Baleroc is a simple boss fight made complicated by a couple of mechanics. Basic knowledge of these mechanics can make this fight manageable. In depth knowledge of the mechanics makes this fight simple.
The details needed to provide an in depth knowledge of the mechanics may be a little overwhelming at first, but the frustration of trying to heal this fight without the knowledge of what’s going on is way more overwhelming and frustrating. I recommend reading the information below and combining it with other research and first hand experience from the fight and then re-reading it. Eventually this will become a trivial fight.
Baleroc is tanked by one or two tanks. The more conventional method is to use two tanks.
The current tank will periodically gain stacks of the buff/debuff “Blaze of Glory” which increases their health pool that also increases their damage taken. Melee damage on the tanks is pretty consistent and low; however, as the tanks increase their stacks, more healing will be required to keep them alive through the basic attacks.
Baleroc also has two special “Blades” attacks that last 15 seconds. Every 45 seconds, one of these Blades phases will occur. Other than the first Blades phase, the type of Blades phase will be random.
Inferno Blade – “Melee strikes deal significant Fire damage. 15 seconds remaining.” The first type of Blades phase is “Inferno Blade”. The first Blades phase will always be an Inferno Blades, as this is the less deadly of the two. The main tank will take the Inferno Blades which produces increased damage taken over 15 seconds.
Decimation Blade – “Melee strikes deal Shadow damage equal to 90% of the target’s maximum health, but always at least 250000 damage. This damage cannot be resisted or mitigated by normal means. 15 seconds remaining.” The second type of Blades phase is “Decimation Blade”. The Decimating strikes are much more deadly, and therefore, a second tank is usually used to take these strikes. Three strikes will hit the tank every 5 seconds, damaging the tank for 90% of his health. Your biggest heals are required to heal the tank to full in the 5 seconds between hits.
The increased health / damage taken combined with the special Blades phases, requires healers to heal well above normal healing levels to keep the tanks alive. This is accomplished through the Vital Flame buff that healers gain from gaining Vital Sparks stacks from healing the Shard Tanks. This will be explained below in the healing section.
Shards of Torment
Throughout the fight, Shards of Torment spawn near the location of a player in melee range. These shards become interested in the player standing closest to the shard and start stacking the Torment debuff on them. The shard lasts for 25 seconds and will stack the debuff 25 times. These stacks can be split between multiple players, and are generally split between 2 players for each shard.
Players who receive stacks of torment from the shard are called “Shard Tanks”.
As the Shard Tank is relieved or the shard despawns, the player is left with the Tormented debuff (see below). It is this debuff that determines when a player is again eligible to be on the shard again…it must fall off first. As a shard despawns, there is a short break (5 seconds or so) before a new shard spawns. Shard Tanks can only take stacks from every other shard (edit: this may have changed with the recent nerfs). Therefore, four dps are generally rotated into the Shard Tank role with one dps on standby to fill in if one of the other players die. A hunter is the best option to be on standby since the proximity of where the shards to land (in melee range) makes it impossible for the hunter to dps while shard tanking.
Torment – “Suffering increasing Shadow damage over time. Receiving single-target direct heals will grant the healer one charge of Vital Spark for each three applications of Torment.” The damage from this debuff become nearly impossible to heal through at around 13 stacks, unless damage mitigation techniques are used.
Tormented – “The effects of the Shard of Torment linger, increasing magical damage taken by 250% and reducing healing done by 50%.” The damage increase from this debuff mandates that the tanks should not be used as the Shard Tank. The healing decrease from this debuff mandates that the healers should not be used as the Shard Tank. Other than driving the timing of Shard Tank duty, this debuff has little impact on DPS.
Healing the Shard Tanks also provides the mechanism for gaining the Vital Sparks buff which is required for the tank healers to keep the tank alive as Blaze of Glory stacks. Therefore, a healer rotation is established to allow healers to build stacks of Vital Spark by healing the Shard Tanks for a while and then switch to healing the tank(s) for a while.
Healers will generally play the role of Tank Healer and Shard Tank healer on a rotating basis. Know your starting assignment and then make sure you understand when you are assigned to switch to the other role and how the assignments will rotate between the three healers. Generally there will always be one healer on the Tank(s) and two healers on the Shard Tanks.
There are several options for when to rotate healers. Find the one that seems to work best with your healers. From the my perspective, simple is better, so I prefer the first two options which allow more time between switches.
Here are some of the common options:
- Switch at the start of each blades phase (45 seconds between switches)
- Switch at the end of each blades phase (45 seconds)
- Switch after each shard (30 seconds)
- Switch after every Vital Flame duration (15 seconds)
Our guild currently switches a new healer into the tank healing spot immediately following a Blades phase, with the off tank on point for calling out the switch time. We maintain the established order; however, if one person has more stacks toward the end, then we may go out of order and keep them on the tank for a bit for heavier heals.
Building Stacks of Vital Spark
Vital Spark – “Casting a single-target direct heal on a target affected by Blaze of Glory will increase healing done on such targets by 5% for 15 sec.” Tank healing will become “easy” if Tank Healer has sufficient stacks of the Vital Spark buff at the time that they switch to healing the tank. Building stacks can be mana intensive; therefore, it’s important to build stacks early and then then start to conserve mana.
There are several class specific tricks to gaining more stacks of Vital Spark; however, I’ll just cover the basic concept here.
More direct heals leads to more stacks of Vital Spark and the higher the stacks of torment on the Shard Tank, the more stacks you get per heal…resulting in easier tank healing (when it’s your turn).
- Use Heroism or other haste spells / potions on the first spark to cast as many spells as possible. As a Discipline priest I use my Power Infusion.
- Spam (I mean really spam your button as fast as possible) your fastest heal. Each healer should have a 1.5 second cast heal. For priests, this is our Flash Heal.
- Use other instant or special heals that are considered a direct heal as appropriate. These may be glyphed HOTs that include a direct heal or glyphed PW:Shield for priests. Penance is special in that it will always give you 3 stacks per cast, regardless of the torment stacks, so use it early when stacks are low.
- Use damage mitigation to keep the first Shard Tank building stacks of torment as long as possible. The shadow priest dispersion works great for about 6 seconds of almost damage free time. Use this spell last, but don’t let it drop off too soon. Pain Suppression also works great. You can have a Shadow priest take a whole shard by healing the first first 13 stacks, shielding + followed by a Pain Suppression will get you from about 14 to 22 stacks. The priest can pop dispersion at 21 and make it to 25.
- Healers build stacks by landing a heal, even if it is completely overheal. So start casting immediately and don’t stop until the shard is gone.
- Don’t worry about mana, you can make that up later. Just spam your fast heals as fast as possible. With heroism, etc, you should be getting heals off almost every second.
- Choosing to use a 3 second cast is not acceptable on the first shard!
- Choose heals more wisely on subsequent shards. Your focus turns to keeping the Shard Tanks alive and using mana efficient spells when the Shard Tank has low stacks and save your fast heals when stacks are higher.
- Watch your Vital Flame debuff. You can’t build stacks while you have this debuff. So either heal the tank or shard tank, but not both at once.
As mentioned above, Tank healing will become “easy” if Tank Healer has sufficient stacks of the Vital Spark buff at the time that they switch to healing the tank. The key here is that the first heal you land on one of the tanks will convert your Vital Spark buff to Vital Flame (15 second duration). This will greatly increase your healing on the tanks (anyone with the Blaze of Glory buff).
Remember, your first heal that converts the buff to Vital Flame is not enhanced. Therefore, make it a quick heal and not one that you rely on for big heals (or damage mitigation like shields). For Discipline Priests, we open with Penance. This is a special spell that casts 3 quick times in succession. The first is not buffed, but the next 2 are, so it’s optimal for starting out on the tank.
In general, heal the tanks like you normally would. If your stacks are high, a 3 second low mana heal may suffice (get to know your limits and your mana supply). When a Blades phase hits, spam your biggest heal. You will want it to hit at least twice in the 5 second window between Decimating strikes. If your stacks are sufficient, this will easily heal your tank back to full health. Priest Shields and other special spells can come in handy here as well. Discipline priest shields are very strong when buffed.
- Learn to watch your Vital Flame buff. If your Vital Flame buff is still active when you switch to healing the Shard Tank, you will not be able to gain stacks until it falls off. If this becomes a problem, communicate with your healers at the time of the switch to prevent you from having to restart our Vital Flame buff before the switch.
- It’s helpful to see other healers Vital Flame buff, but not necessary (unless using the method of switching every Vital Flame cycle).
- You absolutely need to be able to see who the Shard tank is on your raid frames so you can start spamming heals on them immediately. If you are waiting to see who starts taking damage, then you will miss out on a lot of heals / stacks.
- Shards should land in melee range, so stand at range. As a healer, you SHOULD NOT take torment stacks if you end up being too close to a shard.
- When switching healing targets, do so with purpose, otherwise there might be a dangerous gap in healing.
- Finding time to regenerate mana can be challenging. The best time to regen is when you come off tank healing and it’s between shards. As a Discipline Priest, I pop my shadowfiend and channel hymn of hope between shards. This gives me 5 seconds of free channel time when no heals are needed. If I mis-time it a little, the healing requirement on the Shard Tank should be low at this time.
I recommend reading the information above and combining it with other research and first hand experience from the fight and then re-reading it. Eventually this will become a trivial fight. Here are some other sources I found helpful while learning this fight: