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Raid Rx: Healing the Spine and Madness of Deathwing

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

This is it. This is the final encounter of the expansion. Everything you've ever worked for and fought through has led to this point. This is the moment you get to help rid the world of Deathwing. First, we need to ground this oversized lizard. Immediately after the conclusion of the gunship (part two), you'll be parachuting onto Deathwing's back. We'll go over the different obstacles and what you and your healers need to do to get over the proverbial raid hump. (To the raiders who do 10-mans, you'll have to adjust the numbers a bit. I'm not as well versed on 10s, so you'll have to bear with me as I draw up assistance for the 25-man version.)

To attack the Spine of Deathwing, we need to peel off those metal plates on Deathwing's back so that we can really weaken him further. Our healing goal here is to ensure that our tanks live. Apparently, Deathwing has all sorts of little defenses that he'll use to try to shake us off; there are several threats on this fight that healers need to be aware of. You're on an extremely narrow field of battle here, so movement's going to be really limited.

What did you expect, though? You're fighting on the back of a former dragon aspect.

Healing the Spine of Deathwing fight

When your raid team decides to go for a barrel roll, I'd suggest a raid cooldown here to help power your team through it. Hopefully, your players will be in a safe spot -- otherwise they'll go flying, and I'm not even sure if a well-timed Leap of Faith will get them back on board.

Watch out for Searing Plasma. It's a random debuff that's applied to different players. Healers, that debuff is on you to resolve. You just need to poor copious amounts of healing on them before they leave and infect another world of some sort.

Once the Amalgamation hits nine stacks, your tanks will be dragging him next to the metal plate. The Amalgamation will start pulsing. You need to keep the raid group alive long enough for them to completely destroy the Amalgamation, causing it to detonate into a Nuclear Blast. This will peel off the next plate. Consider using a raid-wide cooldown here. There isn't a lot of room to work with, especially when you're working on the first place, and I suspect several players will be clipped.

Not much else to add here. Keep doing what you're doing until Deathwing is struck down to the earth.

The Madness of Deathwing

My first thought when we were working on him initially is that Deathwing's a pretty demanding fight. It's a definite test of endurance. Most bosses that we've taken on to this point usually go down between four to six minutes; Deathwing can easily surpass 10 minutes. I trust your raid leaders will have given you the basic ideas of what needs to happen in this encounter, so I'll focus on the healer-specific things that will be your main concern.

Phase 1

You'll notice there are four platforms that your raid group can access. Your team will be going from platform to platform, knocking out Deathwing's Limb Tentacle and assisting the aspects. After a few seconds, a Mutated Corruption is going to erupt out of the ocean and start opening up on the Aspects.

While your raid is busy destroying it, your tanks will be taking a pounding, as they taunt back and forth to neutralize the Impaled debuff. Watch your tanks closely once the debuff expires; your tank will take a large amount of damage. Mitigate it with your single-target cooldowns or ones that your tanks internally have.

  • Aggro control tip Keep a tank on the west and east sides of each platform just before the Mutated Corruption spawns. This way, you're guaranteed that a tank will be the first person on it, cutting down on any unintentional instant deaths from hyper-aggressive players.
  • Elementium Bolt You'll see a yellow swirly on the ground marking where it'll strike. Nozdormu, being the all-powerful time aspect he is, will do his best to slow it down and buy you some time to take it out. Stay as far away as possible. Do not do what I did and run directly for it, thinking that it was a safe move. It is classic physics, right? The closer you are to the point of impact, the more force or damage you'll feel. While the bolt is still active, though, it will pulse and dish out some mad AoE damage. It shouldn't take your raid more than two or three pulses to completely demolish it. This is an excellent time to use a raid-wide cooldown. In fact, I recommend using possibly two to three of them. It's going to be a long fight -- may as well start cycling through them.

At some point after the Mutated Corruption is dead, Deathwing will begin to invoke another Cataclysm. Your raid group needs to race against him and ensure he doesn't get that cast off by blowing up the Limb Tentacle. After the tentacle is taken care of, you'll head off to the next platform and repeat the same process.

Note that you will gradually lose buffs as you go from platform to platform. It is up to your raid leader to plan an order that's best for your guild. For players who just started working on this, I do advise leaving either Alexstraza or Kalecgos last.

Lastly, I found this encounter to be one of the most taxing when it comes to mana. Be very liberal with those CDs.

Phase 2

Final stretch! When phase 2 kicks in, all of your buffs from the different Aspects will be restored. Your raid will be switching from from those little tentacle things that spawn off the ground to these two big adds and then on to Deathwing himself. Simply repeat the cycle until the dragon is officially dead.

  • Shrapnel It's a debuff that's placed on different players and will explode for a high amount of damage when the debuff wears off. Your players should be able to use the Enter the Dream ability that Ysera provides to mitigate those effects. Please use them!

Those adds might be a little painful, but you should be able to sustain and heal the raid long enough for that to happen.

Next week, we'll go over my favorite healing moments in 2011. Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!

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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