Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Bear's guide to the Firelands: Beth'tilac

Beth'tilac is what happens when you try to kill a spider with fire and it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Instead of no spider, you now have a giant fire spider. Toasty.

Beth'tilac's encounter is a two phase fight requiring two tanks for each phase. In the first phase the tanks are performing very distinct duties. In the second, there's taunt swapping.

Phase 1: Beth'tilac Tank
When you pull Beth, she immediately retreats up to the web above her lair. A moment later she will start raining down fire on the whole raid. This is unavoidable and she will continue to do this at any point during Phase 1 where she is not aggroed on a player on top of the web.

After a few moments, a pair of Spinnerweb Spinner adds (medium-sized yellow spiders) will drop down from the web, hanging off web strands a little bit off the ground, and start shooting fireballs at random raid members on a pretty short interval. There are two ways to get these spiders on the ground. First, ranged can kill them. This takes some time, though, and you need to get on top of the web fast to stop Beth's fire rain. The other way to get them down is to use any taunt or taunt-like ability. For us Bears, this means Growl.

Communicate with your other tank prior to the pull on who is going to get which Spinner. (i.e. "I'll taunt the one that's on the right.") Their positioning is somewhat random, so things like "right" can be arbitrary, but it usually works out. You want those first two on the ground as quickly as possible so that the tank and a healer can get up to Beth and get her attention.

When the Spinners are brought down--regardless of the method used--the web strand they were attached to is left on the ground for a short period of time. This is what you use to get up onto the web with Beth. Mousing over it gives you the typical green-arrow vehicle cursor.

The first strand should always be used by the Beth tank. The second should be used by a healer.

It's generally a good idea to use Barkskin as you're being carried up to the web. It may be a few seconds before your healer can join you and you'll want to mitigate some of the damage you take before they get there.

As soon as you're on top of the web, target Beth and get her attention. Your initial pull will have generated no threat, but the healer coming up after you will have some from throwing heals. You obviously want to make sure Beth doesn't start hitting them. Growl and F3 for sure. Once you have her attention, try to tank her near the large hole in the center of her web. Just be careful not to fall through it.

Tanking Beth isn't that tough. You don't have much to do. Optimize your rotation for damage. The more you do while up there, the easier Phase 2 will be on your raid later. Depending on your raid's composition and ability, you may have a DPS helping out. This is ideal, but not always possible. Add control on the floor is important. It's also harder on the Beth healer when more people are up on the web.

Beth hits fairly hard and will also be casting a fiery AoE blast pretty regularly. Paladin and Shaman healers work well on top of the web for their access to elemental resistances. If you're having survival issues, you may want to consider moving some talent points around to spec into Perseverance.

The one avoidable thing you have to watch out for is Meteor Burn. Watch under your paws and get ready to move if a lava puddle appears. You'll have a few seconds to react before a meteor lands on the web in that spot and burns a hole through it. (It looks less like a hole and more like a small, fiery eruption, but believe me, you can fall through it. And that's bad.) There will be around four of these active at any given time after they accumulate, so watch your positioning. If you do have a melee DPS with you, try to keep Beth positioned to where they don't have to worry about them, either.

The final thing you need to do is watch Beth's energy/mana bar. It slowly drains over time. When it reaches 0, she'll cast Smoldering Devastation, which will kill you. When the cast starts you need to drop back down to the ground level. If you go through the big hole in the center of the web, a few web strands will catch you and slow your descent. Otherwise you'll take some fall damage. If you absolutely have to fall through some hole other than the center one for some reason, shift to cat form on the way down to reduce the fall damage you'll take. It's almost negated by this.

Once you're on the ground, you have a few seconds before a new set of Spinners appear and you're able to get back up on the web. Toss F3 on any Drones your other tank might be holding to help get them down faster. If there's a nearby pack of Spiderlings, feel free to Swipe and Thrash a couple times to help burn them down.

As soon as you see Spinners hanging off the web, taunt one down (the one furthest from the other tank, if possible) and get back up there.

You're going to repeat this process three times. After the third Devastation, Beth drops down to the ground for Phase 2.

If there are any Spiderling packs active during the transition, go Cat and help burn them down as quickly as possible. Just make sure to go Bear again in time to pick up Beth when she hits the ground.

Phase 1: Add Tank
The second tank needed in Phase 1 is an add control tank. Bears are very, very good at this job, thanks to the ease of our mobile AoE tanking.

When the phase starts, get ready to Growl at one of the Spinners that drops off the web so that the Beth tank and healer can get up top ASAP. But don't get cozy. After those first two, there will be six more. They need to be brought down quickly, or their fireballs will overwhelm your healers. They do much less damage on the ground than they do hanging from the web.

Taunt as frequently as possible to get them down. Enlist the help of any Paladins, DKs, Ferals, and Hunters (Distracting Shot works, too) in the raid. Get ready to grab the Spinners off of them when they come running to you. They don't hit all that hard, so group tanking them usually isn't that big of a deal.

In addition to the Spinners, you'll also be tanking Cinderweb Drones during this phase. They are fairly large, red spider-taurs that emerge from caves around the edges of Beth's lair. The important thing to remember when tanking them is that they have a long-range, frontal cone AoE that hits pretty hard. Make sure they're not facing the raid at any time. The first one will appear about 10 seconds after the first set of Spinners fall off the web.

The last thing you need to watch out for as the add tank is the Spiderling packs. Like the Drones, these spawn around the edges of the lair. Unlike Drones, you don't tank them. In fact, you need to stay very clear of them. Once spawned, the move relentlessly towards any active Drones. If a pack starts getting close before your DPS can burn them down, you need to move. Drones will consume nearby Spiderlings, healing 10% of their health in doing so. You don't want this happening.

Things can get pretty frantic on the ground will all the adds and all the movement and all the taunting. Keep cool, keep your eyes open, and you'll be fine.

Phase 2
Heading into Phase 2, if you don't have any adds currently on you, look for Spiderling packs and help burn them down. Like the Drones, Beth will consume nearby Spiderlings for a health boost. This can negate all the work that was done whittling down Beth's health on top of the web and you do not want that.

(Note: The range at which Beth will consume Spiderlings has been hotfixed and greatly reduced. It's now fairly easy to tank her well away from any packs while the DPS finishes burning them down. Still, your best bet is just to kill them outright before then.)

Once Beth hits the ground for Phase 2, she seems to aggro reset. So whichever tank is going to tank her first will need to taunt. Usually this is the Beth tank from Phase 1, but if all the adds on the ground are dead, it can be either tank.

From here on out, it's a straight DPS race. Beth will continue to cast Ember Flare, which will now hit the entire raid. Additionally, she will be in a stacking Frenzy state, which increases both her physical damage and the damage of the AoE blast. This is why you want her health as low as possible when the phase begins.

Beth will also be casting Widow's Kiss on her current target. This is where the tank swapping mechanic sets in. When one tank gets this cast on them, the other needs to taunt.

For this phase, your raid should be forming a triangle around Beth. Each tank should be at one point and the rest of your raid should be stacked up at the third to help with healing. Tanks need to make sure they're 10 yards apart from each other and the raid so that the pulsing damage they put out while under the effect of the debuff doesn't hit anyone else.

The deadliest part of this phase (for the tanks) is the swapping. Between the damage of Beth's physical hits, plus the her fire blast, a tank can drop very quickly after a taunt if the healers aren't ready. If you have DBM, watch your timers and make sure to communicate with your healers when a swap is approaching. Saving Barkskin for just before taunting is also a good idea.

If you have Berserk available during this phase, you have a couple options. You can either wait until Beth is taunted off you, then do some Cat burst damage or you can use it in Bear form after gaining high stacks of Vengeance for some crazy Mangle damage. Otherwise, stay Bear when not holding Beth. Your damage output will be comparable, and it gives your healers more breathing room.

Try to save Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration for as late as possible.

Beth drops a few good things for Bears. The Cinderweb Leggings are a good holdover until you can your T12 legs along with the 2pc or 4pc bonus. The Widow's Kiss is a nice ring. You'll be reforging Haste to Dodge, but it's still good. Finally, there's the Spidersilk Spindle. The mastery is nice, even if the proc isn't that great. Most tanks will eat up that shield in one blow. It's mostly intended for non-tanks in AoE or random damage situations.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) 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.
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