Hagara - Lightning phaseThe dps kills the elemental then runs quickly to their assigned spot. We use 4 lines of 5 people, standing approximately 9 yards apart. The 5 people who are not assigned a spot stay spread out to avoid chaining lightning unneccessarily. Each of the raid healers is assigned to heal one line and the two tank healers take care of the unassigned group and help with those taking the most damage.

The damaging abilities during this phase are:

Lightning Storm – This damages the raid every 3-4 seconds for the duration of the phase. It also applies a stacking debuff which increases nature damage taken, so the longer the phase lasts, the more it’s going to hurt. Nature resistance is helpful for this (Aspect of the Wild or Glyphed Healing Stream Totem).

Lightning Conduit – This does damage to anyone who is chaining the lightning from the crystal conduit once the elemental has died. It generally hits for about 20-25k per tick, depending on how many stacks of the debuff people have.

Storm Pillar – These create a spell effect on the ground and do damage to anyone standing in them after a few seconds. The easiest way to deal with these? Don’t stand in them.

Tree tips: This phase is the perfect time for using Tree of Life. Run to your spot, pop tree, then start casting Lifeblooms on the people in your line. You should be able to get a couple applications on the whole group before damage starts getting heavier. Apply Rejuvs when needed and use your OoC procs for instant Regrowths. Use Wild Growth on cooldown, targeting the person in the middle of the line. Use Barkskin after the elemental dies and you start taking damage from conduit.

General tips: The line beside the conduit that is overloaded first (the one the elemental dies beside) will generally take the most damage throughout this phase as they will take damage from Lightning Conduit the longest. Put people with decent cooldowns in this line. We use people like: DKs  (AMS, IBF), paladins (DP), me (Barkskin), rogues (can use Feint if they are positioned in the center close to Hagara). The healers who are not assigned to a specific line should keep an extra eye out on this one.

Ice Phase

A few seconds before ice phase starts our tanks starts dragging Hagara to the edge of the room so all the dps can switch to one of the Frozen Binding Crystals as soon as they spawn. The melee runs around the outside to damage the crystals while all the ranged dps and healers stand in the center of the Watery Entrenchment.

The abilities you need to worry about during this phase are:

Ice Wave – This will one-shot most players and can’t really be healed through. The ranged stays outside near a crystal until the ice waves are out, then runs into the watery entrenchment, so they are able to avoid them completely. Melee has to be careful to always stay ahead of the ice wave and should feel free to go into the center to avoid them if they find one catching up to them.

Icicle – These do frost damage and knockback. There is a large graphic on the ground where they are going to fall (like on Hodir), so they shouldn’t be too hard to avoid. Though the damage isn’t terrible, the real danger is that they can knock you back into an ice wave.

Watery Entrenchment – This does damage for 15% of everyone’s maximum health for as long as they are in the bubble. Everyone in here needs to stack up to make the most of AoE and ground-based healing and use damage mitigation cooldowns when they can. The ranged dps can reach all the crystals from the center to burn them down. This is where most healing cooldowns are used, such as Tranquility, Divine Hymn, Power Word: Barrier and Spirit Link Totem. Aura Mastery, unfortunately, does not work here.

Tree Tips: This is the most healing intensive part of the fight. Keep up a roation for maximum raid healing on the group in Watery Entrenchment – Wild Growth and Swiftmend on cooldown, Rejuvs and Regrowths on those getting low. I like to keep Lifebloom stacked on myself for this phase so I don’t have to worry about my own health too much. Tranquility will be used in this phase. This is also a good time to Innervate, especially if you have your 2T13 bonus. Use Barkskin. The melee will not require much healing in this phase. In my experience, they’re either at safe levels of health or dead because they’ve clipped an Ice Wave.  Feel free to toss them Rejuvs if needed when they run into range.

Frostflake – This is applied on random players and will slow down their movement speed. This is mostly a danger to the melee, who are out running away from ice waves. When Frostflake is dispelled it leaves a patch on the ground that slows the movement speed of anyone who runs through it. Because of this, any melee who gets this debuff should run into the watery entrenchment before they are dispelled, as it does not leave a frost patch in there.

Tree tips: Make sure you can see both the Frostflake and Watery Entrenchment debuffs on your raid frames. Only dispel when both are present. Dispelling those who are in the Watery Entrenchment full time isn’t that high of a priority, but be sure to get the melee dispelled asap when they have both debuffs.

Happy healing!

Tree of Life and When to Use It

The other day I was fishing for post ideas on Twitter and my guildie Serrath suggested I write about the best times to use Tree of Life in Dragon Soul. It can sometimes be difficult to know the best times to use it, especially for newer druids. Some people forget to use it at all (the horror!). Before I get into specific uses in Dragon Soul, let’s look at what Tree of Life does and how it can be used.

Tree of Life increases healing done by 15% and armor by 120%. It lasts 31 seconds (with points in Natural Shapeshifter) and has a 3 minute cooldown. When you’re in Tree of Life:

  • Regrowth becomes an instant cast
  • Lifebloom can be applied to multiple targets
  • Wild Growth heals 2 extra targets
  • Wrath is faster and does more damage
  • Entangling roots becomes an instant cast

Here are some reasons for using Tree of Life and strategies to make it as effective as possible:

To Conserve mana

Tree of Life will allow you to cast Lifebloom on as many targets as you want. Spreading Lifeblooms around the raid will not only put out a lot of healing for very little mana, but it will also greatly increase the number of Clearcasting procs you get, allowing you to cast many free, instant Regrowths during this time. When you use Tree of Life in this way and pair it with the on-use effect from Jaws of Defeat, you can heal a lot for those 31 seconds and barely see your mana dip down at all.

It’s best to use Tree of Life proactively, but it can also be used in emergency oom situations and will let what little mana you have go further.

To increase healing output

15% extra healing on its own is very nice. Add the two extra Wild Growth targets to that and even if you continue to heal as normal while in Tree of Life you’re going to see a considerable increase in your output.

A couple of things to keep in mind to maximize effectiveness:

  • Use Tree of Life when Wild Growth is off cooldown so you can use it immediately and fit in 3 casts during ToL’s duration.
  • Make sure to get 2 Swiftmend casts off while in ToL for the nice bonus to Efflorescence healing.
  • Use Tree of Life while under the effect of Nature’s Grace, or other haste increases like Heroism.

You can use Tranquility while in Tree of Life to boost its healing if the situation is very dire, though I generally prefer to spread my cooldowns out.

To Keep Up multiple targets

There are times on certain fights when a few people are taking very heavy damage at once. For example, phase 2 of Madness of Deathwing when two tanks are tanking Elementium Terrors. If you want to be able to provide large amounts of healing to both tanks at once, use Tree of Life and get a 3-stack of Lifebloom on each of them.

to be more mobile

Druids are pretty good at healing on the run normally, but using Tree of Life makes us even better. If you’re having to move a lot during a certain phase of a fight and are finding that Rejuvs aren’t doing enough, use ToL and get some extra burst from instant Regrowths.

to mitigate damage

This won’t play that big of a role in PVE, but the 120% extra armor does help with any physical raid damage you take (like Blackhorn’s Disrupting Roar or the Mutated Corruption’s Crush on Madness of Deathwing).

For DPS

This isn’t something you’ll be doing often in raids, but it is a possibility. With faster, harder hitting Wraths, ToL can help you put out extra damage if that’s what’s needed (of course it won’t help with your complete lack of hit rating). The only time in Cata so far where I’d recommend ToL Wrath spam is after the Fiery Tornados on Alysrazor since no healing is needed for a time and you get all your mana back. Otherwise, this isn’t a great use for ToL.

When to use ToL in Dragon Soul

Here are my suggestions for when to use ToL to get the most out of it.

Morchok
Use ToL during the crystal phase to help put out extra healing from Stomp and Resonating Crystal. I like to split my cooldowns, so I’ll use Tranquility during the first crystal phase and then ToL on the second crystal phase.

Be sure to use Tree of Life fairly early into the phase, with 30 seconds or more left until Black Blood – since there’s no healing to do then. You don’t want to waste it.

Yor’sajh
Use ToL when a Green or Yellow ooze hits Yor’sajh, or any time when raid damage seems to get higher. Make sure to use it fairly early so you can use ToL twice during the encounter.

Zon’ozz
Use ToL right at the start of the black phase. Again, alternate your cooldowns, using Tranquility on one, and ToL on the next.

Hagara the Stormbinder
Lightning phase is a good time for ToL. The raid will benefit from the extra healing and the added mobility can be helpful as well.

Ultraxion
You want to make sure you can get two ToL uses during this fight. Use your first ToL close to the start of the fight and use the LB-spamming strategy to conserve mana while damage is light. Use ToL for the second time when the damage starts ramping up for the extra healing.

Warmaster Blackhorn
You should be able to use ToL once during first phase and once during the second phase. Use it fairly early in the phase 1, ideally just before a Twilight Onslaught to help deal with the damage. Besides that, ToL will mainly be a way to conserve mana in phase 1. Use ToL again when it’s off cooldown in phase 2, before a Disrupting Roar.

Spine of Deathwing
This is a fairly long fight, so if you use ToL early, and then on cooldown you should be able to use it three times over the course of the fight. It will be a good way to conserve mana on what can be a mana-intensive fight as well as put out extra healing.

If your raid is desperate for dps on the Burning Tendon, you can use ToL and help out with Wrath spam. But hopefully this isn’t necessary.

Madness of Deathwing
This is a looong fight and a mana-instensive one. You should be able to use ToL at least 4 times.  I generally use ToL on platform 1, near the start of the fight so I spend as little mana as possible, then again on platform 2 when Blistering Heat starts damaging the raid, then late on platform 3 when Burning Blood is doing damage. I’ll save my last ToL for the last phase of the fight. When the Elementium Terrors spawn I use ToL and roll Lifeblooms on both tanks to keep them stabilized, along with put out extra healing on the raid.