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Shifting Perspectives: Druid tanking and healing in End Time

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, we reach End Time.

Every so often as a tank or healer, you get the uncontrollable urge to scream various profanities at your group and ragequit in the middle of a pull just to show the bastards who's boss. Unfortunately, there's not much content that's really forgiving to this approach, and it's kind of a jerk thing to do on its own. Most of the time, you either have to suffer in silence as the group blames you for everything that has ever gone wrong with their lives, or else drop group and eat the Dungeon Finder cooldown.

But that is no longer true. In patch 4.3, Blizzard has bestowed upon our little world a heroic boss known as Murozond, who upends the traditional responsibility to our groups and encourages us to care about nobody but ourselves.

The developers have given us the greatest gift that any tank or healer can get:

Revenge.

Modified Gear Level on the most recent PTR.
This guide is written with the assumption that you'll be seeing End Time mostly through PUGs. If you're with a guild group, and especially if you're with a guild group that's raid-geared, you will not need to worry about the dungeon's more dangerous mechanics quite so much. I saw all of the new instances on a tier 12 (ilevel 379) premade druid, and the vast majority of players were similarly geared. However, Blizzard did something interesting on the most recent PTR build: Players getting instances through the Dungeon Finder had their stats artificially lowered to those of players equipped with ilevel 353 gear for the purpose of testing.

Did it make a big difference? Not really. The only distinction I noticed was between good groups and bad groups. Then again, I didn't see an observable difference with the actual gear I had equipped, so maybe the debuff just wasn't active or even working.

General tips
  • Bears Blow cooldowns regularly, even during trash. If you're not good about remembering to use Barkskin religiously, macro it to your rotation. While macroing it isn't ideal, at least it's better than forgetting to use it at all. There is a huge difference between tanks who use their cooldowns intelligently in this dungeon and those who don't. The difference is especially pronounced on the final boss, for a reason I'll get into later.
  • Trees I still can't account for all the trash abilities, but quite a few trash mobs seem to have burst damage (either that, or I landed a few inexperienced tanks, which is well within the realm of possibility). Otherwise, until you learn to recognize which debuffs are which, assume you should be dispelling whatever pops up. This will become important on bosses like the Echo of Sylvanas and later in the Hour of Twilight on Archbishop Benedictus.
When you first zone into the dungeon, you'll see Nozdormu and another quest giver directly ahead of you and next to a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing you'll use to move around the different shrines. In each End Time you get, you'll get two different shrine bosses from a selection of four -- azure (Jaina), ruby (Sylvanas), emerald (Tyrande), or obsidian (Baine) -- and then the final boss, Murozond. For some reason, I kept getting ruby and azure over and over again, and I have only gotten emerald and obsidian twice.

Ruby Dragonshrine in End Time.
Ruby Dragonshrine

Trash here is fairly unremarkable, and you'll probably only have to kill two pulls: one to the bottom of the hill and off to your right, and the one to the bottom of the hill and off to your left (which is the direction to head for Sylvanas). The purple haze in the picture above is where Sylvanas spawns relative to your position as you zone in.

Boss: Echo of Sylvanas In my experience, Sylvanas is the shrine boss you're most likely to wipe on with a PUG. You can muddle through the other bosses' mechanics with a healer who's willing to heal stupid, but there's no healing stupid on this fight.
  • Black Arrow Random shadow damage to a target. To be frank, while this shows up on Wowhead, I can't actually remember seeing the debuff actually pop up within the encounter itself -- either that, or I've been dispelling it thinking it was Shriek of the Highborne (another random ability).
  • Blighted Arrows Periodically you'll see a big purplish line appear on the ground. Big purplish lines on the ground are bad news. While its spawn is largely random, it also has a tendency to appear immediately after a ghoul phase (see below), so expect it.
  • Shriek of the Highborne Decreases movement speed by 25%. This can and should be dispelled, particularly if a ghoul phase is coming up.
  • Unholy Shot This is about 25,000 damage every 2 seconds and can't be dispelled. I don't know whether it's luck or intended that I've only ever seen it pop up on the tank.
None of this stuff is particularly dangerous -- it's the ghoul phase that groups tend to wipe on. Periodically, Sylvanas will rise in the air, pull all players below her (this doesn't cause any damage), and summon eight ghouls in a wide circle around herself and players. The ghouls will slowly walk toward Sylvanas. If they reach her, anyone within 10 yards of Sylvanas will die. The ghouls are linked by thin purple lines, and crossing this line causes huge damage each second called Wracking Pain, so you want to stay within the circle created by the ghouls as long as they're all still alive.

The general idea is to kill one of the ghouls and then escape through the gap, putting sufficient distance between yourself and Sylvanas that you don't get one-shot when the ghouls all Sacrifice themselves. And yes, the entire group can escape through the gap left by a single dead ghoul. So kill a ghoul, run through the gap in between to the edge of the clearing, wait while all the ghouls reach Sylvanas and explode, and then resume the fight.

Echo of Tyrande in End Time.
Bears Sylvanas isn't a very difficult fight to tank, and you can make a huge difference to your healer's state of mind by popping Barkskin or another cooldown every time Unholy Shot or Shriek of the Highborne hits you. Where you tank her in her little clearing doesn't matter, because she'll pull players to the center for each ghoul phase anyway. Don't worry about interrupting anything, because nothing's interruptable (I think).

The vast majority of groups I've had have automatically seized on one or two ghouls on the west/northwest side of the circle approaching Sylvanas as kill targets during ghoul phases, but for insurance, you may want to macro a skull raid marker somewhere convenient to direct the group to kill a particular ghoul. While you can do this through the Keybinds menu, you can also macro it like this:

/run SetRaidTargetIcon("target", 8)

Otherwise, you can go cat during ghoul phases for extra damage. The ghouls don't have so much health that you absolutely need to do this, but it doesn't hurt. A quick Stampeding Roar will also help if your group's DPS is slow on the ghoul.

Trees The tank damage on this encounter really isn't very high outside of her special abilities, and you're most likely to lose players to one-shots from people not getting away from Sacrifice in time. Mods like Decursive are likely to be a big help here, although you will need the talent Nature's Cure to get rid of the Shriek of the Highborne speed debuff. When you see Unholy Shot pop up on the tank, make sure she's cushioned with all available HOTs.

You can help damage the ghoul during ghoul phases, because there should be no incoming damage on any players as long as people aren't crossing the lines. In practice, I found a quick Moonfire on a particular ghoul quickly helped focus player's attention on a target. As with the bear, you can blow Stampeding Roar to give the group a speed boost getting out of the ghoul circle, although if you really need it to get out in time, your group's DPS is probably too low to be doing this dungeon.

Emerald Dragonshrine

The first thing you'll notice about the emerald dragonshrine is that it's very, very dark. No, it's not your monitor. Yes, you'll want to pull up the in-game map to see where the hell you are.

The deal with Tyrande's trash is that, uh, you can't see it. She keeps the entire shrine in close to absolute darkness, barring pools of moonlight that appear on the path around her spawn area. The pools don't last forever, so the general idea is that you keep pulling to each next pool that spawns until Tyrande gets tired of harassing you. You actually can't fight her before that point, so sally forth into the dark bravely, wait for her to start spawning moon patches, and don't worry about accidentally aggroing her.

If you're tanking, make sure you hit V to bring up mob health bars (as a quick plug, Tidy Plates: Threat Plates is enormously useful to all tanks), because that is the only way you're going to have any inkling of what's heading for the group outside of the moonlight pools. Tell your healer to stick to you like glue, because the mobs are going to make a beeline for him (and keeping him unmolested is the subject of the new achievement Moon Guard).

It can sometimes be difficult to see exactly where the next moon patch is spawning through the mass of mobs on you, so ask a DPSer to keep looking, and stick a raid marker on this person if you have to. I don't know whether this is a bug or intended, but the moon pools don't always spawn back to back. There are small periods when you're plunged back into total darkness. All of the mobs are plain, vanilla melee, so don't worry about trying to get casters into range.

If you're healing, stay on top of the tank at all times. If you panic and run off, trash will be absolutely impossible to control. The good news is that trash damage is easy to heal, so if you're angling for the Moon Guard achievement above, heal only as much as you have to and no more. Even cloth classes can afford to tank a few mobs here if they have to.

Boss: Echo of Tyrande Tyrande does only caster-type damage, but she does a lot of it. You can't chivvy her away from her position in the moonwell at the central part of the clearing, so plan on fighting her where she is.
  • Dark Moonlight Don't get within 15 yards of her unless you're the tank or melee.
  • Moonbolt Unavoidable. Plan on healing through this.
  • Moonlance Stay out of bad stuff on the ground, yadda yadda.
  • Piercing Gaze of Elune To be frank, I don't recall seeing this at all. I don't know whether that's just because it never went live or if it's because group members were sensibly out of range on the two occasions I got the emerald shrine.
  • Stardust Finally, something you can (and should) interrupt! This causes a lot of damage to everyone in the group, and you should try to make sure Tyrande never gets this off.
  • Tears of Elune Once her health hits 30%, random arcane damage will start raining on the full group.
Bears This is another relatively easy fight to tank. You can't move Tyrande at all, so just charge in at the start of the fight and start swinging. The only ability that you can really do anything about here is Stardust, but you'll need help to interrupt all of them. Stardust appears to have something like a 6-second cooldown, and Skull Bash isn't going to snag all of them even if you have two points in Brutal Impact. Enlist a DPSer or two to help you with interrupts. Apart from that, use your cooldowns liberally, and blow Berserk when Tyrande's health hits 30%.

Trees Despite all the damage flying around the group, you should be fine here as long as you keep your distance from Tyrande, stay out of bad stuff, and people are interrupting Stardust. If they're not interrupting Stardust, which is the biggest and most consistent source of group damage, your life is going to be considerably harder. None of Tyrande's stuff is dispellable or interruptable except for that, so just plan on healing through everything. Save the Tree cooldown and Tranquility for around 30% when Tears of Elune starts hitting the group.



Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Humor, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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