As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I Hate Shadow Labs. But, to get to hate it quite so much, I’ve had to run it quite a few times. And there’s only so many times you can run an instance before you start to learn a few tips. So, in line with my last post on “Easy-mode” instancing, I thought I’d start to put together a few tips on “easy-moding” particular instances.
First thing first. Group balance. You have this boss in slabs called Blackheart the Inciter, and every thirty seconds or so, he mind controls the whole group. You all start running around hitting each other, and if your T6 rogue gets too close to your blue/green holy priest, it’s all over. Every member of your group needs to be somewhere in the same league gear-wise, although it’s less of a problem if your tank is over-geared or your healer under-geared than if you have a mage who can one-shot anyone else in the group.
If you DO have one or two over-geared players, they can always take some gear off for this fight, so it’s not a huge issue.
This may be personal bias speaking, but BRING A TREE. The boss fights are mobile (trees can heal while running), and Murmur has an ability which can put your healer out for 8-10 seconds (HoTs get your tank through this nicely). Also, there are a couple of fights where you can last long enough without a tank to get your battle rez off, so losing the tank to an unlucky spike might not mean a wipe. Also, for the mind-control bit, your tree will run around doing four-sixths of nothing at all. No damage, and no burning through mana.
All that said, I’m sure plenty of priests, pallys, and shamans have gotten groups through slabs smoothly.
Take a tankadin. Again, bias comes in here, ’cause I usually run with one. Consecrate is great for keeping aggro on the bigger pulls, and you can stand right in the middle of the AoE to make sure those damned Assassins won’t gank you in Blackheart’s room. Then again, druids are better for the extra DPS on Vorpil (bears do great damage), and warriors are better at getting clear of Murmur’s nasty AoE. Hey, tanks are hard to find, take whatever you can get.
DPS/CC is really important in slabs. If your DPS is too low, you will NOT make it past Vorpil, and you will NOT get your Kara frag. If your DPS are all in green/blue gear, you’re wasting your time (in my experience). Take along at least two blue/purple DPS. Also, there are times when you may be pulling up to seven elites. Take plenty of your favourite flavour of CC (rogues, mages, hunters, warlocks… No real special requirements here.)
Problem: I have a guild full of fresh 70s wanting to come along on slabs for their key frag.
Solution 1: Tell them to get busy gearing up for Kara. They aren’t getting into Kara with their green/blue gear mix anyway, so point them at some target blue/purple gear and tell them to come back in a week or two. The later frags are easier to get anyway (in my opinion), so it’s not like they’ll finally get their first frag and then get stuck on later ones.
Solution 2: Get a stronger group together and clear slabs for rep or gear or whatever. Make sure the trash repops are cleared again at the end, and swap out a few players to bring people in for the key right at the end. If you have a warlock, you can even summon them to the chest without having to worry about repop. Just make sure they know not to loot the fragment until EVERYONE who needs the key has arrived.
Solution 3: Let them get a lightly-geared group together, and have a few better-geared guildies swap in just for the Vorpil fight. That’s the main one that’ll wipe a green/blue group over and over. Again, warlock summons make this part less painful.
My personal pick is the last one. The people after the key take the pain, and get to learn the instance. Also, they’ll learn to hate it so bad that they’ll perpetuate solution 3 because they don’t want to spend any more time than necessary in there running fresh 70s for the key frag.
This ain’t Black Temple. Bring along some super (mana / healing) pots, and a few down-ranked ones. You’ll mainly need them for Blackheart, if he burns your mana right down / beats the crap out of you while the healers are MC’d. If you need flasks or oils or whatever, you’re probably doing something wrong.
If you have trouble here, so help you. Walk into the instance, hang a left, and clear along the wall. Watch the group of imps: your tank will take a bit of spike damage here until a few of them are down. Tell your first-timers that they can’t get to that quest they can see on the mini-map without going right around and downing the first boss, and move on.
Ambassador Hellmaw’s Room
Start with the casters who are chanelling in groups of three. Watch out for the Fel Overseers who are patting around, and LoS pull each group WAY BACK into the corridor. Sap works here, but could aggro a pat when it breaks if you’re unlucky. Sheep or maybe Seduce is probably safer, once the mobs are in the hallway. Traps are tricky because the mobs are casters, but a good hunter can pull off amazing stuff.
Once the first three groups of casters are down, it’s time to tackle the Fel Overseers. These guys are actually a bit nasty. They have an AoE fear centred on themselves, so pull them back into the corridor, and have your healer and ranged DPS stay well back. They also tend to charge random players, and tanks seem to have trouble getting aggro back, so your healer needs to be ready to rescue players. Also, it’s not really that far to corpse-run: if you die, START RUNNING. You may be back in time to help finish it off.
Continue as necessary to clear the room (and the overseer who pats the corridor to the next room), but make sure you leave a group of casters ’til last. After you down the final caster, Hellmaw himself will aggro, and you probably want to rest up before the boss. So unless you’re finding these groups of casters super easy, pull the last group back to the corridor you came in through. Once the last one is down, have everyone run into the corridor, and after a few moments, Hellmaw will reset. Once that happens, rest up, and go take him at your own pace.
When he resets, he runs way back to the end of the corridor opposite the one you came in through. Tank him way down there, against a wall, because he has a big-range AoE fear. If you tank him out in the open, and your healer and tank run in opposite directions during the fear, your tank may be down before your healer gets back in range. If you’re up in the end of the corridor, you can’t go in opposite directions. Also, the healer must be ready to rescue DPSers who pull aggro right after the fear. It seems to happen a lot. Also, if the tank tries to keep Hellmaw facing away from the group, it’ll help avoid some damage from his acid spray.
By and large, this guy is pretty easy.
This sucks. There are some big pulls, nasty Malicious Instructors patting everywhere, and stealth Assassins who turn up at the worst possible moments. Pull carefully, CC everything you possibly can, watch out for breaking CC pulling a pat, be wary between pulls of the Assassins, and pray to your favourite deity that everything goes smoothly. The malicious instructors are tough, and have an AoE which will keep your healer busy on the tank AND your melee DPS.
You must completely clear this room before you take on Blackheart.
Blackheart the Inciter
There are a few basic tips, and this guy should be easy. First of all, have any players with over-geared DPS strip some gear off, so they won’t take out lesser-geared players during the mind control. Burn all of your DPS cooldowns early so they won’t be used against your group members (rogues, I’m looking at you).
The tank needs to tank this guy up against a wall, because he has an AoE knockback which is VERY nasty out in the open. Everyone else but melee DPS should move back to max range to avoid the AoE (if this knocks your healer halfway across the room, it could be all over before she gets back). HoTs all around before the mind control is a nice touch, as is having a tree druid who walks around doing nothing until it’s over. Once the MC is done, everyone needs to wait a moment until the tank has aggro back. If you do get targeted after the MC, run TOWARDS the tank. The number of casters I’ve seen turn and run AWAY from everyone in this bit is just astounding. If you lost track of the tank, stand still. If you’re the healer, you’re probably WAY out of position, so hustle back in range of the tank, and try to heal DPSers back to full. Don’t leave someone low, because they may go out on the next MC, or cop a charge or AoE.
Blackheart also randomly charges group members, but there’s nothing you can do about this, except once again, have the healer keep everyone topped off.
It sounds scary, but this boss has always gone down fairly easily for me.
Next Room and Vorpil’s Room
Nothing to see here, watch out for the skeletons. In fact, from here until you’re done with Vorpil, there are groups of skeletons and piles of bones which will jump up as skeletons lying about. Watch for them, AoE them down (the healer needs to be ready to heal whoever is AoEing, the damage can be a bit spiky), and deal with the other pulls as usual. There’s nothing really new here until you’ve cleared right to Vorpil himself.
One tip: there’s a 4-pull (or maybe 2 of them?) which pats around BEHIND Vorpil. Don’t try to pull them until you’ve cleared the groups in front of Vorpil. Why you’d try I don’t know, but people seem to.
This boss is a REAL pain. There are heaps of strats out there, but I’ll give you the one I find easiest (and most likely to succeed, in my experience). Note: ALL OF THE STRATS REQUIRE GOOD DPS. You can quite possibly clear all this way here but not have enough DPS to ever kill Vorpil. If this happens to you, you can appeal to any high DPS guildies/friends who are on to swap in to down this boss, and then let your original group members back in. Or just ditch any low-dps people who’ve had enough, whatever works. Try to be fair to people who’ve been through the pain of clearing this far.
There are two tricky parts to this fight. Firstly, as soon as you start the encounter, portals open up which start spawning voidwalkers. These voidys start walking towards Vorpil, and if they reach him, they explode, dealing AoE damage and healing Vorpil. If too many get to him, it’s all over. Secondly, every 30 seconds or so, he teleports the whole group and himself to the platform he starts on, and does a channeled AoE which ticks for LOTS of damage.
There are all sorts of kiting strategies you can try, or you can try the good ol’ “ignore the voidys and just DPS the hell out of him”, but the strategy that seems to work best is to kill the voidwalkers. They won’t aggro or attack, they just move slowly towards Vorpil. So…
Tank Vorpil where he starts. Put one DPS behind him, up on the platform, and one DPS on each side of him, on the stairs (this strat works best if at least two of your DPSers are ranged). DPS is focused on Vorpil when possible, but each person deals with voidys from their direction. Tip: Set Vorpil as your target, and then face your camera away from him, to see voidys as they approach. Once you’ve dealt with an approaching voidy, get back on Vorpil by targeting your tank (short-cut: use F2 through F5 keys for this) and hitting assist. Make sure your character is facing the right way for what you’re killing. Dagger-specced rogues are great here, because they can stay behind the voidys, which will just keep walking towards Vorpil.
Your healer can stand up on the platform, near the tank, and stay in range of everyone.
When the teleport happens, everyone (including the tank) must immediately run out of the AoE. Once it’s over, everyone heads back to their spots, and you continue as before.
An alternative to this, if you’re finding that some people aren’t dealing with their assigned adds, is to tank Vorpil over to one side of the platform, “in the wings” as it were, on the other side of a set of stairs. This means all voidys have to come through the same approximate area, and one good DPS (maybe your dagger rogue) can run about and deal with them all, calling for backup if they start to come too fast. This person just needs to remember to make sure the area is clear enough to get Vorpil through after the teleports. If you’re STILL having trouble with too many adds getting through, you could try alternating which side you take him to after each teleport.
Vorpil is down. Cheer, rest up, and move on, ’cause it isn’t over yet. There are some nasty pulls in the next room, but at least the end is in sight. If you need advice on the trash pulls by now, you’re probably still wiping three rooms back, so deal with those and get up to Murmur. Swap in anyone who needs the Kara key, and get it BEFORE you do Murmur. This saves an unlucky disconnect, server crash, or whatever leaving you hours into Shadow Labs, all the pain over with, and no key frag because you wasted time working on Murmur.
The only exception here is if you’re hoping for a drop from Murmur, you have someone who’s “just along for the run”, and you’re worried they’ll grab the key and ditch you before you down Murmur.
So head for Murmur, but go over to the left and around the side of his chamber. Hug the wall to avoid aggroing Murmur (uh, he was attacking the trash mobs at the back of his room, but doesn’t aggro you only yards from his ring? Whatever…) Jump up onto the platform, loot the container, down the elite that spawns, and grab your Kara key frags. Celebrate briefly, then head back for Murmur.
Congratulations. There’s only one thing left to kill. Unforunately for you, it’s a powerful sound elemental, and he has some nasty tricks up his, uh, well wherever it is sound elementals keep their tricks. There are basically three things to worry about with this boss, and then it’s loot time.
This is a nasty AoE which extends out a little beyond Murmur’s ring. You get a visual effect and an emote to warn you (I don’t recall myself, but WoWWiki says the emote is something like “Murmur draws energy from the air.”) When this happens, there’s only one possible response: GTFO. Melee DPS and the tank need to REALLY MOVE FAST. If you have any warriors, they can intervene to a player outside the circle. Bears can pop kitty form and hit dash if they’re late noticing the emote. Other classes might want to look at any speed-up options they have before the fight, and it may even be worth throwing on any run-speed gear you have. Ranged DPS and healers shouldn’t have a problem here, although do make sure you’re well outside the ring when it goes off.
Problem two is that if Murmur goes for too long without something to melee, he starts stacking a seriously painful nature debuff/DoT. When your tank needs to run out to avoid the Sonic Boom, he only has a few seconds to get back before this starts, and it can easily cause a wipe.
If you’re having trouble getting the tank clear of the sonic boom and he’s taking the damage, he may need to wait a few seconds for heals to go off before he can survive running back into melee range. These few seconds can trigger resonance, and you’ll quite possibly wipe anyway. If you just can’t get the tank back in soon enough, but you have someone who can off-tank, leave the off-tank outside the AoE area for most of the fight, even if it means losing some DPS. As soon as the boom goes off, have this OT run in and grab aggro. You’ll only need it for a few seconds for your healer to get your MT up, but you’ll probably need an off-healer as well, or a main healer who can keep the OT up AND top off the MT (maybe a druid?) Once your MT is topped off, have him run in, your OT run back out, and wait for the next cycle.
A random target gets this debuff every now and then. You’ll see rings run up and down around your character, and see the debuff on your screen. If you’re not the tank, you need to run into the little tent that was on the right as you approached Murmur. This will save a lot of the fall damage you’d otherwise take, but you’ll still cop a 6-second silence. If the tank gets it, he can’t afford to run out of range of Murmur (unless you have that off-tank ready to jump in), so he needs to shout out so any melee DPS can run away (the explosion when the debuff runs out damages and silences nearby players as well). Oh yeah, you have 14 seconds from when you get the debuff until you explode. The 14 seconds plus the 6-second silence will be tricky to manage when the healer cops this one. Take a tree with you (instant HoTs which she can apply while running to the tent, AND keep ticking through the silence effect), or have a shadow priest or other off-healer.
As a healer who has little confidence in some DPS’s ability to pay attention, I often stand a little around the ring, away from ranged DPS. This way, when one of them doesn’t notice their Murmur’s Touch, I don’t get blown up as well. I can keep the tank up, and hopefully save most of our DPS as well.
If you managed to get your tank out of the Sonic Boom, or heal after the damage without having Resonance go off (too many times?), and everybody paid attention to Murmur’s Touch and a half-asleep caster didn’t blow up your whole ranged group, you’re done! Loot your Kara frag if you didn’t get it before you downed Murmur, then celebrate!