It all started with a seemingly innocuous whisper one evening … “You know, Method had their Resto Shaman do constellations on Hard Mode Twin Consorts”. At the time I laughed the idea off, thinking it was just the playful banter of a DPS wanting to push a little bit higher on the meters. (Oh those silly DPS and their meters …) But, several weeks later on HM Twin Consorts progression, that playful remark became a reality as I found myself responsible for the task of running constellations while our team battled with Lu’lin and Suen. So, to help out others who might find themselves asked to perform this task, whether for first kills or subsequent ones, whether on hard mode or normal mode (since the concepts are the same), I put together this guide, which should help you understand the wondrous and exciting responsibility that you’ve assumed. ::snicker:: Congrats!
Keep in mind: This guide is written from a HM perspective. Some mechanics, like Lurkers of the Night and Nuclear Inferno, are not present in normal mode. So you can skip over any points related to them.
Why use a healer?
As with most encounters, the number of healers that you stack your roster with is based on the maximum incoming damage that you expect to face during a fight. And on HM Twins, that massive damage comes during the Day phase, when Suen gains stacks of Blazing Radiance (which increases her damage done) and casts Nuclear Inferno. But, during the rest of the encounter—specifically Night and Dusk—the damage that goes out on the raid is pretty mild and limited to infrequent bursts due to Cosmic Barrage and Lukers’ Darkness barrages. So, during these times, healers are usually tripping over each other for something to actually heal. Combined with the fact that the DPS check on HM was pretty tight, this means that healers were and are ideal candidates to launch themselves into the alternate phase to summon the aid of the Celestials. And healers with constant run-speed boosts—eg: Shamans’ Ghostwolf—are even more ideal since they can complete the run in record time. AND, healers with the ability to self-dispel the sleep clouds (ie: via Tremor Totem) that you have to dodge while running from statue to statue are even better. Sorry fellow Resto Shaman, but you’re perfect for the task!
Why you need the Celestials’ help
Each of the four Celestials, whose statues are placed around the outskirts of the room, offers your team a unique buff that will help in overcoming some of the brutal attacks delivered by the Twin Consorts. The aid of the Celestials can be called upon one time each during each the two segments of the encounter, so you have 4 usable buffs during day+night (when you’re fighting the bosses individually) and 4 usable buffs during dusk+night/day (the final phase will be based on which boss you kill first in dusk). Xuen’s and Chi-Ji’s buffs last for 20 seconds while Niuzao’s and Yulon’s buffs last for 30 seconds, and the buffs cannot be active concurrently. (Statues will be unclickable until the current Celestial buff expires—this is important to remember since it will impact your timing). Other than that, you can activate them in any order and at any time.
So here’s what each of the Celestials can offer you:
- Xuen (tiger) – slows time, making it possible to dodge both Cosmic Barrage and Tidal Force
- Yulon (cloud serpent) – health and mana regen, sufficient to act as a partial cooldown during Nuclear Inferno (will need to paired with something else)
- Niuzao (oxen) – increases maximum HP by 50%, another raid CD
- Chi-Ji (crane) – summons cranes to attack any hostile mobs (did ~15M per summon on Suen, for our kill)
Showing off your running skills
So, your raid team has decided on an order for the Celestials and you’re prepped and ready to run. But what can you expect once you’re phased in? Once you click on one of the Celestials’ statues and get placed into the Constellation phase, you have ~30 seconds in which to complete a constellation. In order to achieve “completion” you will need to run a path through the appropriate stars (orbs) that appear in the phased constellation zone. The layout of the stars will always be the same; the path you need to trace will vary based on the Celestial you’re summoning. You’ll need to know these paths beforehand, because there’s not much hand-holding once you get phased in.
Some quick facts about the run:
- After clicking the statue, you will be ported to the middle of the room. All constellation paths will be relative to your ported location (which will be on the northwest side for Xuen and Chi Ji and on the opposite side, southeast, for Niuzao and Yulon). The paths do not need to be rotated to account for these different starting positions.
- The path you need to trace will be dictated by the statue that you clicked. So, tracing a constellation for Xuen after clicking Yu-lon’s statue will not work.
- When you are ported in, a reminder of the proper path will appear above your character in a light blue outline. Because it appears briefly and traces the path quickly, I strongly recommend having constellation diagrams showing on another monitor or on a piece of paper in front of you. Here’s the “cheat sheet” that I used (which also shows off my awesome freehand drawing skills–just look at that lopsided circle, brilliant!):
- Phasing in does not remove any active debuffs (like corrupted healing), so be aware of your HP if you enter a constellation run with this still applied.
- As mentioned above, once you’re ported in, you have 30 seconds to complete the run. Most runs take about 12-17 seconds to complete (in ghostwolf form, which is +30%, with the Pandaren Step enchant), leaving a small window of time if you botch the pattern and need to restart.
- As you run through the stars, you’ll receive a “confirmation” that you successfully triggered the marker through the leveling sound (DING) and the marker flashing bright blue on your screen. You’ll also see your path illuminated in a line behind you. If you happen to make a mistake and trigger a star out of order or that is not included in the constellation path, the star will flash red (instead of blue) and you will need to start again. (Do check out the “Bugs” section below, because there are some issues with this).
- Upon completing the constellation, if you’re lucky enough to not get the phasing bug, you will be popped back into the same phase as your raid team after a couple of seconds. Use that window of time before you’re phased out to move someplace safe (NOT the middle of the room) so that you don’t zone out on top of other players.
- (Hard mode only) When you’re zoned out of the constellation phase, you will instantly be targeted by all nearby Lurker adds, so be prepared to use a CD to survive if you’re zoning out with less than a minute to go before Phase 2. It was not uncommon in our first attempts for me to die instantly upon leaving the constellation realm after getting hit with 4-8 concurrent barrages. (Remember: the later it is in the night phase, the more Lurkers will be spawned, so the more concurrent barrages you’ll take). What stopped me from dying at that point was using a damage reduction CD and getting additional ones from teammates (I use Astral Shift and get Safeguard and Life Cocoon as externals).
Lastly, here’s a fun fact that helped me orient myself in the room: each of the Celestials is located at a cardinal direction! The stairs in the room are not on a North-South axis; rather they’re rotated 45 degrees so that each of the statues is perfectly positioned at the following points:
- Chi-Ji: North
- Xuen: West
- Yulon: South
- Niuzao: East
“Bugs” to be aware of
Things don’t always go as planned when you’re running the constellation path, and occasionally you’ll encounter something that might be slightly disconcerting. Throughout our attempts and, ultimately, our kill, there were more than a couple situations that left me wondering “omg, did I screw something up?!” Thankfully, some of these just appear to be quirks of the encounter:
- When you’re ported in, if you move almost instantly, there’s a chance that you’ll become unphased for a brief moment, and the Lurker adds can and will target you for multiple barrages. I died several times upon entering the phase by simply getting nuked during that brief window of unphasing.
- Stars will occasionally flash a bright red instead of a bright blue. The bright red is intended to indicate that you done goofed the path. However, this can sometimes be triggered by passing through the same orb twice in quick succession (like running through it and then looping back). In that instance, don’t fret. Keep running the path as you would.
- Upon completion of the constellation, you will sometimes not hear the emote from the Celestial Protector you summoned. This does not mean that he was not summoned; if your raid leader doesn’t scream “Have you completed the [expletive] constellation yet?!” then you’re fine.
- If you’re unlucky enough to not hear the emote, then you’ll likely also not be phased out of the realm upon completion of the constellation. Simply wait for your debuff to expire and you’ll be automatically kicked out. Use this time to annoy your teammates by set off their BigWigs or DBM proximity meters while you’re stuck in the constellation phase.
(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to reliably reproduce any of these oddities, so I’ve no way of knowing if they were problems on my end, nuances of the fight that I simply didn’t understand, or actual bugs in the encounter, but I figured I’d include them just in case someone else experienced them as well).
Timing and order
Being a good constellation runner is all about one thing—timing. Because incoming damage and even boss mechanics can be mitigated through the proper use of the Celestials, timing the buffs granted by the Celestials is critical, and oftentimes doesn’t leave much room for error. Naturally, I can’t speak to your guild’s chosen timing, but I can leave you with a couple tips from my own experience:
- Use Yulon’s and Niuzao’s raid buffs wisely and remember that they constitute a full minute of cooldowns on the raid.
- Be positioned near your statue ahead of time—especially during the night phase, since it can take a while to run around the outskirts of the room (which you’ll have to do to avoid chaining Cosmic Barrage into anyone).
- Make your raid aware of the fact that it is possible to be targeted by Ice Comet while running to or standing at a statue location. It stinks, but it is definitely not an insta-wipe in either NM or HM.
- (Hard mode only) The most dangerous part of the fight as the constellation runner is the later part of the first Night phase. As I mentioned above, when you complete a constellation and zone out, you will be instantly targeted by nearby Lurkers and will oftentimes receive an immediate 4+ Barrages, which can kill you almost instantly. So, use a cooldown when you’re coming out of the constellation phase. Likewise, be sure to time the completion of the constellation that you’re using on the Night -> Day transition to occur just *after* the transition. If you pop out a couple seconds ahead of the transition, the Lurkers’ barrages at that point will kill you.
- (Hard mode only) Celestial timing during the day phase should be staggered around Nuclear Inferno. You will need to contribute to healing during each of the Inferno channels, so don’t think you can use that time to do a constellation run—the raid needs your HPS.
- (Hard mode only) Also, when it comes to timing in the day phase, you need to run straight to the next statue as soon as a Nuclear Inferno is finished casting. You do not want to be caught completing a constellation run right before or during an Inferno cast. You will die a very crispy death.
In regards to the order that we used for our HM kill:
- (Night) Xuen at the start (to line up with Suen’s Tears of the Sun—we discontinued this in later kills since it seemed to be causing issues with Suen’s casts)
- (Night) Nizao with 1:00 left until Day
- (Night) Yulon at the transition to Day (summon lined up with the exact phase transition)
- (Day) Chi-Ji after first Nuclear Inferno
- (Dusk) Xuen before the first Tidal Force
- (Dusk) Yulon before the second Tidal Force
- (Dusk) Nizao before first Cosmic Barrage
- (Night) Chi-Ji as soon as available
A last bit of advice
Twin Consorts is a great example of a fight where a seemingly inconsequential task can have a valuable impact on the outcome of the encounter. The constellations aren’t difficult to run, nor that time-consuming, but they will take up the majority of your time during the fight. (For reference’s sake: I did about half the HPS of our top healer on the kill). Keep yourself alive through any means necessary (especially on hard mode), pay attention to the timing that your guild has chosen, and be proactive with your positioning, and you’ll make the fight that much easier on your raid. Best of luck to you!