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Raid Rx: Heroic Halfus healing case study

Matt Low
Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. If you're looking for more healing advice, check out the Plus Heal community and Matticast, the new healing, raiding, and guild management podcast.

If there ever was an encounter in which Atonement-specced priests really stood out, this would be it. Aside from that, Halfus on heroic mode is a great test for healing leaders and raid leaders on the art of syncing defensive cooldowns.

Objective: Can your healing team help the raid survive the first minute of the encounter?

Once you get past that first minute, the hardest part is over, and your raid will get there. In this post, I'll show you a textbook case of cooldown planning from start to finish.

On the the matter of cooldowns, it looks like shaman will be getting their own fairly soon.

Spirit Link Totem: Reduces damage taken by all party and raid members within 10 yards by 10%. This lasts 6 seconds, and every second it is active the health of all affected players is redistributed among them, such tha teach player end sup with the same percentage of their maximum health. This counts as an Air totem and has a 3 minute cooldown.

For restoration druids, Malfurion's Gift appears to reduce Tranquility by 2.5/5 minutes. The actual effect of Tranquility has not changed. If I were to guess, I'd say it would get modified further for reduced incoming damage while the spell is being channeled. No confirmation yet either way.

So how does one survive Halfus in the 25-player raid?

The most commonly used textbook method is for the encounter to have your raid arrayed in a fashion like this:

Skull Halfus
Shield Where all of your tanks should end up
Red X Drakes and whelps
Swords Melee DPS
Healers We used seven and made sure they were scattered throughout the staging area.

Ranged DPS can simply stand around the room. There are no location requirements. Just make sure they're not standing directly on top of the tanks.

This setup ensures that tanks will always be the main players who benefit from Atonement, as they are the closest to Halfus. Since the initial kill targets are the drakes and whelps, the melee are standing on the opposite side of the tanks. Unfortunately, Atonement heals might still hit the occasional blood worm or some other random pet. Ideally, it wouldn't heal the blood worms at all, since the tanks are taking such a major beating at the start anyway.

For our first kill, we utilized the skills of two discipline priests, one holy priest, two resto druids, one resto shaman and one holy paladin. Before going in, we looked at what defensive healing cooldowns were available.
In the opening portions of the encounter, the 4 tanks used their own personal cooldowns while they positioned the drakes and whelps in their respective kill zones. When the tanks had control, the first cooldown used was Divine Sacrifice.

This is also a great time to use your Heroism/Time Warp/Bloodlust.

How initial assignments were done

  • Holy paladin on the tank who has both Time Warden and Storm Rider
  • Discipline priest on the tank who has Nether Scion and the tank on Halfus
  • Discipline priest on the tank who has the whelps and the tank on Halfus

The rest of the healers were busy maintaining the raid. You'll notice we didn't have a set player on Halfus' tank. The entire healing core prioritized him with spells depending on the situation. If the tank on Nether Scion had stabilized, I would fire off a shield or another healing spell on him.

Our first discipline priest then used Power Word: Barrier directly on top of all four tanks. I threw out my Barrier once I saw the first one disappear.

The other storyline to this is for your tanks to be precise in their taunts and cooldown usage. Single-target CDs were held in reserve for the tank when they needed it. Even if a tank was busy wrestling one of those drakes, they were also prepared to taunt Halfus when it was needed to help reset the healing debuff that was added.

When the first drake went down, both discipline priests immediately switched to Smite mode. The trick here was to maintain focus on the tanks. Be prepared for an instant Power Word: Shield or Penance. With the additional modified healing bonuses from the dead drakes, it was easy to keep them alive.

Still, it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

I advise your priests to carry a Glyph of Desperation. Since Halfus stuns the entire raid (unavoidable, mind you), keep it in your back pocket and be prepared to use it if your tank isn't at full health. If Halfus roars and the tank isn't prepared, you'll need to step in and make a desperate play to slow down the incoming hits to ensure your tanks survive.

Use Rebirth effects as needed. The first take down is always going to be messy. Interrupt teams need to make sure they have their stuff together. As healers, be prepared to call a snap AoE cooldown in case a Shadow Nova does get loose. Consider having your DPS druids and priests use their Tranquility and Divine Hymn first in the event that does happen. Just be prepared to have a plan ready.

Now, if you are tackling Halfus in a 10-player raid, I may not be of much help. I don't have the experience of having done it on 10. From my understanding, most groups relied on two to three tanks and really amazing DPS to help them power through it. The same general principles do apply in terms of cooldown usage. I believe it is a little more forgiving. Survive the first opening moments of the fight, and you win.

Good luck!

Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

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