Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Shifting Perspectives: Raiding late Blackwing Descent as a balance druid

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. This week, we'll be mopping up our adventures into a dragon's lair. That's always a fun task ... assuming you don't get eaten. Remember, you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup, so be careful.

Welcome back to another week of basking in the glory of being an overweight hybrid space create that probably belongs in a zoo. Love me some Moonkin and all, but, let's face it people, we're a tad on the fantastical side; and I don't just mean the fact that we shoot crazy green balls of something that only the flying spaghetti monster knows what. In case you missed it, last week's part 1 of Blackwing Descent can be found here.

As an aside, I should say that I am stoked to be a raiding balance druid for the first time in the history of WoW. It was a blessing to be one of only a handful of balance druids raiding back in vanilla, but I always felt that I was really only there because the guild liked me as a player and to prove that it could still be done. TBC was an improvement, but it was never about damage then; we were just group buff bots that offered an increase in group damage while only being mediocre ourselves. Wrath got a lot better where balance was finally recognized for the damage that it could pump out, but we never really had a moment in the sun where we were considered to be a powerhouse DPS spec to the point that a guild felt they were missing something by not having us. Now though? Now I cannot fathom to be a guild without a balance druid, and it's even worth it to have two sometimes! Our damage is more than acceptable; we're far more viable than we ever have been for raiding, and I love it.

So let's talk about downing some bosses, shall we?

Read Part 1: Raiding early Blackwing Descent as a druid


No evil lair is complete without housing its very own mad scientist. Fortunately for Nefarian, he has such a figure on hand, and this is him. Maloriak is the questionable genius behind several of the absurd creations that are scattered around Blackwing Descent (and presumably other portions of Nefarian's plans as well), so it comes as no surprise that he will attempt to rally those abominations against you as your raid struggles to bring him down.

Maloriak himself is mostly a DPS check and perhaps the only true DPS test that you really face in this zone. He has a 5-minute enrage timer that can be rather tight for a group that is only just getting to him without much prior raiding gear.

Edit note -- I missed the hotfix notification that the Enrage timer has been upped to 7 minutes, making the encounter far easier than it was previously. With the additional time, the encounter isn't as much of a DPS race as it was previously. Sadness.

The basic mechanics of the encounter are rather simple. Maloriak has two abilities (detailed later) that he uses throughout the encounter; he also gains additional abilities depending on what phase he is in. The encounter itself is broken down into four phases: a cycle of three repeating phases and then a final burn phase. Adds also are spawned during the encounter that must be off-tanked and killed later.

Now, on to those abilities. Maloriak's two basic abilities are:

  • Arcane Storm An AoE ability that will hit everyone in the raid; needs to be interrupted.
  • Release Aberrations An ability that will cause several adds to spawn. It can be interrupted, but you don't want to do this every time. He will cast this at least four times per cycle, sometimes more. You want this to complete casting at least three times.
Both of these abilities can have their cast times slowed by various means; doing so really helps out your raid. During the fight, Maloriak will also toss different-colored vials into the cauldron in the back of the room. Each color represents a different phase and a different set of abilities. He will cycle through blue and red, doing either/or in sequence, then green. After you reach 25%, he will go into his final phase.

Red phase The first thing that you need to do is group up together and face the boss toward the raid. This phase consists of high-ish, raid-wide damage that is going to have to be healed through and makes interrupting Arcane Storm that much more important. The boss also gains two additional abilities in this phase.
  • Scorching Blast Deals high amounts of fire damage in a cone in front of the caster. The damage is split between all targets, which is why everyone needs to be grouped up.
  • Consuming Flames A debuff that is placed on random players that increases fire damage taken. These players need to get out of the group and avoid getting hit by Scorching Blast.
Just remain grouped up to mitigate the incoming damage, and you shouldn't have any issues getting through this phase at all.

Blue phase Spread out at least 6 yards from each other the moment that this phase begins. In this phase, the damage done to the raid is more targeted towards just a few people instead of the entire group, making it even easier to heal through. As before, there are two additional abilities that will be used.
  • Biting Chill A debuff gets placed on a single raid member that deals frost damage to them and everyone around them. You should already be spread out enough to avoid having this hit multiple people.
  • Flash Freeze Puts a random raid member -- and anyone near them -- in an ice block. The block needs to be killed, but it has very low health, so it should drop fast.
Merely focus on the boss during this phase and destroy the blocks as they come up. Allow a small amount of time once a player is hit by Flash Freeze for the healers to toss out a heal or two on the blocked target, as they take additional damage once the block breaks. For this reason, try to avoid Starfall during this phase if you can, as it can break a block before a healer has a chance to react.

Green phase This is the proverbial high-damage phase. Maloriak will coat everyone in the room with Debilitating Slime. This triggers a 15-second timer of sorts to kill any adds that are currently up. If you don't do so, then they will regain Growth Catalyst by being stacked, and they'll be extremely hard to bring down if a large number of them remain.

As a balance druid, this is your time to shine. If you can manage to game it, try to start this phase in either Eclipse. For now, Lunar is the best; after the patch, Solar will be better due to Wild Mushroom. Make sure that Starfall is off cooldown for this phase, even if that means holding off on using it for quite a while. As soon as the slime goes out, use Starfall and start running around tab-Moonfire-ing everything that you can. Do not waste your time or mana with Hurricane; the damage isn't high enough. Although you normally use Insect Swarm in the multi-DoTing rotation as well, avoid it here; the adds should die before IS has enough time to deal significant damage.

A final tip is to make sure that your DoTs are ticking on the boss going into the phase as well. You shouldn't need to refresh them in order for them to benefit form the debuff; but if you happen to get any procs to increase your damage, you may want to take the time to reDoT the boss.

Final phase Once Maloriak hits 25%, you will have hit the final phase. He will cast Release All Minions as well as summoning two Prime Subjects. If you haven't killed the adds during the previous green phases, then you are probably going to run into some issues keeping your off tank alive. Maloriak himself gains three additional abilities.
  • Magma Jets Casts on his current target, dealing fire damage and knocking the target into the air. Also leaves behind flames on the floor. The tank should have the boss facing the wall to prevent these from spreading out in the room.
  • Absolute Zero Summons a frost orb that will drop to the ground and explode. Avoid these to reduce raid damage.
  • Acid Nova A raid-wide AoE ability that needs to be healed through.
The only thing of note during this phase is to be wary of using Starfall before the Prime Subjects have had a chance to cast Fixate. If you use it right away, you may temporarily gain aggro and have them cast it on you, and suddenly you'll become a tank -- and, trust me, you aren't really good at that role. Barkskin is useful in reducing the damage from Acid Nova as well, so use it when you can, but it will probably only be up once anyway and not make a huge difference.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr