I had a friend who played sports with me in college who, when things ramped up in difficulty and my muscles started to burn, would always say “… well, it wasn’t meant to tickle.” Although this always resulted in a swiftly-thrown punch, I had to agree in the appropriateness of the sentiment–challenges aren’t challenges when they’re easy or simplistic. Back then, muscle burn indicated that I was being challenged to either step up my game, or go home. And believe you me, friends, our excursion into the Plagueworks this week got my muscles burning. And that is a very good thing.
The bosses that make up the Plagueworks–Festergut, Rotface, and Professor Putricide–are a great follow-up to the first wing of ICC, in which players have been amusing and challenging themselves for the past month. Combined with some very serious trash, these bosses build on mechanics we’ve seen before, but add a slightly new twist on things. The greatest thing about them, however, is that their difficulty isn’t correlated to excessive raid damage or heavy-hitting effects (though I’m sure we’ll see plenty of that in the hard modes). Rather their difficulty is tied to raid coordination and execution.
To help you on your way in the coming weeks, as you try to conquer the Plague wing, I’ve assembled some (hopefully) helpful strategy tips and healing information. For more detailed discussion of boss abilities and mechanics, I’ve no better place to point you than to StratFu, which consistently has some of the best full-blown boss write-ups I’ve read. Also, as just a side note, shaman should pretty consistently keep a nature resist totem down in this wing of ICC, as a number of the effects are nature damage.
When Ulduar first was released, the trash to Mimiron probably deserved a mini-boss title, because the likelihood of a wipe or death of the majority of your players was almost a certainty. While trash in the hallways of the Plagueworks isn’t excessive, you definitely get the same feeling you did on the road to the Ulduar tram. Of particular note are “the Puppies of Doom”–Precious and Stinky. (Contrary to PTR testing, you do not need to pull one puppy before the other. They no longer “call” to the other when engaged.)
After several tries at this hallway mini-boss, we found the easiest way to assured success was to use the doorway’s LOS mechanics. While Stinky’s frequent Plague Stench can be healed through under normal conditions, the tick or two after the decimate can spell death. So, during the decimate, we had our dps duck around the corner to avoid being taken down by the following pulse. After they were healed up, they returned to dps-ing as normal. A healer stayed out during the decimate to keep the tanks up and was healed themselves by a player standing around the corner of the doorway, who was consistently LOS-ing the pulse. Shaman are great for this role, because CH will bounce to targets which aren’t in your LOS. Stinky also places a Mortal Wound effect on his current target, so tank-swapping will be a must.
Thankfully, for this other homage to Gluth, things get a tad bit easier as you don’t have to deal with a consistent AOE pulse. Like Stinky, Precious places a Mortal Wound on her current target, reducing the effectiveness of healing received. Instead of the pulse, Precious summons plagued zombies, which I don’t believe have an aggro table (though they will all turn and attack anything in range if they are nova’d in place.) You can deal with the adds several ways, though we found it easiest to simply AOE them along with the puppy. They don’t heal Precious like the Gluth zombies do, but if they are still wandering around when decimate hits, they can kill some of your raid members.
The Gist: This is essentially a rinse-and-repeat fight, with healing ramping up from moderate to dangerous as Festergut gains stacks of Inhale Blight (which will increase his attack speed and damage by 30/60/90%). At upper levels of this debuff, the tanks will be getting hit for massive damage, but the raid, conversely, will be getting hit for less. The cycles in the fight are determined by Festergut’s inhalation and expulsion of Gaseous Blight (the bright orange gas which might make you think your monitor’s color-balancing is broken). Every so often, Festergut will apply spores to 3 select people in the raid, which when they explode, will provide you with increased shadow resistance, crucial to your partially resisting the damage of Gaseous Blight. In addition, he places Gastric Bloat on the tanks, which will require a tank-swap every 8-9 stacks.
Healing Tidbits: This fight has it all–increasing tank damage, consistent AOE damage, and targeted spike damage. So, be prepared to heal your arse off. Make sure that you have the following debuffs displaying in your raid frames–Gas Spore and Vile Gas. The former will tell you who to run to for the inoculation, and the latter will tell you who needs extra spot healing. The best thing you can do for this fight, as a resto shaman or pally, is to convince your raid leader that you should be allowed to stand in melee range, since you will likely have more than enough ranged to serve as targets for Vile Gas. (In 10man this will likely not be the case–having everyone stand in melee range will ensure a quick demise.) CH through tank was my approach here, as it will help aid tank healing and provide a solution to the consistent damage when the Blight fills the room. And be sure to keep RT available for targets affected by Vile Gas–they’ll definitely benefit from the initial burst heal and the hot.
The Gist: There aren’t really any phases to this fight, just a consistent rotation of effects to deal with. Your two tanks will likely be split, one handling ooze kiting while the other tanks Rotface for the duration. For ooze kiting we went with a feral druid, though a prot paladin might work equally as well–it is essential that this tank be able to generate threat at a distance, as the oozes operate on a global threat table (as I so wonderfully discovered through my mad tps!) In addition to the ooze kiting, you will be dealing with a Slime Spray and Ooze Explosions. So there will some moderate movement required. Every so often, a player will become affected by Mutated Infection–resist the urge to cleanse them immediately! They will need to run to the outside edge of the room, to drop the ooze in between the Big Ooze that the offtank is kiting, and the offtank himself. This placement of oozes along a kite path will ensure that your raid does not suffer from little oozes running amuck.
Healing Tidbits: For the most part, be prepared to spend your time dodging slime sprays while tossing out intermittent healing on tanks and raid members. Rotface, unlike Festergut, doesn’t hit like a truck–execution is key in this fight. Be prepared to use NS or an RT/LHW combo on the ooze tank, however, because if a Big Ooze catches up to him, he will take fairly high amounts of damage. In all, resto shaman will use all of their healing tools in this fight–CH-ing through slime spray, healing the tanks, and tossing out spot healing as needed–though your raid’s ability to drop slimes correctly and stay alive will ultimately translate to a kill.
The Gist: The wing-boss in Plagueworks, Prof is a 3-part fight, switching into the next phases at 80% and 30% hp. In phases 1 and 2, a lucky raid member will pilot an abom, and help your raid deal with the two types of oozes that you will encounter–Volatile Ooze (green) and Gas Cloud (orange). To deal with the former, your raid will be clumping on the opposite side of the room prior to spawn and then attempting to dps the ooze down before it reaches the targeted player. To deal with the latter, the targeted raid member will need to kite the ooze while the rest of the raid takes it down. During phase 2, Prof will also be throwing out Choking Gas Bombs (orange vials, thrown in pairs), which you will need to avoid at all costs, and Malleable Goo, which you will also need to avoid at all costs. (Sense a theme here?) Phase 3 is absent the oozes, goo and bombs, and will entail your tank kiting Prof around the room while avoiding the expanding slime puddles which will eventually blanket everything (and thus wipe your raid).
Healing Tidbits: Even when coordinated properly, this fight requires a good amount of movement on everyone’s parts. Healers will have their hands full dodging slime puddles, gas bombs, thrown goo, and dealing with tank and raid damage. Thus, the key to successfully healing this fight is environmental awareness and developing an understanding when different types of damage will occur. Be prepared to toss out significant raid healing if a Volatile Ooze catches its target (the raid should collapse on the target if it is estimated that this will happen–the damage the ooze explosion deals is shared among nearby players.) The Gas Cloud will damage its selected target, though the initial hit will be the hardest and subsequent damage ticks will diminish over time. In phase 1 and 2, Prof will be hitting your tanks at a moderate level, but in phase 3 they will be getting pummeled. Don’t lose an attempt by underestimating the damage that Prof will do right off the bat. And raid damage will always occur on clumps of players who are targeted for Slime Puddles and Malleable Goo.
So, in sum, the Plagueworks seems intended to challenge your raid’s execution, test your ability as a healer to handle multiple types of damage, and set you up for more encounters to come. And although I’m starting to feel the slight burn of more challenges to come, I’m glad that this second wing of ICC wasn’t meant to tickle.