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.
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.
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.
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.
Two tanks (three tanks)
Three healers (four healers)
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.
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
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.
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 Dragon – Ignore, 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!
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).
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.
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:
- Healer – Halfus Tank
- Healer – Drake Tank
- Healer – Raid Healer
- 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.
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!