Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration will show you how, brought to you by Joe Perez, otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and the For The Lore podcast.
You have broken down the front door, taken out the Lich King's chief physician and beaten down his vampire cadre into a sparkling pulp. Now it is time to take out the Lich King's aerial core by heading into The Frostwing Halls and taking out some Frost Wyrms.
You've seen them everywhere in this expansion and with good reason. The Lich King has been raising an army of these former dragons to do his bidding. They range everywhere from Icecrown, as you would expect, but are also everywhere from the Howling Fjord to Sholozar Basin. These creatures are raised from the bodies of dragons from both the Blue Dragonflight that have been defeated by the scourge as well as any dragon remains found in the Dragonblight.
These twisted forms have no memories of their previous lives nor of the world beyond death. They are intelligent beings capable of strategy, tactics and deception, but their lack of memories of their former life, combined with their unwavering desire to serve their dark master with all the power available to them, makes them very difficult opponents. The goal here is to take out their queen and the last obstacle between you and the leader of the scourge.
When you first enter the icy halls, you will be greeted by a small gauntlet of vrykul that leads up to mini-boss Sister Svalna. Accompanying you will be the captains from some of your earlier quests led by Crok Scourgebane. The gauntlet will see you dodging area effect and whirlwinds; think of it as sort of a warm-up for what is next.
As you enter the room, you will notice that she is at 50% health and being pinned down by a handful of archmages. Your job is to bring her health back to full while the tanks and DPS deal with the waves of adds that spawn during the encounter. The encounter revolves around healers being able to bring her up to 100% while everyone else works to handle adds and minimize raid damage. Most popular strategies call for between six and eight healers on 25-man and two to three healers on 10-man. So let's take a look at what you will be dealing with.
Positioning and abilities
Even though Valithria is completely pinned down, she is not entirely helpless. During the encounter, she will summon Nightmare Portals. These are portals into the Emerald Dream that players can take to a sort of pocket dimension they can enter for a short time. While inside this portion of the Emerald Dream, players will see Nightmare Clouds throughout the room. When you touch a Nightmare Cloud, it will explode, giving you a buff called Emerald Vigor. This increases your healing and damage done by 10% as well as giving you 200 mana every 3 seconds per stack. So the more clouds you pop, the more of a buff you get.
She will first summon these portals about 30 seconds after the initial mages holding her are killed. This process repeats every 25 to 30 seconds throughout the encounter. Because the fight ends whenever the healers get her to full, it is ideal that only healers take the portals, to maximize the buff they receive. There are a couple of ways to approach picking healers. First, you can assign your highest single-target HPS classes to take every single portal and stack up the buff, while other people only take one if mana is low. Or you can simply alternate, so half your healers take the first set, the other half the second and go from there. Or you can just have people take portals if mana is an issue. Second, you can alternate groups of healers on the portals. Since the Emerald Vigor buff has an expiration timer of 40 seconds, the first method is usually looked upon as the best one.
While there is no set number of healers that should take the portal, many raids have found the following to work really well. With six healers in 25-man, the four highest HPS players go in. On 10-man with three healers, two go into the portals. Whoever the portal-goers are, take them every time to maximize the buff, leaving the any healers not assigned to portals to help heal the raid as they deal with adds. We'll talk more about healing her in just a minute.
Her adds and their abilities are also something to pay attention to, even if you are assigned to the portal.
- Frostbolt Volley Inflicts frost damage and drains mana from nearby players; also slows their movement by 50%. Even if you are assigned to portals, you need to watch for this. Since the portals spawn randomly in the room, you will be moving in order toget to them in time. This will also affect anyone trying to move to pick up adds. If you get the debuff, make sure to let someone who can purge magic know. This will slow your speed down inside the portals as well as outside.
- Mana Void Another void zone that drains mana from anyone within 6 yards of it. As you are running between portals or to heal the raid, make sure to watch for the giant purple circle on the ground and avoid it.
- Column of Frost This will cause an eruption of frost underneath you and knock anyone caught by it into the air. Be mindful of this as you are moving, since it will interrupt any spellcast and can very easily knock you out of position to heal the group or to hop in a portal.
- Lay Waste This will deal fire damage to all players in the room, including Valithria herself. Leaving them alone too long can have a big negative impact on the encounter.
- Suppression This reduces the healing done to the target by 10%. If you see this debuff on her, try to push a little extra healing out. If the mobs are left up for long, you will fall behind.
- Corrosion Applies a stacking DoT that also reduces armor on the target. If you are outside the portals, you need to be mindful of this and step up the healing slightly when you see players getting stacks of this debuff. It may only last six seconds, but a few stacks of this can be the end of an an unsuspecting squishy.
- Acid Burst Deals a sizable amount of nature damage to players around it and applies a DoT that will tick every second for 20 seconds. Same as Corrosion -- make sure to top players off quickly when you see this go out, as if it's left un-managed, it can spell the end of the attempt.
- Gut Spray A DoT that lasts 12 seconds and increases physical damage taken.
- Rot Worm Summoned when the abominations die; try not to run over them or get in their path.
If you are assigned to the dragon and portals, you want to make sure that you are utilizing your biggest heals. This is in agreement between most of the major healing strategies out there. Healing Wave with Healing Way is really where your focus should be. Keeping Riptide up on her is also a good idea not only because it will benefit from each stack of the emerald vigor, but also because it will keep Tidal Waves up. Since mana is not an issue here, any additional healing you can pump out through hastened effects can help eliminate the fight that much sooner. Liberal use of Tidal Force will also help, as it will increase your healing per second. The benefit will increase as you gain more stacks of the vigor. Nature's Swiftness is also great for pumping out some extra healing, but I suggest saving it until you are forced to move between portals or away from a damage effect. Since we don't have a lot of healing on the move-type spells, this can help make sure you get the most out of your casts especially when trying to get to another portal. If you do get slowed down, be sure to let whoever is assigned to cleansing the debuff know so they can remove it if they are in range. When you take portals and come back out, it will sometimes take you a couple of seconds to target Valithria again; if you find yourself having any trouble with that, you may want to look into focus macros.
You can also ask the raid leader to make sure portal people are marked with raid icons. This actually will help a lot when you are trying to jockey for a portal, helping ensure that two people aren't fighting for a portal only to have one person miss the portal and lose the buff. I say this a lot, I know, but in this fight, Healing Stream Totem can be very useful. As the fight goes on, the raid will be taking more and more damage. As you gain stacks of the buff, your healing from all sources increases, including HST. Anyone in your group in range of it can get a very nice healing output if you keep your stacks up, and that can help the raid healers out quite a bit. Earth Shield also benefits from Emerald Vigor. While you can place it on Valithria, better placement may be on an add tank. This helps out anyone outside the portal healing and keeps the tanks alive to handle adds. If they die, it's pretty much game over for that attempt. Another tip: Chain Heal will bounce off of Valithria to any of your raid members close enough to her. I confirmed this just this past week. As people run to get mobs, sometimes they will skirt close to the dragon; a well timed Chain Heal can help, and this way it won't detract from your healing on the dragon.
Healing the Raid
Chain Heal is your best friend here. People will be in same general area trying to deal with adds and so Chain Heal will have a lot of spaces to bounce to. Keep Riptide up and place Earth Shield on tanks. Mind the floor and make sure you aren't standing in any void zones. Keeping Mana Tide Totem and a Runic Mana Potion handy while being sure to refresh Water Shield whenever it's down will help make sure you don't run out of mana before she's down. When you have no raid damage to heal, toss a couple of heals on the dragon. Every little bit helps to end the encounter that much quicker.
When to Bloodlust/Heroism
Until recently, I was unaware that there are varying accounts on when this should be used. Some say that you should use it after the healers return from the first portal phase, while others say that it should be banked until sometime around the third or fourth portal phase. I'm in the camp that thinks it's a good idea to save it until later in the fight, to make sure not only that the portal healers have a good number of vigor stacks, but also to help those outside the raid deal with adds. This will help you make that final push to top her off.
This fight is all about the healers. Keep your wits about you, and pay attention to the floor and portal spawn points to make sure you don't get knocked into the air or taken out of the fight for a few seconds. Before you know it, she'll be healed to full, but she won't stick around long after thanking you for saving her.