We downed Baleroc last night on another ‘off raiding’ night. (We seem to be doing this a bit recently, hats off to the skillful folk in our guild who don’t usually raid but who come along to help, often filling offspec roles.)
After a few nights of working on him trying a few different strats, I thought I’d document what we did to kill him. Druid healing point of view, as usual.
We read lots of different strats for this guy. Heal rotations of one healer every 15 seconds and 4 crystal tanks, heal rotations of one healer every 15 seconds and 6 crystal tanks, heal rotations of one healer every 30 seconds, one tank on Baleroc, two tanks on Baleroc, one crystal tank healer and two on tank, two crystal tank healers and one on tank… my head was spinning with rotations!
In the end we did it the most simple way imaginable. I’m a fan of simple.
- one tank (warrior)
- three healers (shaman, paladin, druid)
- six dps (just by chance, we were all ranged DPS last night)
- four crystal soakers
- two healers to the tank at all times
- one healer to the crystal soakers at all time
Our crystal rotation:
- Crystal 1: Shadow priest to 14 stacks (or more) then hunter for remainder
- Crystal 2: Warlock to 14 stacks (or more) then mage for remainder
We started out believing the ’30 stacks per crystal’ information, that’s floating around. But that’s just not correct. The crystal has about 3 seconds of charge-up time, so there’s 27 stacks that go out altogether.
Healing through 15 stacks is HARD and almost reliant on your heals landing at the right time, so it’s very RNG. We wiped again and again losing crystal tanks because we were swapping at 15. We noticed that it was always the first person dying, and the second person was not getting 15 stacks (more like 12). Once we realised this and switched to the crystal tanks just taking 14 max, everything was hunky dory.
Having said that, if you have crystal tanks that can eat damage, then it’s still worth putting them first, and they can judge when to move out. Our shadow priest dispersed if he wanted to take higher stacks, our warlock used… warlock things.
Our heal rotation:
On the pull:
- We used heroism/bloodlust/timewarp a few seconds after the pull.
- Our holy pally initially crystal healed to stack to around 50, our druid and shaman healed the MT.
- When the pally’s stack was above 50 AND it was a safe time to swap, he called ‘swap’. With heroism going, this usually after one full crystal rotation of 4 people (two crystals).
- A safe time to swap is pretty much on a crystal spawn/transition when the crystal tank’s stack is low.
After the pally called ‘swap’:
- Our shaman switched to crystal tank healing and the paladin switched to tank healing full time. The druid stayed on the tank.
- When the shaman’s stack was above 50 AND it was a safe time to swap, she called ‘swap’. No heroism this time, so this can either take a bit longer, or the switch can happen at a lower stack size.
After the shaman called ‘swap’:
- Our druid switched to cyrstal healing and the shaman switched to tank healing.
- No more swaps.
Basically, this isn’t a rotation, as we don’t cycle through. For those who like diagrams, here’s our healing allocation using class colours:
We just clustered at range behind Bale. The crystal always spawns on a player, so we stayed fairly tight and moved away when the crystal was about to spawn (big glowy purple beam shows you where that is) and the crystal tank moved in. If someone is standing out by themselves it just makes it harder for the crystal tanks to get into range quickly.
Notes for healing
This is a fight where it’s important to know where the buffs and debuffs are in the raid and on your fellow healers.
The important ones are:
- Vital spark: this stacks while healing the crystal tank. [It's important to note that if you are designated as a crystal tank healer and you are stack building, you need to stick to that role. If you switch to healing the tank for even one heal, your Vital spark will become a flame for 15 seconds, meaning you will be unable to build your stack higher for 15 seconds. This is bad.]
- Vital flame: this flips from the Vital spark buff when you start healing the tank (who has Blaze of Glory buff). [Note that if you are tank healing and you flip to healing a crystal tank for a second, this is fine, you don't lose your Vital Flame buff. Note also that this buff lasts 15 seconds and is refreshed after 15 seconds if you are healing the tank - but it does mean that every 15 seconds you will have one heal that's not empowered. This is one of the reasons it's good to have two healers on the tank, especially late in the fight.]
- Torment: this stacks on the person closest to the crystal. [This is the person you need to be healing as the crystal tank healer. The damage ramps up significantly as they tank the crystal, so ramp up your healing and try to keep them topped up early, as you don't want to be falling behind as they head towards 10 stacks.]
- Tormented: this is applied once the Torment buff drops off. [If someone gets this debuff and then tries tanking the crystal for more than a couple of ticks, they will die. It's not disastrous if a dps who's not in the crystal rotation gets this. It IS disastrous if a healer gets this, so healers need to make sure they watch for the beam that marks the spawn position and GTFO.]
I set all of these up on my raid frames so that I could see what was going on (see below). You could also add Blaze of Glory if you wanted to track that as well, but as we were one-tanking, I just assumed it was stacking away merrily.
Things to watch for as a healer:
When tank healing:
- watch for the announcement of which blades are used. Especially early, as an early Decimation blade will require big heals to keep the tank topped up.
- it is possible to cross heal a little when tank healing, outside of his blades (I wouldn’t try doing that during Decimation blades however). So you can throw a Hot or a spare instant on the crystal tanks if they are getting low. (This won’t build your stacks, it’s just to save them from dying.)
- Lay on Hands works. During a bad Decimation blades our holy pally landed a lovely 725k heal.
When crystal healing:
- damage ramps up savagely on each person, and strategies for this will vary from healer to healer. It’s helpful to know the rotation well, and have the debuffs displayed clearly. I used the lead in time while the stack was small to load up hots (lifebloom and rejuv) then spammed Nourish and then Healing touch. Either when I was falling behind, OR when it was around 12 stacks (whichever came first) I would swiftmend. I found the swiftmend cooldown aligned well with the crystal stack getting high.
- As mentioned above, it’s not advisable to cross heal to the tank if you’re supposed to be building your stack, as you’ll lose your spark for 15 seconds. It IS okay to cross heal to the tank if you’re the ‘last’ crystal healer, as you aren’t purposefully building your stack (although it will be very high late in the fight). Note that you don’t get a big heal on the tank until your second heal, as it takes one heal to flip your buff from spark to flame.
- Note carefully that you build a stack of vital spark for every three stacks of Torment the crystal tank has (rounded down). [So for example, if the crystal tank has 15 stacks of Torment, you gain 5 stacks of Vital spark when your heal lands.] This is why it’s great if your crystal tanks have abilities (like dispersion) that allow them to soak big stacks. You build your stack faster if their stack is high. It ALSO means that you shouldn’t stop healing if they aren’t taking damage. Spam away with your quickest heals when their stack is high, even if it means it’s a little inefficient for a bit.
- Calling well is critical, call swaps clearly (and if possible a little in advance, eg “Swapping after the next crystal”)
- Popping heroism early helps both the crystal healer build stacks faster, AND the two initial tank healers keep him up during Decimation blade, when they won’t have any stacks yet.
- Positioning is important. Keep fairly tight, but on your toes. Watch when the crystal is spawning so you’re ready to move.
I think that’s everything. There are lots of buffs and debuffs to watch, but the fight isn’t as complicated as it looks on paper, or as complicated as early guides led us to believe. We ended up single tanking it as our dps was a bit low, and when double-tanking we were hitting the enrage timer at between 5 and 2%. (As I mentioned above, this wasn’t our main raid team, so we did pretty darn well getting that close.) We switched to single tanking it to gain one more DPS, and that did the trick for us.
For the stat-hungry, on our first kill:
- Our first crystal healer (our holy pally) got to 63 stacks of Vital Spark before switching to the tank.
- Our second crystal healer (our resto shaman) got to 67 stacks of Vital Spark before switching to the tank.
- Our final crystal healer (our resto druid) got to 60 stacks of Vital Spark. (On previous attempts I’d got as high as 100, but I guess I was doing a lot of ad hoc healing this time. In any case, it doesn’t matter what the final crystal healer’s stack is, as they won’t be tank healing)
- Our tank finished with a Blaze of Glory stack of 26.
- Our tank ate five Decimating strikes in total. He dodged one and parried three.
- Our total DPS was about 136k
- Our total HPS was about 57k
- Our kill took 5min 6sec
Mini disclaimer: we didn’t invent this strat, it was on Tankspot or somewhere that a few of us stumbled upon… but it worked for our set up, so this writeup just describes how we implemented it.
Edit/Update: we’ve recently been two healing/one tanking this fight. My notes on that are here.
Annnd a video of us killing him, from melee dps PoV. This is a pretty clear indication of our two heal swaps being called, and the crystal rotation in action.
And a video from my PoV, from a different night. Showing what I do. Just raw footage, I really need to add a voiceover or annotations, but for what it’s worth, you can see my healy ui in action: