Friday, December 31, 2010

[4.0.3a] Heroic Halls of Origination Strategy Highlights

NOTE: this post is intended only to document some quick highlights to help provide some immediate advice to my fellow players.

This may be my favorite instance in terms of time on bosses vs. time on trash.  You get 7 bosses in one run and if you are in a hurry, you can just do four (which I have yet to do).  The pulls require some finesse, but they are not so numerous that you hunger for the end.

Finally, the whole Egyptian theme is cool and fun.

I have run this a number of times, always with a Druid Tank (me) and a Holy Priest Healer (my wife).  The DPS mix has varied quite a bit, 2 Melee & 1 Caster, 1 melee & 2 Caster, 3 Caster, etc., and they interrupt capability and CC has varied quite a bit too.  I have had interrupts from all DPS and none (well, not true Interrupts).

This dungeon is pretty linear until you hit the final area, where you can access four bosses, including the final boss.  As a result, you can skip three bosses and just kill the final guy.   I highly recommend that if you are leading a random PUG and *want* to clear everything, you save the final boss until last so that your PUGgers do not depart prematurely.

Boss #1: Anhuur

After a tiny bit of trash, you will come to your first boss Anhuur.  He has all of his usual abilities from the regular dungeon mode.  His Divine Reckoning, which is basically a chained Drain Life, hits about three times as hard in Heroic, so quick interrupts, dispels, and good spacing are advisable.

Key Heroic Difference: The levers have a long cast time and can be interrupted.  So, you can't just hop down, click them, and run back up.  If you try that, then your clickers will be getting beat on by snakes and never finish pulling the lever.

So, how should you deal with it?  Your problem is that you need two people to be able to spend some quality, aggro-free time clicking those levers.  You can solve that a number of ways.  Here are some ways we have solved it:
  1. Have someone else get aggro, Tank or otherwise
  2. Let the clicker aggro, but then let Healer Threat pull them off naturally
  3. Arrange to have the snakes otherwise distracted beforehand
Now, unless you are going for the Achievement, I Hate That Song, this is not a big challenge.  If you are going for the Achievement, you will need some precision timing.  With a 10-second cast time, you have only 5 seconds to get the cast going.  So, for example, falling down to the lever and waiting for healer aggro to pull off the snakes will very likely eat too much time unless you are lucky.

There are many ways you can tackle it.
  1. Ranged AoE pulls snakes: The easiest is probably to fight the boss where he starts and have a ranged DPS with an AoE that can aggro the snakes up to them shortly before the Hymn.  This should leave the clickers unmolested.  If you don't have that luxury, you could have a couple of folks jump down, aggro the snakes, and bring them back up.
  2. Rogue uses Tricks of the Trade to redirect snakes with Fan of Knives.
  3. The Tank and can jump to one side and pick up the snakes while someone else clicks
Do what makes sense for your group.  You might even want to Tank the boss near one lever.

I am still not 100% sure on the snake respawn, if it is shortly after they die or with each new hymn.

Boss #2: Earthrager Ptah

Frankly, this guy seems easy in any mode.  So, I will just give you some tips related to camels:
  1. If you get off the camel it dies and there are only five, so be careful
  2. You cannot drink on a camel, it will dismount you; apparently, they have a strict policy on drinking and riding
  3. If you are riding a camel, you become a mobile weapons platform in the sense that you can move while casting.
  4. If you are going for the Achievement or simply don't want your camel to die, avoid any dust clouds of any sort and be wary of the cluster of add in the middle of the fight, as they can obscure your view of ground effects.
Boss #3: Anraphet

Key Heroic Difference: The pools from the Alpha Beams do not go away.

You are going to need to use some real estate to get this guy down without getting killed by the residual Alpha Beam Pools.  Here is what I do:
  1. As soon as I pull, the Healer runs to the middle of the north stairs, right behind the place where the boss was standing.
  2. One ranged DPS moves the west edge of the north stairs (directly west of the Healer)
  3. If we have a second Ranged DPS, they move to the east edge of the north stairs (directly east of the Healer)
  4. The Tank, and any remaining DPS, take position a few steps up the east stairs
  5. Apha Beams are cast; if you are near a pool, snuggle up to the edge so that any additional pool you spawn will overlap and eat less room
  6. Start collapsing towards the healer in anticpation of Omega Stance
  7. When he casts Omega Stance, everyone should be near the healer for group heals
  8. Once Omega Stance ends, return to relative starting positions in preparation for Alpha Beams (Healer middle north, Ranged DPS northwest, Ranged DPS northeast, Tank & Melee DPS east)
  9. Move south as needed if you need more space
  10. Repeat 4-8 until dead
Here is a diagram of the initial positioning, just after the pull (follow this link to the original image if you find this too hard to read; hey, it's first time using Google Docs to draw something).

It is worth noting that the sequence of his abilities is pretty predictable and obvious, so pay attention and get the rhythm and you should be fine. 

Boss #5: Isiset

Isiset is a being of magic that is composed of three facets.  She manifests powers related to those facets.

Key Heroic Differences: Frankly, they did not seem all that different.  More damage, more Celestial adds, and a portal that zaps you akin to good old Kologarn  (move out of the beam).

Note: The radiance can one-shot you in Heroic, so be sure to look away.

As with regular mode, when you kill a facet, you take away an ability.  You also pump up the remaining ones.  Kill order for her facets:
  1. Astral Rain - gets rid of the Starfall-like rain of damage
  2. Celestial Call - gets rid of the Celestial adds
  3. Veil of Sky - we leave this to last, since it is tied to the spell reflect / damage absorb bubble she puts up, which can be dispelled
Overall, pretty easy.

Boss #6: Ammunae

Key Heroic Differences: The chief concern in Heroic is rapidly killing the seeds he spawns. If they are not killed they grow into elite mobs and it is reported that the boss gains energy/health from them.

I like to assign one DPS for each half of the room to kill seeds, but all DPS should understand that seeds are the absolute kill priority, so if they see one that needs attention, they should take care  of it. If seeds are killed rapidly, this fight is pretty easy.

Boss #7: Setesh

This guy can be challenging if your DPS is low or lethargic.

Key Heroic Difference: The portals he spawns have to be killed to prevent additional adds; this Heroic mechanic is very similar to our old friend Lord Jaraxxus, in the Trial of the Crusader.

And much like Jaraxxus, as the Tank, I not only grab adds, I also do what I can to help burn down the portals ASAP.  If you do it well, only one add will spawn per portal.

The DPS just needs to worry about the portals and the boss.  If your DPS is weak or slow to react, you and your Healer will be in for a rough ride.

Boss #7: Rajh

This guy is pretty straightforward.  He will try to execute various abilities that deplete his energy.  Once at zero energy, he will move to the center of the room and channel a nasty, unavoidable AoE.  One way to approach that is to have a designated stacking spot to facilitate group healing.  Some suggest popping Bloodlust/Heroism during that phase.

Be sure to interrupt every ability you can.


    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    [4.0.3a] Heroic Shadowfang Keep Strategy Notes Updated

    Just a quick note that I went back and fleshed out my original post on Heroic Shadowfang Keep with notes from our experience with the fights.  WoW Head was down while I was updating it, but I will go back and add wowhead links to the various abilities as soon as it is back up.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    [4.0.3a] Heroic Shadowfang Keep Strategy Notes / Guide

    [Addendum: I was just going to do one boss per post, but I decided to come back and just flesh out this one post with all of the Heroic Shadowfang Keep Bosses.]

    After some mad instancing and questing, my wife and I hit level 85 Thursday and by Friday evening we were working on our first Heroic dungeons.  I would prefer to gear up a bit more first...but my wife *really* wants to do Heroics. :)

    On our first one, Deadmines, we were accompanied by a couple of guild members that had already seen it.  On our second dungeon, Shadowfang Keep (SFK), everyone was new to the dungeon.  So, we had to figure things out and I thought I would pass along what worked for us.

    We had a Druid Tank (me), Holy Priest Healer (my wife), Druid Caster, Rogue, and Paladin Melee DPS.  That gave us the following CCs that we put to good use:
    • Repentance
    • Shackle Undead
    • Entangling Roots (used very little in this case)
    Nota bene: Our average item level was just barely high enough for Heroics, so we tended to deal with fight mechanics rather than just ignore them.
      Baron Ashbury

      This guy was a bit of a pain until we figured out what to do.  Basically, there are two phases to the fight.

      In the first phase, he will alternate between a relatively normal Tank and spank and strangling the entire party.  Your interrupters need to do everything they can to stop his basic heal, Mend Rotten Flesh.  The two really important abilities to understand are Asphyxiate and Stay of Execution.

      The greatest danger of Asphyxiate is panicking the party, especially the healer, into healing like crazy and losing all of their mana. It will take the party down to practically no hit points. Just be patient and wait. Once it is over, let his Stay of Execution tick once or twice before interrupting and you should be fine. If you are a healer, do not worry about topping everyone off before the next Asphyxiate. He is supposed to bring everyone in the party down to 1 Health Point. Between Asphyxiate casts the Tank (me) was kept at full Health and we just tried to keep the party at 1/2 or so; it worked great .

      Precise interruption of Stay of Execution will be key to your success as a party; this ability will heal your party and the Baron for 10% Health every 1 second.  After he strangles the party to almost no Health, he will begin this spell, which will heal him and your party. Let it tick once or twice before interrupting, so that you can take his initial hits and give the healer a chance to get back to healing you. If you interrupt it too soon, you will be too low on Health and he will kill you. Wait too long and he will heal up all of the damage you did.

      [I have posted the above information as comments in WoW Head too, for easy reference.]

      He has other bad things that do damage. Basically, beat him up, try to interrupt stuff.  If you are short on interrupts, focus more on the heals.  Make sure the entire party understands that Stay of Execution has to be interrupted only after 2 seconds or so, but Mend Rotten Flesh can and should be interrupted ASAP.

      Baron Silverlaine

      Baron Silverlaine was one of the easier bosses for us.  The new and improved Baron Silverlaine is somewhat nostalgic in that he calls up the old Worgen bosses from the old SFK.  He will do this three times, at 25% (Wolf Master Nandos and three Lupine Spectres), 50% (Razorclaw the Butcher), and 75% (Rethilgore).  Of the three, Rethilgore is the more annoying, since he shadowsteps all over the party.  We were clustered pretty tightly, so this was not much of an issue.

      This is a Tank and Spank, for the most part, combined with picking up adds when they spawn.  The first spawn will be multiple adds.  In terms of kill order, when the adds spawn, kill them, and get back to the Baron.  Your party may or may not want to just burn down the Baron when the final add, Rethilgore, spawns.

      It is important to keep an eye on quickly removing the Cursed Veil, which reduces healing by 75%.

      Commander Springvale

      This is the boss that is most likely to wipe your party out.  We had a PUG member as our fifth, and had not pulled him into Ventrilo yet.  This fight punished us for that, as miscommunication led to uncoordinated efforts that wiped us repeatedly.  Mostly, this was due to the PUG member being one strategy behind us in execution; somehow my chat messages were not conveying the current strategy well enough.  Once we got him on Ventrilo, I think we two-shotted the boss.  Do you need to be on Vent?  Probably not, if you all clearly understand your strategy.

      I have seen a video that suggests ignoring the adds and burning the boss.  If you are overgeared, this may be viable.  If not, then you will likely need to apply more finesse, as we did.

      Springvale is, essentially, supposed to be what Dungeons and Dragons would call an Anti-Paladin.  Prior to Cataclysm, he was basically a mean Paladin.  However, Cataclysm sees him remade with some Death Knight (essentially undead Anti-Paladins) abilities and some new tricks.

      Essentially, they have given him an evil version of the new Holy Power mechanic.  He gets Unholy Power from using his Malefic Strike (I guess it's an Unholy Crusader Strike), as well as casts from his minion.
      • Desecration – A regular Desecration, this creates a region around the boss that slows movement by 50%; this can be painful if cast just before Shield of the Perfidious.
      • Malefic Strike - double damage and generates Unholy Power (an evil Crusader Strike)
      • He consumes Unholy Power for the following abilities
        • Shield of the Perfidious – A frontal cone AoE that ticks very rapidly for damage (every 0.5 seconds?)
        • Word of Shame – This nasty spell takes 5% of the target's maximum Health every 3 seconds, and persists until the fight is over (or the target dies).
      We found that we could not DPS down the boss without at least another pair of adds spawning.  This lead to a lot of healing and Unholy Power flowing into the boss, which leads to empty Mana and Health bars for our party members.  The main problem is the Unholy Empowerment that the adds cast.; 4% of his Health is a lot and can undo your DPS is it is not kept under control.

      In an nutshell, our successful strategy was as follows:
      1. Crowd control the Wailing Guardsman (I prefer this because they have an AoE silence, which can prevent restoring CC or healing, so better to keep that under wraps while you burn down the other add)
      2. Tank pulls Commander and Officer to opposite side of the room (this way you are not near the CC you just set up)
      3. Kill the Officer, interrupting Unholy Empowerment every time
      4. Kill the Wailing Guardsman, interrupting Unholy Power every time
      5. DPS Commander Springvale
      6. Repeat 1-3 until Commander Springvale is dead
      7. Win
      Of course, if his Health is very low, you can probably just CC the last wave of adds and burn him down.

      Update: The conventional wisdom holds that Shield of the Perfidious will always point at the Tank, unless the Tank is standing on a bench.  We found this to be true.  And let me tell you, there are a LOT of benches in there!

      Lord Walden

      This is an evil alchemist/chemist guy.  We really did not learn much about this fight because we easily one-shotted it.  WoW Head tells us that he has Conjure Frost Mixture, Conjure Poisonous Mixture, and Ice Shards.  The advice from one of our guild members was to keep moving when he is casting/channeling Mystery Toxin.  So, we just stayed on the move and spread out during the fight, avoided stuff on the ground, and killed him.  If you have troubles Tanking while moving...get better at it. :)

      Lord Godfrey

      The new end boss is pretty easy too.  He will summon Ghouls, in a fashion similar to our old friend, the Lich King.  He will also use his ghastly guns (diabolical derringers? scary six-shooters? bigbaddablunderbusses?) to shoot your party in shadowy special ways:
      1. Mortal wound - DoT and 10% reduction in healing
      2. Cursed Bullets - Deals around 50k shadow damage and a DoT that does more damage over time for 15 sec (the DoT portion is like a Curse of Agony).  This can be removed.
      3. Pistol Barrage - fixed facing cone attack; it won't spin with you, so you can step out of it
      Tank him in place and kill him.  Pick up his fragile adds when they spawn.  The key elements are 1) removing Cursed Bullets ASAP, 2) pointing the boss away from party members so they are not hit by Pistol Barrage, and 3) stepping out of Pistol Barrage, unless you are going for the Achievement to kill his Ghouls with his Pistol Barrage.

      I don't remember if we even focused any DPS on the adds.

      Other Resources

      I was somewhat terse in some places, so here are some other resources:

      Tuesday, December 7, 2010

      [4.0.3a] The Cataclysm is Upon Us! Time To Get Crazy!

      The Cataclysm is here and many folks will be executing their marathon playing plans.  Last one to 85 is a rotten egg!  Go go go!

      Do your best not to end up like this guy!  On the plus side, some have estimated that Level 85 can be reached in around 24 hours of play time.  Man, it makes me drowsy just thinking about's hoping you have a blast with the new content. :)

      I'll see you...sometime after I hit 85. xD