Friday, July 16, 2010

A Bear's guide to ICC: Valithria Dreamwalker

Valithria Dreamwalker is the first "boss" of ICC's Frostwing Halls. I use the word boss in quotes, because she's not a boss in the typical sense...that is, one you try to defeat. Encounter might be the better word here.

When you start the VD encoun--hang on. Lemme try that again.

When you start the Valithria encounter, she's in the center of the room being held down by magical energies. Her health is at 50%. The idea is to heal her back up to full. All 6 million hit points.

As you can guess from that description, you (the tank) are not exactly the star of this show. But that's okay. There's still plenty for you to do.

While your healers are desperately trying to heal Valithria, there's wave after wave of mobs trying to stop you. This is where the tanks and DPS come in.

You'll notice that on either side of the room are gates. Once you start the encounter, these gates will open and that's where the mobs will enter the fight. On 10man, you only have to worry about the two gates nearest the room entrance.

When entering the room, you can see 3 dark gray strips leading to the center. Ideally the two tanks should be split just outside the two edges of these strips, on the crushed-bone floor. The rest of the raid should be between them.

During the fight, as the adds come out of the gates, it's going to be tempting to rush up and meet them. Don't do this. During much of the fight, you're going to have a single healer doing most of the raid healing. If you spread out too far, you're going to make their job nightmarish. Make smart and liberal use of FFF and Growl to draw the mobs to you. If you absolutely must go run out to get one, immediately drag it back to your original tanking location.

There are 5 types of mobs you'll encounter during this...erm...encounter.

Risen Archmages (Liches)
There's 4 of these present before the encounter starts, surrounding Valithria. They drop fairly easy, but there's a couple things to watch out for.

First, they will Frostbolt the entire raid, doing damage and slowing movement speed. This can and should be interrupted as much as possible. Not as important with the first four, but as you see these guys coming out of the gates, keep them from casting that as much as possible. If you have a Bash available, use it. Feral Charge can also be used when the situation allows.

Next thing to watch out for is Column of Frost. It starts out as a swirling whitish spot under someone's feet and then erupts into a huge column, dealing damage and knocking anyone standing in it high enough that they'll also take fall damage. If you see this appear beneath your feet, move. If you get caught in it, use Feral Charge in the air to avoid the fall damage.

Finally, they summon Mana Voids, which look like pools of shadow magic on the ground. Bears obviously don't have to worry much about these, but make sure mana uses are avoiding them.

Blazing Skeletons (Skeletal Mages)
These are the most crucial enemies to kill in this encounter. They have a pretty unremarkable Fireball spell, but the big thing to worry about is Lay Waste. This is an uninterruptable, channeled fire AoE. It does pretty heavy damage. Your raid needs to kill these guys as quickly as possible when they appear.

Gluttonous Abominations (Aboms)
The Aboms on their own are not a significant threat in this encounter. They have a frontal cone ability called Gut Spray that sounds bad, but really isn't unless you end up tanking two or three of these at once. Just make sure to keep them pointed away from the rest of your raid.

The bigger threat from the Aboms comes after they die. About 3 seconds later, they'll spawn a pack of about 5 or 6 Rot Worms. The worms hit surprisingly hard (on non tanks) and additionally will stack a DoT debuff on whomever they're attacking. It's important that these be controlled and killed quickly. You do not want them running around your raid. When an Abom dies, stand right next to it and start Swipeing like crazy to pick them all up and control them. Have your aid AoE them down.

Blistering Zombies (Zombies)
These zombies are of the big, top-heavy, green, blistery kind, with the purple tentacles coming out of either shoulder (as opposed to the ghoul kind like DK pets).

Ideally these adds will not be tanked. Instead they will be kited. Hunters are good for this, as are Shamans (Frost Shock) and Mages (Chill effects). If none of these options are available to you and you need to hold aggro on one, do your best to kite it as well. Why? They hit pretty hard, for starters. On top of that, they have a Corrosion debuff that can be brutal.

When these guys die, they explode, so it's worth keeping your distance as much as possible.

Suppressors (Geists)
Suppressors, like the Zombies, are not tanked. These guys come out in packs of 3 or 4 from both gates at the same time. They head straight for Valithria and start casting Suppression. You should really only assign one raid member to getting these down. Cats and Rogues are somewhat ideal, but any class with strong AoE can manage.

Suppressors are the main reason it's important to keep the Archmages interrupted as much as possible. If the person killing the Suppressors is slowed, it can drag out the length of the encounter significantly.

(If you are a Cat and you get put on the Suppressors, remember that shapeshifting will clear the slow effect. You should have this macro to quickly accomplish this: /cast !Cat Form. This basically performs a shift out and back into cat form instantly.)

The kill priority for the adds should be Blazing Skeletons -> Worms (from the Aboms) -> Blistering Zombies -> Risen Archmages -> Suppressors -> Gluttonous Abominations.

There's also a whole Portal/Emerald Dream/Healing Buff mechanic happening in this fight, but as a Feral you'll probably never see it. It's mostly for the healers. I don't feel comfortable enough describing the whole thing, because I'm not personally familiar with it. There are better places to go learn about that.

Once Valithria is fully healed, she'll break her bonds, kill all the reaming mobs, and present you with a loot chest.

Sadly, there's not a lot of great Bear loot to be had from this encounter. 10-man can drop Oxheart and Skinned Whelp Shoulders, but those are more for Plate DPS and Energy users, respectively. On 25-man you can hope for either the Noose of Malachite (which is actually pretty good) and Devium's Eternally Cold Ring.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog.


  1. One of the reasons for kiting zombies is the acid burst. In 10 man it can take about half the health of a squishier raid member and just adds to the burden of the healers if it explodes in the middle of the raid.

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