On Wednesdays, Fox Van Allen takes control of Spiritual Guidance and spams all sorts of shadowy goodness. Pros: Fox Van Allen is awesome, shadow specced, and not a gnome. Cons: The shadow side of Spiritual Guidance is a limited duration spell, meaning gnome-sympathizer Dawn Moore will take over again later in the week. She's pretty much "everything that's wrong with wow.com," and she doesn't even have a Shadowfiend. Lame.
I will not reference Twilight in my intro to The Crimson Halls.
I will not reference Twilight in my intro to The Crimson Halls.
SPARKLES TEAM JACOB OMG LOVE STORY ROBERT PATTENSON TURKISH MAN I KISS YOU STUPID BASEBALL SCENE ZAAAAAAHHHH!!!!
After a week's delay to try and write something that won't make newbie priests' eyes glaze over, we return to our epic series (so epic, it's colored purple) on Icecrown Citadel. We've already raided the ramparts. We've already busted down Putricide's lab.
It's time to go face off against the Blood Princes and Blood Queen. Bring some stakes and holy water, because if you don't, you know they'll only come back to life again. Do you really want to face Prince Keleseth in Cataclysm?
That's right, it's the Shadow Priests' guide to The Crimson Halls. Follow me after the break.
The Blood Prince Council
Your mission: Target switch with reckless abandon! Run like hell from giant balls of fire! And for the love of C'Thun, stay alive!
The one cardinal rule of Warcraft: What gets killed never stays dead. Considering that Prince Taldaram, Prince Keleseth, and Prince Valanar were already dead to begin with, well... the fact that you're facing them again shouldn't be too surprising. (It also means Blizzard needs to make a couple fewer character models, a favorite gimmick around their office to be sure.)
Now, believe it or not, this one is pretty easy if you know what you're doing. The enrage timer -- ten minutes -- is long enough that it should be a non-factor. This means the Blood Prince Council encounter is all about endurance, and endurance is what Shadow Priests do best. It won't seem easy, because you'll have about eighteen-thousand things going on in the room at once, but if you calm down and focus your attention where it needs to be -- the few parts of this encounter that can kill an inattentive shadow priest -- you should sail through this encounter so long as your teammates don't mess it up for you.
Let's start by breaking the encounter down piece by piece.
The princes have attacks that can chain from person to person, so it's important to stay a healthy distance (~10 yards) from each other. You should ideally stay at maximum range from the princes too.
- There are three princes, but only one prince is vulnerable to damage at a time -- specifically, the one with the Invocation of Blood buff. The first prince to get the Invocation will always be Prince Valanar (the middle prince). After Valanar can get off a few of his "empowered" attacks, the Invocation will jump to one of the other two princes. When this happens, immediately stop DPS on Valanar and target the new "empowered" prince.
- Prince Valanar: Naxxanar was merely a setback! Normally, Prince Valanar will target members of the raid with Shock Vortex, a spell with a knockback effect to anyone standing too close to you causing relatively light damage. When empowered with Invocation of Blood, Valanar will begin to cast a stronger version called Empowered Shock Vortex that targets everyone in the room. When this happens, all players need to run away from Valanar to try and maintain a ~10 yard distance from each other. As a ranged DPS, you'll need to run towards the edge of the room out of range so melee DPS don't run into you during their frantic escape. If too many people are near you, you can accumulate enough damage from each player's vortex (4000-5000) to kill you, so be aware of who's around you.
- Prince Taldaram: Old Kingdom was merely a setback! Prince Taldaram is, at least in my opinion, the most dangerous prince. When under the power of the Invocation of Blood, Taldaram will Conjure Empowered Flames. This summons a massive ball of fire that will target a ranged DPS. If you're the target, run away from it. This would be an excellent place to pop Dispersion, but remember, you still need to be at a distance from other members of the raid when you finally get hit, so run even if you're going to mitigate damage to yourself. While you're running, other members of the raid (usually the melee, sometimes ranged in 10-man) will run close to the flame's path, which causes them damage but mitigates damage to you. If the flame hits you unmitigated, you will die and take out anyone close to you. When not empowered, Taldaram will cast the weaker Conjure Flames; the damage you take from these should be relatively mild. Still, keep your distance from others.
- Prince Keleseth: Utgard Keep was merely a setback! Prince Keleseth is the least distracting of the three princes. His attacks, even when empowered, hit the tank. And it's mitigatable shadow damage, so don't forget to cast your Prayer of Shadow Protection before the encounter starts. Keleseth's empowering is usually the cue for most raid leaders to call for Heroism/Bloodlust, so be ready to use your Potions of Wild Magic and pop your Shadowfiend (if off cooldown).
- As if three princes running around weren't distracting enough, Valanar will be throwing out Kinetic Bombs into the raid. If they hit the floor or ceiling, they explode for heavy damage. The key is to hit these with damaging attacks to send them a bit higher into the air, but only enough to counteract gravity. Hunters are usually tasked with keeping these in the air, but if one is about to hit the ground, break out a quick Mind Blast. Don't use DoTs on these.
Tanking Valanar and Taldaram is srs bsns, best left to a professional (gnome) meat shield. Tanking Keleseth, however, is a task usually delegated to a caster -- that's right, shadow priests, it's time to live out that tanking fantasy. This part of the fight is typically reserved for Warlocks, but we all know how incompetent (and tasty) gnome warlocks can be.
If it is decided that you'll be the one tanking Prince Keleseth, the key to your survival is aggroing Dark Nuclei. They have a mildly damaging attack, Shadow Resonance, but their aggro also carries with it a buff that slashes shadow damage by 35%. This effect is multiplicative, meaning having the aggro of two Dark Nuclei cuts shadow damage by 58%, three by 73%, four by 82%, and so on.
Keleseth's normal attack, Shadow Lance, can be handled without any Nuclei aggroed. Once empowered, however, Prince Keleseth's attacks start hitting like a truck, and you'll need a minimum of three Dark Nuclei on you at a time just to live (more nuclei are certainly better). If you're not being healed by a disc priest, use Power Word: Shield whenever you can to further reduce the damage you take.
If you're not Prince Keleseth's tank, do the raid a favor and leave these alone. They're killable, but your tank needs them alive. Not to mention the fact that even the slightest attack can result in you grabbing their aggro, putting a useless DoT on you and taking away a key part of your caster tank's defense.
If you're a strict ten-man raider, the main drop of interest here will be the Cerise Coiled Ring, which comes complete with the shadow trinity of spell power, haste, and crit. If you've been stuck with the Brimstone Igniter you bought with Emblems of Triumph back in the Trial of the Crusader days, the Wand of Ruby Claret will make a great upgrade that's much better itemized for a shadow priest. Otherwise, you may have interest in the haste-heavy Bloodsoul Raiment or the crit-heavy Pale Corpse Boots -- both carry great stats for your healing off-set.
The show stopper drop in twenty-five man difficulty is the Shadow Silk Spindle, which is your best-in-slot off hand. Valanar's Other Signet Ring is an excellent ring if you're looking to pick up a little bit of extra hit. Otherwise, if you're looking for something to fill in until you get your tier 10, or if you're looking for some pieces to make a healing off-set, consider the spirit-loaded Sanguine Silk Robes and the San'layn Ritualist Gloves.
Your Mission: Get bitten. Savor the succulent flavor of your raid friends once every 50 seconds. Do crazy, sick, DPS. Oh, and stay alive, cause this lady's got a LOT of health.
The Blood-Queen is a fairly unique encounter. The gimmick here is that Lana'thel will bite one of your raid members seconds after the fight begins, turning them into a vampire. Soon, that person will need to feed on another, and then that person will need to feed... by the end of the fight, most of your raid will be vampires. That's all kinds of awesome.
Almost all the damage in this fight is shadow based, so make sure to cast Prayer of Shadow Protection before the encounter starts.
Like many other boss fights, Blood-Queen Lana'thel has an attack that can cause you to damage nearby allies. The range for this fight is 6 yards, but doing a range check for 10 yards is a good way to be safe -- there's plenty of room. Because of the need for distance, the best positioning for a caster is somewhere in the outer circle of the room.
- Blood-Queen Lana'thel has a fear attack that will be cast exactly two minutes into the fight when she changes phases. As a priest, you have Fear Ward. Take the hint and cast it on yourself before the fight begins, so it will be available to recast on yourself shortly after. Timing is important here, since she will cast it twice during the encounter.
- The main gimmick of the fight involves her biting a party member, turning them vamp and giving them a buff called Essence of the Blood Queen that doubles their damage without causing threat. The downside to the buff is that, after a minute, you will start to thirst for blood yourself, and your cast bar will go blank save for a "bite" command. Some raids go into this fight with a pre-set bite order, others use an add-on to keep track of who has to bite who (especially helpful if a bite target dies before they get bitten). If you don't bite someone after 15 seconds, you get mind controlled and need to be killed. Generally, that results in a raid wipe, so it's important to know who you're biting and to stay close to them. Alternatively, if you're next to be bitten, find the player who is supposed to bite you and stand next to them.
- The fight involves constant environmental damage.
- Blood-Queen Lana'thel will periodically cast Pact of the Darkfallen on three members of the raid in 25-player mode (two members in 10-player mode), causing continuous ticks of damage on each. To remove the spell, all affected players need to run to the same spot -- generally the middle of the inner circle on the floor.
- Lana'thel will also cast Swarming Shadows, an attack identical to Lord Jaraxxus's Legion Flame. If targeted, slowly back away towards the rear of the room to cluster the spawned fire zones in an easily avoidable mass. It shouldn't need to be said, of course, but don't stand in the flame once it spawns.
- Your raid will also get targeted with Twilight (cough, cough, gag, puke) Bloodbolts. So long as you stay spread out like you were told, the damage you take from these should be easily offset by your Vampiric Embrace.
- At the two-minute mark, Blood-Queen Lanathel will take flight and fear the raid. You'll be immune to this, but you'll want to watch where your raid mates wind up after the four second duration, because she'll cast Bloodbolt Whirl shortly after. These Bloodbolts have a splash effect, so if you're grouped up next to a couple people, a handful of people will die at once.
- The air phase is a high-damage affair. You can easily heal yourself through the damage, but it's those fools who chose not to raid as shadow priests that need the real help. Hesitant though I may be to suggest the heresy of dropping Shadowform, but you can provide excellent benefit to the raid by pausing damage for a few seconds and casting Inner Focus followed by Divine Hymn for some sickeningly high-crit, mana-free heals. If you want to make things even more simple, set up a macro to do this:
After Lana'thel is done casting Bloodbolt Whirl, she'll go back into the ground phase. Rinse, repeat, slaughter.#showtooltip Divine Hymn
/cast Inner Focus
/cast Divine Hymn
As the end boss of an ICC wing, Lana'thel will of course drop those precious Conqueror's Marks of Sanctification you know you've been drooling over. Otherwise, you may want to consider rolling for the Dying Light, the best two-handed staff you'll have access to before you down The Lich King.
The most noteworthy drop from ten-man Lana'thel is Lana'thel's Bloody Nail, the best wand you'll see in strict ten-man progression. The Blood-Queen also drops the Cowl of Malefic Repose, which is itemized perfectly for shadow priests... though you'll probably want to hold out for your tier 10 head piece.
If all the planets aligned for you and all your teammates did their jobs, then congratulations -- you've just beaten The Crimson Hall. But be forewarned: The Crimson Hall was merely a setback! Next week, we'll follow up with The Frostwing Halls, featuring a role playing event that actually doesn't suck, a boss you have to heal to death (life?), and the dragon responsible for that gigantic gaping hole near the Argent Tournament in Icecrown.
In the meantime, don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Hunger for more information about bending the light to your advantage? More interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? Think it's neat to dissolve into a ball of pure shadow every few minutes? The darker, shadowy side of Spiritual Guidance has you covered.