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Shifting Perspectives: Balance in Throne of the Four Winds

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. This week, we'll fight a giant blob of wind ... or air ... or something like that. It'll be totally awesome guys -- I promise!

Greetings once again, my druidic companions! In the previous weeks, we valiantly struggled once again to end the life of two of Deathwing's children. It wasn't an easy victory, to be sure. This week, we put ourselves against a new foe: the elemental lord of air Al'Akir. The elemental lords have always been quite chaotic in nature, once serving as a part of the Old Gods' armies when they ruled Azeroth. It comes as no surprise, then, that the wind king (much like the fire lord) has thrown his lot in with Deathwing.

On a side note, I think this creates the perfect opportunity to bring up why this proves that druids are vastly superior to shaman. Sure, both groups may harbor some control over the natural forces of the world, but the shaman rely upon the elements in order to perfect their art. These elements are quite fickle. Oh sure, they can beg and plead to have the elements bless them, but what do they do when the elements say "no"? Druids don't have this weakness. We control nature itself; we are the rightful caretakers of this world. Personally, I say the next war should be between the Cenarion Circle and the Earthen Ring. We've pretty much fought against all of the elemental lords in one form or another; I think it's high time we targeted the root of the problem. I'm just sayin'.

Conclave of Wind

Before we can throw down with Al'Akir himself, we first have to fight against the three remaining lords of wind. The Conclave of Wind isn't a difficult encounter by any means; it is more mechanical in nature. The fight primarily centers around knowing the ins and outs of each boss and how to cope with them. Even without amazing gear, they can be brought down, provided you execute the encounter correctly. The downside to that is there are quite a few things to worry about at any given time. With that in mind, let's go into the bosses' abilities first.

Nezir
  • Chilling Winds Deals increasing frost damage to all players within the zone and decreases haste by 500%. This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
  • Permafrost Channels a cone of frost at the current target dealing frost damage for 3 seconds.
  • Frost Puddle? The technical ability isn't listed on Wowhead, which isn't uncommon; essentially, Nezir drops Ice Trap-like pools that deal damage and slow movement speed.
  • Wind Chill Not to be confused with Chilling Winds (I know, right?), this ability deals frost damage to everyone on the platform and increases frost damage by 10% per stack.
  • Sleet Storm Nezir's ultimate ability that is used at 90 energy. Deals heavy frost damage to all targets on the platform, split between total number of targets. Lasts 15 seconds.

Anshal
  • Withering Winds Deals increasing shadow damage to all players within the zone and decreases healing received by 100%. This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
  • Soothing Breeze Summons a healing pool at the base of the caster. Anshal must be dragged out of it.
  • Nurture Summons several Ravenous Creepers.
  • Zephy Heals all nearby allies for massive amounts of health and increases damage dealt by 15% for 15 seconds; this effect stacks. Ability is channeled for 15 seconds and only used at 90 energy.

Rohash
  • Deafening Winds Deals increasing nature damage to all players within the zone and silences them. This ability is only used if no valid targets are within range.
  • Slicing Gale Deals nature damage to a random target
  • Wind Blast Rohash spins slowly around the the platform, dealing nature damage and knocking back anyone caught in front of him. Lasts 6 seconds.
  • Hurricane Lifts all targets on the platform into the air and deals nature damage for 15 seconds. Once the effect ends, all targets are dropped from the air and take additional fall damage.
It may seem like a lot to take in all at once, but it isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, I promise. The two most important factors of the encounter are this: First, you must always have at least one person on each platform. If any platform is without a player, then your raid will be rather quickly brought down by the harsh debuffs that go out. Second, all three djinn must die within 1 minute of each other. Unlike other multi-boss encounters, they do not have a shared health pool, so you have to watch all of them carefully.

Rohash's platform
This is the easiest platform to set up for. Rohash cannot be tanked, and the damage he deals is very minimal. In 10-man, you can get by with any self-healing DPS, and in 25-man, all you need is a single healer. Although balance druids do have the ability to heal themselves, we don't do so passively, so we generally aren't the best option to send over there. Normally, you'd be better off sending in a shadow priest or affliction/destruction warlock; enhancement shaman and marksman hunters work well too. Balance can go, but you will occasionally have to drop form in order to heal yourself.

For 25-man, you need around four to five DPSers on this platform, depending on your raid's output. In 10-man, you generally need 2; you can get by with just 1, but it can be risky. Priests are honestly the best option here, as Levitate can be used to avoid the fall damage from Hurricane.

Anshal's platform This is generally the place where you and the majority of your DPS are going to be placed. Anshal and Rohash will also be the first two to die and should die within just a few seconds of each other. Depending on how much (or little, as the case should be) healing you allow Anshal to put out, this could be tricky.

The primary focus for DPS on the platform will be the boss, and there's very little movement on this side to interrupt your normal rotation. The one thing you do have to worry about is the adds that Anshal summons. The adds have relatively low health and their damage isn't all that high; however, you don't want any of them alive when Anshal casts Zephy. Only five of them spawn, so true AoE is usually a waste -- and it is always a waste for balance druids, anyway. Once the adds spawn, get to your closest Eclipse and then run around spamming Moonfire on them and tossing out Shooting Stars procs if you have the Eclipse to do so.

Nezir's platform Normally there is no DPS on Nezir's platform, so there's little reason to ever be here. Should your raid have the issue that they cannot burn down Nezir before the other two come back to life, then try switching just a single DPS over to Nezir. Should this happen, there's not all that much you would need to watch out for. There are no adds to kill, but you will have to periodically move out from the pools of frost that are placed on the ground. Avoid standing near either of the jump points, as you don't want any frost pools near there, and avoid standing in front of the tank to avoid being hit by the cone attack.

Dealing with ultimates When the bosses gain 90 energy, they will use their ultimate ability; this is the only twist in an otherwise simple encounter. Once the bosses reach 80 energy, a few things need to happen. First, the players from Anshal and Nezir's platforms need to switch with each other. Nezir's ability splits its damage between all players on the platform, and the people who were there previously need to reset their stacks of Wind Chill. Everyone but one DPSer or healer from Rohash's platform should switch to Nezir as well.

You must switch platforms at around 80 energy. Once the bosses hit 90 energy and start to use their abilities, you will not be able to switch platforms until they are done.

During this phase, you want to get as much DPS on Nezir as you can to make burning him down easier at the end. Save Force of Nature at the start of the fight and use it on your first switch instead; the added damage on Nezir is worth it. Saving Starfall can be useful as well but isn't as necessary.

After 15 seconds, when the bosses stop casting their abilities, all the DPSers go back to their respective platforms. The tanks and healers who switched between Nezir and Anshal don't need to switch until the next ultimate. This is also a great opportunity to switch DPS between Anshal and Rohash if one is going down too slowly.

End the game As previously mentioned, Anshal and Rohash will be the first two to die; try and have them die at relatively the same time. At that point, everyone switches to Nezir -- you don't have to keep people on the dead djinn platforms -- and burns him down.

Al'Akir

The elemental lord himself can be quite a challenge in some respects, and this encounter is one of the remaining testaments to the balancing act between 10- and 25-man content. Al'Akir is much easier in 10-man than it is in 25-man. Call it what you will, but if Al'Akir is giving your group too much of an issue on 25-man, it might just be for the best to split into two 10-man groups until you gear up and learn the encounter well enough to "upgrade," as it were.

The fight itself consists of three phases, with phase 1 being the most difficult. At least we get all the hard stuff out of the way first, right?

Phase 1 Al'Akir has quite a number of abilities to watch out for in this phase.
  • Electrocute Blasts the current aggro target with increasing nature damage. Only usable if the target is outside of melee range and ends once the target is back in melee range.
  • Static Shock Deals nature damage and interrupts players in melee range of the boss.
  • Wind Burst Deals nature damage to all players on the platform and knocks them back.
  • Squall Line Summons a wall of swirling wind that circles around the platform. Each wall has a gap that can be used to avoid the ability.
  • Lightning Strike Deals nature damage in a cone facing a random target. Damage increased for every player hit.
  • Ice Storm Summons a blizzard that sweeps across a section of the platform, leaving a trail of ice on the ground that deals frost damage and slows movement speed.
The reason that this fight is so much easier in 10-man is due to Lightning Strike. In 10s, you should all be spread out around the boss in such a way that no more than two people are ever hit by the attack at any given time. In 25s, you'll want to create small clusters of three to four players who share the damage.

Aside from coping with stressed healers, you have to do your best to avoid Squall Lines, which can be tricky due to timing with other abilities. One thing to remember that can actually be very helpful is that you can Travel Form to get yourself out of a tight spot.

Unfortunately, balance lacks any of the fancier tricks that other classes can use in order to increase their survivability in this phase, which is the most important thing. If you find yourself caught where you shouldn't be, such as knocked off the platform, the best you can do is to toss a few Lifeblooms on yourself should you need the healing.

Phase 2 Once he reaches 80%, Al'Akir loses some of his more annoying abilities. Lightning Strike, Ice Storm, and Wind Burst are all gone. Squall Lines are still circling around, so be wary of those. There are two new abilities, though.
  • Acid Rain Constant AoE damage that hits the raid. The longer this phase lasts, the more damage Acid Rain does, creating a soft enrage of sorts.
  • Summon Stormling Creates an add every 20 seconds that deals AoE damage to anyone within 20 yards of it. Debuffs Al'Akir with Feedback when killed.
This phase lasts quite a long time, until 25%, and it is one of two DPS races you'll encounter. Acid Rain constantly stacks throughout the phase, and you need to push him through the phase before your healers become unable to cope with the increasing damage. In this, you actually are useful! Yay! Uses! Anyway, later into the phase, blowing a Tranquility to assist with the healing load can be very useful.

The adds that spawn need to be stagger-killed in order to keep the Feedback rolling. That's not too difficult to handle, provided that everyone watches their DPS; you might be better off just DoTing the add than switching back to the boss. One thing that you do need to be watchful of is when to use Starfall. It does hit two targets, so you don't want it to push an add too soon, should you need to hold off for a bit on DPS.

Phase 3 Oh look, the platform is gone! New and original. Kidding aside, the platform does explode, and you do find yourself flying around inside of a storm. Comparatively, this is the simplest phase of the encounter. The group should gather together and head down to the lowest Lightning Cloud. Once there, you just wait until a new cloud forms and then move up out of it. Any raid member who gets Lightning Rod needs to move sideways away from the group.

Just as with phase 2, this is another DPS race. Instead of fighting against an increasing damage mechanic, you are fighting against space. Buck up, though -- this is the easiest phase of the encounter, so just getting there means that you've got it made.
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.

Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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