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Shifting Perspectives: Cataclysm heroics guide for balance druids, part 2

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. So, it may not actually be Throne of the Tides, but you don't get to ride a seahorse as a moonkin, so I think it's cooler. That, and the LFG tool did not work with me this week in my dungeon selection. Blame RNG! Seriously!

Well, well, well, another week down, and it's that time again, folks. Last week, we began detailing the various ins and outs of the heroic dungeons that you'll be faced with. This week will be the second and final part of that series. Heroics can be easy or excruciatingly difficult, even now, even with quite a bit of heroic gear. Although gear certainly helps -- our guild heroic runs generally use a lot less CC now -- it is not what is going to make or break the success of a group. Completing dungeons is about strategy: knowing the fights and knowing how to cope with various mechanics. Doing this makes everything significantly easier.

I know the more casual players will cringe slightly at the thought. Heroics can take a lot of time. They can take quite a lot of effort as well, and having to put forth research and energy into a hobby can seem like it saps all of the fun out of the game. To you, I say this: Don't think of guides or strats as a requirement or a chore that you have to do in order to actually play the game. Just look at it as another facet of the game as a whole. Like chess, you wouldn't just move a piece at random; you would think, plan, and have a strategy.

Lost City of the Tol'vir

Perhaps it is just my luck, but I end up drawing this instance quite often. LCotT isn't a terrible instance for balance druids; Entangling Roots can be quite useful on a variety of pulls, and Solar Beam is beyond useful.

Trash None of the trash is particularly difficult. The first few pulls may seem as though they have quite a large number of mobs, but none of them are excessively strong, nor do they have any special abilities that are just going to wipe out your party before you know what hit you. There are several melee-only mobs to choose from to CC -- Myrmidons, Axemaster, and Captains are all viable targets. You can CC Torturers as well; however, you'll probably want to either use a CC that completely shuts them down, such as Fear, Sap, Hex, or Polymorph, or you'll want to kill them first. The Torturers have a poison fear; it isn't particularly bad, but it can pull extra groups and cause a wipe. Luckily, you can dispel it, which is one saving grace.

Beyond that, nothing else is that terrible. There are a few groups that hold several casters; Solar Beam is great for helping to disable them during the initial pull. Beyond that, the only trash worth mentioning are the Pygmy stacks. These actually don't have to be tanked -- despite what other tanks may think. They move excessively slow, and any DPSer can kite them around.

General Husam This is basically a tank-and-spank fight. There are no special tricks or unique abilities that you have to watch out for. Just avoid the bombs on the ground, and you'll be perfectly fine. One thing to note: Most groups only clear one side of the trash before pulling Husam, so be cautious of your positioning when using Starfall.

Lockmaw and Augh Now, this is a fun encounter. Nothing has really changed from normal into heroic, with the exception that you now have to fight Augh after Lockmaw is killed. Make sure that your group runs back toward the exit after killing the gator to buy time for drinking and healing up. In terms of mechanics, there isn't much that casters have to watch out for. Augh will spawn and randomly whirlwind around the place; simply avoid him, and he'll go away.

Every now and again, a random party member will be targeted with Scent of Blood and be swarmed with gators. These absolutely must be killed, and your normal tank cannot generally pick them up unless he is very well geared. You'll just want to DPS them down as they come out. Typhoon is an excellent way to keep them off of people while you do this. Finally, Lockmaw does have an enrage which you can and should dispel.

High Prophet Barim A fairly fun yet somewhat difficult encounter if it is not done correctly. The first phase of the encounter is fairly basic. You need to stay spread out to avoid Plague of Ages spreading around and move out of Heaven's Fury if it targets you. The new mechanic of the encounter is a phoenix that will move around toward its highest-threat target. Any DPSers or even the tank can kite the phoenix around, as it moves rather slowly; after a while, it simply burns itself out, turns into an egg, and then comes back up again.

Nothing has changed about phase 2; merely kite the shadow add away from the souls that are summoned, kill the souls, then kill the boss. Overall, the encounter is slightly healer-intensive but cake.

Siamat Not an overly difficult encounter, but with an undergeared healer, it can be quite rough. Phase 1 is very easy; stay spread out and take down the adds as quickly as you can. Don't worry about wasting a Solar Beam on the caster adds; their Chain Lightning doesn't hit any harder than their standard melee attacks, and usually the tank won't have aggro on them, so they will squish you or the healer if you interrupt them.

Although it doesn't do any real damage, keep your DoTs rolling on Siamat during phase 1. This will provide you with additional Shooting Stars procs in order to help you burst down the adds quickly.

Phase 2 is far more difficult than phase 1. None of Siamat's abilities deal that much damage, with the exception of Absorb Storms. I will admit, after many tests, I have found no clear method of determining what causes him to use this ability. I have tried killing all of the adds, leaving the adds alone, CCing the adds, interrupting the adds, dragging him into Solar Beam; none of it definitively caused or prevented him from using Absorb Storms, as far as I could tell. Sometimes he would chain cast it non-stop (in which case we would die, more often then not); other times, he'd barely use it. For the most part, I have always solely focused on the boss, and we've never had any issues with Absorb Storms.

Throne of the Tides

Ahh, an underwater, naga instance. Perfectly wonderful -- it even has murlocs to boot! What's not to love?

Trash This can either be the easiest or the hardest trash you will ever come across. Nothing about them is all that deadly; however, Spiritmenders can make your life a living hell if you do not deal with them properly. If you have the choice, CC them, because they can be highly difficult to control. You must control them, however, as you will not be able to DPS through their healing, period. The Invaders have a bubble that is quiet nasty and can slow you down considerably if you do not have an offensive dispel. Try not to damage them too heavily when it is up -- if you must at all -- because hitting yourself with a 50-60k Starsurge is going to sting a little bit.

Lady Naz'jar She is a fairly easy boss to tackle, provided that you pay attention to her abilities. As a balance druid, there is actually very little for you to do that is all that out of the ordinary. You can attempt to use Solar Beam as an interrupt for Shock Blast; however, it cannot be your only interrupt, because the CD is far longer than the time it takes for her to recast the spell.

Just avoid the waves she sends out, kill her and kill the adds. Overall, the encounter itself isn't all that complicated.

Commander Ulthok Again, a fairly easy and simple fight, although it does have a few more mechanics that you have to deal with than the previous encounter. To start with, the boss does have an enrage, which you will want to remove as soon as you notice it going up. Further, you'll also want to spend your time removing Curse of Fatigue from people that happen to get it. On heroic, with the frequency that he uses his curse, you may find yourself dispelling just about as often as you are DPSing. That's perfectly fine; allowing your group members to avoid incoming damage is far more important.

Mindbender Ghur'sha This is an optional boss that you can choose to skip if you desire. Should your group composition not support fighting him or you are struggling with the encounter, then I would suggest simply moving on. That being said, it isn't all that difficult.

The biggest thing about the encounter is interrupting the boss during phase 1. There can be a lot of damage going out if you aren't able to stop his casting, and this can be the key to whether or not you are able to beat the encounter. With solid interrupts, the rest of it is cake. Solar Beam is highly useful, especially if you have it glyphed; however, it won't really be enough to completely lock him down.

Phase 2 can go two different ways. If you don't have a way of removing the shield from Ghur'sha, then your only real option is going to be to allow for him to mind control someone. If you are going to do this, then your best choice is to actually have you be the one controlled, in most cases. The boss will latch on to whomever has the highest threat, but you don't want it to be your tank or your healer. What you should do is drop into Bear Form and Taunt the boss, then have it jump onto your head. Presto! Hunters also work for this, or warriors, death knights, or paladins.

If you can remove the shield, then your best option is probably just to kite the little squid head around while you blow him to gooey bits. The choice is yours.

Ozumat Honestly, all I can say is that this is purely a DPS fight. Phase 1 is rather cake; just kill everything as it comes out while having the tank picking them up. Phase 2 is basically the same. Have the tank kite the beasts, DPS down the sappers. Phase 3 is more DPS! Just blast Ozumat before he blasts you. Wow, that was ... simple. There just isn't any other way to say it; there are no real special mechanics. Just kill stuff.

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