Archive for the Guides Category

As we prepare for our journeys

Posted in Guides, News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on September 3, 2012 by Natarumah

With the release of patch 5.0, the servers have been flooded with people resubscribing to get into the game before Mists releases. There’s something cute about dozens of people milling around in confusion, trying to find out what their talents are doing, whether their class is still competitive and where they can train for pet battles (which they can’t, until Mists launches).

Shadowpriests are in a good spot at the moment. We’re not so overpowered that the nerfbat looms over us, yet we’re not so much behind or broken that we can’t simply play the game. In fact, I would categorize us as the “somewhat boring, safe choice” at the moment. Warlocks certainly had all the goodies, but from their angle I see a lot of complaints about mana issues, restrictive rotations and the lack of DPS cooldowns.

Our basic rotation

Priority one: Keep up Shadow Word:Pain and Vampiric Touch at all times, on all targets. Shadow Word:Pain gives us Shadow Orbs and Vampiric Touch regenerates health and mana for us.

Use Devouring Plague at 3 Shadow Orbs to be safe, or use it whenever the old one starts to drop off (this may be a DPS loss). Mind Blast on cooldown, Mind Flay as filler. Assuming that you took From Darkness Comes Light and Divine Insight as talents, you’re going to see 2 procs:

When your FDCL procs, your Mind Spike becomes Instant cast, costs no mana and doesn’t wipe DoTs. This is the only time I will use MS, and combined with the Mind Spike Glyph it meshes well with Mind Blast. When DI procs, you get an Instant cast, free Mind Blast. So two procs to juggle, not too serious.

Finally, <20% Health you start prioritizing Shadow Word:Death for execution – if you have it glyphed you can use it while on the move even above 20% health, but otherwise there’s little reason to touch it. Its damage is inferior when not in the Execute phase. Multidot when there’s 2-3 targets, above that target your tank and Mind Sear away.

Cooldowns

First off, Silence and Psychic Horror are now baseline. These are great tools while questing and even in dungeons, but they were never worth it to invest talent points in. Rather than including them in the new talent choices (where they would again be ignored, most likely) the Developers decided to add them to our standard toolkit. I am grateful for this, because it also gives us baseline PvP ability right off the bat.

The first tier of our talents are all about control – which you take depends on your personal preference and content. Dominate Mind is great for instancing and mayhem in PvP. Psifiend is of most use when you expect to stay around a single spot for some time – this usually is a raiding situation where you need to keep adds of you – but this is mostly good as healer defense. The Void Tendrils are a good go-to and the one I took for myself – an AoE root around yourself is a great escape.

Your talents will hold a few other choices, most of them up to you. One of the talents I picked up to test them out was our Camouflage, which is simply hilarious. I can’t really judge how effective it would be in a real raiding situation, but in an Ulduar fun-run we had I managed to get aggro on some mobs, and then pop this. They went after my decoy and started hitting it – and by the time it went poof they had to move all over the room to get to me again. This is great as an escape mechanism, especially when combined with Fade, but it will also surprise a lot of people in PvP.

Vital statistics

With the gear chances, Hit isn’t really going to be an issue. We will gain Spell Hit from Hit, Expertise and Spirit now. If you are anal about the hit cap, then the Human race is for you: Expertise bonus with Maces as well as a Spirit bonus. If you are an experienced Shade, 13% Hit will be plenty.

We still favour Haste, but Crit and Mastery are now on a more equal footing. Since they both do the same thing (doubling damage) the only difference is that Crit can help our Shadowfiend cooldown via Mind Flay while Mastery cannot. That said, to prevent gimping yourself due to Diminishing returns, balancing Crit and Mastery isn’t a bad deal. After all – you can have your damage doubled by both a Crit and Mastery at once.

On a personal note: preparations

For alts I often rely on the Darkmoon Faire to get around those pesky sore spots in levelling professions where I’d need to sink in tons of gold. Alas, the Faire’s quests weren’t properly reset this month so that plan went out the window. Since I don’t know whether I want to focus on levelling my Warlock, Death Knight orPaladin after my Priest, I gave them all sufficient shiny gear to survive the starter zone. With my Warrior at 85, I now own an 85 of every class except for the Shaman, which I just never really got into. If I find the energy, I might decide to spend the time before Mists leveling it to 85 just to have a “full stable”

I am looking forward to the pet battles, but I can already see an issue on the horizon. There are quite a few pets of which I have 5 or more copies – in Mists we will be limited to three of each type. As we can’t crate them for trade before Mists actually launches, I worry that some of these pets will be crunched in between “can’t crate it” and “crate or lose it”. With a modicum of common sense, Blizzard will first enforce a “never gain more once you have three of a kind” first and not hard enforce the limit until a month or so passed.

My focus points on the moment are getting my Warlock her droolishious Conquest outfit for mogging, now that it is available for Honor. I was already halfway saving conquest, but things speed up nicely this way. Second on the list is winning that darn Fishing Competition so that I can get my Salty title. Problem is, I am hated by Booty Bay leaving only the Dalaran fishing competition – and that’s a tight window.

The future of Shadowpriests

We are safe for the moment, a good choice. I can see how people from less favored class reroll when they get disappointed about how their classes turned out after the beta. Many times the beta’s start was shiny and new, and the Developers tried lovely new things – only to discard them (like Warlock tanks). But these ideas rooted in the minds of people, as they really liked them. And now that the patch is here, they see their class hasn’t even got half the shinies it was offered.

With Shadowpriests receiving little to no “fun” goodies (less shadowy shadowform? Shadowy pets? Why would I take those?) and is using basically all the old abilities in a slightly modified rotation from before, I think we came out better than I expected. Good damage (but not jaw-droppingly so), plenty mana and a Shadowform that just won’t quit – what more could you wish for?

Learning a class anew

Posted in Guides, PvP, Raids and Instances, Theory with tags , , on August 8, 2012 by Natarumah

When a new expansion is introduced, you will always see people switching their main characters. Either they got tired of their old class, they want to try out a new role, or they believe that that shiny new alt they rolled is going to be a better fit for them. With Mists, you can also add the reason: “help, my class has been completely overhauled”. You will find that there’s a lot of catching up to do, and you don’t really want to wait until the next raiding season to practice all those cooldowns, rotations and gimmicks.

So here’s what you can do: find equivalent practice.

Equivalent practice

In the basics, it’s looking for a training experience equivalent to whatever you are practicing for, except easily repeatable and sometimes secluded for better number crunching. It’s like stepping into a simulator to train your muscle memory for the operations needed to drive a car before setting foot into a real vehicle. You already get the kinks out before stuff gets real.

Training Rotations

The first step in learning your rotations is to map them out: find a good blog, elitist jerks or a skilled friend and find out what buttons you push and in what order. A simple way of doing this is to make a sort of flow chart on a piece of paper, where you put the abilities you cast into boxes and connect them based on 1) what needs to be up in what order of priority and 2) what needs casting based on a prerequisite (such as SW:Deathx2 below 25% health).

You then map out your button bar so that it reflects this chart; in other words, the most important and often used abilities go at the start of the bar, in easy reach. I like to keep Fade and Shield at the back side of the bar, still within quick click range, in case things go wrong. This is a good place for DPS cooldowns as well, such as Archangel and Shadowfiend. Then comes the next step: practicing at a training dummy.

Training Dummies, while awful for finding out what your DPS would be in a raid or the like, are really amiable targets for repeated and continuous spamming. So basically grind out your basic rotations for half an hour or so, trying to get the best grip on it you can. Because there are no mechanics to worry about, you can easily focus on your buttons and bar to work on a good sequence and timing.

Many people would now consider the next step to go into a dungeon – however for reasons I will mention this is usually a bad place to practice these things. Instead, join up for an LFR run. Since with moderate skill you can already do really well there, and mechanics (while present) are not really dangerous, you can afford to spend more time working on your casting sequences. I imagine that this will be no different in Mists of Pandaria, although it does mean you will need to already have reasonable gear for your toon.

Training burst damage and spatial awareness

For these things, the random dungeon finder is awesome (or even better: queueing up with friends). Assuming you know the basic rotations well enough now, this is the place to learn how to apply burst damage and train spatial awareness. Since people in dungeons are often overgearing the place once the raid seasons started, you will have less chance to practice sustained DPS. The more damage the other people are doing in your group, the less time the mob has to live – and the less time you have to practice.

There’s also the matter that low DPS and attempting to learn a rotation while in a random dungeon (especially heroic) is going to make people really edgy. Most people there just want to rush through for gear and Valor points, and they aren’t really waiting for someone who’s still learning the ropes. However, the fact that the heroics/dungeons have proper encounter mechanics to follow means that you will get practice in spatial awareness and performing your role while paying attention to your surroundings.

Survival and creativity training

To be fair, nothing beats learning to survive and creative use of your skills as does PvP. Random battlegrounds are a good start, and you can easily jump right in with a starter kit made by a crafting profession. In the beginning you will die a lot, but as you become more savvy and get better gear you will live longer and be a more threatening target. This is great to learn what possible means of survival you have when playing that class.

Second, since you fight against Human opponents, you need better and more surprising tactics to fool them. This means you will learn by instinct what abilities (and combinations) will work to lock an opponent down or leave them behind while you escape. All skills which will be valuable while raiding.

Class and spec-specific tricks

These are perhaps the only things that can only be learned by using them in arenas, rated battlegrounds or raids. These are either class-specific tricks (Prot warrior charge/intercept, hunter kiting/jump shot, Priestly Hymn of Hope + Shadowfiend) or role-specific (corner pulls, heal stacking, multidotting) and you are going to have to learn them the hard way, by experience. Often it’s these tricks that make the difference between a good DPS and an amazing DPS, and you will learn a lot instinctively and with experience.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to train yourself in your class before the raids start – and with Mists of Pandaria bringing in a breath of fresh air for a lot of classes, even experienced players might benefit from a few simple tips on how to (re)learn critical skills for raiding and PvP. If you identify yours now, you can be up and running while your fellows – I mean competition – are still learning to walk again.

Ahead of the game

Posted in Guides, News, Shadowpriest with tags , , , , on July 30, 2012 by Natarumah

So, with the annnouncement of Mists of Pandaria to be released September 25, we can conclude that the Beta and PTR have done their job and all that is left is some touch-up points. Sadly, this means that while the Shadowpriest remains a solid class and probably will do really well in the DPS department, we still get shafted with a lack of interesting goodies. The new DPS rotation will probably remain a more simple “keep up 2 dots and hit buttons that glow up” – but at least we’re not broken!

This post isn’t going to be a very long one – my plan for this week is to scour all resources I have (Beta/PTR info and the like) to make a preliminary stat and spell priority listing.

Leveling and Storyline

Mists will have a good old, solid storyline with overall more interesting quests than “slay 12 boars” (although they are still represented, and the Nesingwary Safari will follow us into Pandaria). A lot of phasing makes the questing zones very dynamic, and also means that once you pass certain quests, you leave people behind in their own phase. This spreads the load a bit, and you’re not going to have everyone on a single pile.

The quests are also woven into the dungeons and raids, meaning we will have less “tacked on” raids where the storyline seems only sideways connected to the main plot (Throne of the Four Winds link with Deathwing was tenuous at best, and even Blackwing Descent as fun as it was merely was a son-of-DW event). Some of the dungeons are actually quest hubs on themselves, meaning that the leveling zone and dungeon are directly connected (as was done in Cataclysm).

All in all I am very pleased with how the questing was done – and for the Alliance I truly love how Anduin Wrynn shapes up to be a real leader character.

Dungeons and Raids

Admittedly I have done no dungeons or raids in the beta, but looking at some of the videos on MMO-Champion I have to say that raiding looks to be more interesting – especially for the tanks. I mean, us DPS are happy enough when the numbers fly, but tanks like to have some mobility and survivability challenges, neither of which were properly done in Cataclysm.

Cataclysm saw the rise of some truly bad tanks, who learned very little about mititgation, use of cooldowns, mobility and situational awareness. Hard Mode Spine of Deathwing suddenly jumped up – here survivability and awareness are paramount to survival, and new tanks had to relearn quite a bit to cope with it. Conversely, old school tanks quit in digust at how brainless tanking seemed to be, and even a large portion of tank bloggers and theorycrafters became extinct. Granted, they loved Heroic Spine – but didn’t want to wade through the rest of Dragon Soul to get there.

So to see mobility and awareness become key points in defeating some bosses is a sight for sore eyes – and might entice some of the good tanks to come back. They also hold great lessons for DPS – like adds that must be damaged from the back or they reflect damage. Like with Cayaclysm, it does seem that mobile DPS is more important as well. Expect challenge mode dungeons to be an excellent teacher in reaching for the bottom of the jar.

Preparations for the release date

Of course, there’s plenty to do before the release to ensure a smooth and solid rush to level 90. I have to admit that WoW seemed to be dreary and dull, with little reason for me to log in. I have played at least a dozen games over the last month, and in the end I still return to WoW. So to prepare, here’s a list of things I am planning to do, maybe it will be of value to you as well:

  • Clear out my bank alts and bank alt guilds to get rid of all pre-Cata stuff that is not critical to powerlevelling professions
  • Also throw all bound gear and fun items I haven’t used in more than three months into Void Storage – I paid for it, might as well use it
  • Gather and arrange enough pre-cata materials to level 2 alts worth of two professions (for one Monk of any kind and one Pandaren of any kind)
  • Gather enough materials to level all my characters’  professions another 5-10 points on Cata materials – mileage may vary
  • Place these materials in the alt guild – each tab named after the character it is for
  • Make a list of the pets I still want to gather before the pet battle system goes live – their prices might skyrocket after that if they are powerful
  • Re-arrange parts of this blog to record my levelling experience and screenshots of the areas
  • Make sure all my characters, before they go off to level, have cleared bags and updated gear
  • Install Mists of Pandaria
  • Go!

Conclusion

Despite myself, I am actually pretty excited about Mists of Pandaria. It feels different somehow – more casual and less hardcore, but also just as enchanting as TBC felt when it was announced. To be fair, it feels like a fresh start more than Cataclysm did. Where Cataclysm felt like the destruction of the old ways and the reduction of raiding and PvP, Mists seems more like building it back from scratch. The game has changed, and we have to change with it. As much as we might want things to remain the same (even if for just one expansion) I will simply see if I will fall in love with the new game over again.

Ten ways to increase DPS that should be obvious

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , on February 22, 2012 by Natarumah

Looking back on all the posts I made, I realized I never made one in the style of “Ten ways to…”, so I decided to rake together a number of ways to increase your DPS that, while obvious, aren’t known or used by everyone. Considering the current lack of real news regarding priests in general (and Shadowpriests in particular) that emerges from the Blizzard HQ these days, we might as well make the best of the content we have…

10: Un-clutter your UI

A clean and well-organized User Interfance makes the battlefield a lot easier to oversee, gives you swift access to your abilities and the information you need and may also reduce (input) lag. One of the things you could go for once you have mastered keybinding is a minimalist UI, where nothing shows up unless you need it (not even buttons). However, it might be that you have very different needs if you switch between PvE and PvP a lot, or if you want to have a minimalist setup only on fights that aren’t on farm.

In this case, you might use an addon called Reflux, which allows you to save the setup for your UI as a profile, and switch between them with a text command. By making your UI match your personal preferences and making use of as little interface as possible, you can gain valuable time and focus.

9: Always be casting – Always

While it should be somewhat of a mantra for most DPS, any time where you aren’t casting is time where your DPS drops. No matter what else you are doing, you should always be hitting buttons around the GCD. Devouring Plague spam, Shadow Word:Death, Shadowfiend are all prime spells to cast in such times. But if there’s heavy damage incoming that might kill you, you can also use movement time for Power Word:Shield, Renew+Shadowform, and the like.

8: Practice Fights

If you are in any way serious about raiding, you should know what you’re getting into. At least read the boss’  abilities in the Dungeon Journal (Shift+J) for a basic idea, and a strategy guide as found on Bosskillers, Icy Veins, Tankspot, Wowpedia or Wowhead. If you have time, check out a video of the fight, preferably from a ranged DPS view. This gives you an idea what the fight will look like in reality, since looking at 2D maps and John Madden Charts will not prepare you for where to move.

If you are going to go to a Dragon Soul fight with a (new) raid, try running it in LFR difficulty first. Sure it won’t be quite as difficult as the fight will be on Normal mode, but it will tell you how and when boss abilities fire, what they look like, and a basic idea of where not to stand and what not to do. This will allow you to focus on refining your tactics in the normal run.

7: Use consumables and Services

When raiding, always have a Flask active. If it isn’t done yet, ask if the tanks can count down before they pull the boss and use a Potion (Volcanic Potion for us smart types) on the count of “2”. This way you will have the benefit of the potion the first 12 seconds of the fight, and are able to use another potion somewhere halfway the fight (during Heroism or below 25% is a good call). Known as “double-potting”, this practice can easily put another 50-100K damage on a boss in a fight per raid member.

Try to carry a stack or so of Volcanic Potions with you at all times – two stacks if you plan a wipe night. While this might seem expensive, you will shorten the time to kill and learn a boss, increase your DPS and show that you are a real contender in a raid.

6: Move in the GCD

There are quite a few fights where you have to move only a little bit at a time. Haggara’s storm strikes on the ground you move out during her lightning phase are an example, or when shifting DPS to a tentacle in the Madness of Deathwing. As an extension of “Always be Casting”, it will pay to learn to move in the Global Cooldown. Even when you have metric kilotons of Haste, the GCD will always be a second (give or take, with lag). This means that in many cases you can cast a spell, and hit a movement key right as it ends to start moving. When the GCD is finishing, immediately queue another spell.

This way you minimize the movemement you need to make, meaning you maximize DPS time. Oh, and if you are having difficulties with movement or are a bit slow, enchant run speed on your boots. If you aren’t sure of it, this will increase your DPS most of all.

5: Toss and Turn

Another trick is the “half-strafe”, which I jokingly called the “PvP Run”  when I was a wee pre-60. If you use WASD to move, simultaneously hold your right left mouse button and move the mouse to move your view around without changing directions. If you let go of the mouse button, you will immediately shift directions to move where you were looking. You can use this technique to keep an eye on objects/creatures you will need to target soon (Haggara’s ice phase pillars, Yor’Sahj’s globules). Using the right mouse button will allow you to turn the camera and also move in that direction.

As another obvious point, Mind Flay will turn you in the direction of your target if it means. This means that you can use Mind Flay to keep you turned without moving when fighting Yor’Sahj’s globules for instance. If it passes you by, use Mind Flay and immediately once you turned around cast another spell at it. You will never waste DPS turning again.

4: Use boss-specific opportunities

Every boss fight has special opportunities to increase (or minimize loss of) DPS. Your job as a Shadowpriest is to recognize them and use them to your advantage. Whether it is casting at Morchok from between two of his pillars during the black sludge, multi-dotting giants and dragons during the Blackhorn encounter or using Dispersion to soak Hour of Twilight on Ultraxxion. Many of these opportunities are explained on blogs, tactics or class-specific sites, but also research the fight yourself to make sure you get all you can out of it.

Speaking of Dispersion, if you use the following macro, you can Disperse and tap the button again to get out of Dispersion and resume DPS quicker:

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Dispersion
/cast Dispersion

3: Get a hold of your loot

If you are in a raiding guild, chances are you will be using some sort of loot distribution system. Regardless of the type (Suicide Kings, DKP, EQDKP, Loot Council, etc.) you are best off learning exactly how it works. Nothing bogs down your DPS like not being properly geared, and the loot system is in place to make it fair. However, if you lack knowledge, others have a distinct advantage in getting better gear.

Avoid tactics that are considered to be unfair, like driving up a bid for an item you don’t intend to buy, or change your mind after bidding, and the like. Be sure you know what you want – make a list of the items you want to have, order them by how hard you need them and make sure you have a maximum bid in your mind. It doesn’t help if you pay a lot for an item, only to lack points to bid on/opportunities to win an item which is one you have more need for.

Also: be proactive. Bid aggressively on items you really need. Don’t buy Valor Point items for yourself before a raid, do it after a raid when you know nothing you wanted for that slot will drop. Run LFR difficulty to fill up any “weak spots” in your gear. If a particular trinket is in high demand, chances are that even if it drops, others will bid on it heavily. Best thing is to run LFR difficulty and try to get at least that version of it, so that you don’t stick with lesser trinkets just because you are hoping for that one big payday.

2: Don’t be a miser

It may take you weeks to get a good set of DPS gear together, only to find that your next upgrade puts you over the Hit Cap, or somehow skews your Haste rating. Don’t be cheap and leave it like that, continually invest in keeping yourself at top of the line strength. Reforge, regem as needed, stock consumables, carry extra food and the like. You’re going to spend more on repair bills, I can guarantee you that, and this will at least show up in the meters.

When buying or bidding for items from raids, or even LFR items, don’t just consider whether they fit your kit now. If you know that the “leg” slot of your tier is the weakest link, but it’s all you have to keep your 4piece, don’t hesitate to still get the Best in Slot leg piece. One day you are going to get a replacement tier piece so you can get rid of your tier legs, only to find out you now have to wait for the BiS leg piece to drop again…

This also goes for gearing up an alt, applying to your first raiding guild, or switching mains – if you want to impress people and show that you can handle it, you may need to spend some big piles of gold to get it done. Don’t fall in the trap of “good enough” – eventually those little slip-ups and lazy moments will catch up and show you a 10K DPS difference with your class colleague.

Last but not least – level your professions. It happens quite often someone applies for a raiding spot and then has “10 Mining” or “300 Alchemy”. It’s ok to be in the process of leveling them – but tell it to your raid leader/in your app and make sure you get it done. Profession benefits add to DPS in almost all cases, and not having them shows that you are either lazy or unwilling to invest.

1: Socialize and be flexible

Being sociable not only helps in meshing well with the raid. Talking with your fellow class members may bring you a fresh look on things, or a previously unknown trick of the trade. Your other raid members might also help in upping your DPS when it helps the raid as a whole. For instance, a Power Infusion during a really difficult add phase, Dark Intent from a Warlock, or a Paladin’s bubble-of-immunity are all things that greatly help to increase DPS (or prevent loss of it by dying). Don’t be afraid to at least bring it up, and how it helps the raid as well.

And always remain flexible, especially now in the face of a coming expansion. Talent trees are overturned, stat balances change, even getting better gear might make you rethink your gearing strategy. Stay flexible, willing to learn and wide-eyed. Imagine every raid to be like your first and keep a mindset that you have to prove yourself to win your raid spot. You will find that the early adapter scores some quick wins in the DPS department.

Conclusion

There are many small things that contribute to better DPS. But remember to make sure that this is quality DPS. Massive damage on adds which leaves the boss alive to reach the enrage timer is not quality DPS, and while you may win on the meters, eventually it will be found out and you will be asked not to. Make sure that every point of damage you do contributes to reaching the raid’s goal – a boss kill and nerd screams on vent.

Daily Dose of Dragon Soul

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest with tags , , , on December 6, 2011 by Natarumah

Now that the patch day bugs are gone, addons are updated and the lag seems to be a lot less, it’s time to dive into the heart of the new raid instance. This time, the raid is once again located in the Caverns of time, at the North-east part of the cavern. You will notice a cleft with petrified trees, which looks grey and dead – follow the path through past the first portals (they are for the new 5mans) and turn left at the end.

You will find yourself at the Path of the Titans, staring down a pile of Elemental trash and a big stone giant trying to hammer down the path towards Wyrmrest temple. This is the first boss, Morchok.

Morchok

Morchok is an easy boss, a classic piece of basic design like Marrowgar. The raid needs to stack up behind him for AoE heals, and seven ranged DPS need to run around when he spawns cystals. The crystals will explode, and deal damage to the seven (7) nearest players. The further away they are, the more damage it deals, so be sure to stick on top of it. A line will be between you and the crystal, where red=dead, yellow=ouchies and blue=excellent.

Every now and then he will call down very large crystals and begin to do a corrupted earthquake. Run away from him and hide behind the pillars. Black goo will spread across the floor, avoid it and DPS the boss. Once the goo disappears, rush back in and stack up, repeat until loot pops up.

Once he dies, you will be able to enter the temple and access two new bosses – Zon’ozz and Yorsahj the Sleepless.

Zon’ ozz

Welcome to a good match of tennis. The boss has two phases, and the raid controls when this switches. First off he stacks a buff on himself, increasing the damage he deals and his attack speed. The raid needs to stack up behind him at the edge of the pool. Put melee behind him, and tank him facing the raid. He will create a ball of shadow energy and toss it at the raid, at which point the tank should turn him away from the raid.

The ranged will intercept the ball, which explodes, dealing damage spread among all ranged. It then goes back towards Zon’ ozz. The melee should then intercept it and send it back to the ranged. Again the ranged intercepts it, shares the (now quite big) damage, and it will move back towards Zon’ozz again. At this point, all melee moves away from the boss, so that the orb of shadows hits the boss. It will then explode, and the boss will lose his stacks of Rising Anger and will take increased damage from all sources.

This starts phase 2 – he will run to the middle and for 30 seconds all manner of tentacles will spawn around the pool and hurt everyone. A black sludge will be filling the area for even more damage. This needs to be healed through, and is a healing check. After thirty seconds, resume phase 1, turning the boss away from the raid once he spawns his ball of shadows. Repeat until he dies.

The only real complication in the fight is that a few people in the raid will get a debuff, which deals damage. This is better dispelled, but doing this knocks people back, so mark a spot a bit away from the raid for people with the debuff to run to. Assign one healer to dispelling this timely.

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping

Yor’sahj himself is not much of a threat, mostly tossing a Shadowbolt at the Tank. The raid should be stacked close behind him. Every so often he will call in a random set of three slimes, which move towards the boss. The raid must choose 1 to DPS down, the other 2 will become immune to damage and give new abilities to Yor’ sahj. The available options for him to summon are:

  • Purple (Shadowed) – Every 5th heal or absorption efffect a player receives will deal massive Shadow damage to all payers – Avoid at all costs
  • Red (Fire) – AoE Fire damage – Stack up close and AoE Heal
  • Green (Acid) – Nature damage on all players and splash damage – spread out
  • Yellow (Glowing) – Yor’sahj will use all other abilities he gets more often, and Shadowbolt will now hit all raid members
  • Blue (Cobalt) – Summons a blue add, which drains all mana from players. It needs to be killed and healers stay close so that when it dies, it gives them their mana back.
  • Dark – Summons many small Forgotten One adds, which fixate on players and need to be killed with AoE.

Generally the priority for killing the slimes is Purple > Green > Glowing. Purple is bad because it makes the healers’  job much harder. Green forces the raid to spread out while all other abilities encourage stacking up. Glowing will make his other abilities hit harder and deals even more AoE damage.

If you get a combo of Purple – Red – Green it means you have a problem, since if you do not kill the purple one, healing through the red or green damage is a pain, while if you do, you have to choose between spreading out making healing harder or stacking up and getting more damage from the acid. This is not a pretty choice. Otherwise, this priority seems to work, and quick communication on which add to kill is very important.

Otherwise this boss should go down rather quickly.

Hagara the Stormbinder

A Forsaken Mag/Shaman thing, Hagara first has a few waves of summoned trash before jumping into the middle of the room. Of note to Rogues, she is the one to pickpocket tocomplete the first Legendary quest. She can be reset by attacking her and then using Vanish.

She has three main phases – a normal phase, and then either an Ice or Lightning phase. The order will be Normal – Ice – Normal – Lightning – Normal – Ice – Repeating.

Normal Phase

She has a Focused Assault, swinging wildly and there’s a tank swap involved. Around the room, crystals are spawned that put a beam on a random target, which then shoots ice lances. People can stand in the beam to soak the Ice Lance instead – Shadow Priests make good soakers for this. She also casts Ice Tomb, which will trap 2 (LFR/10man Normal), 5 (25man Normal) or 6 (25man Heroic) targets in ice. They need to be killed before she casts Shattered Ice and kills the player in the tomb. Easiest is to mark a spot for people with Ice Tombs on them (blue arrow above your head) to run to so that all tombs can be DPS’d down with AoE.

Ice Phase

The inner ring will become an orb of water – players in it will drown and die quickly. Hagara will be immune to all damage at this time. So move out and DPS the ice crystals that spawned at the edge. Rnadom spots will get a blue circle, where ice rocks will fall down and knock players away and deal quite some damage. After a few seconds, four ice waves shoot out from her and form walls of ice which run around the platform clockwise. Make sure to stay ahead of them, and try to stay as close to the water wall as you can.  Once all ice crystals are destroyed, she goes back into Normal phase.

Lightning Phase

She will become immune to damage and will cast massive Lightning AoE around the platform. A few conductors will spawn, as well as a Lightning Elemental. When you kill the elemental, people nearby become conductive, and you can form a line of people from conductor to conductor, channeling the lightning and overloading it. Once all conductors are overloaded, Normal phase begins again.

Ultraxion

Killing Hagara allows the aspects and Thrall to start their ritual with the Dragon Soul – but they will be interrupted by Deathwing and the corrupted Red Dragonflight. Protecting them from the Drakes allows the Dragon Soul to be used to deal a nmassive blow to Deathwing. However, he will call in his most powerful experiment, the unstable Twilight Dragon called Ultraxion.

Ultraxion has few real abilities that we as Shadowpriests should really mind – he’s mostly a massive DPS and healing check.

Everyone is pulled into the twilight realm, and you will receive a button called “Heroic Will” in the middle of the screen. If you do not, you can make a macro with the following text in it to achieve the same effect:

/click ExtraActionButton1

What it does is pull you out of the Twilight Realm for up to 5 seconds, or until either Hour of Twilight or Fading Light occurs. Then you are dragged back in the Twilight Realm. The ability has a 5 second cooldown. So if you want to avoid Hour of Twilight damage and use it 2 seconds before the end of the cast, you will be pulled back into the Twilight Realm after 2 seconds and have to wait 3 more seconds to use Heroic Will again. This bit is important for survivability.

First, Ultraxion does raid-wide AoE damage with his unstable purple lightnings. This damage increases as time goes on and he becomes more unstable.

Second, one of the tanks and a few random players get the Fading Light debuff. Once this expires you will die unless you are not in the Twilight Realm. So the tanks have to swap, and both the tank affected and the affected DPS must use Heroic Will to survive.

Third, every 45 seconds Ultraxion casts Hour of Twilight. This is a long cast-time AoE that will deal massive damage to all inside the Twilight Realm. Almost everyone should use Heroic Will to avoid the damage except for the current tank and 2 additional players which stay behind. Rotate people who soak the damage – Shadowpriests, Mages, Paladins, Hunters and Rogus with glyph of Feint are all good for it. If fewer than 3 people soak the damage, the aspects will take the hit and the raid will wipe soon after.

The aspects will help in various ways, but this only helps healers – Red buff for bigger heals, green buff for AoE heals and blue buff for Haste. We don’t care for it, obviously. However, Nozdormu will help the raid by using Time Loop on the raid at the 5th and 6th Hour of Twilight. At this time raid damage will be enormous – if you have the buff and die, you instead will be healed to full and lose the buff. In theory, you can skip death two times in the fight…and you will need it.

This is basically a hard burn phase where every drop of DPS counts. Pre-potting, Heroism at 35-25% and potting again at this time are all advised.

Blackhorn – Lootship 2

Warmaster Blackhorn rides Gariona, and the vestiges of the Twilight Hammer’s aerial forces attack the skyship with which you chase after Deathwing. The setup of the fight is simple in essence: kill everything before the ship is destroyed. The ship sometimes catches fire, stay out of it.

Gariona : drops Twilight Onslaught onto the ship (large pink circle) which the raid must stand in to share damage.
Assault Drakes: Drop adds on the deck and small fireballs which small groups of people must stand in to share damage. Must all be killed
Twilight Slayers and Twilight Dreadblade: big elites which charge (avoid the yellow lines in front of them) and need to be tanked seperately. Three waves must be killed of these.

Of note are Twilight Sappers, small goblins with explosives that jump on deck and rush for the cabin. They need to be killed asap, and fortunately can be slowed and stunned.

Priority for killing is: Sappers > Elite Adds > Drakes

Once three of these waves has been killed, Blackhorn jumps on deck for phase 2. He silences people close by and applies Sunder Armor (which requires a tank swap). He also uses Shockwave in a cone, which people need to move away from. Spread out a bit in small groups to keep up DPS on him. The more health he loses, the more damage he deals, so the last bit the damage he deals is massive and healers need to spam the tanks.

Gariona also joins the fight, and puts fires on the deck – avoid these. Generally it’s best to kill her first, since avoiding fire and shockwaves with tanks taking ever more damage is a major pain.

Conclusion

The first few encounters in Dragon Soul are not all that involved. Yor’ sahj the sleepless might take a few tries to get a feel for the events triggered by the combinations of oozes, and Zon’ ozz requires a bit of raid awareness as does Hagara. Ultraxion is simply a massive DPS check and calls for steady nerves (don’t panic and simply use Heroic Will when needed). Blackhorn’s encounter is quite easy to grasp – we didn’t get him down yet but that was because it was late and a new fight takes a bit of getting used to.

Next up will be Deathwing – where we check whether he really does have a spine, and find out what draco-demonic putty looks like!