A Tale of a Heroic PUG

I’ve done quite a few heroics lately, as I expect most of us have. I could tell you about my healing in heroic Halls of Origination, on the Setesh fight that lasted almost 7 minutes because we pulled by mistake when still fighting trash. (Hymn of Hope + even a feral innervate + tranquility + every effing cooldown in the book = win, apparently)

I could tell you about how I “healed” (I use the term loosely, because we died an AWFUL lot) heroic Stonecore yesterday. But I won’t. What I’ll say about that run here is what I tweeted yesterday about Ozruk, which should help out holy paladins everywhere:

I don’t know if this is a hotfix or something, but I found that I got the melee bleed debuff when I’d appropriately judge when he had his Elementium Bulwark up.

When Ozruk says “Break yourselves upon my body. Feel the strength of the earth!” judge at “Feel”. This will give you the bleed debuff for four seconds and you’ll break yourself out of Paralyze.

This was while using Seal of Insight, FYI, and I was at range the whole fight. I knew I wouldn’t survive the shatters if I was in melee range, so I came prepared with Sulfuron Slammers (again, drink them at “Feel”!) which also worked. Bubble works, Every Man works and Hand of Sacrifice (you can cast it on the tank at any point during the “Break yourselves” emote, I believe). But then I noticed I had the bleed debuff and realized it was my judgement that had caused it. So go forth, paladins, and heal Ozruk knowing you can get out of Paralyze very easily with just a bit of timing. :)

Having said all that, I will not regale you with my tales of heroic SFK (two Godfrey kills, no legs yet) or heroic Deadmines (Ripsnarl isn’t really that bad, though).

What I will say is that I did most of H Deadmines in a guild run yesterday as my holy pally and then swapped out to my hunter for the last boss (allowing one of our healers to actually heal the last fight instead of OS DPS) so I could snag the Chaos Orb for the crafting of a guildie’s gear.

I probably should have just stayed in on the paladin because then I would have gotten another 100+ Justice Points. And then would have had enough for my helm, the Crown of the Blazing Sun.

I logged back on to Madrana to see… 2143. 57 points shy of my damn helm.


ALL of my heroic runs to date have been with the guild. I don’t know if it’s because I’m the GM or because I’m a healer or because my hunter can actually CC or what, but I’ve never had an issue finding a group in-guild. This is opposed to most of my guildies who complain constantly about the fail pugs/dungeon finder groups they’re in.

So I decided I’d go try a heroic random, all by myself.

Blackrock Caverns. Which I haven’t done on heroic.

Thankfully, at least to my eyes, I get a group of four people all from the same guild on the Akama server. I figure this should be less painful than most, even if the tank hasn’t done this on heroic before.

They’re really good at pulling the trash around the first boss, there’s great use of CC (sheep and sap and repentence) and things are going great.

We pull the first boss properly, after clearing most of the trash and the first thing I realize is the boss occasionally puts on a 25% reduced healing debuff on the tank. Peachy.

Then I realize that Quake spawns adds. Peachy.

All of this is handled okay, we kill the adds easily and then get chained.

We break the chains. I pop Holy Radiance to GTFO… and three people, including the tank, die to the thing the boss casts after he chains you. Sigh.

So I’m like “gotta run out of that, guys. :)” and the tank was like “lol I usually stay in on regular guess I can’t here!” I’m fine with that, no worries.

We go back in and take down the boss properly, now that we’re all aware that there are these crazy-ass adds and that we have to run out, etc. Goes fine.

Everything goes beautifully until Corla, the second boss.

Now, on beta, she had three adds. The way we did it on beta was have people rotating in two beams to prevent those zealots from evolving and just let one of them evolve at a time. But the version I tested didn’t have Corla fearing, nor did things hit quite as hard as they were hitting on live.

The Evolved Twilight Zealots, if you were unaware, have an ability called Gravity Strike and, in conjunction with Grievous Whirl and Shadow Strike, all of this will totally destroy the tank. It was actually a bit hairy to heal them separately in the trash leading up to Corla. So my group was basically planning to ignore the beams, evolve all three adds and I’m like, “I can’t heal that.”

“I’ll interrupt the strike,” said the rogue.

“That’s not the issue,” I said and linked them Gravity Strike.

“oh wow that sucks,” one of them says.

So I tell them I’m going to handle the stacks on the right-most add, which I marked with a circle. The mage says he’ll take the left-most add. The ret pally says he’ll do the middle one.

About thirty seconds into the encounter, the mage’s target evolves.

We wipe, despite a heroic effort by yours truly. The tank also popped his CDs appropriately, using Shield Wall and Last Stand. But the damage was just overwhelming.

Mage apologizes, we give it another shot.

This time, the mage himself evolves. He didn’t watch his debuff and got stacked to 100.


Mage apologizes again. They now inform me that they’re all on their vent and that they’ve got it all worked out.

So we go again. This time, the ret paladin’s target evolves. Apparently, there had been some confusion and he thought the rogue was going to get that target.

Apologies once more.

At this point, I’m like… I have my Justice Points. I literally only came in with the hopes of doing one boss to get the points that I need.

Then they suggest they let the zealots evolve in a controlled fashion. Bear in mind that I’ve had ZERO issues controlling my stacks and the stacks of my zealot in these three attempts, even when things went to hell.

Based on my mana and such on the previous attempts, I reiterate that there is no way I can heal through a zealot up along with the boss at this point, but that if they want to boot me and replace me with another healer, I’d completely understand, since it’s a guild run, basically.

They were like “no, no, that’s okay,” so we tried it again. And promptly died when the mage transformed because he, again, wasn’t watching his debuff and stepped in too soon, refreshing his stacks.

So at this point, it was clear to me that we weren’t going to get the encounter down. I had wiped five times with these people. Throughout it all, I’d been patient and calm. I’d been clear about how to go about doing the encounter. I had used buff food after every wipe.

On the run back to the instance, I basically said, “I think I’m going to take off, guys. Thanks for the run and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of the instance. Take care.”

And I dropped group, grabbed my body, then ran out, got my new helm and that’s all she wrote.

I feel badly about leaving. I feel badly about not being able to heal through an evolved zealot. But I’d gotten what I wanted and I gave it a really good try, educating the group about the evolved zealot’s abilities, giving them the opportunity to replace me to try their strat and basically being very patient with them.

I still feel badly, though. Shouldn’t I be able to heal through an evolved zealot? Maybe, maybe not. I mean, the issue isn’t that I can’t heal through one for 30 seconds, but I can’t continually heal through one up during the entire encounter. 85k mana goes FAST if you’re casting Divine Light and the occasional Flash of Light all the while praying Eternal Glory procs more often. Even with my Big Angry Man out (Guardian of Ancient Kings), I can’t maintain that kind of healing. Not even with a variety of both my cooldowns and the tank’s.

My paladin was always my alt. I’d be pulled into raids if we needed healers, back in Vanilla, but my main was always Kurn. As such, since then, I’ve always been lacking a bit of confidence. “This is my alt,” I used to think, “I have no business healing Molten Core!!”

Obviously, healing through Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King has alleviated the confidence problem. I had no problems being the strongest single-target healer in WotLK ICC25HMs. I had no problems shouldering the responsibility of healing two tanks at once or being the primary reason Valithria Dreamwalker got healed to full.

When I came back to Eldre’Thalas, I knew I was one of the most geared and experienced people in Apotheosis and so I was fine with taking a lot of responsibility on myself in our little excursions to ICC.

So it’s a little humbling to sit there in a heroic 5-man and be like “Yeah, I can’t heal through that.”

Should I be able to? I mean, assuming that the fears and Shadow Strikes are interrupted properly, assuming good cooldown usage by the tank, should I be able to heal through the Corla encounter with a single evolved zealot up at all times? If so, why can’t I? Is it gear? Spell selection? Oh, God, is it really because I’m just not good enough of a healer?

One half-hour spent working on Corla and all my WotLK confidence has flown out the window.

MMOMeltingPot linked to a great post about how healers have no instant gratification from casting a heal and seeing it actually DO something. The poster says “Random dungeons are a front for blamestorms and negativity that make folks discontent, and it’s a bit worse than I expected, but that is just one element in the shitstorm.”

While I wasn’t blamed by my group (they seemed to mostly understand that Gravity Strike is a Bad Thing), I came away from my pug feeling very negative and discontent and, worse, blaming myself. Questioning myself.

So I ask you, my fellow paladins, my fellow healers, my fellow dungeon-runners…

How have YOU done the heroic Corla encounter in Blackrock Caverns? And what kind of a healer did you have?

26 Replies to “A Tale of a Heroic PUG”

  1. I’ve healed Corla a couple of times now, and it’s not just you – I most certainly can’t heal through a Zealot and the boss simultaneously. The circumstances have to be just right with that fight (from what I’ve found, anyway). Here are some helpful (hopefully!) tips:

    Your beam managers must get ~85-90 stacks, and then go back in again on zero seconds (at which point the mob will be at around 75 stacks themselves). This is the toughest part – tunnel vision was a key factor on most of the wipes I’ve seen, with people either evolving themselves or forgetting to go back into the beam again when their debuff dropped. One helpful thing I found as a beam manager was not to run backwards or to the side to drop the buff, but to strafe *through* the add instead. This saved fractions of a second each time the beam moved from me to the add, but those fractions are a couple of stacks and are pretty useful!

    Your interrupters must be completely on the ball with Dark Command (her fear). One fear gone awry could run a beam manager out of the beam and cause an evolution, which is a wipe (at least without clear communication and a backup beam manager listening on vent). I found that getting one person to solely concentrate on Dark Command interruptions was key (it’s a fairly long cooldown so mages, ret pallies, warriors or really anyone is fine).

    Everything else is cake, really. You can do the entire fight quite easily with no evolutions, and in-fact I ended up on around 60% mana left over when we got those key points mastered.

  2. I’ve healed Corla once (well, once succesfully and all-too-many soul-crushing wipes). It was a PuG made up of 80% H BRC virgins, so I think we did quite well, thanks to our French Dungeon Guide’s pidgin instructions. He eventually suggested a tactic that absolutely trivialises the encounter: It involves having 2 people on the left beam, 2 people on the right beam, and the tank taking the center beam. The 2 man teams on the left and right alternate in taking the beams, and so minimising the amount of stacks building on the adds. This ‘buddy system’ ensures that someone is keeping an eye on the stacks at all times. It’s overkill, certainly, but it *works*. Not particularly melee-friendly, though.

  3. I did this run with the guild the other night – it was Daydyn, Mabriam, Merkavah, Sephden and myself. It had elements of Netherspite, where each of us had to coordinate who was standing in which beam. You absolutely cannot let anyone evolve, at this stage in the game and where we are at with gear. I know that there is an achievement for letting the dragons evolve and then killing her or something to that effect. So, that indicates letting them evolve at some point may be part of the plan and can be dealt with.

    I actually found the fight to be quite easy to heal, as Daydyn was taking 90% of the damage. I had Fear Ward and used it, when it was up. I don’t remember it being all that difficult. We did wipe a few times, due to the fight being buggy and Daydyn thinking that someone else picked up the beam from him and they physically did, but yet he had more stacks and evolved. Then I underestimated the speed of stacks and I evolved.

    Regarding Heroic Setesh, I didn’t find it to be that difficult. We wiped once, with our PuG and then got it the second time and I ended the fight at half mana. Now Ammunae took forever. That fight lasted WAY longer than I had planned on. Phew!

    The only thing I can say about the Heroic PuG scene is that if you go, prepare to form a filibuster of sorts. What I mean is make sure that there are more of you than them. Like Dahrla, Walks and I did a Heroic HoO and we had a very passive tank and a very bossy moonkin. The moonkin thought he was running the show and tried to until Dahrla and I proceeded to give out more orders and better ones that Walks quietly supported. We outnumbered him and our ideas worked. We sort of took control back of the ship.

    I can safely say I don’t think I would do any kind of Heroic PuG alone. I would insist on packing as many guildies as I could into it. When I do that, I don’t find the PuG scene to be that bad. As long as there is some coordination that I can have a say in, I feel better. If that isn’t there, then I wouldn’t do it.

  4. Corla, Herald of Twilight was a fight that took a little bit of work.

    We had someone interrupting the spellcasts from the boss to help keep damage under control. I think the fear being interrupted is a good idea if possible.

    We had people handling the beams.

    I handled the beams similar to how I saw Netherspite’s beams dealt with back in BC. When it was time to switch who had the beam, you’d walk through the beam holder and pick it up, and then that person would walk through you (or you’d go backwards through it).

    The debuff lasts 15 seconds, so staying in the beam for 15+ seconds will let your beam-soaking badguy lose his or her buff, then you step out and let it fade from you, provided you pick it back up quick before your debuff fades.

    I took the far left beam, we had a ranged DPS take the middle beam, and a melee take the far right beam. We had another person ready to float if someone got feared off of beam-duty so we wouldn’t accidentally RNG screw ourselves.

    Once we got the beam dancing and the interrupts down, things wound up being ok. I think our tank had to use cooldowns effectively as well, but I know nothing about that aspect of the fight.

    Sorry to hear your experience with pugs nuked you WotLK confidence. You’re not the only one and you’re not alone so don’t beat yourself up over it.

  5. I healed through Heroic BRC once, and I feel rather bad saying it, but I didn’t find Corla to be too difficult. Of course, I was with our guildies so that probably played a HUGE part in it. I dare not do that instance with a PuG!! One person in the group got transformed, and I basically told everyone to ignore it and just down the boss cause the extra person was doing barely any more damage to the group.

    I’m not sure if it was because of the class of the player that got transformed (it was a shadow priest) or if transformed players just aren’t quite that horrible to have happen, but it wasn’t very noticeable and didn’t effect my mana much.

    Now, having a Zealot transform … I have yet to see that, and from the sounds of it, I probably would not be able to heal through that. As a Shaman and where I stand right now with gear, my Greater Healing Wave takes up about 9% of my mana bar. That’s not cheap!!

    Heavy damage fights are not fun (but at the same time, they kind of are, ’cause I like a good challenge), and I remember freaking out in a PuG Heroic Lost City with the shadow realm boss — when we finished, and although I had successfully healed it, everyone was at about 20 – 30% health. Totally not used to seeing that in comparison with Wrath healing.

  6. Agreed. I’ve done this encounter on heroic a couple of times on my wife’s shammy now and the difference between managing the Zealots and not managing them properly is just immense.

    Basically, what Ln said. It’s a piece of cake once you control the beams properly. I personally feel the only reason why we (the healers, in general) aren’t able to heal through one evolved Zealot is mostly because of gear. We’re only just about geared *enough* to enter these heroics, let alone roflstomp them. It’s tough on us already when everything is done the way it’s supposed to be done and it’s no more than logical that we get in trouble if the shit hits the fan.

    In a couple of months, you’ll think back and chuckle a bit when your overgeared group just ignores the beams completely ;)

  7. One addition: if you manage to CC one of the evolved Zealots, you could manage. It requires lightning reflexes and full awareness of the entire group to pull off though.

  8. I haven’t done the fight, but I think the biggest change for everyone, not just healers, is DPS accepting responsibility for their own survival. It’s not just the healers job anymore.

  9. When I pug Heroic Blackrock Caverns, I assign the dps to the beams on Corla. After the first wipe, I take over for the dps who’s struggling most. If it still goes bad, I vote kick whoever’s the main problem.

    It is possible to heal through one zealot at a time (the achievement calls for killing them all), but it’s easier and faster to just focus fire the boss. When everyone’s paying attention, she goes squish right away.

    In any pug, if a group argues about a strat, I just say “I’m the one who has to heal this, so here’s what I want to do”. I’ve been pugging several heroics a day and I’ve only once had someone put up a fight once. The group kicked him pronto.

  10. Heroics have been awesome fun, and healing on the paladin has been incredible. First week was just ridiculous with the HP gains from HL and LoD. The nerf really hurt in so much as my style of healing had to completely change and the stats I put on gear changed. After about 3 heroics post nerf, I started getting my groove back.

    I’ve finally settled into the new healing style and I still feel as powerful/confident in my healing abilities since before the nerf. We’ve knocked out some raid bosses (2/4 in BoT with 3 p3 wipes on ascendants) and today we just went through every heroic knocking out achievements.

    I’ve got 4 achievements left for glory of the hero. Healing the “Arrested Development” achievement was pretty fun.. we actually screwed up and got a second evolution about 60% through the first one. So there were 2 up at once. Paladin healing is way fun. I would also suspect we’re in for another nerf, but it could be that my gear is out leveling heroic content already.

    The “Headed South” achievement sucks ballz though. We tried it, and 2 of us got it. When you have the debuff, don’t bubble. A ret paladin in our group lost his stacks of the debuff because he bubbled. I also did not solo heal that encounter. But for every other achievement, I have solo healed it so far. Having lots of fun, and tonight we’re headed back into BoT for our third night of raiding. All in all, cata has been a huge success for me in terms of paladin healing. I’ve never had more fun healing at any other stage in the game, vanilla, tbc, or wotlk.

  11. I literally just wrote a post about Corla: http://piercing-shots.blogspot.com/2010/12/in-full-compliance-with-cataclysm.html

    For the short version: I was playing the part of your group’s mage in my group and, you know, ugh.

    It is really, really, really not a hard mechanic so failing at it felt awful and shameful. Especially because I was hopping out (when I didn’t fuck it up) at 85 stacks and my BF was hopping out at around 95 and yeah… I’m not sure why it panicked me so much.

    Have yet to get back in and there do it, but I’ll be needing to farm the instance: the last boss drops the bow I want before I start raiding.

  12. I as healer take left, ranged takes right and tank takes middle. All 3 times have been the same tank and the worse thats happened is I got to close to the beam with 1 second left on my debuff. Only done 1 full heroic pug since patch, Abused consumanbles and barely got through on every fight. Mostly full guild runs or 1 pug dps and Il allways feel guilty when ten minutes after start a guild dps will log on looking for a spot.

  13. Well im a paladin healer first of all, and we ran it with a guild group we were all iin vent but strat will work still. We had tank deal with middle zealot stacks (was a bear if important) then had mage take right guy with our enhance sha,an as back up if he got feared, then hunter took right with me as back up. We said you swap at 80 always and be fast on pickup if fear goes off. Now maybe we were lucky because I was feared the most out of most but we had no zealots up at all. Healing was pretty easy at that point. This was also the day after the hotfix (I was a little pissed off night of the hotfixnerf and was running with 3 casual dps from the guild and we kept wiping on dragon in vp) and my confidence was pretty shot after the previous nighs vp problems. So all in all strat worked well.

  14. The strat is pretty simple for the boss. Stick your dps in the beams because it’s easy for a healer to space out filling up mana bars.

    If you have 2 ranged and 1 melee, then tank the boss by the melee beam. If you have 2 melee and 1 ranged, than tank the boss between the two melee. The fears can also be interrupted and should be. The spell is called dark command.

    Other than that.. it’s just moving out when you reach 80 stacks and back in once your debuff ends. Pretty simple. Frustrating when you wipe to, but all in all not that bad.

  15. On my disco priest we did this boss fine 2nd try (first time I’d ever been in there). We had all 5 of us on the lasers, the tank on the middle one, two dps trading off on one and me and the other dps trading off on the other. Practically no healing needed as nothing evolved, so I had plenty of time to type to remind ny dps buddy to jump out of the melee and into the laser when it was his turn, keep track of my stacks etc.

  16. I’m a mage, and I’ve done Corla a bunch of times in the futile hope that I could replace my green wand. Which the damn warlock got the one time I saw it drop, curse his name. Anyhow, we have an advantage that we can ice block out of one set of stacks. I usually run in, blow cooldowns and time warp as soon as the beam is interrupted, stack to 90 and ice block out of it, then step out to drop the second set of stacks. If everyone else is dropping stacks correctly she’s usually down by the time I have to pick up the beam again.

  17. I think the fight is easysauce, but of course I’m not healing. As a dps, it is super easy to handle a beam by myself – the fear can be a problem, though, so it’s always good to have the tank in between two of the beams and the healer beside the third beam, in case there are fears in the middle of the dps taking stacks. It kind of depends on group makeup, too, but a lot of classes/specs/races can get out of fear themselves and will not need the tank/healer there on “back up”.

    And I’m appreciative of the fact that you are noticing some of the problems in the guild with people having to pug, by the way. You had to queue as a healer – imagine being a dps, queuing for a random, waiting 40-45 minutes, getting in, wiping for hours, group falling apart before the last boss, and having to REQUEUE for another 40-45 minutes (yes, that has happened to me more than once). There have been several nights where I’ve had to forgo my Valor points for the day because of spending several hours in heroics without a successful run and finally getting burnt out.

    Anyway, I don’t really have that problem now that O has hit 85 and has taken a liking to me, for some reason. Plenty of people still do, though, and I feel for them. :-( Hopefully, as more and more people are hitting 85 and getting geared for heroics, that problem will lessen.

  18. This was my first heroic, we did it with zero problems, handling the beams properly.

    You have 3 beams and 5 players, that means that at any time 2 players will be out of beams, so long as your team mates have some degree of raid awareness you just kinda naturally swap around. Hell, as was pointed out, it’s also 100% possible for a single person to handle a single beam all by them selves, wait till you hit 80, step out, wait for it too fall off, step in, repeat. Seeing what those abilities are, I know I can’t heal through it on my druid.

    But then, that’s what Cata is too me so far.

    This is a perfect example of why I’m likely NOT going to be healing in Cata that much.

    On that fight the healer has just about sod all to do UNLESS the group fails at the mechanic, at which point you simply CAN’T keep up with the incoming damage. Most fights, so far, are like that, and you know? That isn’t fun.

    That said, tanking is awesome fun, each boss is almost like a raid boss and I have stuff I have to do instead of just sucking down on 9696.

    as Dahrla said, randoms rather suck now. You spend the time in a Q, you end up with a group that simply can’t handle the mechanics, wipe for X number of times and watch it fall apart. I’m basically done with randoms for now, I will get my heroics via friends.

  19. I’ve just discussed this with guildmates last night – it feels weird to cast your biggest heals and still not ‘see’ them change anything about the MT’s healthbar, keeping it stable at best or decrease slightly slower. then again, I still feel how I’m making a difference and I enjoy the challenge of prioritizing and falling short to heal up everybody at the moment. we don’t need a jumpy healthbar to give our job credit.

    I do admire anyone’s guts to heal heroic PuGs though, I’m fully sticking to my guild-only runs which are intense and long enough for me at the moment. I wouldn’t wanna add insane frustration to that. ;)

  20. @syl

    The biggest frustration with pugs atm, is explaining all the encounters in text. For some reason, I always get deadmines as a pug, and I ask “who has been here before?” and it’s usually 1 dps that has, and the tank hasn’t.

    The pug experience will either be good in the fact that people will listen and try to do what you suggest or plan out, or terrible, accentuated by “stfu newb, you just heal I tank”, or dps not interrupting (not in DM but had it in SFK on the baron).

    The encounters are pretty easy, it’s just.. explaining them to new people takes so LOOOOOOOOONG. And the nightmare… THE NIGHTMARE PHASE!! So long to explain it.

  21. I ran the instance last night on heroic, first time, with my healer friend and another dps. I was tanking. We pugged the other two. We wiped about five or six times and went through a few dps that didn’t want to stick around. Honestly, whenever a zealot came up, I just called a wipe. I was tanking, and I was simply taking way too much damage. The dps had some issues figuring out the debuff and then there was the fear issue – we eventually got it but my priest couldn’t keep up with damage if one evolved. We killed Corla finally, with no evolved zealots.
    At this point, I feel it is strictly a gear issue and not a reflection on skill – on the tank and healers part. She has healed all the heroics we’ve run just fine and I’ve been able to tank everything on my paladin. Only boss we didn’t down was Beauty – not enough CC on the pups and by this time, we were too exhausted to give it another go. We spent about 3 hours in Blackrock, went through 3 or 4 dps but we finally got our valor points and our achievement.

  22. Does anyone know whats the time gap between stepping out, letting the debuff stacks drop off yourself, and the zealot evolving? I wish boss mods would have a warning pop up when one of the zealots reaches say 80 stacks….or does it and I just haven’t noticed?

  23. I absolutely get where you’re coming from…except from a tanking standpoint lol. I think tanking/healing in these heroics is just a lot of responsibility. DPS aren’t used to being so accountable for every little movement and when we can’t immediately fix the mistakes like we usually could in LK, it’s rough. I’ve mostly been running with guildies, but have done a few randoms. They all left me feeling a little bit like a failure, even when I know I was doing everything I could. Guess as gear keeps improving, it’ll get easier. Hard to keep motivated though!

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