Dragon Soul first impressions
4.3 was released this week, and with it came a veritable oodle of new content to slash, stab, transmogrify and store in giant vaults. Most significantly for the raiders amongst us, of course, was the Dragon Soul, the final tier of raid content for this expansion, giving us the opportunity to finally put an end to Deathwing, the Aspect of Death. I’m going to go through my first impressions for the zone below:
The first boss of the zone, and frankly something of a push-over – certainly easier than Shannox was after our first day in Firelands. This guy has a simple tank-swap mechanic (Crush Armour), as well as something to keep the ranged interested with an orb/crystal that will spawn in a random location around him and will deal damage to the 3 closest players after a certain amount of time, which varies based on how far away those players are – a red beam indicates lethal damage, yellow is high-but-survivable, and blue is low. When the orb blows up, it will knock the 3 players into the air. He also Stomps, dealing damage to everyone in 30 yards, and double damage to the 2 closest targets (your tanks). His last ability, Black Blood of the Earth, will deal high damage to everyone in line-of-sight, and will require everyone to run behind the rock shards that spawn in a circle around him.
Basically, this fight is a loot-pinata; everyone’s job is extremely simple here, it’s essentially tank-n-spank – just be ready to run away when he casts Black Blood (he pulls everyone to him before casting it); as a Feral, Stamp Roar is a really useful tool here. On heroic, this fight promises to be more interesting, with the boss splitting into 2 identical versions (Morchok and Kochrom) at 90% health,l which will necessitate your group splitting into 2, and you tanks being unable to reset their debuffs until Black Blood.
A Vezax clone, this guy’s another that’s basically tank-n-spank with a couple of important differences – first is a debuff that he throws on to random people dealing shadow damage and knocking them up in the air when dispelled; the second is his ability Void of the Unmaking, which summons a ball of…purple stuff in front of him. This will bounce off of players, dealing damage (split between everyone nearby), and when it hits the boss, it will cause him to get Very Big And Very Angry, and force your healers to start spamming.
I quite like this fight overall – not a great deal to do, but the increased speed from being a Feral is useful as the Void can sometimes start spinning off at a slight angle to where it came from, which means you’ll need to run after it ASAP (if it hits the walls of the room, it’s a wipe). You’ll be able to pull huge amounts of DPS here, as each time the Void hits Zon’ozz, he gains a debuff that increases his damage taken, which lasts for the rest of the fight. As a healer, you’ll need to be on your toes with dispelling, and save your cooldowns for phase 2, when he starts AoEing the whole raid. Try to aim for bouncing the orb a minimum of 5 times, or it’s going to be super-stressful for healing – in 6/7 FL heroic gear, you can probably go up to 9 bounces in normal mode.
The first really interesting fight in the instance; the slimes that patrol around his room are inherent to the fight, and their abilities will give you an idea of what to expect when the encounter begins. The boss himself only has 1 ability, a Void Bolt that stacks for increasing shadow damage and will require a tank swap at around 4-5 stacks; however, he can gain additional abilities when he summons slimes from around the room – he’ll summon 3, and you’ll need to choose 1 to kill, while the other 2 will hit and empower him. When the slimes spawn, listen to your raid leader’s call and get over to the slime that’s going to die ASAP – the tank can run as well, as Yor’shaj will channel until the slimes reach him. Additional abilities are as follows:
Purple – everyone will be debuffed with Deep Corruption, causing them to explode for shadow damage when they receive 5 direct heals.
Green – poison spit that will deal splash damage (think Chimaeron).
Blue – summons a mana void that will drain everyone dry of mana until it’s killed, whereupon it will explode, redistributing the mana evenly to everyone in 30 yards.
Black – summons adds that need to be AoE’d; they cast an ability called Psychic Slice that deals shadow damage to everyone in front of them.
Red – chain lightning that deals increased damage the further away from the boss you are. Hits everyone in the raid.
Yellow – halves Yor’shaj’s ability cooldowns and his Shadow Bolt becomes AoE.
I’ve pretty much put those up in the order of most-to-least dangerous; purple should always die first, but then you’ll need to look at what other slimes you have. If you have Green, Black and Red, kill the green (as it forces you to spread out, while red and black force grouping up). Trust your raid leader and move fast to kill a slime – even healers can help killing them as there’ll be no other damage going out while they’re up.
I really like this fight – it’s incredibly dynamic, and can change massively depending on what combinations you get; in heroic mode, when the boss summons 4 slimes at once, it’s going to become even more so. Again, Feral has a good advantage here as we can reach the slime that’s been marked to die very quickly, and we can pop Stamp Roar to give everyone else a nice speed boost. Again, tanks and healers can go and kill the slimes too.
This one’s pretty interesting, and requires good group co-ordination in phase 1 and phase 2.5 (there are 2 possible phase 2s); basically she starts hacking away at your tank, occasionally using a 5s channel called Focused Assault – if you’re tanking, you can run away from this as she’ll be rooted in place. She’ll also cause ice crystals to spawn around the room which will fire off Ice Lances at people – if your tank is targeted, run in between him and the crystal to start soaking the damage. After a period of time, she’ll either go into her Thunderstorm or Blizzard phases – in Blizzard, run to the edges of the room and move around while staying in front of the moving wall of ice (think of it like a Twilight Cutter from the Halion encounter, except you can always see these and they always hurt), while also killing the 4 ice nodes around the room; in Thunderstorm, have your tank bring the Lightning Elemental that spawns to the north (in 10m at least) to one of the Lightning Conductors – killing it will result in the Conductor powering up, and your raid will then need to position in such a way that you can chain the lightning from 1 conductor to the next. Upon either killing all the ice crystals, or powering up all the conductors, Hagara will be stunned for a while and then resume p1.
This fight’s pretty easy once you sort out dealing with Thunderstorm; I quite like the random phase 2, and using your raiders as little lightning nodes is innovative. Nothing too hard though, so long as your tank remembers to run away from FA. Also worth noting is that in every p1 after the first, she’ll trap 2 people in ice blocks akin to Sindragosa in ICC; just like on normal Sindy, group up on her so you can AoE the blocks and her down at the same time. As a Feral, you’re quick, so you can move between nodes quickly, and easily stay ahead of the Ice Walls.
After the instance’s most annoying trash, you get to fight this guy. There’s a lot to deal with here, most of which focuses around the Heroic Will button that will appear in the middle of your screen. If it DOESN’T (some actionbar mods will block it, although I was fine with Bartender), then use the following macro:
Put that somewhere on your bars, you’ll need it frequently. Every time Ultraxion casts Hour of Twilight, click this button unless you are one of the designated soakers – tanks, Warriors with Shield Wall, Paladins with Divine Protection, Spriests, DKs with AMS and Rogues with CloS make excellent people to stay in soak damage, similar to Algalon’s Big Bang. The boss will also occasionally debuff the tank + a random other person with Fading Light, which will kill you if you are in the Twilight realm, so click this button when there are about 4 seconds left on the debuff to avoid it. This is your tank-swap mechanic, as it will also reset threat against the boss.
Healers will also need to watch out for the buffs that the Aspects will make available to them throughout the fight – your raid leader will probably designate who will take which. We used a Druid to take Alexstraza’s (+100% healing), a Shaman to take Ysera’s (direct heals are duplicated and distributed evenly amongst friendly targets) and a Paladin to take Kalecgos’s (-75% mana costs, +100% spell haste).
I love this fight while tanking – it’s absolutely frantic to tank swap, pop into Cat, DPS a bit, back into Bear to avoid Fading Light and taunt and so on. For our kill, we had our Warrior MT while I was taunting for Fading Light; something worth noting for Feral tanks is that if you’re NOT in Bear, you won’t get the Last Defender of Azeroth buff from Thrall (halves defensive cooldowns and doubles their duration) and you can be targeted by Fading Light – we had a couple of times when both tanks got hit by it as I was trying to throw out more DPS. While DPSing, however, it’s pretty boring – stand still and nuke, occasionally click Heroic Will, and spam Mangle.
Anyway, at present I quite like the instance, despite it being insanely easy – I don’t like being able to walk in and 1-shot the first 4 bosses and then 3-shot the 5th. If heroic content is a big step up, this will be a problem, where the barrier to entry for normal mode is so low that people get lulled into a false sense of security, walk into heroic and get their faces smeared across Dragonblight. That being said, I think the fights have a lot of potential – Yor’shaj and Ultraxion especially, and on heroic they’re going to be really interesting. I can’t give feedback on Blackhorn, Spine and Madness yet, as we were meant to raid last night (Thursday) and my monitor died, so we had to call the raid; back in on Sunday though (my birthday!) to hopefully go 8/8 ready for heroic-modes next reset.
This instance also feels, as Sunnier Bear mentioned in her recent blog post, like a last hurrah for Ferals – Morchok, Zon’oth and Yor’shaj are both single or or 1.5 tank fights, as the tank debuffs on Morchok and Yor’shaj aren’t a guaranteed application, so they can actually drop off before you’ll need to taunt; a hybrid Bear/Cat spec is really useful on these fights.
If you’ve any questions, you can reach me on Twitter (@Shredable) or in-game (Cantor <Omen> @ Emerald Dream EU)