Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we watch the Ulduar trailer again and ask ourselves over and over why Jaina Proudmoore couldn't have been a Druid. The obvious answer is that she just wasn't cool enough, but this is the source of much cognitive dissonance at the moment.
I'm going to take a quick moment from the rest of the column and just write, in case any of the people who made it are reading this, that the Ulduar trailer was so stuffed with win that pieces of win are dribbling out of it into little win puddles and spilling over into the Sewer of Awesome. And, as NaitFury on the MMO Champion thread points out, "Those of you who say it is boring should probably go back to watching another Undead Rogue 1-shot people with Linkin Park in the background." Amen!
We're one week into Ulduar (and by "we" I mean "other people," because the game has become virtually unplayable for me post-patch, and having the game crash my computer every 5 minutes is forcing the Sewer of Awesome to run to the Vast Delta of Self-Pity), so let's pick up where we left off and tackle the Deconstructor, the Iron Council, and Kologarn.
XT-002 is a pretty straightforward encounter that seems like a mixture of Kel'Thuzad and Solarian. Druids of all specs will enjoy a nice survivability boost in the form of being able to pop Barkskin for most (if not all) casts of Tympanic Tantrum. Most of the fight is a tank-and-spank with a lot of individual responsibility in the form of running away from the raid when you're targeted for the Light Bomb and Gravity Bomb abilities (particularly Gravity Bomb as it will pull any nearby players to you and typically one-shot them). Long story short, keep an eye clapped on your debuffs. If you zone out (especially if you're Balance or Resto, as ranged DPS and healers should group up), you run the very real risk of killing off most of your raid.
Bears: If you're tanking XT-002, keep it at the bottom of the stairs. It hits hard -- expect to see melee damage somewhere in the region of 23-27K on heroic, somewhat less on normal. If you're off-tanking adds, the only ones you'll really need to worry about keeping busy are the Pummelers; your raid DPS should be able to handle the Scrapbots and Boombots pretty much on their own.
Moonkin: It's a straight nukefest on XT-002 until intervals at 75%, 50%, and 25%, when you'll be dealing with adds. Prioritize the Scrapbots and Boombots; if Scrapbots reach XT-002, they'll heal it, and Boombots will explode at 50% health dealing AoE damage to everything around them, including the other adds. Ideally you want to nuke the Boombots down in proximity to the Scrapbots and net yourselves 2 fast kills for the price of one. As of patch 3.1.1 today, these adds should be vulnerable to snares including Entangling Roots.
Cats: Same as Moonkin, although you'll need to stay away from the Boombots on add phases. In most raids you can head straight to DPSing the Pummelers (make sure you stay behind them at all times to avoid their frontal cone Arcing Smash).
Trees: Be prepared for heavy tank damage, but Tympanic Tantrum is what you'll really have to worry about here as long as your raid's smart about avoiding additional damage from Light Bomb and Gravity Well. TT deals 10% damage per second for 12 seconds to everyone in the raid, so it's essentially a more widespread version of Kel'Thuzad's Frost Blast. It sounds scarier than it actually is -- 12 seconds is a lot of time to get sufficient healing spread around the raid -- but don't forget to keep yourself healed too.
This is a multi-boss fight in the tradition of Moroes, High King Maulgar, Karathress, and the Illidari Council. Of these, it bears the most resemblance to Karathress in that each add that dies increases the damage done by the remaining bosses (well, technically this was only true of Karathress himself, but you know what I mean). While it seems like you'd want to DPS them down about equally in order to keep the damage buffs from getting out of control, each add that dies heals the others to full, so there's no point to doing that. Take 'em one by one -- and while learning this fight, kill Steelbreaker (the biggest one) first unless you want life to get both interesting and painful.
Bears: If you're on Steelbreaker, be prepared for Fusion Punch, a truly nasty ability that hits for about 35K on heroic and applies a nature damage debuff that ticks every second. Get used to seeing complaints about this, because once you progress to killing Steelbreaker last, Fusion Punch is probably going to be within shouting distance of a fully-buffed Sarth 3D breath (in other words, a functional one-shot). For now, you should be fine blowing a few cooldowns if absolutely necessary, though with good healing and agile dispels on the debuff he'll leave, you should be fine.
By comparison, Molgreim is a yawnfest for a tank as long as you're moving him (and other adds) out of the Runes of Power he summons (remember Opera trash? He's Opera trash), and Brundir is better off being tanked by a Warrior or Death Knight who can interrupt his spellcasting more than once a minute. If you do wind up tanking him, keep him away from the main portion of the raid and get the hell out of range for Overload. Think of him as a Loken who shouldn't be moved.
Regardless of which add you tank, make sure you never allow them to remain in a summoned Rune of Power (or let yourself remain with a giant and supremely obvious Rune of Death). If you have melee DPS on your current target, make sure they can benefit from a Rune of Power while still DPSing the boss. Because Steelbreaker is so large, it's harder seeing a Rune under his feet than the other adds, so don't zone out.
Moonkin and Cats: Standard nuke duties. If you're familiar with the Illidari Council fight, you'll do fine here. Stay out of AoE crap on the ground, but move into Runes of Power where possible for the damage boost. I'm not sure yet whether Maim works as an interrupt on Brundir.
Trees: Tank damage on the Steelbreaker tank is going to be high, with significant burst in the form of Fusion Punch. You will want Swiftmend up for those moments while your Paladins and Priests are occupied dispelling the debuff it leaves. Raid damage will start off very light but ratchet up as the fight continues, particularly if Brundir is the last to be killed. Any melee DPS on Steelbreaker will need to be healed through a constant, low-level nature damage AoE.
Interesting note; we discovered it's possible to use Baby Spice on Kologarn himself (see above), leaving the arms floating in the middle of the room. I do not recommend pulling him this way because model issues are almost certain to result, but it does make for some hilarious screenshots.
The typical strategy being elected for this boss right now is to ignore Kologarn himself and continually DPS his right (your left) arm. Ranged DPS will then move to the elementals spawned by the arm's death, and then to Kologarn himself until the right arm respawns. Lather, rinse, repeat. The idea is to keep putting damage on the right arm so that the targets of Stone Grip are released quickly, and killing either arm also takes a chunk of health off Kologarn himself.
Bears: You'll probably be tanking Kologarn himself in tandem with one or two other tanks (depending on whether you're doing 10-man or 25-man). Like Gluth, successfully tanking this guy will require a taunt rotation so that the armor debuffs from Overhead Smash don't build up to an unhealable extent. In general you should plan on rotating tanks at no more than 2 debuffs. As of the last time I saw this fight on the PTR, Kologarn was able to Stone Grip any player who was not his current target, which means you should plan on blowing some cooldowns if you're tanking him, you're coming up on your second debuff, and the second tank gets Gripped.
An OT will also be required for the earth elementals that spawn after the death of an arm. With the newly-360-degree Swipe in patch 3.1, we should be a lot better at handling these than we were previously, but we're still not the world's greatest AoE tanks, and block is still a lot better at mitigating their damage than Savage Defense. Plan on being a Kologarn tank unless your guild is thoroughly desperate. As legions of people online have already noted, do not blow Challenging Roar on these adds within 30 yards of Kologarn. Because he's tauntable but you won't be in range, he'll wipe the raid with Petrifying Breath.
Moonkin: Standard damage duty, plus kiting Eye Beams as necessary. Hurricane will be helpful on adds after the death of an arm, but I wouldn't use it immediately as you need to allow their tank to get them out of the raid as quickly as possible. Due to Eye Beam, you will probably be moving on this fight more than melee.
Cats: Luckily for melee DPS, the arms are considered separate mobs from Kologarn with different avoidance tables. According to WWS reports from the PTR, they are unable to parry, so you don't have to worry about stacking expertise beyond the usual soft-cap of 6.5% (132 rating). Because the elementals have a physical damage AoE ability, leave them to the ranged DPS. Once the right arm dies, immediately proceed to DPSing Kologarn himself.
Trees: This is a very healing-intensive encounter, with lots of tank and raid damage to worry about. Anyone targeted for Stone Grip is going to need a lot of healing very quickly, similar to (but worse than) Kel'Thuzad's Frost Blast. If you're using a mod like Grid, add Stone Grip to the list of abilities that will flag a player on your UI. If 3 of your healers get Gripped at once on the 25-man version, you're in for some rough times.
Restoration Druids have a slight advantage over other healers if they're targeted by Focused Eyebeam because we still heal so effectively on the run. The damage done by this ability isn't awful -- we saw 3K/tick on the 25-man version -- but it's still something you'll want to avoid. Periodic raidwide damage comes in the form of Shockwave from Kologarn's left (your right) arm. This hits for about 12-15K. There was an issue on the PTR with Grip targets being annihilated by the combination of Grip damage ticks plus Shockwave; I don't know whether or not this has changed at all. If it has, great. If it hasn't, Grip targets will need to be kept topped off as much as possible if there's an upcoming Shockwave likely, so keep these people loaded with every HoT in your arsenal.