Heroic Zon’ozz Primer (25m)

My guild is furiously plugging away at heroic content these days and while we aren’t nearly cutting edge progression I’ve been quite happy with the effort being shown. Having spent a good number of attempts on our second heroic boss Warlord Zon’ozz we were finally able to kill him and I thought I’d share what I can about healing the fight from a druid’s perspective in the hopes of helping others who may be feeling extremely frustrated with it. I may forget some things but I will attempt to be as complete as possible.

Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz Primer

Raid Composition: 2 tanks, 7 healers (arguably one too many), 16 DPS

Our tank/healer breakdown: Feral Tank, Prot Paladin, 2x Resto Druid, Holy Paladin, Resto Shaman, Discipline Priest, 2x Holy Priest

Gear: My gear level at the time of the kill was ~394 average item level using 2 piece tier 12 heroic and 2 piece tier 13 utilizing both mana conservation set bonuses. I’m running ~2400 spirit, meeting the target haste breakpoint of 2005, and sitting at roughly 1550 mastery using the Maw of the Dragonlord with haste offhand.

General Strategy

I’m going to leave out specific abilities as you can read them in depth here: http://www.icy-veins.com/warlord-zon-ozz-detailed-strategy.

I do want to discuss how we went about adapting our strategy to work with the suggested guidelines detailed in that guide.

Phase 1 – Void Ball Phase (ping pong)

Gameplan for phase 1: On the pull we had our entire raid pull up behind the boss with one mage standing approximately twenty yards behind the raid group. The mage was responsible for bouncing the ball back to the raid group while simultaneously sharing the damage with everyone else. This allowed us to take full advantage of AoE healing abilities with small radii and cover a larger amount of the incoming damage. The only players we opted to dispel the debuff from are the hunters who we have standing off to the side not splitting damage with the rest of the group.

We settled upon the ball bouncing seven times before making contact with the boss as it suited our groups needs DPS and healing wise as well as the debuff duration and timer. In our setup the ball hits the mage on odd number bounces and the raid on even bounces. Leading up to the sixth bounce off of the raid and just afterward Power Word Barrier is placed to mitigate both the explosion and additional incoming damage from the debuff. After the sixth bounce the raid scatters to their black phase positions and we proceed to top everyone off while the ball makes its seventh bounce and heads back towards the boss. The mage that takes the seventh bounce does so by himself and will proc Cauterize. Healing is required to top him off quickly as the black phase starts.

Healing gameplan for phase 1: All healers had four to five players they were responsible for in the black phase though cross healing when possible is encouraged. In phase 1 I did not necessarily focus on my players as a more general AoE healing strategy is employed however I did want to make sure I left phase 1 with my group topped off, hotted, myself with 3x Lifebloom, and a respectable mana pool so I can maximize innervate +Tier 13 set bonus in the first black phase. Spell choice in Phase 1 is purely up to you as it falls under the standard “group up and AoE heal” scenario: keep LB up on the tank, maintain Harmony, WG as required on CD, Swiftmend to best utilize Effloressence, and cast Rejuvenation liberally. The players with the debuff take a more continuous stream of damage and benefit the most from your healing over time spells.

Note: Using seven bounces, at least for us, worked well with the timing of the debuff going into the black phase as they ended up falling off before or very early on into it with no new ones being added.

Phase 2 – First Black Phase

Our Strategy: When the raid scatters after the sixth bounce we have locations in the room that we had to move to. Our raid was broken out into five teams of players. Our teams were distributed as follows (dps classes specified where applicable):

Group 1: 2 healers, 2 rogues (on boss full time), main tank

Group 2: 1 healer, 3 dps, offtank

Group 3: 2 healers, 3 dps

Group 4: 1 healer, 4 dps

Group 5: 1 healer, 4 dps

Each of groups 2-5 initial positions corresponded to the four flails that appear around the room during the black phase. These groups were responsible for killing that flail as well as the two eyestalks that spawn on either side of the flail. In each group a healer was assigned to the three or four dps located within it for coverage. The additional healer in group 1 and 3 cross healed fairly heavily as well as prioritized the tank on the nearby claw tentacle. I was in group 2 and the second restoration druid was located in group 3. Admittedly we did have some trouble keeping our charges up until we learned to maximize our CD’s and communicate cross group healing needs. Once all of the smaller adds were down the ranged collapsed into the center of the room while the boss and melee were located near the left claw tentacle. As the tentacles are burned down the next Void Ball Phase should begin.

Healing gameplan for the first black phase: the black phases are far and away the hardest aspect of this fight to learn as a restoration druid in my opinion. The damage is brutal and your direct heals are going to feel incredibly insufficient especially if a player is being targeted by multiple eyes simultaneously. Going into this phase I generally sat at roughly 80% mana with my group covered with rejuvenation and myself with triple lifebloom. I would position myself in the center of the triangle created by my groups flail and two eyestalks to negate any need for movement during the early and middle parts of the black phase. As I use Maw of the Dragonlord my facing was important.

My goal would be to time my innervate and engineering glove activation with a power torrent proc for the largest mana gain possible although that isn’t always something you can achieve given PT’s ICD. Once innervate has been activated and the spell cost reduction up from the Tier 13 two piece set bonus I would go to work on my group. I would maintain rejuvenation on players as long as I could while using lifebloom on myself to reset the stacks. I would avoid Swiftmend while they worked on the flail as it dies too fast for Effloressence and opted to simply cast WG and Regrowth as needed.

Once my players (in this case all melee) moved to the first eyestalk I cast swiftmend, with no overheal, and dropped Effloressence on the group while continuing to land direct heals. I even chose to cast Healing Touch for the pure throughput when time allowed. I found the first eyestalk to be the time I spent the largest chunk of mana during this black phase. Once the stalk was completed I shifted over to the second and from that point I was in range of the main tank, two rogues, and healer from group 1. I re-hotted my group and then cast Tranquility which served to top off my group as the overall damage lightened up (successfully topped off quite a few players doing this). By using tranquility and innervate in that way I often ended the first black phase with roughly 75% to 80% of my mana pool. Once the ranged moved back into the middle of the room a mana-tide was dropped by our shaman.

Regroup Void Ball Phase

Strategy: The raid’s goal at this point is to regroup in order to resume bouncing the Void Ball while also making sure the two large claw tentacles cease to be. Cleave works wonders in melee and the ranged can remove what HP is left from theirs at the group up spot. If the ball’s spawn location is a little skewed the ranged can simply shuffle left or right to stack on it once it appears. What we did for these subsequent ping pong sessions was keep a ranged cluster and melee cluster and bounce the ball back and forth between the two as damage was required on the far claw tentacle. The ranged group in this case took the odd number bounces. Once the fifth bounce hit, the ranged chased the ball back into melee in order to share the sixth bounce, allowing the damage to be distributed much more evenly, and a spirit link totem was dropped to further maintain balanced HP levels.

After the 6th bounce in hitting melee and ranged alike the ball then hurtles outward into the waiting arms of a shadow priest or mage ready to pass it back in while the raid scatters to their respective locations. This bounce is sometimes a bit longer in order to time it with the debuffs reducing (or eliminating) the duration during black phase as much as possible.

Healing gameplan for the regroup Ball Phase: While my group is running back in I continued to roll rejuvenation on them and settled into the central meeting location with the rest of the ranged. In my situation, my assigned players were melee so I prioritized dropping effloressence and wild growth centered upon their location. You will pursue your standard AoE healing rotation otherwise maintaining lifebloom and casting rejuvenation as much as your mana allows. We had the raid split into two halves so individuals, especially with the debuff, were taking more damage which allowed for more productive uptime on my heal over time abilities. My suggestion is to focus on efficiency here as opposed to blanketing the world with your healing. Spend some time at the tail end of this phase, possibly when running in for the last bounce you’ll be taking, to HoT up your group and re-lifebloom yourself.

This regroup ball phase will repeat after the second and third black phases. We activated priest mana hymns after the second black phase and mana tide after the first and third.

Second and Third Black Phases

Healing Gameplan – As the second and third black phases do not change at all strategy wise I’ll simply comment on the healing side of things. For the second black phase tranquility, at least for me, was on cooldown so I opted to work Tree of Life in to generate efficient constantly group healing to keep my charges alive. You may have players with the debuff still on them going into this phase. If you do, and cannot afford to heal them through the duration have them run to the side so you can dispel them. Only do this if you have the mana, means, and time to quickly heal them back up on par with the other members of your group. Nature’s Swiftness goes a long way here for emergencies. With tree of life active just prior to the poop hitting the spinning bladed machine start pre-hotting your people with lifebloom to build everyone up to three stacks. You will still be using WG on cooldown and swiftmending when your players are situated at the eye stalks. Added omen of clarity procs allow for a more liberal use of regrowth.

For the third black phase I ended up repeating the same strategy as the first one except I ended up spending slightly more mana keeping everyone alive. Tranquility still saves your bacon on the second eyestalk kill for your group and even works to stabilize any nearby players.

Last Black Phase

Zon’ozz’s berserk timer does not allow for four fully handled black phases so the fourth ultimately becomes a burn phase. The raid will group up behind the boss with Timelust active to knock out the remaining hp’s. Tree of Life will be off cooldown at this point and you are pretty much free to go hog wild and empty whatever mana you have left into raid healing like a boss.

This is our strategy. There are many like it, but this one is ours.

Disclaimer: This primer is NOT a perfect how to for this fight as your guild or guilds may opt for another method to complete this encounter. This is simply how we brute forced our way through the fight and how I learned to cope with the healing involved. This is not really a druid friendly encounter as our burst group healing on specific targets isn’t necessarily the strongest. I know some folk who unglyphed their wild growth in order to increase uptime on their flail/eyestalk teams during the black phases. I didn’t do this myself but I can see the merit in it.

Work with what you have and you will do just fine. While this isn’t a fun fight for druids it certainly is doable and there’s that whole doesn’t kill you makes you stronger mantra there somewhere. I certainly may have left out some important things and this wasn’t the most detailed walkthrough ever but if you get even a little bit of useful info from it then I have done my job!

Best of luck to you!

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