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Totem Talk: Enhanced moves with Halion

Rich Maloy

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 10 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

The last patch of an expansion feels like the last gift of Christmas; you want it to be the most epic and the most incredible gift of them all, the one gift by which you'll remember this time forever. But instead, you're at your in-laws' doing the family gag gift exchange with a price limit of 20 bucks and a penchant for As Seen on TV products. In some ways, Ruby Sanctum is like that; it's not huge, it's not epic, it's not expensive, but it does have some potential. Maybe Ruby Sanctum is the Slap Chop of this expansion. None of this has anything to do with the article today. Except that I'm talking about Halion.

Halion, the Twilight Destroyer. Three phases, good loot and a huge scale-up in difficulty on heroic mode. It's a good fight that requires paying attention throughout the entire 8-minute enrage timer, in which one death can mean a wipe, especially on heroic. There's no 30 percent buff incoming, so you either learn it and beat it, or you don't and fail. For our part, as enhancement shaman, there are a few tricks we have up our sleeves.


Of course, for any positioning you want to follow your guild's guidelines; never be the lone jerk running around doing his own thing. (That's what battlegrounds are for.) The #1 rule of positioning on Halion, for both regular and heroic modes, is back foot. He has a huge parry zone that I'd estimate is nearly two-thirds his body length. Parries cause parry haste, which instantly kill tanks, which causes wipes. Wipes make raid leaders angry. Angry raid leaders make people cry. Don't make people cry. Stand far back on his back foot and don't force a parry; this gets dicey in phase two, but we'll talk about that in a bit.

Phase 1 Get on the back foot and position your camera outward, in the direction you'll go if you get Fiery Combustion. You can see in the picture here that I'm on his back foot with my camera angled backwards. If I were to get Combustion, I'd just hit both of my mouse buttons, which would immediately start me running in the direction my camera is facing. If you are an engineer, you can just use your rocket boots to get out. Otherwise, if your wolves are up, be sure to hit Spirit Walk to give yourself an added run speed boost, because you'll need it coming out of the puddle on the ground.

Phase 2 Let me reiterate my point from above: Parry begot parry-haste begot tank one-shot begot wipe begot angry raid leader begot crying. We're getting biblical here in Totem Talk today! The temptation to attack and continue DPS will be immense; we are, after all, DPSers, and we just want to do what we were born to do. You'll have to fight that temptation if you want to continue swinging, because it's in phase 2 that we stand the greatest chance of causing wipes. In regular mode, it's easier to stay on the back leg during Twilight Cutters because there's only one beam. In heroic mode, with two beams, ideally your tank should have the cutters just off his left shoulder, enabling you and the rest of the melee to swing for the fences. If your tank isn't keeping a clean opening for melee, then just don't risk melee attacks, instead take advantage of your ability to dps on the move. And, as with phase 1, if your wolves are up and you have Soul Consumption, use your Spirit Walk to get the heck out.

Phase 3 Whether you're in the physical or twilight realm, the single greatest piece of advice I can give you is save yourself. Keep yourself alive through clutch Maelstrom Weapon heals as needed, hot key a healthstone and a health potion. Continue to not make people cry.

Improved Ghost Wolf

I'm going to experiment with a new spec just for heroic Halion, though it could work just as well for regular mode Halion. I'm going with a 19/52/0, which drops one point in Improved Shields plus Shamanistic Focus in favor of 2/2 Improved Ghostwolf. Fiery Combustion? Soul Consumption? Meet Insta Wolfination. That's right, I'm wolf! Now I'm shaman! Now I'm a wolf in shaman's clothing! What will be next?

Heroic advice

I've been running some sims to find the optimal glyphs and spell rotations for enhancement shaman in this fight. We're going to be most effective in the physical/fire realm, aka upstairs, outside or whatever your guild calls it. The amazing thing about EnhSim is the ability to simulate not only our single-target damage, but also create a separate rotation for adds and create a sim for those as well. Using Stoney's raid gear and a full set of raid buffs, I ran some sims tonight to come up with an optimal rotation to use while the adds are up.

Normally, I would never condone re-glyphing and adjusting your rotation just for the sake of doing more damage to adds. In most circumstances, it is tantamount to meter padding at the sacrifice of the good of the raid. However, in the Halion fight (particularly in phase 3), getting the adds down is of paramount importance. By adds, I'm referring to the Living Embers, which will most likely be off-tanked right under melee, and not referring to the Living Inferno, which should be tanked well away from the embers.

You should never target an ember directly, unless one spent too much time cuddling with the inferno and it needs to be focused down while being off-tanked. The only other time to target embers is after Halion phases out of the physical realm and into twilight at the start of phase 2; clean up the adds, then go below before cutters appear. Having said all that, the fact is, we need to get the adds down through passive damage. This means, Fire Elemental, Fire Nova and Chain Lightning. But how do we best integrate them into our rotation priority system?

I ran through dozens of sims trying to find the best use of talents, glyphs and rotations. For each sim, I considered that we would be in the physical realm during phase three, that each phase was one-third of the total time, and that adds were up approximately one-third of the time during phases 1 and 3. This means that for two-thirds of the fight adds are active for one-third of the time, or 22 percent of the total fight ( 0.6667 * 0.3333 = 0.2222), but I rounded it down to 20 percent to be conservative and not focus the simulation too much on the adds -- the ultimate purpose being to kill Halion, after all. The sims were all run on an 8-minute fight with 0 percent variation, with 10 adds in range 20 percent of the time. I used Stoney's current gear, fully raid buffed, and simulated mana.

The kill sim

Simulation DPS
Normal rotation, standard glyphs, no adds 11,661
Normal rotation, standard glyphs, with adds 13,269
Normal rotation, AoE glyphs, with adds 13,287
Two rotations, AoE glyphs, with adds 14,412

The normal rotation is from EJ's BiS thread and is: MW5_LB, FS, SS_0, LS_0, FE, MT_0, SW, SR, ES, SS, LL, FN, MT, LS. The standard glyphs are Feral Spirit, Stormstrike, Windfury. The AoE glyphs I used were Fire Elemental, Fire Nova and Feral Spirit. I tried other combinations using Flametongue Weapon, Chain Lightning and Windfury, but for the sims that included AoE, those three were the best choices; no matter what I tried, I couldn't beat the 14,412 on the sim.

The end result for the ideal AoE rotation when 10 adds are in range only 20 percent of the time is: MT_0, FN, MW5_CL, MW5_LB, FS, SS_0, LS_0, FE, SW, SR, ES, SS, LL, MT, LS. I tried moving most things around but simply couldn't beat the 14,412, no matter what order the spells.

I understand this is the fabled enhancement alphabet soup, and I apologize to our off-spec enhancer brothers and sisters this week. But to the main-spec enhancers out there, if you're running heroic Halion as an enhance, I think you should know the spells by their abbreviations in order to uphold your end of the raid.

After a long night of sims, I'm glad I did this. I'm going to log in right now and change Stoney's secondary spec to include Insta Wolfination, redo my glyphs and get ready for more nights of working on heroic Halion. I'd like to see how close I get to the 14k+ DPS on Big Crits' first kill. Now we just need to get the kill.

If you're enhancement, these are the things you can do to improve your play and your output in this fight. What have you found works for you in this fight? Share so we can learn!

May all your hits be crits!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition,'s shaman experts have you covered.

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