(For a guide on the hardmode achievement, check here!)
Our strat (normal mode):
We tanked the boss in the center of the room; healers (3) and ranged dps spread out in a circle around the boss, mixing ranged dps and healers to maximize vapors + heals coverage while also spreading out from shadow crashes and the life leech.
Below, you can see our "default" layout, with healers and ranged DPS interspersed roughly in the shape of a triangle. Given the need to flee from shadow crash and cluster into healthy pools o' mana, there was much shuffling during the fight, but for the sake of coverage we had default places the ranged would return to or center on, while all melee and the tank were clustered at the feet of the boss. The triangle isn't a "do not cross" zone, just an outline to show our basic configuration.
- HEALS: You should be able to keep a rejuv and a full stack of lifebloom on the MT, while adding in nourish and swiftmend as needed to help offset Surge of Darkness, raid heals, and the larger hits. You should be ready with a swiftmend during the pull itself, since the other healers may not be in position yet to heal the tank. This is assuming you are using Saronite Vapors to regen your mana.
- GEAR: trade out any mana-regen trinkets (ie +spirit and increased regen while casting, like the MDF) in favor of -mana cost, spellpower, or other trinkets, since the mana regen will not be active during this boss.
*The most important part of this fight that you should know is that you will have NO mana regen.*
Innervate won't work, blessing of wisdom won't work, spirit regen won't work, mp5 won't work, mana pots won't work, replenishment won't work, not even the ticks off of druids' revitalize will work (so far as I have seen for mana, they count as "misses")... your only source of mana will be the green puddles of saronite vapors, laid down when the ranged dps kills the vapor clouds that spawn around the room and float about (they should be killing them as soon as they can, provided they are not hiding in a corner or floating around in the melee). I recommend going with +spellpower foods rather than spirit for this fight.
|Resto druids: lifebloom will still return mana to you on its bloom, half the mana cost of the spell. In our recent work to do Vezax hardmode, I have taken to being in melee and punching the boss for OoC clearcasting procs, and using the procs to cast a free lifebloom. When it blooms, it will give me half the base mana cost of the spell back, even though I spent no mana on it. Using this strategy, you can go through the whole fight without needing to stand in any vapor puddles, using rejuvs and a rare regrowth and swiftmend to help out, but this will require a lot of gear and group coordination. If you are using both vapors and OoC procs, beware getting lifeleech or shadowcrash near the melee or tank.|
Going with the above outlined raid layout, any given healer should find an adequate number of pools dropping in the 3/5 of the room closest to them. You should not need to run clear across the room to get in a pool unless you have a seriously unlucky string of vapor spawn locations. You may need to cross to the other side of the boss to find a puddle, but if the ranged dps are paying attention, you shouldn't need to run very far. Healers sharing a triangle point will likely be sharing puddles together.
Stand in the puddles to a stack of 5-6, maybe even 7 if you have the gear and health to take it. The puddles apply a stacking debuff that both deals shadow damage to you and restores your mana at the same time. Pop Barkskin to help mitigate the damage; you should also have shadow protection if available (you can use shadow protection potions if necessasary!). Try to get in every green puddle you can, or you WILL go OoM.
- 6 Stacks: 3,200 Mana for 6,400 Damage
- 7 Stacks: 6,400 Mana for 12,800 Damage
- 8 Stacks: 12,800 Mana for 25,600 Damage
- Note: only 8 total vapor clouds will spawn during the fight (ty Beru for clarifying this!). Make sure your dps does not break too many at once, or the clouds will be wasted and you will run out before the boss is killed. It is still possible to kill the boss even if you run out of vapors at 20% or so, depending on your raids' remaining healer mana and dps levels, but it is something to be aware of.
- Surge of Darkness: many strats recommend kiting during this, but it is not necessary if you have enough pallies and healy priests to bubble through the damage (or a DK tank with appropriate cooldown abilities). We found it rather easy with a holy priest, prot pally, and holy pally to just bubble/shield through it, though I pre-loaded some heals as the surge was cast to help offset the massive damage the General deals. If your raid does choose to kite, be especially aware of your range to the tank, and that interrupters may be out of range to interrupt the searing flames during/right after the kiting.
- Searing Flames: your dps (and some healers as class-applicable) should be interrupting this. It will cast every 11 to 23 seconds (per our shaman's careful watching), so it will take multiple interrupters coordinating their kicks/shocks/etc. If they miss, it will deal an unhappy amount of raid-wide (100 yard range) damage and apply an armor debuff may kill off your tank, nevermind the amount of mana you'd have to expend healing up the raid when mana is so precious a commodity! Your raid should avoid letting any of these cast.
- Shadow Crash: the spell is just like it is with the trash before the boss, except it leaves a puddle of bubbly darkness behind when it lands. RUN the moment this is cast at you (or someone near you), as it will land where you were standing at the moment of its casting, and being in range of it when it lands will knock you flying through the air and hurt you. Do not stand in the black puddle it leaves behind: it reduces healing done by 75%. These puddles are for your magical dps casters (it increases their damage and reduces the mana cost of spells). Note: the BigWigs boss mod has an option for a say speech alert to pop up whenever you get shadow crash on yourself; this will announce to you and all near you to MOVE.
- Mark of the Faceless: a life-leech spell that will hurt anyone around you and use that damage to heal the boss by a significant amount. It is usually cast on ranged players, though it can sometimes catch a wandering melee as they dodge a misplaced saronite puddle. The leech is mitigated by simply not being near other players. If someone has the mark on them, don't go near them. DBM will put a nice mark on their head.