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The Light and How to Swing It: Retribution in the Firelands, part 1

Dan Desmond

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. This week, Dan Desmond walks you through the Firelands.

Firelands has been out for a couple of months now. Many have gotten their hands dirty fighting against the minions of Ragnaros; a few have even beaten the elemental lord himself. But many more are just rolling up their sleeves, waiting for their friends and guildmates to get bored of playing in the sun (seriously, it's going to be there for another 5 billion years -- I think you can play a little Warcraft here and there and it won't mind). Well then, what better place to start than at the beginning?


Most guilds set their sights on Shannox first in their foray into the Firelord's formidable fields. He is generally considered to be one of the easiest early bosses. Don't let his teddy bear face fool you, however; Shannox is more than capable of dispatching your raid if you're not careful. There are certainly a good number of strategies out there for dealing with this legless hunter and his two companions, but for the purposes of this column, I'm going to discuss the strat my guild has been using that has worked reliably for weeks on end.

Simply put, DPS starts on Rageface and burns him down; then the ranged and melee split between Riplimb and Shannox, respectively. Once the boss reaches 35%, the melee switch to Riplimb (or should the ranged get leaps and bounds ahead of melee, they switch to Shannox). Regardless, the second dog should die before the big guy reaches 30%, and we pop Bloodlust and nuke him down.

A special note to those in a 10-man raid: Even if you use this strat, there may be periods when Rageface will leap at someone far away and Face Rage them to death before you can get there. In instances where you need to get the dog to stop channeling immediately, you might consider holding Avenging Wrath in reserve to fire off an autocritting Hammer of Wrath while closing the gap. Your frail healers will thank you for it.

As I'm sure many of you can attest, the difficulty in this fight is not actually killing the boss. Shannox, being one of those particularly annoying hunters, throws out two different types of persistent traps that will make your job more of an exercise in finesse than brute force. Immolation Traps will deal Fire damage, put a Fire DOT on you, and increase your damage taken for a short time. Crystal Prison Traps will encase the victim in a chunk of crystal and prevent them from taking any action. To get the victim out, the crystal needs to be destroyed. And no, you can't use Divine Shield to get out of it.

In avoiding such traps, you will need to be quick on your feet and aware of your surroundings at all times. Long Arm of the Law and Pursuit of Justice make dog chasing easier, but you're only going to hurt your raid if you use your glorious gap-closer to run right through a gaggle of traps.

If your tanks are having a hard time clearing their stacks of Jagged Tear, make sure to use Hand of Sacrifice on one of them. Being in melee range of Shannox for most of the fight, I typically save mine for the Shannox tank simply due to distance issues.

Stay behind Shannox at all times, naturally. He has a nasty cleave, so when the boss is moving around, be cognizant of where your meat shield is taking him. If you happen to get caught in fire, whether it's from an Immolation Trap or Magma Rupture, make sure to pop glyphed Divine Protection. It offers 40% magical damage reduction, it's off the GCD, and it has a 1-minute cooldown -- what more could you ask for, a cup holder?

Some final tips:
  • Time those cooldowns well. Most of my Shannox encounters have been around the 5-minute mark, so depending on your raid's DPS, you could potentially get two Guardian of Ancient Kings in there. Of course, bursting where it counts is what kills bosses, so make sure Zealotry, Avenging Wrath, Guardian, your trinkets and a Golemblood are all available for when you hit that magical 30% mark and you hear the distinctive sound of an Orc gargling Scope.
  • Keep Hand of Salvation handy. Har, har. But seriously, Shannox and his unregistered canines are not tauntable, so watch your threat!
  • Watch out for game-changing Word of Glory moments. Sure, it may be a personal DPS loss to use your hard-earned holy power to heal a mage who may or may not be standing in a fire, but it is definitely a raid DPS loss to let him die. The next time he decides to brag about meters, you can remind him that you have power over life and death.
When the boss finally drops and coughs up his loot (because seriously, where else does he keep it?), feel free to grab Skullstealer Greataxe and/or Zoid's Firelit Greatsword (the latter of which can drop off almost any boss in Firelands) and Necklace of Fetishes.

Lord Rhyolith

As a giant hunk of half-molten rock, Rhyolith is a bit different from Shannox in a few respects. The igneous behemoth isn't even tanked for most of the fight. Instead, DPS hit his feet to steer him away from the lava skirting his platform and into volcanoes that Rhyolith spawns and activates.

Rhyolith also spawns two different types of adds, Fragments and Sparks. Since you're a melee DPSer, you are probably not going to be assigned to either of these. However, just in case you get stuck on Fragments (if your raid leader wants to put you on the Spark, smack him in the head ... gently), here are some quick pointers.

Seal of Righteousness and Divine Storm are crucial here. Hopefully your Fragment tank won't have to move around too much, so your Consecrations won't go to waste along with half your mana pool. Otherwise, AOE to your heart's content, and when your heart has had too much, AOE some more.

For those not on adds, your job is going to be a bit weird. Do you remember Kologarn in Ulduar, how he had his main body but also two targetable arms that had separate health pools? Well, Rhyolith is somewhat similar; from the start of the fight until about 25%, you will only be able to attack his feet. Thankfully, his feet share a health pool with each other and with Rhyolith himself.

When the fight starts, Rhyolith begins walking straight forward and it's up to you, as part of the DPS, to steer him. Why steer him? Well, if he gets to the lava around his platform, he will cast Drink Magma, which can quickly cause a wipe. Also, you will want to try to get him to stomp out any activated volcanoes that he spawns via Concussive Stomp, as they cast Eruption and put out a lot of raid damage. More importantly, stomping out these active volcanoes will remove 16 stacks of Obsidian Armor from the giant. Once you get all 80 stacks of his armor off, bringing him down to 25% and triggering his second phase will be a simple matter.

Listen to your "driver" and pop cooldowns if you need a hard turn or pivot. Remember, we have some insane burst at our disposal, so don't hold back when you see Mr. Stompy get close to quenching his thirst. Your driver is going hoarse from screaming at the ranged to help out. Your initial damage is going to be quite low thanks to his armor's damage reduction, but the faster you can get to phase 2, the better for everyone.

While you're steering Rhyolith around, you will have a metric ton of fire to avoid. Stomped-out volcanoes will occasionally spew forth lines of fire that radiate outward and, after a few seconds, erupt, dealing massive damage to anyone unlucky enough to stand on them. Add on top of that the raid damage from active volcanoes I mentioned earlier and the damage from Concussive Stomp, and you have yourself a lot of incidental raid damage. Keep your Divine Shield close and your glyphed Divine Protection closer.

When you get Rhyolith to 25%, he'll shed his rocky exterior to reveal a creamy, molten nougat center. Your tanks will pick him up, and you should have all of your cooldowns ready to go. Realistically this phase shouldn't last longer than a minute, but try to hold back tears as your fellow raiders hit their raid-wide cooldowns. I know, it wasn't all that long ago that we had a choice between Aura Mastery and Divine Guardian, but now all we really have is Holy Radiance. Go ahead and hit that, given that you have enough mana. Rhyolith should fall quickly, and you can scoop up some loot!

Unfortunately, Lord Rhyolith's retribution paladin loot isn't terribly appealing. Fireskin Gauntlets look nice on paper, until you see that our tier gloves are just about the same only with more mastery and less hit. Gloves are not the piece to replace for our tier set, so let these hand covers go to someone else. Earthcrack Bracers are mediocre as you can get their BOE counterpart, Gigantiform Bracers, from valor points on an alt or by buying them from another player. I would pass on Earthcrack as well.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, isn't it? Now go out and eat that pudding. Just stay away from the tapioca; I heard it's rotten.

The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.

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