In the last column, we rolled over Rhyolith and beat down Baleroc. Before that, we shredded Shannox and went berserk on Beth'tilac. There are only two more bosses before the big event in the Firelands: the flame phoenix Alysrazor and the elf man everybody loves to hate, Staghelm.
More importantly, mowing down these two bosses gives you chance for the staff that turns you into the fire kitty we always were in our hearts. So let's get to face shredding.
Every tier of high-end content has a movement/awareness check, and this raid is no exception. However, the vast majority of the damage in this fight is avoidable; don't tunnel vision your DPS, keep your camera on a swivel, and you'll do fine.
Basic strategy This is a fight that looks exceptionally complicated on paper but really isn't too bad. There are essentially four phases that repeat in sequence.
Phase 1 After an opening get-to-know-you, raid-wide AOE, the DPS will split into three roughly equal teams. Team 1 will take to the skies and DPS Alysrazor, while teams 2 and 3 will each take a side of the area and deal with the Initiate adds. Odds are, you'll be on the ground team; casters (who have DOTs that scale with haste) are generally the best bets for going up top, though we're arguably tied with rogues as the best melee choice.
If you're lucky and have the chance to be a flycat, grab three feathers to take off, and fly through the rings Alysrazor leaves behind while dodging the clouds. Each ring will give you a stacking 4% haste buff and refresh the duration on your flight buff. If you can successfully make it through 25 rings, you'll get a 50% crit buff on top of your now-insane haste.
If you're grounded, simply burn down the Initiate on your side every time it spawns. They cast a spell, Fieroblast, that will need to be interrupted by you or someone else in your raid. While nuking Initiates, watch out for their Brushfire ability (get out of the way). Worms and Hatchlings will also spawn; this mechanic is primarily for your tanks, so you'll want to give both a wide berth. Oh, and stay out of the middle; Alys swoops through every minute or so, which hurts. A lot.
Phase 1 lasts about 3 minutes. At the end, Alys will stir up some really nasty winds, which starts Phase 2.
Phase 2 Getting closer than 15 yards or farther than 60 results in instant death, so an oval "racetrack" pattern forms for you to stay in ... which is promptly filled by lots of flaming tornadoes. Yes, I said flaming tornadoes. Remember, this is the land of nonsensical things on fire. Much has been written already on how to tornado-dodge; needless to say, it's going to take your raid some practice. With your innate +30% speed, we have it easier than most. Thankfully, tornado phase only lasts 30 seconds.
Phase 3 At this point, all the winds die down and Alysrazor suffers Burnout, which puts a 50% increased damage debuff on herself. This won't last long, so pop your CDs here. During this phase, a few Clawshapers will fly in to help revive Alysrazor; two people (preferably the tanks) will need to quickly switch over and interrupt/stun their channeled cast.
Phase 4 After she reaches 50 energy, Alysrazor returns to life and begins nuking the tank/raid hard. Survivability cooldowns and prayer, stat. This phase lasts about 25 seconds and finishes with phase 1 starting again, continuing in this fashion until you or the phoenix dies.
Advanced tips If your tanks are having problems killing the hatchlings in time ... Thorns. Yes, Thorns. It's affected by the buff the tanks get and can add up to 10% to the tank's DPS. Don't forget to glyph it, and use it on CD. You can also contribute a bit of DPS to the hatchlings if your Initiate dies quickly enough, but Thorns is a must.
The CD on Fieroblast is shorter than 10 seconds, so you won't be able to manage all the interrupts by yourself.
If you're on air duties, add Blazing Power to a prominent place in your buff tracker. A few rings spawn during the tornado phase; if you can grab one, you can keep your buffs rolling into the Burnout phase, which is great.
This is it, the fight you've been waiting for, the chance to get the staff that makes you a fire kitty. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your feelings about Morrowgrain), you have to kill Staghelm first. This fight is primarily a DPS race, so make sure your rotation is tight.
Basic strategy Compared to the last boss, this one's pretty simple. Fandral has two basic forms, Cat and Scorpion. He switches between the two depending on your raid's behavior. If your raid spreads out, he goes Cat; if your raid stacks up close to each other, he goes Scorpion. He has an energy bar in both forms that gradually builds; when it reaches 100, he uses his special attack.
These attacks will come faster and faster due to stacks of Adrenaline, which can only be reset by switching his forms. This is done by stacking the raid (activates Scorpion) or spreading out (activates Cat). He also stacks a damage buff every time he changes forms, which provides a soft enrage mechanic.
In cat form, Fandral will spawn an add cat every time he hits 100 energy, which need to (eventually) be killed before too many overwhelm your tank. Given the way our damage works (backloaded, DOTs) and our lack of any Redirect-type ability, I strongly recommend suggesting to your raid leader that you stay on Fandral 100% for cat phases. Sure, if you help on cats full time, you can push a few more Adrenaline stacks, but if Fandral's not taking any significant damage because everyone's on cats, what's the point?
In scorpion form, Fandral will cleave the raid at 100 energy. Positioning is key; you'll want to tuck in on his side just behind his front claw (think armpit). This will still enable you to Shred but also allow you to help soak the cleave damage. Your healers will have to determine how many cleaves they can push before moving to cat phase; you'll want to save Barkskin to cover the last two (or three, if pushing 9+ stacks). Survival Instinct is best saved for the second scorpion phase.
Fandral has two other special abilities: Searing Seeds, which hits during the second scorpion phase, and Burning Orbs, which hits during the third cat phase. Searing Seeds is a "don't blow up the raid" mechanic; if you get a seed, Dash out about 3 seconds before the duration expires, let it pop, then Feral Charge back in. As other people run seeds, the rest of the raid will take more cleave damage (hence why you should save SI).
Burning Orbs is reminiscent of Baleroc; several Orbs will spawn around the room and start channeling stacking fire damage on the closest person. As melee, there's not much you can do about them. If someone else in melee is soaking an orb, slide over and swap with them every few stacks.
Advanced tips Tranquility is probably best used during the first scorpion phase to help push it as long as possible. Talk to your healers.
Even if you stay on Fandral 100% during cat phases, you can still Faerie Fire the adds to get the +percent damage taken debuff up, with no DPS loss. It's best done via a mouseover macro, so you don't have to switch targets.
Next column, we're gonna tackle the big man on campus in the Firelands, Ragnaros. Hopefully by the time you're nipping at his fiery heels, you'll already be a happy fire cat!
Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our cat 101 for Cataclysm. Also don't miss gearing your cat for Firelands raiding, addons for cat druids and raiding strats for feral cats as well as our Feral cat Firelands boss strats.