Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Healing Heroic Trial of the Champion the 5-man

While Patch 3.2 brings with it a whole new raid instance, it’s safe to say that the feature that will draw the most attention is the inclusion of a whole new 5-man instance, similar in difficulty and reward to Magister’s Terrace: Trial of the Champion. If my server is any indication, the place is popular, with LF Tank and LF Healer spam rocking Trade, LFG, and Icecrown General chats. Similar to Magister’s Terrace, the place is tougher than the current crop of Heroic dungeons, but carries with it significantly greater rewards. Imagine my chagrin when I noticed that the healing mace had the same stats as my hard won Pulse Baton from Mimiron-10. That’s right folks, along with the other host of loot-catch-up-changes in 3.2, H-ToC drops Uld10 level loot, enough to get even the most backwards raider ready for ToC10 and 25. I’ve even seen full t8.5 raiders picking up upgrades from both normal and heroic ToC, so the place is filled to the gills with good stuff.

Of course, they’re not just HANDING it out. We’ve got a few more weeks before the new wing of Vault of Archavon can do that. No no, you’re going to have to work for your fat purples, and just like Magister’s Terrace, H-ToC will put you through the ringer if you’re not ready for it, but that’s what I’m here for, to make sure you know what to do before your PUG shouts ‘OMG NOOB’ and boots you.

The background to the instance is that the Argent Crusade wants to make sure the valiant heroes heading to Icecrown in patch 3.3 are as well-equipped and experienced as they say they are. The true challenges lie in the raid level encounter, but the 5man version draws upon the best the Horde (or Alliance) has to offer. The first encounter pits you against 3 randomly chosen champions from the opposite faction in a battle royale similar to the 5v5 boss from Magister’s Terrace. Before this though, you have to put your jousting (hold your groans!) skills to the test.

(Instance note: this place is short, so I recommend saving Heroism for the final phase of the final boss just in case the 10 min cooldown on Exhaustion isn’t up by then)

Jousting Phase – Boss 1

The first ‘trash’ of the instance occurs after your three opposing champions have ridden out. Each comes with three squires from their faction that will ride out and assault your group. There’s no trick here, just wipe them out. Once all three groups of three have been dropped, the three champions themselves will ride out after you. Again, this is pretty easy if you’ve kept up on your jousting dailies. If not, the key is to keep up a 3 stack of your shield (button 4) at all times while using charge (button 3) whenever possible. Should you be knocked from your steed, you can quickly run to the wall and mount another should you not draw the ire of one of the champions as you go.

Once a champion has been vaulted and is sprawled out on the floor they’re not entirely out of the fight yet. After 15-30 seconds they’ll get up and wander slowly to another mount along the edges of the arena. Should they get there before you can trample them by running them over, they’ll be back on a mount with 50k health. Not much, but annoying none the less.

One major tip for this phase is to try and keep all the bosses in the same place in the room, as far from the walls as possible. Not only does this make keeping them on the ground easier, but when phase 2 rolls around, the tank won’t have nearly as hard of a time rounding them all up.

As a healer this phase requires no work, just jump on a horse and have some fun (well, for the first time. Anybody who has the Crusader title can tell you how much ‘fun’ jousting is.)

Arena Phase – Boss 1

Once all three champions have been vaulted, you’ll be booted off your mount and sent into the second phase of this fight. The moment you’ve all been thrown can be very chaotic, as the three mobs will all glom onto whoever they can (which will probably be you) until the tank can run around and pick them all up. If you’ve managed to clump them all up during phase 1 this won’t be too bad, but if not there is a trick that makes this part of the fight significantly easier: just run out. If your entire party exits the instance, the fight will reset and all three champions will be standing around near the door shortly after you come back in. The jousting phase will be over and you can properly prepare for what’s probably the hardest fight in the entire instance. If you prefer to do it the more legitimate way, make sure to equip your weapons as you land and get ready to heal your face off.

There are 5 possible champions for you to face, each a different class with different abilities and strategies. I’ll list each below:

In most cases this will be the one you want to kill first. He has a chain lightning that does minimal damage and a healing wave that will prove to be your bane if you can’t lock it out. Make sure somebody is interrupting this at all times, as he can heal through heavy dps on a single target if left unmolested. As a resto shaman I find it easy enough to toss a wind shock his way whenever I notice his casting it, but since you’ll probably be DPSing this guy down first anyway, your DPS should be more than capable of interrupting it.

In my opinion the least dangerous of the five, but your experience may vary. She casts a relatively low damage fireball at whoever has threat on her, does a mildly annoying Blast Wave (mainly annoying due to the knock back and daze), polymorphs a party member for 4sec occasionally, and can self-buff herself with a haste buff, increasing her casting speed by 100% for 10sec. I personally haven’t seen this become a serious issue, but word on the street is that it can be devastating, so your mileage may vary. Her damage output is pretty low (just like a real mage amirite OHHHHHH) and the polymorph is short enough to almost be negligible, so as long as you purge the haste buff off her when you see it, you should have no problems tanking her. You may want to interrupt one of her early casts to help the tank keep her close. Be wary about pulling aggro on her, especially if the tank isn’t paying enough attention to her.

Easily the most deadly of the five. Both of his weapons have deadly poison on them, which places a stacking DOT on whoever he hits with them. He also has Fan of Knives, which hits everybody in 8 yards, and applies the poison to them. In addition to this, he does use Eviscerate, but since we can’t see his combo counter, who knows. The last, and most annoying / potentially devastating thing he does is throw a bottle of poison on the ground that will create a green cloud, similar to the early trash in Botanica. Standing in this cloud will cause great damage to whoever is in it. Make sure your tank is especially aware of this, as in addition to FoK and other AoEs, this can spell quick death for your melee. He can throw this at ranged as well, so just be ready to move when you see the green cloud. As a resto shaman, Cleansing Totem can save your life here, keeping the deadly poison from stacking too high on the tank and melee without requiring you to waste GCDs clearing it. As long as the tank keeps the boss away from the green clouds, this guy will go down fast.

Middle of the field in terms of difficulty. This guy will peg whoever has the most threat on him with arrows, occasionally using multi-shot. If the tank is too in his face, he will use Disengage and go flying backwards. This makes him rather annoying to tank, but you can easily move the fight back to him to prevent him from getting too multi-shot happy. He also has a channeled ability that enchants his arrows with lightning, causing them to do an extra 2.8-3.2k damage each. Interrupt this when he’s casting it or purge the buff. Similar to the mage, be ready to accidentally pull aggro from the tank on this guy, as he can be a little difficult for an inexperienced tank to handle.

Potentially devastating, potentially easy. Similar to any warrior in PVP, he can do a lot of damage if left uncontrolled, but is easily controlled. He has a Mortal Strike that’s like every other Mortal Strike, in that it reduces healing received on the tank by 50% for a short period. He does a throw that knocks people back, can intercept even though I’ve never actually seen him do it, and finally has Bladestorm. Just like an Arms warrior, he’ll start doing massive AoE and spinning around. Like with most other bosses with a Whirlwind, melee needs to be very careful about this, as it can very quickly smash undergeared melee, similar to the faction boss in H-Nexus. As a healer you need to pay close attention to him and when he starts spinning and glowing red, be ready to put out some serious heals. I’ve heard they can be stunned (wouldn’t know as a shaman blah) so throw down a Kidney Punch or Hammer of Justice and you’ll nullify this threat. Haven’t tried disarming yet, but it should work. Let me know!

As a resto shaman specifically, this fight isn’t nearly as bad as some others. Make sure to drop Cleansing Totem if you have the rogue, as it can keep the Deadly Poison under control. If you have a melee heavy group, spamming Chain Heal on the tank does wonders healing through all the melee focused AoE, and with the recent changes to Improved Water Shield your mana pool won’t dip quite as far. As with most fights, situational awareness really does wonders here, especially when it comes to managing aggro on the ranged mobs. If you notice that one of your ranged has pulled aggro (or you have) try and position yourself between the ranged and the melee and cast Chain Heal on the further person out. With luck it’ll bounce back to you and through you to the melee, keeping the heals rolling. If not, toss out Lesser Healing Waves or Riptides on the offending ranged in between Chain Heals.

This fight really only becomes a problem if your tank either isn’t tanking all three mobs or is standing in the green cloud. If you notice that your interrupts on the Shaman are failing and you can spare the GCD, use Wind Shear to keep him from healing.

What’s nice about this fight being placed in the place it is is that it really does teach newer healers one of the most important lessons about healing: resourcefulness. Unlike some raid level encounters, you can’t just sit still and spam one heal over and over again in this fight, you need to pay attention to outside factors as well as change your focus depending on how the fight is going. If you can handle this fight, you’re probably ready to learn the finer points of raid healing!

Argent Boss – Trash

Once the three champions go down and you’ve collected your loot, the Argent Crusade gets their chance at you. Three trash pulls of three will come out followed by either Eadric the Pure or Argent Confessor Paletress.

The pulls are separate, so take your time drinking up and rebuffing as necessary before engaging. Each has an Argent Monk, Argent Priestess, and Argent Lightwielder in them. Kill order should be Priestess, Lightwielder, then Monk.

The Priestess will heal, drop a weak Shadow Word Pain, occasionally Mind Control for a few seconds, and drop a Lightwell-esque thing with 5k health that heals nearby allies. Kill it, it shouldn’t take long.

The Lightwielder is the most dangerous because he will occasionally cast something called Blazing Light, which does 3.5-4.5k damage to all enemies and heals nearby allies for the same amount. Watch out and make sure to interrupt it whenever possible.

The Monk can be tanked normally, but at 1% he’ll cast Divine Shield and channel something for 10 sec that will lower your movement and attack speed. Wait it out and finish him off. Make sure you have a decent amount of mana going into the final trash pull, as once it’s defeated the boss will immediately aggro. It helps to have the tank near the boss when this happens so a DPS or (gasp) healer doesn’t get quickly two shot.

Argent Boss

The easier of the two, Eadric is a tank and spank with a few interesting abilities. Similar to a Paladin, he has a Seal on him that gives his weapon swings a chance to crit even on a defense capped tank, so if your tank is getting crit it’s not his fault.

He also will occasionally cast something called Radiance, which does 6-6.5k damage to anybody looking at him as well as disorienting them for 2 sec. This has a 3 second cast, so when the warning comes up, simply turn away. As a healer you can continue healing through this, so don’t worry. If you have a hard time turning, try facing away the entire fight.

The more interesting ability he has (and one that can cause the biggest problems for a healer) is his Hammer of Justice – Hammer of the Righteous combo. Occasionally (2-3 times a fight) he’ll stun a random party member for 6 seconds. Shortly after stunning them he’ll toss a magical hammer at them for 16k damage as long as they’re still stunned. The stun is a magic effect, so if you can remove it, remove it as quickly as possible. If they’re not stunned they have a chance to catch the hammer and toss it back at him for the same amount of damage. Killing him with one of these hammers is actually an achievement for the fight. If you can’t remove the stun, there’s a good chance that anybody hit with the hammer will survive it, even if it’s just barely, so make sure you keep everybody topped off at all times just in case. I usually queue up a Healing Wave about 1-2 seconds after the stun lands. Since tank damage on this fight isn’t especially high (with a well geared tank I can heal this using only Riptide) getting stunned yourself shouldn’t be too big of a deal, but tank cooldowns should be used if there’s any doubt.

Much more interesting than Eadric, Paletress will dredge up terrible memories of fights you may have never even encountered to fight against you. A priest type character, she’ll come out casting Holy Smite and Holy Fire, which both should be interrupted as often as possible, with an emphasis on the Holy Fire to prevent the sizeable dot from doing too much damage. Smite does 5.5-6.5k damage, while Holy Fire does 2.5-2.3k with 4k over 8 sec. She casts these on random targets, so good interrupts will keep the damage very low at first.

Of primary importance is her Renew, which heals for 33k every 3 seconds. She can cast this on both herself and the memory she summons later, so make sure to purge or remove it as quickly as possible if you can’t interrupt the 2.5 sec cast.

At 25% Paletress puts a Reflective Shield on herself that reduces damage done by 100% and reflects 25% back to the caster. She then summons a terrible beast of shadow that happens to be one of a variety of previous bosses, ranging from Hogger to Illidan. Fortunately this creature has none of the abilities of what it looks like, instead casting a fear (which will be announced by a raid warning) which is the most dangerous part of the fight. In addition to the fear, the shadow will occasionally do an AoE that hits the party for 5-7k damage and increases attack and casting speed by 90% for 4 sec. This seems much scarier than it actually is. During all of this Paletress will keep attacking the party as usually, even casting Renew on herself and the shadow. Make sure to interrupt or purge this whenever possible, as Paletress can come out of the shield at full health. Once the shadow is killed, the shield will go down and the fight will resume like before until Paletress throws in the towel.

There’s a lot to worry about in this fight, especially for a resto shaman. Make sure to keep tremor totem down to help with the shadow’s fear, which can be crippling if it’s left uncontrolled. Since the damage from Paletress is scattered at first, Lesser Healing Wave is a great tool for quickly topping off whoever she targets with her various spells. You have two options for dealing with Renew: either Wind Shearing the cast or Purging the buff once she gets it. Both work, but ideally you’ll have another interrupter to help deal with it. When the shadow is summoned get ready to do a lot of healing, as both Paletress and the shadow’s hefty AoE will be going around. I recommend having your party bunch up as much as possible to allow for maximum use of Chain Heal, as damage will be flying around quickly. Try to keep out of melee range though, as he does apply a 2k a sec dot to random players in melee range. Like mentioned above, try and use yourself as a link in a Chain Heal to connect the ranged and melee. Otherwise, try and keep your cool in this seemingly chaotic fight and you’ll be fine.

Once you’ve trashed the best the Argent Crusade can throw at you it seems like you’re ready to move on when suddenly a good old buddy arrives…The Black Knight. He quickly dispatches the announcer and turns to you.

Phase 1

The first phase of this fight is pretty simple. Imagine that you’re fighting a terrible DK outside of Ironforge or Orgrimmar and you’ve got the gist of it. The Black Knight (henceforth referred to as TBK) will summon the poor announcer as a ghoul and start attacking whoever wants to tank him.

He does use both Plague Strike and Icy Touch, both of which do reasonable damage and leave their respective diseases on the target. These both do damage over time as well as buff his Obliterate by 30% each. Obliterate already does 120% weapon + 1500 on Heroic, so this can be quite nasty if both diseases are left to tick on the tank. In addition to this he has a new ability, which stuns a nearby target for 2 sec before knocking them back and causing around 13k shadow damage. Similar to Eadric’s hammer, this shouldn’t outright kill a full health player, just make sure to keep everybody topped off.

His Ghoul can be tanked, but will mostly likely end up on you at first, so just make sure the tank is aware of this. He will Claw, which does minor damage and causes him to change targets, which he will then Leap over to. If he gets low on health or TBK is killed before him, he’ll explode for about 8-9k damage in an 8 yard range, so try and make sure nobody is too close when either goes down.

Similar to the rogue in the first fight, Cleansing Totem will do wonders here when it comes to keeping the two diseases off the tank. Otherwise raid damage will be minor here, mostly at the hands of the ghoul with ADD. Keep everybody topped off and save your mana for the final two phases, which get much more interesting.

Phase 2

As I’m sure we’ve all figured out by now, a simple flesh wound won’t stop our good fellow, so once you take out his “mortal” form, TBK rises again as a skeleton, and continuing the terrible DK trend, immediately casts Army of the Dead, summoning 8 Risen Champions from the soil of the Arena to attack you. These all act like the Ghoul from phase 1 minus the leap ability, so make sure your tank uses every AoE tanking ability they have. TBK also occasionally drops a Desecration on the ground, which causes 2k shadow damage every 2 sec and slows movement by 50%. It looks similar to a Paladin’s Consecration except more…evil. Get out of this as quickly as possible. This is especially stressful for healers, as you have to stop casting for a good 2-3 seconds as you stumble out, so use any instant casts you have while you move.

What makes this phase especially interesting is that TBK will cause dead Ghouls to explode. When a Ghoul gets low (or dead) it’ll start a 4 sec cast that causes it to explode for 10k shadow damage, so that if all 8 explode at once anybody nearby is toast. This means you have a few options for how to deal with this:

If you have a good amount of AoE (especially a mage) you can root and burn all the ghouls at once, far away from the tank and melee. They only have around 35k health, so with two players helping they’ll go down relatively quickly.

The tank can kite the Ghouls and TBK around. Since the explode has a 4 sec cast, the Ghoul will stop long enough to cast it while the melee and tank run away. Problem solved.

Regardless of which strategy you use, make sure you agree on it ahead of time.

As a resto shaman healing this fight depends on which strategy you use for dealing with Ghoul explosions. If you’re melee heavy, rely on Chain Heal to keep people up through the spotty random Ghoul damage. If you’re going with the AoE strat, keep an eye out for loose Ghouls breaking for the ranged and toss spot heals to them when necessary. If you don’t get too many bad explosions, damage on the raid and tank here is light. If you get stuck in a Desecration, use Riptide on yourself and run out as quickly as possible.

Phase 3

While a quadriplegic torso would’ve been a hilariously fitting end to this battle, our fellow just won’t give up. Once you destroy his physical form he reaches out from beyond the grave as a spirit in a final bid for The Lich King. This final phase is a straight burn phase, as he immediately starts AoEing the party for 3k damage with a stacking debuff that increases magic damage taken by 15% He also tosses around a debuff that increases damage on a specific target by 200% for 10 sec. This means that after a while, he’ll become unhealable, so pop all cooldowns and take him out as quickly as possible.

Resto shaman should use Heroism a few seconds after the pull. Drop Healing Stream Totem and start casting Chain Heal. Have your party stack up (or if your ranged is being uncooperative, do the chain strategy from before) and focus your Chain Heal on whichever target has the 200% damage debuff. This fight will be over before you run out of mana for good or ill, so just keep going and hope your DPS is up to snuff.

Once TBK finally falls the instance is over. Short but sweet, enh? Collect your amazingly good loot and steady yourself for the real challenge: Icecrown.

Here are some good Resto Shaman items from this instance on both heroic and normal for you to take a look at:


Carapace of Grim Visions

Leggings of the Bloodless Knight

Tears of the Vanquished


Girdle of the Dauntless Conqueror

Mariel’s Sorrow

Symbol of Redemption

Spectral Kris

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