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Raid Rx: Healer's guide to Baleroc

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

This Baleroc encounter gave me a big fit both on the healing management side and the micromanagement side. It is entirely about the healers and their ability to switch assignments on command. Peripheral vision plays a huge role, so make sure your camera angles aren't too far out, or else you'll miss the crystal spawns. Stay too close, and you'll be blasted with a debuff that will cause your healing ability to plummet and almost assuredly lead to a tank death. After successfully healing with both the one-tank method and the two-tank method, I prefer the two-tank method.

My thoughts and the methods laid out reflect my raid group in a 25-player setting.

On both of our kills, we used anywhere from six to eight healers. The first time we walked in, we resorted to eight. (Actually, we had to use eight because we were short a number of DPSers that day.)

The mechanics can be a little confusing. Even though I had an understanding of the encounter walking in, I didn't really get it until toward the end, when everything just seemed to magically click. When you break it down and look at it from a broader perspective, there are only three players who take any real damage:
  • tank
  • two DPSers for two crystals (25-player raids; only one DPSer for one crystal in 10-player raids)
How healing this encounter works

The closest player standing near the spawning crystals will be hit with a debuff, taking damage from it. Whenever you heal the affected target, you gain a buff called Vital Spark for every three stacks of Torment on a target. When you switch from a Torment target to the tank, you gain an increase to your healing from Vital Flame that lasts for 15 seconds, allowing you to pull the necessary numbers to keep the tank from dying.

The amount of healing you do is affected by the number of Vital Spark stack buffs that you have. You will be cycling from Torment target to Torment target to tank, repeatedly building up stacks to match pace with the Blaze of Glory buff that the tank gets.

My guild's first kill

Eight healers was a bit much for our first kill, but there isn't much you can do with it being summer and all that. It took us a few hours and many adjustments. We started the night with a two-tank setup. One tank would predominantly take the main hits, while the other tank would eat the Decimation Blade as they came. Healers were put into two teams of four. One set of healers was placed on the tanks, while the other team spent its time building up stacks as needed. When a switch was called, the teams would shift their focus and heal the other assignments until another switch was called.

As for the crystal, you'll know you've goofed if you get knocked around a little bit when it spawns because of its proximity. Don't be the closest one to these things at all. Trust me on this, as I know from first-hand experience. Once you see the little shimmer in the air, that's a good time to strafe to the side.

One problem we ran into early on is when the Torment targets and crystals ended up being too far. We solved this issue by placing two raid markers on either side of Baleroc. No player could cross those icons at all, because doing so meant they would run risk of not having a healer to pick them back up while eating a Torment.

That first night was extremely rough for us. We went several seconds over the 6-minute enrage timer with over half the raid group dead. But a kill was a kill, and we wound up taking the weekend to take a closer look at the encounter to see if we could approach it with additional precision.

The second time we tackled Baleroc, we went in with our players back from their respective trips and vacations and running a six-healer lineup instead.

Our second kill

With a better command of and feel for the encounter, I settled on using large heals when it was my turn on the tanks and faster heals on the Torment targets, to build up my Vital Spark buff more quickly. In a way, it's similar to Valithria Dreamwalker in terms of buff stacking mechanics, except there's no flying around and no risk of That Guy stealing your cloud.

So what was the technique behind the second kill that made it much smoother, with minimal deaths and efficient healing? Joe took an idea he read and applied it to our raid. It goes something like this:

We split the healers into three teams of two. Each team would start on its assigned targets. With two crystals up, there will always be a crystal within range of the melee group and a crystal within range of a ranged group. The DPS players in both groups rotate so that a different player is closest to the crystal and gets Torment each time; it's up to the healers who are on the assigned groups at the time to heal the player currently under the effect of Torment. As a raid leader, I placed all the melee players taking Torment in group 2 and all the ranged players taking Torment in group 3. There isn't much overall raid healing that needs to be done, as those three players end up taking the full brunt of the attacks.

Cycle through mana cooldowns when you're not healing the tank. I use my Hymn of Hope when I switch to ranged healing. Alert your partner that you're out of action for a few seconds so he can use stronger heals as needed.

Have tank cooldowns up your sleeve for Decimation Blade. In fact, I went as far as having a defensive cooldown ready every time a Decimation Blade occurred.

I would recommend designating a backup player to take a Torment in the event a player in the regular cycle dies. The backup can easily step in until the dead player gets brought back to life and works himself back into the rotation.

Again, Baleroc is a tough encounter, serving as a healing check. It boils down to how well your healers can switch targets on a dime. Using the method mentioned above will help you achieve precise results.

Good luck!

Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to mattl@wowinsider.com. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

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