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The Light and How to Swing It: Retribution in the Firelands, part 3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Seasoned retribution paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine. Contact him at dand@wowinsider.com with any questions, concerns, or compliments!

We're on the home stretch, ladies and gents. We have slain Shannox and Lord Rhyolith. We have squashed Beth'tilac and Alysrazor. Now only three bosses stand between you and that pretty orange mace that has "The Retribution Dream" etched on the hilt. However, before you start making vacation plans with your beloved future acquisition, we need to get through those roadblocks.

Baleroc the Gatekeeper

Baleroc is the closest Cataclysm analog to Wrath's Patchwerk in terms of a DPS check. For many, this fight will consist of nothing more than honing their rotation to a fine point and stabbing Baleroc's feet with it. You, as a ret paladin, will probably not get to taste this ignorant bliss as you are too useful for such a boring job.

Your primary concern, if you're selected to be a shard tank, will be to absorb damage emanating from Shards of Torment that Baleroc will spawn. Typically, you will be paired with another soaker, and you will divide your time absorbing damage between the two of you. Your greatest asset in this task will be glyphed Divine Protection, so make sure you have it! When you are soaking this damage, you will stack a buff called Torment. If the 2-second buff is allowed to drop before it is refreshed (say you step too far away from the crystal and the beam jumps to a closer person), you will gain Tormented. Therefore, it is very important that you communicate with your partner when you're going to switch, because trying to take more Torment stacks while you're Tormented is a quick way to die.

For example, I am often paired with a death knight. He moves in close and tanks the shard, popping Anti-Magic Shell to reduce his damage taken. While he is doing this, I position myself right next to him so that when he runs out, I am the next closest person to take the beam. Once I start stacking Torment, I pop Divine Protection and just stay there until the shard despawns. Occasionally, I'll pray that the healers don't forget to heal me, too.

Other than that, there is no fire to avoid, no other phases to worry about, and no adds to burn down. Just jump on the shard when it's your turn, and as long as the rest of the raid is doing its job, you should be laughing.

Unfortunately, Baleroc drops nothing of interest outside of Zoid's Firelit Greatsword, which is a shared loot between the first six bosses of the instance. Next!

Majordomo Staghelm

Domo is a fight that seems fairly complicated at first glance but in practice is actually quite easy. Throughout the fight, depending on how your raid is spread out, Staghelm will take one of two forms: cat or scorpion. Every third transformation will be accompanied by Staghelm switching to his humanoid form and casting a special ability. Otherwise, it's just a matter of going back and forth between the cat and scorpion phases.

Scorpion phase Staghelm will switch into his scorpion form when at least 70% of your raid is stacked together. On 10-man, this works out to be seven out of 10 players, and on 25-man, this number jumps to 18 out of 25.

During this phase, Domo will cast Flame Scythe when his energy bar reaches 100%, an attack that is split by each person in range. Each of these attacks adds a stack of Adrenaline, which increases his energy regeneration; this results in faster and faster Flame Scythe casts. Eventually, the time between attacks will not be enough for your healers to compensate, and it will wipe the raid. Therefore, the key is to use raid cooldowns and good judgment to know when your group just can't take anymore. For my guild, we have been taking Adrenaline stacks up to 12 before forcing a shapeshift.

An important note for scorpion phases before we move on: There exists a small area around Staghelm's scorpion form that allows you to share in the damage split from Flame Scythe while being technically behind him for dodge/parry purposes. To definitively find this spot for yourself, use either a rogue with Backstab or a feral druid with Shred to find the sweet spot where their ability lights up. I like to call this activity "probing for the sweet spot." My guildmates giggle every time I say it, though I haven't the faintest idea why.

Cat phase When your group cannot suffer another Flame Scythe, spreading out will cause Staghelm to shift from scorpion to cat. During this phase, Fandral will again have an energy bar but will leap at a raid member at range instead of swiping at the tank. When he casts Leaping Flames, Domo will jump at a ranged raid member and leave a fire puddle at his destination. When he leaps, though, he will also spawn a Spirit of the Flame in his stead. These adds do not leap or do any special attacks but still need to be killed quickly. As a melee DPSer, do not chase Staghelm when he jumps away, and instead focus your attention on his add.

One small point about this phase: The devious Majordomo seems to be able to differentiate between ranged specs and melee specs for Leaping Flames. This may not hold true for everyone, but we've had him leap on destro locks, resto shaman, and holy paladins who all tried to hide out in melee. Make sure those cowards are out at range where they belong!

When you've had enough leaping and fire puddles, have the entire raid quickly collapse on the tank to get Domo to switch forms again.

Searing Seeds On Staghelm's third transformation (his first transformation is humanoid to scorpion; second is scorpion to cat; third is cat to scorpion), he will pop out to his humanoid form to cast Searing Seeds. These debuffs have randomized durations on everyone in the raid and explode for massive damage when they expire. As a paladin, you have an easy out: Popping Divine Shield right before he casts Searing Seeds will make you immune to the debuff and let you ignore the mechanic completely.

Additionally, if you want to be kind and prevent a buddy from getting a debuff as well, you can throw Hand of Protection on them to make them immune as well. Here's a handy macro for just that occasion:

/cast [@focus] Hand of Protection

Then just set your buddy to your focus and voila! You could also just make a macro specifically for them, replacing "[@focus]" with "[@PLAYERNAME]" (subsituting your ally's name for PLAYERNAME, of course). Just make sure to cast these as you're running in to stack, because once he pops out to his humanoid form, you won't be able to take any action.

Burning Orbs On Staghelm's sixth transformation (it should be the second cat phase after Searing Seeds), he will pop out of his forms and spawn a number of Burning Orbs around the platform. These orbs act very much like the Shards of Torment in the Baleroc encounter in that the closest person to it will be taking the damage. However, tanking these orbs is much simpler; just sit next to it for 5 or so seconds and switch with your partner. As a fortunate, fortunate melee DPSer, you should be able to avoid even thinking about these, as most (if not all) of them will be at range. If an orb does pop up in melee range, you can either move the boss and the assigned ranged duo can handle it themselves, or you can throw caution to the wind and let the entire melee pile tank it for its duration. If the latter scenario happens, remember that glyphed Divine Protection is your friend!

Soon you will realize that the fight is actually quite tame. Scorpion phases will be your burst phases, as Domo will be jumping and out of range too often during cat phases to do much of anything to him, so make sure to line up your cooldowns accordingly.

When he inevitably drops, make sure to pick up your shoulder tier token, Mantle of the Fiery Conqueror. Another good grab would be the Breastplate of Shifting Visions. Since our tier chest, Immolation Battleplate, is so terribly itemized, this piece would be a good replacement if you have all of your other tier pieces.

Ragnaros

Finally, we have come to the end of the raid. This three-phase, two-transition encounter is strongly reminscient of the Lich King encounter in more ways than one.

Phase 1 When you're not DPSing Rag, you will have a number of mechanics to contend with. When Rag casts Sulfuras Smash, he will smash his hammer into the ground, one-shotting anyone sitting in the impact zone and creating three Lava Waves that spread out in a T-shaped pattern from the point of impact. Prior to the attack, there will be three lava puddles that indicate both where the hammer is coming down and where the waves will spawn.

The second mechanic to look out for is Wrath of Ragnaros, a small blast that will hit for around 60,000 damage and knock back anyone within 6 yards. The graphic for this attack is a small flame circle that will blast outwards, so just stay away from those.

Third, we have Magma Traps, large, circular pools of fire. We usually have a mage to set these off, as he can both Slow Fall and Blink to avoid fall damage when he gets launched in the air. For you, these will just be another source of AOE damage, so keep a Word of Glory and Divine Protection handy if you get in a bad spot.

Lastly, we have a mechanic that is unfortunately unavoidable (for melee, at least), Hand of Ragnaros. The most annoying part of this is the knockback. If you're watching your boss timers for the different abilities, you can make sure that you're not knocked back into a Lava Wave or Magma Trap.

I realize this seems like a lot, but it all basically equates to "Don't stand in fire."

First transition When Rag reaches 70% health, he will drop his hammer and submerge. At the same time, eight Sons of Flame will spawn and make a beeline for the hammer. If they do reach it, they will explode in a Supernova and likely kill some of your raid. To prevent this, you need to DPS them down below 50% so that they lose their Burning Speed debuff.

In order to ensure that you have enough time to do so, you will need a varied arsenal of stuns and knockbacks. We can bring Hammer of Justice and glyphed Holy Wrath to help out in this regard. Use the former for your initial stun on the add, and try to use the latter when the adds bottleneck when trying to reach the hammer, so you can stun more than one. Once all of these adds are dead, Ragnaros will re-emerge.

Phase 2 Sulfuras Smash makes a comeback during this phase, accompanying a couple of new abilities for you to learn.

Engulfing Flame will ignite one-third of the platform, horizontally, so just move out of it when it spawns. This spell has the ability to wreak havoc on your raid, so try to be cognizant of where it is and do your best to be as lucky as you can be.

Molten Seeds are the big kicker this phase. Periodically, Ragnaros will spawn Molten Seeds on a number of players in the raid (10 on 10-man, 20 on 25-man). When they spawn, the seeds will explode and cause a Molten Inferno, inflicting more damage the closer the player is to it. From these explosions, Molten Elementals will spawn and target a random player.

How we have dealt with this phase is fairly simple. At the start of the phase, the raid splits up into two groups, each on one side and as far to that side as they can reasonably be. When Seeds spawn, the entire raid collapses into the middle. Raid cooldowns are popped as the adds rush into the middle, where they are AOEed down. Once all of the elementals are dead, the raid spreads out again, and the cycle is repeated.

There should be plenty of time in between collapsing into the middle and the adds rushing over for you to seal swap to Seal of Righteousness and drop a Consecration in preparation for their arrival. A couple of Divine Storms later and you'll have made quick work of these nuisances.

Second transition When Rag reaches 40%, he will do a repeat performance of the first transition ... with a slight twist. Kill the Sons the same way as last time, except this time two Lava Scions will spawn. Your tanks will pick them up, and you will switch to them once all of the Sons are dead. One thing to note is Blazing Heat, which creates a fire trail that heals both Lava Scions and Sons of Flame. Personally, this is when I use my bubble to drop the debuff as soon as I get it and get back into the action.

Phase 3 You're almost there! This final phase is basically a continuation of the second, with Molten Seeds being replaced by Living Meteors. These giant fiery boulders will fixate on someone, as made very clear by the orange beam connecting the two, and lumber slowly toward them.

If you are fixated, do your best to kite the meteor away from other raid members while not getting run over yourself! If you are not fixated, just keep your eyes open for others dragging their meteors around and give them plenty of room to do so.

Anyway, dodge waves, move out of fire, and avoid giant rocks while DPSing Rag. Getting the elemental lord to 10% will cause him to retreat and cough up his purples.

From his cache, you will probably want to grab your head tier token, Helm of the Fiery Conqueror, Vessel of Acceleration, and of course, Sulfuras, The Extinguished Hand -- oh, and the Smoldering Egg of Millagazor, if it drops.

The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.

Filed under: (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It, Paladin

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