Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Enhance: Heroic Zon'ozz & Heroic Hagara

There's nothing quite like that first savory kill of some supposedly big bad in the current tier of raiding. Breath is held as the last bit of health is whittled away from whatever boss your group is collectively trying to bring down, panicked prayers to the gods of DoTs and RNG are uttered, and yells of triumph are shouted as the big bad finally gasps and keels over, spilling his or her glittering purple loot for whoever can equip it.

Most of us who raid often live for that short window of time. That moment of "OMG KILL IT KILL IT!! MOAR DOTS!" and the adrenaline rush that soon comes to follow when that one pesky boss finally keels over and coughs up the goods that it somehow keeps hidden away in its invisible pockets.

Side note: I've always wondered how some sticky lava goo from Deathwing's back enabled me to be more agile. I mean sure, I suppose you could cut away Morchok's loincloth and make a pretty decent set of shoulder pads from them, smack a faceless crab man around enough and take his claw for a sword, or make a set of bracers from a dragon that has been experimented upon, but seriously...when do the heroes (aka our characters) have time to craft these things from the creatures they down? In a rush to save Azeroth, I highly doubt they're running around going "Oh, this bit of horn would make a lovely addition to your helm, Dornak. It will surely increase your damage to the next brute by 50!" I also doubt Hagara really keeps a staff on her person. I mean, no dual axe wielding half batshit crazy shaman woman would bother toting a staff. You'd think we'd at least be able to steal her axes...

*Grumbles something about silly games and their silly loot*

The video above is in a few ways how to execute some of the mechanics Heroic Warlord Zon'ozz encounter and somehow still win. It's also a video that had been recorded when the Dragon Soul nerf first hit 20%.

Now, originally we had to three heal this fight. Being my group's swing healer, the footage above is from my first time dpsing Zon'ozz. As you can see, right off the bat I pull hate off of our tank (who had just main changed from his prot paladin to his blood dk), I'm rather uncertain about my target switches, and some of my cooldown timings are awkward at best.

Let's learn from my mistakes, shall we?

Spec Changes: None (Standard 10/31/0 spec)

Glyph Changes:
Keep your standard Prime Glyphs. (Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Windfury)
Keep your semi-standard Major Glyphs (Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Stoneclaw)

Please note that Zon'ozz's attacks either deal shadow damage or physical damage, so Glyph of Healing Stream Totem won't benefit your raid any.

Totem Changes:
Run your standard set up that your raid composition requires. During the "Black" phases it would be wise of you to twist in a Stoneclaw totem to help mitigate some of the damage.

The Encounter:
As things are at this moment, there is about 1.5 minutes worth of time in between black phases, at least with how my group tends to bounce the ball (7 times each, 2 black phases, and done). Depending on how bounces your raid does, your timing between black phases *might* vary slightly. You will need to play with timings a bit to gain optimal use of your dps cooldowns, but here are the general scenarios as I see them.

1) Use your usual opener with wolves out and axes ablaze (as shown in the video). Your wolves will not be up for the first black phase and will require you to wait a bit to pop them, but they will for sure be up for the second black phase.
2) Save your wolves for the first black phase, do your usual dps like crazy and live thing for the second black phase, and if you get a third black phase, your wolves will be up again.
3). Save your wolves, but pop them a bit before the first black phase. Going by rough judgments in that video, pop them about 10 seconds before the first black phase so that they'll overlap into the black phase, so that he'll get some extra increase incoming damage from you, plus you'll have a bit extra healing incoming on yourself. Popping them like this will make your wolves come off of cooldown about half way through the second black phase. I have yet to test out this third option myself, but I am eager to test this one out next week to see if it provides a better outcome for me personally than the first option, which is what I've been using.

From a melee dps stand point this fight is pretty easy. Stand behind boss, get hit in the behind by the boss' balls, run out when you have the debuff and get cleansed, run like hell back to the behind of the boss, run out at appropriate bounces, get into black phase and survive. The reason why I'm fussing about the usage of our wolves so much is mainly because of the black phase. The boss takes increased damage during that phase, while we take in some pretty massive AoE damage ourselves. Wolves are our one almost kind of sort of big dps cd, plus their passive healing is sexy.

During black phase, we must concentrate on two main things:
1) Cleave the crap out of the boss and the big claw things.
2) Use available survivability cooldowns.

*Most* raid compositions tend to lean a bit more ranged heavy if they can, which means very rarely does an enhancement shaman have to worry about the eye stalks. Our usual big focus is the boss and the claw. If your group is a bit melee heavy though, fret not. We could in theory run around and kill nearby eye stalks (send your ranged after the ones that are further away from the raid), provided we manage to keep in range of a strong healer. Just remember to use Shamanistic Rage and Stoneclaw totem when your health starts dropping a bit, and you should be able to complete your task with no issue. In a typical raid though, you should be able to stay on the boss and cleave off of him. Running with a fury warrior and a combat rogue, plus myself as the "let's sit on the boss" dpsers (we sent our poor ret paladin off into the abyss of eye stalks), the three of us were easily able to stay on the boss and cleave the claw down in a fairly efficient fashion. If your cleave dps is a bit low though, focus on the claw while cleaving off of it to continue putting pressure on the boss.

To reiterate, H-Zon'ozz in 10 easy steps:
1) Stand behind boss
2) Get hit by balls
3) Run away little girl when you have the debuff. Be cleansed child!
4) Stand behind boss
5) Run away from balls
6) Smack smack!
9) Smack and hack!
10) Collect loot

Gauntlets of the Corrupted Protector - Our tier gloves, BiS. For a while it was up in the air whether or not the Sporebeard Gauntlets were BiS, or if the tier gloves were. From what I've gathered the Spiritwalker's Grips are indeed our best in slot item for hands, despite having one socket less than the Sporebeard Gauntlets. More mastery ftw!

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item.

Vial of Shadows - A trinket that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item, though heroic Matrix Restabilizer is a contender for this trinket slot. Better for your feral dps/rogues/hunters, but still a sexy trinket for us. If you have a Matrix, consider passing the Vial off to those other classes until they all have it.

Ahhh Hagara, you crazy woman you. Normally I'd tell a fellow enhancement shaman to heed the words of Halbrium and play nicely with your fellow axe wielding elementalists. Unfortunately this wannabe shaman is nothing more than a slave of Al'Akir and likes nothing more than to hang with her Twilight's Hammer homies. She's a bad, bad lady folks.

At first glance, this encounter might look rather difficult as a melee. It's really not. I find that as a melee player, specifically as enhancement and feral, this fight is extremely easy to get great numbers on. Let's go over the details on how to shine on this encounter.

Spec Changes:
Standard 10/31/0 spec (Optimal and recommended)
EP 8/33/0 spec (Suboptimal - Contains Earthen Power)

The second spec mentioned should only be used in the event that you find that your raid is often struggling with sticking together, you often find yourself out of cleanse range of your healers in the ice phase due to ice wall dodging in the bubble, or if for some reason healer mana is an issue (it really shouldn't be, as the ice phase is all about dodging damage - it's one big regen fest for healers usually). Consider it a "we're really struggling with dispells" spec, to only be used in dire situations.

Glyph Changes:
Keep your standard Prime Glyphs. (Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Windfury)
Keep two of your standard Major Glyphs (Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf) and adjust your third as you need it (Healing Stream if you don't have a frost/nature resist in the raid, Shamanistic Rage if you really do need an extra dispell ability, Stoneclaw to have your usual minor mitigation ability)

Totem Changes:
For most of the fight you will use your typical totem set up. However, in the event that you get caught in an ice tomb, it may be beneficial to drop your Fire Elemental Totem or your Magma Totem to help AoE down the tombs. You lose your Searing Stacks from the boss, but I think the trade off of getting out of the tomb faster is worth it.

Drop Grounding Totem just before Hagara casts Shattered Ice. It doesn't *always* eat the Shattered Ice spell, but it should most of the time. May potentially save the life of a raid member, especially if Ice Lance soaking isn't the best.

The Encounter:
How you open up with the fight depends heavily on how your raid decides to take on this encounter. Some raid groups prefer to always begin with the lightning phase, since it's much shorter than the ice phase and in general most raid groups will only get three phases total these days. Others will begin with whichever phase she happens to start with. (Helpful hint: a hunter can sacrifice a pet or a rogue can engage and vanish in order to reset the boss, making it so she begins in which ever phase the raid desires. The imbues on her axes shows which phase she will begin with.)

Starting with the lightning phase:
- Using wolves as an opened: don't do it! As you can see in the video above, I opened up with my wolves and they weren't up for the first stun after the lightning phase. Begin with your usual opener, sans wolves.
- Once you hit lightning phase, complete your usual task. Whether you're chaining the lightning or hanging out in the middle like I usually do, roll your cooldowns to help your healers out. This phase is incredibly healing intensive, so do what you can.
- When the phase ends and Hagara is stunned, pop your wolves and get your rotation rolling once more. Be sure to babysit your Searing Totem, as it might not track back on to her right away.

Starting with ice phase:
- You *should* be able to open with your wolves and have ample time to have them off of cooldown before finishing the ice phase. I'll be honest, I'm not 100% sure on the timing of this as my group always begins in lightning phase, so toy with it a bit to be sure.
- Whether your group runs around the outside like mine does, or if they dodge the wall by dipping into the bubble, it matters not. If your group runs like mine does, be sure to always at least get your Flame Shock up on the crystal, if not also drop a Searing Totem by it (Stormstrike + FS the crystal if possible as you run by, to ensure the totem will attack it). If you're dipping, you should have no issue more or less getting your usual priority rotation in.
- As soon as the last crystal dies, pop your wolves, use Spirit Walk, and send your dogs after Hagara asap while you yourself run over to her as well. If you're super savvy, you can pull off of the crystal and start moving a bit before it dies and let the DoTs finish it off.

If your group starts with lightning phase, you should have your wolves out for two of the three stunned phases. If you're the hero/lust/warp popper, try to pop it just after your wolves are out (timing is everything there!). If you're not, try to make sure that they're out just before the designated hero/lust/warp popper does their thing. Ideally you'd want someone else to pop hero/lust/warp for the first stunned phase, so that you may pop hero/lust/warp on the second stunned phase for your dogs alone. That's in a perfect world though; do what you can.

Dealing with Frostflake:
Being the sexy shaman that we are, handling Frostflake ain't no thang. While we can't dispell it with our spec, we're also not greatly hindered by its effects. Someone drop some snow on the ground in a bad place? No problem! We're not drastically slowed by it so long as we're in puppy form. Have to run the bebuff into the bubble, which slows us down? No worries, it won't (shouldn't) drop the debuff off of you, but it also can't put its slowing effect on you, nor will the bubble slow you down (I was playing it safe in the video, since shape shifting for druids WILL remove the debuff). Seriously, if you have insta ghost wolf, as you should as enhancement, the ice phase and dealing with Frostflake is very, very easy.

Get Frostflake, run into the bubble, be dispelled (or Shamanistic Rage if you've glyphed it, or use Earthbind Totem if you've had to spec into Earthen Power for whatever reason), run back out. 

Dealing with Ice Lance:
Ideally you should never really have to worry about Ice Lances. However, if you run with a melee heavy comp, or if your ranged are just terrible with soaking them, you will have to be aware of their presence. Try to never take more than three stacks if possible; any more than that and it starts to really hurt (8+ will more than likely kill you). If you find yourself soaking Ice Lances, either reposition yourself so that another melee takes it or have a rogue Smoke Bomb the area if several melee are taking Ice Lances. Despite the fact that Ice Lances can hurt a lot with the more stacks you receive, it is still better for you to take them than the tank. Preferably though you'll always have someone else who is able to take a few for you while your stacks drop.

Hagara: The Short Version
- Start in lightning phase. Do NOT pop wolves at the start.
- DPS to lightning phase. Kill add. Do your job (either run lightning or look pretty in the middle); pop defensive/self healing cooldowns.
- Pop wolves when Hagara's bubble disappears. Hit her as hard as possible while she's stunned!
- DPS to ice phase. Move to designated pillar (ice crystal).
- Go through your rotation if you're dodging walls; Stormstrike and Flame Shock crystals + leave a Searing Totem if you're running around the outside. Lava Lash + Earth Shock if there's time. Lightning Bolt or pop an emergency Greater Healing Wave if you have 4+ Maelstrom stacks.
- Pop wolves at the end of the ice phase, again hit her as hard as possible while she's stunned (pop your pot if you haven't already just before you pop your wolves for this; pop hero right after wolves are out if it hasn't been done already).
- Repeat until she's dead. Collect loot.

Shoulders of the Corrupted Protector - Turn this token in to receive our BiS shoulders, Spiritwalker's Spaulders.

Signet of Grasping Mouths - Despite having to less than idea secondary stats on it, this ring is still one of our BiS pieces.

Treads of Dormant Dreams - Another item with not one, but two less than idea secondary stats on it. Still a BiS item, still super sexy with all that haste begging to be reforged and two delicious red sockets waiting to be filled with Delicate Queen's Garnets.

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item.

Vial of Shadows - A trinket that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item, though heroic Matrix Restabilizer is a contender for this trinket slot. Better for your feral dps/rogues/hunters, but still a sexy trinket for us. If you have a Matrix, consider passing the Vial off to those other classes until they all have it.

There you have it folks, Heroic Zon'ozz and Heroic Hagara in a nutshell. If you've spotted a mistake, need anything clarified, or feel like something needs to be added, please do not hesitate to speak up! Comments and questions are always welcome.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How To Enhance: Heroic Morchok & Heroic Yor'sahj

Did your guild just down Madness of Deathwing on normal? Are you finding yourself looking at the Morchok/Kohcrom twins in the face on heroic and scratching your head a bit? Have you been working on heroic modes for a while, but are new to the ways of the enhancement shaman and are looking for a few tips? Murgleglrgl and baby murlocs on top? Well, I have just the post for you!

At the time of writing this guide, it is the first week in which the 20% Dragon Soul nerf has been active. Provided your group has decent gear and at least an inkling of coordination, everything up until heroic Warmaster Blackhorn is (or should be) an absolute cakewalk. If you are the raid's swing healer, like myself, everything should be more or less two-healable now (provided your main spec healers are semi geared and on their A-game), which means you get to rock the sexy numbers on the DPS charts instead of the HPS charts. Yay!

Here are a few tips and tricks for the first two fights to do just that: rock the charts. By rock the charts I mean live and put out a few shiny numbers along the way.

This video above is from when Dragon Soul received its first nerf (I believe anyways), which was a whopping 5%. As you can see I'm on the Morchok side, which out of the two twins is definitely the more active side. You can also see that I'm crystal soaking, which means a TON of movement for me. Not a big deal, really.

Morchok's side is thus for crystal soaking: stomp, crystal, stomp, crystal, etc until the Black Blood phase, then stomp, crystal, stomp, crystal etc until either another Black Blood phase happens or the boss dies, whichever happens first.

Kohcrom's side is more of a stomp, stomp, crystal, stomp, stomp rotation, if memory serves. Much less movement, much more of a snoozefest!

Can an enhancement shaman soak stomps? My answer to this question is: probably. I believe that soaking is still better left up to shadow priests and rogues, or even a boomkin/plate dps if your (10 man) composition is missing one or both of those classes/specs, but now with the nerfs you should be able to safely soak stomps as enhancement. This is provided that you and your healers are semi geared though, and your healers are on the ball with topping you off prior to a stomp. I'd highly recommend trying to soak on Kohcrom's side first, as that is the easier side to heal. I'd also definitely recommend utilizing a rotation of Shamanistic Rage and Stoneclaw Totem (glyphed Stoneclaw, that is) to help out on reducing your damage taken. Bottom line: test it out and see if you and your healers can handle it. Upside to soaking stomps though? You don't need to run around like a loony toon to soak crystals. Soak one or the other, as trying to swing both could potentially have some not so desired consequences (see: death).

If you'd like a more in depth help guide to this encounter, please take a look at my original heroic Morchok guide. The information found there is still valid, but don't bother swapping out the Windfury glyph for the Feral Spirit glyph unless your healers tend to fall reeeeally behind, and only if you're saving them as a healing cooldown for some odd reason. The standard Prime glyphing of Lava Lash, Windfury Weapon, and Stormstrike should be more than sufficient for this encounter.

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item.

Vial of Shadows - A trinket that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item, though heroic Matrix Restabilizer is a contender for this trinket slot. Better for your feral dps/rogues/hunters, but still a sexy trinket for us. If you have a Matrix, consider passing the Vial off to those other classes until they all have it.

Sporebeard Gauntlets - If for some reason you can't get your mits on the heroic tier gloves, these are your next best bet. They're better than the normal mode tier gloves, but not quite as good as the heroic tier gloves. BiS for hunters, second BiS for us.

Heroic Yor'sahj ain't no big thang if your group knows what's up. If you need an overall strategy how-to guide, head on over to this Icy-Veins over view. I am going to assume though that you are already at least semi-familiar with the encounter.

Spec Changes: None (Standard 10/31/0 spec)

Glyph Changes:
If you're sitting on the boss - Prime: Remove Windfury and use Flame Shock (25 man only)
If you're moving to oozes - Prime: Remove Windfury and use Flame Shock (25 man only)
If you're sitting on the boss - Major: Remove Ghost Wolf and use Chain Lightning
If you're moving to oozes - Major: Remove Stoneclaw and use Chain Lightning (assuming your healers are good and you're not getting pounded on too hard by the adds).

Some of these glyph changes are highly dependent on your group composition, the raid's general dps output (if there's a lot of high AoE dps output in your raid, Flame Shock and Chain Lightning may not be worth the swap; I know it really isn't for my 10 man group because everything dies so quickly), and the capability of your healers (for the last suggestion).

Totem Changes: None, kind of.
If you're in a 25 man, swapping out Searing Totem for Magma Totem during a double black phase (yellow ooze + black ooze = nom AoE damage potential for you!) could very well yield a dps increase. This again is dependent on how high your raid AoE is though. If the adds die quickly and there's no overlap between the first set of adds and the second, you may be better off with sticking with good ol' derpy Searing Totem.

Totem twisting between your usual earth totem (Strength of Earth or Stoneskin, whichever your raid needs, if any) and the glyphed Stoneclaw totem can be handy for those moment when it's a purple + black phase and the adds are beating the crap out of you.

Should I stay or should I swap? No one likes to have to switch between adds. However, unless your group is somehow lacking a rogue or a kitty druid, chances are pretty good that you'll have to switch over to the oozes. Personally, I'm almost always having to swap to the oozes (though with the recent nerfs I may no longer need to do this), while someone else (generally a hunter, the rogue, or when we were two tanking it, the tank who currently did not have the boss) works on the mana void, if it's up.

AoE, how do I do it? During black phases, you should never physically swap to the little crazy elephant-looking dude adds. Keep your focus on the boss and use your AoE rotation from there. What's the optimal way to AoE as enhance? Well, let me tell you.

Flame Shock (keep FS as high on the duration as possible, for the FSs that are spread will take on the duration of the parent FS; the FS glyph makes this a bit easier to deal with, but was only really necessary for me to glyph back when I was running 25s. Never spread a FS with less than 10 seconds on it, if possible. The standard FS/ES/FS/ES rotation *should* in theory be sufficient, but watch it just in case.)
Lava Lash when there are four or more adds within a 12 yard radius
Unleash Elements
Fire Nova
Chain Lightning as soon and as often as possible
Stormstrike and Earth Shock as fillers

Unleash Elements will not be up for every Nova that you do, but it will "super power" your Nova when you are able to use it. Also, I tend to hold my Maelstrom stacks as we're going into the black phase, likewise with Lava Lash, unless I'm sure that it will be up in time for when the adds finally arrive to the boss. Timing is everything when it comes to properly AoEing, and that timing is all the more crucial when you're running with a well geared and capable group that can AoE the crap out of crap reeeeally quickly.

Leggings of the Corrupted Protector - Our tier pants. BiS, super sexy. You may raid pantless out of game, but don't pass these bad boys up in game! Turn this token in to purchase your Spiritwalker's Legguards.

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item.

Vial of Shadows - A trinket that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, and Warmaster Blackhorn. Best in slot item, though heroic Matrix Restabilizer is a contender for this trinket slot. Better for your feral dps/rogues/hunters, but still a sexy trinket for us. If you have a Matrix, consider passing the Vial off to those other classes until they all have it.

Moving forward: Besides Morchok, at this point every encounter up until Ship should be one tank, two healable for a team of 10. The only encounter that *might* still require three healers would be Zon'ozz, but with the newly instated 20% nerf our team was able to two heal that encounter with few mishaps (mmm, gotta love ball bugs). After healing some of those heroic fights for so long, the transition back into dps is a bit of a disorienting one. If you're dpsing as enhancement for the first time, don't lose heart! It will take a few pulls to really get into the groove of a some of those fights, as it does with any role.

While I've written a giant wall of text already, the best advice I can ever give is this: Know your rotation, know your tool kit, know the encounter. The rest just takes practice in order to put the pieces together properly.

Never let your axes go dull or your wolves go hungry.