Your Mission: Stay alive. Cause siege damage. Burn down each Kor'kron Battle-Mage or Skybreaker Sorcerer ASAP. DPS adds. Make a gnome engineer repairman's life a living hell.
The gunship encounter is unlike any other in Icecrown Citadel. The boss is the enemy ship itself -- for Horde players, you're going to take down The Skybreaker, for Alliance players, your target is Orgrim's Hammer. (Though I suppose technically you're not really destroying the ship, just causing enough damage to put it out of commission until next Tuesday.) There are two general jobs you can be tasked to do as a shadow priest: offense and defense.
Before the battle begins, be sure to talk to the goblin on your ship and pick up a rocket pack. Bind it to a key you find convenient so you can readily use it to jump between ships if needed.
- If you're chosen to be one of the four cannoneers, you have a relatively simple job. Your main attack is the Cannon Blast (the "1" key), which does siege damage to the enemy ship and that ship's defenders, if you have good aim. Each time you use Cannon Blast, you generate 6 to 10 points worth of heat.
- Once you get to 90 points of heat or more, fire an Incinerating Blast (the "2" key), which hits for bonus damage.
- After a while, the enemy captain will call out for a Kor'kron Battle-Mage or a Skybreaker Sorcerer (faction dependent, of course) to cast Below Zero, which will freeze your cannons and lock you out from doing damage.
- When you're locked out, you will likely be called upon by your raid leader to use your rocket pack to jump to the enemy ship and DPS the mage/sorcerer. Remember that you can still cast Devouring Plague and Shadow Word: Pain while jumping, so help out your raid by DoT-ing while in the air. Hop back into the cannon as soon as you can.
- Players on defense are called on to take on the many adds that will appear on your own gunship during the encounter. This mostly means DPSing the Skybreaker Sergeants and Kor'kron Sergeants, the high health and high damage adds that get teleported to your ship. When combined with a group of Kor'kron Reavers or Skybreaker Marines, you can often use Mind Sear to drop the adds quickly.
- After the adds on your ship are down, begin DoT-ing up and attacking the Kor'kron Axethrowers and Skybreaker Riflemen. You only need to stand on the edge of your own airship to be in range to hit them -- no rocket pack required. Taking these guys out will help to limit the near-constant damage they inflict on the raid.
The gunship encounter has some excellent drops for shadow priests. The best item on 25-man difficulty is the Ring of Rapid Ascent, which has spell power, haste, and crit -- a perfect fit for your second ring slot. If you're looking for a great neck piece with hit, the Amulet of the Silent Eulogy is a great drop. The Gunship Captain's Mittens also carry hit, if you need it. Last but not least, the Corp'rethar Ceremonial Crown is a solid headpiece with spirit and crit (ideal off-spec disc priests).
For 10-man groups, the Midnight Sun is an acceptable dagger if you're desperate for a weapon upgrade. The real piece of loot you should be drooling over is Muradin's Spyglass, a terrific trinket that works much like the Illustration of the Dragon Soul of yore.
Your Mission: Stay alive. Prevent self damage. Slow Blood Beasts with Mind Flay. DPS the boss. Endure a painfully repetitive roleplay scene week after week after week.
This encounter has gone through a few changes since it initially went live in December. This is an exciting fight from a shadow priest's perspective, because there's a lot of value you can add to the raid aside from just mindlessly DPSing.
- The first phase involves just you and Saurfang. Clearly, your job is to DPS him as hard as possible.
- Saurfang's attacks have numerous consequences for you raid. First, he will regularly cast Blood Nova -- if it targets you it will damage you and anyone else within 12 yards of you, so maintain safe distance from your teammates. He'll also randomly target you with Boiling Blood, another DoT effect. Each time either of those attacks hit, Deathbringer Saurfang gains something called Blood Power, making him hit the tank harder and bringing him closer to calling forth a rather devastating attack.
- If Saurfang gets 100 points worth of Blood Power, he casts Mark of the Fallen Champion, which effectively acts as a permanent DoT that also heals Saurfang. If you're targeted, you need to make sure you're doing as much DPS as possible on a constant basis -- Vampiric Embrace can make up for a lot of health lost. If you die while afflicted, Saurfang is healed for a massive amount of health, which can mean the difference between success and a wipe. (Note: The old Saurfang strategy called for letting people die, because he gained huge amounts of Blood Points from each hit of damage. This is no longer the case, and players afflicted should be kept alive as long as possible to prevent the giant heal and to keep up maximum DPS pressure.)
- Damage mitigation is key. If you're the only priest in the raid, be sure to apply Power Word: Shield on yourself whenever possible -- this will limit the amount of Blood Power Saurfang can get from attacking you. If there's a disc-spec priest in the raid, communicate before hand when you should use Power Word: Shield to avoid having to work around the Weakened Soul debuff.
- At regular intervals, Deathbringer Saurfang will call forth Blood Beasts, which need to be aggroed, kited, and drawn away from melee as soon as possible. Each summoning will capture your full attention for extended periods of time, so if you have an add-on like Deadly Boss Mods to tell you when to expect each wave, refresh your DoTs on Saurfang immediately before they're called to maximize your damage.
- Two Blood Beasts will be summoned in ten-player mode; five will be summoned in 25-man raids. In the latter situation, you have time to cast Vampiric Touch on one beast, and then quickly target switch to another. Once on your main target (or in ten-man raids in general), Mind Blast is great for catching the Beasts' attention. Once you have it, Mind Flay slows them down to keep them from reaching you. The goal is to never let them reach melee range of you -- if they're almost that close, run.
- If a Blood Beast is chasing after another player, you can use Mind Flay to slow it down and "rescue" them, but be sure to make sure you're not being chased yourself first.
- Clearing Blood Beasts quickly is a key part of downing Saurfang. Don't be afraid to use your cooldowns during this phase.
- Don't waste Devouring Plague on Blood Beasts -- their Resistant Skin severely limits the damage they take from it. From a DPS perspective, you're better off letting the DoT continue to tick on Saurfang.
There are two drops of interest from the 25-man version of Deathbringer Saurfang. First, the Conqueror's Mark of Sanctification will allow you to upgrade one of your Tier 10 pieces to an item level of 264 -- you should aspire to collect all four of these (and don't be afraid to eat any gnome warlocks who try to claim it). The other drop is the Greatcloak of the Turned Champion -- though loaded with spirit, it still makes a great DPS back piece.
In 10-man difficulty, there are a number of top-notch pieces to be on the lookout for. The Mag'hari Chieftan's Staff is hands down one of the best two-handed staffs in the game for shadow priests. The Shadowcleave Pendant has great itemization, carrying with it spell power, haste, and crit -- it's the best neck piece in the game at its item level. The Thaumaturge's Crackling Cowl is a terrific head piece to use until you can buy your tier 10, and the Icecrown Spire Sandals are a good way to add a little bit of hit to your spriest if you need it.
Once you down the first four bosses, you'll be ready to make your way into the bulk of Icecrown Citadel (while Jaina Proudmoore cries like a little girl). There, far more challenging encounters await. We'll cover the Plagueworks in our next column, and follow that up with the Crimson Hall and the Frostwing Halls, all leading up to our epic battle with the Lich King.
Until then, as always, don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Hunger for more information about bending the light to your advantage? More interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? Think it's neat to dissolve into a ball of pure shadow every few minutes? The darker, shadowy side of Spiritual Guidance has you covered.