Healer fights are an interesting, and relatively new, concept. Following Valithria Dreamwalker (Icecrown Citadel) and Chimaeron (Blackwing Descent) is Baleroc, the newest example of a healer fight and, in my opinion, the best so far. Rather than running a HPS race or spot healing everyone in a small window of time, Baleroc is a healing fight wearing a dress. A familiar, fleshy dress.
It’s true: Baleroc hits your tank hard. And fast. This would get awkward, but after all the double entendres subside in healer chat it turns out his other mechanics enable your healers to deal with it rather easily. I recommend watching the Learn to Raid and TankSpot guides for all the technical details and the basic strategy. Here I will describe the strategy my guild uses for the 25 Normal version of the fight with a special emphasis on our healer assignments.
For our first kill Standard Deviation used two tanks and seven healers. Our second kill was done with six healers.
To start, we place markers for the fight to indicate positions for the tanks, melee, and ranged. Each dps group has two alternating positions during the fight and healers move with the dps. We settled on this positioning because coordinated raid movement suits our group and spreading the healers away from the dps lead to inconsistent locations for our Shards of Torment.
As each shard is cast (purple shaft of light & boss cast) both the melee and ranged groups will move to their second position. The first shard soakers for each side will pause in the middle to gain Torment while the second in that rotation is ready to move. After their turn soaking Torment, each dps moves into the stack. Both groups move in a mirrored fashion to allow healers to reach across the raid.
Note the following aspects of this positioning:
- Synchronized group movement. Everyone knows exactly where they should be, where they need to go, and when they need to move.
- Very controlled Shard spawns. Unless people are moving out too early or moving back into the stack too late, shards will spawn very close to (usually right on) each stack point.
- Healer movement. Shard spawns can only be controlled this way if each pile is compact. This means healers are moving every 30 seconds. Tank healers should have instant casts available and, while they can stop to cast after they’ve passed the Torment soaker, it is critical they rejoin the pile before the next spawn.
- Raid movement. Everyone needs to move, leading to lower overall damage. This can be a problem if your raid tends to have trouble meeting dps checks.
The following diagram shows the position markers, with melee and ranged positions being just about 40 yards apart north to south. Enough rom is kept between the tanks and the ranged positions to prevent shard spawns near the tanks.
We divide our healers into two teams at the start trading off tank healing (team A) and Torment healing (team B). The Torment healers split themselves to cover melee and ranged. Splitting into three teams is another common method. We use two teams for one particular reason: it allows half our healers to take advantage of the first shard’s Torment.
Melee dps handle their shards consistently throughout the fight with the only ‘interesting’ aspect being your healers should be prepared for them to generally take more damage from Torment than ranged classes. The first ranged shard is where we deviate from most, though certainly not all, raids.
One of the Warlocks in our ranged group picks up Torment on the first shard as normal. He uses Glyphed Soul Link and after 10 stacks we rotate in his Nether Protection, Pain Suppression, and Hand of Sacrifice. This enables him to live through all 25 stacks of Torment and allows our healers to reach well over 60 stacks of Vital Spark. Heals on the last two stacks (24 and 25) grant 8 sparks each. Note the pet will need some healing and so will the Paladin (or he can use his Divine Shield).
After the first shard despawns, team B switches to tank healing and team A heals the next shards. Team B, with 60 to 70 sparks, is able to heal the tanks during the next four shards. After those four shards team A swaps to tank healing with around 120 sparks for each healer. Team B heals the next the next four shards. After nine shards the teams can either swap again or leave a couple healers on the rest of the shards while everyone else continues healing the tanks through the end of the fight.
Note the following about this healing rotation:
- Tank healing is very easy for a team when they first swap in from shard healing.
- Fewer swaps means fewer flubs when trading off.
- Hand of Sacrifice is useful! Note: DO NOT use it as the only cooldown for over 20 stacks of Torment unless you want two people to die. Do not be afraid of using Divine Shield for yourself, but don’t expect a 30% transfer to keep someone at 25 stacks alive by itself. Remember also, Hand of Sacrifice is great for relieving pressure on Torment soakers throughout the fight.
- Pain Suppression (or another healer cooldown) will not be available for the tanks in the first part of the fight.
- Cooldown usage on the first Torment soaker must be well timed or he (or his pet) will die anyway.
- You need someone to call healer swaps because they don’t happen so frequently.
- A few casts are spent keeping the Warlock’s pet and his Paladin alive when you’d really like to spend them gaining sparks.
For any healer trying to stack Vital Sparks, the important part is casts per second rather than actual output. The first 5 stacks do little damage and only grant one spark on stacks 3, 4, and 5 so heal lightly and don’t go crazy until Torment gets higher.
A great way for a Holy Paladin to stack sparks is to Beacon the soaker (the Glyph is a good choice for this approach) and prioritize the following spells. Just be careful your target doesn’t die from low HPS.
- Word of Glory (even at 1 Holy Power)
- Infusion of Light-buffed Flash of Light (Divine Light if you need more output)
- Holy Shock
- Flash of Light
The healing gimmick on this fight makes Beacon of Light alternately awesome and horrible because the Vital Flame buff only increases output to a tank. The best throughput boost is when you are tank healing and place your Beacon on a Torment soaker. 50% of your highly buffed healing is more than enough to keep them alive. The worst use is to Beacon a tank while healing Torment because 50% of your regular healing is less than a drop in the buffed tank’s health bucket.
As mentioned above, Beacon with Tower of Radiance on your current Torment target can help you gain sparks quickly and without spending all your mana on Flash of Light. Using it on your current tank assignment also helps with mana efficiency. Moving it between Torment soakers while tank healing is a good way to reduce the healing requirements of the raid. All of these options make the Glyph a good choice for this fight. The nature of this fight means you should have an easy choice for which other Major glyph to swap out.
Finally, I’d like to leave some notes on mana management. Shard healing can be hard on your mana with heavy use of your fast heal. Mana Tide starting after the first or second shard can be very helpful. The best time for regen (Hymn of Hope or Divine Plea especially) is when you are assigned to shard healing and the previous shards have just despawned.
Let me know if you’re doing anything out of the ordinary for Baleroc, or if there’s a gaping hole my description. I’ve added the video, below, from our first kill which features our warlock soaking the first shard to 25. Good luck with you own kills!
Here is a video of our second Heroic 25 kill of Baleroc with a variation on our original strategy made necessary by the changed Tormented mechanics.
Update 2: Added a section on Beacon of Light usage.
Update 3: Added video from our guild first kill.
Update 4: Added video from our guild’s second Heroic kill.