Raids are out! If you're anything like me, you spent a good chunk of week 1 powering to 90 as fast as possible. With raids open in the second week of Mists of Pandaria, you are no doubt in the process of preparing to step inside Mogu'shan Vaults! Today we'll cover some of the pre-raid items you should be doing before taking on the Stone Guard.
Yes, we'll be going over Stone Guard healing tips, too!
Reputation grinds: Blizzard has generously nerfed the reputation requirements when it comes to purchasing select gear. Now you only need to be revered to purchase those delicious valor level items. If you managed to cap out your valor last week, you have the ability to pick up a neck piece from the Klaxxi (provided that you have been diligent with their dailies). As a bonus, many of these quests provide those Lesser Charm of Good Fortune which gives you an extra chance at loot in any raid difficulty level.
Consumables: Have you been leveling your cooking and farming abilities with the Tillers? If not, Megan has a great introductory guide. We're looking to become Master of the Steamer due to their spirit food. For potions, arm yourself with stacks of Potion of Focus. Look for the safe periods in a fight where you can use these without getting interrupted. Finally, expect to spend some money on Flask of Falling Leaves. Gold Lotus prices are typically going to be really high. But you'll want that extra regen.
Gear acquisition: I went in with a little over 7000 spirit. My item level was 462. I'm still trying to replace my cloak. But keep running heroics. If necessary, hard queue specifically for the instances that you need. I've compiled a list of heroic drops for healers and where they come from which you can use as a reference.
Augments: Helm enchants aren't in the game. Scribes are the go-to profession for shoulder enchants. Speaking of enchanting, the mats required for enchants are incredibly forgiving and you can destroy certain types of enchanting raw mats to create new ones.
For healers, I recommend these enchants
- Windsong to weapon (Until you get Jade Spirit)
- Pandaren's step to boots
- Mastery to bracers (Until you get Super Intellect)
- Superior Intellect to cloak
- Superior Mastery or Haste to gloves (Depending on which stat your class prefers)
- Major Intellect to your Off-Hand if you're using one.
- Crane Wing Inscription to shoulders
If you're curious, I went into this raid with around 7500 spirit as a holy priest. My item level was around 462.
The Stone Guard is undoubtedly the first real raiding challenge for guilds.
What's that? What about the Sha of Anger? The difficulty of that boss varies by server size and faction population. On my server, there have been engagements where the Horde fields 2 - 3 raid groups: 1 to engage the Sha, the other groups to fend off the Alliance.
Mogu'shan Vaults first boss will test your raid's abilities on endurance, game sense, and reactions. There is a slight variation between 10 man and 25 man versions. On 10, you take on one less statue leading to one less set of abilities.
If you're just starting out on the Stone Guard, bring in 7 healers (or 3 on 10 man). Your raid's DPS will no doubt be all over the place with various spreads from first to last. While DPS is important, you being able to live long enough to DPS is even more important. We ended up using 4 tank healers: 3 on each tank and the 4th on the tank with 2 statues. The rest of the healers were on the raid. I imagine that you'll be able to scale back the healers required within 2 weeks as your raid gains additional gear and experience.
Here's the four most threatening abilities in the raid:
- Jasper Chains - You and a player are linked. If both of you are over 10 yards apart, the chains deal 20000 fire damage which increase by 10% each second. Break these when the Jasper Guardian is attempting to petrify the raid.
- Jade Shards - This is unavoidable. Your raid will take damage from these shards no matter what.
- Amethyst Pool - Giant purple pools on the ground which are easily seen and avoidable.
- Cobalt Mines - Cobalt shards get launched at player's location. The shards then arm after 3 seconds and players within the 7 yards will trigger damage and root players. Break these when Cobalt Guardian is attempting to petrify the raid.
If your raid has trouble with this mechanic, designate a safe zone in the center of the chamber. Have them stay there and set your healing team to drop AoE heals in that cluster as needed.
Be aggressive with mana cooldowns. You'll need it. Healers will feel the pain in this first tier much like they did in early Cataclysm. I caught myself using big expensive spells early on and hitting empty halfway through. Stagger those expensive spells as you have to drag your mana out. It's unnecessary to heal everyone to full. Use your strong spells to bring players back up to 75% and use your neutral heals (Heal, Healing Wave, etc) to get them back to 100%.
Your talent selection should reflect the boss you're working on. An ability like Divine Star isn't going to be helpful if most players aren't stacking up to take advantage of it's properties. You're better off with Cascade or Halo as both abilities are bound to hit more players. Keep that in mind when you're deciding which tools to use.
Good luck! Next week, we'll check out Feng and Gara'jal the Spiritbinder (second and third bosses, respectively).
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.