Thursday, February 26, 2009

[Paladin] Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 4 - Construct Quarter

The Construct Quarter probably one of the most lethal places in a raid zone that do not involve a boss, possibly because of the large variety of obstacles (not just mobs) that the raid has to contend with.

The way to Patchwerk has the most trash you'll see in the quarter, and nearly all of it can be AoE-ed, but the abominations have an AoE stun so you'll want to stand away from them as a healer. In the first big room there is also large slime. It's not that special on its own, but after it's killed, there is the ongoing possibility of another one being dropped on the raid whenever Grobbulus pats on the ledge above the room. Just keep alert while moving on to the slime pack in the next room.

Said slime pack needs to be AoE-ed down and avoided by melee since they will probably kill whoever they touch. Sometimes an overzealous AoE might grab aggro from all of them and not get out of the way in time, in which case a quickly timed Hand of Protection could just save some clothie's life. If you're feeling cocky and no one needs healing, you can run into the middle of the slimes while they're aggroed on someone else and drop a Consecrate.

From here you'll want to watch out for the river of green slime. It reduces your health and mana to about 30% when you step out of it. You can stand it in and take minimal on-going damage if it's not a good time for you to lose so much health and mana (say the raid's fighting trash), but if you can manage to jump over it, it's better to do so.

After Patchwerk comes "frogger" which is a pack of non-targetable slimes which will instantly kill anyone who doesn't have something like Bone Shield or Divine Protection up. If you want to be nice, you can bubble up and kill a few slimes by having them splat on your bubble to clear a path for other people. Usually somebody ends up dying here, so be ready to rez and rebuff them.

The only other trash of note are the giants after Gluth. They have an AoE knockback which is a real pain. You will probably only have to kill two or three of them, and it's easiest if the tanks drag them back into Gluth's room so there's no chance of anyone being flung into adds. As a healer they're annoying because they seem to like punting me in the middle of a heal and they hit pretty hard. Beacon is definitely helpful while fighting these guys since you will probably need to heal multiple people.


Patchwerk is commonly considered to be the gear check of Naxx. He is a simple fight, but tests the combined gear of your tank and off-tank (can they survive the hits), your dps (can the raid kill him before his enrage timer), and your heals (can the healers keep up the MT and OT given the damage they're taking).

Patchwerk has no gimmicks other than his Hateful Strike ability. Once the main tank has aggro he can tank him wherever he pleases, though if the OT is having trouble being hit by the Hateful Strike, then it may be helpful to tank Patchwerk near the green slime so the melee dps can step in it.

Now why would we want the melee to step in the green slime that lowers their health and mana to a third of its normal value?

The Hateful Strike hits the melee with the highest health that is not the tank. Hateful Strike hitting the dps is bad, and stepping in and out of the slime will prevent the melee from being hit by it because their health will clearly be lower than the OT's (just make sure you don't heal them!).

Aside from the Hateful Strike mechanic, Patchwerk is tank and spank. The Hateful Strike soaker will take a lot of damage, but it's mitigated by defense, dodge, and other useful tanking stats (which is why the soaker should be an actual tank). This is a very classy fight for Beacon because only two targets should be taking any damage, so we can heal one and have the heal duplicated on the other.

Generally the Hateful Strike tank will end up taking more damage that the MT, so if you're the only holy paladin, it may be a good idea to Beacon the MT and concentrate on healing the OT (short-changing the MT due to an overheal is less dangerous than short-changing the OT).

If for some reason the MT is taking more damage (perhaps because the raid put the better geared tank on Hateful Strike soaking, which is a viable strategy), then feel free to switch the Beacons. Nutshell is the tank who is taking less damage should be the Beacon in order to maximize the heals you'll get out of it.

If there is any fight where you are likely to run out of mana due to being a newly geared holy paladin in Naxx, this is it. If you can last through the constant healing of Patchwerk you should be able to heal anything else in the instance without going oom.


Grobbulus can be a frustrating fight because one person who doesn't pay attention could potentially ruin it for the rest of the raid, so raid members have to be alert. This is a two tank fight, with one tank handling Grobbulus himself, and the other handling the slimes that Grobbulus will spawn throught the fight.

This is potentially a very mobile fight, which means it works against the paladin healing style, but keeping up Judgements of the Pure and making liberal use of Holy Shock should go a long way to speeding up your heals.

Generally the MT will tank Grobbulus in a square around the edge of the room. Melee has to be very careful to stay to the side and slightly behind the boss. In back is bad, because Grobbulus will periodically drop a Poison Cloud under him and the tank will move him to get out of it. Obviously, being directly behind Grobbulus would mean you're standing in a Poison Cloud, and that is BAD.

Being in front of Grobbulus is also bad because he does a Slime Spray that will create a slime add for each person it hits. The MT getting hit is unavoidable, but no one else should be hit by it. Once the slime spawns it'll be up to the OT to pull it away. We generally assign a couple of dps to help kill the slimes.

If dealing with the boss-generated Poison Clouds was not enough, we also have to deal with his Mutating Injection attack, which will randomly hit one person in the raid at regular intervals of about 20 seconds.

Mutating Injection lasts for 10 seconds and when it expires it'll drop a poison cloud wherever the injected person was standing. Though this is a disease and can be cleansed by paladins, DON'T DO IT! If the disease is cleansed then it has the same effect as if it naturally ran out, leaving the raid with a poison cloud wherever that person was standing.

If you leave the injection ticking, then the infected person will have time to run away and safely "explode" away from the rest of the raid.

We try to have people explode behind the poison cloud trail that Grobbulus leaves behind, but there are some alcoves along a couple of the walls that people can safely explode in without getting in the way of the tank's path. You never want to force the tank to path through a poison cloud, and you'll want the middle of the room to be clear for the majority of the raid to stand in.

Some paladins may be talented for Pure of Heart, because they share a spec for PvE and PvP, in which case they must be extra cautious on Grobbulus. This will shorten the Mutating Injection duration to 5 seconds, leaving even less time to get out of the way and safely explode where no one else will be hurt.

Because I may end up running around a lot in this fight, either because I'm injected or because I'm following the tank, I find it easiest to Beacon the main tank. Sometimes I'll be out of range of the tank, because I'm across the room exploding, but I'll still be able to heal him by healing someone else who is closer.


Unlike the other quarters, the third boss is not the final one. Gluth is an odd sort of animal (pun not intended) in that his drops are all random picks off other bosses. He needs two tanks minimum, and a third sort of off-tank that can be a dps class or even a holy paladin (if the healing can be spared).

The two main tanks will generally tank Gluth on the far side of the room from where you enter because he needs to be kept away from his zombie chow (and the pipe they come from is near the entrance). Every 10-15 seconds Gluth will inflict a stacking Mortal Wound on his current target, reducing the healing done to them. Because that would eventually make a single tank unhealable, Gluth must be taunted by a second tank, giving the first tank the 15 seconds needed for the debuff to wear off. Our tanks tend to switch at around 4-5 stacks if similarly geared. If a newer tank is along for the ride they will only keep Gluth long enough for the debuff to wear off the more experienced one.

Gluth has a Enrage ability he will occasionally use that is different from the "you've taken too long to kill the boss" enrage. When he uses it, he'll grow big and red and his attack speed will increase. This ability can be canceled by a hunter's Tranq Shot or a rogue's Anesthetic Poison, but if neither are available, it's not that difficult to heal through.

While Gluth is being kept occupied, there will be a slow stream of zombies spawning in the back of the room. These zombies inflict a stacking Infected Wound every time they hit someone, so they must be kited. We've had good success with DKs, ret pallies, and proper tanks keeping them occupied, but in 10-man it's possible that there will not be a suitable tank/dps available in which case a holy paladin can work as well.

When kiting the zombies you need to keep all their aggro on you so that they aren't attacking the other healers or the dps in the raid, but you also want to stay at range as much as possible to avoid the Infected Wounds. You can do this with Holy Wrath (to stun them while you get away) and dropping Consecrates for them to walk through. You can also use Exorcism or Judgements to try pulling any lone stragglers. Righteous Fury should be up for the extra threat.

The kiter, whether it is you or someone else, should have some support. A healer should remain in range of the kiter, shamans should drop Earthbind totems, and hunters should drop Frost Trap to make it easier to get the zombies all piled into one location for easy kiting. If you are healing the zombie kiter and the kiter is in the far back of the room, it is very possible you will not be able to reach the Gluth tanks, in which case just make sure the raid leader knows. If the kiter is particularly good it may be possible to stay primarily on the Gluth tanks and then run back and spot heal the kiter as needed.

Even with slowing effects, the zombie kiter is likely to end up taking some damage and get severals stacks of Infected Wounds, particularly if it's their first time, so be willing to help out with a Holy Wrath if the kiter is getting mobbed. It's not healing per se, but it might prevent them from being overwhelmed, and good stun will give the kiter a chance to get some distance.

About once every two minutes Gluth will do a horrible attack called Decimate which will reduce everyone's health to 5%. This includes the tanks! When Decimate happens you have just a few seconds to heal up the current tank before Gluth kills him.

If you have a good boss mod up, you probably can wind up a Holy Light just as the timer bar counts down to Decimate, but even if the mod is not that accurate or you don't have one, there should be enough time to cast a HL. If you're really paranoid about your reaction time, use the Divine Favor + Holy Shock combo and follow up with HL.

Beacon is really nice here because you can put it on one of the tanks, heal the other one, and both tanks should be sitting pretty shortly after the Decimate occurs.

During Decimate, all the dps classes will be busy AoE-ing down the zombie chow before they reach Gluth, because each zombie devoured will heal Gluth by 5%. I never find any time to dps at this stage because I'm busy spamming recovery heals, but if for some reason healing is really strong and dps is weak it might be possible, even desireable, to drop a Consecrate/Holy Wrath as the zombies walk by.

Because Gluth can heal by eating the zombie chow, it's entirely possible that a novice raid group will end up hitting the 8-minute enrage timer, particlarly if they do not have a good kiter to group up the zombies or the dps is not good about killing the zombies after the Decimate.


Thaddius is probably the one fight that is leaps and bounds easier on 10-man than 25-man, but that doesn't mean he's a total cakewalk for the first-timer. He has familiar tactics to some of us, largely because Mechano-Lord Capacitus from Heroic Mechanar used his mechanics.

When the fight begins, the raid will be split in half, with one tank and assorted dps/healer(s) going up one ramp, and the other tank and assorted dps/healer(s) going up the other.

At the top of the two ramps are two mini-bosses, Stalagg and Feugen. Both of these bosses must die within a few seconds of each other or BAD THINGS HAPPEN. WoWWiki says they will resurrect each other at full health, but in my experience we just got electric shocked to death as if we'd pulled them too far away from their Tesla Coils. Either way, you'll want to kill them at the same time.

Everyone should be standing on the platform of their respective mini-boss, even if they can cast from the top of the ramp. Sometimes Stalagg and Feugen seem to want to pull away from their Tesla Coils even though the tanks have aggro on them, and we've only had this issue when people are still standing on the ramp, so my raid group has everyone stand well up on the platforms.

Beacon is pretty useless for this part of the fight because every 30 seconds there is a Magnetic Pull that will cause the tanks to switch places, and the platforms are far enough apart it is not possible to heal across them. Fortunately Stalagg and Feugen don't hit very hard, so it's fine healing without it.

The most important thing is just to keep the tanks alive. Ideally you want your tank to leave you topped up so he's at full health or close to it when he arrives on the other side. It can be difficult for a healer to save a badly injured tank that is just coming into range if they're not prepared for it. You can still heal the tank leaving you for a split second after he's thrown in the air, so keep casting a heal if you're in the middle of one, or use a Holy Shock if you're not. You might still catch him as he's leaving.

Once both Stalagg and Feugen are dead, the raid has about 15 seconds to jump off their platforms and on to Thaddius's before Thaddius activates. If you fail to make it, Thaddius will activate before you're able to run back and try again. I try to jump from the lip of the platform. If I'm that far along I find I'll make it. Some classes can help people across with Slowfall, Levitate, Aspect of the Pack, etc. but it's a good idea to be able to do this on your own because someday you'll probably have to.

If you fall, you'll land in that ugly green slime that will reduce your health and mana every time you step out of it, and you'll have to run back towards the entrance of the room to get out of the slime. From there you can run back up the ramps to the mini-boss platforms and try again.

If you fall more than once (hopefully you won't, but it happens), the raid will probably have been assigned positive and negative charges in which case you must be very careful when you land on Thaddius's platform and stay away from the rest if the raid until you are also assigned a charge.

It is possible for you to be assigned a charge while in the slime pit, and if someone else is in the slime pit with you, and they end up with an opposite charge, you can zap each other. In one 25-man raid I stepped out of the slime (causing my health to be low) and a split second later I got zapped by my guildie who also missed the jump and I died. You don't want to end up dead far, far away from the rest of the raid.

Shortly after Thaddius comes to life he will cast Polarity Shift and give everyone within range a positive or a negative charge. Polarity Shift is a 3 second cast, so even if you don't have a mod, you can see the shift coming if you have enemy cast bars turned on.

The raid will want to have all positive charges standing on one side of Thaddius and all negatives on the other. Ranged and healers should stack up close to the similarly charged melee because damage will increase by 10% for each stacking charge.

Every 30 seconds after the first charge, Thaddius will recast Polarity Shift. It is possible that your charge will not change, so it's important to watch your debuff. If you're within 10 yards of an opposite charge you'll do 3500 damage a second to that person (and they'll be doing the same to you!). The biggest issue in the Thaddius fight is losing too many people due to crossed charges. While it's okay to lose a couple people in 10-man, this becomes significantly more difficult in 25-man, which relies heavily on having enough stacked charges.

People will probably not die if they cross charges with one, or even two other players, as long as they are at full health. Most deaths occur when a player is too slow to move to the opposite side and only the slowpoke will end up getting killed. If they're lucky, they'll have a smidgen of health left so they can get healed, but if they die, it's most likely not your fault.

Sometimes people get Thaddius's Chain Lightning confused with the crossed charges though. This attack will hit five random people in the raid for 3600 to 4400 damage and could possible finish off a player who's just been weakened by crossing charges. He casts it every 15 seconds, so if the damage is coming pretty steady (once a second) it's probably a crossed charge hitting someone. If it's a sudden damage spike to multiple people it's probably Chain Lightning.

When fighting Thaddius, your priority should be moving whenever your charge changes. Even if you're in the middle of a heal, break it off and move. Holy Shock or even Lay on Hands if it matters so much that you need to get a heal off, but if you don't get yourself on the proper side there's a good chance that you're either going to end up dead, or you're going to be healing more damage than that one heal would have fixed.

There's only one tank needed for this part of the fight, so I generally Beacon him and then raid heal. I didn't find damage to be that heavy so I usually cast Flash of Light, with a few Holy Lights tossed in when needed.

Even after Thaddius is dead the raid still needs to stay split up because the charges take some time to wear off. If this is your raid's first time fighting him, there are probably one or two dead people. If you rez them before the charges wear off, ask them to not accept until the charges are gone. This is because uncharged people count as a third charge and will damage both positives and negatives.

And on a related note, if you are soulstoned or battle rezzed, you must be extremely careful should you choose to accept! My guild errs on the safe side and 90% of the time we will tell people not to rez in the middle of combat. This is because the newly rezzed person will not have a charge, and they will rez in the middle of people (either where they died or on top of the druid).

But there is a brief grace period after Thaddius casts Polarity Shift during which opposite charges will not hurt each other (so the people who need to change sides have time to do so). If you are daring and your raid is cool with it, it is possible to rez after a Polarity Shift and run away from everybody else so you are as far away from Thaddius as possible. At this distance you will not hurt anyone because you do not have a charge. You'll still be able to heal them though, and you'll get a new charge with the next Polarity Shift so it will be possible to reintegrate yourself with the rest of the group.

If you screw up by rezzing too early or too late, at best you'll end up dead (because your health will be too low to survive crossing charges) and at worst you'll take other people down with you, so rez at your discretion. I wouldn't advise doing it at all if you have latency issues.

Next up:

Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 5 - Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad


Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 1 - Arachnid Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 2 - Plague Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 3 - Military Quarter

Monday, February 23, 2009

[Paladin] Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 3 - Military Quarter

The early trash in the military quarter can be the death of many of a raider due a nice little ability called Whirlwind that one of the little skeletons does, so remind ranged to stay back. It probably will not kill anyone in 10-mans, but we've lost several in 25-mans due to people getting careless.

The Death Knight Cavaliers, found throughout this quarter also like to cast Strangulate, which by itself is very annoying, but as long as multiple healers aren't silenced this shouldn't be an issue. We never had any deaths due to this, so I don't think they cast it often enough to be more than an nuisance.

Between Instructor Razuvious and Gothik the Harvester are some animated weapons (Unholy Axes, Staves, and Swords) that hit pretty hard due to a lethal combination of Whirlwind (Axe), Arcane Explosion and Polymorph (Staff), and Cleave (Swords). Be sure to cleanse the polymorphed raid members. Healing could be rough depending on the strength of the heal team, but as long as everyone's prepared it shouldn't be too bad. It's generally best to take out the Staves first.

Instructor Razuvious

The Instructor fight is probably the most different on 10-man vs. 25-man, and is definitely more forgiving on the former. Generally what will happen on 10-man is that the two tanks will each use an orb to mind control a Death Knight Understudy and the understudies will be the ones that actually tank Razuvious. Only the understudies can tank Razuvious because his Unbalancing Strike can hit for 100k on plate, and there's no way to realistically expect a Naxx-geared tank to survive that, but the understudies have a Bone Barrier ability they can use to protect themselves.

Bone Barrier has a 30 second cooldown though. Since it only lasts 20 seconds, this means that the tanks will juggle Razuvious between the two understudies so one tank will have him while the other tank's Bone Barrier is on cooldown. Even with Bone Barrier up, the understudies will still take enough damage that they will have to be healed.

Sometimes raid frame mods won't display health bars correctly if two targets have identical names, so what I do just to make certain I see the understudies' health is I hit V to bring up visible health bars above everyone's head. I'll Beacon the first understudy to have aggro and generally leave it on him for the duration of the spell. Since the tanks will be switching approximately every 20 seconds it would be extremely expensive to recast that spell every switch. The Beaconed understudy will have aggro back shortly enough.

Though the understudies will be taking the bulk of the damage, Razuvious has two other abilities to watch out for. Jagged Knife targets a random raid member and does 5-6k damage on initial hit, but it's the 2000 damage per second after that you'll want to watch out for. Whoever is hit with the Jagged Knife will likely have to be healed in order to survive it. It reminds me of Moroes's Garrote ability back in Karazhan, in that you'll see a raid member's health steadily tick downward, only less lethal since it only ticks for 5 seconds.

The other ability should only affect the melee, and that is Disrupting Shout. If you or the ranged are being hit by this you are standing too close to him. Generally if the tanks keep him in the middle of his little training area and the casters are standing at the top of the ramp leading into his pit you should be far enough away to cast undisturbed.

When Razuvious is almost dead (around 10%) our raid leader will typically call for a halt on heals for the understudies, because after Razuvious is dead the raid will have to kill the understudies. Unless it's an exceptionally close fight, it probably doesn't matter if the understudies accidentally get additional heals because you say... still had Beacon of Light up (oops), but if you can time it right, it's not a bad idea to let BoL expire in the later portion of the fight. Just keep an eye on the understudies' health so they don't die early.

Gothik the Harvester

Gothik is not one of the harder fights unless the raid is divided unevenly. From a healing perspective there is not much of a difference between being on the "live" side versus the "undead" side other than the amount of healing needed.

For this fight the raid is generally split in half, with one tank on each side of the metal gate. The side the raid enters is the live side and the other side is the undead side. Typically the stronger dps/heal team will be put on the undead side, which is considered the harder of the two, since it's more chaotic and there are more mobs (since the riders, which are one mob on live, will spawn as two mobs on undead).

In this fight waves of mobs come down on the live side, and as they are killed they rise as undead (after a short time delay) on the undead side. With the exception of the riders, they generally don't hit very hard. The biggest issue as a healer may be accidentally pulling aggro by healing just as a fresh wave comes down, but as long as your tank is quick they should be able to pull them off you without much trouble.

On the undead side our tanks typically pick an area in the middle to lay down Death and Decay or Consecrate and ask their half of the raid to stand in it to make sure any mobs will run into it upon aggro. This is more important on the undead side since the spawn area is random (and the fights more hectic), whereas it's always the same on live. Warrior and bear tanks will have to be more aggressive about picking up adds if they're covering undead side.

I was placed on live side for my first run, and it mostly consisted of Beaconing the tank and then healing the raid. Healing was extremely light, with the worst thing to watch out for being the Shadow Mark from the death knights that can end up on anyone in melee range. When the riders come out, they have a Shadow Bolt Volley that hits for 3,800 to 4,200 shadow damage, but only against people with the Shadow Mark on them. Even then it's not really heavy damage (unless you happen to be extremely melee heavy), which is why the live side is pretty easy to heal.

The second time I went I healed undead side. I would Beacon the tank and stay near him (but not directly next to him) since my healing aggro would likely aggro newly spawned adds. There's more raid damage on the undead side with Spectral Trainees casting a mild form of Arcane Explosion, Spectral Death Knights using the ever popular Whirlwind, Spectral Riders exuding Unholy Aura just by being there, and the Spectral Horses using Stomp on those in front of them. If the live side is exceptionally fast at killing their adds it is possible that the undead side will be overwhelmed (which is why the stronger dps/heals need to be on undead).

Additionally the Spectral Riders will use Drain Life on their highest threat target, which should be the tank, but could end up being someone else if the situation is exceptionally chaotic. (I ended up getting it on myself my second run, no doubt due to initial healing aggro.)

Shortly after the final wave of adds arrives, Gothik himself will teleport down and begin fighting on the live side. He doesn't hit terribly hard, but he does a stacking Harvest Soul debuff every 10 seconds that reduces the raid's stats by 10%. Additionally, every 10 seconds he will teleport between the live and undead sides, meaning only half the raid will get to dps him until he is brought down to 30%, at which point the gates will open and both sides can fight him.

In theory Gothik is a dps race to beat him before the stacking debuff builds too high, but in reality he's not a particularly difficult fight as long as the two sides are balanced correctly. During the second phase of the fight only the tank should be taking much damage so it's very easy to heal.

The Four Horsemen

Healing the Four Horseman is going to be different for every raid. What your raid does will probably depend on the number of dedicated healers, how many hybrid dps you have, and even how high the raid's dps is. I'll go over a few different possibilities.

When the fight begins, all four horsemen will run to a corner of the room. There must always be someone in each corner with a horseman otherwise the entire raid will be hit with massive damage that is impossible to heal through (ex: Sir Zeliek casts Condemnation if no one is with him). Because of this the raid will always be split up. How they are split up is what depends on raid composition.

Consistent across all strategies is that the raid will have to repeatedly switch targets due to a stacking Mark debuff that is unique to each horseman (ex: Mark of Rivendare). The first Mark will do no damage, but the second will do 500, the third 1500, the fourth 4000, the fifth 12,500, and the numbers only get bigger from there. Generally you don't want to get more than four stacks on you, three to be on the safe side.

As a general rule, Thane Korth'azz and Baron Rivendare must be tanked by real tanks. Lady Blaumeux and Sir Zeliek, located in the rear of the room, can be "tanked" (since they only do magic damage) by anyone. Ideally, given the number of people in a 10-man raid, these last two will be tanked by dps hybrids who are capable of healing themselves, but if there is a third healer that is not needed with the bulk of the raid, it's just as possible for them to tank.

If tanking Blaumeux or Zeliek, all you need to do is stand in their corner and make sure you stay alive. Blaumeux will create nasty void zoids at your feet that you'll have to step out of, but otherwise she's not hard. Zeliek has no tricks at all (though he has a chain Holy Wrath attack that is awful on 25-man).

When you get three stacks of their Mark debuff, switch with the other person who is tanking. So if you start on Blaumeux, let your fellow tank on Zeliek know it's time to swap and the two of you will trade places so that there is always someone in the horsemen's corners. There is a brief grace period where the two of you can be in the middle of a transition and the raid will still be okay.

If you're in the back, it's not a bad idea to throw a Holy Shock on the other tank as you switch places to help keep them up (since they're probably a dps hybrid).

As a 25-man note, we generally pair someone with a lot of health (like a third tank or a feral druid) with a real healer to tank each of the rear horsemen, but in 25-mans there are healers to spare for this.

If you're not placed in the back, then you'll be healing one of the two tanks in the front.

If the raid's dps is not high, then what will happen is the two tanks will switch with each other. When they get three or four stacks of their respective horseman's Mark, the Korth'azz tank and the Rivendare tank will run to each other and taunt off each other, thereby switching targets, and they will run into the respective corner of their new target.

Anyone who was dps-ing Korth'azz or healing his tank will move with their tank into the Rivendare corner and vice versa for the people formerly on Rivendare. My guild generally clumps all the dps on Korth'azz to start with, but some guilds split theirs. In either case, everyone must switch corners to allow time for the Mark to wear off. As always, it's a good idea to Holy Shock someone along the way while you're moving.

If someone stops at the halfway point they may still be in range to get an additional mark from their last horseman and given how much damage these marks stack to, that would be bad, so make sure everyone clusters into their new corner.

If you're healing a group, then I would Beacon the tank so that it's possible to heal everyone else while keeping the tank topped off. If you're healing only yourself and the tank (say the two of you are on Rivendare and the bulk of the raid is on Korth'azz) then I would Beacon myself and then heal the tank. The reason for that is because Beacon doesn't count overheals and the tank is going to be taking more damage than I will be. So it's better for me to get copies of heals on him than him getting heals on me.

The variant that my guild does now that we have more dps is just focus fire Korth'azz until he dies instead of doing the swap between him and Rivendare. Since we bring non-raiders with us we have gotten has high as five marks before, which can be pretty scary, but if most of the raid consists of Naxx vets Korth'azz should go down by the third or fourth mark.

I was put on healing the Rivendare tank, so once Korth'azz is dead and the Korth'azz group comes to take over Rivendare, my tank and I head up to Zeliek. Once we have four marks of Zeliek we go to Blaumeux. By this time Rivendare should be dead and the entire raid will bounce back and forth between Blaumeux and Zeliek until both are dead.

While in the back I'll keep the Beacon on the tank and just heal the raid. If the raid makes it this far, the rest of the fight is cake.

Next up:

Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 4 - Construct Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 5 - Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad


Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 1 - Arachnid Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 2 - Plague Quarter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

[Paladin] Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 2 - Plague Quarter

The Plague Quarter trash is pretty easy, though distinctive in that it's a little different before each boss.

The pre-Noth trash is notable for the gargoyles and the slimes. The slimes are devastating on melee, so if the silly rogue manages to kill himself on the slimes, don't blame yourself. They really should be kited. As for the gargoyles, they should be focus fired one at a time so they will not have a chance to use Stoneskin and heal themselves. They do a stacking Acid Volley attack which can really wear down the healers if they are not dps-ed and eliminated properly. Don't forget to keep healing after the gargoyles are dead until the debuff wears off.

The pre-Heigan trash is what used to be a gauntlet run from Noth's room to Heigan's, but in Wrath is simply a tunnel full of maggot packs, bats, and the occasional fungal monster. AoE goes crazy here and there's nothing to really do as a healer except watch that the tank doesn't go down (and he probably won't).

The path between Heigan and Loatheb though, is still a gauntlet run. What my guild usually does is send the tanks in first. They drop any AoE threat abilities as they go (Death and Decay, Consecrate, etc) to pick up the maggot packs and the raid runs behind them. Ranged dps will use instant attacks to kill any eye stalks that threaten the party, but we do not stop and we do not otherwise dps or heal until we reach the doorway on the other side. Then we'll stand in the doorway and AoE down any maggot packs that followed us and heal the tanks. The maggot packs respawn quickly so it's important that the raid makes it over to the other side as a team.

Noth the Plaguebringer

Noth is not a tough boss by any means. He doesn't hit that hard and there's not a whole lot of raid damage as long as there is someone who can remove curses. This fight typically uses two tanks, though I think if someone overgears it by a lot, one tank would be feasible.

During Phase 1 Noth will hit the MT and the OT will be handling all the adds. He'll periodically curse three members of the raid with Curse of the Plaguebringer, which paladins can't cleanse, but can be removed by druids, mages, and resto shaman who have specced for it. If the curse is not removed after 10 seconds the affected party member(s) will explode, hitting everyone in 30 yards for 3700-4300 damage and another 1313 to 1687 Shadow damage every 2 seconds for 10 seconds.

On 10-mans it's not expected that the raid will have anyone to de-curse so this damage can be healed through if necessary. Aside from any curses, the only people taking damage during Phase 1 should be the tanks. It's possible that as a healer you may get an add on you if the OT is slow to pick it up, but they don't hit too hard.

In Phase 2 Noth teleports away and the raid will be focused on AoE-ing down the skeletons spawned during Phase 1. You'll still primarily be occupied with healing the tanks, but Phase 2 spawns new and different skeleton adds. The Plagued Champions will Mortal Strike (ewww) the tank and Shadow Shock the melee. The Plagued Guardians will Arcane Explosion everyone withing 30 yards of them.

The raid damage is not very high, and chances are a good resto shaman or a good resto druid will do a fine job healing through all of this while the holy paladin is left playing a futile game of whack-a-mole as I was. My healing on Noth was not all that, but that's okay. This is not a fight where we shine. Just spam FoLs where possible and make sure the tanks don't get hit too bad (and they probably won't).

I Beaconed the main tank, but after looking at the WWS our off-tank actually took more damage, so it's probably safe to Beacon either one of them.

Heigan the Unclean

The infamous dance boss doesn't hit very hard, but he does have a couple annoying things about him aside from the obvious dancing.

Phase 1 of Heigan involves the tank and the melee moving back and forth across the four "quadrants" of the room to avoid the slime that sprays up from the floor. Ranged dps and healers stand on Heigan's platform.

The first thing to be aware of is that there is a disease called Decrepit Fever that needs to be cleansed off anyone that gets within 20 yards of him. Generally this only affects melee, but sometimes it'll get ranged and healers if he uses it while transitioning from Phase 2 back to Phase 1. Having a shaman around with a Disease Cleansing Totem helps tremendously, but if you don't have one you'll have to cleanse the hard way.

The second thing to be aware of is Spell Disruption which increases the cast time of all spells by 300%. As a holy paladin you just can't have this on you! The ranged group shouldn't be hit with this unless the tank is running Heigan too close to the platform during Phase 1. If you get it, the tank needs to tank Heigan farther away.

Phase 2 is the fun part, and it's seriously a fun fight once you get the hang of it. At this point Heigan teleports back to his platform and because of the crazy dot he puts on anyone near him, the whole raid has to get off and "dance" across the four quadrants that previously only the melee had to go through, only now the sprays of slime come faster.

As a paladin we don't have much in the way of instant heals. Holy Shock is on a 6 second cooldown. If you can spare the mental bandwidth to do so, it's not a bad idea to heal someone with it, but no one should be taking damage during the dance. If they do, they're probably going to die through no fault of your own.

I've found that most people die their first time on Heigan, so there's no shame in doing so as a first timer. If you're confidant though and have enough haste going, I've found that I can just barely squeeze out a Flash of Light between sprays. Sometimes. It depends on how much I have to move and have moved. I don't think it's something that will make or break a raid, but if someone needs to be topped up to survive the next slime spray it could be handy.

Towards the end of the fight it was more likely I would be tossing a Hammer of Wrath in between slime sprays rather than try to pull off a FoL (assuming Holy Shock is on cooldown).


I was very proud of my Loatheb fight, because it's about as anti-healer as you can get.

The important thing to know about Loatheb as a healer is that he puts out a Necrotic Aura that for 17 seconds prevents any healing from working. This includes potions and bandages! Once the 17 seconds are over, there is a 3 second window during which the raid can be healed, after which the Necrotic Aura will be restored.

This means that healers have to maximize their healing for the brief period of time that they're allowed to cast (and the dps have to be fast before the Inevitable Doom casts become too frequent and overwhelm the raid).

Loatheb is considered a fight where Circle of Healing and Wild Growth from priests and druids really shine, but paladins can do respectably well.

This is the WWS for my first outing on Loatheb.

Mind, I was quite shocked when I saw this because I was quite certain that I'd be bringing up the rear with my single target heals, especially with a resto druid in the raid.

So what did I do right?

First, when the fight starts, make sure Beacon of Light is up on the tank. Sacred Shield him and the rest of the raid if you get a chance. This will reduce some of the damage they'll be taking. Loatheb will set up his Necrotic Aura soon.

Then, while the aura is up... dps him. You won't be doing anything else at this time and it's best to make sure Judgements of the Pure is up for the haste bonus. Using Holy Shock offensively will give you the chance to proc Infusion of Light, which could be a big help if you're caught by surprise when the aura wears off.

You should see a 3 second warning when the aura is about to wear off. If you have a mod like Deadly Boss Mods you'll even get an extremely handy timer counting down to tenths of a second. This is key, because to maximize healing you'll want to get off not just one, but two Holy Lights.

Start pre-casting Holy Light so that it'll go off the second the aura wears off. Then start casting a second one. The second one will cast pretty fast because you should have both Judgements of the Pure and Light's Grace up. Together with Beacon that's the equivalent of four HLs being cast in the narrow space of 3 seconds.

You won't be able to save an entire raid this way, but you'll be able to solidly heal three people and maybe get some splash heals on the melee with your Glyph of Holy Light. I would generally pick the people with the lowest health and then let the Beacon take care of the tank.

Next up:

Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 3 - Military Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 4 - Construct Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 5 - Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad


Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 1 - Arachnid Quarter

Monday, February 16, 2009

[Paladin] Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 1 - Arachnid Quarter

On Friday nights my guild often holds a 10-man Naxx run under the banner of "gear the less geared." The people who go to these raids are a mix of well-geared guildies who are helping to gear the less geared, and the less geared themselves, who are primarily friends and family who aren't raiders or have difficulty making the usual raid schedule.

Most of these people are dps-specced, and since I recently hit 80 on my paladin I was asked to help heal. Being a dutiful guildie I read up on every fight to see what I needed to know as a healer that I didn't learn as dps, and I found that there wasn't much in the way of healing-oriented guides, let alone anything paladin-specific, and thus the birth of this five part series.

My paladin's starter stats? About 1400 spell power and 12% crit unbuffed.

Prior heroic healing experience? Gundrak, Drak'Tharon, and Nexus.

Undergeared? Probably, but gear matters less if you and your raid know what you're doing.

First things first: Work out blessing, aura, and judgement assignments with the other paladins (if there are any). Auras are usually easy to arrange, and the PallyPower mod is fantastic for blessings. Even if other mods such as Healbot let you manage your blessings, PallyPower allows the raid leader to assign blessings for everyone, and that alone is quite helpful. Arranging judgements is probably the last thing paladins talk about, but if you have multiple paladins as I did then this is important.

Ret paladins should judge Light since it scales better with attack power. If there is no ret, then prot, then holy, should do it. The second paladin should judge Wisdom, which is not reliant on any stat. The holy paladin should judge Justice if there are already two melee (ret or prot) paladins judging, the reason being that they will regularly be keeping up their judgements, whereas a holy paladin will not, and as a holy paladin we don't want to risk overwriting a stronger Judgement of Light or a prot paladin's Judgements of the Just.

With multiple holy paladins, it's important to work out Beacon assignments since duplicate Beacons of Light will not stack. Worse, they overwrite each other and no one wants to negate a heal that was intended for the Beacon! Fortunately I did not have to worry about this my first night out.

As a final note, some guilds are big on healing assignments. Mine is not (unless we're looking at something like Sarth 3D). If your guild uses healing assignments, it's best to follow them, but otherwise use your judgement. Just because paladins are excellent tank healers doesn't mean we can't heal anyone else.

Arachnid Quarter

Most guilds start in the Arachnid Quarter. It's commonly considered the easiest and this seems warranted because it's the only wing of the instance that doesn't drop a piece of T7. The trash consists mostly spiders that can easily be killed by AoE with little danger to the raid.


Anub'Rekhan is a big ugly crypt lord who likes to welcome people to his parlor. This is a two tank fight since one tank will be on the boss and the other will be on the adds.

During the first phase of the fight it's pretty close to tank and spank. An add will occasionally come out and have to be off-tanked and then killed by the dps, but as far as healing is concerned, it's primarily the tanks and anyone hit by Impale that we have to worry about. Impale will hit everyone in its path, so it's a good idea to warn the raid to spread out.

In phase 2 Anub'Rekhan will cast Locust Swarm and what the tank will generally do is kite him in a circle around the room to avoid it. We like to pair the tank with a hunter with Aspect of the Pack turned on for this, but it's not a requirement and depending on tank and hunter skill this could be disasterous if either of them get dazed. As a healer it is important to stay away from Anub'Rekhan while he's being kited because Locust Swarm will also silence anyone within 30 yards of him.

As a holy paladin it sucks having to move in the middle of a fight, but that's what Holy Shock is for. If it's off cooldown and you have to move, feel free to use it. Try to say in the middle of the room, slightly away from him, to avoid the swarm.

I Beaconed the tank for this fight and threw Flash of Lights with the occasional Holy Shock on the rest of the raid, only directly healing the tank if he needed a heal immediately or if there was no one else with enough of a heal defecit to be worth healing at the moment. (This was done to maximize the usefulness of Beacon of Light.) With three healers there wasn't much of a need for Holy Light so I rarely used it. With two healers I probably would have used it more often.

Grand Widow Faerlina

This fight is a lot less complicated on 10-man because there are fewer adds and there is no need to mind control any of them. For 10-man this is a two tank fight, again with one tank on the boss and another on the adds.

As a healer the primary things to watch out for are people standing in the Rain of Fire, including yourself, because it inevitable that it will happen at some point, and also the Poison Bolt Volley, which will poison three members of the raid. If you have a shaman with poison cleansing totem available this makes the fight much easier. Otherwise, cleanse the old-fashioned way.

I Beaconed the main tank again and splashed FoL and the occasional HS on the rest of the raid. A good 45% of my healing done ended up going to the main tank, but 25% of my healing done was through Beacon of Light. That's a good portion of healing the tank through healing someone else! After the main tank I healed the OT the most with the raid of the raid coming out about equal.


This spider is not friendly to paladin healers due to her Web Spray ability which incapacitates the entire raid for 6 seconds. Fortunately, she uses this on a timer and if you have Deadly Boss Mods up it will tell you when she is about to cast it.

Maexxna is a one tank fight, though it's good to have a second tank available to pick her up should the main tank die during an enrage. During my guild's early progression runs we once ran through three tanks due to enrage and a lack of healers with hots.

So...! Things to watch out for:

Every 40 seconds she does Web Spray, so it's important to keep the tank topped up.

In addition to that she does a Web Wrap also on a 40 second timer (but staggered with Web Spray, so every 20 seconds you will get one or the other) which will fling a raid member against the wall and cause damage to them until they are freed.

We typically assign two dps to web duty on 10-mans (three on 25) and they are responsible for freeing the webbed people. If they are doing their job the trapped people should come back to the rest of the raid a little injured, but otherwise alive. There should be no reason you need to run with the web duty dps to heal someone the instant they come out of the Web Wrap.

Maexxna also will periodically spawn spiders. They can be killed by AoE relatively easily, and if you have Concentration Aura up you shouldn't notice any pushback as a paladin, but they're annoying for a different reason. Maexxna and her spider spawn can inflict a Necrotic Poison effect that must be cleansed because it reduces healing by a whopping 90%! So make sure that anyone with an AoE is getting rid of the little bastards as soon as possible.

At 30% health Maexxna will enrage. If possible, my raid usually holds back dps at around 35% (to give a buffer for dots to wear off) and allow her to do one more Web Spray. Then once everyone is free, we burn all cooldowns and try to finish her off before another Web Spray can go off. If Maexxna is enraged and there are no hots on the tank during the 6 seconds of Web Spray there is a good chance the tank will die and we want to minimize the chance of that happening.

Being paladins, we have no hots, so if our tank must eat a Web Spray, there's still one thing we can do: Hand of Sacrifice.

I used this for Maexxna's final Web Spray to eat some of the damage being done. This was not particularly necessary since we had a resto druid in our raid, but I figured it would be good practice since we do not usually have one. On 25-mans we've managed to save tanks by doing this.

For this fight I Beacon the tank and largely raid heal unless the tank specifically needs it.

Next up:

Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 2 - Plague Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 3 - Military Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 4 - Construct Quarter
Healing 10-man Naxx Overview - Part 5 - Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dinging My Second 80

My paladin is 80 now (and still with Justicar Pauldrons and Brutal Gladiator's Ornamented Legplates), much sooner than I would've done if not for the Lunar Festival rush, but it's cool. Maybe I'll get some arena action in on him before season 5 is over, and since my guild has no other healer alts at 80, it looks he'll be in demand.

Leveling with him was a different experience from Hana and it's largely a product of the different times I leveled them. On Hana there was also a big push to 80, because Wrath had just come out, but because it had just come out there was a lot of running of instances and she ran almost everything as she leveled.

Also, because she was in a leveling crunch, she rarely had rested experience left by the end of any given night. She dinged 80 shortly after entering Sholazar Basin, and I was doing almost every quest I could get in each zone for achievement reasons.

With Gillien I primarily did rep quests. Though I still did both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra, I skipped anything that didn't give me rep unless it was just too damn convenient not to. I only did the Kalu'ak up to Honored, even though Hana had gotten to Revered just through quests, because I wasn't interested in most of their rep items as a holy paladin who occasionally tanks.

On Gillien I also had more rested experience to work with and ended up dinging 80 shortly after starting Zul'drak, a full zone behind my druid. (Going from HF/BT -> Dragonblight -> Grizzly Hills -> Zul'drak -> Sholazar Basin.) If I hadn't skipped quests I probably would have dinged back in Grizzly Hills, which I find just mind boggling. There are so many quests in Northrend it's really amazing how much content there is. My paladin has almost four full zones of quests left should I feel the pinch for gold.

But there are also things I feel I missed in my second leveling rush to 80. Because of the time sensitivity, I tended to skip instances and just quest, most of which I did late at night after raids. While I did tank a lot in the beginning while I was still gearing Hana, I stopped after Azjol-Nerub, and if there's one regret I have in leveling as fast as I did, it's that I didn't repeat my string of holy-spec tanking in Northrend that I had in Outland.

On a more spec-related line, I'm also disappointed I didn't heal very many instances either. I fear that once I step in my first heroic (which may be as soon as tonight after our Malygos-25 run) I may turn out to be a very stupid healer and there will be dead people all over the place.

My spellpower is 1300+ as a fresh 80, which I feel should be decent for the easier heroics, and with some help I should be able to gear up fast. Our guild often runs 10-man Naxx on Friday nights, and apparently there's a healer shortage for that kind of farm content so my newly 80 paladin may be drafted for raid duty a little sooner than expected. I'm pretty excited about going, assuming I feel geared for it when the time come. While I love the idea of picking up oodles of spellpower plate over the course of a one night Naxx clear, I don't want to feel like I'm completely freeloading.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Not My Mana Regen!

Of course no sooner than I post my ambivalence towards any changes for moonkin, my paladin keels over from a strong kick to the nuts. (First thought: There goes my ability to solo elites for fifteen minutes straight.)

Though this does have implications for both my favored classes, it has a different meaning for each them due to their different specs and their roles in a party. Rather than post the gigantic thing here, I recommend reading the full Blizzard post over here.

First, my druid.

I knew the mana overhaul was coming and I was concerned because the current path for a raiding moonkin is to start with mana regen talents and dispose of them as better gear is obtained. It would suck if I had to respec to get all my regen talents back just as I had persuaded myself to remove them.

The good news is that moonkin are largely uneffected. Mana regen from Spirit will be reduced, but Intensity will be boosted to so that our regeneration while casting should not change. Since moonkin are usually casting, being dps, this should have minimal effect on us. The only way I could see this coming into play as a nerf is a fight where there are periodic downtimes and the moonkin is depending on that period outside the five second rule for mana regen. Even then, gear should fix that and high level moonkin are already dropping every regen talent they have.

I'm still concerned because I think this rapid progress from needing regen talents to not needing them at all based on gear obtained through the first tier of raid instances is not natural, and though moonkin tend to fly under the radar, I'm afraid someone's going to notice this and take a large whack at us.

And then my poor paladin…

Honestly, I enjoyed my 15-minute bout with Sarathstra. I joked with my guild about moving on to solo-ing ZG once I hit 80 (because all the DKs are doing it). But the reason I could melee elites for 15 minutes or longer is because I have two very good tools: 1) the ability to heal through the damage I was taking, and 2) the regen to ensure that I would never run out of mana. If I fail at either of those conditions I will not be able to beat the elite.

They're obviously straightforward conditions, but not always possible meet. My druid would usually fail at 1) so 2) would never even come into play. Thanks to his armor and spellpower, my paladin can typically heal through the damage any elite throws at him, making regen the primary concern in a long fight, but with the nerf to Divine Plea, maintaining my regen will endanger my ability to heal. It'll be like putting a Mortal Strike on myself. I'm currently trying to solo the Conquest Pit chain and finally hit a 3-man quest I might not be able to do by myself (doh!) and I know that if the Divine Plea nerf went into effect tomorrow that would essentially kill any attempt to do so before I simply outgear the quest.

But that's a bit of a self-centric look at the issue. And obviously once I hit 80, my concerns with the new limitations to Divine Plea will go beyond whether or not I can solo an elite; primarily my ability to last in PvP. Mana burn was the bane of my existence in Season 4 and Divine Plea would've been a nice mitigation for that, but with a 50% hit there's no way I can afford to effectively place a Mortal Strike effect on all my teammates. If I manage to have a few seconds of downtime I can see myself using it, but I'll probably end up clicking it off before I get even close to the full effect.

Though I do raid, oddly enough the raid environment is where I'm least concerned about the nerf. It's not just that raiding with Gillien is a secondary thing for me (I only plan to take him if our 10-mans are short a healer), but also that I think Blizzard is on to something with the fact that mana currently doesn't matter. I like the idea that part of being a good healer is also managing your mana pool. There should be more to healing than spamming heals with the concept that as long as nobody dies it's all good. It might be nice to… I don't know… actually eat the mage's mana strudels from time to time?

The way things stand, we're not going to have a challenge in Ulduar unless this change happens, so it's a good thing. But oof, for everything but raids I'm gonna miss my Divine Plea.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

[Druid] WTB Moonkin Excitement in 3.1

Moonkin don't need any pressing changes in 3.1. It's not like we're broken. I don't see moonkin tears spouting like waterworks across the forums, so by that measure we're a contented bunch. When my dated comp isn't chugging on a 25-man boss fight I perform quite well, typically in the top 5, which is good living for a hybrid dps spec, which all else being equal, should be doing 5% less damage than a pure dps class.

So why do I feel left out when I don't see any changes in store for us? Last patch the highlight of my moonkin love was finally being able to cast Abolish Poison in moonkin form, which while useful, wasn't nearly as interesting as the changes to armor for our feral brethren.

I have my rotations down, I know how I want to spec and how I want to improve my spec as my mana regen dependancy decreases. While I still like raiding as a moonkin I guess I'm missing something to look forward to, a new mechanic, something that will change the way I play.

And it's not like the announced changes will not affect me even as a balance druid. After all, look at what I'll get regardless:

Savage Defense – this is a new passive ability. When a druid in Dire Bear form deals a melee critical strike, the druid gains a damage shield equal to 25% of their attack power. The next hit completely removes the shield regardless of how much damage was done.

Though this new passive ability is accompanying a nerf to the armor bonus of Survival of the Fittest, moonkin will not have that talent anyway, which means that this will be an across the board buff to the basic bear form for all specs. We won't use it often, but when we toss on feral gear to bear tank for lowbie friends or even tank Gluth we'll be better off than before. It's not moonkin love, but this could be useful.

I'm more ambivalent about it on my PvP feral because I'm not sure where the balancing point will be between Savage Defense and the nerf to Survival of the Fittest, but that will be something for the feral bloggers to ponder.

Faerie Fire (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 5%. See Sunder Armor in the warrior update below for additional details.

As long as Faerie Fire and Sunder Armor continue to stack this change doesn't bother me. I never cast this since we have a feral in the raid and a shadow priest for +hit. Improved Faerie Fire currently provides its crit bonus to the moonkin even if the feral is the one providing FF, and so if it stops stacking with Sunder Armor, it would be in my selfish interests to keep having the feral do FF anyway, but Sunder Armor still has multiple applications whereas FF does not, so I'm guessing they'll continue to be separate stacking debuffs.

Survival Instincts now works in Moonkin form

I've never tried a hybrid balance/feral build, though I guess it could be desirable for PvP. There's probably somebody out there who is happy with this change. I'm just not sure who that would be. I'm guessing this change is part of the same line of thinking that makes feral attack power weapons apply to moonkin even though we no longer have a melee for mana mechanic.

And that's really it for us. Maybe something else will turn up later, but for now it looks like 3.1 will be business as usual for moonkin.

Monday, February 2, 2009

[Paladin] Leveling Holy Is More Overpowered Than You Know

When people are leveling and find a 3-man quest they might attempt to solo it. After all, with good gear and a little know-how, it's generally possible to take out an elite, and who wants to beg for help in General chat? But sometimes there are problems.

The Runed Stone Giants in Howling Fjord are rough on melee because of a stacking debuff they land on targets. High General Abbendis hits like a mack truck even though she's part of a 3-man quest. Gigantaur has a frequently used knockback that will punt melee all over the place and into other mobs. Alystros can't be rooted so caster classes are screwed as he pecks them to death.

Then there's Sarathstra, Scourge of the North, a 5-man undead frost wyrm that hits for about 1-2k on plate. As a balance druid she would be completely solo-able through Entangling Roots, since she's rootable, but not every class has that option.

Now enter one overly cocky holy paladin that has solo-ed every elite mob he's been given a quest to kill. High General Abbendis had been a close one, and it'd taken me a good 4-5 minutes to kill her, but after her and Gigantaur (damn that punting) the only thing that a 5-man frost wyrm seemed like it would take me is time.

And time it did.

Judging from the time left on my buffs, it took me about 15 minutes to get her to 20% where I could start using my Hammer of Wraths. After that the fight became imbalanced because some no doubt well meaning ret paladin decided to come by and "help" me, thereby ruining my challenge, but it was totally doable and I was never in danger of running out of mana. Another 2-3 minutes and Sarathstra would have been dead.

This is how to solo a hard-hitting elite in what will be a long-lasting fight as a holy paladin:

1) Judge Wisdom. As long as you're auto-attacking between spell casts (and you should be), mana will come back to you. I use Seal of Righteousness for added dps, but Wisdom could be good if mana becomes an issue. It never got to that point for me, not even after 15 minutes of constant combat. [Edit: Rohan suggests using Seal of Vengeance instead of Righteousness and I completely forgot about it! For a long fight where you'll get to build up all five stacks that's even better!]

2) Make sure Blessing of Wisdom is up. This does come in handy, and if the fight lasts long enough and you're not glyphed for it you will have to refresh.

3) Divine Plea every cooldown. This is key. Even if I knew I'd have to start healing myself in 2-3 seconds of hitting the button, I'd still do it.

4) If you are a blood elf, use Arcane Torrent every cooldown. It's more mana. I don't think it's necessary, but it helps.

5) Divine Illumination is nice if you remember to use it. I tend to forget, but even on a three minute cooldown I could have used it five times while fighting Sarathstra.

6) Don't hesitate to heal yourself. You can outlast just about anything with ret aura up as long as you have mana, but an unlucky crit could kill you if you're not careful.

On tougher fights I spent as much as 75% of my time healing myself and the rest keeping up judgements, refreshing seals, and throwing out offensive spells (Holy Shock or Exorcism depending). I try to Hammer of Wrath every cooldown once it becomes available, though healing takes priority. In a long lasting fight it will probably not be practical to use Shield of Righteousness just because the mana spent for the damage done won't be that high.

While I have bubble and Lay on Hands for when all else goes to pot, I found I didn't use either of them on Sarathstra. I did use Divine Shield on Gigantaur after an unlucky punt landed me with an add (I subsequestly kited him down a canyon where there was no possibility of adds), and Lay on Hands with Abbendis, but Sarathstra was pretty steady damage with no surprises.

The issue is really just to outlast. If I thought I was getting low I would budget my mana output, perhaps holding back on a Holy Shock in my dps rotation (since I would tend to go heal heal heal, then dps dps dps) and save it for the next round.

Other paladin specs don't have the luxury of being able to outlast. If the limiting factor of soloing an elite is living through the amount of damage being taken, a ret or a prot paladin probably isn't going to be able to hold out very long due to the size of their mana pools, though in full tank gear with Sanctuary up I imagine a prot pally could still do pretty good. Neither of them though, has quite the mana battery of a holy paladin.

Yes, it may take several minutes for a holy pally to kill an elite mob, but if you think about how long it takes for a guildie to fly over and help you, or how long it takes to find the right number of people in General chat, just killing the bastard as a holy pally could be just as fast or even faster.

I like not having to ask for help, or having to wait for anyone while leveling. I get to move at my own pace and still kill everything I have a quest for. Leveling holy isn't for everyone, but it's very, very good for being self-sufficient. Some might even say OP.