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Shifting Perspectives: Balance druids vs. Cho'gall

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday. Learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant lazer turkey!

Cho'gall? The ending? But where is the beginning? Oh, you silly druids, why do anything in sequential order? That's so ... 2010. It's a new year, a time to do things differently! And I say that we start by going backwards through an instance. Yeah, yeah, I know, not really that exciting, but bear with me on this one; I promise it will be an epic adventure of grand proportions.

This introduction is going to have to be cut a little bit short. Before going into boss information, there are a few unmentioned changes from the patch that need a quick review.

"Undocumented" changes

First and foremost is a change that I have noticed in the behavior of Eclipse. Instead of being forced into a set direction once you die, the Eclipse bar now functions the same as if you had entered a PvP zone until you get your first proc. This means that you can go in either direction from the start instead of being forced into the same direction you were heading. Previously, if you died with Lunar Eclipse up, then you would be set to the middle of the bar and be forced to go Solar.

Since our rotation always starts out with DoTs, then Starsurge, it's important to note that using Starsurge will push you towards Solar every single time. Which is a good thing because you want to go Solar anyway, but it's always nice knowing.

Second of note is a change in the behavior of Lunar Shower. A flaw in the talent that many people noticed is that the buff is very, very finicky. If you stop moving for even a split second, many times the buff will merely tick out on you. That has been fixed! Finally! The buff will now properly refresh itself, even if you stop moving and start again with only a single second remaining on the duration. There is still lag to worry about it if you wait too long, but it is still far and away better than it ever was before.

Balance tactics for Cho'gall

You know, I'm a rather big fan of 'Gall, a fact that few people aren't aware of. 'Gall? He's not so bad; we hang out some times, get coffee, take walks in the park -- you know, cool stuff. It's totally Cho' that's all corrupted and evil and bad. Seriously. Despite my protests, you still do have to kill both of them.

Corrupted Blood Perhaps the most important part of the encounter is the new little bar that will (hopefully) appear on your screen once you engage Cho'gall. This is your corruption meter, much like your Eclipse meter. Every time one of Cho'gall's abilities hits you -- sans a few exceptions -- you gain Corrupted Blood. Each large bubble in the bar is a measure of 25%, and every 25%, you are hit with a new affliction.
  • 25% You gain Corruption: Accelerated, which needs to be removed immediately.
  • 50% You gain Corruption: Sickness, dealing damage to anyone 5 yards in front of you. Turn so that you are not facing other players.
  • 75% You gain Corruption: Malformation, causing a tentacle to sprout from your back, which attacks random players with Shadow Bolts. Must be killed.
  • 100% You gain Corruption: Absolute, reducing incoming healing by 100% but also increasing damage by 100% and making all spells instant.
The last level of corruption may seem so very tempting, but trust me, it is far from worth it. Once you hit phase 2 of the encounter, there is a large amount of unavoidable AoE damage to contend with, and without healing, you will drop like a fly. Avoid getting what corruption you can.

You should never have 25% corruption before going into phase 2. Nearly all corruption gains during phase 1 are completely avoidable, but they aren't during phase 2. If you get to 50% or more corruption before phase 2 begins, then you will likely hit 100% fairly quickly once it starts, which will leave you dead just as fast.

Phase 1 This makes up the bulk of the encounter, from 100% to 25%. During this phase, Cho'gall has quite a number of abilities.
  • Flame's Orders One of two "stances" that Cho'gall can be in. Each attack deals additional fire damage to the tank. Pools of fire, which must be avoided, also spawn on the ground.
  • Shadow's Orders The other "stance" that Cho'gall can take. Three pulses of shadow damage that deal damage to the raid will be emitted during each Shadow's Orders.
  • Conversion Mind-controls several raid members and causes them to channel Worship; broken when the player is interrupted by any means -- CC, stun, interrupt, anything.
  • Fury of Cho'gall Increases the physical/shadow damage taken by the tank; requires a tank swap to deal with.
  • Summon Corrupting Adherent Does exactly as the name implies: summons a Corrupting Adherent add, which must be tanked and killed.
  • Corrupting Crash Used by the Adherents, this shoots out a shadow bolt bomb that needs to be avoided.
  • Depravity Used by the Adherents, this deals AoE damage to the raid; needs to be interrupted.
  • Festering Blood Summons Congealed Blood of the Old Gods from either dead or living Corrupting Adherents.
Despite the large swath of abilities in this phase, it is actually rather simple. Cho'gall should be tanked in the middle of the room, while the adds should be taken back to the stairs that you entered from. While there is no add present, the raid should be stacked near Cho'gall, spreading out once an add is spawned to avoid Corrupting Crashes.

The fires spawned during Flame's Orders are usually not a big deal. They don't actually spawn on anyone, just in the general area, so you usually don't even have to move to avoid them, half the time. Fury of Cho'gall will be used just before an add is spawned, so you shouldn't have to worry about tank swapping while an add is up. If Cho'gall does use it while an add is up, your DPS is too low.

Conversion is the only annoying mechanic of the encounter. The players hit by it need to be interrupted as soon as possible. Being stacked helps with this significantly; Solar Beam will stop the entire group of players from channeling if you are stacked. You can also use Shadowfury or Dragon's Breath to interrupt clustered groups. If you are spread, such as for Crashes, then rogues are particularly useful for interrupting it via Gouge or Kick. The blood elf racial also works well.

Congealed Blood This is the main "bad" of phase 1. For every add that has spawned, additional Bloods will be created. Cho'gall will use this ability only once per add spawn, so you have some leeway in the number of Bloods that will spawn.

The adds need to be tanked near the stairs. Each time they die, they leave behind a pool of blood that you cannot stand in, so you'll progressively lose ground. Having the adds tanked here will give you ample time to down all of the adds before they reach the raid.

The first add isn't all that difficult to deal with; our raid has myself and two hunters handle them, which we do rather effortlessly. Hunters should lay down an Ice Trap every time adds spawn, and/or shaman should use Earthbind Totem. If you don't have either of these classes, Fungal Growth is a perfect option for this, but it is far preferable that you have a hunter or shaman.

As soon as the add dies, drop Wild Mushroom inside the blood it leaves behind -- on the first two groups of adds, a cluster of three mushrooms should be able to hit every spawn and (if you're lucky) will deal around half their health in damage. From there, you should run around spamming Moonfire/Sunfire on every add until they all die.

This is the "soft" enrage of phase 1. For every add, you will get more and more Blood spawns. Generally speaking, if you get to a point where you are on the fourth or fifth add, then your raid probably lacks the DPS to kill the Bloods that spawn, and it's going to be a wipe. You should never have more than four Adherents for phase 1.

Phase 1 tips
  • Make sure to roll DoTs on Cho'gall at all times, even when DPSing the add. Cho'gall needs to die rather quickly; you do have a hard enrage timer to contend with as well as the growing number of Bloods.
  • Be careful on switching to the add early, especially if you have Eclipse up. Your tank will have to kite the add a small way, and the add will stop to cast periodically which ruins threat generation. Toss DoTs out on the add as it spawns, then continue to DPS down Cho'gall until the tank is in position. My "indicator" for switching is going through approximately 50% of an Eclipse bar.
  • Abuse Lunar Shower while catching up to the add. It will move out of your range, so make sure to spam Moonfire while following it. Do watch aggro while doing this; Moonfire spam, especially with Eclipse up, is a good deal of DPS.
  • Try and time Starfall with either Adherents or Bloods spawning. Starfall deals a lot more damage when there are at least two targets to hit, so waiting a few seconds for a secondary target is a decent DPS gain. As Bmost1022 reminded me, Starfall was changed in the patch notes to increase the speed at which stars fall. Because of this, Starfall will now hit a single target 20 times if it is the only target in range, instead of the previous 10 times. It can still be a good idea to hold off a few seconds on Starfall if Bloods are about to spawn, but not overly significant.
  • Typhoon is amazing against the Bloods, seriously. It can also be used to interrupt Conversion.
  • Try and game your Eclipse for when the Bloods spawn. Festering Blood is cast around 40 seconds after an add is spawned, and usually the add should die a little bit before the cast. If Festering Blood is about to go out and your next cast will drop Eclipse, then re-DoT the boss instead. Having Eclipse up will vastly increase your damage against the Bloods.

Phase 2 Once you hit 25%, a few things happen. First, any active Adherent will be despawned -- Bloods will not be despawned, so make sure none of them are up. This means that if you are at around 35% or so, you should ignore the Adherent and push Cho'gall instead.

Once pushed, Cho'gall will cast Corruption of the Old God, causing constant AoE damage to the raid. All of his phase 1 abilities except Fury of Cho'gall are gone during this phase; however, he will now cast Darkened Creations. Drag Cho'gall against any wall at the start of phase 2. If left in the middle, the new adds will spawn in a spread circle around him; when pushed against the wall, they will spawn in a smaller semi-circle cluster instead. These need to be taken down ASAP and interrupted if possible. Should you have Solar Beam up, use it! The Creations are really, really nasty, and you do not want to let them cast if at all possible. Starfall is amazing during this phase, but it won't be up for every spawn.

You should bring up enemy health panes for this phase and click them in order to multi-DoT each spawn. Tabbing doesn't work as effectively, as the game will often default to Cho'gall every other time it seems, which gets annoying when you want to hit the adds instead.

Tranquility is a serious lifesaver late in phase 2, so be prepared to toss it out at any given point when it seems the raid is getting low. You aren't a healer, but Tranq is a major healing cooldown that does really good healing even as balance.

Finally, do not get cocky! Even if Cho'gall is at 5% when a set of adds spawn, take down the adds! The adds will channel an ability that deals ridiculous amounts of damage and reduces healing by 75%; anyone they are targeting is going to drop like a fly. Ignoring adds unless you are at 1%, maybe 2%, and having the entire raid alive can lead to a wipe. Just kill them.

Last minute add! Here is a video of my guild killing Cho'gall. It's from a rogue's POV, but she does a good job of showing most things. Thanks a lot Arial, you're the best!

Be sure to tune in next week, when we take on the Twilight Ascendant Council.
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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