This week on Spiritual Guidance, we'll be returning to Blackwing Descent where, after meeting sudden and untimely deaths at the bottom of an elevator shaft, we can respawn and face our next two healing challenges: Chimaeron and Atramedes.
You may recall that not long ago, we examined two other bosses in Blackwing Descent, Magmaw and the Omnotron Defense System. If you can handle those two, these bosses are just a tiny step up in difficulty and should be no match for your priestly prowess.
Of the three bosses in the middle ring, Chimaeron is probably the most difficult because your success on this cutie hinges on the coordination of you and your fellow healers. If you know what to do and stick to it, the fight is fast and easy.
Before we get started, make sure you learn the basics of this fight first. WoW Insider's guide to Chimaeron is a great place to start.
The first thing you need to know about this fight is that who you heal is important, not how much you heal. Chimaeron's abilities constantly risk killing players, but because of the Bile-O-Tron 800 and Finkle's Mixture, as long as players are always at about 10,000 HP, they will live. Extra healing is just wasted mana. The only exception to this is when the Bile-O-Tron is knocked offline for a few seconds. During that time, you'll want to go all out to keep your raid alive.
Let's go over the specific abilities you'll be dealing with and how to handle them.
- Massacre Periodically, everyone in the entire raid group will get hit for their maximum health with this ability. Because of Finkle's Mixture, though, they'll survive with 1 HP left. To survive any attacks after that, you will want to quickly (but efficiently; you do have a little time) heal every member of the raid up to 10k health. Prayer of Healing is great at this.
- Caustic Slime In the periods between Massacre, Chimaeron will hit players with this ability. Your raid's strategy should involve spreading out (to avoid sharing damage with other raid members from this attack), so you shouldn't have to heal more than just the players targeted with Caustic Slime. Caustic Slime is what is deadly in this encounter, because it will knock your fellow raiders' HP below 10k health. If this happens shortly before a Massacre and a player isn't healed to 10k quickly enough, Massacre will kill that player. This means you'll want to save fast, instant-cast heals like Penance and Holy Word: Serenity for the third (last) round of Caustic Slime in each cycle of the fight. Don't use them on the second round, when there is plenty of time to use cast spells like Flash Heal. This is probably the most important thing in the fight to know as a healer.
- Double Attack This ability is designed to kill your tank by lining up two melee attacks back to back. Chimaeron attacks slowly, though, so as soon as Chimaeron gets this buff, you'll want to combine defensive cooldowns and heavy heals on whoever has threat on Chimaeron -- usually the off tank, in most strategies. Guardian Spirit is especially good for handling this ability, since it's designed to be lethal. (Tip: If you watch Chimaeron in a focus frame, you can see him getting the Double Attack buff, thus making it easier to time your cooldowns and healing.)
Whenever the Bile-O-Tron is knocked offline, it's important to group up your raid and use as much AoE healing as you can to keep everyone alive through Caustic Slime. When you're grouped up, the damage from Caustic Slime will be spread out between players, but it still hits for a lot, so constant healing is needed to survive all three rounds of the ability. After the third round, players need to get healed for over 10k so that when the Bile-O-Tron comes back online, you'll be ready for the next Massacre.
When the boss gets to around 20%, he will gain Mortality, which will make it impossible to heal members of your raid any further. Most healers switch to DPS, but as a priest, you can use Power Word: Shield -- even if you're a holy priest -- to help protect players from future attacks if they are below 10k health. You can spam as many shields as you're able, but focusing on players with the highest threat is the best way to ensure your shields get used. Start with your tanks, then your melee DPS.
Discipline strategies You won't have much need for shields on this fight, so stick to spells like Penance and Flash Heal for Caustic Slime and Prayer of Healing for massacre. Use Power Word: Barrier for when the raid needs to group up for Caustic Slime; you'll probably be able to cover every other cycle if you're the only disc priest in the raid.
Holy strategies You can switch between Sanctuary and Serenity for your Chakra stance on this fight, but staying in just Sanctuary is fine since it will strengthen your talented Renews. As I said earlier, use your instant-cast heals for Caustic Slime victims before the Massacre: Circle of Healing, Renew and Holy Word: Serenity. Holy Word: Serenity is obviously the best for this job, but since it has a cooldown, you can use Circle of Healing and Renew for any stragglers who still need healing. These spells aren't guaranteed to do the full amount of healing you'll need, but combined with other healers in your raid, it's usually better than nothing. Holy Word: Sanctuary and all its underwhelming glory is great for Caustic Slime stacking when the Bile-O-Tron 800 is offline.
Disc or holy? Either. This fight has plenty of opportunities for either spec to shine, and since most of the damage being dealt with is single-target, neither healer has an advantage.
A final note on Chimaeron: It's important to know that players who are below 10k health will receive a debuff called Low Health. If you orient your raid frames to display this debuff (I talked about this previously), you'll know exactly who needs to be healed at any given time during the fight instead of trying to read the health bar of every player.
The second boss we'll be looking at today is the blind dragon Atramedes. In theory, this fight is easier to heal than Chimaeron, but since the fight places a lot of responsibility on individual players to not take damage, how difficult the healing is depends on the skill of your raid. If your fellow raiders are really good at movement fights and staying out of fire, this fight will be a piece of Chocolate Celebration Cake. If, on the other hand, your fellow raiders seem to be drawn to fire like junior campers with a bag of marshmallows, you may want to get ready for some wipes.
Whatever your situation is, however, make sure you get acquainted with the basics of the fight before you get started. WoW Insider's guide to Atramedes is a good start.
The encounter with Atramedes consists of two phases, a ground phase and an air phase. In both phases, raid damage is going to be the primary focus. Tank damage exists, but it's easily managed as a part-time job by one or all of your raid's healers.
Now of the raid damage you're going to see, most of it is avoidable by players. This means most of your healing will actually be spot healing problem players in the raid who can't stay out of stuff. Problem players are only healable to an extent, though; most of the damage that players can take will raise their sound level, which can eventually result in those players being one-shot by Atramedes. Though holy priests can counter the one-shot with a Guardian Spirit, timing has to be precise, and by the time you get to a killing attempt, most of your players should "get it" and not be stacking up their sound levels anyway. That said, be ready to spot heal anyone who takes additional damage, since sound is reset several times during the fight, giving those players a clean slate.
There is a bit of unavoidable damage in this fight in the form of Modulation. This ability only occurs during the ground phase and will hit your entire raid for damage and a small amount of sound. Preemptive HoTs, shields, and well-timed, pre-cast Prayers of Healing are ideal for handling the damage.
There is one last thing priests can do in this fight that is especially helpful, and that's using Leap of Faith. Both ground and air phase require a player to kite Atramedes' attacks in a way that keeps the raid and the kiter safer. No assistance should be required by the ground phase kiter, but during the air phase, Atramedes will continually get faster in his pursuit. Priests can help by strategically using "life grip" on the kiter when he gets close to being caught up to by Atramedes. You should be able to do this every air phase; if you have multiple priests, you can set them up in predetermined locations to guide the kiter along a safe track.
Discipline strategies With the increased mana cost of Power Word: Shield, Atramedes is actually one of the more problematic fights for disc priests to heal because we either have to play with the idea in mind that we will probably run out of mana or playe conservatively with fewer ideal spells for the job. Penance is great for spot healing targets, but holy's Circle of Healing is amazing for dealing with the many random players who can, at any time, take varying amounts of damage. Prayer of Healing will be your primary tool, though disc priests will probably want to find an amount of shields they feel comfortable constantly putting out and keep doing that in preparation for Modulation.
Holy strategies What Chakra stance you use depends on your raid size. Serenity is great for 10-man, since one Prayer of Healing combined with a Circle of Healing resolves most of your raid healing troubles. In a 25-man, Sanctuary is obviously better. Talented Renew is very good for players who need just a little extra healing.
Holy priests should also be aware that in the ground phase, Body and Soul or any kind of speed increase can be problematic if given to the kiter. In the air phase, Body and Soul is fantastic, but in the ground phase, you can inadvertently kill your raid if your kiter and raid aren't expecting a sudden change in speed. This is because the attack being kited moves at the same speed as the player targeted with the attack. If the player moves faster, Atramedes will just move faster to keep up, which can become a problem if the kiter catches up to anyone in your raid trying to stay out of the way. So be careful how you use your shields in the ground phase, and be sure your players know how to respond to any speed buffs they do get.
Disc or holy? Holy all the way. Disc can manage on this fight just fine, but holy's natural strength at handling random raid damage quickly and efficiently excel here. Body and Soul is also great for personal use to avoid mechanics and move closer to players who need healing but might be out of range.
And that wraps it up. if you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments. Next week, we'll be finishing Blackwing Descent with Maloriak and Nefarian.
Read Priest healing tactics for Magmaw and the Omnotron Defense System.
Want more tips for carrying out your priestly duties as a disc or holy priest? Check out Spiritual Guidance: Discipline and Spiritual Guidance: Holy. Newcomers to the priest class will want to look into Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101. For getting your healing priests geared, check out the pre-raid gear guide and the Valor point and raid gear guide.