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Shifting Perspectives: Balance druids vs. the Twilight Ascendant Council

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! Questions, comments, or something you'd like to see? Email tyler@wowinsider.com.

Greetings, most beloved druids. I find myself in an unfortunate circumstance this week in that I am slightly under the weather, which may be a bit of an understatement -- but I refuse to believe I am actually sick. So if the article is a bit more light or difficult to understand this week, then I do apologize in advance. My medication is being a little harsh on me.

Personal issues out of the way, last week's column saw the fall of the exalted Cho'gall. Continuing with our strange, backwards running of the instance, this week brings us against the Twlight Ascendant Council, a rather vicious combination of elemental lords that will do anything it takes to prevent you from reaching their master. Prepare yourself for a rather difficult encounter with this one, folks, and the best of luck to you all. It's dangerous out there alone, so take a friend -- I'm all out of kittens.

Overview

TAC is easily the worst encounter in the entire instance. I would contend that TAC is actually far more difficult than even Cho'gall, and likely the most difficult encounter you'll face in the entire zone. It's sad because nothing about the fight makes it seem all that difficult, yet the mechanics constantly work to screw groups over.

The encounter is split into three phases. The first phase is against Ignacious and Feludius and ends when one of them reaches 25%. Phase 2 is against Arion and Terrestra and ends when one reaches 25%, and finally, phase 3 is against the Elementium Monstrosity and ends when it dies. The Elementium Monstrosity's health is based on the combined remaining totals of all four council members, so each member needs to be as close to 25% as possible. Equalizing raid DPS is the hardest challenge of this encounter; you absolutely cannot push one early by accident, because every additional amount of health that is left over makes the last phase that much more difficult.

In a 10-man setting, your DPS splitting may be different depending on your personal composition. Bear that in mind when handing out assignments.

Feludius and Ignacious

The first phase is against the elements of water and fire. Of all the phases, this is perhaps the easiest.
  • Hydro Lance Feludius will cast this on a random raid member, dealing massive frost damage. Must be interrupted.
  • Water Bomb Feludius sprouts out several water bombs toward random players. If hit, you will become Water Logged, which can be removed by running into fire. Can be avoided.
  • Glaciate Deals ridiculous amounts of frost damage in an area around Feludius; damage is reduced the farther away from the boss you are. If you are Water Logged, Glaciate deals additional damage and you become frozen.
  • Heart of Ice Feludius debuffs random players to take increasing frost damage. Running through allies will grant them Icy Reprisal.
  • Flame Torrent Ignacious deals fire damage in a cone in front of him.
  • Inferno Leap Ignacious jumps toward a random ranged player, then charges back to the tank, knocking players away and leaving a trail of fire.
  • Aegis of Flame Shields Ignacious, absorbing damage and preventing interrupts. Cast in conjunction with Rising Flames.
  • Burning Blood Debuffs a random player to take increasing fire damage. Running through allies grants them Burning Spite.
This seems like a lot of abilities, I know, but it honestly isn't too bad. Ranged should be on Feludius in order to avoid Glaciate, while melee is on Ignacious. There isn't too much that you will actually have to watch out for. Move away from Ignacious if he leaps near you to avoid being tossed around, and run into the fire if you get Water Logged. Other than that, this phase doesn't require too much.

Burning Blood should be run through the ranged before it is dispelled, while Heart of Ice should be run through melee before being dispelled. When Ignacious casts Aegis of Flame, all raid members should focus on bringing it down ASAP.

Depending on how your raid's DPS is split, you'll probably want to keep DoTs rolling on both targets, at least partially. If your melee DPS is higher than your ranged DPS, then you will want to ignore damaging Ignacious and focus on Feludius exclusively -- barring bringing down the shield, of course. Since the ranged DPS in my raid group deals more damage than our melee, I generally apply one set of DoTs on Ignacious each Eclipse proc. Keeping DoTs constantly rolling on both targets provides the highest possible DPS, but your actual DPS output is meaningless if one is pushed before the other is low enough.

Once you get both of them around 26%, you want to start spamming your DoTs on both targets right away. They will despawn once one hits 25%; however, they will still take some additional DoT damage during that time frame. By having multiple players spamming DoTs, you can actually have both of them drop as low as 23-22% before they actually despawn.

A few extra tips:
  • While ranged usually stands more away from the bosses in the middle, try and inch in so that both are within Starfall range. Even though this won't increase your damage any more, it should provide a more even split on the damage going out.
  • Throwing out Wild Mushrooms while running to/from fire is an awesome use of GCDs, especially if you have Eclipsed DoTs rolling but Eclipse isn't up any more.
  • Try and DoT both targets while moving instead of merely spamming Moonfire on a single target -- barring the above, of course.
  • Have a boss mod with timers, and pre-DoT Ignacious just before Aegis of Flame is up. This will provide additional DoT damage and increase your burst damage against the shield to bring it down faster.
Arion and Terrestra

This is the "pay attention or you are going to wipe" phase! There is little to no actual raid damage during this phase, and tank damage is rather light as well. However, what raid damage there can kill players and result in a wipe if you aren't careful.
  • Lightning Blast Arion hits a random raid member for massive nature damage; must be interrupted.
  • Disperse Arion teleports to a random section of the room; will usually cast Lightning Blast immediately after.
  • Lightning Rod Arion debuffs random raid members and after 15 seconds, hits them with a Chain Lightning. It deals 0 damage to Lighting Rod players but will pretty much kill anyone near them.
  • Call Winds Summons a tornado that swirls around the room; hitting it gives you the Swirling Winds buff.
  • Thundershock Deals high levels of nature damage to everyone in the room; avoided by being Grounded.
  • Eruption Terrestra summons spikes out of the ground at his (her?) feet; can be avoided.
  • Hardened Skin Increases Terrestra's damage by 100% and absorbs 50% of damage done; breaks after absorbing so much damage, causing massive damage to Terrestra.
  • Gravity Well Summons a gravity well, hitting the well grants the Grounded buff.
  • Quake Deals massive physical damage to everyone in the room; avoided by having Swirling Winds.
The easy part of the phase: Quake and Thundershock will alternate in casts, starting with Quake. Get Swirling Winds, avoid Quake, get Grounded, avoid Thundershock, rinse, repeat. Doing this will avoid nearly all of the raid damage that goes out. Simple, eh?

Sadly, it isn't quite so. Getting the right buff is rather easy; the issue comes from getting the Lightning Rod debuff. Any player within the strange range of Lightning Rod -- 20 yards horizontal, 5 yards vertical -- will take ridiculous levels of nature damage and more than likely die. If you have Lightning Rod, your #1 priority is to get the frack out of the raid. Do not worry about Quake or Thundershock; neither will one-shot you. Lightning Rod will one-shot someone -- multiple someones, in fact.

If you are going to be caught in a Quake/Thundershock, remember to use your Barkskin to lower the incoming damage.

Aside from that, ranged should be on Arion, as he likes teleporting around in a most annoying fashion; melee should be on Terrestra. The easiest position for ranged to be in is the middle; Arion will always teleport to somewhere along the outer wall, so you have less distance to travel to get him back in ranged by standing in the middle.

Just as in phase 1, rolling DoTs on both targets is ideal, but watch the health of both adds so that one isn't pushed too soon. Terrestra offers a very ... unique opportunity in this phase. Hardened Skin can be interrupted, and generally, you want to. Although breaking the shield deals 10% of their health, the damage increase is rather substantial.

There is a caveat, though. Ideally, you want to get Arion around 26-27% and Terrestra around 28-29%. At this point, stop all DPS. Let Terrestra cast Hardened Skin, and then destroy the shield. To break the shield, you'll deal around 2% of Terrestra's health, putting them at about 26-27%; after which they'll take 10% of their health in damage pushing them to 16-17%. If done correctly, the lords should actually combine with significantly less health than the standard 25%, making phase 3 that much easier. Pulling this off takes very exacting coordination, however, so be careful about attempting it.

One final thing about phase 2. Force of Nature, and any other longer cooldowns that you may have, will probably come back up during this phase. Do not use them! Yes, using cooldown based abilities/trinkets on cooldown offers the highest DPS, but you really want them to be up for phase 3. Phase 1 and 2 DPS doesn't matter, it is all about phase 3.

Elementium Monstrosity

This is the last phase of the encounter, and sadly, the most difficult. So far in this entire tier of raiding, this remains perhaps one of the most stringent DPS races that you'll encounter. The good news is that there isn't a hard enrage, as with other encounters; instead, the issue is massively increasing damage.
  • Electric Instability Deals significant nature damage and chains to up to four nearby targets. Approximately every 20 seconds, the ability hits an additional time per cast. Electric Instability's damage starts out rather light, but it grows proportionally as long as this phase lasts. After 2 minutes, EI will hit a player seven times every single cast -- around 70k damage, plus damage to whoever it chains to. You need to spread out in order to reduce the damage by as much as possible.
  • Lava Seed Tosses out fire bombs that explode after a few seconds.
  • Gravity Crush Deals heafty damage to a few targets and then drops them from the air for additional fall damage.
  • Cryogenic Aura Spawns a pool of frost on the ground that grows as long as the EM stands in it; also reduces damage taken by EM by 25% when the boss is in the pool.
Lava Seeds can and should be avoided as frequently as possible. Gravity Crush can easily kill players after the phase has dragged out for a while, plus there's the pool of nasty to watch out for. Tranquility can be a life-saver should the phase go on for a while. It's a bit of give and take -- the channel time of not dealing damage against the healing -- but it is well worth it when it can easily keep several raid members alive. Try and couple Tranquility with Barkskin to prevent any of the channel being lost.

Bloodlust should be used in this phase once the Elementium Monstrosity reaches 20%, so ensure that you use Force of Nature just before this point.

If you are the target of Gravity Crush, you have several options. First, if you have a method to slow your falling speed, use that; otherwise, a priest or a mage can use Levitate/Slow Fall to negate the additional damage. If you use either of these methods, then drop mushrooms at the boss on your way down; after dropping all three, you should either have landed or be able to click off the buff to instantly fall without suffering major damage. Should you not have any of these options, then shift into Cat Form to reduce the damage you take from falling.

The best of luck with your struggles, and be sure to tune in next week when we tackle the start of the raid instance.

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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