Heroic content is still being tackled by everyone out there. Whether you are a new level 85 character getting in for the first time, an alt getting ready to gear up, or just farming your daily valor points, you will at some point wind up in these instances. Last week, we talked about healing through The Stonecore; this week, I thought we could talk about healing through The Vortex Pinnacle.
The Vortex Pinnacle is honestly one of my favorite dungeons in Cataclysm. I just love the look of it and that feeling you get the very first time you step foot in it. Everything from the mobs to the architecture to the view when you pan your camera to look into the sky and around is just quite awesome. To me, it is probably the most visually appealing instances Blizzard has created to date ... It isn't your normal dungeon crawl here. It's also a blast to heal and has some pretty nice gear for a restoration shaman in need of upgrades.
This zone gives us healing shaman a chance to really showcase some of the added benefits of having one of us along for the ride. We get to use a lot of our CC abilities as needed and can even make use of some of our other tools.
One of the places we get to be of use as utility comes from the various trash mobs throughout the zone. There are a ton of elementals in this zone, and they pretty much make up all of the mobs you will be facing for the first two platforms of the zone. Empyrean Assassin, Gust Soldier and Wild Vortex, among other elementals, will greet you as you make your way to the first two bosses. We get to make use of Bind Elemental here quite a bit -- and honestly, we should. Every second that elemental is out of combat helps our healing load. On the third platform, we get a bunch of humanoid stone cat people to play with. Have Hex at the ready to keep things under control or to save your own bacon if you need to.
The other cool thing is there are a ton of abilities that you can interrupt with Wind Shear, such as the wild vortex's Cyclone or the Temple Adept's Greater Heal. There are plenty of chances to use Cleanse Spirit as well, such as Asphixiate from the Turbulent Squall.
When you get to the packs of Skyfall Stars, there's really not trick to them; just single-target heal while people run around burning them down.
For all the trash, you get a chance at a nice trinket. Rainsong (normal / heroic) gives you a nice chunk of spirit and will grant you a healthy amount of haste when it procs.
Grand Vizier Ertan
First boss on the docket is a fairly easy one right now. He's a caster boss, so he doesn't move from the center of the platform; instead, he summons various elemental aspects to take out the party. When the boss is pulled, a ring of whirlwinds will form about 30 yards out from him. Any players standing near them will take damage, and when you are running in, it is likely that some damage will make it to the party. Be sure to top them up after everyone gets situated.
Ideally, your group will all be standing in room for your group healing. The boss only has a few abilities to watch out for.
Lightning Bolt will deal a respectable amount of damage to a single target and occasionally call his whirlwinds to him. On heroic mode, every time he summons the whirlwinds close to him, he will cast Summon Tempest, which will, well, summon a Lurking Tempest. As long as someone faces these, they aren't a big deal. On the live server right now, you don't have to move away from him when summons the whirlwinds back to him. Instead, drop Healing Rain and make good use of Chain Heal to heal through all the nature damage from the whirlwinds until they move back out to their 30-yard range. They will also increase your casting time, so if anyone gets dangerously low, use Nature's Swiftness to get off a quick CH or HR.
In patch 4.0.6, he will knock away players standing too close to him when he retracts his Cyclone Shield, which now inflicts nature damage if it touches players beyond just the lightning they throw. Be ready to move out of their range quickly and snap heals on the party members when you can.
After blowing away this pile of wind, you can get a change to earn a Biting Blade (normal / heroic) or Fallen Snow Shoulderguards (normal / heroic). Both are fantastic restoration pieces.
This giant storm dragon is the second boss here and not a terribly difficult fight. It is, however, very movement-heavy, at least in heroic mode.
Chilling Breath will deal frost damage in a cone in front of him. A Glyphed Healing Stream Totem helps cut some of that damage down while you run out of the damage effect. Lightning Blast will deal damage to a single target if that target moves out of the boss's area. It makes it rather impossible to leash the boss or to try to hide outside the platform, and honestly, it will likely two-shot if not one-shot people.
The boss will also summon a very strong wind, which if you are facing it, will increase your casting time by quite a bit and slow your movement down. Keeping your back to the direction the wind is coming from gives you a buff that will help you move and cast faster. Keep in mind that healing is a 360-degree endeavor, and you don't actually have to be facing someone to heal them; they only need to be in your "line of sight," so to speak.
In heroic mode, the boss will also summon tornadoes all over the platform that will move randomly through the fight. If you get caught in them, they will throw you up into the air, disrupting your healing. Altairus will also randomly turn to target people with his breath, so watch out for that. Make liberal use of Spiritwalker's Grace as you move to keep healing up, and remember if you do get launched in the air, SwG will allow you to continue healing while you're being thrown around. It is possible to be hit by multiple tornadoes.
In patch 4.0.6, the tornadoes will only throw you straight up and will give you a couple seconds of "tornado immunity" before another tornado can throw you up -- sort of like getting hit in an old Nintendo game (which is funny if you consider the achievement for the zone).
After besting the dragon, you get a change to take home an Amulet of Tender Breath (normal / heroic), which is a very nice healing neck. If you're super-lucky like me, you can also walk away with a pimped-out dragon mount (which can drop on both normal and heroic modes).
This big bag of lightning and wind waits for you at the very end of the zone. He's only got a few things to worry about here as a healer.
Chain Lightning works very much like our very own, and it will chain between the members of our group. It will lessen the amount of damage dealt for each target it affects. Be sure to snap some healing off to keep people up. Healing Wave is good here, as it likely will not be doing too much damage unless someone is way out in the middle of nowhere.
The Djinn will also cast a Unstable Grounding Field to form a Grounding Field. He does this so that he will have a safe zone for himself when he begins to cast Supremacy of the Storm. Players need to gather in the triangle he forms before he teleports and starts casting the storm of lightning, or they will very likely die. Right now on heroic, you can't heal through it unless they are very, very close to the grounding zone. While everyone is gathered, it is a great time to use HR and CH top off the group.
In heroic mode, Asaad also casts an ability called Static Cling. This will root players in place until it either times out or is dispelled. You can get rid of it with Cleanse Spirit, so please make sure you do as soon as you see it. It can also be avoided by players jumping in the air before the cast finishes. Anyone caught with it can wind up stuck outside of the grounding field and will likely die.
In patch 4.0.6, Static Cling's casting timer is getting increased slightly so that it is easier to avoid. Asaad is also getting a bit of a buff and will summon Starfall Stars to help defeat players, so there will be extra damage to watch out for.
After putting this genie back in his bottle, you get a chance to walk away with a nice selection of healing gear. Shadow of Perfect Bliss (normal / heroic) is a solid healer's cloak, and Ring of Frozen Rain (normal / heroic) is a very solid ring to pick up. Asaad also drops a healing relic, which are sadly in short supply right now. Captured Lightning (normal / heroic) has all the right stats for us, and if you can get it, it will see you off into the next level of instances.
Pretty good haul there, and a very shaman-friendly zone. In the coming weeks, we will try to finish out our heroic lines and move up to raid encounters. As we move on, if you have any questions, feel free to email me and ask. I've gone through the buckets of email and should be able to respond pretty quickly now.
Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!