Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

First, a brief preamble. It’s been brought to my attention that there aren’t many heroic tens guides out there – or many guides assume that you are a twenty-fives guild (with a twenty-fives roster to draw from) for these heroics. There are, of course, many strategies and what you choose to do will be based on the classes you have available to you. I’ve never written an actual boss-strategy guide, so bear with me here. This strategy may not be the one that your guild uses, in which case, feel free to offer your suggestions below. Keep in mind, though, that I run a troll-free operation. If you aren’t respectful and constructive in your remarks, they’ll never see the light of day.

If these prove useful to folks I might consider writing more; your feedback is welcome as to format and key information! Guides are so much more work than any other blog posts; this post alone has taken me many hours to write and research. Thanks to BT members that read and reviewed the strat for me; I wanted to make sure it contained key information for all roles.

Overview

So, your guild has cleared all of the normal mode content in this tier! Or maybe you haven’t, but you’re working on Nefarian and you’ve killed Cho’gall and you think, hey, maybe we could do some of the easier heroics. Well, Halfus has a reputation for being “the easiest,” and once you get a handle on it, it’s definitely doable by most ambitious raid groups. It is intense, and requires coordination from everyone to understand what’s going on. Heroic Halfus varies from the normal mode encounter in that you don’t have specific “active” drakes week to week. They are all able to be active. Everything does more damage (duh, I know). After six minutes, Halfus will use Berserk and the fight is effectively over, this is the enrage. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the normal mode Halfus encounter and all of the abilities.

The key to this encounter is the debuff Dragon’s Vengeance. After you kill one of the dragons, Halfus will take 100% more damage. This ability stacks up to five times. The fight will start out incredibly hectic and become much more manageable as each dragon dies. Less damage will be going out, and Halfus himself will take more. At the end, when Halfus has a full stack of this debuff it is generally easy to bring him down.

Abilities/Effects

These are Halfus’ key abilities. Where applicable, variations applied by releasing a drake are noted in blue.

Frenzied Assault – Increases the caster’s attack speed by 120%. Nether Scion: Nether fog blinds Halfus, reducing his chance to hit, attack speed, and damage done by 25%.

Malevolent Strikes – Halfus’ attacks wound the target, reducing the effectiveness of any healing on it by 8%. Stacks up to 12 times for a max reduction of 96% to healing. Slate Dragon: Once every 35 seconds or so, Halfus will occasionally become stunned for 12 sec.

Shadow Nova – [0.25sec Cast] Dark magic is unleashed, causing 47500 to 52500 Shadow damage and knocking back all enemies within 50000 yds. Storm Rider: Slows the cast speed of Shadow Nova by 500% (to 1.50 seconds) and makes it possible to interrupt.

When his health is below 50%, Halfus will be able to cast Furious Roar – [1.50sec Cast] Halfus roars periodically, inflicting 19000 to 21000 physical damage and knocking his enemies to the ground.

Activating the Time Warden allows the raid to dodge fireballs, and activating the whelps decreases the amount of damage done by the fireballs.

Special Notes

You’ll want someone in the raid providing Shadow and Fire resistance. Sub-50%, someone has to be able to break out of a stun in order to interrupt a Shadow Nova, as Halfus will cast Furious Roar. He roars one, two, three times and then immediately begins to cast Shadow Nova. A mage can do this if positioned far enough away from Halfus that a Blink will land you facing him. (You can practice this on normal, too). I count his roars aloud, and on the third roar (immediately after I’ve been stunned) blink and then counterspell. Our raid has two mages doing this so we’re double protected. A human can also do it using Every Man For Himself, but regardless of how your raid handles it, someone has to or you’ll be eating Novas in that phase.

Raid Composition

Two tanks (three tanks)
Three healers (four healers)
Five DPS

It is worth noting that our initial H Halfus kills were accomplished with a slightly different layout than this; we used one Atonement/smite specced priest in place of a DPS, bringing the number of healers to an effective 3.5 or so. This additional healing allowed us to survive longer and we were still within the enrage timer, but better gear has allowed us to do it with only three healers. Another factor to consider is what type of tanks you have. A paladin is able to cleanse stacks of Malevolent Strikes off him/herself. Our paladin healer can do the same for our warrior tank, but not for both a warrior and a bear. This ability is huge in this situation. I’m sure it’s possible to use another composition (I’ve heard of both three tanks and four healer compositions, although naturally you can’t have both three tanks and four healers). This is the strategy that worked for us, it is by no means the only option.

See below for legend.

Positioning

Your tanks should be close together to facilitate AoE damage to drakes and whelps and for ease of taunting. The rest of the raid should be loosely spread out on the right side of the room. Not so far as to be out of range of healers, but for much of the fight you can’t dodge fireballs and so should arrange yourselves accordingly. If you stand on a buddy, you will get fire dropped on his head.

I made the diagram above to illustrate this. Here’s the legend:

Skull: Storm Rider

Cross: Nether Scion

Star: Whelps

Square: Time Warden

Orange Circle: Halfus

The DPS on the far right is someone releasing Nether Scion and then joining the group. The melee DPS by star is someone releasing the whelps; he/she will then move in to begin DPSing skull.

Strategy

Your goal here is to kill one of these dragons so fast they don’t even know what happened to them. Ideally, you want to kill the second two in rapid succession/simultaneously. The longer the drakes are active, the greater the chance that something will go wrong with the tank swaps and your raid will be taking heavy AoE damage as well so you need to burn them down. We use the following drake order:

1. Storm Rider – the off-tank releases Storm Rider at the beginning of the fight, and it is the priority kill target. All DPS focuses on him.

2. Nether Scion – Someone has to release Nether Scion at the same time; I usually do this and then blink towards the group (but not INTO it). Our hunter misdirects to the OT; but in the absence of a hunter we have also used healer aggro to draw the dragon across the room and have the OT quickly taunt it.

3. Whelps – Released simultaneously with Storm Rider and Nether Scion. A special note about whelps; their ability isn’t particularly noteworthy however it is worth your time to kill them, and many classes are capable of doing so while simultaneously killing their primary target. Hunters and rogues have excellent AoE for this purpose, and fire mages are absolutely ridiculous. If you can get a good Combustion rolling on Storm Rider and then use Impact to spread it to the whelps, you will be laughing. Heavy AoE can bring the whelps down almost exactly when Storm Rider goes down, and so you already have two stacks of the debuff on Halfus!

4. Time Warden – Released only after two drakes are down.

5. Slate DragonIgnore, do not release, although on our very first kill of this our OT ran over and released him and the subsequent stun on Halfus allowed us to get the kill. Use at your own risk, but 5 stacks of the debuffs are not necessary to complete this encounter.

I’ll get into specifics for each role after this, but basically the fight goes like this: Chosen drakes/whelps are released. The tanks will do some swapping. Storm Rider dies. Nether Scion and the Whelps die (likely together). After two drakes are down, Time Warden can be released. Once Time Warden is down, DPS Halfus. Below 50%, he begins to roar – but so long as you make sure to interrupt his shadow novas (and even if you miss one, perhaps) you win!

This is what "winning" looks like. I PROMISE.

Tanks
One tank will be tanking lots of things (many whelps, handle it). This tank handles Storm Rider, Nether Scion, and the whelps at the same time to start the fight. The challenge here is maintaining aggro on all of the targets and using your CDs simultaneously so that you don’t keel over. Any debuff you can put on the whelps and dragons to reduce their damage done will also be a boon (Demoralizing Shout, Thunderclap, etc.) All of the adds and Halfus should be tanked in the same area to allow for easy taunting.

The other tank initially handles Halfus. Note if you are a warrior tank (and usually charge to begin the fight) do not charge towards Halfus. Pull him and make him come to you at first. The reason for this is because the Halfus tank will be gaining stacks of Malevolent Strikes quickly. If you acquire these before Halfus receives the debuffs from the released drakes/whelps, a dead tank could result! With MS stacking, this tank can’t take Halfus for too long before becoming unhealable. If your main tank is a paladin, then they can let their MS strikes accumulate to ten and then cleanse them by quickly using bubble and then canceling it. Here’s a macro to help you handle that, straight from Rhidach. You have to hit it twice.

/cancelaura Divine Shield
/cast Divine Shield

The tank will begin to gain fresh stacks of MS. At five stacks, the OT will taunt Halfus off of the main-tank and the MT will taunt the two dragon targets (It can be too messy to pick up whelps, but for a short time the OT can handle Halfus and the whelps).

At this point, another exchange is performed when the MT’s five stack drops off naturally (after thirty seconds). If you have access to any other spec of paladin, they can use Blessing of Protection (quickly followed by Blessing of Freedom) to ‘cleanse’ a stack of debuffs from a non-paladin tank, thereby easing the difficulty of one of these exchanges. The “quickly” part here is important; every paladin healer knows what happens when you just BoP the tank!  Learning how to handle the tank swapping is a major obstacle in the fight.

The other factor here is Shadow Nova. Our raid is geared enough now that we can afford to leave one melee DPS on Halfus throughout the entire fight (and this is what we do). Their sole responsibility (in addition to damaging Halfus) is to interrupt Shadow Novas. In the absence of the raid DPS necessary to accomplish this, tanks can now more easily interrupt Shadow Nova, but beware of Shadow Novas going off during a tank swap. It’s extremely helpful if ranged DPS in particular focus Halfus and be prepared to back-up Shadow Nova interrupts during the first few minutes of the fight. The damage from these is punishing, and can wipe your raid if even one goes off (considering the other AoE and heavy tank damage going out).

DPS
Your task in this encounter is actually fairly straightforward: kill the first and second dragons and whelps before they can kill your tank. Initial aggro here is going to be shaky – we’ve had some clumsy wipes from pulling aggro on Halfus himself before we really figured out the encounter. DPS on Halfus hardly matters, especially initially. Don’t even attack Halfus right away. Give your tanks time to position all of the drakes. Your first target is going to be Stormrider. Depending on your class, you may also be responsible for releasing one of the drakes (I always release Nether Scion and blink, as noted. Our rogue usually releases the whelps and then uses Tricks to direct them towards the OT). If you’re a hunter, misdirecting Nether Scion to the OT is incredibly helpful. Once the tank has aggro on Storm Rider, we use Heroism/Bloodlust.

Classes with the ability to do incidental (cleave, DoT) AoE damage to whelps and other drakes are invaluable here. As a fire mage, it is no DPS loss to use Impact to spread your DoTs to the whelps – in fact, it will help you to do ridiculous DPS (upwards of 50K). The reason for this is also because of the way the damage debuff stacks on Halfus, you can attack Halfus and chain your DoTs to other dragons to do 100 (200, 300%) more damage as the fight goes on. I’m not going to speak to every class’s abilities, here – I know our rogue does very high AoE in this encounter, as does our hunter. One thing to note though is if you are using a method that allows for direct damage on Halfus and splash damage on the dragons, be careful. His health drops very quickly; and if you mistakenly push him below 50% while your group is still handling drakes and whelps, you will very likely wipe. I usually swap around targets after the first drake is down to make sure to not push Halfus too far while still gaining some benefit from his debuff.

Other than that, be aware of the kill order, watch your aggro and be prepared to use any threat drops you have available to you. Help with Shadow Nova interrupts if at all possible; I use the following macro:

/cast [modifier:Alt, target=focus, exists, nodead] [] Counterspell

This will interrupt your Focus target if you hold down Alt as you press whatever key it’s bound to. Replace “Counterspell” with your interrupt of choice.

Healers
This is not a kind fight to healers, especially initially. Everything is happening simultaneously here. You have two tanks, both taking heavy damage. They are also trading a debuff that makes them unhealable. On top of that, you have an incredible amount of raid damage happening in the form of fireballs hitting the raid. They can’t be dodged until Time Warden is released. Make sure healers are assigned to specific roles, and plan to use any cooldowns you have to keep the tanks and raid alive in this crucial first phase. You’ll want:

  1. Healer – Halfus Tank
  2. Healer – Drake Tank
  3. Healer – Raid Healer
  4. Optional: Fourth

Another option is to just assign one healer to a specific tank. I conferred with one of our guild healers for this section of the guide, and he wanted me to mention that a four-healer strategy is highly recommended and will help with the significant raid damage going out until Time Warden is released. You will, of course, need to have the DPS to compensate for the loss of one healer, and if you have the option of something like an Atonement priest, by all means use it. They do DPS and healing. Also, as a healer, use any mana regen abilities early on. You will get a brief reprieve (before Halfus hits 50%, and after drakes have been dying) and you won’t need much mana until phase two at that point. Paladin healers should save their personal bubble for phase 2; much like a mage’s Blink it can be used to escape Furious Roar and begin healing immediately.

Our paladin, Sinpree, describes H Halfus as a pretty basic fight from a healing perspective. The biggest thing is maximizing mana regen at the beginning and making sure you put out the HPS to keep everyone alive, and then leaving yourself enough mana to finish the fight.

Conclusion

Heroic Halfus can seem like a very complicated fight with so many things happening. You will probably wipe most while your tanks and healers sort out the initial damage and taunting mechanics. Above everything, keep your cool and remember that if you can survive the first portion you are well on your way to defeating the fight. Apart from interrupting Shadow Nova in P2, it’s all downhill after the first few drakes have died! Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to ask them in comments. Here’s to more dead internet dragons!

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Comments on: "Business Time Raid Guide: Heroic Halfus (10)" (23)

  1. Sunrise said:

    What I like about your strat as opposed to our three tank, four drakes strat is that it spreads out the available healing, which I never thought about before (if this makes sense).

    With our strat, 90% of the outgoing heals were focused strictly on three targets, at least two of which had a MS debuff at any given time, sometimes three if the taunt rotation was messed up. Our tanks are constantly at the brink of death while the raid is chilling out. Spreading out the healing need to non-MSd targets and reducing the damage on tanks through not releasing Warden seems like the key to a less risky strategy.

    • Vosskah said:

      The strat works very well for us but it relies heavily on strong dps to get it done. If the first drake takes too long to go down, the raid damage will drain the healers’ mana. Also, we have the advantage of running very light on melee. In a more melee heavy group, the melee will need to make sure to spread enough not to double fireball each other.

  2. Gameldar said:

    Great guide Vid – I’m no where near heroics – but the tips in this will actually help for normal mode too.

    The reason for using Hand of Freedom on the tank after BoPing them is to clear the BoP? I’m guessing that they could also use Hand of Sacrifice to transfer the damage as well – I’m not sure how advisable that’d be though?

    Oh a minor note – they are both hands now – Hand of Freedom and Hand of Protection (still gets called BoPing because of the old name) – I noted the wowhead article still has and links to Blessing of Protection in one spot too!

    Last question – how often does Furious Roar happen – I’ve never actually seen that documented? It’s longer than the Blink cooldown I take it (15 seconds… geez that is OP :) ), but if you have no mage (which we often go without) we’d have to set up some interrupt rotation based on humans/trinkets I’m guessing?

    • Vosskah said:

      Yes, the Hand of Freedom is to clear the BoP. This was added because of me. I was too slow to find the buff and click it off and it caused Halfus to pwn our dps a few times before we added this.

      Furious Roar is every 30 seconds I believe. Anyway, yes, plenty of time for blink.

      • The Blessing of Freedom from a healer is a great idea that I never thought of – I’ll have to use it when I have to save a non-Paladin-tank’s ass.

        I usually have them put a:

        /cancelaura Hand of Protection

        on their bars and announce over vent when HoPs are incoming and they can just press it.

        I think this way might save a GCD for the healer (if a healer is throwing out the Hands) for those butt-clench moments.

        Good trick, stacking the Hands, though!

      • Gameldar said:

        Thanks Voss – I guess if they wanted to make things interesting for you they could always follow up with a hand of salvation :)

        Oh and I agree saif it is a clever trick – I was hunting through the wowhead listing of Halfus’ abilities to try and work out why they’d be using hand of freedom – what movement speed debuff was there… eventually I thought maybe there was something I’ve missed from Hand of Freedom and noticed the ‘can only have one hand at a time’ reference… makes me wonder how often I’ve wiped out my BoP from players in PvP by a subsequent HoFreedom – I’d forgotten that limitation.

  3. Sinpree said:

    Great guide Vid, it turned out really well. I especially like the picture of you getting eaten up by the whelps. This has happened a few times when we were progressing on the fight.

    @gameldar, the reason for using BoP is to clear the stacks completely. I just use Hand of Freedom to remove the BoP off the tank quickly and just let the tank continue to focus on control all the adds/boss. By clearing the stack it basically allows us to avoid having to do as many tank swaps early on in the fight and keeps stacks low during the heaviest tank damage portion of the encounter.

    Hand of Sacrifice is fine to use but not always the best early on in the fight simply because you can’t control the fire damage you take. Could easily kill yourself using it in the beginning and you want to save your bubble for phase 2 of the fight.

  4. Vosskah said:

    I love that you’ve captured your “EEEEPPP” face so well in your illustration. I can definitely hear the EEP as all the whelps suddenly leave me and head straight for your pretty head.

    It’s usually followed by a hurried “INVISING”.

    Very good write up!

  5. Great Guide!

    We use essentially the same strategy with only minor/inconsequential differences in assignments (our hunter releases Nether for example)

    Some additional tips that I/we found useful:

    For tanks, especially those with an overly enthusiastic BoP happy holy paladin, I can’t recommend enough having a power aura set up to show when you have been BoP’d. I have a giant pink circle that appears around me. I also have a simple /cancelaura ?Hand of Protection? macro that I am ready to hit whenever the giant pink bubble appears.

    For our first ~10 kills or so we had me (Bear tank) on storm/nether and our Warrior tank on Halfus/Whelps and it worked just fine. Recently, for some reason I don’t remember, we ended up switching up for me with Halfus and Nether and him on Storm/Whelps and discovered the startling difference between my actual avoidance level and his (Warrior/Paladin’s tend to focus on Mastery/Block) It takes significantly longer for me to accumulate stacks of the debuff than our warrior does most of the time. An agility pre-pot, my dodge trinket, a second pot 1min into the fight (usually right after I get my stacks bubbled off) all help my avoidance and delay the need to swap tanks.

    We gained a bunch of DPS during our initial attempts when we realized that most of our DPS were trying to dodge the undodgeable fireballs prior to releasing Time. Just tell everyone to make sure they are spread out and there is no reason for anyone to move prior to releasing time. Only once time is out do fireballs become dodgeable.

    You already mentioned it but the tanks are now capable of handling the interrupts on Halfus, they both just need to pay special attention during tank swaps.

    My last comment isn’t on your excellent guide but just on the fight itself. The fight is a crazy and ultra intense period of insanity for the first 90 seconds or so and then is relatively easy and straightforward. I would imagine that it can be a frustrating thing for a lot of guilds just trying to get into hard modes to start with a fight like this where there likely isn’t going to be a lot of really obvious “progression” on your group’s attempts as you work through the encounter. I would guess that once you can kill that first dragon cleanly (~30? seconds into the fight) that you are closer to getting a kill than it will likely seem to anyone that hasn’t killed him on heroic before.
    <3

    • Gameldar said:

      Yeah, the difference in pure avoidance stats is significant just looking at my two tanks – although they are only at a starting raiding level – my druid is at about 38% dodge post diminishing returns, my (mastery stacking) paladin is around 18%.

      The other thing that I’d be interested in hearing about for halfus is making the druid the whelp tank. With the changes to Savage Defense the damage intake will be less than it used to be but having the druid use berserk on them they would drop quickly (combined with the damage bonus from enrage and the buffs to thrash and swipe damage). Now whether that ends up being a net reduction in damage taken is what remains to be seen.

      • Vosskah said:

        Hmm, I don’t think that having the bear on the whelps would make them go down that much faster while the avoidance on Halfus makes this fight incredibly easier.

        Honestly, the best two tanks for Halfus are a pally (self bubble) or a bear.

        The warrior is fantastic on whelps and drakes though. Every 17 seconds, I stun them for 4 seconds using shockwave. Also, using vigilance allows me to taunt almost at will which is very useful when mages are a tad overeager.

      • I would agree with everything Vosskah said. The potential extra damage from the bear on the whelps is something you are already getting for the most part (everything should be tanked more or less on top of each other. just make sure the tanks are at least a few yards apart so you aren’t doubling the fireball damage)

        The warrior stun from shockwave added to the fact that they will just *always* take less damage from a large group of small adds thanks to their block/mastery mechanic makes them awesome for this sort of thing.

        The massively overpowered vigilance/taunt thing is enough to make any bear quite jealous on a frequent basis during any encounter with lots of adds and over zealous dps’ers.

      • Gameldar said:

        Ahh yeah – I’d forgotten the positioning would basically make that a non-issue anyway – we never had them tanked that close together on my attempts – so I didn’t have that visual.

        Pallies can also handle the whelps with the holy wrath glyph – although they’ll be drooling over vigilance taunt refresh but having 2 taunts still puts them ahead of the bear… oh how I miss vigilance!

      • Whelps aren’t stunnable.

  6. So I’m not going to lie…I scrolled down through the post until I got to the picture =D But then I scrolled back up and read the whole strat! It doesnt sound that difficult and I may just talk my guild into trying halfus on heroic next week lol.

  7. PUT A WHELP ON HER HEAD is the best random chat outburts I’ve ever had.

    Ever.

  8. Great timing on this guide as we are planning to try him heroic for the first time tonight. So if we don’t one shot him it is your fault ;D

    • Haha, best of luck! I didn’t put that in my disclaimer. “Any failure to see results from following this guide is not the fault of the author and the author assumes no responsibility for your success. Consult your raid leader before beginning any raiding program.”

  9. Thanks! The strat we came up with to get him down the two times we’ve done it successfully is pretty much identical to yours except that we used three tanks: two strictly for Halfus and one for the drakes (so that the tank with a full stack of MS is never actually tanking anything except maybe some whelps, and there are always two interrupts on every Nova; we don’t have a short-CD DPS interrupt available).

    We’ve been trying to figure out how to do it with two tanks, but everything keeps going wrong. Novas keep going off, tanks keep dying. I like to think we have good healers, but I’m trying to imagine the healing required on a tank with 8 stacks of MS holding 2 drakes and a pile of whelps (as would result from your strat), and it makes me want to cry. But we’ll likely be trying it tonight.

  10. I have nothing to add on the subject of how to do Heroic Halfus in 10s. I merely wish to say that those Emerald Whelps are so delightfully rendered, so very adorable — especially the one on Millya’s head — that it makes me sad that they have to be dispatched.

  11. Months ago, I would notice pretty much every guild on Moonrunner except the top two wiping frequently on Halfus farm. I gave you the tip that three tanks trivializes it Millya, but yeah I understand that not every guild has access to 3 tanks.

    Three tanking makes it such a sleepwalk that we’ve literally 8-manned the fight. Open four, no more Fireball gibs, ever again. Even one week where we had to 2-tank it we still opened four and that worked better than leaving Time closed. The third tank can be wearing greens, they just have to be there. You can kill drakes as slow as you like, your tanks simply aren’t in danger with the post-nerf drake damage (drakes used to hit for 60k, they now hit for 22) and the MS staying at low stacks.

    One tank takes Nether and Halfus, third tank takes Storm, I take whelps/Time. Bubble at 6, swap at four. 4 stacks is a 32% mortal strike, it’s almost not even noticeable sometimes. Usually we won’t swap drakes at all because with only 4-5 stacks you can still tank a drake or two or three without much stress. The week we had no third tank the only real change we made was that I took Storm too. Our kill order is Storm Nether Time, with just a mage and prot warrior and incidental cleaves on whelps.

    It’s certainly doable with 2 tanks and Time is one of the two popular drakes to leave down on an opening-three strat, but having a healer get rushdowned by 3 Fireballs in 4 seconds, when they weren’t even in splash range of anyone, is some really annoying roulette. I try to avoid RNG.

  12. […] is the second post in a series of heroic tens encounter guides. The first one covered Heroic Halfus. It’s called a Business Time raid guide because that’s my guild. I don’t take […]

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