Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we look at an orc with some serious breath issues.
Continuing our journey through the Black Temple, the next boss we encounter is Gurtogg Bloodboil. A fel orc with an attitude problem, Bloodboil awaits after a room and a half of trash clearing; if you've killed Teron Gorefiend and the Reliquary of Souls, this is the final boss you need to defeat in order to open up the Den of Mortal Delights and make your way towards Mother Shahraz.
This fight depends heavily on two elements: output and execution. Your raid needs to be able to deal with some strenuous healing and threat requirements, as well as co-ordinated movement, so while learning you need to bring along players that can actually perform as well as multitask.
Tanks: Bloodboil has two abilities targeted at tanks, a disorient and a knockback that reduces threat. As a result, you'll optimally want three tanks for the encounter, as these can happen in short succession thus taking the two highest aggro targets out temporarily. He also applies a stacking DoT to tanks, so having three ensures this doesn't become unmanageable.
Healers: There is a lot of raid damage flying around in this fight, as well as tank damage and extremely high damage focused on one target during the Fel Rage phase (on that, more later). Bring as many healers as you feel necessary, especially while learning – 9 is a figure to start from, though as your gear and execution improves you should be able to manage it with 7 or even less, and you might need 10 to nail the fight.
DPS: Due to the nature of the fight, you will require 3 ranged groups (this includes healers) so don't over-fill with melee DPS. Again, while learning, you might want to stack particular types of DPS; shadow priests help a lot, although they have threat problems on this fight, and your squishier DPS classes such as mages might run into death problems during Fel Rage.
This ability is the key to the first phase of the fight. It hits the 5 raid members furthest away from the boss, giving them a DoT debuff that ticks for 600 every second for 24 seconds. This is entirely healable, but multiple stacks of Bloodboil become dangerous, so the most common way to deal with this is to have three soak groups. Bloodboil is cast every 10 seconds, so by the time the fourth boil is cast, the first group is debuff-free and able to soak it again.
The easiest way to create a soak group rotation is firstly down to positioning. By gathering the ranged members of the raid together and having a clearly defined line which should be crossed to take the bloodboil, you can easily see if you are in the right place or not. Marking a member of each soak group also helps those who are less situationally aware – all they need to do is follow their mark.
If you're using boss mods such as BigWigs, raid warnings will announce which bloodboil is coming up, and your group members simply need to remember which is theirs (e.g. group 3 takes bloodboil 1 and 4; group 4 takes 2 and 5; group 5 takes bloodboil 3). You can supplement this with voice calls if your raid members are consistently getting it wrong – also, adding Bloodboil as a debuff on Grid helps to see who's missing them and who has multiple stacks.
The positioning given here is only a guideline, some people prefer to position near the waterfall at the bottom of the ramp.
Used during phase 2, this ability gives every raid member a chance for some fun. At the phase change, the boss selects a target and casts Acid Geyser and Fel Rage at it; Acid Geyser deals splash damage to those near the Fel Rage target, so if your raid is still grouped up from phase 1, a lot of people will take damage. Avoid this by spreading out before the phase change.
If you have fel rage, there are a few things to note. Firstly, your stats and size increase: you gain armour and health, your healing and damage done are increased, and you have a boss hitting you who also deals increased damage. Make sure you position so that he isn't facing the raid, but you alone, since his Fel Acid Breath and Arcing Smash are conal abilities targeted on you – Arcing Smash also deals a mortal strike-type debuff, making this phase extremely healing-intensive.
Depending on your class there are various abilities you can use to help make life easier during this phase. For example, druids can use barkskin and heal themselves, while rogues can use evasion and cloak of shadows. Anything that increases survivability or DPS is helpful here; if the Fel Rage target dies, the boss will go back to the primary aggro target and thwack them most righteously, so ideally your target doesn't die (or if it does, a warrior with Shield Wall is waiting).
The encounter itself alternates between the two phases. After dealing with bloodboils, it's time to pray a rogue gets Fel Rage, and then presuming your Fel Rage target doesn't die (or if it does, you recover), it's rinse and repeat until the boss runs out of health.
Tanking this fight can be challenging. The boss applies a debuff called Acidic Wound with every melee hit; this includes hits from his frontal cleave, Arcing Smash. If you're offtanking, you can stand in front of him to get hit by the cleave and get extra rage or mana. However, if you have aggro, your Acidic Wound stacks can get very high and become extremely difficult to heal – so the aim isn't to go all out on threat and keep the boss on you the whole fight, but to manage your threat with the other tanks so that stacks are manageable and the boss doesn't hare off towards a DPSer when the active tank gets knocked back.
DPS obviously need to co-operate here, too, so that they stay below tanks on threat. When you get knocked back as a tank, if you have a high stack of Acidic Wound, don't remain in his cleave – it'll refresh the stack. Melee DPS should note that he will turn and target them with the conal Fel-Acid Breath attack during phase 1, so if it's targeted on you, run to one side so (ideally) it doesn't hit the entire melee group.
During phase 2, everyone gets a debuff called Insignificance, which negates threat mechanics for this part of the fight. Therefore it makes sense to hold back as needed in phase 1, and save DPS cooldowns for phase 2.
Healing changes from phase 1 to phase 2 as well. During phase 1, there are a lot of raid members taking steady, predictable damage as well as three tanks to heal; during phase 2, one target is taking an immense amount of damage with a -healing debuff, and there are still people with DoTs ticking (Bloodboil and Acidic Wound). Your healers will really need to focus on this person while ensuring that other members of the raid don't die through neglect.
If your Bloodboil soak groups are dying, check that people aren't taking double bloodboils, and that they are using healthstones if they are getting dangerously low on health. If someone's consistently missing their bloodboil, make sure they understand the mechanics of the fight, including when and where to move – if they're just poor at following instructions, maybe this isn't a fight you should be bringing them to.
If your Fel Rage target is dying, which can be common amongst squishier targets, make sure it's actually getting healed – damage can be very spiky so your healers need to be prepared for it, even at the start and end of the phase when there are other things going on. Also make sure the target is doing everything they can to survive. Intervening can help, but I've seen a DPS warrior die doing this, so be careful.
If your tanks are dying, make sure they're being sensible with threat – if they have high stacks of Acidic Wound, are they building threat and making it impossible for other tanks to catch up? Perhaps you need to examine their threat generation and gear choice – avoidance gear can help out a lot here. Alternatively, they might be dying because the fel rage target dies, and an enraged Bloodboil hits them for large numbers; did they use cooldowns to deal with this?
One 'bug' that can occur is if your Fel Raged target gets too large; Heroism or Bloodlust combined with Fel Rage can, on occasion, cause the target to lose Fel Rage and therefore die in a rather sorry puddle. This happens if you're positioned near the very edge of the ramp, where the ceiling is a little lower; hitting the ceiling through being oversized bumps the Fel Rage buff off. Solution: don't stand at the edges of the ramp.
The Ready Check
- Does everyone know if they're taking a bloodboil, when they need to move, and where to stand?
- Have you marked members of each bloodboil group?
- Do healers know if they're raid healing or tank healing during phase 1, and whether they should be on the fel rage target or topping up the raid in phase 2?
- Are DPS aware of the threat ceiling (staying below offtanks)? Are tanks?