Glow's branches

Ramblings of a resto druid

Category Archives: dungeons

Soloing Heroic Utgarde Keep

While soloing raids can be great for making a bit of gold, or filling out some of my old-school reputations, there’s no reason to try soloing the wrath heroics except for the heck of it. It’s a list that once I’ve considered, I feel compelled to work through.


First heroic on the list: Heroic Utgarde Keep. Why? Well in my mind it was the easiest to burn through as a group. As I discovered, this did not make it necessarily easy to solo.

I was in my feral tank spec and gear; about 346 average ilvl.


I chose to kill the first group of trash to get a feel for how hard they hit. I could have stealthed past them. You may be able to walk past them at 85, if you avoid the patrollers – I didn’t try it so I’m not sure. You cannot avoid the next two trash packs in any case – you need to kill them to open up the fire walls that block the next area. They didn’t hit very hard. I then just cleared down the centre of the drake room, and the next two packs after this into Keleseth’s room.

The trash was easy and unrewarding. Because of this, I stealthed past the rest of the trash where I could. The dogs later in the instance detect stealth, but some I could walk past anyway, some I aggroed.

Stealth-detecting guard dogs

Prince Keleseth

Ok I failed on him. I tried 3 times, and the first attempt was the best one, as I resisted a couple of ice tombs. Basically, he ice tombs, and if there are skeletons up as well they beat me down with no recourse.  I’d like to try again with some frost resistance and/or my pvp trinket to see if I can avoid being chain tombed. If I resisted two or three I’d be close to nailing him.

In the end I stealthed past him, as I was keen to try the rest of the instance. (Edit Jan 31: updated below)

Skarvald & Dalronn

These guys were easy, just tank and spank. I just burned down one then the other.

A warrior's death

Ingvar the Plunderer

Again, with no fancy mechanics, this guy was an easy kill.

Ingvar, your pathetic failure shall serve as a warning.

All in all I’m kind of disappointed and am calling this ‘not completed’ until I’ve downed Kelesth. Apart from resistances and trinketting, I’m not sure what else to try; anyone have any experiences soloing this guy?

Update, Jan 31 – Keleseth down

Armed with both my pvp trinket and resistance elixirs, I exacted my revenge upon Keleseth over the weekend.

Utgarde Keep was mereely a setback.

So now calling heroic Utgarde Keep ‘completed‘.

Plan – feral instance soloing

Now that I’ve capped my justice points I’ve started playing with my tank spec again. For raiding I like to have a dps offspec, but as we’re so short on heals atm I don’t see myself dpsing in raids for a while. Truth be told, I enjoy tanking way more than dpsing anyway, but I haven’t tanked full time since Burning Crusade. But it also allows me to get back into one of my favourite nonraiding pastimes – soloing instances!

At lvl 80 I’d soloed all the BC heroics, as well as Kara, ZG and AQ20 (except for Buru, shudder). A group of three of us spent a few weeks pre-Cata 3-manning MC, BWL, AQ40 up to Huhu and Magtheridon (for rep, the sceptre quest and luls) but it’s been a while since I dusted off my solo shoes, so time to think about possibilities.

Soloing hard content (especially instances) is a great way to learn your strengths, weaknesses and where all your ‘oh shit’ buttons are. It doesn’t teach you much about threat, but it does help you learn
– when to charge and when to pull back
– how to round up groups and deal with casters
– what cooldowns are good in what situations (defensive and offensive)
– effective rotations on long boss fights
– patience, strategy, daring

So. A list of places to try to solo as a feral (tank) druid. Currently my tank gear is mostly 346ish and gemmed/chanted appropriately.

(Update Jan 31 – started tracking my soloing progress here)

Classic content

I may go back and do MC, ZG just because. BWL is unsolable because of Razor… AQ20 is rumoured to have changed in 4.0.3a, but I can’t find it in the official patch notes, anyone know about this?


I know that this was soloable at 80 up to Fankriss, so shouldn’t be too hard. I may be able to stealth past him in any case. I’d really like to finish my Brood rep grind off, but I know my friend Wilson would as well, so may not end up soloing this initially. Edit: Soloed the first few bosses, notes here.

Burning Crusade


He was three-mannable at 80, but tricky. Would be good to try solo just for fun.


HKM wasn’t solable at 80…. shudder. Not sure if he will be at 85 either, could go have a look I guess, but not hopeful.


I didn’t try either of those at 80, might be worth going in to have a look at trash and which bosses are doable/skippable just for fun.

Mount Hyjal

Again at 80 we two/three manned the first boss and farmed trash here for a while so we could farm rep. Worth having a look at 85.

Black Temple

Tried two and three manning the trash here at 80 and it was tough. Would be good to stick my nose in and see  how I go, but not sure it would be ‘farmable’. Again, would like to finish my Ashtongue rep off, so we’ll see.

Wrath of the Lich King

Not looking at the raid instances here, though Sarth and/or parts of Naxx might be soloable. (Brings back memories of stealthing through Naxx at 60 for the frozen runes….)


At 80 I went back and soloed lvl 70 heroics, so naturally I’m wondering which lvl 80 heroics would be solable. Thinking I’d start with ones that felt easy when we 5 manned them: UK, VH, Nexus, DTK, AN… And work my way through them all. Perhaps the ICC 5 mans may be tough. Could try them on normal first and see.


High priority, as there is rep that I’d like: BT/AQ40 – will try these first.
Lower priority, but look approachable: WOTLK heroics, Magtheridon, ZA, SSC/TK

Nothing really new in any of this, but I’ll blog my successes and failures, along with anything I learn. Just looking forward to practising my new tank abilities before I offer my furry bear butt to an unsuspecting pug! (Or even worse, guildies! hehe)

Any other suggestions from people who’ve started soloing some olde worlde content at 85?

Guides – works in progress

I’ve been working on some guides specific to healing in 5 man dungeons. Each dungeon page is currently only in infancy, but I’ve started fleshing out my general “CCing as a resto druid” page, here.

Any feedback you have on this page would be great!

This week in pictures

Archeaology raptor mount fun!

I noticed Darwin dancing, I joined him and got an achievement 🙂

Deadmines heroic

Deadmines heroic. FInally got to Vanessa without a server restart.

Grim Batol heroic. Lots of druid CC.

Halls of Orgination. I love these rooms.

Lost City heroic. Last boss down, no mana, almost no health… eep!

Stonecore heroic. Worm boss, how I hate thee.

Stonecore heroic. This guy rocks. (haha)

Throne of tides heroic. First time I’d been there.

More Throne of tides.

Throne of tides again – very pretty place.

Vortex Pinnacle. Perhaps my favourite heroic.

Healing heroics – a druid’s perspective

So enough of our guildies have scraped together the required gear to start queuing for heroics. So far, as a guild, we’ve completed Halls of Origination, Shadowfang Keep and Blackrock Caverns. (I wasn’t in the HoO group, so I will confine my comments to the first two heroics, plus my thoughts generally about the new druid healing paradigm.)
Firstly, lets end the speculation: these heroics are tougher than WotLK heroics. Same time two years ago we were zerging the wrath heroics in blues and greens. Cata heroics you need to pay attention, use a little CC and some careful pulling. It’s certainly not rounding up two or three groups and AOEing them down. I’ve only completed two heroics, but so far these feel comparable to some of the BC heroics on release. For example: Shattered Halls still feels harder that Blackrock Caverns, assuming comparable gearing.

In summary
When starting heroics in entry-level gear, the tank does get hit hard and the healer will run out of mana. To alleviate this you may need some CC on each pull. Some pulls you will need to CC a couple. With guildies I’ve been grouping with (priest, mage, warlock, shaman usually as other party members + warrior tank) we’ve used fear (glyphed), stuns, sheep, hex, banish, bind, entangle, hibernate… time to dust off those skills we’ve had in storage for two years.

Our setup
– tank, dps, healer all in 329-340 ish gearing
– tank, dps, using up all our wrath flasks and fish feasts for most of the instance (my healer consumables below)
– tank sitting on around 129k health (not sure of his other stats, so that’s just fwiw)
– me sitting at about 92-95k mana depending on how I buff

Our party setup entering h-BRC

Healing, what I learned:
Here is my build: (I haven’t played with glyphs yet, but I should)
Here are my consumables:
– Pickled guppy:
– Flask of enhancement (+80 Int version): (Switched up to Flask of Flowing Water for longish fights where I was running dry )

Tank healing strategy
I’ve been taking a layered approach to tank healing.
I’m maintaining a 3 stack of lifebloom on the tank at all times, stacking this as soon as possible on the pull. For light tank damage I maintain this with Nourish casts before the bloom. When damage ramps up I’ve been layering in a Rejuvenation and heading more towards Nourish spam, weaving in Healing Touch on clear-cast procs (I have Malfurion’s gift).  For extreme tank damage I’ve been using LBx3 +RJ +HT spam +SM – but that doesn’t last long before I run dry.
To be honest, I feel like a very powerful tank healer. It feels dynamic and flexible, I have a low mana burble of LB+Nourish to roll along when things are cruisy, and a very high-power mana-smashing mode when damage is high, and it’s easy to move within that spectrum as needed.

Party member/Offtank healing
When a second party member starts taking damage, I either throw them a Rejuvenation (expensive) or Nourish (cheap) depending up the situation. If a dps starts offtanking a mob, I’ve tended to throw them a rejuv and then alternate my Nourish/HT between the tank and the OT to keep them both up, this seems to work okay so far. When multiple party members start taking damage, I admit to freaking out a little.

Turn every wipe into a feast

AOE healing
This is my Achilles’ heel at the moment, as I’m just starting to feel my way.  I’ll talk about my AOE healing experiences a little first, then I will outline my actual strategy.
Although my real concern is that aoe healing for me is now very *expensive*, I have a feeling the content is designed to have a minimal amount of massive party/raid AOE (MPAOE) is minimised. We’ve had some MPAOE in our heroics and I struggled, but I think we were doing the fight WRONG. Once we worked out what to do, the MPAOE disappeared.

Example 1
First boss in Shadowfang Keep, Baron Ashbury
He has a decimate-like behaviour, after which I was desperately trying to top up the entire party. I couldn’t. People were dying. I was popping Tranq, our shadow priest was trying to help with Divine hymn. Then we realised his aoe heal also heals us (and for more than him). Okay, lets let him heal us a bit. I don’t NEED to make sure we’re all on 100%. In fact, we can spen the entire fight topped up to 30-50% and it’s fine. It’s FINE.

1.  We were doing this fight incorrectly. It’s impossible to keep topping up 5 people with 100k health after every decimate. What was I thinking?!
2. It’s not necessary to keep everyone at 100%. This is a big paradigm shift for me. We all have large health pools now, so if we know the dynamics and damage output of the fight, and it’s safe to have folk sit at 50%, leave them there. It’s fine. No really, it’s FINE. (I had a hard time with this one, I’m used to keeping everyone at 100%. A full health bar is a happy one.)

Example 2
Third boss in Blackrock Caverns: Karsh Steelbender
We entered this fight only knowing that Karsh needs to stand in the fire for us to dps him. (He’s not ready for raiding, he stands in the fire a lot.) there are two ways for him to stand in the fire. His area has a fire pit in the middle you can kite him through. Also these adds appear. When they die they leave nasty fire on the ground (we know not to stand in the fire, but Karsh doesn’t.
When Karsh stands in the fire, he gets quite upset, and starts a massive pulsing AOE. We had Karsh standing in the fire a lot. we wanted to dps him. Also, adds kept appearing, and we clustered as a range group and burned then down, and then moved out of the fire pools. There was a lot of MPAOE AND the tank takes lots of damage after Karshstarts stacking up his “stand in the fire” buff, AND I was getting eaten by the adds. Basically I was trying to heal through big tank damage, offtank damage (me) and MPAOE. I failed to be able to do this. When I almost succeeded, it was because I was running my mana so hard I was going oom when Karsh was still 50%. Bad.
We worked out by playing with him a lot, and reading a bit that we were doing this fight incorrectly. The adds only come when his ‘stand in the fire buff’ drops off, so timely kiting through his pool just as his stack is dropping avoids most of the adds, as well as building his buff slowly AND limiting his MPAOE.

1.  As above, we were doing the fight incorrectly. Although you can deal with a couple of waves of adds during the fight, it’s best to try and balance them with the damage the tank is taking, and only pop them if we really need to clear the bosses’ stack.
2. When I’m heal-tanking*, I have lots of cooldowns I’d forgotten about using, barkskin I’m used to using, but I can also natures grace (takes care of three of them if I step away) as well as lifeblood.

Karsh, stands in the fire.

My MPAOE strategy then pretty much relies on alternating treeform with tranquillity. If I run out of cooldowns and start resorting to rejuving 5 people, it’s all going to go downhill fast. I can’t keep up with that, it burns my mana way too fast. A small aoe heal in wild growth is good, but as soon as things get nasty it’s nowhere near enough, and I need a major cooldown up my sleeve. I’m glad treeform is on 3 min CD, not 5min.

I’m enjoying the new druid healing dynamics. For heroics, my tank healing feels natural, my aoe healing feels weak, but popping cooldowns looks like the way to go. I suspect in raiding my role would best be as a tank healer than a raid healer, except in circumstances where treeform comes into play, but we’ll see. Looking forward to finding out! : )

She's a beauty!

———(facetious footnote)———-
* not to be confused with tank-healing. Heal-tanking is when the healer has a mob on them and noone notices. The healer spams heals on themselves desperately hoping someone will notice. (Usually I run to the tank in this situation, but that depends on the fight.) In pugs with a terrible tank, heal-tanking is a well-practiced strategy by many healers to get through the dungeon. I’m not bitter, honest!

Level 85 so far – Photo diary over two nights

Fishing in Twighlight Highlands

Entrance to Vortex Pinnacle

A few shots from Vortex Pinnacle. The light airy architecture and mist…

Vortex Pinnacle

Vortex Pinnacle

Vortex Pinnacle. Stand in the lightning pyramid! Pew pew!

Onto Halls of Origination – I loved this room

Trogg gauntlet goodness in HoO

Lost City, where riding a camel as cat…

or tree… is a great deal of fun.
Just to show it’s not all camels and sand in Lost City. Action shot.

Lost City entrance

Grim Batol… a smashed, dark Ironforge, full of Deathwing darkness
Grim Batol

Gim Batol