Encrypted Text: Rogue tips for raiding Ulduar, part 2

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Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we continue our discussion of tips and tricks for Ulduar.

Last week, we covered the first few tiers of Ulduar bosses, and what Rogues can do to maximize their performance on these fights. I was happy to see some great tips in the comments as well, such as using Cloak of Shadows when you are afflicted by XT-002's Light Bomb. If you have any advice to add to the conversation, please use the comments to give us your thoughts.

This week, we'll be talking about the Keepers, the real meat and potatoes of Ulduar. These bosses drop our coveted Tier 8 (complete with its fantastic 4-piece bonus!) and other loot that you'll want to get your hands on. These fights are also more technically complex, and so you'll want to be prepared before attempting to down these bosses for the first time.

Role: DPS
The Hodir fight is characterized by massive raid damage, both incoming and outgoing. The adds on the fight provide two buffs of great interest to Rogues: Starlight and Storm Power. With these two abilities, Rogues can gain a massive amount of haste and critical strike damage. While active, Rogues are amongst the top DPS classes in this encounter. Mages have the additional benefit of Singed, but can have a lower uptime due to movement to avoid being afflicted by Biting Cold. Be sure not to use Cloak of Shadows to try to avoid moving out from under Icicles, as they will still knock you back even if resisted.

I have two suggestions that will make Hodir significantly easier for you. The first is to Feint every time Frozen Blows becomes active, as it will mitigate much of the damage you take. This is key to giving your healers some breathing room while dealing with the hardest part of this encounter, very similar to the XT-002 fight. Secondly, keep moving throughout the entire fight. Even slight sidesteps will keep the Biting Cold debuff from building up on you. You also want to be keen to move into Starlight beams or near Toasty Fires when available, as this will let you make the most use out of the buffs available. You have 180° behind the boss to work with, maneuver yourself to the best possible location.

Role: DPS, CC, Interrupts
Freya has decided to take the adds-before-boss element from Gothik and Kel'Thuzad and taken it a step further: you must kill all of the adds while the boss is engaged, and then attack the boss. Our ability to provide the Wound Poison debuff easily is key, as it will greatly increase the speed at which Freya dies once her adds are defeated. Feel free to use Instant for the add packs and switch to Wound when moving to Phase 2. But don't let me get ahead of myself, there are still waves of adds to talk about!

Her three types of add packs are fairly simple, but a well-played Rogue can make them all but trivial. The first type of adds are known as the "Lasher Pack", they're a group of small plants that explode once killed. Feint and Cloak of Shadows can prevent you from taking much damage while killing them, and Fan of Knives provides a great method for AoE'ing them down. The second type of add is a large Conservator. He's not too much trouble if your tank is talented; the gist of the fight is that all players must stand under a red mushroom at all times. The mushrooms spawn randomly around the room, and so the tank will have to move the Conservator under a mushroom while also making room for the melee DPS (you) to attack as well. Simply keep yourself under a mushroom at all times.

The third type of pack is a bit more complicated. There's 3 elementals spawned, one of which you will want to avoid at all costs. The Snaplasher will destroy you if you run anywhere near it, so stay away at all times. You'll be focusing on the Storm Lasher and the Water Spirit. They're both interruptable and stunnable, which you should use to your advantage. By CC'ing these mobs, you will make it far easier on your raid to control their DPS and focus on each target.

Once Freya is engaged, it's as tank-and-spank as any Rogue could hope for. Be sure to use Wound Poison on your Main Hand weapon to lower her passive healing during this phase as well. There's also another aspect of the fight, spawning glowing green trees, that I tend to ignore as a Rogue. Our ranged DPS are trained to take responsibility for the trees, however your guild may call in for your assistance in killing them. Be sure to know what's expected of you ahead of time!

Role: DPS, CC
This fight will see you either sent down the tunnel to engage Thorim, or left in the arena to wage combat against the captured dwarves. Either way, your main responsibility is to kill the enemy adds while also using your CC to minimize incoming damage or to save a healer or caster from grabbing agro (by locking the mob in place). I treat it very similar to a heroic dungeon, where it's my job to make sure that the tank's target dies quickly and to assist any clothies in need. Both Blind and Dismantle are valuable on this fight.

The actual fight with Thorim is far easier, especially if you're familiar with Kel'Thuzad. The melee will split up into a triangle (or square) formation, and simply DPS the boss. You may have to rotate to avoid a sort of lightning wedge, but this is also Cloakable if you're not in a good position to move. Your only real threat on this phase is the Chain Lightning attack, but if your raid is well balanced between melee and ranged DPS, you shouldn't have any issues.

Role: DPS, interrupts, running around a LOT
While this fight has just been nerfed (see the patch 3.1.3 notes from last night), it is still one of the harder encounters from a Rogue point of view. There are more than 10 ways for a melee class to die, and all of them will be very embarrassing in front of your raid mates. This fight truly exemplifies the oldest of Rogue axioms: "A dead Rogue does no DPS."

In phase 1, there are two significant threats to the Rogue, each of which complicate the other. The boss has a very standard "run out when I cast this" type AoE which must be avoided, this is called Shock Blast. You can Cloak this ability, which can save you at least once during the right. His second ability is a pack of mines he will drop every so often, which blow up for (currently) the majority of your life. So, while attempting to run out from the boss, you must also not get hit with mines; the same rule applies when running back in to DPS. The trick is to strafe around the boss after a Shock Blast, and finding yourself a good opening in the mines BEFORE needing to leave. This will give you a clean escape path and greatly reduce your mortality rate.

Phase 2 presents a far simpler fight, from the Rogue point of view. We simply make a ring-around-the-rosie circle, enclosing the boss in our clenched hands. There's no threat here, so you simply unload all of your DPS into the boss. You'll take some random AoE raid damage, but just let your healers take care of it. Every so often, the boss will start channeling a powerful laser, indicated by his ability Spinning Up. All that a Rogue has to do is ensure he is behind the boss, and by running through his center, you can be there in just a few steps. Make sure to stay at max melee range on this fight, as being too close to the center will cause you to accidentally be struck by the laser. There is also a Rocket Strike used, but in 3.1.3 this attack will be targeting ranged players. Just run out of the red stuff!

Phase 3 will have the Rogue simply attacking Assault and Junk Bots, while avoiding Bomb Bots like the Undead Plague. Let the ranged classes do all the heavy lifting! Be sure to kick the Assault Bots if they are channeling their debuff onto your tank, as it stuns the tank and causes them to take more damage. Once the Assault Bots die, you can bring the flying boss to the ground, allowing us to take advantage of the damage debuff on the boss. This phase is fairly simple, as long as your ranged classes know what's going on. Save all of your cooldowns for the next phase.

Phase 4 combines aspects from all 3 prior phases. While you won't have to worry about any of the Phase 3 goodness, you will have to watch out for the normal mines + Shock Blast combo, in addition to the laser beam and the random shotgun blasts from Phase 2. This is where the fight is really tough to manage, as avoiding the laser while avoiding the mines while avoiding the Shock Blast can really be trick to do. This isn't even including the random Rocket Strike that will target you! In addition, Rogues are only able to attack the base and chest of the 3-level boss, and so you have to rely on ranged DPS to cover the head. While your group is coordinating the simultaneous kill of all 3 pieces, remember you can help with killing both the chest and base pieces. Attack whichever you are assigned to, or whichever has the most health.

The Watchers are definitely more complicated than some of the earlier fights in the instance, but General Vezax and Yogg-Saron present problems of their own. Next week, I'll cover the last two fights of the instance in detail, as well as provide some general tips for any raid encounter.
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