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Shifting Perspectives: Raiding late Blackwing Descent as balance, page 2

Chimaeron

If you thought Magmaw was an ugly, overgrown hunter pet, then you get the grand pleasure of facing another one! Oh, joy! You know, hunters really should be more careful about what they feed those things; I'm tired of having to clean up the messes that they make.

Although Chimaeron is a DPS check of sorts, it is far and away more so a healing check than anything else. Damage only really comes into play during the last phase of the encounter, and if you can handle Maloriak's enrage timer, then there is no reason why Chimaeron should give you any issues at all in the DPS department.

The setup Planning is everything for Chimaeron. Before the encounter even begins, the raid should know exactly where they are going to stand, and they should return to that same spot each and every time. There isn't much time during the encounter to be flocking around looking for an open spot; know where you will be and be there.

Chimaeron has a huge hit box -- like, huge. You should be running Glyph of Focus for this encounter, without question. If you aren't already doing so, then now would be the perfect time to set up an Innervate rotation with a restoration druid, and both of you pick up Glyph of Innervate. This is one of the few encounters that will probably strain your mana when first learning it.

Phase 1 This is the basic part of the encounter, and the easiest -- if any of it can be considered all that easy. The boss's abilities are rather limited, with the primary ability that you, as a DPSer, need to worry about being the poison bolt that is spit on random raid members. You will have low health during this encounter, but don't worry about it. You only need to have above 10,000 health at any given time. If you have significantly more than that, then you should probably start yelling at your healers to stop overhealing.

Remind your healers: Any healing over 10,000 health is overhealing. Don't do it.

As I mentioned, you will occasionally be hit by poison bolts. Aside from dealing damage, they also reduce your chance to hit by 75%. As a balance druid, I find this to be hell. First and foremost, do not cast Starsurge if you have the debuff up. Sometimes you cannot help it, but do not use it if you can avoid it. The other downside is that Eclipse generation becomes highly unreliable. Although normally you might pre-cast a Wrath or Starfire when you know that you are going to get Eclipse, if you have the debuff up, then there's a high chance you'll end up missing and not generate any Eclipse at all. It is far safer to just expect that your cast is going to miss and pre-cast what you need to proc Eclipse. This way, you only "waste" a single non-Eclipsed cast instead of wasting two.

Phase 2 This is the grouping phase. Periodically, Chimaeron will "cast" Feud. Everyone needs to group up on his head at this point. This is the most healing-intensive part of the encounter, as everyone needs to have a significant amount of health in order to survive. Save Barkskin and Healthstones for this phase. It is also wise to set up a healing cooldown rotation to deal with everything going on, and you should be a part of that with Tranquility.

During this phase, everyone in the raid is going to end up eating the poison debuff and doing so rather frequently. This makes DPSing cumbersome and difficult, especially for a balance druid. After you have better raiding gear and your healers are able to cope with everything on their own, just DPS through the pain while screaming at your computer that Eclipse hates you.

While learning the encounter for the first time, however, healing is likely to be very rough. You are going to be better off healing during this phase instead of attempting to DPS. Although we are not healers, one thing that we are able to do is to keep ourselves alive rather well here, and that makes one less person to worry about. Stack Lifebloom up on yourself; rolling it if you are topped off, letting it burst if you are low, and toss out Healing Touch or Nourish if you are low. If your health is good, then toss out what DPS on the boss as you can, but staying alive is far more vital here.

If you do any healing, don't forget to re-shift to Moonkin Form while running back to your position. Don't laugh; I've forgotten a time or two. I just drop form that infrequently.

Last 20% Once you reach 20%, the boss will hit everyone in the raid with a debuff that reduces healing by 99%, essentially meaning that people are going to start dying. There are no more poison bolts, but Chimaeron will start to chew through people. Use Force of Nature and Starfall as quickly as you can, along with any other cooldowns that you have left. This is a DPS race and, sadly, there's nothing special that we have to offer for it.

Ideally, you want your tanks to have near full health going into this phase, but this rarely happens unless your healers and DPS have excellent timing. Barring that, your next hope is that you have paladins or rogues next on the aggro table; this is a very, very slim chance, however. More than likely, you are going to be the one just under the tanks and the one who gets his face chewed off first as soon as the tanks drop. Try to stand as far away from the boss as you possibly can, and pray that you have a kind paladin in the raid who will use Hand of Protection on you.

Another tool that can buy you a little more time is to have a priest Leap of Faith you to the other side of the room, allowing you some kiting time. If you want to shoot for the achievement, then this is what you have to do. Again, ideally for that, you need your tanks close to full health and blowing all their cooldowns to live. After that, you need to let Chimaeron hit each raid member once; it takes two hits to kill people, and then HoP them. Or have the second-threat target be a rogue/paladin who can Evasion or bubble.

Nefarian

The big bad that you've been waiting for. For those who might be thinking, "Oh hey, didn't we already kill this lame?" -- the answer is yes, yes you did. Alas, much like any true villain -- and Kael'thas -- dead things just don't stay dead. Blackrock was merely a setback and all that jazz.

Not to sound like a negative Nancy, but I personally find the Nefarian encounter to be excessively dull and boring. From a difficulty perspective, the encounter is very tough -- as it certainly should be -- but the reasoning for it being so is not "fun" by my standards. This encounter will not test your DPS by any means; in fact, there are probably relatively few things that you will care about aside from standing still and doing a rote rotation on the boss throughout most of the encounter. The difficulty of the encounter primarily comes from the massive amounts of raid damage that go out. But, enough about my small tangent on the encounter -- let's get to it, shall we?

Phase 1 The phase will start out with Onyxia on the ground and Nefarian flying high up in the air. Onyxia needs to be tanked on one side away from the raid and only really has two abilities of note. The first is the standard dragon Tail Whip, while the other is Electrical Discharge that deals damage to anyone on the sides of her.

There are two ways to deal with these abilities. The first and most common way is to have the tank face Ony's head north or south so her sides face the raid; just before she starts sending out pulsing waves of death, the tank turns her so that her tail faces the raid, turning her back after the lightning has stopped. Fairly simply and easily done; however, if you don't feel like bothering with it, you can merely have the ranged/healers eat Tail Whips. They don't hurt that much and the 2-second stun, while annoying, isn't going to put either tank in any danger of dying.

The flying Nefarian will spawn a small group of adds that need to be off-tanked and kited around. Alternatively, you can CC them via Entangling Roots, Fear, Shackle Undead, or Freezing Traps. My guild prefers the kiting method, but there is merit to both strategies, and both work just the same. If you happen to run a 10-man raid without a hunter or a shaman, you can help your tank kite by picking up Fungal Growth and dropping slowing pools around the ground. It's not the best method, but it is viable. Also, do be careful about using Starfall at the onset of the encounter. You may draw aggro on the adds doing so.

After some time, Nefarian will land. A tank needs to pick him up and take him to the opposite side of the room that Ony is tanked on. The setup should look like the above picture, with the green circle being the kiting area. Once you get Ony down to around 20%, you'll want to switch over to Nefarian and bring him down at least past 80% but not to 70% -- we generally stop around 75% or so. At this point, you switch back to Ony and kill her to engage phase 2.

Phase 2 Nefarian will take off once again and begin to fill the room with lava. You'll have to swim in it for a time and jump onto one of the three pillars around the room. On each platform, there will be a new add that has to be interrupted and killed. Solar Beam's interrupt does work on the add; however, the silence does not. This makes balance druids highly unreliable for interrupting, so don't plan on doing it. One thing worth mentioning: You may want to roll a stack of Lifebloom on yourself while swimming in the lava to help mitigate that damage; you can't do anything else, anyway.

Nefarian will continue to fly around and deal rather high amounts of AoE damage to the raid in this phase, so pushing out of it as quickly as you can is always a plus. Use Barkskin when you can to reduce the damage that you are taking, and if your add is dead, then you might consider tossing out a few heals until the other two go down as well (but only if you have the mana to spare). You can DPS Nefarian during this phase; doing so can be risky, however. Some guides say to do it; some say not to. Whether you do or not depends on your healers' ability to keep people alive and your kiter's ability to, well, kite.

Phase 3 Mechanically, there's nothing all that new during phase 3. Nefarian will land and have all of his previous abilities and only one additional ability. His new ability is only relevant to the tank you have kiting the adds -- it is a ball of fire that will reset the adds' energy bar and allow for them to stay alive longer. Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing at all for DPS to worry about and very little for balance druids to do.

The only change to a standard Patchwerk-style fight that balance druids encounter here is that you may be called upon to use Tranquility to assist in healing Crackle damage. Aside from that, it's pure tank-and-spank. Sad.


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.

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