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Totem Talk: An enhancement view of Blackwing Descent

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers (now returned from last week's emergency vacation to Narnia) tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shoot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and I have no idea about the third.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a Burning Crusade baby. This means I missed out on a lot of things: two-handed enhancement, FROST SHAWK, and both Onyxia and Nefarian as challenging raid bosses. While 40 people were beginning to come together and work out raid strategies like "Many Whelps -- handle it!," my young mind was congratulating myself on being awesome enough to beat the main storyline of Morrowind.

Cataclysm can't do anything for the first two points, which I don't mind in the least. However, Cataclysm does bring us back Nefarian and Onyxia as challenging raid content. Even better, they're together in the same fight as the climactic ending to Blackwing Descent, one of the three raid instances in tier 11 content. This week, I'll be focusing on looking at the first three bosses of Blackwing Descent from an enhancement perspective.

Magmaw

Science fiction and fantasy as genres have obsessions with weird worms. Star Wars saw a giant worm living in an asteroid. Dune gave us giant, people-eating sandworms. World of Warcraft continues this trend of enormous carnivorous annelids in Magmaw. As his name suggests, he's gigantic, lava-spewing worm who resides in a pool of molten magma. Since he enjoys spending time in the hot tub, Magmaw is stationary throughout the fight. You'll always be DPSing him at a 90-degree angle from where the tank is standing so as to avoid parries. The only exception to this is when he fills up half of his room with steam. Unlike your local sauna, this steam bath is not just for exfoliation. It will kill you; run away.

The majority of this fight is reliant on your tank, healers, and ranged DPS, as most of his mechanics are not ones you will be worrying about. Lava Spew is raid-wide AoE damage that cannot be prevented, and his Magma Spit is a single-target ability that hits hard. You have to rely on your healers to deal with most of these mechanics, especially since there is no ideal time for you to cast Healing Rain during this fight due to people's spreading out. If you want to contribute to raid survival, use Shamanistic Rage and Stoneclaw Totem absorb to try and prevent incoming damage to yourself.

Periodically, Magmaw will slump forward, and a vehicle arrow marker will appear on his body. Two melee players (three in 25-man) will need to jump on his back and shoot constricting chains at the stalagmite in the center of the room. If you do this correctly, Magmaw will impale himself on the stalagmite, exposing his head. Damage dealt to the head is increased by 100%, making this a burn phase for you and a regen phase for healers. You'll want to Bloodlust your exposed head phase.

The main job for enhancement on this fight is maximizing DPS through proper cooldown usage. What I've noticed with Magmaw is that if you pop Feral Spirit when you first get in combat, it often leaves you without wolves up for the first 5ish seconds of the head phase, which is a very bad thing. To combat this, I pop my wolves, pre-pot with Potion of the Tol'vir, and trinket (since I'm still rocking an Unsolvable Riddle for now) during the tank's countdown to run in. Once the exposed head is coming down, you'll want to use any cooldown with a GCD (Feral Spirit and Bloodlust) during the few seconds before the head appears, so as to have maximum uptime during the exposed head phases. With low responsibility and higher than normal damage, Magmaw is one of the most fun fights to play enhancement on.

Omnotron Defense System

The second fight in Blackwing Descent is fighting four Dark Iron golems, Arcanotron, Magmatron, Electron, and Toxitron. For brevity, I'll assume you've read WoW Insider's guide to Omnotron Defense System and will just focus on enhancement-specific parts.

Electron and Toxitron are both very basic bosses. Spread out, run bad things out of the raid, kite the poison that wants to explode on you, etc. The only real ability worth noting with Toxitron is that his Poison Soaked Shell will put a DoT on you that also gives your abilities a nature damage proc. If your healers are comfortable with healing through the 2,500 DPS DoT on you, it's a good way to win meters. Don't do it while learning the fight.

The main thing to worry about as enhancement on Magmatron is Incineration Security Measure, which is unavoidable damage to everyone in the raid for a few seconds. Shamanistic Rage and Stoneclaw Totem do wonders for cutting the edge off this attack on you. Even better, the common counter to this attack is to stack for a short time so that AoE heals like Healing Rain and Holy Word: Sanctuary can be thrown down. While my healers are geared enough to handle this damage now, it's an excellent idea to contribute your Healing Rain to the AoE heal pile while you're still working on the fight.

Arcanotron is the real worry for enhancement. He casts Arcane Annihilator nearly nonstop whenever he is active. An enhancement shaman can handle half of these casts himself, especially when specced into Reveberation. This spell does massive single-target damage, and if the tank is at all slow about moving Arcanotron out of Power Generators, you will see people get one-shot by it. Coupled with Power Conversion, a buff Arcanotron puts on himself after the next construct activates that needs to be Purged, an enhancement shaman becomes the best counter for this golem. During our Omnotron kills, I stay on Arcanotron even after the next Tron activates, to handle interrupts with our tank and to Purge.

Maloriak

Maloriak is weird. I respect his abilities as a scientist, but his model type is unlike anything I've ever seen before. He has some sweet abilities that would make any alchemist or goblin jealous, imbuing different-colored vials to spell doom on your raid. He also has a buff called Remedy that he'll periodically put on himself to heal. You can and need to Purge this, as he has a tight enrage timer and his healing is not a good thing.

Beyond that, Maloriak has a potent Arcane Storm that needs to be interrupted, as well as Releasing Aberrations, an ability that also needs to be interrupted at your add tank's direction. The key to this fight is setting up a good interrupt system and not overwriting your other raider's interrupt cooldowns -- I need at least two hands to count the number of times we wiped because I got jumpy with my Wind Shear on Arcane Storm and it was on cooldown for the fourth Release Aberration. Once you settle into a good interrupt rotation with your other friendly melee players and learn to not jump at any sign of a cast bar, the fight becomes easier to manage.

For the blue vial phase, your entire raid needs to spread out. Other than marking a place to run out to if you get Biting Chill, that's the extent of this phase for you. Spread out, do damage, wait for red phase. When he pops the red vial, stack up in front of him. He'll cast Scorching Blast periodically, which spreads damage between everyone in front of him. Since everyone is stacked up, this is an excellent time to cast Healing Rain for maximum throughput. If you get Consuming Flames, run behind him, where you can still damage him but not get hit by Scorching Blast. The green vial phase requires AoEing adds, so a quick switch to Magma Totem, using Fire Nova on cooldown, and spending Maelstrom Weapon stacks on Chain Lightning is in order. If you want to get saucy, use Fire Elemental Totem, but recall it 10 seconds later when the single-target phase begins again.

At 25%, the fight becomes a burn phase. You'll want to make sure your cooldowns are available. Avoid bad things, burn your defensive cooldowns to stay alive if you mess up, and DPS hard. Make sure you prioritize Purging remedy, as that will just extend the high damage burn phase if left on. Shoot dirty glances at rude shadow priests like Fox Van Allen and give dirty looks to hunters like Brian Wood as you watch their execute abilities carry them, and collect your loot!

Next week

That is it for this week's enhancement guide to Blackwing Descent. Next week, we'll take a look at the vision-impaired dragon Atramedes, the healer's nightmare Chimaeron, and the undead black dragon duo, Nefarian and Onyxia. Be sure to check out our Guide to Blackwing Descent to see the boss abilities in more detail!

Further reading: The enhancement shaman guide to Nefarian

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on rep gear, heroic gear, and raiding gear, plus tips on maximizing your utility skills and tactics for raiding Blackwing Descent.

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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