Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brief Frost Mage strats: Dragon Soul bosses 5-7

I decided to make my Brief strats post into two posts, because I practically wrote a novel about Hagara. I have had the pleasure of fighting Madness of Deathwing on Normal mode; however, not only have we not killed him, but I also want to gather a lot more empirical evidence before I confidently post a strategy guide to him.

So, here's some brief Strats for Ultraxion, Blackhorn, and Spine.

Ultraxion

This fight is about as easy as it gets. It's a DPS check where you'll need to be doing roughly 27K DPS (assuming 5 DPS roles and not 6). This fight really depends on you and the other DPS to rock the hell out, but it can also be frustrating depending on what buffs you do and don't have - the first time my guild beat Ultraxion, we had to do it without Trueshot Aura/Blessing of Might. We also never have the 3% Damage buff. Try not to be in our situation!

Anyways. Stack up with the rest of the raid and go to town on the boss. If you don't normally pre-pot (and shame on you), this is a good fight to just do it. You don't need to do any movement, so just make sure you're being absolutely on point about using your Mana cooldowns, and make sure your rotation is perfect.

There are, however, a few gimmicks to this fight. The first two are Hour of Twilight and Fading Light. Both of them, as far as you are concerned, are just countdowns to an instant-kill spell. However, you have a special ability, specific to this fight, called Heroic Will. Heroic Will prevents all damage for five seconds, allowing you to evade the instant-kill; however, it also prevents the user from performing any actions. Both abilities will forcibly end Heroic Will afterwards, and Heroic Will is off the global cooldown. In other words, to get the best DPS uptime, you'll want to cast Heroic Will just before Hour of Twlight/Fading Light hits you, and it will immediately end Heroic Will and allow you to start casting again. Since Heroic Will is off the GCD, you can safely attack until the last possible second (latency notwithstanding).

Sometimes, Hour of Twilight will be cast just after Fading Light hits you, preventing you from using Heroic Will to evade both (Heroic Will has a cooldown). If this happens, just Ice Block whichever one comes second. If it looks like this will happen again (are you using the Deadly Boss mods add-on?), make sure to cast Heroic Will when the Fading Light Debuff has 3 seconds left, ensuring that there's no possibility of Heroic Will still being on Cooldown at the end of the Hour of Twilight cast.

The only other gimmick is Ultraxion's attacks. At the beginning of the fight, his attacks come out every six seconds; however, each minute, his attack speed will increase by one second, causing the incoming damage to ramp up considerably near the end of the fight. You are of no use to your raid when you're dead; as the fight goes on, make sure you begin using your Ice Barrier on cooldown, pop an emergency glyphed Evocation, and click the damn Lightwell!

As a Frost Mage, your main bonus is that you could theoretically Ice Block twice (although you probably won't), and you can use Ice Barrier to ease the agonizing job the healers have later in the fight. I suppose it's nice that you don't have a burn phase, because it can't be rudely interrupted by Hour of Twilight/Fading Light. You don't have to worry about setting up a good time to use Arcane Power/Combustion for fear of having them ruined.

For Glyphsthe only really important ones are Ice Barrier and Evocation, for survivability. To that end, if you want to be really, REALLY prepared for Survivability, you could also glyph for Mana Shield. I wouldn't bother, though.


Warmaster Blackhorn


This encounter takes place on an airship. In Phase 1, you have four different adds to deal with: Dreadblades, Slayers, Drakes, and Sappers. Some of these guys are here to keep us busy, while some of them are here to deal damage to the ship. If the ship reaches 0% health, it's an automatic wipe.

Your primary goal in Phase 1 is to kill the Drakes. They will be out of range most of the time, and will be brought into range at certain intervals for a limited amount of time.

The reason these guys need to be killed so badly is because they cast Twilight Barrage, which will hurt the ship. It will be marked as a small purple circle on the ground, and you'll need to stand in it to take the damage instead. You should stand in them with a buddy most of the time, as the damage is split between players; however, if you are topped off, you'll survive. You can also survive without being topped off by using Ice Barrier, but make sure it's up before running in alone, or you'll be asking for a B-Rez in a few seconds.  Some Barrages will naturally get by, so don't worry too much about defending against each and every one.

Your secondary goal is to kill the Dreadblades and Slayers. All you need to know about these guys as that they do a charge attack which needs to be avoided (especially after tanking a Twilight Barrage), and that you will be helping the tanks by killing the Dreadblades first, as they place a stacking debuff on the tanks.

Finally, there are Sappers, which are dropped off in front of the ship, and make their way to the back. If they reach the back, they deal 25% of the ship's health. If these guys are on the deck, they are your highest DPS priority.  Sappers can be Stunned and Slowed.

Finally, there is an occasional ability to deal with called Twilight Onslaught; it's essentially the same thing as the Drakes' Twilight Barrage ability, but it does much more damage total, so everyone needs to move into the area and soak the damage.

The Frost Mage needs to be sort of everywhere on Phase 1. The best way to DPS this fight, in my opinion, is to delegate certain attacks to the Melee Adds. You don't want to throw your Frostfire Orbs at the Drakes, for example, because not only can the orbs get caught up on a lot of stuff (preventing it from reaching the Drakes), the Drakes move out of range quickly, so if you throw it any time after they first come in range, it probably won't have full up-time. Likewise, if you're spec'd for Impact, it might be wise to throw your Frostfire Bolts at the Melee Adds, as you can spread Ignite between the two (and potentially even the Sapper if he runs close enough).

Deep Freeze's priority is going to change in this fight, depending on your role:

- If you have been assigned to Stun the Sapper (and I would beg your Raid Leader to pick any other available candidate), then you never want to use Deep Freeze in Phase 1 after the opening. You'll need to save it for when the Sappers are dropped, and won't have any opportunities to use it for DPS until Phase 2.

- If you're not Stunning the Sappers, then contrarily, you want to make absolutely sure that you don't cast Deep Freeze on the Sapper, as they aren't immune to Stuns (obviously) and won't take the huge damage. Thus, you should either switch targets to the Drakes or Melee Adds, or hold onto Deep Freeze until the Sapper is dead.

After you kill all those dorks, Blackhorn jumps down to try and ruin your day, along with his Dragon, Goriona. Goriona will be off the starboard side, and has to be dealt with by RDPS. All Goriona will do is put circles of fire on the ground. These things HURT, and they make it very hard to handle Blackhorn, who will be doing a variety of  things to the group already.

Blackhorn doesn't do a lot that you'll need to worry about; he has an AoE interrupt for anyone within 10 Yards, but this shouldn't be a problem for you. He will also cast Shockwave on a random target; Shockwave is a conic AoE that will hit you really, really hard and stun you. In other words, if you get hit by Shockwave and Goriona decides to put fire down on your location, you're in a lot of trouble. You can see the projected area of Shockwave indicated by columns of smoke. Get out of the way, immediately.

...Uh, and there really isn't much else to say about Phase 2. Kill Goriona (well, Goriona retreats after being brought down to a certain percentage of HP, but whatever), and then turn around and Kill Blackhorn. Don't stand near him, and if you are in the AoE of Shockwave, avoid it by Blinking behind him.

As a Frost Mage, Your only advantage is that you can safely take a Twilight Barrage by yourself by using Ice Barrier. As a result, you should really refresh it every time it breaks. You can keep up a little bit of your damage while moving all over the damn deck, but you'll probably be moving too often to always have FoF/BF Procs at the ready each and every time. I daresay, you're kind of crazy for not respeccing to Fire for this encounter. But, I stay in Frost too, so don't worry!

For GlyphsTake Ice Barrier, Evocation, and Icy Veins. Ice Barrier because you gain a powerful utility from it in this fight. Evocation is to potentially ease the Healers' jobs in Phase 1. Icy Veins will allow you to break out of Shockwave Stuns in Phase 2. This will be especially handy if you have your 4-Piece Tier 13 Bonus, which will allow you to use Icy Veins quite often.

In case you're wondering why I didn't recommend Blink...the arena this encounter takes place on is just too small to necessitate Blink. In fact, most of the technical errors I've made in this encounter were due to Blink moving me too far: Blinking past Barrages I could have tanked, Blinking out of Goriona's Fire into more Fire or even a Shockwave...but what really made me rethink my choice of glyphs was the time I Blinked from the Starboard side to the very edge of the Port side and accidentally walked off the cliff. I'd have to say Glyph of Blink is problematic in this encounter!


Spine of Deathwing, a.k.a Deathwing I


There's not any way I can think of to explain the mechanics of this fight in a brief manner, but I'll do my best. Spine of Deathwing has three 'phases', which need to be repeated for three cycles - one for each Armor Plate that needs to be pried off Deathwing's back. Once three have been removed, the fight ends. Here are the phases:

1. Kill Corruptions and Barrel Roll


As soon as you land on DW's back, the encounter begins. There will be four tentacles named "Corruptions" on his back; your first goal is to immediately kill three of them; these guys can do a stun which deals 60K damage every few seconds (Fiery Grip), and will also place a debuff on random party members which absorbs tons and tons of healing (Searing Plasma). Get rid of three as soon as possible.


When a Corruption dies, a new add called Hideous Amalgamation will spawn in its place. The raid needs as few Corruptions and Amalgamations as possible, so we're going to cause DW to do a Barrel Roll, which will send the Amalgamations flying off of his back. To do this, the entire raid should stand on one side of DW's back, and on the spot where one of the Corruptions died (those spots actually secure you to his back; if you're not standing there, you'll be thrown off his back and die, too). After a few seconds of standing on one side or the other, DW will roll in that direction.

2. Amalgamation Control


After the Barrel Roll, move out of the firey patch (because you're taking a lot of damage) and kill the fourth Corruption. Now, we'll have one Amalgamation and one Corruption (because, when you kill all of the Corruptions on DW's back, another one spawns at random).


Now that the situation is under control, you need to loosen DW's armor plates. But, how?

Out of the firey patches where the Corruptions died, a third type of add called Corrupted Blood will spawn at timed intervals. When a Blood is killed, it leaves a glowing spot on the ground. The Tank should drag the Amalgamation through these spots; they place a stacking debuff on the Amalgamation (called Absorbed Blood), which - at nine stacks - will cause the Amalgamation to explode, knocking an Armor Plate loose!

But, the trick is, you want to try and get the Amalgamation down to very low health (~10%), and then get all nine stacks at once, for two reasons:

1. Absorbed Blood increases the Amalgamation's damage and attack speed by 10% per stack

2. At nine stacks, the Amalgamation begins to deal a ton of raid damage.

So, you'll be killing the Bloods as they spawn, and damaging the Amalgamation in the meantime. When the Amalgamation's HP is low, you'll stop killing it until it has nine stacks, and then resume fighting.

Finally, in the meantime, one Corruption will be up, occasionally stunning raid members. The stun is broken by dealing 25% of the Corruption's health. You are a prime candidate for this, as you are a Ranged DPS, and you can easily deal a controlled amount of damage, especially compared to Fire and Arcane, who may have trouble accomplishing the task without leaving DoTs, clearing AB stacks, or just doing flat out way more damage than necessary. ...Oh, and if the Corruption stuns you, you can Ice Block out of it.

When the Amalgamation dies, it will trigger Nuclear Blast (which does a lot of damage - be far away from the add!), prying the Armor Plate open (as long as it does near the Armor Plate).

3. Burn the Burning Tendon


A few seconds after the Amalgamation blows up, it will knock the Armor Plate loose, and a new add will appear called Burning Tendon; you have an extremely short window of time to kill this add (15 seconds), so save all your CDs for this and hit it for everything you're worth. You still need to watch out for the Corruption's stun in this phase, so be ready to switch at a moment's notice, depending on how your raid deals with it.


One thing I've noticed about this Phase as Frost, is that it can be very hard to hit things with Pet Freeze. Your camera will be difficult to move, making it very hard to tell where you should be aiming the damn thing, and to top it off, your Pet may not have line-of-sight to certain adds (although I can't tell how at this point, cos I can't SEE anything!). My best suggestion is, as the Amalgamation is channeling Nuclear Blast, set it to Passive (or make it stop attacking) and have it move right on top of it. That way, you'll have very little problem aiming it, and will have no LoS problems.

If you knock the Armor Plate off, then two more Corruptions will appear, and the raid goes back to step one and you begin a new cycle (of three total), If your raid fails to knock the Armor Plate off, you'll need to repeat phase two again.

As a Frost Mage, your main advantage lies in that you are probably the best spec at breaking the Corruptions' stuns without doing too much damage. If you kill the Corruptions early, you'll have an additional Amalgamation to deal which - not good! Your burst is not superior to Arcane's; however, since it requires essentially zero ramp-up, your prowess in Phase 3 won't feel like it's at the mercy of RNG, as a Fire Mage might.

For GlyphsTake Ice Barrier, Evocation, for sure; your third is a wild card. Ice Barrier is good for the damage you'll be taking during Barrel Rolls. Evocation is the biggest help in this fight, since your healing can help clear your Searing Plasma debuff.

As for your third glyph? I dunno...if the newly-spawned Amalgamations seem to gun it for you, take Frost Armor. The arena is generally too small for glyph of Blink to be useful, but if you're used to keeping it on, you can leave it. Alternatively, if you want to help healers out just a little more, you could try glyphing for Mana Shield and reapplying it, since your DPS uptime will be far from 100%; you simply won't always have something to attack, and you'll have Mana to spare.

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