Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To Enhance: Heroic Ultraxion & Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn

You've done it! You and your raid team have hacked and slashed your way through the first four bosses in Dragon Soul on heroic. Well, chances are pretty good you've also been knocking out Ultraxion on heroic long before you all managed to down heroic Zon'ozz and perhaps even heroic Yor'sahj, but there's still a nifty trick or two you can learn as an enhancement shaman for that rather dull fight.

The video above was one of the first I took in Dragon Soul. I can't recall if it was taken when the instance was still at full strength, or if the 5% nerf had already taken hold. Regardless, one thing was very clear: it was incredibly difficult for an enhancement shaman to soak an Hour of Twilight. By that I mean it was damn near impossible unless you were 100% topped off, had Shamanistic Rage up, Stoneclaw Totem up, had an external healing cooldown rolling on you, possibly a warrior's Rallying Cry out, and if the stars aligned just so, you might have lived. It was just easier to be a sacrificial lamb and to ankh back up if your 10 man raid team was really that hard pressed for soakers.

These days Ultraxion is much easier to deal with on heroic mode. Guess what? Having an enhancement shaman soaking an Hour of Twilight is no longer such a song and dance, and is very easy to deal with. As of right now, I have about 150k health unbuffed as enhance. Shamanistic Rage + glyphed Stoneclaw totem + a warrior's Rallying Cry = a successful soak. It's not often that I have to soak an Hour of Twilight, but if I must I generally take the third Hour of Twilight (these days I believe we only get about four Hour of Twilights total, maaaybe five tops if we lose someone to a button failure). It can still be a bit dicey, especially since my team single heals the encounter with a druid, but it is rather doable.

Spec Changes:
None necessary

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

Totem Changes:
Run your usual set up, just twist in a Stoneclaw if you need to soak an Hour of Twilight or if damage gets a bit heavy at the end (this should only happen if dps is low for some reason).

The Encounter:
Perform your optimal rotation. Know your latency/reaction times when dealing with Hour of Twilight. For me, I have a latency of 22ms. This allows me to exit the Twilight Realm at about .9 seconds left on the castbar (careful, that bugger is quick on heroic!) and still be able to comfortably get into the safe realm, which will allow me to either get a few more white swings in, or even possibly an extra special ability. However if your latency is higher, you'll obviously not want to cut it nearly as close as I do. This fight is all about maximizing your dps; misjudging your game's reaction time can turn you into a dead dps. A dead dps does no dps, so know when you can safely click that button!

Bracers of Looming Darkness - Our BiS bracers. The drop rate on these buggers is pretty low, so snatch them up when you can!

Chest of the Corrupted Protector - Turn this token in for our BiS chest piece, Spiritwalker's Cuirass.

Morningstar of Heroic Will - There has been a ton of theory crafting debate over this mace vs No'Kaled. Is a heroic MoHW better than a heroic N'K? Which weapons should I use in which hand? Personally, I preferred my normal No'Kaleds and their procs (which are boosted by our mastery bonuses) over trying to reforge and balance out the craptastic secondary stats of the Morningstars. However, this mace does have it's place: heroic Spine of Deathwing. During this encounter you want to maximize your burst potential, which means to minimize the RNG of procs. A pair of these maces could potentially help you out with that. Otherwise, this mace is complete garbage for us. Potentially better than the LFR No'Kaleds due to pure weapon damage and agility increases, but ultimately you'll want to run a sim to see which weapon(s) is better for your personal set up.

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, Ultraxion, 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, Ultraxion, 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.

Taking on Warmaster Blackhorn as a DPS is...special. As a ranged you DoT all the things, as a melee you spend more time chasing mobs than you do damaging them it seems. Hang on to your breeches kids, it's gonna be a bumpy air ride.

Spec Changes:
None necessary

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

Totem Changes:
Run your usual set up. Pop a Stoneclaw when soaking Twilight Onslaught to help your healers out a little, and also when damage gets heavy towards the end of Blackhorn's life.

The Encounter:
Dealing with the melee adds - Ideally, you want to be on the melee adds. Dancing out of the way of their charges can be an absolute pain, but if your tanks keep them together, you can "cleave" them. Flame Shock, Lava Lash, Nova, and Chain Lightning these two buggers down asap. Be mindful that these guys do have a cleave, and that their cleave at the end of their charge is particularly brutal. Never be anywhere near their red charge line if you can help it, because it hurts pretty damn bad on heroic, and will most likely kill you.

Drakes - If you have to be on drake duty, you can get behind them and be able to hit them with specials without hopping around like an idiot. However, this sweet spot is right on the edge of the ship, right behind their tails. Be careful when positioning yourself! I may or may not have accidentally fallen off of the side of the ship with my feral druid while trying to pull off this maneuver. This isn't ICC's ship folks. If you fall, you be dead.

Sappers - I tend to pop my wolves on the first set of melee adds so that they're up when we need a sapper stun during the third Onslaught (often the damn thing is running through a crapload of fire, and depending on the raid composition for the evening we might not have our priest soaking that Onslaught...pop wolves, target the active sapper after he's done vanishing, hit Bash on your pet bar and let your puppies stun/chew on him while you and your raid soak Onslaught or dance through fire). Sappers will go down fast, provided your DPS are switching to these buggers fast enough. Generally I Unleash Elements on them until they get in range, then choose my shock accordingly: if there's no slow on him, Frost Shock; if he's slowed and no where near the door and dying kinda slow, Flame Shock; if he's close to the door, Earth Shock. *Generally* by the time I've UE'd, Stormstriked, and Shocked them, they're dead. Throw instant Lightning Bolts into a sapper's face if you've got them, naturally. If a sapper gets into the door of the ship and doesn't die nearly instantly as he reaches that point, he will detonate. If you've chased after him and he detonates in your face, you will die. At least you would have died trying to do your job.

Dealing with Twilight Barrages - On heroic your team wants to be soaking as many Twilight Barrages as possible. Yes, even with the nerf it is extremely helpful to soak as many of these things as possible. Ideally you always want to soak these with one other person, especially if you already have a stack of the Twilight Barrage debuff. You can however soak ONE of these barrages solo - use Shamanistic Rage to live through it though. No rage, pretty good chances of no living. Keep your SR ready for that oshi...moment when you realize that your soaking partner or other melee buddies won't reach you in time.

Deck Fire - This mechanic is kind of a pain in the butt to deal with on heroic. More often than not Deck Fire will bug out, both taking its dear old time being extinguished by our flying gnome friends, or it will continue to spread during phase two, making the encounter nearly impossible to deal with. During phase one, avoid it to the best of your abilities. If you must run after a sapper, or run to an Onslaught, Ghost Wolf your way through it as quickly as possible. Don't do this of course if your health is low, watch out for any possible charge lines (which is difficult, as the fire and the charge lines are nearly the same color), and be wary of any Twilight Barrage marks down. A combination of any of these things and the fire will more than likely kill you, even with the nerf, if you are not careful. If the fire bugs out and lasts through phase two, just do your best to dodge around under Goriona's tail and make sure not to get hit by Blackhorn's shockwave somehow. It gets tricky, but can be done.

Warmaster Blackhorn - When he first becomes active, feel free to whack away on him for a little while. Do not however get his health to drop too low before killing Goriona. If you do, he'll start sucking the health from her. If this happens, "the health drain inflicts damage equal to 20% of Goriona's remaining health, and heals Blackhorn accordingly" according to Wowhead. Translation: damage Blackhorn too much, and bad bad things will happen.

Goriona - As soon as she comes down, give the tanks a moment to pick her up and position her next to Blackhorn. Once this is done, take down that dragon! She doesn't have a tail swipe, but I do believe she has a typical dragon melee cleave. It's her breath however that you absolutely want to avoid. If she casts Consuming Shroud on someone near you, Shamanistic Rage to help lower the damage to yourself. If your team is AoE healing the group and everyone's receiving heals through this mechanic, it shouldn't hurt all that much, it's just merely annoying.

Blackhorn - Once Goriona lifts off (and hopefully she does this properly and doesn't stay hovering on the ships deck, aka bugged out) Blackhorn is exactly the same for us as on normal mode. He has more health, his roars hit harder, and his shockwaves hurt a hell of a lot more. Actually, pre-nerfs the shockwaves would one shot you. This isn't so much the case anymore if you're topped off, though you should be avoiding shockwaves at all costs regardless. This shouldn't be all that difficult to achieve as a melee, as the coned area of which we need to step out of is rather small. Shamanistic Rage, healing/damage reduction racials, and Stoneclaw Totem before a roar is very helpful here for your healers, especially as the boss's health dwindles.

1) Cleave the things
2) Soak the things
3) Stop the things from going into the ship and going boom
4) Don't eat a charge
5) Stay out of fire; beware of bugs
6) Stay out of purple
7) DPS Blackhorn down, but not too much or you will die
8) Nuke Goriona; beware of bugs
9) Nuke Blackhorn
10) Collect purples

Crown of the Corrupted Protector - The token for our BiS helm item. Turn this in for the Spiritwalker's Helmet.

Belt of the Beloved Companion - Despite its crappy secondary stats, this is our BiS belt.

Starcatcher Compass - This is NOT an item for enhancement shaman. You are a bad, bad shaman if you use this item, especially if you're pairing it with Matrix Restabilizer (if this trinket procs, and Matrix decides to proc while the buff from SC is on, guess what? You get a haste proc instead of your beloved mastery proc.). Unless your trinkets are for some reason absolute garbage, don't bother with this trinket. Yes, the agility on this is nice, but the proc is useless. LFR/regular Vial of Shadows, regular Matrix, and any of the versions of Wrath of Unchaining are all vastly superior to this trinket. Leave this one to the ferals, rogues, and/or hunters if they want this trinket for some reason.

Seal of Primordial Shadow - A ring that has a chance to drop off of Morchok, Zon'ozz, Yor'sahj, Hagara, Ultraxion, 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, Ultraxion, 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. As always, if you feel that a correction must be made or if you have a question about any of these encounters, please feel free to comment! Good luck, have fun, and may you loot rolls be strong.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brain Soup

It has been a long time since I've done a personal post. Hell, as of lately I've had a hard time getting any sort of post out at all. This is mostly due to disinterest, burnout, apathy, a writing dry spell...call it whatever you want, but sadly I just haven't been able to arse myself to do something that I at one point really, really enjoyed. I mean, I still do enjoy it to an extent. There is nothing that I like more than sitting down and jamming out some hair brained idea, turning that idea into an epic wall of text that is capable of making the eyes of even the most eager of readers bleed. It seems though I have lost the ability to start up my typing engine. Kind of.

Part of me takes great pleasure of babbling, make no mistake about that. Given the right prompts I can go on for hours, but sadly as of the past many months I've had no real desire too. For a long while I had valid excuses for not writing: busy pushing progression with the guild, busy with TLR, busy with...I don't know, laundry maybe. Which in a way, busy is how I prefer things despite my incredibly lazy nature, but all that busyness kind of really pulled me away from my already floundering creative groove.

This isn't to say that I will ever be closing up shop on either of my blogs. I still hope to finish my FBN story, despite how dissatisfied I am with the quality of it thus far (well, it was meant to be an exercise in story telling after all, so I'm not sure what sort of quality I was expecting from someone as inexperienced as myself), I do plan on at least attempting to finish off this How To Enhance series on heroic Dragon Soul, and I will re-tackle the leveling guide, though the leveling guide may wait until MoP hits. I mean, there's no sense in writing a leveling guide when it's all going to be bunk in a few months anyways, right? Yeah it's a lazy cop out, but it's the truth of it.

So far this babble post hasn't even remotely been about the topic(s) that I wanted to yammer on about. I think I originally wanted to talk about some philosophical bullshit about the cycles in life and friends with ups and downs and fall-outs, and somehow it had this nice clever hook that connected the whole idea back into WoW...it was pretty brilliant, let me assure you. Maybe at some other point in time I'll be re-arsed to start up another post that will hopefully express this enlightened idea or whatever. As of right now...eh, I'm happy just to be typing black words onto a white screen.

Maybe you've vibed me already, dear reader. I'm in a funk. Yup, another one of Saz's Famous Funks. Hmm, sounds like a ridiculous sort of ice cream...anyways. I'm in a funk for a variety of reasons; some pertain to life, others to family, some to people (which also tied into the topic that I originally set out to write, but instead am finding myself to be typing out this drivel), and at least a bit to our beloved Azeroth itself.

You know that moment when you first realize that you have a sneeze that's kind of stuck? Not quite the point where it feels like your sinuses are about to blow through the front of your face, but that moment when the sneeze is just an obnoxious little itch you get, that tickle that resides deep inside your nasal cavity. That's kind of an awkward metaphor for where I am with essentially everything right now. I'd really like to sneeze and just move on with it already, but instead I'm stuck here making funny faces.

WoW has always been my great distraction from life things, and right now we're hitting some rather nasty summer doldrums. Mists of Pandaria isn't estimated to be released until probably about August (the absolute earliest in all likeliness) and already it's become a struggle for even the 10 man raid teams to keep on raiding due to the attendance boss. Part of that is because of burn out from the game in general, some of it is because people are bored to shit of Dragon Soul already (LFR was nice and all, but I think it's created a burnout for the more active raiding community that has surpassed even the burnout of the ICC era) with no official end in sight for that instance as end game, and of course it's that time of gear when other new shiny things start rearing their heads *coughDiablocough*. So yeah, my happy place is sadly becoming a bit of a headache and heartbreak combination. Three raiders didn't bother to show up tonight with no word on what's going on? POW right in the kisser. Guess yo ass won't be raiding tonight!


No, I still won't be playing D3 until all the damn hype has died down. I'll see you all in there in six months to three years. Sorry, that's just how I'm gonna roll.

Despite my disgruntled frustrations with pretty much everything as of late, not everything is all that bad. No, Chicken Little; the sky is not falling and the end is not near. In game I've been taking a little enjoyment out of leveling my original shaman (as in THE first shaman I ever rolled) as elemental, plus I've been pulled into the company of this late night guild, along with some of my more favorite fellas from my current guild. We've been slowly working on those pain-in-the-ass heroic end bosses of tier 11, and despite all of the wipes it hasn't been a totally unpleasant experience. Since TLR is kind of on the down swing (only temporarily I hope) and it seems almost impossible to get everyone from my current raid group to commit to Dragon Soul and Firelards, let alone tier 11, so the arrangement works out fairly nicely. Chill group, competent and dependable players, good people...can't really complain there. The later hours are kind of funky for even me to get used to, but hey, if I'm awake anyways may as well do some raiding that isn't the brain blender of LFR.

Since I have no idea on how to properly end this post, let me leave you with the words of wisdom from the trolls: Stay away from da voodoo!