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Shifting Perspectives: An Ulduar class preview, part 3

Allison Robert

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, as other people continue their march through Ulduar, I continue to ask myself if it wouldn't be more cost-effective in the long run just to take my ailing graphics card out behind the woodshed and end its pathetic misery once and for all.

Greetings, fellow Druids. There have been a few changes to Ulduar of late which I haven't yet seen play out on the live realms, but most of the changes concerned are nerfs, which should have little impact on overall raid strategy apart from giving you a bit of extra breathing room. Today we're going to address what you can expect from Auriaya and Mimiron. Mimiron in particular was the subject of some concern from feral tanks on the PTR and, well, the mechanic driving that concern is still a problem, but less of one than you might think.

I was originally going to include Freya in this installment as well, but noticed that her two erstwhile comrades were starting to consume rather a lot of space. Suffice it to say that trying to describe these two fights is awkward at best, so I'm restricting myself to as much Druid-centric information as possible rather than describing every possible means of handling the fights.

Oh well. Batting first for us today is sad spinster Miss Auriaya and her smelly cats, although she's a bit complicated to describe:


As with fights like High King Maulgar and Illidari Council, pulling Auriaya is an art in itself, and possibly the single greatest contribution to the likelihood of your success on the encounter. Druid abilities aren't often used on the pull (Snake Traps and totems are more usual, with Snake Traps being the preferred choice by far), although you may want to try the SURPRISE BARE LOL technique described in this thread because it is both A Creative Use of Game Mechanics and hilarious. If you're raid-leading, you'll want to watch a few videos to see how others have executed various forms of the pull. Karthis from Of Teeth and Claws had an amusing screenshot last week showing what happens when it goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Success on the Auriaya encounter is otherwise dependent on four things: a Fear break, interrupts, minimizing or eliminating the Savage Pounces performed by Auriaya's Sanctum Sentries, and -- in an interesting twist on the usual directive to stay the hell away from the front of the boss -- howling at the raid to stand on top of (or at least around) the main tank.

BEARS and CATS: Karthis observes that this encounter suits the classic feral playstyle, in that you can go bear for the adds and then switch to cat to DPS Auriaya down. If you're off-tanking, I can't describe your role in this fight better than he already has in the link just referenced, and I can only echo his warnings concerning the Sanctum Sentries; they hit hard. Depending on the quality of your tanking gear, you may be able to get away with tanking one or both on a cat spec on 10-man, but the 25-man versions will destroy anything that's not an actual tank. If you're dual-specced bear/cat for raiding, use the bear spec; your healers will thank you. Sentries should be tanked sufficiently far away from each other than they lose at least two of the +damage buffs they grant each other due to proximity.

If you are off-tanking, you will need to /focus Auriaya while dragging your Sentry/ies away from the raid, and blow Berserk as she begins to cast her first Terrifying Screech. The Screech is a 2-second cast so you'll have to be fairly quick about it, and be prepared to use Barkskin/Survival Instincts and chug a health pot if the heal team is feared. Off-tanks may also have to worry about the Feral Defender that will spawn one minute into the fight and continually respawn thereafter. Tank these in the raid until they get low on health, then (depending on your raid's strategy) either drag them away or wait for the raid to kite Auriaya away. Whatever happens, do not allow the Feral Defender to die in the raid as they leave a very large and potent void zone behind. Many raids elect to off-tank and not DPS any Feral Defender which spawns with Auriaya under 20% health, and there are some (generally on 10-man) who choose to ignore them entirely.

Bears are OK but not stellar main tanks for Auriaya; we need more babysitting in terms of handling the Fear break and interrupt duties (Auriaya almost always performs the must-be-interrupted ability Sentinel Blast immediately following a Screech, which prejudices the fight in favor of a Warrior MT, who can Berserker Rage the Fear, then Shield Bash the Sentinel Blast). If you're main-tanking her, tank her facing the raid in order to mitigate the damage done by Sonic Screech. You will need to take a hard look at your options in the event that you don't have a ready Fear break for an upcoming Terrifying Screech. Berserk, as stated, will take care of one of these every three minutes, but if your raid isn't packing Priests for Fear Ward or Shamans with Tremor Totem, that leaves you vulnerable to Auriaya's damage while the raid is otherwise occupied. You can pop Barkskin while Feared and I advise you to do so, although a recent hotfix (more on this in a bit) has made the fears easier to live through. Past a certain point, Auriaya will typically need to be dragged to a fresh platform to reduce the likelihood of raid members getting destroyed while being feared through void zones left by the Defenders. Talk to your raid about the direction they'd prefer to have her kited. For added fun during the encounter, go the other way.

Off-tanks can go cat and DPS Auriaya while waiting for Feral Defenders to respawn, but they should keep an eye on the (fairly obvious) graphic on the Defender's previous void zone that announces its imminent respawn. That said, the further you get into the fight, the less dangerous these mobs become. On 10-man, many raids ignore this add entirely. If you stay cat for good after the Sentries are dead, a little extra +expertise on your gear will return significant DPS gains because you're probably going to spend most of the fight in front of Auriaya.

MOONKIN: There's nothing particular good or bad for ranged DPS on this fight barring the fact that there's nothing we can really do about Terrifying Screech. Use Hurricane when Auriaya spawns the Swarming Guardians, and make sure you're always DPSing Auriaya from her front in order to do your part dividing Sonic Screech damage into more manageable chunks. Caster-heavy raids will want everyone (melee included) to stack up on or very close to the tank to eliminate the frequency of Feral Defender rushes and pounces, which get annoying quickly and can seriously impact DPS output.

TREES: Trees with the Living Seed talent will want to try proccing one on the main tank and/or off-tanks directly before the pull; these players take a tremendous amount of damage in the first few seconds. Wild Growth should be up for each Sonic Screech, although if the raid is stacking up properly in front of Auriaya, this won't actually hit for a lot (from what I recall, it was about 4-7K per person on the PTR). On 25-man, offtank damage will be fairly serious while the Sentries are still up; most raids burn Bloodlust/Heroism early in order to get them down as quickly as possible. While the Feral Defenders' Pounce is nowhere near as dangerous as the Sentries', keep an eye on the raid for this damage, which almost inevitably occurs immediately following a Terrifying Screech.

Again, if the entire raid stacks up on the tank, the rushes and pounces should be virtually eliminated, but melee DPS may balk at being forced to spend the entire raid DPSing Auriaya from the front. Whether you can afford to let them DPS from behind will depend on how many melee you've got in your raid (Auriaya has a strict 10-minute enrage timer) and the amount of raid healing you're packing.

You should still load the main tank with HoTs when Terrifying Screech is imminent, although with the duration of this ability now being lowered to 3 seconds instead of 5, the window of opportunity for a tank to get wrecked while healers are feared is considerably lower.

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