Monday, September 13, 2010

Healing ICC10: HLK as a Resto Druid

Edit: This guide was written for patch 3.3. Alas, we can no longer roll lifebloom on two tanks anymore, as of 4.0. I suggest keeping it on the shambler tank, as their health tends to spike more with the enraged adds. Go ToL to roll it on both tanks towards the end, as LK's plague-induced-stacks start eating the MT. Similarly, lifebloom is now very cheap to cast and no longer grants mana back when it blooms, so those tips are also now outdated.

With repeated attempts into the sub-20% range, I'm ready to expound upon healing Heroic Lich King (10-strict). This fight very nearly requires that you have a disc priest in your raid: they will very likely be your co-healer. My own guild, Vortex, has chosen a resto druid as the second healer to aid in the final phase's AoE healing and movement requirements, but we are fairly confident that any other healer could handle that spot.

EDIT: well, we killed him, US-first and world-second kill for strict-ten's. I added a few notes to the final phase; this is the strat that worked for us!

Phase 1:
"WTF I'm tank healing?"

With the disc priest put to bubble-shielding the Infest, your primary job as the second healer will be keeping the two tanks alive. For the sake of limiting the movement of the DPS, don't stand with them: stand either in between the ranged and the tanks, or on the other side of the tanks from the ranged dps group. This prevents others from having to move away from your shadow traps. Also, always make sure you are within running distance of the adds so that you can drop off your disease on them. FYI, it is safe to stand in front of the Lich King: he has no cleaves or cone attacks.

Below is a general diagram of how we handle Phase 1. Light blue is the platform, light gray is the inner circle, blue dot is the useless ice blocked dude, and the dark gray is the outer, cracked ring of the platform. Purple circles are example shadow traps that we've moved away from :)

Rejuv, lifebloom, and regrowth: try to keep all three running on both tanks as much as possible. Use nourish around them, and cast it proactively rather than reactively. You should (hopefully) have between 1/4 and 1/2 mana left at the end of this phase, if DPS is strong. For the sake of mana, I recommend letting the lifebloom stack bloom off of one tank or the other (only one at a time) whenever possible, but here are a few conditions:
  • do NOT bloom when both tanks are low health, as you can't immediately restack them; get one tank up to higher health before letting the other bloom.
  • do NOT let both bloom at the same time or you'll be scrambling for GCDs to restack both.
  • do NOT let the add-tank's bloom when s/he has an enraged shambler, or has two shamblers and there is no Tranq shot in the raid. Keep it rolling and bolster her with nourish.
Use swiftmend to pop a tank up while you are moving. Save NS for real emergencies, but don't be shy about using it and thus waste precious seconds in indecision that could kill a tank. The tanks will drop low from time to time. They will need to use their own cooldowns to help you out, ESPECIALLY if you have no tranq shot in the raid (no tranq shot is doable, but painful). Don't worry much about healing anyone EXCEPT the two tanks; you can pop wild growth on the main tank (MT) to spread wild growth out to melee, but the domain of raid healing should be left to the disc priest. Only help with raid healing if they request it and the tanks are both topped off. Otherwise, your raid heals will result in a healing gap on the tanks that the disc priest may feel the need to help with, which in turn results in a bubble gap that will spiral down to a wipe to Infest... or a dead tank.

Don't hit a shadow trap, and don't run in front of the shamblers. Be very aware of where EVERYTHING is around you: this can be difficult when you're glued to the tanks' health bars, but it is very necessary.

If you have ghoul aggro, don't let it stick on you long. Call out for a tank to taunt them off of you, or run them to a tank, if necessary: ghouls have a nasty habit of dazing you while you're trying to escape an incoming shadow trap.

"Hope the RNG gods put enough diseases on the shamblers."

As LK nears 73%, get yourself towards the outer rim of the room without letting HoTs drop. Make note of how many adds are up, and definitely make sure the add tank maintains full HoTs. As the Lich King reaches 70%, he will transition as normal, and you can let HoTs momentarily lapse off of the MT until he begins picking up spirits. Mind that you don't cross in front of the shamblers while moving forward.

Make sure the group splits roughly half and half on the shelf, sort of like so:

We have the shambler tank cross over to the far right of this diagram, while the MT picks up spirits and tanks them in the center of the dps' cluster.

Keep full HoTs running on the OT until the shamblers are dead of diseases; the little ghouls won't hurt much and only require a rejuv or so to heal through. As the MT picks up and begins tanking the spawned spirits in the middle of the group, begin reHoTing him and keep the HoTs going, though allow your lifebloom to bloom off for mana. Use an innervate in this phase if you need it, otherwise use it early during the next phase.

Phase 2:
"Let's do the Defile Dance!"

As the group is running in to meet the Lich King again, get full HoTs rolling on the MT if they've dropped at all and be ready for some big hits, as the Lich King's buff stacks from Phase 1 may not yet have dropped off. Keep some HoTs rolling on the OT, as well, until the spirit she is tanking from the transition is dead: the MT will be taking far more damage, however.

Ironically, this is probably the easiest phase for me. While the disc priest is back to raid-bubbling around Infest, I go back to tank healing... but we only use one tank, so I don't have to maintain two lifeblooms again. In normal mode, we choose to swap tanks for soul reaper, but for heroic, we've moved to a single-tank strategy, using cooldowns for every reaper to shield the tank. This allows me to keep HoTs rolling on the MT at all times, and allows our OT (prot pally) to focus on just maintaining soul-reaper cooldowns and stunning the valkyr. The OT should periodically be taunting to ensure she maintains secondary threat on the Lich King in case the MT dies.

You will need to watch ALL timers. They are all important to you.
  • Infest: if the timer is ticking down and someone is missing a shield (due to bubbling fail, disc priest taken by valk, or the target loosing their shield to standing in a defile), the disc priest needs to CALL OUT who is missing the shield if they will need help clearing the infest. In cases where 2-3 people in a party missing a shield, things like the moonkin or a feral druid using tranquility is a great split-second rescue; otherwise, the MT-healer can usually save those couple people. A ret or prot pally can be asked to use lay-on-hands to counter a disastrous infest, as well.
  • Defile: the group needs to move out of the center circle to drop these. About 3-5 seconds before it goes off, run yourself up towards the throne side of the platform so that, if you're targeted, it'll drop the defile harmlessly out of the path of everyone. Just don't run far if a valkyr is about to spawn. We have most of our raiders drop their defiles up in this region, while a few of our dps scatter to the sides. The key is making sure the defiles are not in the center of the platform (it's hardest when it's on tanks) and that all raiders scatter from each other in the seconds before defile is dropped. Having a largely ranged-dps raid aids in this.
  • Valkyr: be close to the center. It's the same as normal mode, which you should, by now, be able to handle :) My only note here is that you try to refresh lifebloom to full on the MT before the valk swoops down in case you're the one grabbed, so that the tank has more time with HoTs while you're in the valk's clutches. If you are the one grabbed, make sure to call it out, so that your co-healer knows they need to cover your job and so that others know they may need to blow extra cooldowns/potions.
  • Soul Reaper: the raid needs to maintain a cooldown rotation on the MT, assuming you are not tank-swapping. As the reaper begins to tick off, spam nourish so that it will quickly offset the health drop, before the tank takes another hit. If you are tank-swapping, monitor it so that you can catch both the drop in health from the first tank, and the incoming hits on the second.
After ten zillion attempts, you begin to know the defile timers by heart. First Valk: wait for it to swoop down, then position yourself on the far side of the ice block for defile. After defile, move back in. 2nd Valk coincides with the 2nd defile: either may come first, though usually the defile comes right after the valk; move quickly, then regroup. 3rd valk, then move for defile, then regroup. 4th tends to coincide again. Etc.

For a general idea of the movement, refer to these diagrams:

Note that people are avoiding putting a defile puddle at their back, as compared to the dead center of the room. This is because if they were picked up, the valkyr would take them over that puddle, which would inhibit melee assistance as well as possibly drop them into the puddle when they are freed. Using a pair of example defiles, you can see by the red-tint where you don't want to stand when a valk is about to spawn (unless you're a warlock with a teleporter at your back).

As with normal-mode, make sure the group doesn't transition past 42% without grouping at the edge of the platform together. Don't let the group move to the edge until after a valk spawn, and mind defiles: push him to 40% only when there is no risk of either a) people getting caught in the middle during the transition or b) people getting valk'd while too close to the edge for a rescue.

"Hai, I can haz mana?"

I generally heal everyone during this phase. Similar to the first transition, sans the adds, though I recommend having both tanks picking up spirits to split the damage they're taking; keep them both lightly HoTed, but you can give your lifebloom button a bit of a breather in favor of rejuv and wild growth, with nourishes to quickly boost someone who the Pain and Suffering debuff is stacking high on, or tanks.

Innervate again if you need it: the next phase will be intensive.

Phase 3:
"Ghost-bombs! FLEE!"

The group can just step onto the platform and work immediately on killing the leftover transition spirits. In the meantime, we had the MT and healers work their way towards the center platform to pre-position themselves; this worked because we had such mobile healers. This first bit doesn't last long: just get HoTs rolling on anyone who needs it, as the whole raid will shortly be Soul-Harvested. Also, make sure no one stands in front of the adds' silence-cones.

With the whole raid getting sucked into sword-land, group up immediately in the center, then follow a pre-determined "leader" (likely a tank or melee appropriately marked) around the room. Heal everyone. Rejuv-blanket, wild growth on cooldown, swiftmend as emergency. Use every GCD. This is going to be hard when you've also got to be following someone through the shifting maze of falling bombs. I really suggest having that leader be vocal in vent about movements, ie "going a bit towards the center" or "moving a bit further, watch the bombs behind us" or "hold up here, don't go too far," being the vocal shepherd while you're distracted by keeping everyone alive.

A few notes:
  • The sword-phase is the best time for a bear tank to provide an innervate to healers.
  • Anyone who takes an ankh, battle res, or soulstone after the group is sucked into the sword will have that time peacefully unmolested on the platform, where they can heal themselves, rebuff, and poke the Lich King. I don't suggest having people suicide needlessly for this... but it is a good use of people who get pancaked by spirit explosions.
  • About 5 seconds before the sword phase ends, get HoTs restacked on the MT.
Defile will be cast immediately after you exit out, so begin spreading to the sides as soon as you zone back onto the platform. Focus on keeping the MT alive, and yell at the tanks if they split too far from each other; monitor the soul reaper timers closely. The OT should periodically be taunting to ensure she maintains secondary threat on the Lich King in case the MT dies. Stay generally out of the center of the platform, and run circuits of the outer edge. Slowing traps will go in the center, and the tank will run through the middle from time to time to set them off.

We kept non-tanks out of the center line of the room (north to south) aside from dropping traps, because they used this line to kite the Lich King back and forth each add spawn. We aimed to keep it free of defiles, and the soaker (be it the OT or a dispersioned shadow priest) would hop in to absorb a chunk of explosions; all other players needed to steer clear of it. If you, as a healer, get out of range of one of the tanks, let your other healer and the tanks know over vent so that they can cover appropriately while you get back in range.

You can take one ghost hit at a time (two if you have a priest bubble plus barkskin). Use your barkskin to help shield against impact. Spread out a bit from the rest of the group, and constantly be on the move so that you can pop rejuvs around the raid while keeping the MT standing. Don't stand right next to the tank in case a defile drops. A range mod set to 10 can help you with keeping clear of others who are taking an explosion near you.

Once the leftover transition adds are down, the raid will focus on dpsing the Lich King and killing the flying spirits. Just focus on staying alive and keeping the whole raid up, especially the MT around the Soul Reapers. Have your raid make use of all available CC and survival mechanisms to handle the spirits: moonkin typhoons, dispersion, frost traps, etc.

...good luck :)

Nazantia: "So that was Kae's fault?"


Beruthiel said...

Hey Kae - I'm glad to see another druid healing this! If I might ask, what glyphs are you using?

I have also been pulling my hair healing this fight. I'm running RR, SM and Noursih, but I'm curious if you are using something different.

Basically...I'm mirroring what you are doing for tank healing with a few changes to our strategy: We use two tanks in phase 3 (they taunt off each other, and the one not tanking the LK taunts the valks so they don't shadowbolt the raid), we are trying a soaking strategy for phase's a work in progress, but looks promising.

One tip that I got in the comments section from one of my LK posts re: mana (we do not run with replenish, so it's a major issue for me) was to use my OOC procs specifically for a mana return with lifebloom. I had been treating LB like you, and chosing when to let it bloom, but last night I made a point to specifically let OOC procs bloom on my tanks, and it made a world of difference in my mana, and was fairly maintainable with tank healing. Granted I don't always have the luxary to use my proc on a LB, or to let the bloom drop for the mana return - but I did it every time I could, and I went from gasping for mana to it feeling much more manageable. I set up a special Power Aura to help me with it - and sometimes it was hard not to refresh an OOC LB, just because my muscle memory said "must keep it stacked on the tanks". But it really did work exceptionally well for me. Have you tried this at all?

Also - I'm cheering for you guys! I can't wait for the post telling us all that you've done it!

Beruthiel said...

er...I mean two tanks in the defile phase!

Kae said...

I always try to make OoC procs go to lifeblooms where ever possible, so that's an ingrained habit of mine :) Big blue OoC power Aura proc in my face? LIFEBLOOM.

Glyphs: I run Swiftmend and RR steadily, but I try to swap WG and Nourish depending on whether or not we have a tranq shot in the raid. I prefer running WG for phase 3's aoe healing in the sword realm, but desperately need the nourish boost if we don't have tranq shot to handle the shamblers in P1.

Currently, I need to get more WG glyphs made, as I didn't have one to swap for last night. I am sooo looking forward to "learning" glyphs.

Our phase 3 is also still a learning process, doing the soaking thing. I can't really explain much of it, because we keep changing things and trying new things, and my whole focus is on healing instead :D So... I really don't know specifics beyond that we're getting superstitious to the point of "requiring warpaint" and "we must eat from wall feasts" and "mini pets must be out," and even "Kae must sing."

Kae said...

(err soaking strategy regarding the spirit spawns for the final phase)

Beruthiel said...

After about 3 hours and 15 pulls last night, we swapped over to normal mode specifically to "practice" that last phase. So we'd zerg him down to the last phase, and then we did no damage to him and just let the soakers get a feel for positioning to soak, and the raid start to ingrain defile movement in their head (ok - defile right, everyone else left, defile right, everyone else left).

We did this three times, and it's not perfect because of the mechanic changes in HM, but it was fairly effective to get "practice" in for that last phase.

We are going to take the last 5 pulls we have on this reset tonight, but I think we are going to do one more "practice" round before we do our HM pulls.

I dunno if that is something you guys might think helpful? Or something perhaps you've already done, but I just thought I'd throw it out there, because it seemed fairly effective for us! :)

mediocrepriest said...

It's awesome to see such a detailed post on this, so thank you very much Kae. We've apparently hit a bit of a brick wall with the LK around 50% - in other words, we're doing fine in P1 (minus the occasional brain fart and death), but P2 always goes to hell by the second or third valkyr. I am seeing some interesting suggestions, especially for P3, so I'll send the rest of the team here.

One thing we're struggling is 2 vs 3 healers: 3 healers means we can easily handle small mistakes and issues, but phases do take longer (which means a lot more trouble in P2, the longer it goes). 2 healers instead often results in a dead tank when the holy pally needs to move, or a dead dps if my shield has been consumed by a ghoul/shockwave/defile/freak occurrence. I wonder if either of you ladies have tried 3 healing?

Alyae said...

We've hit the enrage timer with 2 healers, but we're in strict 10 gear.
If you are in 25 man gear you can afford a 3rd healer assuming your DPS is top notch.
If you add up your 25 man players, they on average do at least 2k more then a strict 10 geared player. 5x3 players at 2k each makes about 2k or it would be equal to an 11th player in 10 strict gear.

This right there is why 25 man gear trivializes 10 man encounters.

Alyae said...


5x3 players at 2k each makes about 10k extra DPS or it would be roughly equal to an 11th player in 10 strict gear.

Alyae said...

oy... 5x2 = 10k
Forget it I'm not posting this early anymore

Kae said...

I am fairly certain MediocrePriest is also 10-strict :)

While healing was stable with three healers, the enrage timer would catch up to us far too quickly. We chopped down to two healers because of it, and we've had to synergize our DPS to a nearly pure-ranged group to get the DPS we need to not butt up against the enrage timer. Healing is *very* tough, but we've been able to handle it.

We had to crack down on people loosing their bubbles to defile (there was stern lecturing); we've gotten VERY good at the defile dance. The movements for defile are key to getting that phase under control. Getting hit by a shockwave in P1 is a BIG no-no (buuuut it has happened >_> ) since the shamblers should all be facing away from the raid at all times while tanked.

RNG on the shamblers' diseases during the first transition does suck, though, and we still suffer from it :(

We have our moonkin popping tranquility on call by our disc priest for the DPS group, if bubbles burst or the disc priest is picked up. We also have two warlocks: they get picked up by valks and then teleport back up, allowing us to continue valuable dps time on the boss. I suggest your pally hang out close to the ice block, to limit how much s/he needs to move between defile calls and valks.

Our current favored raid make up includes: 2 tanks (one is pally OT for cooldowns), disc priest, resto druid, moonkin (starlol and typhoon for P3), 2x locks (teleports), shadow priest (dispersion in P3 for spirits), and two other ranged dps (for the ability to kill spirits and limit the need to cluster with defiles). We've had some good attempts with one melee dps thrown in, but dps seems stronger and less chaotic with pure ranged. A tranq shot is also handy... but we've found we can get by without it.

Hope this all helps :)

Theladas said...

Did I really forget to bubble everyone in all of those cutscenes, Kae? I must be slacking far more than I realized. Or maybe you just can't see them from the sky.

If you'd like, I can offer up the counter-point for what the Disc priest is doing while you're smashing your keyboard, with lifebloom bound to every available key. Of course, it's more or less a matter of smashing my keyboard, with PW: S bound to every available key.

And for that final phase... yeah, I don't know what it is, but I think there are more explosions the longer it goes. I'm rarely worried after the first sword-room, but by the time the third one comes around, we get blown to hell as soon as we come back up. One thought I have had, though: /range 10 could be invaluable, as the damage doesn't split between targets in range.

Bottom line: P3 is a hail-back to Gnomeregan's Mekgineer Thermaplugg: "Explosions! More explosions! I've got to have more explosions!"

Kae said...

Everyone got turned into x's and it popped their bubbles with the pointy ends.

As for guildie guest-posts or additions, I always welcome them :) Assuming it's not something I'd be embarrassed to post... knowing Vortex, I need that caveat!

mediocrepriest said...

Thanks for the further info - and to reply to Alyae and Kae, we're not that strict 10-man anymore, as 3 of our dps do 25man regularly, and 3 more raiders (myself included) dabble in it and have anything from 1 to 3 pieces of 277.

I'm a bit worried about dps synergy, as we have a lone Ele shaman who doesn't really benefit from much buffing - but that's all the more reason to actually have our druid go boomkin to try and squeeze more dps. So, I guess it's back to 2-healing.