Hard Mode Hodir Thoughts with Healing Tips!   5 comments

After a few weeks of throwing ourselves at this overgrown, frozen giant, and a few resets with extremely close kills, we finally pulled out a Hodir kill in less than 3 minutes and got to see what was in that frozen cache. (Staff of Endless Winter and a Fragment of Val’ynar, for anyone that is interested).  As a guild we really, really struggled with this encounter.  Super bursty, balls out DPS has never been our forte, and a lot of our top DPSers tend to be in our melee ranks.  This fight played to our biggest weaknesses.  However, we still managed to get the job done, so I thought I’d share my thoughts and a few tips on how we got there!

Hodir has a health pool of 32,477,907.  You have exactly 180 seconds in which to deplete that health pool.  This requires 180,433 damage per second from your raid; with 21 DPS (which is what we used) this requires an average of 8,592 damage per second from each raid member.

Raid Composition
1 Tank – We used a DK, but any tanking class with strong threat will suffice.
3 Healers – We used a Holy Priest, Holy Paladin and Resto Druid.
21 DPS – This fight heavily favors magic based damage due to the nature of the buffs from the NPCs.  The more magic DPS you can stack your raid with, the easier time you will have netting a kill.  We brought 4 mages, 3 warlocks, 1 moonchicken, 1 shadow priest and 1 elemental shaman for our kill.  Magescan do ridiculous amounts of damage on this fight (I believe we had two over 15k dps and two over 11k dps).  We run a melee heavy guild, so we also had 1 ret paladin (one of our healers OS), 1 enhancement shaman, 2 rogues, 1 fury warrior (one of our tanks OS), 3 feral druids (one of our healers OS) and one blood DK.  We also had 2 hunters in the raid.

Tanking

  • We positioned our tank just to the right of the frozen chest (the side farthest from the entry).  He never moved from that position.
    • We tried a number of different tanking tactics and positions, but ultimately found that this one worked the best for us.  We found this positioning over at Tank Spot in Cinderhelm’s Hodir guide.  He also has a very good video on the encounter up from a tanks point of view, that I would recommend any tank watch.
  • We had our tank in the 3 crafted pieces of plate frost resist gear.  While I have read this isn’t necessary, it significantly decreases the healing needed on the tank during frozen blows.  As we used only 3 healers, anything that the tank could mitigate was tremendous.
  • You will only see 3 frozen blows for the duration of the fight.  Your tank should have a cooldown available for use for every frozen blows.  In the alternative you can use a non-tank cooldown, such as pain suppression, guardian spirit or hand of sacrifice/bubble, for the third frozen blows.
  • Taunt is your best friend.  Your ranged DPS will  pull threat.  The issue will not be if they pull threat, but when they pull threat and  how you handle it.  You need to have your taunt ready to go the second you loose threat, with a back up taunt available if the first was insufficient. 
    • Please note that you do not  want to taunt spam, as your target will be afflicted with diminishing returns, and will become immune to your taunt, which will be very, very bad.  You want to save your taunt and use it only after someone has pulled threat from you.  This not only keeps the target on yourself, but skyrockets your threat.
    • Omen is very useful for this fight.  Omen will be a very good indicator of when someone is about to pass you in threat, and pull agro.  Knowing this, you can be sure that taunt is ready for afteragro has been lost.  Remember that ranged DPS will not pass you in threat until they surpass 130% of your threat.
  • The tank will still need to dodge the falling ice that occurs throughout the fight.  To do this, the tank simply steps further into Hodir’s body to avoid getting hit, and then steps back out one the ice has fallen.

Healing

  • We used 3 healers for this fight.  We originally started with 4, but found we were still falling short meeting the DPS threshold.  We put one direct target healer on the tank (we used a paladin), one strong AE healer on the raid (we used a holy priest) and one AE healer that could help with the tank and the raid (we used a resto druid).
  • The first rule to remember as a healer for this encounter is to pay less attention your mana than you otherwise might.  It is a three minute fight, you are not going to run out of mana.  There will be a lot of damage for you to heal, and heal very quickly.  You should use all cooldowns and tools available to you in those three minutes.
  • The tank damage on Hodir is very bursty, except during frozen blows.  This is because your tank should be using cooldowns for frozen blows.  Coincidentally, your raid damage is massive during frozen blows, and fairly light otherwise.
    • Your direct target healer should use big fat heals on the tank.  There will be very few times that dropping a bomb on the tank will not be completely warranted.
      • Your direct target healer is likely going to have to stay put to cast.  Having them near a toasty fire is extremely helpful, and they will not have to constantly adjust themselves to drop biting cold debuffs.
    • Having a druid help this healer with running full HoTs while they are able is very helpful to smooth out the bursty damage in between large direct heals.  However, all three healers should be helping out with the tank as much as possible throughout the duration of the fight.
      • Resto Druid Tip! – With the exception of Frozen Blows, I focused healing the tank, and tossing out random HoTs as needed to the raid for the random person that got nicked by falling ice.  I kept full HoTs running on him, and nourished inbetween refreshing my HoTs.  I freely used swiftmend to cover a big burst of incoming damage.
  • Frozen Blows – This is a very stressful juncture of the encounter every time that it is up, as it requires massive raid healing, and you have a very finite amount of people available to deal with the damage.
    • A holy priest is next to godly at this task.  Circle of Healing is wonderful and Prayar of Healing is unsurpassed at being able to top people off quickly and efficiently.
      • Priests should look for the starlight wells that grant haste and position themselves in one for frozen blows, to maximize how much healing they put out.
    • Resto druids are also quite good at this task; especially those with their 4 piece T8 set bonus.  While they cannot offer the massive healing that Prayer of Healing can, Rejuv and Wild Growth should not be discounted for it’s effectiveness in handling this damage.
      • Resto Druid Tip! – I also favored the starlight wells for this fight.  Being a mobile healer, the toasty fires were not as important to me as they were our paladin.  I would put myself in a haste well and hit everyone I could, as fast as I could.
      • Resto Druid Tip! – Using barkskin during frozen blows can help mitigate a fair bit of the damage that you are taking!  Don’t neglect this often forgotten tool!
    • While we didn’t use a resto shaman for this fight, I would imagine that chain heal would be an equally powerful way to deal with frozen blows.
  • Dispells – Because we only used 3 healers, it was extremely difficult at times for those healers to handle dispelling the freeze from players while still keeping the raid alive.  As such, we had our ret paladin in charge of dispelling the tank and our shadow priest handling mass dispels if they occured during frozen blows, when our Holy Priest could not afford the global cooldown or cast time to deal with it.
    • Your DPS should save their “outs” for when they are trapped in a freeze and need to move asap, either because of biting cold stacking up or an icicle about to drop on their head.  Mages can blink out of them, druids can shift out of them, some hunter specs have a mechanic to free themselves from them (I will look up what it is called and edit), and warlocks can portal out of them.
    • Resto Druid Tip! – I would look for anyone that was caught in a freeze and make sure they had at least a HoT or two on them, in case they got hit by an icicle before they were dispelled.  I also would keep an eye on groups that got hit with freeze and made sure that I had a WG ready for them should they get hit.  If I notice that anyone is taking a long time to be dispelled, I make sure they see some HoT love, as their biting cold will be doing increasing damage to them.

DPS

  • I am sure that if you have done any amount of research on this encounter, you will have heard that this fight is 100% about managing your buffs.  I am now going to reiterate that.  Your success on this fight will in fact rely on how well your DPS manage your buffs.
  • As stated this fight will strongly favor magic based DPS.  The reasoning for this is because they will gain the full benefit of all three buffs that the NPCs provide: The singe debuff on Hodir from magic dps near the toasty fire will inflict 3000 fire damage and increase damage taken from magical spells up to 2% (this will stack 30 times); the startlight buff from the moonkin increases haste, and the storm power buff increases critical strike damage by 135%.  As such, you want to make sure that your magic dps takes as much advantage of all three of these abilities as possible.
  • Positioning – The melee stay with the tank at all times.  We found that having our ranged DPS clump up together so that they were always together when the storm power buff was spread was helpful and effective.  We kept one person marked throughout the encounter for everyone to group up with after every icicle and flash freezes.
  • Because we run melee heavy, and have very strong performers in our melee DPS, we let our melee keep their storm power buffs.
    • While we know that casters gain more benefit from the storm cloud, the attempts we made where the melee passed the storm power buffs to the casters we repeatedly came up short.  After some thought, because half of our raid was melee based, it made sense for us to let the melee keep their storm power buffs.  This will not be the case for everyone.  However, this worked well for us.
  • Spread Storm Power Smartly- When one person is afflicted with a storm cloud, they gain the ability to grant storm power to 6 other members.  Clearly you want to make sure that this goes to your DPS and not your healers. 
    • It takes a few seconds for the storm cloud to disperse to other members.  We learned the hard way that “running” around trying to spread the storm clouds actually took longer to spread them about than just staying put.  What we ended up telling people was that if you got a storm cloud, park your ass in a starlight well, and DPS.  Everyone else will come park next to you and the storm power will spread itself.
    • Healers want to try to stay away from the “raid” so that they do not accidentally end up with a storm power buff.
    • If a healer gets a storm cloud buff, they do not move.  Their primary goal is to focus on keeping everyone alive.  They should announce they have the buff, and let the DPS move to them and take it from them.
  • Ranged should not ignore the starfall wells.  The amount of damage that can be produced by getting into the starfalls is far outweighed by the time it takes you to move into one.
  • Keep your singed stacks on Hodir!  This provides for a tremendous amount of damage.
    • Singe can be stacked by any magic damage applied to Hodir while under the effect of a toasty fire.  We found that Survival Hunters and Marksmen Hunters worked perfectly to get this buff stacked quickly and keep it up.  As such, our hunters primary goal was to find a toasty fire and stack singe.
  • Let your ranged DPS know that it is OK and expected that they will pull threat from their tank.  You want your ranged DPS to go let loose and take out all of the stopers.  The only time they need to be even remotely concerned with their threat is in the first 15-20 seconds of the fight.  Your ranged dps will  pull agro if they are doing their job right, your tank will keep Hodir under control if  s/he is doing their job right.
    • Because your ranged DPS will be running such high threat, it is important that whenever possible, they take a flash freeze snowdrift as far away from the tank as they can, so that they do not end up in melee range with the potential to be insta smushed by Hodir.
    • Unfortunately, the melee have to be more concerned with threat than the ranged do.  The ranged have the luxury to have hodir taunted back off of them as they pull threat, the melee will just get clocked by Hodir and meet their untimely demise if they pull threat.
  • Don’t play in a vacuum!  Your DPS needs to make sure that they are away of falling icicles, and their biting cold debuffs. 
    • Under no circumstances should they have more than 2 stacks of biting cold afflicting them.  It is very, very easy for your caster DPS to get on a roll and forget to continue moving.  A common error is to have 3+ stacks start hitting them unnoticedby them.  You must stress the importance of not taking any unnecessary damage to the raid.
      • Healers Tip!  It is very easy to see who is effected with multiple biting cold stacks by how their life drops, gets topped off, and then drops immediately again.  It is often helpful to have a healer call out someone they see taking extra damage and tell them to move.
  • Don’t get hit by Flash Freeze!  This is imperative, as one or more people getting hit by a flash freeze will likely lead to a wipe.
  • Life Tap Smartly! – This is extremely important, make sure that your warlocks get their mana in order in between frozen blows and not during frozen blows.  Often a warlock life tapping during frozen blows will be a dead warlock.  I recommended to our warlocks that they life tap as they are moving into their snow drifts for flash freeze, and I made sure that they had a HoTor two on them to cover the damage as we were moving.
  • Free those NPCs!!!!!  No matter how counter-intuitive it may seem when you really want to be doing damage to Hodir, freeing the NPCs is equally as important as DPSing Hodir!

Dealing with the NPCs

  • On the initial pull, we free the mages and the shamans.  That is a total of  4 of the NPCs.  We have the ranged split to free the mages and the melee split and free the shaman.  This should take no longer than 10 seconds.  The mages will then take care of freeing the other NPCs in short order by casting “melt” on them.
  • After each flash freeze we free only the mages.  There is a lot of debate and differences in how many of the NPCs to free, and there is no right, or wrong, way.  We tried a number of different techniques, and ultimately decided that just freeing the mages worked best for us.
    • Don’t worry!  All of your NPCs will be freed but the mages do all of the work for you!  By using their “melt” ability, they will free the remaining NPCs, while your raid continues to focus on Hodir.
  • We have only 7-8 ranged DPS free the two NPC mages.  It should take them roughly 10 seconds to get the two mages free and then move back to Hodir.
    • We keep our mages on Hodir full time.  Their ability to push out massive amounts of damage warrants keeping them on the boss.
    • We also keep our melee on the boss full time.  The amount of DPS that is lost by having them run around just isn’t worth it.
  • “Place” your NPCs.  Your NPCs are affected in the same ways that you are by Hodir’s attacks.  As such, you can maneuver your positioning in such away that you can bounce an NPC forward if you need to by standing behind it and letting icicles fall at its back, effectively pushing it forward.

Consumables

  • Because of the nature of the encounter, you will want everyone to make sure that everyone has buffed their damage as much as they possibly could.  Consumables are not optional.
  • We had everyone flask.
  • In addition to flasks we provided potions to help up DPS.
    • Our casters generally made use of potions of wild magic.  We had them use them when they were under the effect of both a storm power and starfall.
    • Our melee generally made use of potions of speed, however some of them preferred to use insane strength potions.
  • Well fed!  We provided a fish feast for the raid’s use every pull, however some classes may benefit from other foods such as food that increases critical strike rating.
  • Any form of holiday food that may be around while you are making attempts that can stack with your general well fed buff (i.e. summer festival food).  Every extra little bit helps!

 

I hope this is helpful, and best of luck to everyone as they continue to progress through Ulduar!

Fragment Update: 27!

5 responses to “Hard Mode Hodir Thoughts with Healing Tips!

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  1. Excellent guide. :) I read every little bit of it, and hope I can try this encounter soon. It sounds fun and awesome.

  2. Thanks Bell!

    I am just very relieved that we are past it and can work on something else now :)

    Good Luck when you start working on it!!!

  3. What was the value of starlight for you as a resto druid? I’m typically haste capped for my hots and nearly there for nourish. The only real advantage I can see would be on regrowth.

  4. @Kin – I am slightly below the soft cap for haste on my druid, with 299 haste. I do not hit the GCD on Nourish, even with Nature’s Grace active I am still at a 1.1 second cast time, I believe. Recall that I stated with 3 healers I was on the tank quite frequently, keeping full hots on the tank, and nourishing in between as I could. For me on this fight every little bit of speed helped where I could get it, no matter how small the boost may have been =)

    As I side note, I am uncertain if the starlight wells affected my GCD or not. It sure felt at the time as if it did (of course that could have also just been my adreneline rush as well). As I was spamming my raid with rejuv/WG I do believe I was able to pass out more rejuvs during my WG cooldown than usual, but I’m not positive, and I’ve not really had the time to study it during combat, but the next time we do it non-hard mode, I will try to remember to focus on it a little more. The buff is not picked up by combat log parses so I am unable to analyze it out of combat. I do recall our elemental shaman complaining about constantly hitting the GCD with their lightning bolts, so it may have just seemed to me that I was able to throw more HoTs out, when in actuality I was not.

    All that being said, of the two buffs available to me, this one had the most benefit for me, even if it is slightly less useful for a Resto druid than say, a holy priest. =)

  5. Thanks for this guide! Excellent advice!

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