If you're an enhancement shaman in a regular raiding guild, congratulations! You've weathered the worst of the storm. Our last-minute Stormstrike buff coupled with the nerfs to 4.1's prominent DPS has put us in a nice place for entering Firelands raiding. Our single-target DPS is solid now. Even better, Firelands has practically no fights with silly AOE phases that we have to participate in! If that sentence alone doesn't get you pumped for 4.2 raiding, I don't know what will.
That doesn't mean there aren't fights with AOE phases. On the contrary, both fights I'll be talking about today require good AOE. Thankfully, that busy work is best left to your casters. They can cry about it all the way to their legendary. Fortunately for us, Lord Rhyolith and Beth'tilac are the two encounters in Firelands you'll most likely encounter first, and both have unique mechanics that are well handled by the apt hands of a masterful enhancement shaman.
The mechanics of Lord Rhyolith are fairly simple: He starts the fight with 80% damage reduction. Every time he steps on an active volcano, his armor is reduced by 10%. Once he hits 0% damage reduction, he starts taking increased damage. Damage starts to ramp up very quickly, and you soon reach 25% hit points. Once that happens, he shucks his armor and starts AOEing the raid for tons of damage while you Bloodlust and frantically mash DPS buttons until he dies or your raid group does. (Why he doesn't just lose his armor at 100% hit points and AOE everyone down before he hits 70%, I'll never know).
The main thing to remember on Rhyolith is that it is not a DPS race. Because of how long the fight he spends with damage reduction, the amount of damage you do is not really relevant. You have two basic priorities.
- First, stay alive. Dying at the wheel of Rhyolith means your passengers die with you, so avoid all Magma Flows you can and Shamanistic Rage and Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem the ones you can't.
- Your second priority is to make sure you're always aware of which foot you're DPSing and which foot you're supposed to be DPSing. Fast, clean target swaps are key here. Nameplates, be they regular Blizzard UI ones or an addon like TidyPlates, are really effective at keeping you on the correct foot. Remember to re-drop your Searing Totem after target swaps!
If your guild is getting comfortable in the driving and you're starting to look to maximize your DPS on this encounter, I've got a small secret for you: Fire Nova. The legs are really close to one another, close enough that you can fire off two Unleash Elements-buffed Flame Shocks on both and use a Call of Flame-talented Fire Nova to keep them both rolling for the entire leg phase. While doing this, use Earth Shock as your primary shock cast. Not that I would ever condone such behavior of course, but think of me as the Wikileaks of shaman information, sharing the goods your raid leaders don't want you to know.
(P.S.: If Lord Rhyolith drinks the lava and wipes your raid, I plead the Fifth.)
Do you ever notice how the fantasy genre has an obsession with making every monstrous spider in the world female? Lolth, Shelob, the Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars from Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars ... the list goes on. Beth'tilac, the giant flaming spider of Firelands, is no different -- a burning broodmother who is so nasty and evil that Kerrigan looks like a good friend. (Seriously though, can we please get an evil, manipulative, monstrous spider that isn't a commentary on gender stereotypes?)
For your ranged friends, this fight is essentially Lord Rhyolith. They stay on the ground floor and AOE the tiny spiderlings that like to be eaten by the bigger spiders. When the sacrificial spiders are dead, they switch to the larger Cinderweb Drones and single-target them down. Yawn.
For us trusty melee, the fight is entirely different. At the beginning of the encounter, Cinderweb Spinners will descend from a giant spiderweb up above. You're the Orkin man, and these guys are your priority. Kill the spinner, and use their web as a silk grappling hook to climb up into the incendiary spiderweb above you, where you and the rest of your melee group will engage Beth'tilac.
What's that, you say? "But Josh, I can't stand on the spider web, it's on fire!" Never fear. In order to make sure you understand the distinction between partially on fire and super-duper on fire, Blizzard has added impossible-to-see fire patches that spawn randomly under players on the spiderweb. If you can discern these red and orange blotches in the midst of the other red and orange blotches that is Firelands, you can happily chop at Beth'tilac until she's ready to blow. If you didn't see the fire beneath your feet, you will probably fall to your death.
Beth'tilac has an energy timer whenever you're above her web, and once her energy gets to zero, she starts casting Smoldering Devastation. This is your cue to jump through the many holes in her spiderweb, in which strange, beneficial spiderwebs will low you to the ground. After Smoldering Devastation, the process repeats.
After your third phase on the top of the web, Beth'tilac comes down and enters the fray with your entire raid. At this point, the fight becomes a mad burn phase that lasts 3+ minutes. Bloodlust, Potion of the Tol'vir, and rage to yourself at how incredibly lackluster a DPS cooldown your Feral Spirits are. Use Stoneclaw Totem on cooldown to aid healers' mana, and try to save your Shamanistic Rage for in between healer raid cooldowns. Be aware of your own hit points, and heal yourself if you need to. If you survive, collect loot. (Oh wait, nothing really good for enhancement drops here. Forget that last part!)
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on rep gear, heroic gear, and raiding gear, plus tips on maximizing your utility skills and tactics for raiding Blackwing Descent.