Oh Yeah, Gara’jal the Spiritbinder is Also Down
We downed Gara’jal on Thursday, but I’ve been far too lazy to post about it. I suppose I’d better post today in case we get another boss down tonight before reset.
People weren’t being very cooperative about posing for the screenshot, so the body despawned just before I hit Print Screen. *sigh*
This fight is the first real DPS check of Mogu’shan Vaults, what with its tight 6-minute enrage timer. At first we weren’t sure we would be able to do it and we almost gave up. We thought it might be better to gear up more before attempting it again, but we persevered and got it down!
Two Healers Instead of Three
We two-healed this encounter in order to squeeze out more DPS. This was not very difficult to heal through once we got the adds in the spirit world under control. For one thing, the insane mana regen you get from being in the spirit world makes it possible to heal very aggressively in the normal world. The only time mana was an issue was if the same healer was chosen as a Voodoo Doll three or more times in a row. Otherwise we just alternated going in and staying out, prioritizing sending the healer with the lowest mana in if necessary.
Because healing in the normal world was much more intensive, the spirit world healer’s job was to heal up people ASAP and then come back to the normal world to assist with healing there. The DPS in the spirit world won’t die without heals as long as they are healed up to full before the healer leaves.
Every minute or so Gara’jal will make the current tank and two random raid members into Voodoo Dolls. The Dolls copy all damage received onto each other. This means that it will feel like you have three tanks taking damage at all times. For example, let’s say that the current tank is hit by a melee swing for 65k and a Spiritual Grasp for 45k, while Doll 1 gets hit by another Spiritual Grasp for 50k. All three Voodoo Dolls would actually take 160k damage each, or a total of 480k damage between the three of them. As far as healing is concerned, this is less like AoE healing and more like heavy single target healing. For instance, I never really felt like there was a good time to hit Tranquility, (unless there were so many spirits alive in the spirit world that everyone was taking too much damage, in which case a wipe was imminent anyway.)
We found that the best way to reduce the damage the Dolls were taking was to reduce the damage the current tank was taking. The tank is still taking more damage than anyone else, but it’s being copied onto other people. So throwing Pain Suppression/Ironbark/etc. on the tank is going to reduce the damage that all the Dolls are taking too. So if a Voodoo Doll seems about to die, it’s actually more effective to throw a cooldown on the tank and then heal the Voodoo Doll up than it is to throw the CD on the Voodoo Doll.
We also found that DBM was going crazy throwing raid markers on people, which made it tough to tell who the Voodoo Dolls really were. This was a problem for assigning people to go into the spirit world, since Voodoo Dolls can’t get into it. I think the extra raid markers were being applied because the heroic version of this encounter applies a debuff to people who just left the spirit world, making them unable to return to it until the debuff drops off. However, this caused confusion for us on normal mode, so the healers and officers set up auras/custom debuffs in their raid frames to more easily see at a glance who was available to go to the spirit world.
In my opinion, the most important part of this fight is correctly managing the adds in the spirit world. If the adds don’t die fast enough the damage taken by the Voodoo Dolls will soon ramp up to a level that is simply impossible to heal through. At first we tried to be clever and create more complicated strategies to try to game the DPS buff, but none of those strategies were effective.
Always make sure there are two DPS and one healer (none of them Voodoo Dolls) standing on the Spirit Totem before it dies, and do not kill the totem as the boss is casting Banishment. Gara’jal will switch Voodoo Doll targets immediately after a Banishment, so if you kill the Spirit Totem at the wrong time there might be players who get turned into Voodoo Dolls just as the totem dies and then they won’t get into the spirit world. This is particularly devastating if it’s the healer that doesn’t get in, as the two DPS that did get in will simply die after 30 seconds.
DPS should stay in for the full duration and kill as many adds as possible. Healers should heal everyone up to full as quickly as possible and then leave the spirit world ASAP. DPS should click the extra action button to leave the spirit world when there are about 2 seconds left on the duration. You cannot click the button while casting, so make sure to cancel your cast before clicking. Upon leaving the spirit world the DPS will have a buff called Spiritual Innervation which will give them increased damage on the boss for 30 seconds, so they should not re-enter the spirit world until the buff falls off, unless all other DPS are Voodoo Dolls.
Beating the Enrage Timer
After finally figuring out what we were doing with the Spirit Totems, we were still hitting the hard enrage timer at about 15-20% health. All the strategy guides we’d read had suggested holding back Bloodlust/Heroism for Garajal’s 20% enrage, since at that point you can no longer enter the spirit world and damage from the adds starts to ramp up. But we weren’t getting to that point, so we decided to just blow Bloodlust off the top and see how much further that got us. By pre-potting and using Bloodlust early we managed to burn through about 20% of the boss’s health before he even cast the first Spirit Totem, and Bloodlust faded about 2 seconds after the totem was up, so we didn’t even delay getting into the spirit world very long.
That got us to within about 5% before hitting the enrage timer, so we still needed to find a bit more DPS. We decided to ignore the final totem before the 20% enrage. This meant that there were a few more adds up at the end, but we were able to heal through the extra damage, and it allowed us to get just enough extra DPS on the boss to get a kill.
Possible Encounter Bugs to be Aware Of
Gara’jal focuses on the Voodoo Doll tank and should never be attacking anyone else… except sometimes he did. The tank would be a Voodoo Doll, as expected, but the boss would be focused on some poor hapless DPS who would die. When this happened we just called a wipe and started over.
Every so often a healer would go into the spirit world and suddenly have no mana. At first I thought this was just me being lower on mana than I had thought, but I wondered why my low mana alerts hadn’t been going off. (And once I mentioned it our Disc Priest said it had been happening to him too.) I started trying to figure out what was going wrong and I would sometimes see something like this happen:
- I enter the spirit world with about 40% mana
- Once in the spirit world I randomly have 10% mana, and the mana regen buff does not appear to kick in
- I hit Innervate or pop a mana potion so that I can heal everyone up to full
- I leave the spirit world with about 10% mana
- I enter the normal world and suddenly have 80-100% mana
I don’t see how this could be anything other than a bug. Once I realized it was happening I started saving my mana cooldowns for it.