As promised, I’d like to take an in-depth look at healing ToGC 25-man Anub’arak as a restoration druid. There are a few things I’d like to try and cover including strategy, positioning, talent specs, gear, useful addons, and healing composition. Secondly, at the end of this post, I’ve got our 25-man ToGC Anub’arak video of phase 3 (sorry, I don’t have fraps and Skysech only caught phase 3). Don’t bother looking for me, I’m sitting underneath Anub’arak hiding behind our off-tank so I don’t get wacked by the nerubian burrowers.
This is more for informational purposes. No matter whether you are a dps, tank, or healer, a solid understanding of the entire fight is necessary in order to succeed.
The is mostly the tank and spank portion of the fight for the main tank. However, Anub’arak does have a few abilities during phase 1 that healers should be aware of. The first of which is Freezing Slash, which inflicts additional froststrike weapon damage and freezes the tank in a block of ice for 3 seconds. As a resto druid, you will notice the tank taking some extra damage when freezing slash is cast. Just make sure you’re keeping a full set of HoTs up on the main tank during this phase and be prepared to swiftmend if necessary. For the most part though, the holy paladins in your group should have no problem keeping the main tank topped off with the assistance of druid HoTs, disc priest bubbles, shaman earthshields, etc.
The second ability that occurs during phase 1, and phase 3 for that matter, is Penetrating Cold. Penetrating Cold is a ticking debuff that will be applied to 5 random raid members doing 6,000 damage (on heroic) every 3 seconds for 18 seconds. This is a repeating debuff and it will be pretty much kept up on 5 raid members for the majority of the fight while in phase 1 and phase 3. In our raids, I found that tossing a rejuv and lifebloom or wildgrowth on the 5 targets was sufficient to prevent death during phase 1.
The third and final ability that Anub’arak uses during phase 1 is the summoning of 4 Nerubian Burrowers. These must be tanked on an ice patch in order to prevent them burrowing underground. We dealt with these adds by having one or two rogues and a hunter using misdirection abilities to send these adds to our off-tank standing on the ice patch. I found that the off-tank only needed a rejuv and a lifebloom throughout this phase. For the most part I leave the direct tank-healing to our holy pallies (who are amazing btw); don’t get me wrong here…I’m ALWAYS supplementing their healing with partial or full HoTs. The one nasty ability these nerubian burrowers have is a mean Shadow Strike, which tends to target a raid member furthest from them and smacks them for upwards of 40,000 damage. These are interruptable and on a relatively predictable timer (our ret paladin used DXE I believe to monitor and interrupt this ability). Basically, not something a healer needs to worry about, just something that must be done throughout phase 1 and phase 3 (not cast during phase 2).
Note: Frost orbs are of the scarce resource variety in the heroic version of the Anub’arak encounter. There are only 6 spawned for the entire duration of the fight, hence they must be managed well.
During this phase, Anub’arak burrows underground and summons numerous swarm scarabs. The goal of this phase is to blow up the swarm scarabs very quickly, without letting them enrage or melee raid members. If the swarm scarab becomes enraged, it becomes immune to stuns and slows – need a hunter using tranq shot or a rogue doing whatever they do to remove the enrage buff. The thing to avoid during this phase is being melee’d by the swarm scarabs. The reason being = Acid-drenched mandibles. This debuff is applied with each melee attack, can stack to 99, deals nature damage every 3 seconds for 1 minute, and makes life very hard for healers. The swarm scarabs can be stunned, shackled, rooted, frozen, etc. as long as they aren’t enraged – so use the abilities you have to avoid getting the debuff. My healing job during phase 2 is to keep the off-tank alive while the dps finish off the second pack of nerubian burrowers and regenerate mana.
The second major issue during phase 2 is Anub’arak’s Pursuing Spikes. Now, different guilds will handle this differently. The basic idea is as follows: kite the pursuing spikes for as long as possible, then hop over the ice patch since the spikes cannot penetrate the permafrost. Now, as mentioned above, there are a very limited number of frost orbs in the heroic version. In order to deal with this, we used paladin BoPs to protect the targeted raid member from the spikes so they could kite for a longer period of time before hopping over the ice patch. This allowed us to only use 2 ice patches during each phase 2 since each kiter could kite the spikes for approximately 20 seconds each and Anub’arak stays burrowed for 45 seconds. The positioning used for phase 2 will vary based on your guild’s strategy so I won’t go into detail on that subject.
After 45 seconds, Anub’arak re-emerges from the ground and we’re back to phase 1. This cycle will repeat until Anub’arak’s health is brought down to 30%.
In the heroic version, all the abilities from phase 1 are retained. This includes freezing slash, penetrating cold, Shadow Strike, and the summoning of 4 nerubian burrowers at the same intervals. However, the major additional ability that Anub’arak gains during this phase is called Leeching Swarm. Leeching Swarm is an ability that leeches 30% of every single raid members CURRENT health every 1 second, this leeches a minimum of 250 health and heals Anub’arak.
Leeching swarm is a difficult thing to control during phase 3. Most guilds use very specific class abilities to counter the leeching swarm ticks without healing Anub’arak more than the raid can dps. Our guild used shadow priest Vampiric Embrace, holy paladin glyphed Holy Light, paladin Judgment of Light, shaman glyphed Healing Stream Totem, the occasional priest holy nova, and a rank 2 Wild Growth to keep our raid members around 2k health during the fight.
Penetrating Cold during phase 3 requires a different strategy than used during phase 1. I’ve written and discussed this a bit previously. However, I will re-iterate the main points here just to be thorough. Our raid make-up for healing consisted of 2 holy paladins, 2 resto druids, 1 resto shaman, and 1 discipline priest. Penetrating cold during phase 3 is made very deadly due to leeching swarm and the fact that each raid member is sitting at 2k health or less for the entire time. What this means is that each penetrating cold target must receive a 6-7k heal within 3 seconds (penetrating cold first tick hits 3 seconds after the debuff has been applied) in order to live. This requires a great amount of healer organization, coordination, and teamwork. Our approach was to assign each holy paladin 1 raid icon to holy shock for the first tick, assign one resto druid one target to heal, assign the other resto druid a primary icon and a secondary icon (one of the paladin’s targets), and assign the resto shaman a primary icon and a secondary icon (the other paladin target). The discipline priest was responsible for solely bubbling and reducing damage taken by the tanks and raid members. The holy paladins were responsible for healing the main tank and off-tank. As far as I know, they were using Beacons and spamming holy light. In addition, one resto druid was also using a rank 2 wild growth before and after each penetrating cold hit in order to prevent deaths due to leeching swarm ticks. All healers were using either Vuhdo or Grid with the extra addon as described in my previous post here in order to be able to easily visualize the raid members targeted with penetrating cold and their raid icons.
As a restoration druid in this fight, my strategy during phase 3 was to spec and glyph into healing touch in order to be able to easily throw out 7k heals in about 0.8 seconds. I was also responsible for throwing up a rank 2 wild growth before and after a penetrating cold had hit the raid. In between penetrating colds, I attempted to maintain a rejuv, regrowth and lifebloom on the main tank and off-tank. This didn’t always happen depending on how much time I had in between penetrating colds.
In my previous post, I put up a screenshot of my current talent spec for the Anub’arak fight. However, that has changed a bit based on a couple of issues we had and some new information we obtained.
Firstly, healers were having issues with generating more threat than the rogue/hunter could overcome in order to direct the nerubian burrowers over to the off-tank. Our strategy to overcome this was two-fold: 1) the resto druids specced into Subtlety and 2) the paladin’s worked out a BoP rotation for the holy paladins to drop their threat during phase 3.
Second, based on some new information from Think Tank, we realized that the Master Shapeshifter talents in the restoration tree also affected Anub’arak and was healing him for 4% extra per resto druid. Hence, those talents had to be dropped from our healing touch specs.
Thirdly, as I have mentioned previously, I was having some mana issues during phase 3 due to healing touch spam and the loss of my innervate to the holy paladins. Thus, seeing as both the resto druids had to drop Master Shapeshifter talents, we both picked up 5 points in Tranquil Spirit. I noticed a significant difference and had no trouble with mana last night on our kill. With these changes, it was unnecessary for me to use Flask of Pure Mojo or mp5 food and I was able to maintain my phase 3 healing without mana issues using my customary Flask of the Frost Wyrm and Fish Feast food buff.
My final talent spec for the Anub’arak boss fight: 14/0/57
For this fight, I make a couple of item swaps. The main goal being to give myself around a 0.8 second healing touch. Mostly, I make sure I put on a couple pieces with a bit more haste instead of crit and I equip my Idol of the Avian Heart to buff up my healing touch. I usually end up with around 500 haste. The only downside to stacking more haste in my own personal opinion is the fact that you run into issues with the GCD. I feel trained at this point for a 1 second GCD and if I’m running around casting a healing touch that is faster than 1 second….I sometimes found myself missing my heal on my primary or secondary target because I thought I already had gotten the spell off. This results in a death So, I’m not very convinced at this point that stacking more haste is a good thing since for the most part I am not casting HoTs during phase 3.
Our Video of Phase 3!!!
Thanks to Skysech for this video
Finally, after about 3-4 weeks of wiping on Anub’arak, we just one-shot all the bosses in the Trial of the Grand Crusade and downed Anub’arak! Idiocracy picked up three new achievements: Call of the Grand Crusade, A Tribute to Insanity, and Realm First Grand Crusader. Unfortunately, I was a bit slow with my screenshots lol, but I have plenty to show you all. I also plan on doing an in-depth post about strategy, mostly healing-related since that is my focus and I have the most information to share on that topic.
Idiocracy is now ranked 61 in US servers and 149 in the world!
It was also a pretty good night for me as I picked up Vestments of the Shattered Fellowship, Chalice of Searing Light, and Maiden’s Favor. All in all, a fantastic night for our guild, and I for one was shaking for a good 10 minutes after we killed Anub’arak.
Grand Crusader Fîrewood
Jessabelle, a holy priest blogger over at Miss Medicina has started a sort of frenzy among bloggers recently. Jessabelle makes a strong point that the very most adept and efficient healers, the ones we all know and admire, have a sort of overall knowledge of all healing classes, not just their own. In the spirit of educating all WoW healers and frankly I think just having fun, she created a healing questionaire and a sort of webring or circle of healers. In addition, I wholeheartedly agree with her statement about how every healer understanding other healing classes makes us better healers and players. I for one know that idiocracy’s healing leader knows and understands each class of healer. How else can one make intelligent raid healing assignments? As a leader of the healing team, he must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each healing class in order to give them assignments to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. So, in conclusion, I’ve decided to spend a little time and fill out Jessabelle’s healing questionaire even though I haven’t been officially “tagged” by another healer in their blog.
- What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Fîrewood, druid, resoration – of the 14/0/57 variety
- What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
25-man raids, 10-man raids, occasionally some 5-man heroics, no PvP (I pretty much stink at it)
- What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Hmm, this is a tough question for me. I’d love to say I love all the druid HoTs because druid HoTs are why I choose to play a resto druid, but that doesn’t really answer the question. The truth is, I love the idea of casting a bunch of healing over time spells on as many players as I can and then just sit back and watch the pretty green numbers. That is exactly why I rolled resto druid in BC and boy, did I love lifebloom during BC. However, things have changed in WotLK, lifebloom is taking a backseat to other spells in my spellbook. But, the question asks about my favorite healing spell, and I’d have to answer Swiftmend. Granted, I’m not really sure it counts, but it is a healing spell right? Resto druids don’t have those big fast heals like pallies do, recently nourish has been helping us in that department, but still doesn’t even compete with holy light. Swiftmend is that heal I can use every 15 seconds, it crits, it’s instant as long as I have either a rejuv or a regrowth on the target, and it can save lives! I can’t be certain, but I know I’ve seen a swiftmend hit a target for upwards of 17k on a crit. Swiftmend is the epitome of druid healing in my opinion.
- What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
This is a tie between tranquility and healing touch. I never use tranquility, except maybe out-of-combat for achievement pictures…cause the graphics give screenshots that extra shine On the other hand, for a while now I’ve been specced out of nature’s swiftness and so I don’t even use the normally customary NS + HT macro that every druid has. But to clarify, I do have a special spec/glyph/gear set for when our guild is working on Anub’arak in ToGC, specifically for phase 3 healing. I don’t count that though, that is a special circumstance.
- What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
I know most resto druids would answer this question with something about our amazing HoTs and incoming damage buffering, but I feel like a resto druid’s biggest strength has more to do with our versatility and insane amount of different healing spells we have available. Out of all the healing classes, I think resto druids (and probably priests) can fill an entire action bar with only healing spells. Resto druids have the ability to solo heal 5-mans; we make a great healer when 2-healing hardmodes; we have good synergy with just about any other healing class; we make amazing raid healers; we can be tank healers if necessary (I’m willing to fight for that statement, 2-healed anub’arak 10 heroic with a disc priest and I was tank heals); we can basically heal anything we want to.
- What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
I’m gonna basically agree with the entire resto druid community and say that the resto druid’s biggest weakness is huge burst heals. We have nourish, which only heals for around 8-9k on a crit; we have healing touch which has a very long cast time and can be mana-intensive to use; we have swiftmend on a 15 second cooldown; other than that we have nothing for burst healing.
- In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
I have a little bit of a story about this. When I first joined idiocracy, I saw our healing leader giving out healing assignments to the pallies, priests, and shamans. I asked them, “um, do I get a healing assignment?’ and our healing leader then proceeded to basically tell me that they never give their resto druids any specific healing assignment. After a few weeks, I now understand why we generally don’t assign healing assignments to resto druids. Resto druids do their best healing by 1) HoTing up tanks, 2) preemptively healing raid damage, and 3) filling in the gaps. The healing resto druids can’t necessarily be “assigned” and if a good resto druid is left to his/her own to pick out where they need to heal, they will excel. They will fill in those “holes.” I have also personally found that the more I have experienced a fight, the better I become at picking up when and who to heal. The sooner I figure out the fight, the better I will perform, the more effective I will be (meaning more effective healing, less overhealing).
- What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
I love healing with a good holy paladin or discipline priest. I feel like resto druids complement any other healing class pretty well, but I personally feel more comfortable healing with either a priest or a paladin. They tend to fill in the gaps, such as burst/tank healing and bubbles, that a resto druid has more difficulty with. But to make an exception, I mostly just enjoy healing with another competent healer.
- What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
I prefer not healing with another druid, at least in 10-mans where you may only have 2 healers. A 2 resto druid healing team just adds stress in my opinion.
- What is your worst habit as a healer?
I hate when I throw out a wild growth on the wrong person. I am usually very aware of where players are standing or should be standing and try to hit the melee or the ranged if they are grouped up. However, I occasionally get distracted, like on Twins when I’m soaking and throwing out rejuvs on the entire raid, and I misclick my darn wild growth on myself or one of the other soakers >.< /sigh
- What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
I have two: 1) dps that stand in fire, voids, falling crap from the ceiling – you are making our jobs harder, eating up our mana, and generally being an annoyance; 2) please, I do not need a reminder to heal so and so – I’ve got grid, I can see the entire raid, I know who needs heals, and you just talked over the tank who had something important to say.
- Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Um, I haven’t done a battleground or arena match since BC. I have no clue, what I do notice is our lifebloom getting nerfed repeatedly since the end of BC and the transition to WotLK.
- What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
First of all, I look to see if anyone in the raid died and why/how they died. I use Acheron dead reports to look up this information, since I don’t like running a combat log during raid. Secondly, I usually take a look at recount and compare myself to the other resto druid in the raid. We have similar gear and talent spec, and we are usually on the same healing assignment (healing whatever we feel like ) . I expect that our effective healing and overhealing should be similar and if they aren’t I look at what heals we cast and on whom they were cast. Sometimes we heal the same fight differently, sometimes we heal it almost identically. In addition, I’ve seen some comments along the lines of overhealing as a resto druid doesn’t matter. I beg to differ, we are not in the raid to randomly cast about our HoTs, we are there to specifically mitigate or buffer the incoming damage. That requires a finesse, a sort of knowledge about the damage in the fight, when it will come, how much it will be. If you know the fight intimately, you can predict the incoming damage and do what druids do best…PREHOT! Placing those HoTs deliberately and with knowledge increases our effective healing and decreases our overhealing. A resto druid should never be above a paladin on the overhealing meter.
- What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
I actually tend to believe that players are relatively well-informed about druids. We are a bit OP and most people generally know that a resto druid uses HoTs. One misconception I see relatively frequently though is the concept that we are only raid-healers. This really isn’t true and a large percentage of my healing in a raid comes solely from HoTing the tanks. The benefit of being a resto druid is that I can keep full stacks of HoTs on my tanks and still be a full-time raid healer.
- What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Oh jeez, lifebloom is sooooo confusing. Should I stack it? Should I let it bloom? Should I stack it then let it bloom at the perfect time? Do I need the mana from the bloom? Lifebloom in WotLK is the most confusing healing spell I have ever come across. I can’t even imagine being a new resto druid and trying to figure out what to do with it. It is a complicated spell and I honestly change how I use it fight-by-fight.
- If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
In general, druids are a high healing output class, medium on overhealing. However, I will clarify by stating that in specific fights (Heroic 25 Beasts and many others) a good paladin can beat out a resto druid any day. Those fights that have high 2-tank damage are the ones that pallies are going to shine in. On the other hand, resto druids are going to just kill the healing meters in hps (heals per second) when there is steady raid-wide damage (Heroic 25 Twins). On Twins I can get up over 9k hps, just a bit OP if I don’t say so myself
- Haste or Crit and why?
Haste to 1 sec gcd, which is 359, then crit. The haste soft cap is very easy to reach and after we get to a 1 sec gcd, haste does very very little for a resto druid – decreases cast time of nourish, which if raid healing is not cast often. The T9 four-set bonus of allowing our rejuv ticks to crit has pushed me over to where I’m giving up haste for crit. My mana situation is pretty good, so I’ve even given up some points in tranquil spirit to pick up natural perfection for the extra 3% crit to all my healing spells.
- What healing class do you feel you understand least?
I’d have to say restoration shaman. I have not played a shaman and I do not have any friends that play them. We only have one resto shaman in our guild, so I don’t have much experience working with them.
- What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
I use quite a few addons for raiding, but for healing I mostly use Grid (along with many extra plugins) and clique. I fail at all but the simplest macros, so clique is a must for me. Plus, I can’t stand to give up my wasd buttons for moving, so I prefer using my mouse and it’s extra buttons to heal. I don’t use decursive, I’ve found that I can incorporate everything I need into Grid. I’ve also recently added powerauras to my addon collection. It is really great for helping me notice when I’ve gained or lost specific buffs/debuffs.
- Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
For a resto druid, spellpower is king. Under spellpower, I would rank spirit and intellect as important. Haste is only important up to the soft cap of 359, crit is infinitely more useful than haste if you have 4-piece tier 9 and should be sought after. However, as we all know…things will be changing soon with the changes to GotEM and the new rejuvenation glyph. So that may change, and for now I’m happy stacking some extra crit and storing up all the other pieces with haste in my bank for the patch.
Okay! Done! Oh, wait.. the rules say I have to tag another healer of a class different than mine. Hmm, I don’t know any really, I mostly read resto druid blogs. So, I’m not gonna follow the rules, I’m gonna tag Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket.