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Totem Talk: Restoration shaman tips on healing Shannox and Baleroc

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement and restoration shaman. Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration, brought to you by Joe Perez (otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and co-host of the Raid Warning podcast), shows you how.

We've gone from tracking your cooldowns to talking about downing bosses in The Firelands. Last week, we discussed taking down a giant, fiery arachnid and stepping on the toes of a rather crotchety old elemental that needs a little assistance turning left and right. Now that our first foray into the Firelands is complete, and with a couple of kills under our belts, it is time to venture further into the land of fire and really ugly elementals!

This week, we will be talking about two more bosses in the land of Ragnaros' rule. One is supposedly the greatest hunter of all time, though I have yet to see him kite General Drakkisath while his party deals with the adds, so I can't verify this claim. The other seems to think that he's in a Peter Jackson movie and that we are apparently a raid full of Sir Ian McKellens.This week's image is supplied by the wonderful and talented MagicalMelonBall. I stepped into a Crystal Prison Trap once, and the carbonite jokes just keep coming.

This is not intended to be an all-inclusive raid boss guide. Please check out Ready Check and the WoW Insider Guide to Cataclysm for more detailed information. We will do a brief overview of the bosses and then proceed to tips and tricks for restoration shaman.

Shannox

The encounter Shannox is supposedly this master hunter, but I didn't see him kiting bosses in the original World of Warcraft! Also, he only has one eye, so one would think that would mess with his ability to shoot and throw things. Well, like a real hunter, he does come with two lovely little canine pets, Rageface and Riplimb. The fight itself is one phase but has an escalating damage component that healers will have to handle. There are three jobs that you can fill here as a healer: main tank healing, off tank healing, or raid healing.

There are a few strategies out there, but most guilds seem to be going with one of these two.
  • Take a dog down right away and heal through the damage increase on the tank before focusing down the other dog and Shannox.
  • Take both the dogs and Shannox down to low health levels, approximately 5% on the dogs and around 35% on Shannox himself. When their health evens out, take down the dogs and focus your efforts on Shannox.
With either strategy, be ready for increased damage, and be prepared to step up your healing accordingly. The hardest job, really, is the tank healing. The main tank, who will be handling Shannox, will be taking blows from Arcing Slash. This is a cleave attack that not only damages the tank but places a stacking debuff on him called Jagged Tear. The debuff lasts 30 seconds, and every time a new stack is applied, the timer refreshes. The stacks can be reset whenever Shannox casts Hurl Spear. When the master hunter targets a random raid member and throws his spear, he cannot apply any more stacks of Jagged Tear until his faithful hound returns the spear to him.

Shannox will also randomly target members of the raid and cast one of two traps using his handy-dandy trap launcher. Immolation Trap deals 71,250 to 78,750 fire damage when it explodes and places a DOT that deals 19,000 to 21,000 fire damage every 3 seconds. It also increases the target's damage taken by 40% for 9 seconds. Crystal Prison Trap will freeze whoever triggers it in place, allowing the victim to do nothing until broken free. As an added bonus, it also counts as a line-of-sight block.

The traps can target anyone in the raid, including the melee. As a result of the traps and in an effort to keep the boss maximum distance from his spear so Jagged Tear can fall off, the tank will kite Shannox around the zone. Tank-healing shaman should keep Earth Shield on the tank, as well as refresh Riptide whenever it is off cooldown. Keep your Healing Surge and Greater Healing Wave ready to top off the tank, and make sure your finger is on Spiritwalker's Grace for when the tank has to move so that you can keep healing him until he settles.

The off-tank's job will be to pick up Riplimb, who will also place a Jagged Tear debuff on his target. All the same rules of main tank healing apply to the off tank, as well, if you pull that assignment. Whenever Shannox throws his spear at a raid member, Riplimb will be a good little doggie and retrieve the stick for his master. While he's carrying the spear, that will be the window of opportunity for the off tank to drop his stacks of Jagged Tear. Now, if you're lucky or the tank positioned either mob right, you can actually trap Riplimb in a Crystal Prison Trap. Also, if Shannox's life drops to 30% or lower while Riplimb is up, his damage will increase by 400%.

Raid healers will have a few things to look out for. Like everyone in the raid, you will have to avoid traps. You will also have to pay attention to the boss' other pet, Rageface. Unlike Riplimb or Shannox, Rageface doesn't really get tanked. Instead, he targets someone at random and hits them with Face Rage. Heal whoever his target is until DPS can knock him off. Also keep an eye out for whenever the boss throws his spear. Whenever it lands, it also deals an area effect fire damage to anyone within 50 yards of the landing site. Use Healing Rain and Chain Heal to bring raid members up quickly. Just keep your wits about you, keep your healing targets in sight, and avoid line-of-sight blocks. Be ready for increased damage whenever a dog dies, and you should have no problem healing through this fight.

The reward for your efforts, you get a chance at the following items.
Baleroc, the Gatekeeper

The encounter This is very much the healer check of the zone. It will test your ability to manage your mana and your healing spell choices, as well as testing your ability to monitor your own buffs and to swap targets.

This is a single-target healing fight for every healer. There are many strategies that you can use to coordinate your team of healers, but I'll leave that up to Matt Low to tackle later on in Raid Rx. Instead, I'm going to talk about how you can beat this fight as a restoration shaman, as it is arguably one of our toughest fights to heal in this tier. The basic idea is that healers will be alternating between soakers in the raid and the tanks on the boss.

Because it is a single-target fight, this means that your HR and CH will be pretty much useless. The boss will cast Shard of Torment, causing whoever is tanking it to gain a debuff called Torment. When you cast a direct healing spell on the target, you gain a stack of Vital Spark. It is incredibly important that you avoid being the closest target to the shard, as it will apply a debuff to you that reduces the healing you do and keeps you from being able to accumulate any stacks of Vital Spark. When it's your turn to heal the Tormented soakers, use Riptide every time it is up on the Torment target to give you a quick stack of Vital Spark and to keep Tidal Waves up.

Instinct would usually dictate that you use Healing Surge for quick stack building, but the truth is with Tidal Waves, Healing Wave is almost as fast and is much more cost-effective. Mana consumption is brutal in this fight because there isn't much opportunity to use Telluric Currents, and you need to conserve it any way you can. This is a great way to conserve mana and keep building stacks. If the soakers get too high on Torment stacks, you may need to throw a GHW in, but for the most part you should be okay. When your turn comes up to switch to the tank who has Baleroc's attention, do so quickly and be ready to pour on the healing.

Baleroc will place a buff on the tank called Blaze of Glory. This increases the tank's maximum health by 20% per stack but increases the amount of damage the tank receives by 20%. It also causes Vital Flame to trigger whenever you cast a direct heal on the Blaze of Glory target. This is important because when active, your healing done will increase by 5% per stack of Vital Spark that you were able to obtain for 15 seconds. This is especially important when he casts Decimation Blade, which deals 90% of the target's maximum health as shadow damage. This damage cannot be mitigated or resisted, so once he hits the tank with this, be prepared to drop some big heals to get him to full health as soon as possible.

Keep Earth Shield on the tank to take advantage of Nature's Blessing, Riptide whenever it is up, and keep those GHW ready to go. Unleash Elements is also nice to give an extra boost to your increasing heals. Use boss timers to check the timing on Decimation Blade. Try to time it so that the your big heal will land right after the spell goes off.

The key is switching between the Torment soakers and the tanks effectively and quickly. Listen for the call to switch and be ready to stop-cast any spell you're in the middle of and swap targets immediately. Things to keep in mind through this fight.
  • Vital Flame increases the healing done by all of your heals. This includes HOTs and direct heals. The more stacks you have, the better all your healing will be.
  • Healing Rain does not trigger stacks of Vital Spark or trigger Vital Flame. While it has counted as a direct heal for purposes of our mastery before, that is not the case here.
  • Catching a single Torment stack will apply Tormented and reduce your healing by 50% for 40 seconds. Do not hug the crystals!
  • Use your Mana Tide Totem aggressively. You're going to be constantly healing; using this spell often in this fight helps keep you going to the very end.
For tracking your stacks of Vital Spark, you can easily add the buff to the center text of your favorite raid frames such as Grid. You can also use Power Auras to track both the stacks of Vital Flame and Vital Spark as well as their duration. The goal is really to find an addon or any method you feel comfortable with that will allow you to track your stacks effectively. If you're doing your job correctly, you can expect to end the fight with well over 100 stacks of Vital Spark gained.

Baleroc is by far the hardest healing encounter in this tier so far, just by the sheer volume of all the things you need to watch and the attention you need to split between different tasks. Keeping your targets alive while making sure you don't waste any of your mana is of major importance.

The reward After crashing the gatekeeper, you have a chance to obtain the following item: That's it for this week. If you're interested in seeing my guild's Baleroc kill, feel free to check it out here.

Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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