Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays everyone.

A short post to close the year. I'll be in my family for a few days, so no new post before next year.
I wish you a very nice end of year, and see you in 2010, cheers !

Healing Through: Icecrown Citadel - Lord Marrowgar

Another Healing Through post, focusing this time on the first boss of the Icecrown Citadel raid: Lord Marrowgar.
This post addresses both the 10-Man and 25-Man version of the encounter. The heroic version is not available yet (and won't for a few more months), I will update this post later for that.

Be happy fellow Holy Paladins, this is a fight for you, Beacon of Light will shine as never during this fight.

The path to the boss: trash mobs.

Some will say the trash up to Marrowgar are harder than the boss himself. Though this could be slightly too much to say, the packs are relatively interesting and some sort of control should be used before you aoe everything to death. More precisely the undead spider creatures should be cced by priests and killed separately after the other parts of the packs are done.
Pro-tip: the spiders on the sides of the first room can be soloed by using a Death Knight Death Grip ability

Now ... there is a "fun" surprise with these packs, the 4 Giant Bonelords in the walls of the 2 rooms before Marrowgar can activate and aggro you somehow randomly. I've seen only 3 activating, sometimes the 4 of them, sometimes during the first pack, sometimes not before the last one. It seems to be completely random, but to always occur when you're already fighting. A big emote will warn you a few seconds before one activates, and you'll have to deal with it quickly, as it's damage and aoe silence can be devastating.

If you're lucky you will only have one Bonelord then the periodic aoe, that silence you if you were casting, can be easily avoided and your healers won't have problem keeping the tank up. If you have multiple Bonelords, you will have 3 tanks to heal (the 2 Bonelords tanks and the tank dealing with the pack you were fighting) and 2 aoe silence to consider. On my about 10 runs through these trashs, both in 10 and 25-Man (I've done some reputation grinding runs :p), we've only survived 2 times to a double Bonelord and never to a wonderful 3 Bonelord bash.

To sum-up, cc the spiders and always have a spare tank ready to grab the random Bonelord.
Pro-tip: Most of the time, if more than one Bonelord activate while you're still fighting mobs, try to finish your pack quickly if you can and run for the exit, unless you have very good tanks and healers more than one Bonelord while already fighting a pack means raid wipe. Once they have reset, they can be pulled separately while they patrol.

Boss Description, Abilities and Raid composition.

First of all I invite you to read the boss description on WowHead, and WowWiki. And then you can go to the strategy guide on BossKillers, and the video on Tankspot - Project Marmot. Always basic reference for raid bosses. All of that will give you a good idea of the fight if you've not already experienced it.

The 3 mains abilities from Lord Marrowgar are: Saber Lash, Coldflame and Bonespike Graveyard. You can add to them his Bone Storm which is a sort of alternate phase of the fight.
He will use the first 3 during the tanking phase, but only Coldflame when he whirlwinds during his Bone Storm.

You will need 2 tanks in 10-Man and 3 tanks in 25-Man, just to share the amount of damage done by the Saber Lash.
Pro-tip: Lord Marrowgar's damage has been reduced in 10-Man and the life of the tanks isn't as in jeopardy as before, especially after a Bone Storm, but they still should be very reactive in the use of survival cds when needed.

The fight uses 3 healers in 10-Man and around 6 in 25-Man, more healers in 25-Man makes survival easier but the amount of dps is key as quick dps anywhere in the room is needed because of the Bonespikes.

The only tricky part of the fight is the end of the Bone Storm. When Marrowgar finishes it, he resets his threat table, and he is untauntable in 25-Man. Your tanks need to be quick at grabbing him and move him back near his original position. During this time, any aggro reducing ability is very helpful for healers (Fade obviously for priests, but using a bubble at that time as a paladin is a good choice to allow you to spam heal right from the start of the phase).
Pro-tip: Keep in mind that as soon as he stops his Bone Storm, he will starts his Saber Lash again .Tanks should be quick to gather, and use survival cds is needed. All other raid members should stay more than 10 meters away from the tanks to ensure none eats a Saber Lash whiled he's moved.

Focus on Healing 10-Man.

Pro-tip: in 10-Man the number of raiders is limited, you need to pay attention to the fact that at least 3 raiders should be out of the proximity of Marrowgar and in range of Coldflames, if you have fewer Coldflame targets he will use Coldflames on your tanks.

Most of the damage of the fight comes from the Saber Lashes. But there will be high short duration damage on the victims of Bone Spikes and random medium damage on the whole raid during the Bone Storm phase.

Two healers should be dedicated to the 2 tanks, usually the Main Tank will be a shield using tank to reduce the damage as much as possible as he will be hit more often. If you have a Holy Paladin in your raid (very much advised for this raid) he can heal one tank and beacon the second one, allowing the second tank healer to help with Bone Spikes and people being lousy at dodging the Coldflames.
The third healer will be healing the raid and the victims of Bone Spikes. He should react if ever needed to heal the tanks if one of the tank healers is in a Bone Spike.

Holy Paladin point of view:
I've been using a Flash of Light build during all ToC, this build is not enough for Icecrown, at least not enough for dual tank healing on Marrowgar. I'd advise you a pure Holy Light build for this boss, especially as the Aura Mastery and Divine Guardian talents can really help your raid if used at the right times.
Pro-tip: positioning
As a Holy Paladin, healing while moving isn't your best asset. If you're assigned to tank healing, you will have to use Holy Light, which is a longer cast and will make you very bad at avoiding Coldflames. If you get close enough to Marrowgar, you will be inside the "Coldflame safe zone" where the tanks and all the melee dps should be. As long as at least 3 members of your raid are out of this zone to provide Coldflame targets to Marrowgar, this is the safest spot for you to be healing from.

In 10-Man you'll be a tank heal for sure. Ask for another healer to help you if one tank goes low, or much more importantly if you get taken into a Bone Spike. You should be able to do most of both tanks healing by yourself alternating between Holy Lights and Flash of Lights.
Pro-tip: Remember to judge Marrowgar regularly for your Judgements of the Pure, and keep your Light's Grace up too.

Take care to the tanks after a Bone Storm, remember to refresh your Beacon of Light, use your Devotion or Frost Resistance aura (depending if you have a Paladin tank or not) and you should be set for Lord Marrowgar. There isn't much else to say about the fight :)

Focus on Healing 25-Man.

The fight is not very different than it is in 10-Man. The main difference is the amount of damage, that makes every ability from Lord Marrowgar much more deadly. Notably, the Saber Lash will hit for 300% damage instead of 200%, and the Bone Spikes will kill someone in a matter of seconds if not healer.

3 Healers should be dedicated to the tanks, this is mandatory as one can very probably get Bone Spiked several times during the fight, preventing his healing for a few seconds. The 3 other raid healers should be dispatched in the room and on Bone Spikes heal duty with the random slow people on Coldflames.

Holy Paladin point of view:
You will be affected to tank healing most probably using your Beacon of Light on the main tank and healing one of the Saber Lash tanks with mostly Holy Lights. The amount of damage is superior and you will have to nearly spam Holy Lights for most of the tanking phases, especially when one of the other tank healers is in a Bone Spiked.
The difficulty then becomes mana regen. Divine Plea will be necessary, unless you have external mana regen (Inervation or very effective Replenishment with an insane amount of intellect).
Pro-tip: The ideal time to use Divine Plea is during Bone Storm, but be sure to survive. Pop an Aura Mastery to reduce the damage on the raid and about 15 seconds before the end of the whirlwind use Divine Plea. Then if up pop a Divine Shield and a Divine Guardian, trying to be sure that Divine Shield will be up for the first 5 seconds after the end of the Bone Storm, so you can bomb heal the tank without risk of pulling aggro.

Grats on your downs, and have fun with this fight, very frustrating until most of the raid is reactive enough, easy and crazy fun afterwards :P

As always, I hope this article was helpful, and I'll see you again in the next Healing Through.

Edit January 27th

We changed somehow our strategy on Marrowgar concerning the raid positioning. I guess it's probably a better strategy for more casual (read less reactive) raids that have issues with the switch on the Bonespikes.
Now we do everyone into the Coldflame safe zone, which means everyone is close to Marrowgar, slightly inside his hit box.
This has several advantages:
  • nobody can get both into a Bonespike and a Coldflame, which avoid strong damage on anyone that could die before being freed from the spike;
  • nobody has to dodge Coldflames, that helps all classes with casting times, both healing and dps;
  • everyone is close together so switching dps on Bonespikes is faster as all dpsers can dps the spikes, melee dps included.
That strategy will result in Coldflames being cast on your tanks, that will have to communicate to move from left to right when they get flames under them.
We experienced easier kills like that. So if you have issues with people dying on the spikes/flames or raid healing having difficulties with keeping everyone topped and then people dying during the whirlwind, try it too, it could be easier for your raid too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Icecrown Citadel advance

We're in, after a first advance last week up to the Gunship Battle, we've gone through it this week with no problem on Marrowgar or Deathwhisper, and we've been able to make our first tries on Deathbringer Saurfang after having had too much fun with the jet-packs during the Gunship battle, all of that in 10-Man.
Ok, I know a lot of others have already cleaned all of that, I know some could say it's not that hard, but we're mainly a 10-Man guild and we're not 25-Man geared for most of us. I'm relatively happy with our advance. The first week was really a revival of the Ulduar period "Oh my god raiding is hard, but it wasn't so hard in Naxxramas". But the second week and now the third have been ok with people being more serious about the raids and hence things going much much better. I blame edc normal for having been way way too easy and the hard mode so much harder that we couldn't bring enough people regularly to seriously advance in it.

Anyway, Saurfang is a baaaaad guy ^^ I'm sure it's a lot more hectic in 25-Man but in 10-Man the hard part is that you can't lose anyone until the very end (or at least the last 5%). We need everyone to heal / dps the blood beasts and dps/tank Saurfang.
We used a 2 tanks / 3 heals / 2 melee dps on Saurfang / 3 dps on beasts or Saurfang group. Once we got the positioning and dealing with the beasts ok (no hunter for traps but an elemental shaman doing all the jog with earthbind totems and push backs), we were able to grind Saurfang down.
Our best try left him at 10%, the hard part is that nobody in the group should lose his concentration until the very end. One heal missed, one blood beast not cced/dpsed fast enough, one tank doing an aoe on the blood beasts pop, everyone of these can be the cause to a lot of blood/life for Saurfang and result in a wipe.

Even if we didn't down Saurfang yet, everyone enjoyed the fight, it is a fight that requires a nearly perfect execution from the whole 10 people in the raid, which is a real change for a normal mode, and one we liked.

On a side-note, I'll try to post a Marrowgar Healing Through guide tomorrow, as we got this fight nearly perfected in 10-Man and we've tried it 2 nights now in 25-Man (we decided the raid alliance needed some 10-Man experience before we go there in 25-Man again, too many slow movers ;p).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It has been a Busy week.

Sorry for the lack of post, I've got a cold, a lot of job and I'm busy trying to push through Icecrown Citadel.
I know that for most of the raiders ICC could look dull, especially if they are full ToC25 and are doing ICC10, but for my small raiding guild even ICC10 is not at all won.
We have had two wiping nights in 25 on Marrowgar with the guild we allied to to reach the 25-Man cap, people aren't reactive enough mostly. I blame Nax and ToC for having been too easy with any kind of reactivity issue.
We also wiped in 10 Sunday to finally get the right set of people/motivation to push and down Marrogar and Deathwhisper last Tuesday. But I must say that trying to organize all these raids while being sick isn't the easiest of things.
Anyway enough complains, posts will hopefully resume next week with a Healing though Marrowgar and a post about Holy Paladin healing macros that I want to write for some time.

Have a good raiding in ICC everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Healing Through: Halls of Reflection

This is the first post of a series I'm starting and will try to update regularly. Healing Through will compile my healing guides for instances and raid bosses. I'll try to target everything that I found hard, or when I have nice tips to give.
Healing Through will mostly be healing through an event as a paladin. I hope the tips can help other healers, I'll perhaps extend it to Discipline Priest and Druid if I find some time ^^

Healing Through: Halls of Reflection Heroic (and Normal)

After a few experiences in Halls of Reflection as a healer (3 times normal, 2 times heroic) and discussing it with a friend who did it as a dps and healer, I think this instance is going to be the next nightmare of healers (5-Man wise).
I guess some of you that tried it on heroic know what I mean. I'm going to try to point out the difficulties and what to expect/do during the different parts of this instance.

Pro-tip: during the whole instance all mobs are undead, don't forget Holy Wrath, it stuns mobs for a few seconds, can prevent a wipe, especially if your tank needs 2s to pick-up a group of mobs.

Pro-tip: Cleanse is mandatory (seriously :p) during most of the instance, so don't go into Halls of Reflection without an add-on to help you like Decursive (up-to-date on curse add-ons website).

Phase 1: The Gauntlet

The instance starts with waves of ghosts attacking you, several at a time. You have to defeat 5 waves to get the first boss, 5 more for the second boss and then you go to see the Lich King.

I think these 10 waves are the hardest part of the instance for the healer. The reason is the random aggro, the fact that your tank will have a very hard time maintaining (or even gaining) aggo on the casters/distance mobs, and the sheer amount of heal you'll have to do to keep the aggroed dpsers alive (and you).
To say things simply, don't try HoR heroic if your tank is not good at gaining aggro and keeping it on several targets at a time. A tank able to silence caster opponents is the best. I think paladin tanks shine in this instance.

How to not turn crazy during the gauntlet?
If you do it "the basic way" and your group stays in the middle of the room, it'll be hard. It can work in normal (I did it like that) but it'll certainly not work in heroic. The reason is that the ghosts will aggro the closest person, damage you or your dpsers (squishy) resulting in you healing a lot, taking aggro from several mobs and being ganked to death in like 2s.
The solution is to use "line of sight" to force the mobs, and even the casters/distance to get to your group and especially come in reach of your tank. For that you have two choices.

Positioning your group.
You can try to stay in the entrance corridor, it'll still require your tank to go out and pick-up the casters, or you to heal him get aggro and go from left to right of the corridor to use line of sight and force all distance mobs to come towards your tank (who should be between them and you).
The other solution is to hide in one of the alcoves on the side, where the two first boss ghosts are. You can have everyone hide in the side of the alcove, wait for the mobs to come, and your tank just has to pick-them up right here. It's the easiest way, just look-out for aoe casters that hurt!

What else do you have to expect?
First several mobs have debuffs, and your party will be debuffed a lot (magic/poison I'm sure, I don't know about curses they are not displayed on my decursive). It's hard to cleanse & heal all the time, I advise you to leave the debuffs and concentrate on healing when anyone goes low.
Pro-tip: *always* keep your Beacon of Light on your tank at all times, even a few seconds without healing can result in a dead tank in heroic.
Now there is a very very nasty debuff, rogue ghosts use a poison that reduces healing by 50%, if you leave that on your tank he'll die very fast even with a Beacon. So you have to cleanse the tank at all time, if you let several debuffs on him, when he'll get the poison it could require you 3 or 4 gcds to cleanse remove it, and he'll be dead by then ...
Now last but not least, the healing aggro. Ok you forgot it even existed, it'll be reminded to you the hard way here. If you use one of the los positioning techniques, the mobs will all come towards your group. It's perfect if your tank can pick-up all of them before you have to heal, but it will rarely be the case, as they won't reach your group at the exact same time. If you have to heal him before all the mobs reach your group (very probable) then you'll have the aggro when they come close. And the aggro of 3 mobs in heroic will get you "dead in 2s". In the end your life is in the hands of your tank, if he's fast and able to pick-up the mobs before they reach you you'll live, if not you'll die on each wave ... I experienced the "rez" each 2mn with a bad tank, and I swear I'll not pug that instance again XD
Pro-tip: paladin consecration is the hottest thing ever invented to protect a healer, and don't forget to use Divine Protection, Hand of Protection ...etc on yourself.

Boss 1: Falric

Now if you can manage the waves you'll be able to face the bosses. Rejoice, they are way way easier than the waves, from a healer perspective. They still hit hard and require reactive cleansing though.

Falric is the first boss, he has two nasty abilities:
Impending Despair - Causes Despair Stricken, stunning the target for 6 seconds, if not removed after 6 seconds. Magic effect.
Defiling Horror - Inflicts 2,500 (4,000 in heroic) Shadow damage every 1 second for 4 seconds.

Impending Despair only requires a cleanse, but don't forget it, if your tank or you get stunned 6s, you're asking for a wipe.

Now, and especially as a paladin without any hot or proactive healing like shields, Defiling Horror is the worse part of this boss. Every 20s or so, Falric will fear your whole group and deal strong shadow damage on everyone.
Pro-tip: remember to switch to shadow protection aura when he engages.

Your whole party will be hit for 10K (16K in heroic) shadow damage while you can't heal. If they are not full-life they could be dead before you get out of fear. And the boss then immediately resumes hitting your tank who will have suffered the same shadow damage as everyone. You then have 20s to heal everyone to full again before the next fear.
The "easy" way to survive this fight is to be sure that your tank will have a Beacon of Light when the fear ends and start casting Holy Light on your whole group one after the other. One Holy Light should be enough on each member, perhaps with a Flash of Light in heroic. If your tank is a little low at the end of the fear, start with a Holy Shock on yourself.
Pro-tip: if at any time someone goes too low during a fear, bubble and heal.

All in all Falric isn't very hard once you get the timing right.

Boss 2: Marwyn

Marwyn is the last step to be rid of the waves, so you don't want to wipe on him :P
Happily he's not very hard, even easier than Falric is you don't miss on your cleanses.

Marwyn three main abilities are:
Obliterate - Inflicts 18K (26K in heroic) Physical damage, mitigated by armor.
Shared Suffering - Inflicts 4K (6K in heroic) Shadow damage every 3 seconds for 12 seconds. If dispelled, splits the remaining damage equally between all players. Magic effect.
Corrupted Flesh - Reduces maximum health by 25% (50% in heroic) for 8 seconds.

There is a little "trick" here. If you don't cleanse the Corrupted Flesh on your tank, he could die of an Obliterate is you don't keep him full life (most tanks will be reduced to around 20K life by a Corrupted Flesh on heroic difficulty. So you have to cleanse. But there is Shared Suffering that will do about 5K damage to everyone in the group if you're fast on cleansing it.
What should you do in the end? Well, the answer is relatively easy, only cleanse your tank at all times. It could result in group damage, but as long as everyone is topped that won't be a killer. That implies you'll have to heal the target of Shared Suffering but with a Beacon of Light on your tank, this won't be a problem, healing two people at once is easy for a paladin even without hots.

As a side-note Marwyn also lands shadow zones under you from time to time, who's not used to that now, just move away (yes you too Mr.Tank ^^).

Phase 2: The Running Away from the Lich King

Now you'll killed Marwyn. Good job, you can have fun running with the Lich King and Frostmourne right behind you.
This phase is much easier for you as a healer, just be cautious that the abominations have a cleave and a frontal aoe, so stay on the sides and out of direct contact if you can. Your dpsers could get hit from time to time be quick on the heals and keep an eye for a saving Hand of Protection.

This part of the fight is much more focused on the dpsers, exactly as the first part of the instance is hard on the tank and healer.
Your dpsers have to be able to down all the mobs of a wave before the Lich King reaches you, it could seem easy during the first two waves, it's surely not as easy on waves 3 and 4.
Now, the mobs are not arriving exactly at the same time, and if any dps (or you) get the aggro on an abomination and your tank doesn't pick-it-up in time, you'll have a corpse on the ground (they nearly OS any non tank character). These big flesh puppets also cleave and have a frontal aoe ... so if the dpsers are the ones in charge of the success, your tank still needs to be very quick and aware.
Be happy, this phase should really not be so hard on you compared to the gauntlet, but it doesn't mean it'll be easier for your group.
Pro-tip: try to help your dpsers if you have some free time, paladins do have good dps abilities on undeads. Especially always use Holy Wrath as soon as it's out of cooldown and don't fear to use consecration as soon as your tank got aggro on a whole pack.

You're done?
Enjoy the cut-scene, you deserve it, especially in heroic (with good gear the normal difficulty should not pause you any problem).

See you soon for more Healing Through series.

note: There is a nice article on about the perspective of a tank during HoR, and I think what he says about it is right on the spot and will give you an idea of all what a good tank has to do during that instance gauntlet.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Icecrown Gating, Second wing on the 5th.

Thanks (as always) to Boubouille from MMO-Champion for this news, and to the player who sent it there. You can read the details here, but the basis is: the second wing of Icecrown Citadel with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide will open the 5th January. So we have 4 weeks (probably a bit less spent raiding with Christmas and New Year during that period) before the next wing is opened and more bosses are given to us.
Boubouille speculated that the next gating will probably be shorter, or we would not have Arthas before April (and hard mode can't be unlocked before you beat Arthas on normal). He's probably right, 2 to 3 weeks is probably the time we'll have to wait during the next gating periods.

Until the 5th, we can have fun with Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Gunship Battle, Deathbringer Saurfang in the entrance of the Citadel raid. But don't forget the new instances, I think the bosses there will be a fun challenge even for moderately geared players.
More news about the patch when I'll have been able to play it, the servers just came up again in Europe and I won't play before tonight :)

If you're experiencing problems, look at the list of known patch issues also present here. And don't forget to update your add-ons beforehand (like when you're patching ;p).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Patch 3.3 Tomorrow ?

Still nothing official but everyone would be more than surprised if it wasn't. MMO-Champion is even already announcing it today. With a complete patch list and a list of all their articles about 3.3 (with probably all you could like to know).
For paladins you can find a review of the changes on Blessing of Kings.
Let us all cross our fingers for tomorrow, because no patch tomorrow will probably mean no patch before January.
It's now official. Happy hunting in Icecrown Citadel everyone.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Are you getting ready for Icecrown, moneywise?

Everyone are expecting patch 3.3 to hit the live servers next Tuesday (Wednesday in Europe). As such I guess all raiders are getting ready to jump in the new raid and have some fun with new bosses, a new instance, some welcome trash (trash gives deepness and atmosphere to a raid). We're all eager for some novelty, the end of the expansion is approaching and as such we've all maxed mostly all what we wanted, crafts, reputations, ... and most of us have too many lvl 80 to ever want to hear Barrens again before Cataclysm hits.

So the question is, what are you doing this week to be all ready to jump in Icecrown Citadel next Tuesday/Wednesday?
I made sure to have several stacks of Flasks in advance (about 20 to 30 / char), food in profusion, gems ready (at least uncut ones when I have a jeweler on the server), enchant mats stockpiled. And I'm not even trying to abuse the patch release market, I just prepared some stocks for myself, so that I don't have to pay an arm and a leg on the ah during the first week of the patch release.
As always with new major content patches, you can expect a big increase in the ah prices for a few days/weeks. Gems, enchants, glyphs, pots, food, everything needed for raiding and for new loots will be greatly needed.

What I'm a bit afraid of are the prices. They're already relatively high right now, despite the lower number of raiders (bored by the long wait for IC and the lackluster ToC). The only reason I see is the lower number of players in general farming the mats, due to ... the lower number of players as a whole.
And if prices are already high right now (like more than 50 gold for a single Frost Lotus) how high are they going to top in like one week after the patch release? Well, we'll see, even if I had to pay a good amount of money to stock my consumables, now I'm secured and I really encourage you all to do the same before next week :P

See you all in Icecrown!