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Dragon Soul

Guide to Pet Tanking Heroic Morchok

Just over a week ago the video above appeared on YouTube showing Lazyguide of Ner’zhul pet tanking 10-man Heroic Morchok. I already had an inkling this is possible after the Warcraft Hunters Union on Icecrown took down Morchok on normal mode with a 10-man hunter group in July, but I never researched it any further at the time.

Because the video appeared after my guild’s weekly Dragon Soul run, I had to make my own attempt a week later on the next lockout. We had already planned to try new things on this raid because our paladin healer wanted to try single healing Heroic Ultraxion (which was also successful), so convincing them that Heroic Morchok can be pet-tanked was not difficult. After all, I already had a reputation on my server as the hunter who tanked Argaloth back in tier 11. (At one point I pet-tanked Argaloth every week for over a month.)

Our kill took five attempts or so after playing around with group arrangements and positioning and improvising pulling strategies, but it was successful. With one lockout remaining before Dragon Soul is no longer considered “current”, this guide should help anyone wants to try out this encounter for the final week of Cataclysm.

Before we start, I do want to make one disclaimer:

You do not have to choose the Beast Mastery specialization to tank Heroic Morchok.

I personally pet-tanked with a Marksmanship specialization because I can use the hard-hitting combination of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot to generate more Misdirection threat to my pet.

Preparation

Although all pets can now be a tenacity pet, I would still recommend using a turtle or a beetle because of their respective abilities Shell Shield and Harden Carapace, which can reduce damage taken by 50 percent for 12 seconds.

One talent is required in pet tanking this encounter: Spirit Bond, which gives the hunter and his/her pet passive healing. Blink Strike can also be useful for your pet’s quick positioning, but is optional if you are already comfortable with pet management.

Three major glyphs are also required: Glyph of Misdirection, Glyph of Animal Bond, and Glyph of Mending (not to be confused with Glyph of Mend Pet).

Finally, you will want to create a Misdirection macro to go along with your glyph. A simple example is below. (Nanghul is the name of my beetle, so you will want to change that.)

#showtooltip Misdirection
/castrandom [target=Nanghul] Misdirection
/yell Misdirecting to Nanghul!

If you would like to create a safety margin for your pet’s health, bringing along a Flask of Steelskin might not be a bad idea.

Encounter

This encounter can be done with two or three healers, depending on how comfortable your healers are with healing your pet. You will want an additional tank to pick up Morchok’s twin Kohcrom.

The pet should make the initial pull with Misdirection from the hunter. The other tank should not use taunt abilities for the first phase of the fight. This is because once Morchok splits into two, he seems to maintain the aggro table from the first phase. We would like to avoid an accident where the other tank finds himself tanking Kohcrom and Morchok at the same time.

Because Morchok splits to the right, the hunter (blue circle in the blueprint above, with the pet marked in orange) should be positioned to the group on the right. One healer should be assigned to each group. The third person in the hunter group can be another healer or a DPS which can drop his own aggro table (I will explain why later).

Once the other tank has stabilized Kohcrom’s position, the remainder of the encounter can now begin. Stomp does not affect the hunter pet, thus it can be entirely avoided with everyone in the hunter group staying at least 25 yards away from Morchok. Additionally, with more people on the left group, the damage from Stomp can be split across more people.

Two people must remain with the hunter because Resonating Crystal splits damage among three people in 10-man. (Damage is split among seven people on 25-man difficulty, so at least a 19–6 group split will be necessary in that encounter.)

The tricky portion of the encounter begins when Morchok and Kohcrom draws everyone in with Earthen Vortex. When this happens, the hunter pet appears to despawn and drop all aggro from the boss, thus prompt reapplication of Misdirection toward the pet is necessary. This is when the other DPS with the hunter should use his aggro reset ability to make it easier for the hunter pet to regain aggro. Not doing so may result in chaos.

Pets are also not affected by Black Blood of the Earth, so send it toward Morchok immediately after Earthen Vortex is over. This and prompt reapplication of Misdirection will help the pet gain aggro quicker.

Once Black Blood of the Earth is over, the encounter repeats itself. As long as no one in the hunter group is within range of Morchok to take damage from Stomp, the encounter should go on without a problem.

Occasionally you may find that Resonating Crystal is placed within the Stomp range. If that is the case, you will want to either reposition your pet quickly or stay away from the Resonating Crystal until after Stomp has finished casting.

Afterthoughts

It is theoretically possible for two hunters to individually pet tank Morchok and Kohcrom if Kohcrom can be immediately picked up once he is summoned. Because their mechanics are identical, it might also be possible for a 10-man all-hunter group to defeat the encounter using the principles I described above.

If an all-hunter group is not possible, bringing along two healers (one for each group) should suffice, with an even 5–5 group split between Morchok and Kohcrom.


Survival’s Silent Comeback

It probably says something when six of the top ten Alliance hunters on my realm is raiding as Survival over Marksmanship. Here is how the rankings look as of this morning.

WoW Heroes is a quick way to check realm rankings because it can quickly parse guild rosters according to specific classes, so all I needed to do was update the hunter rosters of the Alliance guilds that have entered Dragon Soul on Eredar by cross-checking with WoW Progress.

Incidentally, I am ranked 22nd as of this posting as Survival. The first Beast Mastery hunter appears in 26th place. This is a marked difference compared to just a few months ago when as many as nine out of ten were Marksmanship.

RaidBots is reporting as of this morning that in the top 100 normal 25-man combat log parses, Survival median DPS is dead even with Marksmanship at just over 35,000. Although 25-man raiding is where groundbreaking progression is usually made, one should not ignore 10-man raiding data. RaidBots reports that in the top 100 normal 10-man combat log parses, Survival median DPS exceeds Marksmanship by over 1,000 — at 30,000 to 28,800. Beast Mastery median DPS rounds out the normal 25-man data at 30,600 and 27,300 at normal 10-man.

But reading numbers don’t really mean anything. What conclusion can we draw from this?

The most important factor for a certain class/specialization combination to appear on these DPS aggregators is raid representation. If there are more people playing these specific combinations in the top 100 parses, the more accurate the sample will be and the higher that combination will place on the DPS rankings. RaidBots tells us just how accurate the sample representation is for these combinations.

At normal 25-man, Marksmanship appears in 1,068 samples; Survival appears in 986 samples; and Beast Mastery in 854 samples.

At normal 10-man, Marksmanship appears in 1,095 samples; Survival appears in 1,064 samples; and Beast Mastery in 881 samples.

Upon brief inspection of the ratio of samples for the respective raid compositions, one can estimate that Survival hunters are more likely to raid in 10-man rather than 25-man, even if only slightly. The increased representation of Survival hunters in 10-man raiding means they are also receiving more upgrades, pushing Survival median DPS higher and allowing it to exceed over Marksmanship.

Of course, there are still more people raiding as Marksmanship as can be seen from the sample sizes I previously mentioned. Why is Marksmanship median DPS not higher then?

The answer is because more top hunters are raiding as Survival over Marksmanship. For example, the Eredar realm ranking I initially posted in the beginning of this entry may not represent the entirety of the situation, and Marksmanship could still represent 60 percent of the population. But if the cream of the crop and those on the groundbreaking edge of progression are using Survival, its median DPS will skew toward a higher value.

Marksmanship may still exceed Survival DPS in theory according to ideal simulations, but live data show otherwise because of players’ behavior.


Speaking of Rage

On the first night that the second half of Dragon Soul opened up on Raid Finder, I was lucky enough to have the [Vishanka, Jaws of the Earth] drop for me. This meant I had access to the best-in-slot ranged weapon pre-progression raiding.

Of course, the purpose of this entry is not to brag. It is to investigate the proc damage that is done by this bow.

Your ranged attacks have a chance to deal 7040/7950/8970 damage over 2 sec.

The tooltip may lead you to believe that this is a static damage caused by the bow. This is, however, not the case because the damage is not physical damage, but magical damage. More specifically, it is fire damage.

It will appear in your combat logs as a buff called [Speaking of Rage].

Yesterday, <Dark Days> overcame the big stumbling block that was Ultraxion, with three healers even. As I’ve been logging (almost) all of our progression fights since the new patch dropped, I was able to get a sense of just how strong this weapon is. According to my combat log from the Ultraxion encounter, which is very static and has no movement involved, Speaking of Rage procced 16 times, accumulating to 160 ticks of fire damage.

This means every proc of Speaking of Rage produces 10 ticks of fire damage in just two seconds. Compare this to three ticks of fire damage per Explosive Shot in two seconds. Of course, the damage is less than than of Explosive Shot, but those are some very fast ticks.

Another detail you may observe is that ticks of Speaking of Rage can make critical hits. During this fight, 33 out of 160 ticks (20 percent) did critical damage to Ultraxion. While this may not be too surprising given previous behavior of the [Flaming Arrow] proc from the two-piece bonus of tier 12 armor, it is information that cannot be derived from the tooltip alone.

The final detail you may observe is that Speaking of Rage is hitting harder than it should in my case. With an average of 891.1 damage per tick, Speaking of Rage does 8911 damage per proc of the bow. Because I have been running Dragon Soul primarily as a Survival hunter, this is leading me to believe that mastery buffs the damage of Speaking of Rage.

So let’s do some mathematics.

With my mastery at 14.38 according to the Armory, it would have increased magical damage by 14.38 percent. Dividing the average damage value by the damage gain will provide me with the average base damage.

8911 ÷ 1.1438 ≈ 7791

This calculated base damage is still above the 7040 advertised by the tooltip, which leads to the conclusion that Speaking of Rage must have a damage range. As I did not have Recount running at the same time of the log, I was not able to determine this range at the time of writing.

However, if Speaking of Rage does indeed scale with Survival mastery as this preliminary data suggests, it could have an interesting implication where the bow can actually do more damage in the hands of a Survival hunter. Given equal gear and skill among three hunters utilizing the three different trees, Vishanka would have the best added value for the Survival hunter.


Ultraxion in Numbers

Ultraxion will be a stumbling block for many guilds who don’t raid Heroic Firelands. It was for us on Saturday night. Our best attempt was 10 percent, and while we kept inching closer and pulling every trick up our sleeves, we conceded he was too much, at least for now.

Defeating Ultraxion is all about numbers. Can you put out enough damage in time to kill him? Can you heal enough before he enrages? Let’s take a look at the numbers for 10-man raiding.

56,688,720

Ultraxion’s health

6 minutes

Ultraxion’s hard enrage timer

5 minutes 30 seconds

Ultraxion’s approximate soft enrage timer

157,469

Raid DPS to beat hard enrage timer

171,784

Raid DPS to beat soft enrage timer

13,123

Average tank DPS to beat hard enrage timer

14,316

Average tank DPS to beat soft enrage timer

26,245

Average damage-dealer DPS to beat hard enrage timer

28,631

Average damage-dealer DPS to beat soft enrage timer

The assumption is that the DPS value of a tank is on average one-half of the DPS value of a damage-dealing class, using two tanks, five damage-dealers, and three healers for the standard 10-man raid composition.

Actual 25-man Dragon Soul for <Dark Days> begins this Friday. If you are looking to transfer realms, why not choose Eredar and join us on the Alliance side? We are looking for competent and experienced DPS and a few more healers.


Some Observations from Dragon Soul

<Dark Days> tried its luck with 10-man Dragon Soul on Tuesday night, though we only had time to kill Morchok. Color combinations on Yor’sahj were not in our favor that night, and we had skipped Warlord Zon’ozz, so we’re only 1/8 before we head into 25-man this weekend (at least that’s the plan right now as far as I’m aware).

However, I decided to go back in a couple more times through the raid finder to see how I could improve my hunter progression raiding. I’ve made a couple of observations for the first four bosses, which could be helpful if you often “spec dance” (as opposed to an “aspect dance”).

Morchok (and trash)

  • Boulder Smashes from Earthen Destroyers are hard to see sometimes, especially since they are swirling white things on the pale blue snow. Keep on your feet. It probably doesn’t hurt much to just be on Aspect of the Fox and run around, especially if you’re pulling two of these at the same time.
  • There aren’t many trash mobs before Morchok, so Marksmanship or Beast Mastery might be a better choice than Survival here.
  • As a single target fight, Morchok is more favorable for Marksmanship and Beast Mastery. If you are assigned as someone who has to take a Resonating Crystal, being in Survival will hurt because as you are moving around from crystal to crystal, you won’t have the extra Cobra Shot crit from Sniper Training often.
  • Remember that you can position yourself during Black Blood of the Earth such that you can still shoot while behind a shards.

Warlord Zon’ozz (and trash)

  • Once again, trash mobs favor Marksmanship and Beast Mastery because they’re static and are spread apart, so you won’t be able to do much area damage.
  • Marksmanship may be the favored talent choice for this fight because of the shorter Rapid Fire cooldown, so you can activate it every time Zon’ozz goes into his diffused phase. If Rapid Fire is not ready by then, you still have Readiness.

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping (and trash)

  • Survival is nice for the trash here since every pack of three globules are close together, and area damage can probably help kill them faster.
  • For Yor’sahj himself, you’d probably want to go Marksmanship or Beast Mastery. When the globules form, I often use an Aimed Shot to open as Marksmanship since it can drop the globules’ health a couple of percentage points immediately after they spawn, especially with Careful Aim in effect. This should make killing your globule faster. Beast Mastery could probably use Bestial Wrath when it’s off cooldown to help as well. The amount of movement also makes this fight unfavorable for Survival in my opinion.
  • If you get a black globule, put down and Explosive Trap on his feet. It will help with killing the additional mobs faster.

Hagara the Stormbinder (and trash)

  • Obviously Survival will shine during Hagara’s trash because there are so many of them.
  • Hagara herself is another story, however, as I think Marksmanship would be the most viable talent of choice for the fight. For some reason, my pet always dies during the storm phase when everyone is trying to connect the Lightning Conduit. At this point, I’m going to assume that pets themselves can act as a conduit, so they’re also conducting and taking damage but not receiving enough heals from just Mend Pet. I’ve not tried if Beast Mastery pets can survive this phase, but I think the amount of target switching in this fight makes the talent a less favorable choice anyway. Once again, more movement also means less time spent with Sniper Training active as Survival.

None of these observations have any scientific backing to them. They are just my gut feeling, but feel free to let me know other hunter pointers or observations any of you have made.


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