Firelands Clear on 25

Oh man, oh man, oh man. What a relief!

On Thursday night, Apotheosis went into Firelands with Baleroc, Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros himself still alive and kicking.

Baleroc went okay. I’m still not convinced all the healers are hitting on all cylinders in that fight, but we had one wipe and then got him down on the next attempt, so I’m not even concerned right now.

For Staghelm, I’d completely forgotten about the achievement, “Only the Penitent…” but Majik said over Mumble “Don’t get too close, we’re going to try the achievement here.”

Now, I know the basics:

There are two flame orbs on either side of the trash, sort of in the inset part of the columns. You can’t see them normally from a safe distance, but use a hunter, priest or shaman to take a look. You want to get six people, total, to get up to the orbs (3 on each side) and all need to click the orb once to start a channel.

The trick is, if you get hit by the cast the Druid of the Flame is chain casting (Kneel to the Flame!), the orbs despawn and you’ll need to either try to reset the instance or wait for the next lockout (or maybe a soft reset?) to try again.

I love Indiana Jones and, as it happens, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is my favourite of those movies. The achievement borrows from one of three tasks that Indiana Jones has to do. The clue to the first task is “only the penitent man will pass” and Indiana’s big “zomg!” moment is realizing that the penitent man is humble and will kneel before God.

Since walking into the Majordomo Staghelm area will nail you with the Kneel to the Flame cast that one of the druids is casting and that wrecks the achievement, it’s pretty clear both from just the name of the cast and the reference to the movie that you have to run, kneel, run, kneel, run and kneel your way up to the orbs on either side of the trash. It delights me, to be honest. :D

Anyway, Thursday night, we sent Toga, Merk and Sara over to the left orb and Dayden, Majik and Void to the right side and got the achievement in short order. My entire contribution was “volunteers? Anyone?” and “Okay, click now!”

So that was fun. :)

Majordomo took a couple of tries, but we nailed the third attempt beautifully. 8 minutes in length, 2 deaths, one of whom reincarnated and one of whom got a battle rez and voila. Triple Vanquisher tokens, of course (thanks, Fandral. A lot), but two Flamescythes for our ferals!

And then… it was time for Rag.

The first two attempts were nothing to write home about. Attempt 3 was okay, but nothing special. Attempt 4 was a mindblowing 11 minutes long! And it was one of those heartbreaking, soulcrushing 1% wipes. (Okay, really 11%, but we win at 10.)

Attempt 5, nothing special. Attempt 6 was a ninja pull by mistake (silly treants!) and Attempt 7 was pretty poor.

Try 8? Another 11 minute endeavour and another heartbreaking wipe, this time at 3%. (Really 13%, but still.)

And then, try 9. No one died in phase one. No one died in phase two. No adds on any of the transitions hit the hammer. No person died to Engulfing Flames or Molten Seeds during phase two. Lava Wave damage was minimal.

And suddenly, after 9 minutes at 41 seconds…

Why yes, that IS lava floating around behind my achievement popups, thank you for noticing. ;) About 15 seconds prior to the win, I got blown off the side by a meteor.

9 people were dead. That’s not horribly terrible for a first kill, only one of the 9 was a tank and four of them were healers. We five-heal Rag. So, uh, props to Jasyla for being amazing and keeping Dayden up all by herself for a little bit there!

So that’s both amazing and so much of a relief, I can’t even express. That was our 70th pull overall. I think we’ve spent about 11-12 hours on him, all told. (Granted, that’ll include breaks, run backs, discussion, etc.) But what a relief to get it done.

What I think I’m most proud about, though, is that we didn’t drop down to 10-man at any point in time in order to see how the fights work. We are a 25-man raiding guild. There aren’t a lot of us left, it seems, so I’m really proud that we stuck to our guns and got through the content as a 25-man group, all the way through, for each boss.

We are the only guild on the server, thus far, to defeat Ragnaros on 25-man difficulty as our first kill.

A progressive 10m guild worked on Rag and got him and the very next day went into Firelands as a 25-man group and started pulling Heroic Shannox.

The other main 25-man guild on the server did both Staghelm and Rags on 10m before they got them on 25-man.

So I feel as though what we’ve accomplished is a pretty big thing in this day and age. To stick to our format, which is arguably a little more difficult given the spacing requirements on both encounters, and succeed at it, before anyone else does?

That’s awesome. It is the icing on the cake of killing Ragnaros and clearing Firelands, which alone are two pretty amazing things. But it’s totally awesome that Apotheosis is the first guild on Eldre’Thalas to down Ragnaros in the 25-man mode as our first kill.

I tell you, I kind of love these people.

A free Sunday night this week, I guess. I have absolutely no idea what to do if I’m not raiding!

By fire be purged!

I recently wrote about how I love the new Ragnaros fight.

I had to re-read that entry after last night’s raid.

It was rough.

First of all, four of our regular players (fury warrior melee officer, resto shaman lootmaster officer, resto druid and one of our warlocks) had declined. Then we had a bunch of tentatives — a mage, another resto druid, a hunter and a feral druid.

That left us with exactly 26 people as Accepted.

And we had a no-show. At least one of the tentatives, the mage, managed to escape from dinner with his in-laws to join us. ;)

So we had 26 people.

3 MS tanks
5 MS healers
18 MS DPS

We had the pally tank and DK tank tanking and had the warrior tank DPSing (he was originally a DPS before he joined us) primarily for the stuns and such.

But we had five healers. We normally do Rag attempts with six, since we’re still learning and there are lots of mistakes being made and such.

Last night, we did all of our attempts (18 of them) with five healers.

Two holy paladins, one disc priest, one holy priest and one resto shaman.

We could have asked an elemental shaman to go resto for us (since he was resto for us in T11) but felt that his knock-backs were more important than another healer, particularly since, if everyone did what they were supposed to do, we healed through damage just fine.

I spent the vast majority of last night calling out battle rezzes. Let me tell you, it’s not easy and/or fun to call out three battle rezzes on damn near every attempt.

Issues:

– Melee pulling aggro. (Sidenote: can ranged pull aggro, or is this like the original fight?) Part of it was due to tricks of the trade timing and such, but still. Disappointing.
– People standing in Engulfing Flames.
– People getting hit by Lava Waves.
– People getting hit by Sulfuras Smash (on the second Molten Seed part of P2).

We basically got zero work done on Ragnaros this week, just spent three hours wiping at various times, usually in Phase 2.

I’d like to think that Phase 1 is pretty clean by now, but it’s not. We had way too many Lava Wave deaths, period, but several in P1.

Transition 1 is coming together nicely, from what I can tell. Lucky me, I get to stun two Sons of Flame! I’m actually not horrible at it, either. The worst thing in the world, though, is watching #6 make a beeline for the hammer after my shitty Avenging Wrath stun has worn off. (Although it would be #5 making the beeline if I swapped and Hammer of Justiced #6.) It’s like, there’s nothing I can do. Absolutely nothing. Except say “Watch 6!!!”

Our problem is P2. People don’t understand seeds (although we’re discussing that right now in our raid review thread and people are slowly learning how Molten Sees work) and people aren’t stacking properly and/or are dropping Molten Seeds too close to our stack point.

A multitude of small mistakes and it’s just like… guys. We have 5 healers. We can’t heal you through bad stuff. Hell, we can’t heal OURSELVES through bad stuff. Lots of healers ate waves last night (I ate ONE in all of our 18 attempts and bubbled through it) and some were guilty of not stacking quickly enough and getting beaned by Sulfuras Smash or Engulfing Flames or whatever.

I think the most frustrating thing about the whole night is that I KNOW we can do better. Individually, we are pretty darn good players who don’t tend to stand in fire.

But some of our most noteworthy DPS ate lava waves as though they were a rare delicacy last night.

Some of our top healers just didn’t manage to avoid avoidable damage last night.

The learning curve is steep and I had no options last night once one of our DPS said he’d prefer to sit due to a migraine. I literally had 25 people in the raid and one guy with a migraine on standby.

The summer slowdown hasn’t forced a cancelled raid as of yet. This week is going to be tough, with the melee officer, resto shaman and resto druid out. We’ll see what we can pull off, but I hope that everyone’s efforts are better than last night’s or else we’re just gonna be screwed for the majority of this reset.

Having said that, even despite some healer issues with environmental damage, I have to say that I’m pretty proud of the five of us for being up to the challenge of 5-healing Rag. Avoidable damage aside, we did great in terms of healing. Just need to work on not standing in bad stuff. :)

Slipping into the role…

On Monday, I logged on to the baby paladin and got invited to the raid group and we went in and got Baleroc down. I had prepared myself for a long night of work on Alysrazor, but we managed to get her down (a Choice guild first!) on the first attempt. Granted, it took all three rotations to get her down. The fight was almost 14 minutes in length. And I stood in tornadoes, twice, to help heal my tank through it since his hatchling was still up.

But we did it.

And so, on to Majordomo Staghelm.

Trash was hilarious and brutal, as it was for Apotheosis the other week.

Break time came shortly after the trash was down and two of our healers dropped offline. Including the healing lead.

They pulled in a rogue and an ele shaman who has a resto offspec and that was going to have to do.

It was right about then when the disc priest in the raid said in healer chat “so, since none of us have a clue what to do…”

And I facepalmed. I ACTUALLY put my head in my hand and took a moment to say “oh, no.”

Why did I say “oh, no”?

Because I knew that I was about to step up and take care of healers.

“I’ll take care of healing,” I found myself typing.

Given that I’ve successfully done the fight once and have 50+ wipes under my belt, I figured I was in the best position to do this.

Now, see, normally, this doesn’t happen. Normally, if the healing lead is unavailable, the GM (a kick-ass resto shaman) steps in. But the GM was not around for tonight’s raid, as she has family visiting.

So NORMALLY, I would never be put in the situation where the healing lead (who has amazing attendance) AND the GM (who also has amazing attendance) would BOTH not be available. I raided with these people for like, five months at the end of Wrath and one of the two of them was always there.

But of course, I stepped up to the plate because I really was the best person qualified to do healing assignments.

I looked at the raid. Six healers (Apotheosis likes seven, but there wasn’t a seventh available for us): 2 holy paladins, 1 disc priest, 2 resto shaman and 1 resto druid.

The plan was to stack for 11 Flame Scythes and 5 Cat leaps. And so, I started handing out cooldowns.

I gave myself my regular assignment — pop Aura Mastery just before the 6th Scythe comes out. I like to pop it right about 78 energy.

I gave the other holy paladin the assignment to pop Aura Mastery just before the 7th Scythe.

Just before the 8th? Power Word: Barrier.

Just before the 9th? Spirit Link Totem.

And then I got the prot pally to Divine Guardian just before the 10th, too.

We pulled and it went okay. We had 6 tries and got to second scorpion a couple of times, but always died to Searing Seeds because someone would die to a Flame Scythe and their seed would explode while they were still in the raid.

I was satisfied with the work the healers did. I had a lot of resistance from them, though. I hadn’t healed with any of them back in Wrath. These are all people who have no idea that this Madrana chick knows what she’s talking about.

I did get a few whispers; one healer complimented me on my style of healing leadership and I thanked them and explained that I’ve been doing it forever, it seems like, and that my time in Choice in Wrath was the only time in the last several years where I wasn’t asked to do healing assignments at some point in time. So I gave them the story about how I raid with Choice part time and I’m the GM of Apotheosis and all that jazz.

At the end of the raid, I thanked everyone for their efforts and thanked the ele shaman in particular for healing. Then I uploaded the WoL (since the healing lead normally does that but obviously, his logs would be missing all the Majordomo attempts) and then I wrote to the healing lead to let him know what cooldowns I’d assigned and when, even down to Mana Tide totems.

This whole “raiding with two guilds” thing is weird. On the one hand, I get mocked and ridiculed by Apotheosis folks and on the other, I’m sort of a part-timer with Choice. The bonus is that I get to share knowledge between the guilds — I used some of the info from learning Baleroc with Choice when Apotheosis first tackled him and I’ve used some Apotheosis experience and knowledge to help with Alysrazor and now Staghelm.

It’s come in handy a lot and I’m glad I had knowledge of Staghelm to share with Choice, but I think what disturbs me about tonight was that there wasn’t even a question in my own mind about me standing up and volunteering to take care of the healers.

I just did it.

More, I KNEW I was going to do it.

My desire to help the guild get a semblance of meaningful attempts on Staghelm short-circuited the “nooooo, this is my night off!!!” thought.

And so, without even thinking about it, I just stepped up and took charge.

Here’s something you may not know about me: I am what I like to term a reluctant leader.

If there is a qualified, good, awesome leader, I will follow them like any other sheep. This goes for WoW and real-life, too.

If, however, there is NOT a qualified, good, awesome leader… I will almost certainly step up to the plate.

So that was my night. A Baleroc kill, an Alysrazor one-shot (that was excessively long) and Majordomo, paired with healing lead stuff.

It still stuns me how quickly I slipped into the role. But I guess if I spend 9 hours a week doing that as it is, it shouldn’t be a surprise, right?

Looking forward to Wednesday’s raid when I hopefully WON’T have to do anything except heal. I need my nights off. :)

 

Ragnaros, Version 2.0

Back in the day, my brother, Fog, was a level 60 druid. I was a few levels behind, probably around level 45 or thereabouts when he dinged 60.

My brother was poached, if you will, from our little guild (Fated Heroes) and joined Tempest as they began to progess through Molten Core.

He was asked two things:

1) To level first aid to 300.

2) To respec to restoration and heal.

I was angry with him for leaving us, particularly as I had just freaking joined the guild because he was guilded in Fated Heroes. Yet at the same time, I knew he was going to be doing more than just “instances”, which I was still getting familiar with, to be honest.

One night, he called me up and told me that he and his guild were going to try to kill the last boss in the raid. Some quick googling revealed that the name of the boss was Ragnaros and that he had a million health!

This blew my mind. Suddenly, I understood why 40 people were required to kill the boss.

I read more about Ragnaros and how to get to that raid instance and kill him and that’s what turned me on to raiding and researching attunements and all that jazz.

In Vanilla, the little guild that could, Fated Heroes, spawned Majordomo twice. And… that’s it. Well, we cleared ZG and half of AQ20 and we cleared all the way up to Majordomo Executus, but we never killed him. We never killed Onyxia as a guild. And forget BWL or AQ40 or Naxx.

I did get my Rag kill on Kurn, though, through a pug group I managed to get into with many of my guildies. We went through and Lucifron and Magmadar had never died more easily. On to Gehennas and Garr and Geddon. Then Shazzrah and Sulfuron and Golemagg, and finally, finally, I got to see the Majordomo Executus fight.

And then, we moved, all forty of us, down from Domo’s perch, along through the caverns of the Molten Core, to finally face Ragnaros himself.

During the second Sons of Flame phase, one of our guildies, a fury warrior, challenging shouted the Sons and then fell through the floor. He died, but he took the Sons with him. And then, Ragnaros died, dropping his hammer and leaving several very happy Fated Heroes behind.

On Thursday, August 4th, Apotheosis downed Majordomo Staghelm, bringing us to 6/7 25-man Firelands.

Naturally, we had to pull Rag, even just once.

We walked in, cocky, overconfident, happy and pumped up with adrenaline after downing Staghelm for the first time. The trash wrecked us, initially, but we didn’t care.

And then, there was nothing left but Rag.

It was just one attempt on him, but we got to the first transition phase before wiping to the Sons of Flame hitting the hammer.

I had a grin pasted on my face the whole time. It seemed as though we were on the verge of completing something we had started in June of 2006. Never mind that half the guild wasn’t part of Fated Heroes. This was us working our way up to Ragnaros, the Firelord, and actually making an attempt on him. At last!

I was giddy after the wipe and the end of the raid. I knew we’d get this down in the coming weeks.

Sunday night is when the work began.

I’m going to say this now and I’m making sure it’s written down so that I don’t forget this: This is an amazing fight. Hands down, Ragnaros is my favourite fight of the expansion. This is better than Chimaeron or Nefarian. This is better than Heroic Halfus and blows Throne of the Four Winds out of the water… air.. fire.. something.

Ragnaros is an amazing encounter and I haven’t even seen all the phases yet.

Our best attempt tonight was our last attempt, where we managed to bring Rag down to 40% and spawn the second transition phase. Granted, half the raid was dead at that point, so we ended up dying to the Sons of Flame hitting the hammer, but we got there.

I almost want to recruit the fury warrior to challenging shout the adds and fall through the floor. But not quite. ;)

40% after 15 attempts and 3 hours. I know the most challenging transition phase is the second one and I know that we have a lot of work ahead of us with Living Meteors, but this is a great encounter that pairs teamwork (adds, hello?) and personal responsibility (why HELLO, Lava Waves, how ARE you?!). To fail at either the teamwork portions of the fight or the personal responsibility portions of the fight means certain failure.

I’m sure I’m going to spend several hours cursing Ragnaros’ name. I’m sure I’m going to spend several hours cursing the names of various guildies. I’m sure I’m going to beat myself up over missing a stun or hitting a Lava Wave or letting a tank die.

But for right now, for tonight? That is one hell of a fun encounter and I cannot wait to spend another night on it.

When he dies, because he will certainly die, I know exactly what it’s going to feel like. I’m going to feel as though it’s the fall of 2006 and we’ve successfully gotten 40 people together to go in and smack Rag upside the head. We only even had a full 40-man raid twice in Fated Heroes, usually running around 30-35 people (and one night, 27-manned Gehennas!), but, by golly, we did a lot of what we needed to do.

So when Ragnaros dies, it’ll feel as though we put together a full 40-man raid and finally succeeded at what we had set out to do.

Only, it’ll be even better, because it’ll be with Apotheosis; this group of people who occasionally drive me a little nuts, but mostly made up of people whom I admire, respect and care for.

Dear Ragnaros,

Yes, it’s us, many of whom ran rampant through your precious, hallowed core many years ago. We’ve come to defeat you, in your own realm. For you, it may be too soon… but for us? It’s long overdue.

Love,

Kurn

PS: I think it would be really nifty if killing you gave us Hydraxian Waterlords rep. Just sayin’.

Healing Alysrazor as a Holy Paladin

This isn’t exactly meant as a guide. It’s more along the lines of my personal experience,¬† so there will be lots of “this is what I do”s and “this is what I think works best here”s. I’m also going to assume you know most of the mechanics of the fight, at least from the ground perspective. That said, I think there’s some decent information I can share with you guys. :)

Alysrazor is one of the more difficult encounters in Firelands. In order to move past Baleroc to Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, Alysrazor must be defeated. (You can, however, do the Alysrazor fight before or after Baleroc, that doesn’t matter.)

The first thing to know is that her name is not “Alice-razor”. It’s “Alysra-zor”. If you do the Molten Front dailies and quests, you’ll see that she was originally named Alysra and, upon being reborn as a firehawk, added the “zor” to her name. (Sorry. That’s totally my pet peeve.)

The second thing to know is that with the help of at least one Molten Feather, you can cast while moving! One feather increases your movement speed by 30% and gives you the casting-while-moving ability. Two feathers increases your movement speed by 60%. Three feathers (avoid this!) will allow you to fly.

If you aren’t asked to grab a feather as a holy paladin during the first molting of Alysrazor (which happens right after the pull), talk to your raid leader about how this will really, really, REALLY help minimize tank deaths. By the end of the second molting phase, everyone should have at least one feather, including tanks, which is hugely helpful for them to move their hatchlings around. However, no one should grab a feather until everyone on the pre-assigned air team gets ALL THREE of theirs to go flying around.

All right, that’s the really important stuff. Now, as to your assignment: as a holy paladin, you will almost certainly be asked to heal a tank. If this is the case, I strongly recommend beaconing your own tank for two reasons:

1) Positioning on the fight is extremely dynamic and the fighting area is quite wide. There are some combinations of placements that will result in the two tanks being more than 60 yards apart from each other.

2) Tower of Radiance Holy Power gains are pretty much wonderful on this encounter and I’ll get to why in a little bit.

Okay, so you should now be armed with the following knowledge:

– pick up a feather as soon as you can without screwing over the air team
– beacon your own tank due to positioning and range issues and holy power gains from Tower of Radiance
– it’s “Alysra-zor”, not “Alice-razor”. Seriously.

Healing the Fight

Right off the bat (assuming it’s not the first pull of the evening), you’ll be blasted backwards. This is a great time to have three Holy Power already charged. I like to hit Divine Favor and Holy Radiance, followed by a Light of Dawn here. There’s a significant amount of raid damage that you can actually help to heal up since your tank won’t be taking any interesting damage for the next little bit.

Move to one side or the other as Alysrazor flies down the middle of the area, because she has a nasty cleave. Run out and around her to pick up your feather.

During this time, your DPS should be collecting feathers to fly up or should be killing (and interrupting) Flame Talon Initiates. Cleanse Fieroblast‘s dot off anyone it hits while you wait for your tank’s Voracious Hatchling to, well, hatch.

Once the hatchlings hatch and are properly Imprinted on their tanks, this is where you start actually getting to do stuff.

For the most part, hatchling damage isn’t too bad on an adequately geared tank. The problems only show up during three situations:

a) When your tank runs out of your range (this happens a lot unless you’re actively watching them — ask for a mark to be placed on the heads of your tanks and keep an eye on them!)
b) When their hatchling throws a Tantrum.
c) When their hatchling applies Gushing Wound to the tank.

Situation A is easily remedied: watch your tank. Know that your tank has to feed their hatchling with Plump Lava Worms that are spawning in various spots in the fighting area. Anticipate where your tank might be going or have him or her communicate that to you. At the same time, you should be able to cast while running, so you should be able to adequately dodge the Brushfires from the Flame Talon Initiates and the Lava Spew from the Plump Lava Worms.

Situation B is also easily remedied: cooldowns! It’s probably best if your tank blows their cooldowns first and then you can pop Hand of Sacrifice when they run out of cooldowns. They can handle four tantrums per ground phase, since feeding a worm to the hatchlings will remove a tantrum, so work out CDs with your tank and/or healing team. Do not be afraid to blow Lay on Hands!

Situation C is probably the trickiest to deal with. Gushing Wound is applied to people standing in front of the hatchling (this should ideally just be the tank) and then bleeds continuously until the tank hits 50% health. The trouble is that they’re still taking melee attacks and can still stand in any of the various fire hazards in the fighting area at the same time.

This is NOT the time for damage-reduction cooldowns. You want to get the tank to drop Gushing Wound as quickly as possible and then need a quick burst of healing to pop him or her back up to a reasonable level of health.

Ideally, this is how it should go, although bear in mind that conditions are rarely ideal:

– Stop healing the tank immediately when Gushing Wound is applied
– Make sure you have 3 Holy Power saved up (by Holy Shocking others if you need to)
– As soon as Gushing Wound falls off, ideally, a disc priest will shield the tank to prevent much more damage for a couple of seconds
– You can then blast the tank with a 3HP Word of Glory. If Eternal Glory (if you have it) procs, hit the tank with WoG again, otherwise, cast a Divine Light (which may or may not have an Infusion of Light haste proc behind it from your slightly-earlier Holy Shocking to make sure you’re up to 3HP.)

The main thing to remember about Gushing Wound is that if you time a casted spell on the tank badly, you can’t interrupt it by moving! You’ll have to hit Escape to stop the cast.

If you get Gushing Wound coupled with a tantrum, don’t hesitate to blow Lay on Hands as soon as Gushing Wound drops off!

And if your tank just decides to stroll happily through fire while they have Gushing Wound or a tantrum on their hatchling, well, there’s pretty much nothing you can do apart from mock them for standing in fire.

And that is the first phase.

The next portion of the fight is all about you and living through fiery tornadoes. The hatchlings should be down by this point, so there should not be any healing for you to worry about.

Here’s a handy-dandy video I made with footage from a learning attempt on Alysrazor with my guild, Apotheosis and it’ll show you exactly how to deal with tornadoes.

Once that’s done, Alysrazor will crash to the ground and start rebuilding her Molten Power.

From 0-50 Molten Power, just make sure everyone’s topped off (especially your tanks who have a job at this point) and make sure to attack Alysrazor directly, since every attack done to her at this point gives you back 10% of your maximum mana!

From 50-100 Molten Power, she’ll pop up off the ground and should be tanked facing AWAY from the raid. This is where you probably have a job. She’ll be blasting the raid with fire damage from Blazing Buffet and so healer/raid cooldowns should be used at this time. I typically go with Aura Mastery, Aura Mastery, Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem and finish up with a Tranquility. So you’ll likely want to pop Aura Mastery at some point in here as well, depending on what your healing lead/raid leader has asked.

During this time, your tanks are taking damage from Alysrazor herself, so what I do here is I pop my Aura Mastery first, then I use Divine Favor again and Holy Radiance again, all of which is really done to help heal up the raid or help out with mitigation on the raid before focusing on whichever tank has aggro on Alysrazor first. In my raid group, the tanks swap after a few seconds (~10 or so) and so I watch for that and heal the other tank.

When she’s at 100 Molten Power, she throws everyone back, causing 50,000 fire damage and then takes to the air again, leaving behind a pile of feathers, so the air team can get back up there quickly.

After that, it’s essentially the same thing all over again, where you wait for hatchlings to spawn and then heal your tank smartly to make sure Gushing Wound falls off.

Tips:

– Glyphed Divine Protection is great if you’re chasing your tank. It’ll reduce any fire damage you take if you run through some while chasing the tank by 40% AND give you a 4s sprint, courtesy of 3/3 Speed of Light.
– You can bubble through any part of the tornado phase you’re not comfortable with, although I don’t think it’ll be up for the second if you use it on the first. (You should not need to bubble, in all reality.)
– Speaking of tornadoes… don’t worry about healing people through it. Chances are, if the hatchlings aren’t dead by now, it’ll be a wipe. An exception to this is if your tank’s hatchling is nearly dead. You might want to bubble here, cast Hand of Sacrifice and heal your tank through tornado damage so that the hatchling dies.
– You can pop Aura Mastery right as the pull happens to lessen raid damage then, too. It’ll be up for the clump phase once she’s grounded and gaining Molten Power.
– You might want to look into the Glyph of Lay on Hands since this is a long encounter. Chances are, if you use LoH within the first couple of minutes of the fight, you could probably use it again before the fight ends.
– As long as you can hold out until Alysrazor falls to the ground, you can abuse your mana pool, since you’ll be able to get back to full mana pretty easily once she’s burnt out. That might mean using some Flashes of Light here or there and that’ll generally be okay. I’m fine on mana both in a haste/spirit gear set and a mastery-heavy gear set.

Personal Comments

What I like about this fight is that it’s not a brute-healing fight. Tank healers on Alysrazor have to use some finesse! Gushing Wound makes what would ordinarily be a fairly boring encounter (in terms of tank healing) into a much more interesting one. I absolutely love that I get to be that “clutch heal” that gets the tank back up to 80%+ health as soon as Gushing Wound falls off. If I have an Infusion of Light proc while the tank has Gushing Wound, I’ll almost certainly hold on to it and endeavour to get that .8s or whatever Divine Light on to the tank the instant the bleed falls off. It makes me happy. :)

What also makes me happy is that I don’t suck at tornadoes. For once, there is a fire mechanic in this blasted game that I don’t actively suck at! In fact, I am really AWESOME at tornadoes! This also makes me happy.

What makes me less happy is air team members falling out of the sky to their deaths or tanks standing in fire damage, but it’s worth some of the frustration when these things happen because I know that by good play on my part, I am noticeably making the fight easier on other healers and keeping tanks alive.

Well, that’s about it from me on this fight. Hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best of luck in downing Alysrazor!

Mutinous, Treasonous and Uncharitable Thoughts

Okay, not really. But it felt like it.

Baleroc, the 5th boss in Firelands, is a healing fight. Healers heal DPS who are standing by shards. Healers get a buff from this when they heal the tank with THEIR debuff.

Lots of rotations, lots of swapping targets, lots of “omg omg omg” moments.

I’m pretty sure that, in the 18 wipes that led to our kill on Try 19, every member of the raid group, those in the raid and those out of the raid, had probably thought “omg, I’m going to find where Kurn lives and wring her neck with my bare hands.”

Healers too? Healers ESPECIALLY, I’m fairly sure.

It was a long raid night. Every spare moment I had, I was refining the strat with the healers, I was explaining stuff, I was double-checking reasons for deaths…

And people were antsy as fuck. I love my guild, I really do, and I don’t blame any of them for being all “GO GO GO”, if they aren’t healers. There was a LOT of downtime. Usually, we’re in the mid-40% for “active” in the three hours of our raids, but Thursday night was brutal with just 32.4% activity. We spent under 60 minutes actually fighting stuff. Granted, we have a 7m break, we ended 10m early, that sort of thing, but MAN, it must have sucked for those who weren’t doing a whole lot aside from waiting for the damn healers to finish refining the strat.

It also must have sucked for my healers.

We tried three main strats:

1) Heal every group for 30 seconds. (Tanks/melee/ranged) Problem: First Decimating Strike would almost always kill the Decimating Strike tank if there were no healers with Vital Spark/Vital Flame on him — which there generally wouldn’t be for DS if it was at the start.

2) Heal every group for 30 seconds, but offset the first swap by 15s or so. So after the shards come out, heal people for that first duration (assuming a 2 person/shard strat, which we had going) and then swap to your next group. The problem here? We got HOPELESSLY lost and confused once the DPS had the whole rotation thing figure out and we had no idea who to heal for the second round and it was like “crap, this is just too confusing”. I honestly think this is the best method, but I absolutely need to write everything down longhand before the fight if that’s the case. I got confused with times and durations and it also got weird with shard spawns.

3) Ultimately, we pulled in a 7th healer (we’ve 6-healed everything thus far in Firelands) and he was our buffer. He started out on the tanks with me and another healer and we went back to the 30s duration for everyone without any offsets. Second pull with 7 healers = dead boss.

I still think everyone was thinking… oh, how did Jasyla put it? That’s right, “uncharitable thoughts” about the healers, about each other and particularly about me because they could almost certainly figure out that my talking to the healers is what was taking forever. And the healers were probably not fond of me for changing the strat drastically a couple of times.

But, the boss died. The guild is 5/7. We got the Share the Pain achievement without trying. And we learned a LOT about how best to work the fight. I feel good about the kill, considering we had an OS tank tanking (but he was a Blood DK so it was almost better than our regular tank lead tanking it!) and considering it’s the middle of July. Summer slump? HAH. Two new bosses in less than a week! (Now I’ve jinxed us. Sorry, Apotheosis. :P)

So, while it was a challenging night, a long night for all, it ended with a kill and hopefully people will forget that they briefly daydreamed about tracking me down and killing me in my sleep. Or worse yet, intercepting and poisoning the rotisserie chicken I order on a regular basis. (Even more dastardly, the healers probably would have poisoned PUDDING if we didn’t get him down!)

Masterful Madrana?

So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.

Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.

I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.

I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.

We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.

So I bought my T12 chest (oh why is it a robe? Dear God, why?) and regemmed everything to Artful Ember Topazes except for my 3 Jewelcrafter’s gems, which I replaced with 3x Fractured Chimera’s Eye.

And then I went reforging.

Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.

1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!

But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.

So what experience was that?

Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.

And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.

I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:

Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.

So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.

It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:

Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?

So, it’s effective. Quite effective.

However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.

[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)

Like, whoah. That’s significant.

However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.

In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.

I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.

So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.

I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?

Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.

World of Zandalaricraft?

When 4.2 dropped, a lot of things simultaneously happened for those of us interested in the PVE side of things. Let’s summarize, shall we?

1) Valor Points turned into Justice Points, capping out at 4000, and all the 359 gear that had previously been available through Valor Points is now available for purchase with Justice Points.

2) New gear that was item level 378 appeared on the Valor Point vendor, including the pants, gloves and chest from T12 armor.

3) Our new Valor Point cap became 980, down from the 1250 from Tier 11 content. (Normal T11 content will also only give out Justice Points versus Valor Points.)

4) Raid boss kills got a bump in VP earned. On 25-man, this value got bumped from 90 VP per kill to 140 VP per kill and 10-man kills got a bump from 70 VP per kill to 120 VP per kill.

5) New dailies came out that will, eventually, open up vendors selling 365 gear.

Therefore, what every responsible PVE raider should do each week to min/max everything is:

a) Get 980 Valor Points by way of 7 troll dungeons, each of which give you 140 VP, making it the most efficient way (in theory) of capping. (Each boss you down in Firelands on 25-man and each Occu’thar 25-man kill reduces this number of runs by one, so killing two bosses and Occu’thar on 25-man means only 4 troll dungeons.)

b) Get 980 Valor Points on an alt, to cap out VP so that you can buy your main raiding toon some bracers, which are BOE. And after that, continue to do so in order to exploit the market of people who don’t want to use up their VP for a BOE item but are too lazy to do what you’re doing right now. (Being crazy enough to complete 14 troll dungeons, or close to it!)

c) Molten Front dailies! If you’re not all in 372s or higher, the Molten Front rewards will give you access to 365 level items. This is great for that one slot you never upgraded if you’re a current content raider or FANTASTIC if you’re trying to gear yourself up to get into Firelands raids.

d) Speaking of Firelands, trash runs! Before getting yourself saved to your regular raid group (assuming you do actively raid), it’s suddenly a great idea to farm trash for rep, at least up until 5999/6000 into Honored (which is when trash stops giving you rep for each mob). Getting to Friendly is easy and gives you access to a 378 cloak. Honored is a little longer, but will give you access to a 378 belt.

Who on earth has that kind of time? I don’t. I’m not even in school or working full-time at the moment and I can tell you right now that the above is a significant enough time investment that I can’t do it all.

The dailies don’t take terribly long to do, maybe half an hour if you’re terrible at DPSing the way I am on my baby paladin. The issue is that they’re dailies, so yes, you need to do them every single day to maximize the rate at which you’re getting Marks of the World Tree and get vendors open sooner. That is, of course, assuming you want to bother opening the vendors. Honestly, I don’t need or want anything from them on Madrana (the one on Eldre’Thalas, that is). I went through this post at MMO-Champion to see if I actually needed to do these dailies.

The one upgrade that is actually potentially viable for me is a ring. Spirit Fragment Band, from Varlan Highbough. No haste, no spirit. If I was absolutely desperate to upgrade rings, I guess this could be potentially useful.

So out of all the rewards (barring pets, mounts, recipes), the poorly-itemized-for-healers caster ring is the one ilvl 365 item that could potentially be worth having for me. Is that one ring worth spending 30+ days doing dailies? Abso-freaking-lutely not. So guess what? Madrana isn’t touching dailies in Hyjal and the Molten Front.

However, a lot of what I mentioned are decent (not amazing, but decent) upgrades for the baby paladin. So I’m doing my dailies with her most days (probably 4-5 days out of 7). Since I only raid (at most) two nights a week on the baby paladin, I’m not earning Valor Points through raids as quickly, nor am I as geared as most people in Choice, so I have to rely on my own efforts to bring her up to par. This meant spending 15,000g on my BOE bracers, but you know what? I was okay with that. (I ended up doing the same for my not-so-baby pally, too, actually!) Of course, keeping up with everything on Skywall is more than a little exhausting and my priority absolutely has to lie with Apotheosis.

It’s easier with Apotheosis, though. I’m not fighting for a raid spot, I’m already geared fairly well as compared to my fellow guildies and while I think I’ll sit out of Shannox and Lord Rhyolith next week, I can usually count on getting the maximum amount of Valor Points possible for our group from raiding, which in our case is 560 so far (Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac, Lord Rhyolith) and a good chance of getting another 140 tonight by killing Alysrazor. While I don’t mind supplementing my Valor Points from raiding with heroics (although I don’t always have the time to do so), I feel that we should be getting Valor Points primarily FROM raiding.

Let’s look at 25-man Tier 11 content for a moment, shall we?

We had 12 normal-mode bosses and one heroic-only boss, plus Argaloth. Bosses killed on 25-man difficulty gave you the same amount of Valor Points whether you killed them normal or heroic. So, if you were clearing all available content on 25-man difficulty, you could conceivably get 90 VP x 14 boss encounters = 1260 Valor Points. Only the cap was 1250.

In 4.1, you could run 7 troll dungeons randomly (Zul’Aman or Zul’Gurub) and get 140 VP for the success of each one. Alternatively, you could run something like 14 random regular heroics and get 70 VP upon successfully completing each other. Or, you could run a mix of the two, like four Zandalari dungeons and six regular heroics and get to the 980 cap you can get from running random heroics.

That still left you 270 Valor Points to earn from raids. That was 3 bosses on 25-man or 4 on 10-man.

As of 4.2, you can now cap Valor Points exclusively from running dungeons, meaning you don’t have to set foot in a raid instance at all. You can earn up to 490 Valor Points from the heroic dungeons that came with Cataclysm’s launch, running 7 of them getting 70 VP per successful run and then run four Zandalaris… or you can just run the Zandalari dungeons 7 times.

Hm. 11 dungeons versus 7 dungeons… Since time is not infinite, I strongly suspect most people will do the math and decide to do the seven Zandalari dungeons, or rather, exclusively run Zandalari dungeons to fill in the gaps from their raids.

Wrath of the Lich King did not do the playerbase a lot of favours, but one thing it did do all right at was having the random dungeon finder help supplement raiding in terms of Emblems. (What we now know as Valor Points.) Don’t get me wrong, I like that you can run all your VP-rewarding instances in one day, if you so desire, but the problem is that, as of 4.2, random heroics stopped being a supplement to VP earned from raids and became the primary method in which everyone can and should earn them for maximum efficiency. In theory. (I have horror stories about my random Zandalari dungeons to share. But that’s a post for another time.)

As a guild master and a raid leader, I am absolutely astounded that you are awarded the same amount of Valor Points for completing Zul’Gurub or Zul’Aman as you are for killing one Firelands boss (or Occu’thar) on 25-man difficulty. You actually get MORE Valor Points for getting through ZG or ZA than you do in killing any raid boss on 10-man difficulty. What the hell? Five-man random heroics reward you with MORE VP over the course of a week than a ten-man guild who CLEARS Firelands and does Occu’thar? Yep, that’s right. You can get 980 VP from the Zandalari dungeons versus 960 VP for clearing all 7 Firelands bosses and Occu’thar on 10-man difficulty.

Let’s see. Taking at least 2 hours of planning and organizing in order to go down Shannox for the first time, not to mention 45 minutes to clear trash to spawn him, plus several wipes… versus waiting in queue for a maximum of about 35-45 minutes (as a DPS, much less if you’re a healer or a tank) and then go kill a few dungeon bosses in a run that’ll take maybe an hour at most, and that’s if you wipe a couple of times or are sadly paired with truly incompetent individuals. With guildmates in a raiding guild, this is made exceptionally easy.

The time and effort invested is nowhere near the same. Absolutely nowhere. Even if you run a 10-man guild (which is usually a bit easier than 25s, logistically speaking), where everyone shows up all of the time and you don’t have a bench and you’re all amazing players, you’ll still wipe while learning the encounters. And yet, the dungeon-running crowd is getting access to many of the same rewards as the raiding crowd at exactly the same potential pace.

I won’t say “that’s not fair”, because we all have the OPTION to go run dungeons. However, something about this just doesn’t sit right for me. I feel as though the raiders should have the ability to get more VP (1250 vs. 980, as in previous Cataclysm patches?) than those who exclusively run dungeons. Or something. Anything!

Why?

It’s hard to run a raiding guild. Like, really hard. Very time intensive. In putting together a lineup for any boss encounter, you have to first ensure you have maximized your raid’s potential by having all the appropriate buffs and debuffs in there. Then you have to take things like performance and gear and possibly loot priority into consideration. Not to mention the whole question of making sure that your group is actually capable of bringing down the boss. That usually means making sure you don’t have four holy paladins in the raid to “raid heal” or six demonology warlocks (barring heroic Maloriak, of course!) as well as researching and communicating strategy. It’s also hard to be a raider (not just a GM/officer of a raiding guild). You’re constantly juggling your stats on your gear, reforging in and out of stats, theorycrafting some, keeping up on changes and always trying to figure out what YOU can do to be better.

We get a lot of in-game benefits for raiding, though, don’t we?

– Boss loot! The best gear in the game is still available by raiding. You can cap out VP all you want, but it’s not going to give you the heroic versions of loot. Not to mention that you cannot get a 4pc set bonus for T12 armor without killing bosses in the Firelands, since the shoulders and helms are only available from the raid instance.

Living Embers. As of right now, Living Embers only drop off of bosses in Firelands. Whereas Primordial Saronites were available to everyone who had any Emblems of Frost to spare, Living Embers are only for the raiding crowd or those who put them up at the Auction House. In that way, the raiders are getting more for their trouble. But how is this different from regular boss loot that dungeon-runners miss out on? It’s not.

Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest is another hallmark of raiders. You want the shiny orange staff? Can’t do it unless you raid. But again, this is just like regular boss loot.

Essentially, we have precisely one thing that rewards us more for raiding right now than by doing dungeons to cap out VP and that is boss loot out of Firelands (or slight variations thereon, which include mounts, pets, titles).

We don’t have any other “tangible” in-game rewards than extra loot. Don’t get me wrong, I like that I’m going to get a shield off Beth’tilac rather than through crafting like I did in Tier 11, but seriously? Dungeon-runners can cap out VP with less time and energy than raiders is another indication that Blizzard is catering to the casuals.

There, I said it. It took me nearly 2000 words to get to my point, but I finally got there. Blizzard is continuing to open this game up to some of the least-skilled players that exist in their playerbase. Yes, there are some “casuals” that are great players who don’t raid because they don’t like to raid, preferring to hone their skills in other ways, etc, but the fact remains that the “casual” players out there who are running dungeons to cap out on VP are not the cream of the crop. And forcing mid-level raiders to go to these dungeons WITH these “casuals”, for the exact same rewards, is a recipe for disaster. (See an upcoming post about my nightmarish Zandalari runs.)

Raiding is but one facet of this game, I know, but it’s the most time-consuming facet and the most difficult one to coordinate, at least historically. I know that Rated Battlegrounds and other PVP endeavours are challenging as well, but in the PVE sense, raiding is the end-game. It’s through raids that we killed Arthas and will kill Deathwing. It’s in the presence of 39 others that I first killed Ragnaros and it’ll be in the presence of 24 others when I kill him again. To have 10 or 25 people working in perfect concert together to defeat the raid encounters is difficult! It’s challenging! I adore that particular challenge more than any other in this game and that’s why I consistently throw myself at a boss, three nights a week with Apotheosis and up to two nights a week with Choice.

25-man raiding has dropped off a lot since Cataclysm launched. Gear normalization between 10s and 25s has made a lot of guilds re-think their decisions to have a 25-man roster and we’ve seen many guilds shrink down from 25 to 10. I sense that my beloved large raids are in danger of being phased out. Heck, at this rate, it feels as though 10-man raiding is in danger of being phased out. I still cannot believe that seven random Zandalari dungeons gives MORE Valor Points than clearing Firelands and Occu’thar as a 10-man raiding team.

The message we’re getting from Blizzard is, in my opinion, this:

“Oh, here’s some raid content. It’s bad-ass. But if you want Valor Points for some sweet rewards (and, in many cases, some necessary ones, even for raiders!), you’re best off farming THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. And look, if you can’t raid for some reason, regardless of whether your schedule is weird or if you’re just THAT BAD a player, you can gain the exact same rewards from the VP vendor by running THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. In fact, THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS are the best part of the game right now! We’re making EVERYONE run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS. Usually with people they don’t know, but it doesn’t matter because THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS are totally AWESOME and TROLLTASTIC.”

In my opinion, it should be this (well, not really — I’d tone down the troll dungeons some, but the people in charge are obviously still madly in love with them):

“Oh, here’s some raid content. It’s bad-ass. And because we’re not total dicks, you can still get some awesome raid-level gear through Valor Points. You’ll only be able to earn them as quickly as possible if you raid, but if you want to get as close as you can, run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS! And if you can’t quite clear your raid instance but still want to cap, you should run THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS! That way, everyone’s running THESE AWESOME TROLL DUNGEONS and we’re also allowing non-raiders to eventually get to the same point of saturation as the raiders with the Valor Point stuff.”

Of course, none of this really matters in the long run, does it? Nope. I need 8850 Valor Points (if I’m not lucky with Occu’thar drops and if I hadn’t bought the BOE bracers) to gear up my paladin in the way I want her geared. Once I reach that point, I don’t need to cap out on Valor Points. That’s nine weeks of VP capping before it’ll cease to matter for me on a practical level that affects my in-game character.

But the knowledge that dungeon-runners will cap out on VP much more easily than I will for the remainder of this tier of content will last a lot longer than nine weeks. This is, in my opinion, a dangerous precedent that screws with the natural progression of things.

They are taking dungeons, which have typically been a stepping stone on the way to raiding, and making them easier, faster, more efficient ways to earn many of the same rewards. I am firmly of the belief that dungeons should remain a stepping stone. I don’t mind them coming out with new dungeons and I don’t mind those dungeons helping to catch people up to current raiders, but earning 980 VP for doing 7 clears of ZA or ZG when you have to clear Firelands AND Occu’thar on 10-man to get 960 VP is just distasteful to me. It’s a lack of respect for the hard work raiders and raid organizers put into their characters and their raid teams. I sincerely hope we’ll see a change in this for the next tier of raiding.

(This actually started out as a rant about feeling as though I had to cap out VP on three separate characters and then turned into this monster as I was writing it. Sorry for the 3000 word crit and if you got to this part without skipping any of it, I owe you a cookie.)

Edited on July 14th, 2011 to add: There are certain comments that I have not approved and will not approve. You’re welcome to disagree with me and anyone else here, but you need to do so respectfully. Please see my Comment Policy. Thanks!

Ready to Wear: Kurn's Tier 12 Loot List for Holy Paladins

I should have done this probably about two weeks ago, but I can’t stand loot lists. At all. Still, here are the results of my research.

Please bear in mind this is all my own opinion and is skewed as such. This is NOT a definitive best-in-slot guide, it’s merely what I’ll be looking for.

This is the way I will be prioritizing secondary stats:

Spirit > Haste > Crit > Mastery

Why? Well, spirit will take priority in my secondary stats because of the rise in mana costs for Divine Light, Holy Light and Flash of Light, as well as the reduced cooldown on Holy Radiance. We’re going to be spending more mana, so I’m going to want more spirit.

Haste is what permits me to get that cast off just that much sooner. It is a stat that improves throughput by virtue of allowing us to cast more frequently and will also reduce the global cooldown, allowing us to get to casting our next spells and abilities more quickly, if we have enough of it. (We’re not quite there yet through gear and a couple of enchants alone. Maybe at the heroic T12 level or when T13 comes out, but we’re not there yet.)

Crit, despite the fact our crits will hit for double a regular heal instead of 1.5 times a regular heal, still is a bit underwhelming. Crit is also a throughput stat and we still need some of it for maximum uptime on Conviction, but crit is unpredictable at best and another word for overhealing at worst. Granted, it makes mastery look better, since if you crit with a Divine Light, you’ll make a much larger Illuminated Healing shield than you would previously, but it’s still not something I value terribly much.

Mastery, despite its recent buffs, still doesn’t thrill me. Sorry. You can read more about my thoughts here.

Things to keep in mind:

– There is a LOT of gear that is going to be available. I’m going to focus specifically on gear that is item level 378, although will touch on some other item levels.
– If things work the way they did in T11, you will be able to purchase your T12 chest, T12 legs and T12 gloves with Valor Points, as well as get a chance for your legs and gloves to drop from the new Baradin Hold boss, Occu’thar.
– If things work the way they did in T11, we can expect our tier shoulders and helms to be on the last couple of bosses in Firelands.
– The 2-piece T12 bonus is certainly worth it, especially considering our Tier 12 is much better itemized than our Tier 11 was. While the 4-piece hasn’t really been mathed out, let’s assume we’ll want to aim for it. Again, T12 gear is a lot closer to my itemization desires than T11 was, so picking up four pieces will feel a lot better than trying to get 4pc of T11.
– Beth’tilac, Alysrazor, Shannox and Lord Rhyolith are supposed to be done in any order. Once entering Sulfuron Keep, you face Baleroc, Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, in that order. As such, I’ll be referring to drops from the first four bosses as dropping “from (name), one of the first four bosses” or “the fifth/sixth/final boss”.

One of my key research sites, the Best In Slot resource from Vile Pickle, is no longer being maintained and has been replaced by the WoW Best in Slot Resource. However, my holy paladin buddy, Walks, has shared with me and the other raiders of Apotheosis, this fun little site at it.headasplode.net, which allows you to sort by the various stats you’d like to see. I highly recommend it. Thanks, Walks! :)

So, here we go.

Tier 12/ilvl 378 Holy Paladin Loot List

HEAD

Immolation Headguard: Our Tier 12 helm is the best for this slot. Unfortunately, this probably also drops off Ragnaros, the seventh and final boss in Firelands. It’s beautiful, though. Beefy with intellect, spirit and haste, a red socket with a 30 intellect socket bonus… Oh man. I might be drooling.

Casque of Flame: Until you down Ragnaros, you will almost certainly want to grab this helm as an upgrade. The Casque of Flame is quite similar, in fact, to our tier helm. It actually has 19 more Spirit. Unfortunately, it has 211 mastery on it instead of 245 haste. Blah. With reforging to haste from that 211 mastery, you can get 84 haste on it, leaving 127 mastery on it. Still, this is also kind of deep into Firelands, dropping from Baleroc, the fifth boss in the instance. (Now I wish I had the heroic Glaciated Helm to tide me over. Alas!)

NECK

Heartstone of Rhyolith: Dropping off of one of the first four bosses in Firelands, Lord Rhyolith, this is probably your best bet for a 378 neck. You can reforge that mastery to haste and get 53 haste and 80 mastery.

Flowform Choker: Totally sub-par due to the lack of spirit and the presence of mastery. Maybe if you’re desperate? I don’t know. This is almost certainly meant for caster DPS. It drops off Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss of Firelands. No, wait, I’m not thinking. This is great DESPITE the lack of spirit because it’s the only one that has a socket and a red one at that. Drop 40 int in there and get a total of 277 intellect. If you’re waiting for an okay upgrade, grab the Heartstone, though, since this does drop from Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss of Firelands.

Firemind Pendant: Wow. More spirit/mastery. Roughly equivalent to the raid drop, this will do if you have 1250 Valor Points to drop. In fact, the Heartstone is only “better” in my mind because it has 18 more spirit. It’s a really small difference. Also, there are better things to buy out there with your precious Valor Points if you have access to the raid drop.

SHOULDERS

Immolation Mantle: Our Tier 12 shoulders are our best bet here, but again, they are almost certainly going to drop off Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands.

Spaulders of Manifold Eyes: Supposedly dropping off Beth’tilac, one of the first four Firelands bosses, these will be a nice upgrade for anyone non-heroic T11 shoulders while they wait for their T12 shoulders. You can reforge that nasty mastery to haste and get 65 haste out of it, leaving 97 mastery on the shoulders.

CLOAK

Flowing Flamewrath Cape: Pretty sad, but this is the only viable option for us. It’s from the Avengers of Hyjal at Friendly reputation.

Who ARE the Avengers of Hyjal? Why they’re the new rep associated with the Firelands raid! This is separate from the new daily quest hub, which will reward Guardians of Hyjal rep. Avengers of Hyjal will work roughly like the Ashen Verdict from Icecrown Citadel in that you’ll only gain rep for it inside the instance. However, a blue post did say that you will NOT be able to grind your way to exalted by killing trash mobs.

CHEST

Immolation Breastplate: This will probably be purchasable for 2200 Valor Points and most likely will not drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold. It’s got a spirit/crit mix, but if you’re going for 4pc, you probably want this over the other breastplate we can get this tier. If you’re going for 2pc, this is not one of the pieces you want.

Clutch of the Firemother: Dropping from Alysrazor, one of the first four bosses in Firelands, this is a lovely piece. Its accessibility, since it drops from one of the first four bosses, makes it an easy upgrade, much like how the Breastplate of Avenging Flame from Magmaw was an easy chest upgrade for us in Tier 11. That said, you probably don’t want to wear this when you’re trying for your 4pc set bonus. It’s still a great piece, but you’re better off with your tier chest in the end. (That does not mean you should pass on this beauty!)

WRISTS

Bracer options? Seriously?! Yay! Too bad the itemization is still pretty bad.

Bracers of Imperious Truths: BOE bracers from Valor Points! Hallelujah and screw you, Cho’gall! These will be purchasable with 1250 Valor Points and will be obtainable shortly after the first week of 4.2, if it’s the first thing you’re going to buy with Valor Points. If Cho’gall never showed you love, pick these suckers up. Bear in mind that you should save an alt’s Valor Points for these rather than buy them on your paladin. Save those Valor Points for the BOP items on your paladin and pick these up either through the auction house or using an alt’s Valor Points.

Bracers of the Dread Hunter: Of course, you could also get a slightly worse (due to mastery) drop from Shannox, one of the first four bosses in Firelands.

GLOVES

Well, now, this is certainly interesting…

Holy Flame Gauntlets: That noise you just heard, that sounded like a choir of angels bursting into pitch-perfect, harmonized sound? Yup. That’s because of these gloves. They are fan-freaking-tastic. And yes, they are BOE. That’s because they are crafted and do NOT currently have a heroic version!

Mats are: 10 Hardened Elementium Bar, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Embers, 3 Chaos Orbs and a partridge in a pear tree

The Living Embers are almost certainly a BOE drop from mobs inside Firelands. They may also be purchasable via Valor Points the way Emblems of Frost could buy you Primordial Saronites. But none of that is confirmed. The Chaos Orbs may or may not be BOP come 4.2, although smart money has them still being BOP. That means that these gloves are going to cost a small fortune. We won’t have a good idea of how much the Living Embers and Chaos Orbs will raise the price, but the bars and the fire aren’t cheap, either. At least the Plans: Holy Flame Gauntlets appear to be unbound…

So if you’re not rich, what’s your best option?

Grips of the Raging Giant: These drop from Lord Rhyolith, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. It’s a spirit/crit mix here, which isn’t bad, but they are not as amazing as the Holy Flame Gauntlets. Still, they’re about a hundred times easier to get.

But wait, what about our tier gloves? Won’t those be easy to get?

Immolation Gloves: Almost certain to drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold and probably purchasable with 1650 Valor Points, they’re easier to acquire than the Grips listed above… but what’s this? No freaking spirit. None. That’s our belt and our tier gloves with 0 spirit on them so far. So should we really get the tier gloves if we’re going for 4pc?

The possible combinations for maintaining 4pc are as follows. All numbers include reforging crit to haste or spirit, where applicable:

Tier Chest/Holy Flame Gauntlets

Spirit: 473
Crit: 135
Haste: 277

Tier Chest/Grips of the Raging Giant

Spirit: 481
Crit: 241
Haste: 161

Tier Gloves/Clutch of the Firemother

Spirit: 342
Crit: 106
Haste: 436

After looking at everything, I have to recommend you take the Tier 12 Chest and the Grips of the Raging Giant (which WILL have a heroic version) to get as much spirit as possible, with the Holy Flame Gauntlets as a good piece for you if you’re just hitting 85 and want to sort of catch up to current raiders quickly. If you are NOT having trouble with mana, go with the tier gloves and the Clutch of the Firemother.

WAIST

Oh sweet Lord. Our belt choices. Or rather, our singular choice for a belt. Say hello to the ONLY belt we can snag at the 378 level.

Belt of the Seven Seals: No spirit?! Augh! Take that 208 crit and turn it into 83 spirit and 125 crit.

But wait, that’s not all! The belt is only available from the Avengers of Hyjal and only once you hit Honored!

So, wait, let’s look at this. The only 378 belt with intellect in the game:

– lacks spirit
– is only available via raid reputation

Great. So not only is it difficult to get in the sense that you have to be part of a raiding guild or raid group, but it kind of sucks in terms of itemization.

At least there’s no mastery?

LEGS

Oh thank God we can follow up that epic failure with a piece of gear that is awesome.

Immolation Greaves: Intellect? Check. Spirit? Check. Haste? Check. Two sockets? Check. Probably easy to obtain? Check! These are awesome. Probably costing 2200 Valor Points or dropping from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold, they are certainly a very easy item to get in comparison to many others. Truly a huge upgrade for just about anyone not wearing the heroic version of the Legguards of the Emerald Brood and even then, it’s still a good upgrade. These legs are one of the first upgrades anyone should reasonably look at.

Legplates of Absolute Control: Likely dropping off of Shannox, one of the first four bosses in Firelands, I… well. I don’t really know why you’d pick these up unless you got supremely lucky on your first Shannox kill and they would be otherwise disenchanted or something. It’ll take a bit more than two weeks’ worth of Valor Points to get the tier legs or a lucky Baradin Hold drop, so there is a small gap between when these become available through Firelands and when anyone can reasonably attain their Tier 12 legs, but… chances are you want to overlook these, unless you are in 346/359 legs that are NOT the Legguards of the Emerald Brood, or you really prefer crit to haste.

BOOTS

Emberforged Elementium Boots. These amazing boots require 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Embers and 3 Chaos Orbs, just like the awesome Holy Flame Gauntlets. These are amazing boots, but again, you’re going to want to be quite wealthy or lucky to get these. Again, they will NOT have a heroic version, so bear that in mind. I’ll also have to recommend these go to a newer 85 holy paladin who is trying to catch up to current raiders.

Treads of the Penitent Man: These are likely what we’ll end up using if we can’t afford the crafted boots and definitely what we’ll need in order to get the heroic versions, someday. They drop from Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands. (Anyone else muttering to themselves over and over “only the penitent man will pass, only the penitent man will pass, penitent, penintent, penitent…”? No? Just me then? All right.)

RINGS

Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers: This is a ring every raider will eventually be able to acquire, since it’s from the Avengers of Hyjal once you hit exalted. The mastery sucks, but the intellect, spirit, socket and socket bonus are nice. Reforge the mastery to haste and you get 51 haste and 76 mastery.

Soothing Brimstone Circle: Uh, yeah, this is basically the only other ring out there at 378. There’s a caster ring, but there’s neither haste nor spirit on it, so stick with this one. This will cost you 1250 Valor Points.

TRINKETS

Still not much in the way of choices here, ladies and gentlemen.

Fiery Quintessence: Well, the name amuses me because I’ve had my fair share of Aqual Quintessences and still own an Eternal Quintessence. I really like that they’re not redoing Molten Core, but that we still have some references to that time. Anyway, you get this trinket at Revered with the Avengers of Hyjal. I’m not altogether thrilled by this one, but maybe the extra spirit will be useful, given our stupid belt situation. The on-use is also interesting and we may want to have a macro so we can use the trinket to precede Divine Plea’s cast, so we get the extra benefit of ~17k mana for the regen. (Note to self: Don’t forget to do that when you get the trinket!)

Jaws of Defeat: Geez, another on-use. This is a little more interesting, though. “Your next 10 spells cast within 20 sec will reduce the cost of your holy and nature spells by 110, stacking up to 10 times. (2 Min Cooldown)” Not really sure how that’s going to work out, but certainly the 383 Intellect will be very happy making. This drops off of Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands.

Eye of Blazing Power: Another option is this one, from Alysrazor, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. Unfortunately, it seems to be not an exceedingly awesome choice for a holy paladin UNLESS it procs off all Light of Dawn hits. (Or all Holy Radiance ticks. But I’m not holding my breath.) Comments on Wowhead indicate a 45s internal cooldown (ICD), heals for 16kish, crits for 32kish, procs off HoT ticks, has a 40y range from the target of the original heal and it can heal pets. But if there are no valid targets in range, the ICD goes off, but no heal does.

RELIC

Singed Plume of Aviana: Pretty much the only choice we have here. Spirit and haste, though, so that’s of the happy-making. It’ll cost you 700 Valor Points.

WEAPON

Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord: Three guesses as to who drops this baby. ;) That’s right, Ragnaros, the final boss of the Firelands instance. Great itemization for us, too, with spirit and haste.

Eye of Purification: No idea where it drops, but suffice it to say this is AWESOME. A spellpower AXE? Sign me up!!! Pallies and shaman are the only casters/healers who can use axes, so no arguing with the warlocks and mages for swords and priests and druids can keep the maces… this is awesome! Sure, the stats aren’t as good as Rag’s hammer, but COME ON! A caster axe!

Lightforged Elementium Hammer: Yeah, it’s not 378 item level, but if you’re really hard-pressed to get something, there’s this as an option. It’s crafted and does not require any Living Embers.

SHIELD

Ward of the Red Widow: Again, just one real option for us, but at least it’s got good itemization. This drops off Beth’tilac, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. And its existence doesn’t make me so sad that I never got the heroic shield from Atramedes, because it definitely is much better in terms of itemization.

Conclusion

OVERVIEW OF VALOR POINT SPENDING

Okay, so assuming you are terribly unlucky in terms of drops and you’re going for the 4pc T12 bonus (with the chest, not the gloves), this is what you’re looking at:

Firemind Pendant – 1250
Immolation Breastplate – 2200
Bracers of Imperious Truths – 1250
Immolation Greaves – 2200
Soothing Brimstone Circle – 1250
Singed Plume of Aviana – 700

For a total of 8850 Valor Points.

I’d really recommend this order:

1) Immolation Greaves (great piece)
2) Bracers of Imperious Truths (yay bracers! You could also buy these or, better yet, use an alt’s Valor Points for these!)
3) Singed Plume of Aviana (only relic)
4) Soothing Brimstone Circle (one of two rings)
5) Firemind Pendant (if needed)
6) Immolation Breastplate (this can move up if you don’t get the Clutch early on or you get shoulders and want 4pc quickly)

BREAKDOWN BY BOSS

Beth’tilac

Ward of the Red Widow (Shield)

Lord Rhyolith

Heartstone of Rhyolith (Neck)
Grips of the Raging Giant (Gloves)

Alysrazor

Eye of Blazing Power (Trinket)
Clutch of the Firemother (Chest)

Shannox

Bracers of the Dread Hunter (Bracers)

Baleroc

Casque of Flame (Helm)

Majordomo Staghelm

Jaws of Defeat (Trinket)
Flowform Choker (Neck)
Treads of the Penitent Man (Feet)

Ragnaros

Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord

AVENGERS OF HYJAL REPUTATION REWARDS

Flowing Flamewrath Cape (Cloak – Friendly)
Belt of the Seven Seals
(Belt – Honored)
Fiery Quintessence (Trinket – Revered)
Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers (Ring – Exalted)

CRAFTED ITEMS THAT WILL MAKE ME VERY JEALOUS OF YOU (NO HEROIC VERSIONS!)

Holy Flame Gauntlets (Gloves: 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Ember, 3 Chaos Orbs)
Emberforged Elementium Boots (Boots: 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Ember, 3 Chaos Orbs)

Total: 20 Hardened Elementium Bars*, 80 Volatile Fire, 8 Living Ember, 6 Chaos Orbs.

* 1 Hardened Elementium Bar = 10 Elementium Bars (20 Elementium Ore) + 4 Volatile Earth
20 Hardened Elementium Bars = 200 Elementium Bars (400 Elementium Ore) + 80 Volatile Earth

SHOO!

All right, I think that covers just about everything, so get ready to enter Ragnaros’ domain and kick some ass. Remember not to stand in the fire; I’m sure there will be plenty of it!