Shifting Perspectives: Optimizing your druid for Slagworks
Welcome to Shifting Perspectives, Blizzard Watch’s regular column for druids of all vocations. This week, Chase Hasbrouck (@alarondruid) is promising this column in 30 minutes or less.
Welcome back to another edition of Shifting Perspectives! Today, we’re going to start a series on the bosses of Blackrock Foundry, beginning with the first wing, The Slagworks. Blackrock Foundry is definitely not a cakewalk: this raid is one of the hardest in recent memory. With these brief guides, however, I’ll show you how to master your form of choice for each encounter.
Gruul the Dragonkiller has become Gruul the Menial Laborer…and generally, that’s what this fight amounts to. This easy intro to the tier will test your gear, but likely not your skill.
Movement: The movement in this encounter is very low. Tanks will be moving into groups to absorb Inferno Slices and back out; all other players will only move as necessary to avoid cave-ins or smashes, and to scatter for Petrifying Slam. Non-tanks will want to keep an eye on their group; if Slam hits mostly the people in your stack, then a timely Stampeding Roar (make sure you glyph it) will get everyone back in time for the next Slice. Feline Swiftness is the best talent choice here, but ferals may opt for Displacer Beast to minimize their downtime when they get Petrified.
DPS: This is a single-target fight, so both balance and feral will have the same job; sit in your assigned stack and blast away. This is the perfect fight for feral; given proper execution and decent gear, you should top the meters here. Don’t forget to glyph Survival Instincts; with that, you should be able to SI most of the Inferno Slices. Balance will do okay, but single-target isn’t their strong suit, and Barkskin isn’t quite as good here.
Tanking: Much of the strategy here revolves around your raid composition. The most typical way to do the fight is to use two groups of players and two tanks, and have each tank take two Slices, one with each raid stack, before swapping. Make sure you don’t move to the group until Slice is coming, as Overwhelming Blows also has a cleave effect. You’ll want to use Survival Instincts (again, glyphed) for two of the Slices, and coordinate for external cooldowns for the rest. If your co-tank is a Monk or Death Knight, let them take the majority of the slices, as they have better tools for dealing with magic damage.
Healing: Predictable damage makes this a solid fight for Restoration. You’ll want to pre-Rejuvenation the group taking the Slice, then Wild Growth them after the slice hits. This is a perfect fight for the Soul of the Forest talent, since the timer on Slice lines up neatly with the Swiftmend/Wild Growth combo. Don’t forget an Ironbark for the tank. It’s hard to plan Tranquility for this fight; the rampages and cave-ins make it somewhat unreliable, so I usually save it for P2 and get it in right as a Rampage starts.
Pop in some Zelda tunes and refill your heart containers, it’s time for
Movement: Virtually no movement during the stationary phase, and then terrified scrambling during the roll phases. I highly recommend Displacer Beast for this fight. Not only can it get you out of a bad spot quickly, if you get stuck and there’s no way to evade the boss, you can actually blink through him if you can time it right.
DPS: Another (primarily) single-target fight, so the advice above for Gruul mostly applies. During the roll phase, do your best to keep your DoTs up on Oregorger, while also DoTting crates as you move about. A very strong fight for both feral and balance.
Tanking: This fight is somewhat similar to Gruul; you want to get as many CD’s as you can (both personal and external), as raid damage via Acid Torrent is directly tied to the amount of damage you take. As such, Bristling Fur is an ideal talent choice here. Use Bristling Fur + Barkskin for the first, Survival Instincts for the third and fifth, and Bristling Fur + Barkskin again (if needed) for the seventh. Your co-tank will pick up the others. As for Phase 2, don’t get rolled up, but try to stay generally near Oregorger so you can pick up threat again when the phase ends.
Healing: As with Gruul, the ranged group will take predictable damage, so pre-HoTting/Wild Growth is the way to go again. Phase 2 is pretty chaotic, so you’ll want to Rejuv anyone you can whenever you can get line-of-sight. A good fight for Germination.
Yes, another malevolent spirit trying to kill us. Apparently, we’re the Ghostbusters or something. This fight is a significant difficulty bump over the previous two; many guilds opt to leave Blast Furnace until last or second-to-last.
Movement: Movement’s not too bad here. If you get a bomb, you’ll have to run it to a Heat Regulator (in P1) but otherwise you’ll largely be staying near a tank, shifting slightly to avoid fire.
DPS: Feral and balance have very different strategies here, so I’ll address them separately.
If you’re playing this fight as feral, your overall DPS is going to be terrible. Sorry. Don’t fret, though: this fight is very much a single-target fight in disguise, even if it doesn’t look like it on the meters.
In Phase 1, just AoE as best you can; essentially, Rake everything, Rip anything important with high health (primarily Operators), and Thrash whenever you have 2-3 targets nearby. Phase 2 is the key phase, though. This phase features 4 Elementalists that have to be damaged in 15-second bursts, which Feral excels at. Build up 5 CP’s on the Firecallers/Slag Elementals, Rip the Elementalist a second or two before the Slag explodes, then Rake/Shred/Bite as fast as possible. Use TF for every Elementalist, and pop Berserk for the first one so that you can have it for Phase 3, which is a quick single-target burn.
If you’re playing balance, this is one of the few fights where Balance of Power has a potential use. Going in, you should stick with Euphoria to help down the Elementalists faster. If your tanks are getting overwhelmed with adds, though, you can switch to BoP and focus on pure AoE damage. Either way, your strategy is the same; DoT everything, Starfall as much as you can, and save your cooldowns for Elementalists and the Heart of the Mountain in P3. Enjoy topping the meters for this one.
Tanking: There’s very few fancy tricks here. The raid is going to split into two groups in Phase 1; keep threat on all the adds on your side (including Foreman, if you’re taking him) and stay out of fire and the shields dropped by the Security Guards. Note that the key adds, Operators, are not affected by the shields. In Phase 2, one tank will take the Security Guards away from the raid, while the other grabs the Firecallers. Finally, Phase 3 is a simple burn with periodic tank swaps. Don’t forget to interrupt the Foreman and the Firecallers, if you can.
Healing: The key thing to note here is that this fight is long. It’s not quite as long as Iron Maidens, but a first kill will likely go over 10 minutes, meaning mana conservation takes on more importance here. Secondly, your key phases are going to be P1 and P3. The Foreman puts out a lot of raidwide damage as long as he’s up, and the adds all over the place mean that things can frequently get out of control. Don’t be afraid to heavily use Wild Growth and an aggressive Tranquility here. Phase 2 offers you a bit of regen time; this is a good place to use Dream of Cenarius-buffed Wraths to help out the DPS. If they’re really struggling, though, you might want to consider Heart of the Wild to help get an Elementalist down. Things will ramp up again in Phase 3, so make sure all your cooldowns are up and pay attention to the tank swaps.
See, the way I look it, I’m sad you have to ask that question. CoS is a huge cosmetic shift for Druids; some people love it; some don’t. (I happen to fall into the latter camp, personally.) For those that do enjoy it, I hate that they’re torn between picking the optimal choice for success and the optimal choice for appearance/RP/fun/what have you. Unfortunately, that’s the same for every class. I can’t disagree with Blizzard here: If appearances are totally divorced from abilities, then appearances feel superficial. I don’t think CoS is unusable; you’re only losing a bit of damage (not to mention gaining a bit of healing), so while it might not be ideal for progression raiding, plenty of guilds would still welcome you.
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