Friday, January 9, 2009

Healing Sartharion 25 with drakes

Warning: Long post! I've written this to help druids healing 25 man Sartharion+3. Below are all of the things you need to know as the MT healer for this fight, including a video showing where to stand, where to run to, the position of the waves, etc. It's not the full strategy - if you want an excellent overview of the entire fight, I recommend this video which explains the different stages, incoming damage, and all the things that the raid should expect.

Rather than explain the entire fight, I wanted to be specific and cover the things that you will need to do as the MT healer. It's quite a long post but I think that if you are trying to get this fight down, you'll want every advantage possible, so it's worth seeing if there are things you might have missed previously.

A druid as the MT healer

As resto druids, we are fantastic as MT healers for this fight. The MT basically keeps Sartharion occupied while the rest of the raid deals with the messy business of taking out the drakes and various adds. Frightful business, that.

Damage on the MT is normally fairly predictable but can be spiky, particularly when Sartharion casts Flame Breath and takes a chunk of your MT's health off. For most of the time, our complement of HoTs is great (and very economical) for keeping the MT topped up, and for the times when he takes spike damage, Regrowth, Swiftmend and occasionally NS+HT is perfect.

Anyway, the point is, I believe we are best suited to MT healing this fight, so I'm going to share my tips for doing it. I'm not going to cover the entire strat, there are plenty of places that will give you full strategies - I'm just going to share how I MT heal this fight, because that's probably the role you're going to be put into if you're doing this boss.

Healer make-up

We usually take 6 healers, and for interest our first kill was two priests, two druids, a shaman and a paladin (although our usual setup tends to be one druid and two shamans). This may seem like stretching the healing quite thin, but it is important to get as much dps in the raid as possible to be able to down the drakes fast enough, so it's best to take as few healers as you can - which is why it's good that there only needs to be one healer on the tank.

A priest (or second druid, depending on your composition) can help by throwing additional HoTs on the MT to be on the safe side and guard against a string of big hits. I am usually okay to heal the MT by myself for the majority of the fight (until the point where the drakes are dead and damage is increased), but don't ever be afraid to speak up and ask for a little help from the rest of your team if you feel the spike damage is a little too much to handle on your own.

Heals & rotation

The "rotation" is really quite straightforward:

1. Keep all of your HoTs on the tank at all times (no brainer).

2. When Sartharion leans back and arches his neck, he's going to cast Flame Breath. Start casting a Regrowth and it should land just after the breath, then either Swiftmend or cast another Regrowth to finish topping the tank back up.

3. When running in and out for lava waves, you may need to use Swiftmend on the run if a Breath comes while you're on the move. I also sometimes use Nourish for a super quick top-up before I run back, but that's up to you and what you prefer to use (I tend to use Nourish in 5 mans and PvP, not very much in raiding). Remember also that it is 100% safe to stand in the lava (it ticks for hardly anything) if you need to stop to heal the MT before running back in - just be careful of voids popping up, as they are hard to spot on top of lava.

4. Finally, if the other tanks wander into your range, toss them a Rejuv to help out. Having "range" showing on your raid frames is essential for this.

That's really it. Keep the MT topped with your HoTs, and use your direct heals to top him off following a breath. The hardest part, really, is watching your frames and timers while you keep an eye out for void zones and lava waves.

Note: IF YOU AGGRO AN ADD - call it out. There's so much going on that a tank may not see you're in trouble. But don't panic - you should be able to keep a HoT on yourself while still healing the tank, so you can effectively tank a couple of adds (not the enraged blazes though) until a tank can come and grab it. Just another cool thing about being a druid - we can offtank while we heal ;)


This is the fun part. You get to stand by yourself, up the front of the raid, away from the mess and chaos! It almost feels unfair to everyone else.

There's a reason for this position though. If you stand with the bulk of the raid, some of the lava wave calls will force you backwards, a few yards out of range of the MT. This will often prove fatal if a breath happens and HoTs are not enough.

So, instead, you stand on Sartharion's back foot and heal the MT from there.

Be careful not to stand too far towards his tail (a stun on you will likely kill your tank) or too far forward. However, it is better to stand more towards his head than his tail, because towards his head you will be cleaved for minor damage (easily healed with a rejuv), whereas a stun is very serious. BE CAREFUL though - standing too far to the right can get you breathed on, which will kill you instantly.

Confusing? You'll see what I mean when you stand there, don't worry. It's quite a small sweet spot and can be hard to judge (I still get the occasional cleave, and last night I was breathed on), but it is definitely better than being out of range of your tank for a few seconds. Standing by yourself also greatly reduces the number of voids you have to deal with, because voids spawn under people, so logically if there is only one person in a big area, it's going to be easier to spot - compared to everyone behind in the mess of players and AoE.

If lava approaches from the right, take a few steps backwards and continue healing. When lava waves come through from the left, you run through Sartharion to the other side (pause to heal if necessary), turn and run back.

Gear & consumables

Really I'm just posting this because I know some people feel better if they have some kind of stats benchmark - people often ask how much spellpower and mp5 they need for particular instances and bosses. I've grabbed a few upgrades since our first kill, but going back to the gear I was wearing at the time, my stats were:

INT: 870
SPI: 1056
SPP: 1823
MP5: 327
CRIT: 277 (I've since lost 107)
HASTE: 232

This fight is about execution though, and I think that I could heal this fight in much lower gear and still be fine. It's more about the timing of your heals during spike damage rather than having insane gear, so I wouldn't worry too much if your stats are a bit lower. Your job on MT healing is not terribly gear-dependent.

You definitely don't need massive mana regen in this fight, in fact I often don't need to pot or innervate until the very final stages (at which point other healers can step in to help because the drakes are down). So you should be choosing spellpower over say, mp5 consumables - eg Flask of the Frost Wyrm and spell power food to boost your HoT ticks and direct heals as much as possible.

However, like many fights, you'll probably find you go through your mana quite quickly while learning, because you need to get into the rhythm of the incoming damage and tend to overcompensate with extra casts (I know I do this while I'm trying to settle into a new fight). So you might like to use an mp5 flask at first while everyone is learning, and then switch to spellpower later once you've got a hang of how much healing you need to do.

Cupcakes are recommended but not mandatory.

Final tip: Punch that ankle!

Each week I joke that I'm adding extra dps on the boss, but by turning on auto-attack and punching away at Sartharion's foot, I am actually giving myself extra chances to proc Omen of Clarity (especially during times that I am just refreshing HoTs and not healing heavily), since OoC works on both melee attacks and spellcasts. It's not much, but hey, every little bit helps.

Auto attack will stay switched on even while you are healing, so you can toss a heal and go back to punching him automatically. Of course, this will only work if you use mouseover macros to heal the tank and others - if you have to select a target to heal, you'll stop smacking the boss.

So - slap that dragon! Besides helping to conserve mana, it's highly entertaining.

The dance

Finally, here's a short video (sorry it's so quiet) showing you most of the above:

- where to stand
- the approach of each lava wave
- safe spots
- how to recognise incoming spike damage

Hope this helps someone :)


Starlightw said...

Awesome tips! My guild just did sarth +1 and are attempting +2 next week. I was doing almost everything the same as you, but the area you pointed out between the cleave/tail is rly helpful. And im definatly gonna be auto-swinging this time :D. Your blog is sweet, lots of useful info!

Starlightw - Firetree - US

Anonymous said...

HOORAY for Keeva videos. Very nifty to see. We are going for sarth +1 this week, in 10 man though. /wave

you know the rest

Keeva said...

Thanks guys :)

I haven't been able to do nifty diagrams or videos since Sunwell and I've been itching to be able to.

It's very specific.. but I'm the kind of person who likes to understand the general idea of the fight, but then I need to know what I have to worry about myself. Where to stand, where to run... what's going to be happening in my world during the fight. All the mess behind me doesn't concern me in this fight so I don't bother talking about it.

I hope it helps a bunch of people :)

Aertimus said...

****ing awesome.

We will hopefully get two drakes down this Sunday or the next, and will hopefully be trying 3 drakes within a month.

Stacey said...

Totally brilliant. I love the video. It makes me sad that our disc priest will be MT healing, but I pointed him to your blog to check out the positioning. Standing on the toes is utter genius!

Keeva said...

If it helps a few people, I'm happy :)

trev said...

Is that me in kitty Nomming his legs... NOM!!

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of questions:

You provide no discussion regarding use of cd's such as last stand, bone shield, hand of sacrifice, etc. to provide additional help to survive the breaths. Does this mean you were able to heal throught the breaths without using a cd rotation?

Can you give us some details on your tank's spec, gear, etc.?

Keeva said...

We use a DK tank but I honestly couldn't give you details of how he specs to do it, or the cooldown rotation used. It's not something I have paid much attention to, because it really doesn't affect how I heal - I always assume he is taking a full breath and heal accordingly, full-time. I don't need to know the ins and outs because it wouldn't change how I do things - I still always heal as if every breath could kill him.

(Also, other healers do throw HoTs or spot heals if they can spare them, and towards the end they jump in to heal the MT too, so it's not just me full time for the entire fight.)

Whether we have 10 people sharing emergency buttons with him or none, I honestly couldn't tell you, but obviously there are cooldowns being used. How many and by whom, I can't give you details because I don't know.

I realise this isn't very helpful but since it isn't something that has concerned me I haven't paid very much attention to the tanking side at all - he works that out with his CD support and it has very little bearing on my job.

Sorry :(

dme said...

Nice guide!
Just got one question. In the second wave positioning pic you move to the back. What if you would move even further? Would you still be in range of the tank? A position further back would mean no movement for the waves.

Keeva said...

It takes me about 2 steps out of range of him, unfortunately.. which meant a few wipes when my hots dropped off or he took a breath while I was "cut off" by lava.


So that's why I moved up the front with the dragon - and it makes it so much easier.

Anonymous said...

hello there,
one healer of the sart tank? Oo
we have a combo of pala/disci to heal our tank (druid with 50k HP) and give him pain suppression etc. for the breath.
is the DK so much better at sart?

Astro said...

Before 3.08, DK's were much better on this if specced for boneshield (40% dmg reduction with short cooldown). All DK's also have icebound fortitude which operates on a separate CD and also reduced, prior to patch, all incoming dmg by 40%. Therefore, before 3.08, DKs could time CDs for firebreaths and always have one available. Now the dmg reduction is reduced to 20% for both abilities and the increased armor that was given to compensate (via Frost presence) isn't much help on this encounter. Not sure if anti-magic shell would help, but if it does, DKs could also talent into a group one and all DKs have a personal one.

In summary, DKs aren't best for getting beaten up via constant incoming dmg, but excel at predictable burst dmg.

As a Druid healer, I like them on this encounter.

Anonymous said...

Great guide and video. Helps me out a ton in preparing my strat for this fight. Refering all healers in my guild to this too to help them. Attempting 3 drakes this week.

Elluna - Lothar - US

Elf said...

Very nice guide,

Nice insight into how the MT healer operates for this fight..

Which will definitely be a big help when I MT Sarth with you Keevs :)

Keeva said...

Don't tail swipe me or roast me with a breath and we'll get along just fine!

Elf said...

As for tanks rotation,
I believe our current 2 x DK tanks that Keeva heals are doing this in blood spec.

So to avoid breaths and minimise damage they are
* runing their weapon with spellshatter/breaker
* maximising HP over avoidance.
* Managing a variety of CD's on IBF, Army of the Dead, Anti magic Zone. etc

Not my ideal spec for the Sarth Fight.
My tip for a DK tank would be slightly different.. an odd spec that not many people would use..
but I believe is great for this Fight.

Get enough points into blood to get veteran of the third war (ie 6% stam)

Use the rest in Unholy
Key talents would be
* 2% extra stam
* improved anti-magic shield with 5 points to decrease magic damage by 5% and 100% when AMS is up
* and also AMZ.
* bone shield

Also make sure to rune for 4% decreased spell damage.

The biggest killer in the fight is the breath.

This spec gives
8% + Stam
9% + reduced magic damage.

Obviously you need to be geared enough to drop the stoneskin gargoyle rune for spellshattering.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Keeva this was extremely helpful. Someone laughed about how close to the toe I stood, but it never failed me. We downed S+3 for the first time this past Thursday. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hah, I just specced into Tree for the first time and was asked to heal a Sarth25+1D...yeah it's a bit later in the game to get anxious about it but myself being a dps-er all along, healing's a whole new game. Thank so much for your tips and video! Worked like a charm =D Cheers!