Friday, May 25, 2012

Heroic Madness of Deathwing

Destroyer of Raids.
Astute readers may notice that it has been rather a long time since I wrote about H Spine. Through a combination of general apathy, summer rescheduling and Diablo III, we've been unable to field a raid until this week. Anyway, it's time to write about H Madness!


The primary difference between heroic and normal mode is a tight berserk timer, and one additional mechanic in each phase.

In the first four phases, the Corruption will periodically infect a random raid member with a non-dispellable 10 second DoT, which explodes killing anyone else nearby when it expires (or when the host dies). Shortly after the explosion, a Parasite spawns at that location and starts a 10sec cast, which deals damage proportional to its remaining health to the entire raid when the cast ends. This damage is survivable at 50% and lower, and ignorable at about 25% and lower. If it does survive to cast the spell, it goes away afterwards, so there's no need to actually kill it.

In the final phase, whenever Deathwing's head drops to an integer multiple of 5% HP, it spawns 8 Bloods, which run at him at high speed, healing him 1% for each one that reaches him. They are immune at all CC mechanics other than slows. If this healing brings his health back above one of these marks (5%, 10%, 15%, 20%) then it will summon the bloods again next time it drops below the mark. For this reason, it is of vital importance to AoE slow and AoE kill all of them. With 4 sets of DoTs rolling on the head, we once had him eat a single blood and not be healed enough to reset the effect, but only just barely. If two or more reach him, you can count on a second round of bloods.

Lastly, due to the tight berserk timer, many groups run only a single tank, necessitating the use of a non-tank to soak or cheese the second Impale on each platform. Hunters are ideal for this, but a Shadow Priest will do in a pinch. To soak an impale, you must be the only player in melee range (quite a wide area, actually) when it casts Impale. Once the cast has begun, just hit Dispersion and run out of melee range. It'll still hit about 100k through Dispersion, so eat a Healthstone if needed.

So what does a Shadow Priest bring to the table?

Quite a lot, actually. Having high-quality, on-demand AoE helps immensely with bringing down the bloods in phase 5. The passive healing from Vampiric Embrace routinely heals for about ¼ the healing of an actual healer (and is concentrated during the Cataclysm casts, one of the most mana-intensive periods of the fight.) Multi-DoTing makes AoEing down the bloods in phases 1-4 possible, and as mentioned above, Dispersion is one of the methods of soaking impales.

Our group is now routinely making it deep into phase 5, and hitting berserk timer. Once your raid has the mechanics handled, it becomes a contest of maximizing DPS uptime. One thing that can be done is, depending on your platform order in phases 1-4, DoTing up the body parts as you run past them. It is also possible to multi-DoT to another platform's body part from certain platforms. (As an example, I know you can DoT red from blue's platform, but not vice versa.)

When the regenerative bloods spawn in phases 1-4, multi-DoT as many as possible, until they're dropping to about 50% before regenerating. Once they do, the entire raid starts burst AoE, killing them. Doing so makes AoEing them down possible, killing them much faster than single-targeting each in turn.

On platforms after red (if any), you can greatly speed up the blistering tentacles by organizing with your raid to reserve targets for each person, so less damage is wasted on overkill. This may put additional strain on the healers, due to stacks building faster, but it might not due to the stacks going away faster, and it definitely speeds up the kill. Depending on your strategy, that may also be a good time to make use of your set bonus.

What's missing?

Like last time I wrote about a Heroic boss before defeating it, we're just short of killing it. Our last wipe was berserk timer at about 4% HP remaining. This means we need to shave about a minute off our kill time. I've already listed many of the stratagems that we're using to speed up the kill, but it's not enough. If any of my readers know something that I haven't listed, I'd be delighted to hear it. As things stand, the DPS difference we would need could simply come from gearing up. Due to roster churn, several of our members are raiding in sub-390 item level, and even the most geared of us still have many upgrades left from heroic modes (not to mention Firelands) due to unfortunate loot drops ("Curse you, tokens of the Corrupted Protector!"). It is, however, clear to me that it's possible for us in our current gear. Thus my request for fight-speeding ploys.

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