Ahhhh! It's SFK! If you started out as Alliance in vanilla, then this instance probably doesn't hold the same significance to you as it does the Horde players, but SFK is really one of the iconic dungeons of WoW. In Cataclysm, it has been completely revamped, even with a heroic mode that is ... brutal.
Trash The one saving grace about Shadowfang Keep is that trash is literally that, trash. Nothing about the trash is difficult. There aren't all too many large pulls that actually require CC of any kind, as long as you pull carefully instead of running in blindly. Just take your time, think before you pull, and everything should go smoothly.
Baron Ashbury Corborus may be a PUG killer, Erudax might put a lot of pressure on your DPS, but nothing that I have encountered thus far compares to the evil that is Ashbury. He can be downright nasty if your group is not prepared for him, and you will wipe over and over and over again. Overall, he honestly isn't that difficult, but he can be your worst nightmare if you don't play smart.
Your must interrupt Mend Rotten Flesh as well as Stay of Execution (at some point, at least.) Allowing either of these spells to be fully cast will make the encounter impossible to complete. Interrupts are rather plentiful, thankfully enough, and the chances that you won't have at least one is rather low, if not nearly impossible.
The encounter is a pure DPS check, no bones about it, but it also requires a lot of attention and pressure on the healer. You must kill Ashbury quickly or you will simply be overwhelmed and die a horrible, horrible death. Try not to let that happen, if you can. As a balance druid, Solar Beam simply isn't enough. You can use it and it will help, but you are going to have to count on your other party members in order to actually lock him down. It's unfortunate, but it's simply a mechanic that you have to deal with.
Baron Silverlaine This is a pushover fight that's an outright yawnfest, especially in comparison to the first boss of the dungeon. All you really need to do is to remove the curse, and you are golden. Half the time, I even forget that this is a boss encounter -- and, really, it almost shouldn't be, it's so laughably easy. With a balance druid in the party, nothing about Silverlaine should be remotely challenging. I guess that's why he isn't technically a boss ...
Commander Springvale A very hit-or-miss encounter. If you are in a group that only just has the gear to do heroics, then this is possibly going to be the hardest encounter you'll ever face. In terms of mechanics, the encounter is fairly basic. The boss has two adds that can heal him for a very significant amount of health if you ignore them, and additional adds spawn throughout the course of the encounter. Taking down the adds and not allowing them to heal is a top priority, but it can be difficult to do this if your group is lacking in the DPS department.
Further, the boss places a debuff on the tank that acts as a soft enrage, so the worse the gear that your tank and/or your healer has, the shorter the time that you have to complete the encounter. Fun, fun, fun! Just keep bouncing between the adds and the boss until you get Springvale to around 40-30%. At this point, ignore the adds and throw everything that you have into bringing Springvale down. At this point, use any CC you may have to keep them down and toss out Solar Beam to buy some time from healing.
Lord Walden Do you like the game Red Light, Green Light? I hope you do, because that's this boss in a nutshell. Just DPS the boss as normal until he does Mystery Toxin. If it's red, stand still at all costs; if it's green, never stop moving. Easy-peasy.
Lord Godfrey Not really difficult as far as end bosses go, and your group has a leg up by having a means of removing the curse that Godfrey places on people, which helps reduce incoming damage significantly. Another thing of note, although it doesn't deal with balance druids: Make sure that your tank is moving away from Godfrey during Pistol Barrage. Mortal Wound can stack to unhealable levels rather quickly; however, it only lasts 8 seconds, while Pistol Barrage lasts 6 seconds -- moving during Barrage can easily be used to reset stacks.
Another classic instance, this time for our Alliance side of the family. As much fun as Deadmines is and as awesome as the revamp has made the instance, heroic DM can be the worst thing ever. Thankfully, it's a vast change form most dungeons; most of the bosses are cake, but it's the trash that will eat your face.
Trash Deadmines trash is some of the worst that I have yet to see in a non-raid dungeon. I remember the Time Lost Controllers back in TBC and what a pain they were; I remember the five-mob pulls in Slave Pens with a healer, two mobs that could fear, a mob that could run, and a mob that could MC -- oh yeah, and you had a shaman, druid, and warlock as your CCers -- and still, I would take all of that and then some to avoid DM trash.
The first few pulls are going to be brutal on your tank, and there is absolutely nothing at all that you personally can do to prevent it. Someone should be in the cannon in order to stun the mobs as often as possible, but that's all you got. They cannot be CCed, their enrage cannot be dispelled -- they just punch your meatbag's face in.
The second zone of trash is relatively easy in comparison to the rest of the instance, albeit the mobs do have fairly high health and take forever and a day to die. Avoid hitting the monkeys, or better yet, free them so they assist you as you pull through the goblins. Afterwards, the Oaf Lackeys can be a little tough. There's only one pull where you have to take on two, and they can be CCed. Entangling Roots isn't the best option, because they can still use Axe to the Head on party members, but they at least won't be hitting the tank, which mitigates tons of damage.
The third zone has the wonderful Envokers. They can be cake, or they can be the worst experience of your life. Each Envoker will have around four to five non-elite mobs around them, which they essentially turn into elite mobs throughout the encounter via an uninterpretable spell. They also have a Holy Fire that has a ridiculously long cast time, but will hit your tank for 74,000-86,000 damage with an additional 5,000 or so damage every 2 seconds. Needless to say, with several other mobs beating on your tank, it's a deadly combination.
There are two ways to deal with the Envoker. They start the encounter with a buff that makes them immune to CC; you can dispel the buff and then CC them, or you can choose to just interrupt each Holy Fire and burn down the Envoker. Balance druids can't do anything for the first method, but Solar Beam is amazingly good for the second method.
After this, you have the wonderful packs of Blood Wizards, Enforcers, and Shadowguards. The Wizards aren't that bad, and the field that they cast can be used to boost your damage to absurd levels, but the Enforcers and the Shadowguards can melt your party quickly. Your best option is to CC the Enforcers when you can. You can root the Shadowguards as well, but they can still use Shadowstep while rooted, so party members have to watch out that one doesn't teleport behind them and start ripping into their backside. The Shadowguards also start out Camouflaged, so you can't target them with any range-based CC until after they've attacked something. Fun times.
Last, but certainly not least, you have the ever-loved Pirates and Squallshapers. The Pirates are barely a threat at all, just a standard melee mob that you probably won't even bother CCing, but the Squallshapers have a nasty ability called Seaswell that will rip through your party like butter if it's not interrupted. When there's only one, it's not so bad ... When you have two or three, it gets a bit more tricky. Solar Beam is king against these mobs and will help your group beyond words. Use it liberally against them, and switch to the glyph if you have it.
Glubtok Honestly, a joke of a boss, in my opinion. None of his abilities hit all that hard, and he tends to drop rather quickly. He does reset aggro very frequently, so be cautious of that as you are very likely to pull threat with your DoTs ticking. He enters into phase 2 around 40% or so, which is where it can get a little bit more tricky. The Fire Wall will kill you if it touches you, so don't get hit, although it is horribly easy to avoid. There are also loads upon loads of adds that spawn during this time. Ignore them, mostly, and just use Starfall and Wild Mushroom to clear them all out once they've built up.
For phase 2, you'll mostly want to just get into a Solar Eclipse and stay there by spamming Sunfire over and over again due to constantly having to move anyway. I would only suggest following your standard rotation if you use a Bloodlust-type buff during this phase.
Helix Gearbreaker Another simplistic encounter. Just don't get hit by bombs, which there are a lot of them -- so be careful -- and nuke him down. DPS-wise, the boss has very few mechanics that you actually have to worry about. The boss straps bombs to people every so often; just don't stand on each other. He also picks up random party members to ram them into the wall. The healer just heals the DPS afterwards and it's game, set, match. Overall, this boss shouldn't put up much of a fight.
Foe Reaper 5000 To cap out the plethora of pushover bosses, this mechanical monstrosity is almost a joke. Although I have never personally been the one to use the harvester during this encounter, there's nothing that really prevents you from doing so. Whoever takes the harvester should just tank the add that spawns away from the boss and practically live in their own world for the entire encounter. Dodge bad stuff coming toward you -- the bad stuff being the boss himself this time -- and you've cleared yourself to a win.
Admiral Ripsnarl You knew that things just couldn't stay easy, didn't you? In an effort to make up for the lack of effort on the first three encounters, Ripsnarl is an encounter in which gear and paying attention matters. The fun doesn't start until the Admiral Vanishes and starts to summon adds. These must die quickly! The longer you take to kill them, the more health they are going to get, causing them to deal more damage and to take even longer to down. If you allow one to grow to full size, it will use Coalesce and pretty much wipe an unprepared group -- there is an achievement for eating the spell three times, and it isn't easy. To make matters worse, the longer you take to force Ripsnarl to Vanish again, the more damage he is going to end up doing, to the point that he's pretty much going to drop your tank unless cooldowns are used.
If your group isn't that well geared, then your best strategy is going to be to have everyone nuking down the adds as soon as they spawn. Although this will slightly lower the DPS on the boss, this helps to ensure that none of them ever grow even once, which in the end actually allows for more uptime on Ripsnarl himself.
If you do have the gear for it, then have only one DPS focusing on adds, one DPS focusing the boss, and one DPS floating between the two. Unless you have a better option (which there aren't many of), you should be the floating DPS. You can choose to play it how you want; I generally focus on Ripsnarl, stopping to toss out both my DoTs and a Starsurge at each add that spawns. The DoTs and SS should be enough assistance to down an add before it grows, provided your other DPS switches immediately and is relatively well-geared. Another nice tip is to use Wild Mushroom next to the boss, to hit both the add and Ripsnarl. This is a lot trickier, as neither have a very large hit box and the add can pop up just about anywhere. Just plant mushrooms when you get the chance and use them if the opportunity presents itself.
Finally, at 25%, you need to focus on the boss as much as possible. Adds still spawn and they still need to die, but the boss has to be the primary target or he will wreck you. Starfall and Force of Nature are awesome for this portion of the encounter; especially if you have other classes with splash damage. Make a mouseover macro for pet attack and send your treants out after any add that spawns. With a little help from collateral damage, they should be able to down it before it manages to grow.
Cookie Everyone loves Xookie! He's the dessert to top off any successful romp into DM. There's good food and there's bad food. Eat the good food; avoid the bad food. Nuke the boss, and profit. Cookie is a really, really easy fight that shouldn't give anyone trouble in the least.
Vanessa VanClef Oh, you thought you were done? You thought that you had seen the worst that Blizzard could throw at you? Wrong again. Actually, VVC isn't too terrible because each phase is different from the others, so you don't actually have to manage it all at once.
Phase 1 pits you into the Goblin Foundry, where there will be fire and falling rocks all up over the place. Avoid the fire at all costs, you know, given that it will more than likely kill you; fire is so fickle that way. You cannot run all the way down the ramp; instead, you have to jump off to the side, then weave through some more fire to reach ... Glubtok! He has virtually no abilities at all and is a simple tank and spank to kill rather easily.
Phase 2 is oh, so much more fun. Stack as close to the door as you possibly can, and Helix will spawn right on top of you. The rest of the room will become flooded with spiders. Spiders will randomly aggro toward you throughout the encounter, but moving closer to them will draw their aggro faster, so avoid it at all costs. Also, do not use Starfall! For the love of Elune, even with the glyph, you run a huge risk of getting a nasty amount of spiders all over you and causing a wipe. Do not use it!
Phase 3 is even better than all the others; yeah, it only goes uphill from here. Ever played Mario? You know, the original Mario with the fire chains that swirled around and ate your face and pissed you off until you wanted to throw your controller at the TV because they always just nicked you? Yeah, prepare to re-experience the magic! The hallway past the Foundry is now full of wonderful, wonderful sparks that rotate around and almost one-shot you if they manage to catch you attempting to sneak by. The very last two before Foereaper are a major pain, but don't even bother trying to go through them. In the far left nook before the last two balls is a safe spot where nothing will hit you. From there you can pull the boss, kill him, and have the angry balls of death despawn.
Phase 4 (yes, there are more than four phases on a heroic boss) pits you against Ripsnarl's nightmare as he attempts to rescue his family from nasty worgen. There are three you must save in total. The first two simply have a few worgen attacking them, which must be pulled off by the tank and the killed as usual. The last one is being held over the edge of the ship by a man named James Harrington. He is not tanked, so go all out on him as soon as he is in your range. It's a pure DPS race, so don't be scared to use any and all cooldowns that you have -- if she falls, you all end up dying.
Phase 5, the last and final phase: Finally you get to face off against that wretched daughter of VanCleef. Overall, she is pretty much more of a pushover than any of the other bosses could ever hope of becoming -- it's just the getting to her that's the hard part. She spawns adds, just like her daddy, that need to be tanked and killed. Be careful about having Starfall up when they spawn, as it could pull aggro. She will Shadowstep to random people and hit them.
Her last ability is to threaten to blow up the ship, at which point you find these handy-dandy notebooks, errr, ropes at the far side of the ship that swing you off to safety. Feral druids cannot use the ropes while shifted, but you should be able to use them even in Moonkin Form. That is, of course, unless you're me and Blizzard dislikes you for some unknown reason; in that case, you cannot use the ropes while in Moonkin Form. Sad panda face
Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, analyze balance racials and abilities, and walk you through PvP as a balance druid.