Ready Check is a twice-a-week column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. Today, we step back a little and look at endgame in the context of sports.
Let's recap Ulduar so far, shall we?
You've wrecked the Flame Leviathan. With a touch of kindness in your heart, you euthanized Razorscale. In a moment of vengeance, you laid some justice down on Ignis the Furnace Master. Guffawing in humor at his odd voice, you looted Deconstructor.
Then it came time to "bridge your experience" by beating up Kologarn. The Assembly of Iron proved to be no difficulty for your incredible raiding prowess. Even Auriaya and her small legion of adds gave you little pause.
Perhaps you've even stepped up to the man, the myth, the legend: Hodir. But now, Ulduar's got a life. You're facing down Freya.
You start the encounter by killing the three Elders. These elders are Elder Brightleaf, Elder Ironbranch, and Elder Stonebark. Fighting the three elders is relatively straightforward, but I bring them up because these three Elders are critical to Hard Mode. We'll deal with Ulduar Hard Modes in more detail later,but generally you would enter Hard Mode by leaving these three Elders alive. Each Elder provides Freya a buff, which significantly increases the difficulty of the Freya encounter. As a result, for Normal Mode, kill them, and proceed on to Freya.
Freya is, essentially, a two phase fight.
In the first phase, you deal with waves of adds. During that phase, there's not much you can do to Freya herself, so you want a single tank keeping her busy. A single tank should be fine, and Freya herself doesn't hit all that hard during the first phase. Other than that, there's not much point to messing with Freya herself during the first phase.
What you are paying attention to are the three different types of adds who come to you in waves. Which "type" of wave you get is somewhat random, so it's best to understand how everything works before you begin. You can not get the same group twice in a row, and you will get each wave twice before fighting Freya herself. That's one wave of adds per minute, for six minutes.
Keep an eye out for Eonar's Gift being spawned throughout the encounter. They provide healing to Freya and her allies, so you'll generally want to burn them down as soon as possible. It's probably best to assigned ranged DPS to that duty, since they'll most quickly be able to switch targets.
Phase One adds
Ancient Water Spirit, Storm Lasher, and Snaplasher
You can't directly just AE these guys down, and you need to try and control them a bit. The Ancient Water Spirit charges around and knocks player characters back. You can stun it, but can't otherwise crowd control it. Since that's bad news, use ranged DPS to burn the Ancient Water Spirit down. The Storm Lasher, by comparison, does moderate spell-casting damage. Park your interrupters on top of the Storm Lasher to interrupt the spells. The Snaplasher is fairly straightforward, but gains the Hardened Bark debuff every time you hit it. You can kite the Snaplasher around, or just stun it for a bit to let the debuff fade. (It only lasts five seconds once you stop hitting it.)
What makes this particular type of add wave difficult is that you have to kill all three within 10 seconds of one another. If you kill them too long apart, the slain add will simply respawn.
The Detonating Lasher phase is pretty straightforward -- just kill them. However, do not simply AE them all at once. Every time a Lasher dies, it Detonates. If too many detonations happen all at once, you'll kill your tank. Moderation is the name of the game here.
I wanted to make a Baysplosions! joke here, but I couldn't think how to work it in.
Ancient Conservators are the last type of add wave. Conservator's Grip means that you will be unable to simply attack it willy-nilly. Keep an eye out for mushrooms to spawn during the encounter. By standing under those mushrooms, the pacification effect will be nullified, and you'll be able to attack the Conservator. Periodically, the Conservator will hit a random raid member with Nature's Fury. The affected raid member should immediately move away from everyone else.
Phase Two: Freya Herself
Freya herself starts the fight with 150 stacks of Attuned to Nature. The stack of buffs is why you couldn't kill her during the first phase. Attuned to Nature buffs Freya's self-healing, but it will disappear as soon as you enter the second phase. At that point, Freya becomes a DPS race.
Freya will throw Nature Bombs around, which do some area effect damage where they land. Your raid should not stand in those bombs. (See "Don't Stand In Void Zones," anywhere in the World of Warcraft.) Keep an eye out for the Eonar's Gifts, and keep burning them down.
Bringing it together
This fight is really about your ability to quickly and smoothly handle the adds. In normal mode, Freya is actually surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it. Freya herself isn't the challenge, it's those adds.
So, in summary, bring down the three Elders to start the process. Then, start the fight with Freya. You have to fight 6 total waves of adds. Once you've handled each one of these waves, you move on to Freya. Don't stand in Nature Bombs. Whenever you see the weird, wraggly trees spawn, kill them immediately.
Once you can move through the flow, simply collect your loot.
Ready Check is here to provide you all the information and discussion you need to bring your raiding to the next level. Ready Check appears twice a week, with writers Jennie Lees and Michael Gray.