Thursday, August 25, 2011

HOW TO: Solo tank Baleroc as a Paladin

The first three bosses in Firelands are fairly simple in their current incarnation, though I do plan to write up brief strategies on how we do those anyway. The two challenging ones are Baleroc and Alysrazor, and both are heavily tank-dependent, so I'll do those first. I actually really love this tier as tanks have a lot to do in almost all the fights and solo-tanking Blaeroc is a good example of this.

We've been working on Baleroc for some time now and while our healers have figured out a rotation that works well for them, a couple of our DPS are struggling to meet the shard-tanking requirements while putting out the necessary DPS. We have come shavingly close to killing the boss, and our first kill was nearly 20 seconds past enrage with one healer and DPS remaining as DoTs finished him off.

42 million health in 6 minutes is a lot of damage you need to put out. It's just a pure gear and DPS check, and unfortunately not all of our raid is geared as well as it could be. So, even after we killed him, we kept coming excruciatingly close to Enrage for subsequent kill, and we decided to try and have me solo tank while the other tank went DPS just to eliminate Enrage as a factor in the fight. It worked out beautifully.

Using one tank on Baleroc lets you do a few things:

1. DPS can take only 9 stacks and stop there without having to worry about a person taking too much damage with 12 stacks or being short a person if someone clipped a shard accidentally and wound up with a debuff
2. It streamlines things for your healers who don't worry about taunts around Decimation Blade and being on the right tank
3. It lets you finish the fight sooner which will hopefully lead to one or two fewer blades and fewer stacks of Blaze

Glyphs and Gear:
I was at block-cap for this with 102.4% block + avoidance - double Mastery trinket, Mastery food, Mastery Elixir, the belt from Omnotron, the Thrall quest cloak, etc. You know what to do here, use your full-avoidance set. Once I get the Stay of Execution trinket I will probably sub it in and go with Stay of Execution/Mirror of Broken Images for this fight. Block capping is great for Inferno Blade and his normal melee which also comes hard and fast.

Prime Glyphs used were Word of Glory, Seal of Truth, and Shield of the Righteous. You want to push as much damage as you can.

Major Glyphs used were Focused Shield, Divine Protection (40% reduced Magic damage? Yes, please.), and Lay on Hands.

The default 0/31/10 spec was just fine for this. I suppose you could take the points out of Pursuit of Justice and put one into Reckoning and the other into, idunno, Arbiter I guess, for a tiny little bit more DPS but I doubt it would be significant. Stay with the default.

The Fight:
Almost the entire fight is about executing a good rotation of your abilities to maximize your damage while being very aware of your abilities and having a plan for using them at the right moment to survive whatever situation you are in. Put out some decent damage (I was ~11k DPS on our one-tank kill, but I could probably do better with some gear tweaks), don't get hit by shard (really shouldn't be an issue if your DPS is properly positioned behind the boss) and execute your plan to survive the blades - that's it. So let's have at it.

Pull with Divine Plea > Inquisition > Avenging Wrath > Avenger's Shield > Exorcism > Judgment > Crusader Strike to get a big lead so DPS can go all out right from the start, and from there it's just a matter of rotating survival abilities very, very carefully.

I was using Holy Shield exclusively between blades to soften damage when I got below 50% health from his melee swings. Word of Glory was only used to help top myself off if Holy Shield was on cool-down and I was still low on health otherwise all Holy Power went into Shield of the Righteous.

Inferno Blade is very easy to mitigate with Divine Protection (glyphed) and then the on-use Resist from Mirror of Broken Images if necessary after that should he land a few hits in a row (unlikely with block-cap). Keep 3 Holy Power banked for a Word of Glory in case things get wonky and it was almost too easy to deal with this.

I was also saving Guardian of Ancient Kings for the last two minutes of the fight if I got chains of Inferno Blade with my trinket and Divine Protection both on cool-down.

Decimation Blade is the tricky one. You must have two healers swap to you for this as the fight goes on - a single healer will struggle to top you off when they have to heal through 750k+ health. The third healer can easily keep up with the shards with DPS only stacking to 9 and having 2 healers on you to get you back up past 90% health before the second swing is a great security to have. Remember self-healing during Decimation Blade is pointless as you have a 90% reduction in healing every time the blade hits.

Hopefully he will not connect all 3 times - if he does, you are having some horrifically bad luck. Should you dodge even one, your healers will have enough time to top you off between swings. If he does hit one and the next one is coming and you don't see that heal incoming and you know you're going to die - you have to hit Ardent Defender. Survive that swing and you'll be okay.

If you are in this position with Ardent Defender already used up, you have to bubble taunt and then cancel immediately after the blow. I didn't have to do this as our healers kept up with the damage and I was able to mitigate a fair number of Decimation Blades but you do have that as a last-resort option to stay alive.

One last note - do not use Lay on Hands during Decimation Blade. It is a good cool-down to use once the healing debuff has dropped near the end of the fight, or during a very bad streak with Inferno Blade, but the 90% healing reduction from Decimation makes it useless there. Don't even touch it.

That's really all there is to it. This gives you six DPS to meet the enrage timer and we comfortably killed him with, I think 30 or 40 seconds to enrage.This is probably how we will do this fight from now on, and if I understand correctly, this is the preferred way to kill him on Heroic anyway, so might as well get used to it now.

This is a pretty fun fight and you grow bigger and bigger in size as the Blaze of Glory stacks rack up, so by the end of the fight you're a looming giant almost half the size of the boss with nearly a million and a half health - it gets pretty giddy near the end. Good luck out there!

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