Having dealt with the goth boys and girls in the Crimson Halls, it's time to move on to the big leagues and start playing with dragons. The Frostwing Halls of ICC bring us some fun fights uniquely suited to the hunter skill set. After all, where other classes see big scary dragons, we see potential pets. All they need is a good home and a little loving and they'll become loyal and life-long companions.
Probably the best part of the Frostwing Halls is that not only do we get to show off our badass hunter skills, but we even help out on the healing end. I tell ya, there's nothing that we hunters can't do!
Join me after the cut as we take a look at the hunter tips for downing the Frostwing Halls. This article assumes that you are familiar with the overall strategies for the encounters and we're just going to be looking at hunter-specific tips and tricks. As always, if your raid leader tells you to do anything differently, always do what the raid leader says. Even if she's wrong.
Valithria is an interesting encounter, where we DPSers take care of the adds spawning with increasing frequency, each with different special abilities and a different kill priority. Meanwhile the healers are stepping into our typical role, in a HPS race to heal up Valithria before the adds overwhelm the raid. However we hunters are in the unique position to not only handle the adds, but actually help heal Valithria as well.
We'll basically have one of two jobs in this fight. Either dealing with the adds in a kill priority determined by your raid leader, or kiting the Blistering Zombies. If the raid is handling the adds well, you'll take very little damage and thus require very little healing, letting the healers focus on Valithria.
- Abomination: Typically last in the kill priority. Even when you aren't DPSing down the Abomination, you should toss up a Serpent Sting in passing (even if you're kiting). The Rot Worms that spawn from the Abomination shortly after it dies are often a problem for the tank -- help your tank out by using Misdirection and Volley on the Rot Worms whenever you can. Save your Misdirection for this task.
- Blazing Skeleton: Typically the most important add to kill. It's important to know that it only uses its brutal Lay Waste ability after it reaches its primary aggro target. One strategy in mitigating that ability is for the ranged DPS to unload and keep it moving and switching targets so it doesn't start blasting the raid. Hunters are particularly good at this since we can Feign Death to drop aggro before the Blazing Skeleton gets to us, or use Distracting Shot to instantly pull the mob off of another DPSer (or tank). Don't bother with Hunter's Mark or Serpent Sting -- the mob dies too fast for them to be worthwhile.
- Risen Archmage: The Frostbolt Volley ability seems to work much the same as the Blazing Skeleton's Lay Waste, so keeping it moving before it starts is effective. Just make sure it doesn't hit you. Don't bother with Hunter's Mark or Serpent Sting -- the mob dies too fast for them to be worthwhile.
- Suppressor Packs: One of the most dangerous mobs in this fight, with their ability to reduce healing done to Valithria. Multi-Shot and Volley are your friends as long as there are more than two Suppressors on a side. Again, Hunter's Mark and Serpent Sting are probably not effective, since the Suppressors should die very fast.
- Pick up the Blistering Zombie with any damaging instant shot. One or two shots should be plenty of threat to give you aggro. Distracting Shot to pick it up is usually a waste of a global cooldown that could be better used to inflict damage.
- The Blistering Zombie moves slowly, and kiting it is very easy. Most of the time you won't need Concussive Shot, or Frost Trap, or Aspect of the Cheetah. Just normal running and jump-shotting should burn it down in no time. I'm often so far ahead I have time to stop and fire off a Steady Shot before starting up kiting again.
- The zombie blows up with its Acid Burst when it's about to die, so you generally want to be out of range of the explosion. However, the actual amount of damage that the explosion does is not terribly significant. If your healer is having trouble keeping the raid up (probably meaning the raid is taking damage they shouldn't be) try to kite the Blistering Zombie away from the rest of the raid. If healing isn't a problem, then just kite the zombie through the raid to make it easy for them to take potshots at it as you go by.
- If you're hit with a Frostbolt Volley and slowed while kiting, that is the time to fire off a Concussive Shot to keep the Blistering Zombie moving slower than you are. If ever it gets too close, just Disengage to gain some breathing room.
- As the fight gets more and more hectic, remember that you don't have to pick up the zombie the instant it spawns. If you're busy helping with other adds, it's okay to wait on the zombie for a bit -- after all it moves very slowly. As long as you get to it before it reaches a healer, you're fine. However, if you are waiting a while, you'll probably want to pick it up with a Distracting Shot, as another shot may not cause enough threat to immediately pull aggro from your healer.
- You'll have a good amount of time between zombies to DPS down whatever needs it most. I usually don't worry about Suppressors between zombies because they take me too far away from the zombie spawn point. I like to hang out in the middle, helping out with everything else.
Okay, so I promised there was a way you could help heal Valithria -- and no, it has nothing to do with breaking out the Heavy Frostweave Bandages (though there's a mage in my raid who likes to spend his time between mobs doing just that). However, you will need to have a holy paladin healing Valithria.
Not every 10-man will have a holy paladin, but almost every 25-man will. And if you have a holy paladin in the raid, they're almost certainly going to be on Valithria healing duty. Holy pallies have the highest single-target HPS spell in the game in the form of Holy Light. They also have the Glyph of Holy Light, which causes their Holy Light spell to splash heal everyone around them. So the typical pally healing strategy is for the paladin to heal themselves with Beacon of Light on Valithria, thus healing Valithria for the Holy Light and the glyph splash healing -- and that splash healing adds up to a huge amount of healing.
This is where we come in. Or more specifically, our pets.
Our tenacity pets have a talent in their tenacity tree, Blood of the Rhino, that increases healing effects by 40%. This healing increase will not transfer over via Beacon; however, it will increase the splash healing from their glyph effect, and that glyph effect can account for up to 30% of a holy paladin's effective healing on Valithria.
So instead of your wolf, bring your favorite tenacity pet along, and make sure they have both ranks of Blood of the Rhino. Put the pet on passive and at the beginning of the fight walk your pet over to Valithria and put it on stay. It's vital that your pet is within 8 yards of Valithria -- you can park it inside of Valithria herself to be on the safe side. Then have your pally heal your pet with beacon on Valithria. Now all that splash healing will heal for 40% more. So while you're off burning down adds, your pet is camped in the center lending it's 40% healing buff to all those massive Holy Light splash heals.
That's right -- it's a fight where your pet will actually get heals!
The next step in the Frostwing Halls is Sapphiron's big sister, Sindragosa. Sindragosa brings some frustrating mechanics that force us to stop DPSing from time to time, but overall it's a very fun fight. Rather than just sitting in place and DPSing, we actually have different things to do at different times throughout the fight.
- The Permeating Chill usually isn't a big problem for us. Most of the time you can just DPS all out without hitting the dangerous range of 5 stacks of the debuff -- with a 20% chance of the debuff applying, they tend to fall off on their own. However particularly during Heroism or Rapid Fire you'll want to pay extra attention to your debuff stacks -- that's when you're most likely to start piling the stacks on.
- We have an edge on the Icy Grip and Blistering Cold. As soon as Icy Grip happens immediately hit Disengage, turn, and run. Disengage will always be up every Blistering Cold, making it very easy for us to avoid. If you manage to hit Disengage during the grip, it will cancel the grip's effect, and you'll drop where you are instead of being pulled in. If you're a bit slow, you'll still get a head start on leaping away. The end result is we don't have to run as far.
- You can also help out your raid by using Aspect of the Pack after Icy Grip to speed up your teammates and help them get out of the line of fire faster. The frost AOE damage of the fight doesn't trigger the dazed effect of pack. I actually have a macro for the fight that triggers Aspect of the Pack and then Disengage at the press of a button. Just remember to switch back to Dragonhawk once your friends have moved to safety.
- In general you want to use your first Rapid Fire on engage, and try to time subsequent ones to make sure you'll get full use out of them. That means not starting one when you know you're near a Icy Grip or flight phase. Definitely avoid stacking multiple haste buffs, as that's just more likely to force us to stop DPSing entirely from Permeating Chill.
- During the flight phase you probably want to recall your pet. If you leave the pet on Sindragosa it's very likely to go out of range during the flight phase and despawn. Of course re-summoning your pet normally isn't a problem, unless you're targeted for an Ice Tomb. You can't summon your pet while in the tomb.
- If you are the Ice Tomb target, you can still control your pet. So use your time to have your pet help out damaging the tomb. It's not like you have anything better to do.
- When you're hiding behind Ice Tombs, remember to DPS the other ones, and probably set your pet on the one you're hiding behind. Be careful about applying DoTs however -- you don't want your DoTs finishing off the tomb early.
- Most MM hunters are now trained to reapply Serpent Sting when our T10 set bonus procs; however, that's not a good idea in the first two alternating phases of the fight. Your Serpent Sting is going to fall off during the flight phase, so you won't be able to keep the 15% damage bonus on it indefinitely. Remember that it takes somewhere around 45 seconds of uptime before refreshing Serpent Sting with the T10 bonus actually pays off (and that's assuming you also have the T9 bonus -- otherwise it's more like two minutes). So if the Serpent Sting won't be up for that long, it's not worth reapplying it.. You'll end up doing more damage with that global cooldown by casting Steady Shot.
You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the WoW.com column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you improve your Heroic DPS, understand the impact of Skill vs. Gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101, and even solo bosses with some Extreme Soloing.