Friday, February 12, 2010

Tips & Tricks: Frostwing Halls

Since Kae does such a fantastic job of writing (and illustrating) all of Vortex’s boss strategies, I figure there isn’t much sense in totally re-inventing the wheel. Instead I decided that I’d take the opportunity to write up a bit of a complementary guide and get into the nitty, gritty details of doing the fights as a Restoration Shaman. The idea is to not only share my own experiences in order to possibly help new shamans healing the fights, but to also hear other player’s suggestions to help myself improve. I plan to do these posts for Lich King and the heroic modes, but if the demand is high enough, I can also go back and do them for some of the older Normal version fights as well.

Valithria Dreamwalker

Kae hasn’t yet put up Vortex’s official strategy for this fight yet, so I’ll share it from my own point of view.

A handsome, young orc stands triumphantly Captain Morgan style on an unopened box of treasure, cloak billowing in the wind behind him. Females of all species are hanging off him, swooning over his sexy, rippling, green biceps. Scattered before them are thousands of undead corpses, ripped and torn asunder by the blades of the orc’s comrades (pictured offscreen). If you listen closely, you can hear the wind whispering softly in your ear: “Rul.”

As a Resto Shaman, this is probably one of the fights in the game where you can’t help but feel a bit like a superhuman god of healing. It’s not uncommon to crack over 80000 Effective Healing per Second at specific points in the fight, and I generally find I do a good 2/3 of the total healing to Valithria on most successful attempts.

Now before you think I’m just stroking my own ego, I want to point out that this is almost entirely due to class mechanics. Specifically, the high throughput possible on this fight is caused by the interaction that Ancestral Awakening has with the stacking Emerald Vigor buffs from the portal realm. Normally, when Healing Waves, Lesser Healing Waves or Riptides crit, Ancestral Awakening (AA) will heal the friendly target with the lowest percentage health for 30% of the heal. With the healing buff, not only are AA procs calculated from the already larger initial heal, but they are then again multiplied by the buff themselves before they land.

For example: say Healing Wave normally crits for 20000. The AA proc will be for 30% of that: 6000.

With 10 stacks of the buff, Healing Wave will be critting for 40000. Rather than heal for 12000 as expected, AA will instead heal for 24000.

With high enough stacks of the buff, it is actually possible to have AA procs heal for more than the initial Healing Wave crit itself!

For this reason alone, shamans should be healing the boss almost exclusively. If you’re not currently, I highly recommend that you and your raid leader discuss swapping up the healing assignments. There are very few other classes who can match our throughput on Valithria in this fight.

For this fight you’re going to want to focus on maximum single-target throughput. That means stacking your crit/haste gear and using Healing Wave as your primary heal. Riptides should be used generously to proc both Tidal Waves and your two-piece Tier 10 bonus should you have it.

In the 10-man version of the fight, all the adds and portals only spawn at the front of the room, so you should be able to position yourself near Valithria’s head for the most part. Movement is pretty minimal during the fight; the only thing you really need to watch out for are the Columns of Frost that will knock you up into the air after a few seconds if you don’t avoid them (kind of like the ability in 5-man Anub’arak). You’ll also need to move to position yourself near a portal when she spawns them since they take a good few seconds before they become active. If possible, I recommend waiting until it’s time to cast Riptide again and cast it while you move in order to lose the least amount of time on target.

Once you enter the portals, your goal is to fly/swim through as many of the floating, green, gaseous orbs as you can. They are spawned at varying heights in a circle surrounding Valithria, so you might need to adjust your camera angle on occasion as the depth perception required while flying makes this part a little difficult. They can also be a bit finicky, so sometimes you’ll need to pause near them in order to make sure they “explode” and give you another stack of the debuff. Since we assign two healers into the portal, we each take one side of the ring. Try to collect all of the orbs starting at the front and make your way to the back. At that point, most of the ones on your side will be respawned and you should be able to get a few more on your way back to the front. I generally try to end the portal phase as close to the front as possible in order to lose the least amount of time getting back into position after the portal phase ends. You should aim for around 5-10 stacks of the debuff per portal phase.

The two dragon healers take the first three sets of portals. After exiting the third one, we immediately pop Bloodlust and Guardian Spirit (if available) and heal as much as we can. At this point, my haste is high enough that I usually forego using Riptide at all (other than during movement) and stick to straight Healing Wave spam. Keep healing this way until Bloodlust wears off, at which point you go back to a similar healing style as before. Note, your stacks will wear off at this point since you’ll end up skipping the fourth set of portals. You will start building them back up in the fifth set of portals. The fight should be ending some point around the sixth or seventh set of portals.

Due to the debuff providing significant amounts of regen, it’s unlikely you will have any mana issues throughout most of the fight. The only person who really will is the healer assigned to stay outside the entire time. As such, Mana Tide timing is a bit of a gametime call, but try to use it in order to assist that healer as much as possible. I generally drop it after the Bloodlust wears off since that’s when mana tends to be lowest.


For reference, Vortex’s strategy for the fight can be found here.

Healing in phase 1 is pretty straightforward. It mostly consists of relatively low AoE damage and single-tank healing. The only thing that you really need to watch out for is Unchained Magic and the Instability debuffs it causes. It is imperative that you have some way of knowing that the debuff is on you so that you don’t needlessly take extra damage. Since phase 1 damage is so manageable, I usually just hold off on healing the raid unless people are low on health. Keeping Riptide on the tank and healing after breaths is generally good enough. You should try to keep your Instability stacks to 7 or less, but I find that most of mine fall off around 3 or 4 if there aren’t any major damage spikes. I like to have my raid frames also show who else has stacks of Instability so that I can anticipate the incoming damage.

The only other thing to really watch for in phase 1 is the Icy Grip. I usually take that time to refresh Earth Shield on the tank and toss out a Riptide while running back out. Following Blistering Cold, the raid will usually be at their lowest health for the phase (particularly the melee/hunters who may have had some DoTs ticking on them), so you’ll want to top them off while being mindful to not allow your Instability debuffs from stacking too high if you have them at that point.

Going into the phase 2 transition, it is vitally important that you let any remaining Instability debuffs on you drop in case you are chosen as a Frost Tomb target as the explosion will still damage you while you are frozen and could potentially kill you. If you do not have Unchained Magic, your primary responsibility is getting any Frost Beacon targets (including yourself) to full health before it lands. It’s a good idea to add Frost Beacon to your raid frames for this purpose. Try to get Riptides on at least one of the targets as it will continue to tick while they are entombed. If you are not Frost Tombed, make sure you are out of line of sight of the incoming Frost Bombs and top anyone off who might still need it. I usually refresh Earth Shield on the main tank while I’m at it.

Phase 3 is mostly just a combination of the healing priorities of phases 1 and 2. You want to avoid stacking up Instability too high on yourself and you want to make sure that all Frost Beacon targets are topped off before they are entombed. In our strategy, we alternate tombs between her head and tail. Generally, you should be safe to only go behind the ones near her head in order to drop your stacks of Mystic Buffet. Doing so, if you position yourself carefully, you can actually lose line of sight to Sindragosa and drop the debuff, but still have line of sight to the tank and continue to heal. This positioning can be a bit finicky at times, so make sure that you always err on the side of dropping the debuff. By and large, if you can keep the tanks and Frost Beacon targets alive in this part of the fight, you have a solid chance of successfully completing the fight.

Hopefully you found these tips for Frostwing Halls helpful! I’d definitely like to hear your feedback and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions of your own.

1 comment:

  1. This was really helpful for me! Thanks for taking the time to write it up. :)