Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Beware the shadow! Healing Ruby Sanctum

Ruby Sanctum dropped in the past few weeks and with it, a new fuschia dragon has emerged to threaten the heroes of Azeroth! Enter Halion.
For the past few weeks my guild has been working on this fight on HardMode in 10- and 25-man. It’s been a nice break from ICC and a lot of fun learning a new fight.
I won’t go over all of the mechanics of the encounter - information on the encounter itself is better found at a place like Tank Spot. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from a healing perspective though.

It will likely help your raid to designate dispellers for the Soul Consumption debuff in the Twilight Realm and the Combustion debuff in the Physical Realm. It can be removed by magic dispellers and decursers. I don’t recommend assigning your full-time tank healers to this duty (ie your Holy Pally) as they will likely be unable to spare the GCD. Placement and handling of the debuffs and dispells will come down to your raid’s strategy.
Phase 1:
The incoming damage in Phase 1 isn’t too bad. On normal mode in particular, unless your raid members don’t move out of fire, the only real damage will be on the main tank and it’s very manageable. Don't go to sleep, but don't spam yourself oom either!
In hard mode 25-man, each Meteor Strike will also summon adds which, depending on your raid’s strategy, will be handled by your Main Tank and Off Tank, so you should be expecting additional damage from the adds. It’s also reasonable to expect some of your melee to end up tanking some of the little adds from cleave aggro - so long as the primary big add (the Living Ember) is kept far enough away from the little adds so as not to buff them, the cleave aggro damage is easily manageable and will likely be handled by your HoTs.
Phase 2:
This is where the fight gets trickier, right from transition. Make sure your Twilight Realm tank gets through the portal first to pick up Halion, but be sure you aren’t far behind! The transition to phase 2 comes when Halion reaches 75%, so I keep an eye out for that and begin HoTing our Twilight Realm tank up in preparation for the transition. 
On hardmode especially, Halion hits the tank hard, and coupled with the shadow tick damage in the Twilight Realm, the tank will be taking a lot of damage. 
Because of phasing issues, lag, etc on transition, we’ve found it best to prep the tank and pop a cooldown on him before he goes through the portal (usually a Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression from one of our priests). This is why I find HoTing the tank before going through the portal so important - because of the phasing issues there’s a risk of the tank taking damage but being unable to heal him for a second or two. With full HoTs up (plus other healer’s HoTs and cooldowns), I know there’s a little bit of leeway as the tank will still be receiving heals. I also know that I’ll be able to use Swiftmend on the tank the second they’re healable. Some Lifebloom stacks pre-transition are nice as well, as, if timed right, they’ll bloom while you’re porting down and top up the tank.
Once everyone phases in and gets into their positions, healing becomes more stable, though there’ll still be a lot to heal. Druid HoTs really shine in the Twilight Realm. The constant ticking damage is perfect for our HoTs, and your Rejuvs and Wild Growths will be great for topping up the raid. Because of all the movement in the Twilight Realm avoiding the cutters (which there’ll be two of in hardmode by the way!), all the instant HoTs will be even more helpful.
The ticking aura damage will likely end up the least of your worries in the Twilight Realm. Apart from avoiding the cutters (which will simply one-shot anyone who gets hit by them), you have the Soul Consumption debuff to worry about and the tank damage. 
The Soul Consumption in the shadow realm sucks people into the void zone and it also slows the movement speed of anyone caught in it. I try to HoT up (at least a Regrowth and Rejuv) whomever gets the debuff in the Twilight Realm to aid in their healing and to try to counteract the additional damage they take while moving out of the void zone. Any movement boosts can be very helpful when escaping the Consumption void zone. Kitty dash is good, I personally prefer to use my rocket boots as I can continue topping myself up as I run (though this luxury is only afforded to engineers). I also pop Barkskin when caught in a void zone to reduce the incoming damage. If you have a Holy Priest in the raid, speccing into Body&Soul may also be helpful for your raid - tossing a bubble on a debuff target may help them move out of the rest of the raid faster and hopefully escape the void zone more quickly as well.
The tank damage will also be heavy in the Twilight Realm, especially on hard mode. The tank will be taking the usual hits from Halion - melee, cleaves and breaths - but will also be taking ticks from the aura damage. The entire raid will also be forced to move to avoid cutters which will affect healing as well. I try to save my Swiftmend for cutters so that the instant big heal is available for either the tank or a raid member affected by Consumption. In hardmode especially as well, it was very helpful to rotate cooldowns on the tank during cutter movement to help ease the damage during a more difficult healing period.
As a druid, you likely won’t have too much trouble dealing with the ticking aura damage - your HoTs will do a good job topping the raid off, and it will be easy to keep throwing HoTs onto raid members even during cutter movement. What will be more difficult is balancing your raid heals with your heals on the tank and Consumption targets to ensure you don’t fall behind on the raid. Keeping an eye on Cutter timers and planning your movement during cutters will help you here. 
On normal mode you’ll have an easier time, with just a single cutter you’ll be able to find a spot and have minimal movement as the raid and dragon shift with the beam. The additional cutter on hardmode makes a much smaller quadrant to stand in, though. I find that cheating towards the leading cutter can give you time for a full cast or two before you need to move again. Still, that’s still not a lot of time or casts! It’s really crucial that you’re preparing for each cutter. HoTs on the tank, having swiftmend available, strategic use of Lifebloom ticks and blooms, and planning your movement will help tremendously.
Phase 3:
The third phase is essentially Phase 1 and 2 at the same time. The abilities will all be the same, just half of your raid will be going up to fight Halion in the physical realm while the other half will remain in the Twilight Realm. DPS needs to keep a careful eye on Halion’s corporeality (noted in the Blizz UI at the top of the screen - Halion’s Corporeality is at x%) - you want this percentage to remain as close to 50% as possible. If DPS gets too high in one realm, it will cause Halion to deal more damage in the other realm. 
As a druid, you will likely be asked to remain in the Twilight Realm to help deal with the aura damage. Covering the raid at this point will likely feel easier as there will be fewer people down there needing heals. This will be helpful as you continue to deal with cutters and keeping the tank and Consumption targets healed up.
A note on Battle Rezzes:
When someone dies in this encounter, their corpse appears in the physical realm. So, if someone dies (to cutters, for example) while in the Twilight Realm, their corpse will disappear from the Twilight Realm and you’ll suddenly find them out of range. This can make it tricky to do battle rezzes, particularly if you are assigned to stay in the Twilight Realm.
This can be handled many ways. One is for you to take a portal up to go get them - this is the least desirable solution in my opinion. Depending on your current position, it may take time for you to get to a portal. You risk phasing into the Physical Realm into fire or find yourself at the wrong end of the dragon. When porting back down you face the same potential problems and, if you’re not careful about watching the cutter timers, you may even port yourself right into a cutter. All this while, the raiders in the Twilight Realm won’t be receiving your HoTs. 
If your raid has several resto druids, your raid leader may decide to send one of you into the Physical Realm in phase 3 while the other stays in the Twilight Realm, though depending on your raid makeup they may want you both to remain in the Twilight Realm.
Another solution is to have DPS druids in your raid go to the Physical Realm to ensure Battle Rezzes are available if needed.
The optimal solution would of course be for no one to die!
A last note on one ability of Halion’s that bears mentioning:
Twilight Precision: Halion’s insight into movement between phases allows him to deal unexpected strikes, increasing his chance to hit by 5% and reducing the enemy’s chance to dodge his attacks by 20%.
This is basically the Ruby Sanctum’s ‘Chill of the Throne’ (but no Strength of Wrynn buff in here!). Expect big hits on your tank!
That’s all for now! Feel free to post with any questions, comments, or any tips you’ve picked up for this fight!

Edit: Check out this post for one of my videos of Ruby Sanctum.

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