Every Friday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting balance druids and those who group with them. This week we are sipping some iced tea, sittin' on our porch swings, enjoying a nice sundae cone and talking about that time we slew the giant, rampaging, pink dragon.
I want to take a spot of a breather from Cataclysm information just for this week. Mostly because I'm slightly frothy at the mouth, which I've been told isn't a good health sign, but more so due to the fact that so much is in the process of being changed right now that going into an in-depth discussion on a topic that's likely to have every scrap completely altered tomorrow is silly. Perhaps silly is the wrong word, after all that's never been something to stop me before, so let's just consider this to be an isolated case -- promises that next week will be a real Cataclysm discussion. In light of that, if there's anything specific that you'd like to see covered, shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do for you.
Focusing on the here and now, which is actually what this article is about, I'd like to quickly go over the more recent raiding addition Ruby Sanctum. Although I've seen mixed reviews of the instance from others, I at least think the instance is a nice little dash of refreshing. It doesn't hold the same sense of urgency, the same notion that you're going to be stuck in here for hours upon hours, days upon days (even though many guilds, particularly those working on hard mode, will be) that I get from going into ICC. RS is a nice little cooldown raid; it's light, fun and refreshing like a cool glass of lemonade. To start us off, we'll take a quick look at the shiny loots, since that's what everyone really wants, and then we'll look into a brief little guide on how to slay the giant purple/pink dragon at the end.
Changling Gloves There are a rather decent pair of gloves that you can pick up which, surprisingly, don't have hit or spirit on them. It's like a July Christmas wish or something. Sadly for balance druids, the Tier 10 gloves that do have hit on them are generally going to be a part of your BiS list, but that's the funny thing about BiS lists, you really don't have to pay much attention to that note. The reality is, if these are an upgrade for you and you can get hit from another slot of equitable ilevel, then chances are you'll want these gloves. Particularly for 10-man loot, a lot of stuff on it has hit these days, so it may be rather difficult to find yourself a full set of gear that doesn't put you skyrocketing over the hit cap if you are in a 10-man exclusive guild, which makes these gloves perfect.
Misbegotten Belt I'm only mentioning this because it happens to drop in the instance and you can use it as a balance druid; however I really wouldn't suggest it. If you're a more fresh 80 or merely an alt, then this can be a great item to snag, but for a vast majority of players, picking up the Emblem of Frost belt is the better choice.
Saviana's Tribute This is a decent ring if you happen to find yourself lacking in the hit department, but chances are that you aren't considering, as I mentioned before, there's an overload of hit on all ICC 10-man gear. If you can make use of the hit, then go ahead and grab it, the ring isn't bad at face value, but there are much better options out there.
Phaseshifter's Bracers Ahh, the eternal question: to leather, or not to leather? In the case for these bracers, which are beyond amazing, the reason why balance druids constantly ask this question is rather clear. You see, there are a pair of cloth bracers that are almost identical which drop in 25 as well; almost identical. Technically, the cloth bracers are better itemized and have a better gem slot than the leather bracers, making them the stronger choice; however, given that a raid will have far more cloth wearers aiming for those, and eventually we'll be getting a mastery bonus for wearing all leather, there really isn't a reason to not stick with the Phaseshifter's in this case.
Cloak of Burning Dusk It's pretty much a replica of the Frostbinder's Shredded Cape out of ICC, but the higher ilevel attached to it makes it a better choice. If you can get this cloak, than do so, but if you already have FSC, then I wouldn't be too gung-ho about getting it.
Charred Twilight Scale Even though haste is a bane of our existence, this is still the best trinket that you can get at this stage of the game. It's basically another version of the Dislodged Foreign Object out of ICC, yet slightly upgraded with a better proc overall. You'll want this trinket -- but so will every other caster in the raid.
How to get the loot
Clearing to Halion himself -- yes, Halion is male -- isn't all that difficult. None of the three sub-bosses that are located within the zone offer up much in the way of difficulty nor are their mechanics that complex; honestly, the trash is more difficult than the sub-bosses themselves in this place. Halion is a completely different matter though. He's a tough cookie, and if you aren't in a guild of fairly situationally aware players, then you are going to struggle.
As far as boss encounters go, Halion really isn't all that difficult mechanic wise -- heroic is a different matter, of course -- where the entire focus of everything is to just pay attention. During phase 1, there will be meteors raining down from the sky, snakes of fire on the ground, and large glowing circles of death to avoid. Peachy, eh? Phase 1 itself isn't all that bad to be honest, just make sure to stand out of any of the nasty effects and you'll be fine. Also, keep in mind that the debuff Halion places on players is a magical curse, meaning that it can be removed as either of those subtypes -- meaning you can remove it. Don't automatically remove it and think you're a hero, but do pay attention and be kind to your healers. Players can get a touch spread out at times and if a player does need to be dispelled and you can do so, then go ahead and do it.
Phase 2 is another matter. The first few weeks that I attempted to do this, I wanted to bash my head against a wall. Phase 2 takes place in the shadow realm, or whatever it's called, and basically the main mechanic is that the two floating orbs on the outside of the room will eventually become a giant laser of death seeking to cut you in half. This isn't anything that we haven't seen before, so avoiding it shouldn't cause you too much trouble, however, if you plan this incorrectly, then you'll find yourself moving way too much and spend no time DPSing.
You'll want to swing your camera around to watch where the orbs are currently circling so that you can be prepared for the moment when they seek to turn you into a magic trick gone awry; try your best not to move during the time when the orbs are merely floating around, you'll want to spend that time actually DPSing. Every guild is different; my current guild has all of the ranged stacked up near the tank, but obviously out of cleave range, and all of us move at once in the same direction of the tank when the orbs are active. This significantly cuts down on our movement time and it allows for the movement that we have to do to be fairly smooth with everyone moving together instead of a few people winding up in cleave range, or a few others getting tail swiped.
Finally, phase 3 is merely a repeat of one of the first two phases, only some of your raid members will be up with the fire while others will be down with the orbs of death. Ideally, you should be up with the fire, which is the best place for ranged to shine and is really, really easy to manage. Due note though that you have to be really careful on the transition. Sometimes players can have longer phasing times, and it certainly doesn't take Halion long before he chews through a tank. Right at the transition, it might be in your best interest to pop out and heal the tank until you see that all of the assigned healers are up, active, and have the situation under control; I promise your tanks and healers will thank you for it.
For more on Halion strategy, check WoW.com's Halion guide.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).