Setting up the pull
Unlike most other encounters, Staghelm is a single-tank encounter; you'll need to have your usual second tank either go DPS or switch out for this fight. Make no mistake, you do need to have that tank switch, as this fight is just as much a DPS race as it is healing-intensive.
The pull itself will start at the top of the circle in the middle of the room, close to Staghelm himself, with the raid all grouped together. You'll want to use three healers in 10-man and six to seven in 25-man, though the less you can get by with, the better in this situation. The fight starts out relatively easy but quickly ramps up in difficulty as it progresses. This is certainly one fight where stacking healers is not the best solution.
Staghelm doesn't have many abilities, and totally unlike members of the druid class, he actually shapeshifts throughout the encounter to cope with the raid. Should seven players in 10-man or 18 players in 25-man group up tightly together, Staghelm will shift into a scorpion. Any other time, he will be shifted into a cat. Every third time Staghelm shapeshifts, he will use a special ability on the raid; which ability he uses depends on which form he is entering.
Staghelm Cat Form
Staghelm Scorpion Form
Leaping Flames Leaps at a single target, leaving behind a Spirit of the Flame; upon landing, he deals fire damage and leaves a pool of flames that deals constant fire damage. This ability takes 100 energy.
Spirit of the Flames A mirror of Staghelm; need to be tanked.
Adrenaline Performing Leaping Flames increases Staghelm's energy regeneration rate by 20%; stacks; is cleared after transforming.
Fury Increases the damage of Leaping Flames and Flame Scythe by 8%; a stack is gained every time Staghelm shapeshifts.
Burning Orbs Special ability used every third shift; summons multiple orbs around the room that deal stacking fire damage to the nearest target.
Flame Scythe Inflicts massive fire damage to every target in front of him; damage is split between all targets; costs 100 energy.
Adrenaline Performing Flame Scythe increases Staghelm's energy regeneration by 20%; stacks; cleared after transforming.
Fury Increases the damage of Flame Scythe and Leaping Flames by 8%; a stack is gained on each shapeshift.
Searing Seeds Special ability used every third shift; implants burning seeds in every target, which grow at varying rates; upon growing, they explode for massive fire damage to any target within 12 yards.
Because of Adrenaline, you cannot stay in any form for too long or you will simply become overwhelmed either by having too many adds up at a single time or by having damage coming far too quickly for it to be healed. In general, you want to shoot for having at least seven stacks of Adrenaline per phase; taking higher stacks earlier in the encounter is easier.
The initial phases
Once again, the raid should start the encounter being stacked to force Scorpion Form. Due to the lack of Fury stacks yet, this first phase is relatively easy on healing. Although you can use damage reduction cooldowns at this point and push the phase fairly long (probably up to 12 or 13 stacks of Adrenaline), it is suggested that you hold off on any long cooldowns at this point. From the very start of the first Scorpion phase to the second should take a little less than 3 minutes, which is about the length of most raid cooldowns. Using them during this first phase means they may not be up when you need during the next Scorpion phase. Just keep that in mind. Any short damage reduction cooldowns can be used, though.
Overall, Scorpion phase has the least amount of focus required by the raid, at least without Seeds. Everyone should stand in front of Staghelm -- melee can actually stand just slightly to the side yet be considered behind him and still take Flame Scythe damage -- soak the damage, then heal it back up. Being the first transition, you should easily be able to push this one to seven or eight without any issues at all.
Immediately after the last Flame Scythe you plan on taking, all ranged DPS and healers should spread out around the room. You can assign a few healers to remain in melee, but keep in mind your stacking player limit. It is best to shoot for having around five or 15 players (depending on raid size) stay in melee. This makes transitioning back into Scorpion easier while not causing the issue of having a single person moving in too close causing the transition to happen sooner than you want.
During Cat phase, the healers should take a break in order to regenerate as much mana as they possibly can. The only raid damage in this phase, Leaping Flames, is completely avoidable. Fandral himself doesn't particularly hit all that hard, so tank healing should be relatively light provided the adds die quickly.
Any player at ranged needs to make sure to have some method of seeing Fandral's target. When Fandral goes to do a Leaping Flames, he will target that person first. Once he jumps, that player has plenty of time to get out of the way and take absolutely no damage from the ability. This is what you should be aiming for, and if you cannot avoid it completely, then you should only be taking a single tick of damage and no more. More than that results in healers' spending more mana, which they won't have to spare in later phases.
If you aren't melee-heavy, a great method for dealing with this is to have every player who is targeted by Leaping Flames run into melee. Again, make sure that this won't force an early transition, but in doing this, you start building players in the middle early, making the actual transition much smoother. While adds may not become an issue, stacking before he performs Leaping Flames after he hits eight Adrenaline stacks can be; needing to have only one player get into melee, such as the tank, can help solve that.
Once you stack back for your second Scorpion phase, Fandral will perform Searing Seeds before shifting back. This ability will place a debuff on every player in the raid with a completely different duration for every player. Once that debuff reaches zero, players will explode for massive damage to anyone around them. These players have to run out of the raid in order to detonate; they should leave once their debuff hits close to the 5-second mark, with a few exceptions.
As soon as the transition hits, all of your paladins and mages should run out of the raid and use their respective immunity abilities in order to drop the debuff instantly. They will still explode, so they have to run out of the raid in order to do this, but they should do this. Dropping them early in this manner allows you to have consistently more people in range of Flame Scythe for spreading the damage. If you are paladin- or mage-heavy, then make sure that you won't accidentally transition back into Cat.
People constantly running in and out leaves fewer in range of spreading Flame Scythe damage. This is where it is best to use raid cooldowns in order to reduce the overall strain on the healers. Again, push to your limit of around seven Adrenaline, by which time every Searing Seed should be exploded.
After Searing Seeds, you have one more Cat and one more Scorpion phase before you hit another special ability. The Cat phase should go as normal, while the Scorpion phase should be when you use Bloodlust; this helps the healers compensate with the vastly increased Flame Scythe damage. Staghelm should be nearing death by this point. If he isn't, then your healers are going to start looking at trouble.
Once you hit the next transition into Cat form, Fandral will have another pause in order to use his second special ability, Burning Orbs. This causes giant orbs to spawn at totally random locations all across the room, which attack the closest target. The damage that they deal is actually relatively trivial until you start building up high numbers of stacks. A single person won't be able to tank a single seed throughout the entire phase, but two people can juggle it while only needing minimal healing. You will only manage to get around five stacks before your partner's stacks drop, but taking it to eight before switching is easy.
Generally, you don't have to do much of anything special for Burning Orbs, as naturally spreading out should spread the damage well enough. The problem is that RNG can totally screw you on this phase. It is entirely possible for three (or potentially more, but three is the most I've seen) to spawn in pretty much the exact same spot. This makes juggling the range between people rather tough. On its own, it wouldn't be that bad, but if a Leaping Flames cuts off one pair, then you can easily end up in a situation where they can't get back to being the closest people, and you now have a player tanking three orbs at once.
Sadly, in that situation, the best you can do is to pretty much let that person die (or just try saving them if they're really special to you). A paladin or shadow priest can potentially shrug off the damage without caring, and there are multiple classes that can laugh it off pretty well, too, but trying to waste the time to reposition six people just for what will be around 30 seconds of damage isn't going to be that worth it. Their target can just run closer toward the melee stack and then you'll be peachy, but that's all I'd do to save them.
Going in for the kill
The Burning Orbs should disappear roughly when Staghelm hits around six Adrenaline and you are looking to go into Scorpion anyway. If he is still alive at this point, I wouldn't stay in this phase for more than three Flame Scythes. Their damage is going to be absurd, plus your healers are going to be pretty strained on mana and cooldowns by this point. Take a few hits, then quickly spread back out in order to force Cat once again, where the raid damage is virtually non-existent. From there, ignore the adds and burn Fandral down. If he doesn't die before you become overwhelmed, then you just need more DPS.
That's it, folks! Join us next week as we get the fun times of taking down Ragnaros.
Ready Check shares all the strategies and inside information you need to take your raiding to the next level. Be sure to look up our strategy guides to Cataclysm's 5-man instances, and for more healer-centric advice, visit Raid Rx.