Monday, July 14, 2008

New trick: Focused Chain Shield

I ran Heroic Shattered Halls this weekend. We had a good group of guys, but we may have been slightly undergeared for it. Two of us needed it for our Trial of the Naaru: Mercy quests—which we didn't get because we wiped far too many times and missed all of the timers.

But it was still a good run. I learned quite a bit on those dozen wipes. I can appreciate a few wipes when learning an instance, and actually prefer it to a one-shot run. When I run it later with a few of my guildmates I am going to know what not to do.

And I figured out a new trick.

The Shattered Halls run had a Mage who was good and was keeping an eye on his threat, but with the number of mobs he was bound to get aggro eventually and often. Especially since we had a Druid tank, instead of a Paladin.

I've been running with a Shaman main healer lately. He's a great healer, but due to the specifics of Shaman healing (lack of HOTs and instant-cast heals) damage and healing tend to be spikier than with other healing classes. When we run with DPS that don't watch their threat, Mages especially, even the fastest reaction from the Shaman might not keep them up.

After we had to rez the Mage a half-dozen times or so, I got to thinking about what I could do to help. I was getting used to throwing out more bubbles lately, as the Shaman healer is overpowered and overgeared for much of what we have been running and tends to pull aggro off of most tanks. I could watch Pitbull for the Mage's threat to go red (meaning he got aggro), but bubbling him meant stopping what I was casting, targeting him, and throwing out a bubble. The Shaman could take a few hits, but the Mage was exceptionally squishy and kept getting one- or two-shotted.

Then I remembered that really neat Shackle macro that we use.

Sure enough, this did it:
/cast [target=focus] Power Word: Shield

Better yet, the way I have my UI done up, the focus target goes above my own health bar, and is big and prominent. When it flashes red, I can't help but notice it no matter where else I am looking at the screen. I bound the macro to a single key and kept an eye out.

It made a noticeable difference, especially on the last boss fight. The Blade Dance that Kargath does wasn't one-shotting the Mage, but if the Mage already had aggro from one of the adds, he was guaranteed to go down. In that fight I had to step things up even further—instead of being reactive about the bubble I essentially chain-cast it throughout the entire fight. I watched for the Weakened Soul debuff to time out, then as soon as the shield went down I threw up another one, whether or not the Mage currently had aggro. After that, the Mage never went below 50% health.

Yeah, I went out of mana with 5% left on Kargath and ended up wanding my way through the end, but we all stayed vertical.

So now I have a new tool in my toolbelt. I just have to remember to use it.

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