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.
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.
– 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: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/saurfang/glowberry/talent/primary (I haven’t played with glyphs yet, but I should)
Here are my consumables:
– Pickled guppy: http://www.wowhead.com/item=62660
– Flask of enhancement (+80 Int version): http://www.wowhead.com/item=58149 (Switched up to Flask of Flowing Water for longish fights where I was running dry http://www.wowhead.com/item=67438 )
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
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.
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.)
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!
* 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!