That Last 20%   13 comments

Last night after our 25 man raid, our 10 man group got back together for some more HM LK pulls. We had roughly 90 minutes of time before our Disc Priest had to go to work. This is the first time ever that we’ve gotten back to back pulls on this encounter without having at least a week in between pulls. Every week we’ve had progression, but last night we had something new: consistency. The morale of our raid, including mine, from Sunday night to last night got a huge (much needed) boost.

We took a total of 7 pulls, and 5 of those 7 made it into the final phase. This isn’t the first time we’ve made it into this phase, quite the contrary we’ve been here sporadically over the past 3 or 4 weeks, but this is the first time we’ve pushed into the phase consistently. We had 5 pulls in a row where we made it into that final phase. And of those 5 pulls, only one of them fell apart because someone (or three someone’s, to be exact!) died during harvest soul. Hell, we are making it through several Harvest Souls even!

So, what is killing us? Vile Spirits.

Our Raid Composition

Tanks: Feral Druid (LK); Prot Paladin (Shamblers)

Healers: Resto Druid (tanks); Disc Priest (Bubble Bot)

DPS: Mutilate Rogue, Fury Warrior, Enhancement Shaman, Marksman Hunter, Arcane Mage, Demonology Warlock

It’s not the best group composition, actually far from it, I am aware of that. However, it is the ten people that came out on their off night to learn the 10 man ICC encounters and put in the effort to get to where we are today. Changing the people in the group really isn’t an option for us. We know it’s not ideal – but we’ve made it this far, albeit not without some struggle. We have two other members that have also been part of this adventure regularly – another Marksmen Hunter and a Prot warrior, who we will be bringing in for a second kill.

We do not have a source of replenishment. However, we’ve done the entire zone HM – all well before the 30% buff – without a source of replenishment. We’ve learned to cope. We’ve made it into the final phase of this encounter numerous times without replenishment. It’s brutal, but we have done it, and I suspect that our kill will be done without replenishment as well. (PS Blizzard if you are reading this, not every 10 man raid group has replenishment – please stop tuning encounters as if they do. Furthermore, it’s crap to lose DPS because a hunter or mage needs to play a non-optimal DPS spec just to gain replenishment when Shadow Priests and Ret Paladins do not).

Our Enhancement shaman is our group’s third healer who has been doing very respectable DPS for this encounter in his off spec. Asking him to sit for a full time DPS is not an option. He’s made it this far with us, he’s going to be here for our kill. It’s non-negotiable. Not only that – but he brings his mana stream totem and bloodlust to the yard, and we aren’t giving that up.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is that while I am going to be looking for feedback for dealing with our vile spirit problem, “bring class x instead of class y” isn’t really a viable solution for me. Hell, I’m not optimal for the group! While I know that it would make it “easier” to have a different class composition, we’d like to do it with the people we have.

Managing My Mana Without Replenishment (Move down to the next section if you aren’t interested in a fairly lengthy discussion on mana management!).

I thought I might take a minute to discuss my mana management. Last night when I asked for advice on Twitter one of the first comments I got was “get replenishment”. So, I kinda wanted to discuss how I’ve been managing without it. And I do feel that I can honestly say that I’ve been managing. Part of the reason I want to take a minute to talk about it is because I very much doubt that we are the only raid team that frequently finds themselves in this predicament.

To be fair, I also think a large part of the reason that we’ve learned to manage the encounter without is because, well, our 10 man has really never had it. So we’ve largely completed the zone without a source of replenishment. Hitting the Lich King without it really wasn’t/isn’t that big of a deal because you can’t miss something you never had to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough. Really tough. But, I’m entering the final phase with ~50% of my mana, and my innervate with ~1 minute on cooldown. Our disc priest has indicated that since he’s largely doing the same thing in the fight as he always has, his mana consumption is largely the same. However, that is not the case for me!

I make a few changes for the encounter. My most notable change, however, is to my trinkets. I equip both my heroic and non-heroic versions of Solace of the Fallen. If I forget to do this for the first pull, I can really feel it. During the roleplay at the start of the encounter I make sure that both trinkets (and my idol) are at max stacks, so that I start with the full regen available from them. I also fully HoT my LK tank no later than the 2 second mark, and sit to drink back to full as the LK engages.

In addition to changing my trinkets I change my glyphs to nourish and rapid rejuv , and maintain my swiftmend glyph (I tested a few other options, but found these to work the best for me). I found that the more frequent ticks on rejuv really helps smooth out the tank healing and minimizes some of the nourish spamming that I have to do – which is vital. Nourish can get expensive to cast, and it’s much easier to maintain HoTs on the tanks and fill in with nourish when needed than to rely on nourish to do all of my heavy lifting. Additionally, I almost always keep swiftmend on cooldown. Especially towards the end of the first phase when the add tank has two shamblers and the LK tank is getting clocked. This part of the fight is the most stressful part of the encounter for me – and the most mana intensive.

Depending on the RNG of the plague, and how long both shamblers are up in phase 1 will determine if I utilize my innervate during this phase. If both shamblers are up for the entire duration, or both tanks get hit very hard right as invest hits, I use a ton of mana to get them back to full health. If I hit 60% mana before the LK hits 75% life, I will innervate myself. If not, I wait.

What am I waiting for? Brade’s innervate. I receive his first innervate as we transition from phase 1 into phase 2. (keep in mind Brade is the LK tank!). From this point on, the two of us keep our innervates on cooldown. If I didn’t use mine in phase 1, which is optimal for me, I will use it as soon as I hit 60% mana after I receive Brade’s. I can’t rely on receiving Brade’s innervate at exactly the 3 minute mark – because he’s got to time when it’s safe for him to shift to give it to me, but I get it as soon as he’s able.

The only time after we hit the valk phase of the encounter where both the priest and I are scraping for mana is about the time we hit phase 4 (or the second ledge phase). If I am really drained before then, I’ll use a mad alchemist’s potion. Otherwise I will live on my innervate cooldown and wait for our Disc Priest to utilize Hymn of Hope. He times it with when we blood lust and his mana fiend. He almost always goes into the final phase of the encounter close to full mana. I am usually above 50%.

Note that at some point in the encounter, I will always use a mad alchemist’s potion. When I use it varies from pull to pull, but I am always in need of the extra mana.

Because much of the healing required in the final phase of the encounter is actually lower than any of the other phases, I have not had mana issues (yet). But Beru…what do you mean there is less healing, more of the raid is taking damange? This is true, but a few things change. For starters, it’s the only phase where there is only one tank taking consistent damage (thank god), at least once the last raging spirit is dead. And our Disc Priest is able to offer more assistance to the tanks because he doesn’t have to worry about covering infest. And, while I am not the most optimal choice for a second healer in this encounter, I sure kick ass dealing with damage in the frostmourne room. A paladin doesn’t have jack on me down there. Just sayin’

So yes – mana is tight. Very tight. But in my experience so far, I think it’s doable. We’ve yet to wipe the encounter because the healers ran out of mana. Or the DPS for that matter, either.

Speaking of DPS…how are ours doing with mana? Well – we haven’t wiped because they ran out of mana, although I’m sure that they feel the drain just as much as I do. I know that our mage lives on his mana sapphires – and having a two minute evocate helps. I watch our warlock’s mana and when I’m able toss him HoTs to tap back to full, communicating to him when I do. And our hunter vipers at key points of the encounter. It’s not optimal, but everyone is entering the final phase with sufficient recourses to complete the encounter.

Once we actually get him down, I’ll do a full write up of how I healed the encounter as a resto druid.

The Vile Spirit Dilema

Ok, so now let’s talk about where we are struggling with the encounter.

So, we’ve gotten ourselves into the final phase of the fight, and we usually get there with > 5 minutes on the enrage timer and one raging spirit left up. We’ve largely figured out the frostmourne room. But, the vile spirits are our demise, or put another way the last piece to the puzzle. We can survive them sometimes, but sometimes we lose a person or two, which ultimately leads to a wipe. In doing some early research on this, the suggestion was that with the 30% buff people can just spread out and “kite” them taking one hit. Which works…sometimes. Other times we end up with one person being chased by 2 or 3 and running away from heals, with the ultimate result being their death.

The other problem with this strategy is that it’s prohibitive to our LK DPS. Seriously prohibitive. While we enter the final phase with enough time on the clock, after a round or three with the vile spirits we realize that we are now pushing, or behind the clock. We need to find a better way to deal with the spirits. One that lets us continue to maximize our LK DPS.

We are looking for something that will offer us more consistency. Consistency with survival and consistency with DPS.

Now, we’ve watched lots of videos trying to figure this out, and a lot of them have one thing in common: shadow priests. Well, remember above where I said that changing our raid composition really isn’t an option…yea. We don’t have a shadow priest. What we need is a way to tackle this issue without one.

Our DPS has been knocking down the spirits in the frostmourne room, but I think they are going to try to knock a few more down now that we’ve confirmed that those we don’t kill come to play with us upstairs. Is there something more that we should be doing in the frostmourne room outside of survival and knocking down the ones that we can?

With regards to the vile spirits in the Lich King’s realm, I think that we are going to try for a “tank soak” method.

Currently we are tanking the Lich King in the center of the room – the reasoning being that we wanted to spread from the ghosts. This is not working. We have decided to tank him like we do for “Neck Deep in Vile”, keeping him at the far side of the room, dropping a frost trap in the middle of the room, and then moving the raid after he summons the spirits. This will give us more time before they hit, as they will have to travel farther away to reach us. Ideally this would mean that we will have more DPS uptime on the LK.

Now, what our Prot Paladin has suggested for us to try is letting him “soak” the spirits. That is to say that he will stand in the middle of the room and entice them to come to him (the raid will have to line up with him some, I think as well). He will then eat spirit after spirit to the face, cycling through cooldowns for each wave of spirits – I believe he’s got it worked out somehow. Ideally this will give the raid more time to focus DPS on the LK and worry less about avoiding the spirits.

I believe that we will still have to be cognizant of where the spirits are, and will likely still have to dodge some of them. But if this works, it should negate a good portion of them. However, it introduces two new problems. 1) Brade will have to be healed through every soul reaper. Is this possible? I think it probably is, but it’s going to be a lot of healing and cooldown management. 2) Our Prot paladin will have periods in this phase where he will require focused heals for survival. I think this is probably manageable.

However, I’m curious if we should have any DPS trying to knock a few of them down as they are spawning. We have 3 ranged at our disposal, is it worth the loss of LK DPS to have them get some of them out of the sky? If we are trying for a “soak” method, is there any point to it? Is there a better way to deal with the spirits with our non-optimal raid composition?

We’ve gotten in down to ~27% a few times. Once we can iron out the kinks with dealing with the vile spirits, I think we are going to have our kill. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? How to manage the spirits. It’s the last piece of our puzzle.

Does anyone have any suggestions? How are you handling the spirits on hard mode?

13 responses to “That Last 20%

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  1. Kill what you can in frostmourne, and have a tank soaker up top. I’m pretty sure our spirit tank died while soaking on our kill attempt, but it bought us enough time to finish Arthas off 😀 Also, I would kill for druid hots inside frostmourne…that room always gives me a heart attack when I’m paired up with a pally, even a super-awesome pally.

  2. We’ve been using a resto druid (me) and a disc priest. Without replenishment mana can get tight but I think half our kills have been without it. What I do is use my clearcasting proc to cast lifebloom on one of the tanks. It seems to proc enough that coupled with my own innervate I rarely drop below 25% mana.

    We use soakers for the vile spirits. Right before the last transition phase we’ll head to the north edge. Once P3 starts the tank makes sure LK is right at the northern edge. After exiting Frostmourn the LK starts to cast the vile spirits. As soon as the cast is complete, we move the LK to the far opposite side (south, to the base of the throne). We usually have a fury warrior with us, so for the first vile spirit wave he equips his shield, shield walls, and pops all the spirits as they head for the group. The next vile spirit wave is handled by the other tank (we have a warrior do this, the paladin is on LK full time) by using a cooldown. So it’s pretty much just moving the LK from one edge to the other with someone popping the spirits as they get close to the group.

    One key thing is to make sure the whole group is clumped up right on the LK except for the soaker. The vile spirits need to be headed for the same spot in order for the soaker to get them all. Also need to make sure that the LK is as far away from the original vile spirit spawn point as possible. If he’s too close to where he cast the spirits at they won’t descend enough for the soaker to get them and they’ll hit the whole group.

    Ways that we’ve popped the spirits is a shadow priest using dispersion, a mage using iceblock, and having the other tank using cooldowns or using pain suppression.

    • I do let lifeblooms bloom with some frequency during phase 1 when mana is extremely tight and I know the burst on the tank will be of benefit (i.e. infest) – but I’ve not made a point to time them with my clearcasting! I will have to give that a go. Thanks! 🙂

      I definitely think that we need to change up how we are handling everything up top after reading the advice I’m getting here! Thanks so much!

  3. If you want to consistently keep players alive during the Vile Spirit attack, then your best bet is going to be to use a soaker. Spriests are the standard for two reasons, the first is the obvious large damage reduction, but the second is that they’re mobile while in dispersion (which is vital to making sure every last spirit is popped before they reach the raid). In the absence of an spriest, you definitely can use your second tank and his own CD’s (plus those of your disc) to mitigate the damage. Our feral tank uses his CD’s almost exclusively for all Soul Reapers, so it shouldn’t be an issue to have yours solo tank LK. While not ideal, you could also have your hunter Deterrence soak, or your warrior use Shield Wall with a sword&board swap. (We’ve also used a holy pally soak, dps druid, and dps dk.)

    Like Aven mentioned, the key to effective soaking is positioning, by the raid, by the soaker, and by the LK tank. The first step is to make sure that LK casts the spirits at the furthest possible point from the raid (this is why you see vids of the LK tanks running him from one side of the platform to the other). The second step is the collapse, where all raid members collapse behind the LK tank so that the spirits (who have spawned on the other side of the room), effectively funnel down and towards the raid. The soaker, the last part of the equation, then needs to stand just in front of the raid and the tank (~ 5 yards) and intercept the spirits before they hit the raid. Using a trap or a snare is ill-advised since it will generally result in the spirits coming in at different times, and your goal is to have them hit all at once. (And in no cases should your players be dpsing them … it’s a waste of precious dps time.)

    If done correctly, the soaker should take a brief slam of damage which will be completely mitigated by the CD. If done incorrectly, and the spirits wind up chasing players who have not collapsed behind the tank, they’ll weave around or above the soaker, your soaker’s CD will wear out and he and/or the raid will .

    But … (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) … while this makes spirits relatively easy, what it makes difficult are the times when the soak aligns with a Defile, in which case your raid needs to have a set direction for the Defiled person to move *every time* (we always go left). So once LK designates a defile target, the defile person moves, and the *entire raid plus the soaker*, move to the right.

    Hope this helps out some. If you have any specific questions, do feel free to hit me up via email. And best of luck to you and your team!

    • … and/or the raid will *SPLAT … (apparently using brackets to simulate the oomph of the splat is not allowed. )

    • I am definitely looking for consistency 🙂 One of the things that has been extremely frustrating for me is the seeming lack of it for a lot of our attempts.

      I will talk with Brade about working out his cooldowns for soul reaper, and talk with our priest about healing through them.

      We are definitely going to be changing position and strategy to mirror the tips that both you and Aven have offered! And we will work out soakers, I think we have enough potential candidates that we should be able to get through it. Also the increase to DPS with this will be extremely nice! I’m sure we will defile ourselves and blow ourselves up a time or two before we get it down, but all of this information looks very promising!

      Thank you! (And if we get stuck, I will be sure to shoot out an email!).

  4. Hey Beru!

    For soaking the vile spirits you are going to need 2 alternating soakers (always 2 soak phases before you get sucked into the sword) that can use some damage-reducing ability every 1m20s (1m30s maybe but its pushing it).

    For your comp you don’t have many options. Here is a possible soaking order:

    1. Pally-> Divine Protection or Shield (2m Forbearance)
    2. Bear-> Barkskin + 4p T10 (Enrage)
    3. Warrior-> Shield Wall
    4. Bear-> Barkskin + 4p T10 (Enrage)
    5. Pally-> Divine Shield (2m Forbearance)
    6. Bear-> Barkskin + 4p T10 (Enrage)
    7. Rogue-> Pain Suppression + Cloak of Shadows/Feint
    8. Bear-> Barkskin + 4p T10 (Enrage)
    Enrage will probably kill you if you hit this point

    For the bear soaking times you can have your OT taunt LK if the damage is still high. In the above order the pally could taunt the LK as you guys are running him to the other side.

    Offtopic -> the LK fight is really the only fight your party should be specing for in all of ICC (I’m guessing everything else has probably been on farm for a while). If mana is remotely an issue, you guys have 3 dps that have specs that provide replenishment. It will lower individual dps by a little but if it means more output from the rest of the group it will be worth it.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks for the input! I will admit that I was skeptical with using just one soaker as well. But I think our paladin has really put in some effort organizing his cooldowns, so we may try it with just him soaking and if it doesn’t work alternating soakers as you suggested.

  5. How funny: Imperative’s bane has been Vile Spirits. Even back on normal mode, we couldn’t figure out what to do with them. On the 10man heroic, once again, it was the f***ing Vile Spirits. We tried absolutely everything, but at the end of the day, we just couldn’t figure it out. We ended up saying “f*** it, just kill them” and it worked.

    The one concerning thing is the amount of time you have left on the enrage: 5 minutes is very little time. Our first kill came with 7 minutes left on the enrage when we were going down to the first Frostmourne room.

    Just to make sure you’re hitting the benchmarks:
    – You absolutely cannot get a 3rd Shambling Horror.
    – You really *shouldn’t* kill the 5th Valk’yr.
    – You absolutely cannot get a 6th Valk’yr.

    We found it extremely helpful to pop Heroism at the start of phase 2. It will shave seconds off of phase 1, but phase 2 is really where the damage counts. Being able to cut out an entire Valk’yr wave saves a lot of time. Killing the raging spirit faster gets you more time on Lich King. You’ll still get a second heroism at the very end of the fight.

    Tank soaking is probably your best bet if you have several melee. If you’re a raid consisting of entirely ranged, however, you might want to consider actually killing them. Leave one person to sit on the boss and use everyone else to knock out the Vile Spirits.

    • Thanks for the pointers 🙂

      It’s interesting that you bring up BL timing, as it’s something we’ve been discussing as well. We had been saving for if a healer got picked up in a valk, and then using it in P4 if not. However, we’ve gotten comfortable enough that I don’t think we need to save it for a healer anymore.

      Some want to give it a whirl at the start of the fight and then again when it comes back up in the final phase. I’m worried that using it at that start isn’t needed, as we are already transitioning with only two shamblers and I’m worried that we will transition into the final phase with 2 raging spirits still alive without lust in that phase. Thoughts? Would you still stick with using it in the transition into the valk phase?

      I’m honestly not 100% certain how many valks we have been getting without referencing our parses, but it’s definitely good to know that benchmark!

      • You’re approaching Bloodlust wrong:
        – You get TWO Bloodlusts in the fight. It’s a 15 minute fight. You need to use one within the first 4 minutes, and a second in phase three.

        Usually, you do have 2 raging spirits alive going into phase 3. Ideally, you try to get as many DoT’s on raging spirit #3, and then just kill #4 afterwards.

      • We played around quite a bit with when to BL up to this point. Ultimately, while we were still trying to get everything together in Phase 3, we hit it when a healer got picked up in a valk, because we were losing the raid at that point. But, Naz and I have gotten a better feel for it now and we don’t panic quite as much when that happens.

        I definitely think we are going to be certain to work in two. And all I can say is: My mana will be grateful! 🙂

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