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Thread: Heroic Grand Empress Shek'zeer: Full Guide

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    Default Heroic Grand Empress Shek'zeer: Full Guide

    Copyright GabeStah Inc. All rights reserved. Contact

    Updated 02/08/13: Added Video Guide

    Video Guide

    Heroic vs. Normal

    Corrupted Dissonance Fields

    The first addition to Heroic Grand Empress Shek’zeer is the addition of Corrupted Dissonance Fields. One time during every pair of Dissonance Field spawns, one of the fields will become Corrupted, giving it a new ability called Corruption. Corruption is a Shadow Bolt shot at a random raid member dealing 75,000 Shadow Damage. While a Dissonance Field is Corrupted, it will cast Corruption at a rate of 3 bolts per second, for a total damage intake to the raid of 225,000 DPS prior to resists. We’ll get into the full details of handling these in that section.

    Heart of Fear

    The other addition to Heroic is a new ability in Phase 3 called Heart of Fear. This ability is cast every 10-15 seconds and originates from a swirly, white energy cloud that hovers in one position near the front of Grand Empress. The Heart of Fear ability will target a random raid member and indicate that target with a beam. After 6 seconds, the beam will expel energy from the energy cloud, hitting the first player the beam comes in contact with for 300,000 Shadow damage.

    Phase 1: Corrupted Dissonance Fields

    A Corrupted Dissonance Field is created at differing intervals depending if it is the first Pair of Dissonance Fields in the Phase or the second Pair. For Pair #1, the Corrupted Dissonance Field is created 12 seconds after the Pair #1 Dissonance Fields are spawned. For Pair #2, the Corrupted Dissonance Field is created 22 seconds after the fields are spawned.

    Just as with Normal difficulty, both Corrupted and non-Corrupted Dissonance Fields will only disperse when they reach 0 energy, at which time they will explode via the Sonic Discharge effect, causing 275,000 Physical damage to the entire raid and despawning the Field.

    Therefore, the goal during Phase 1 is to lessen the lifespan of each Corrupted Dissonance Field and therefore reduce time and total damage that the raid is taking from the Corruption bolts. Just as with Normal, raid members can purposely stand within a Dissonance Field and cast abilities to be “soaked" by the Field, draining energy at a faster rate. However, the primary method to drain a Field’s energy remains the use of Cry of Terror.

    Cry of Terror is cast on a random non-melee raid member during Phase 1 and on Heroic, deals an extremely high amount of damage of 72,000 Shadow damage every 2 seconds to the entire raid, or effectively 360,000 incoming DPS. Therefore, this damage should be mitigated by forcing the Cry of Terror target to stand within a Dissonance Field as much as possible, which will absorb the Cry of Terror damage and drain the Field energy.

    The trick or difficulty with Phase 1 is properly mitigating the damage of Cry of Terror by allowing that player to be within a Dissonance Field as much as possible, while also properly ensuring the Corrupted Dissonance Field is the first Field to drain energy and explode, and therefore delaying the non-Corrupted Field explosion long enough to heal the raid up again between Sonic Discharge casts.

    For Dissonance Field Pair #1, this can be executed very simply. By the time the Cry of Terror is active and that player is within a Dissonance Field, there will be only a few seconds remaining before the Corrupted Dissonance Field target is selected. Once the Corrupted Field is chosen, the Cry of Terror target should immediately move into the Corrupted Dissonance Field (if it is not the Field he or she is currently utilizing) and begin forcing that Corrupted Field to drain energy. If the Cry of Terror target reacts quickly and all future Cry of Terror players are certain to only step into the Corrupted Dissonance Field, then the Corrupted Field in Pair #1 will easily be the first to lose all energy and explode, with a few seconds before the second Field explodes as well.

    On the other hand, things are trickier for Field Pair #2. Since the Corrupted Dissonance Field is not selected until 22 seconds after the Dissonance Fields have spawned, simply forcing the Cry of Terror player to select one Field to utilize until that Corrupted Field is selected will cause a massive disparity in energy levels, and eventually leads to both Fields exploding simultaneously -- or nearly as bad -- the non-Corrupted Field exploding first, causing the Corruption bolts to continue hitting the raid after the massive explosion from the first Sonic Discharge.

    Therefore, to properly handle the timing for Field Pair #2, it requires the Cry of Terror player(s) to be vigilant about bouncing back and forth between both Dissonance Fields in Pair #2, to keep the energy levels roughly equal, until the Corrupted Dissonance Field is chosen and the raid can safely utilize only that Corrupted Field from that point forward for Cry of Terror mitigation.

    Phase 1: Cry of Terror

    Properly dealing with Cry of Terror is especially important given the massive damage that it can cause while the targeted player is standing outside of a Dissonance Field. However, as you’ll recall from Normal difficulty, while a player is within a Dissonance Field, he or she cannot recieve any form of healing (not even HoTs), and therefore will be forced to step out of the Dissonance Field when health levels reach a low but safe percent (typically 25-40%).

    This of course means that during the moments where a Cry of Terror player is without a Dissonance Field, the raid will be taking ~360,000 extra DPS from Cry of Terror ticks until the player can step back into a Dissonance Field. This leads to one very important rule: Healers must have an effective system worked out to quickly heal the current Cry of Terror player back to full or near-full health within a few seconds of the player stepping out of a Dissonance Field. How your raid manages this will depend on your composition of course, but there are a few tips that can help:

    1. Make good use of instant-cast spells.

    Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Power Word: Shield, Penance, Swiftmend, Riptide, etc. are all effective tools to quickly assist a Cry of Terror player that just stepped out of a Dissoance Field.

    2. Communicate!

    Both healers and the Cry of Terror targets should get in the habit of vocalizing their actions in relation to the Field. If a Cry of Terror player is stepping out of a Field and informs the healers of their action, the healers can immediately start casting a spell to land just in time. With 2 or 3 healers performing this action, a Cry of Terror target can be healed from 10% to full in 1-2 seconds and quickly step back into the Field safely.

    3. Assign healing roles.

    Some players and/or classes are better suited to certain roles, and handling Cry of Terror spot healing versus other raid-wide healing during Phase 1 is no different. Allow your healer(s) that excel at single-target or spot healing to handle Cry of Terror while stronger raid healers focus on the other tasks at hand.

    4. Cooldowns

    Cry of Terror when a Corrupted Dissonance Field is exploding can be especially dangerous: The Cry of Terror target needs to be high enough health to survive the Sonic Discharge damage, but simultaneously the raid can’t afford to have the Cry of Terror player step out of the Dissonance Field only moments before the explosion, causing a tick or two of Cry of Terror to hit the rest of the raid. Therefore, the best solution to this problem is the use of cooldowns. Since Sonic Discharge when a Field explodes is Physical damage, a Paladin’s Hand of Protection on the Cry of Terror target a few seconds before the explosion will completely negate the explosion damage for that player, effectively allowing the player to stay in the Dissonance Field throughout the explosion and therefore avoiding unnecessary Cry of Terror ticks on the rest of the raid. If Hand of Protection is not an option, other damage reduction cooldowns or absorptions will serve the same basic purpose.

    Phase 2

    The Heroic version of Phase 2 is mechanically identical to that of Normal difficulty. However, there are a few different strategies that can be utilized to handle Phase 2 which will slightly alter the setup and execution, so we’ll cover each of those in turn. First, however, we'll briefly cover the other Phase 2 mechanics.

    The first big issue is Poison Bomb casts from the two Reavers. On Heroic, each bomb hits for 84,000 Nature damage initially on a random target, plus another 15,000 damage every 2 seconds over 10 seconds, for a total damage of 159,000 per Bomb. Each Reaver will cast two Bombs simultaneously every 8 seconds throughout the phase, for a total DPS addition of 79,500 throughout the Phase. However, like everything else, this damage is also amplified by Band of Valor stacks, so with a 3/3/2 split strategy as seen below, this damage is up to 103,350 DPS to the raid. With a 5/3 split it's around 127,200, and with a 4/4 split the extra incoming DPS jumps up to 151,050 from Bombs alone!

    One key factor is that Bombs do not target melee players, and instead prefer to target ranged DPS or healers, so plan accordingly. However, since each Reaver can independently target a the same random ranged raid member, it's not uncommon for a single player to take a spike of 200k+ damage every 8 seconds from the initial Bomb damage alone, so try to keep the entire raid topped off throughout the Phase.

    Another common ability in Phase 2, though much less dangerous, is Dispatch from the Windblades. This spell is cast by a single, random Windblade every 15-25 seconds throughout the Phase and can and should be interrupted. Dispatch deals 200,000 Physical damage per tick on a random raid member within 30 yards, and does so every 2 seconds for the 10 second duration if not interrupted. Since Dispatch is never cast by two Windblade at the same time, and is also never cast by a Windblade that is currently Fixating, when directly targeting for a normal interrupt is difficult, Dispatch casts are a great time to use AE stuns on Windblade packs to both mitigate damage and easily interrupt the Dispatch cast.

    Strategy 1: 2-Tanks, 4/4 Split

    The most basic strategy for Phase 2 assumes two tanks, and is essentially identical to what you might use in Normal difficulty. Each tank holds the 3 Windblades and 1 Reaver that spawn from each cubby of the room, respectively, while the ranged raid members are positioned safely to gather Resin, form Crystals, and kite Windblades. This illustration shows a strong setup for this:

    The grey lines represent the first staircase in front of the Grand Empress’ platform, which comes to a head our point in the very center. If a raid marker is placed at the convergence points to either side of that central point, as indicated here by the Blue and Green markers respectively, then this provides a nice repeatable position for your tanks during Phase 2.

    Once those two markers are placed, directly “down" from the central staircase point (which is technically East due to the orientation of the room) another marker should be placed at max heal range equidistant from both the Blue and Green tank markers, as indicated here by the Purple/Crystal 1 marker. You can use a Monk statue, non-agroing totem, Druid Mushroom, or similar on either the Blue or Green marker to test maximum heal range of 40 yards to properly place the Purple marker without aggroing the boss (38 yards away is a safe bet).

    Finally, move “up" or West toward the staircase slightly from Purple, approximately 10-15 yards, and place your final Red marker. DO NOT place the Purple and Red markers too close together, as it is entirely possible for two crystals to trap the same mob simultaneously, wasting one entirely.

    As Phase 2 begins, the raid, and healers especially, should stack up near the bottom of the staircase between the Blue and Green tank markers, which will force any agro on the incoming mobs to cause them to path right through the tank marker locations, making pickup very easy. Once the tanks have their respective mobs, all healers and ranged should stack up on the first Crystal marker at Purple. This will cause all Resin casts to be immediately dropped off at the gathering location and therefore not linger on the raid any longer than necessary.

    Any raid member that becomes Fixated by a Windblade should first move forward (toward the staircase) slightly, then right or left to either side, away from the pursuant Windblade, somewhere in the Safe Kite Areas, until the Windblade stops fixating and he or she can move back into position. By staying within these kite areas when necessary, there is never a danger of a Windblade crossing over an existing Crystal location if it happens to reagro on a different tank.

    Once positions are established, DPS should of course burn down the Windblades as normal, keeping the final Windblade alive until about 10 seconds or less remain in the Phase 2 timer, at which point the Windblade should be killed and both Reavers trapped just like Normal difficulty. Killing the final Windblade with more than 10 seconds left on Phase 2 will cause the Phase to end prematurely, regardless of the time that was remaining for the phase.

    Strategy 2: 2-Tanks, 5/3 Split

    Very similar tactically and positionally to Strategy 1, this method is ideal for raids that have a particular tank that is better suited at a certain role. In this case, Tank A ends up holding 5 Windblades while Tank B has the remaining Windblade and both Reavers. This means that Tank A will be taking a huge amount of potential spike damage when all 5 Windblades are active and thus stacking the Band of Valor buff a great deal. The spike damage on this tank can be exceptionally high, so be prepared.

    Similarly, while Reavers do not deal very much damage in normal attacks, every 15 seconds they will each cast their usual Toxic Slime attack, which deals 150,000 Nature damage in a cone, thereby hitting solely Tank B in this scenario. However, with 2 stacks of Band of Valor on each Reaver due to 3 mobs in the pack, Toxic Slime will deal 240,000 Nature damage before mitigation. Since Reavers tend to cast this near simultaneously, this can be an exceptionally large amount of spike damage that must be dealt with. The time between casts is fairly static, so a small self-mitigation cooldown from the tank can alleviate some of the damage, but the biggest assistance is some form of effective health pool, such as Shaman heals for extra HP totals or Priest Absorbs, as well as innate health for the tank himself.

    In addition to the high spike damage potential, the other biggest difficulty with this strategy is performing the actual mob split as the Phase begins. If you do not have a form of threat misdirection (such as our raid sadly), properly getting 5 Windblades and 2 Reavers/1 Windblade on each tank respectively can be a real pain in the ass. The method that ended up working best for us was to have both tanks agro each 4-pack initially just like Strategy 1, and once in position, the tanks would quickly start taunting out their respective mobs to balance the sides. So Tank A that wants all Windblades would taunt one of the Windblades on Tank B, and Tank B would also immediately taunt the Reaver from Tank A. 8 seconds later when Taunt is up again, Tank A would grab the last Windblade from Tank B, giving us the 5/3 split we desire. However, while that method works most of the time, that’s a long period with mobs moving everywhere and a ton of spike damage on both tanks, so be very careful.

    Strategy 3: 3-Tanks, 3/3/2 Split

    Finally, we have a strategy that isn’t mentioned often for 10-man raids, but is all but the de-facto strategy for 25-mans and for very good reason: 3-tanking for Phase 2 almost entirely eliminates the potential spike/burst deaths on tanks during this phase and helps dramatically stabilize the damage intake over the entire raid.

    As seen in the diagram, the setup is similar to the other strategies, except we’ve added a fifth, Yellow raid marker directly “below" our Crystal 1 marker, for Tank C. The split is quite simple as well. Both Tank A and Tank B grab each 4-pack as they normally would, but meanwhile Tank C is taunting out the two Reavers as quickly as possible. Once the Reavers are properly agroed on Tank C, Tank C moves back into the Yellow position, being certain to always face the mobs away from the rest of the raid so Toxic Slime never hits anyone else (other raid members should also stay on or near the staircase at the start of the Phase for a while until Tank C is in position to avoid accidental Slime hits during the transition).

    Once in position, due to frequent Fixates, this 3-tank setup means that in most cases, any given tank will only be handling 2-3 adds at most at any given time, or a maximum of 60% increased damage from Band of Valor, which is quite manageable and saves a great deal of potentially required healing. Furthermore, while this image doesn’t indicate it directly, since both Reavers are now far below the raid, the safe area for kiting is actually all of the room to either side or “above" the raid if needed.

    Phase 3

    The best thing about Heroic Grand Empress Shek’zeer is that the hard parts occur early on, and even on Heroic, Phase 3 is actually quite simple to execute with very minimal practice.

    Phase 1 to Phase 3 Transition

    The first tricky thing about Phase 3 is properly timing the transition going from Phase 1 into Phase 3 safely. Since Grand Empress starts the transition at 30% health and the damage in Phase 3 combined with an explosion from a Dissonance Field carried over from Phase 1 would be quite deadly, the timing is vital.

    The best method we found was to plan the transition to occur between Pair #1 and Pair #2 of the Dissonance Fields during Phase 1. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Field Pair #2 will occur very soon after Pair #1 is gone if allowed to run out as normal (that is, drained solely via Cry of Terror). This can cause Dissonance Field Pair #2 to spawn just as the raid is transitioning into Phase 3, which is a certain wipe.

    The solution is fairly simple: When preparing to push into Phase 3, halt DPS on the boss around 32-33%, and manually force the Dissonance Fields to explode much sooner than normal by forcing ranged DPS and/or healers to step into them for a few seconds and cast a few spells. This can be performed on both Fields prior to the Corrupted Dissonance Field being selected as long as energy levels are kept fairly even, or it can be done on one Field at a time, starting with the Corrupted first and then the non-Corrupted after the Corrupted Field explosion. If done properly, this can allow the raid 20-30 seconds of lag time from the second Field explosion before Dissonance Field Pair #2 actually spawns in which to push the boss safely into Phase 3.

    The only other danger is that, almost certainly, Cry of Terror will be active still as Phase 3 begins. On our first kill, we did not properly plan for this and it cost us two deaths and nearly a wipe as the Cry of Terror damage is substantial, especially when combined with the spike damage in Phase 3 as well. Save cooldowns for this transition whenever possible.

    Phase 3: Execution

    Actually getting through Phase 3 is fairly simple. The first thing to do is establish the raid positions, which should be based on the location of the Heart of Fear energy cloud. Essentially, stack the entire raid, tanks included, with the Heart of Fear cloud on the opposite side of the boss relative to the raid position. This will force the Heart of Fear attack beam to always travel through the boss and therefore hit the tank(s), who should be in front of the rest of the raid slightly, prior to hitting anyone else and causing a potential death.

    When the cone attack of Consuming Terror forces the raid to move out of position, it is worth taking the extra time to move back into position opposite that Heart of Fear, as the DPS requirement is quite lenient in this final phase if the rest of the encounter went according to plan.

    Additionally, the raid should take care not to stand too near the back of the room where the Empress' "cocoon" is located, as this area is corrupted and will cause damage over time to any player within it. After our first kill, we have since learned that it is best to pull the boss slightly down off the staircase once the raid has entered Phase 3, to allow a safer position to move around when dodging Phase 3 mechanics without stepping in the corruption.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that Visions of Demise on Heroic is exceptionally dangerous and should be dealt with swiftly, as it deals 100,000 damage per tick while it is active. Make sure your healers have a good assignment about how to properly dispel without double coverage. For example, between our Paladin healer and me, our system is that he starts at the “end" of the raid list and I start at the “beginning" until we find the first possible dispel target, so we never crossover. With a third healer for dispel, if one of us gets the debuff as well, that player can dispel one person and we’ll still have proper coverage.

    Healing & Damage Management

    If there is one thing this encounter is known for, it is the crazy amount of damage dealt to the raid (and therefore required healing). A quick search on YouTube or similar reveals that the vast majority of 10-man kills for this encounter resort to utilizing 4 healers, which is quite absurd to not only be viable, but seemingly also encouraged by Blizzard due to the high incoming damage and low DPS requirement. Regardless of your strategy for this encounter, the total HPS that must be sustained throughout the fight is around 250-275k, and without very high DPS, early kills of this fight are likely to be nearly 15 minutes in length. So while that HPS requirement is not unheard of for a fight like Heroic Garalon, the difference is that Empress is well over twice the time and that HPS average includes any short break periods as well between Phase transitions. Maintaining 350k+ HPS during Dissonance Field explosion periods will not be uncommon, so getting used to the level of damage output can be tricky at first.

    Healing Composition

    There are two potentially dangerous sections to this encounter that have high spike damage and can cause a wipe: A) Corrupted Dissonance Field explosion + Corruption bolts + Cry of Terror ticks during Phase 1, and B) Heavy spike damage on tanks from adds early in Phase 2.

    For everything about Phase 1, there is no need to beat around the bush: Effective health is king. Disc Priests and Resto Shamans (albeit perhaps to a lesser degree) are super effective here, as they can essentially increase the potential damage taken for any given raid member by X% by adding effective health in the form of extra HP or extra absorbs. That’s not to say your raid will be better off replacing a strong healer with a weak one who happens to be an effective health booster, but if you do have these tools, making proper use of them will dramatically reduce the chance for death during Phase 1.

    Similarly, Shamans especially are very strong for tank healing in Phase 2 as mentioned before, increasing that effective HP pool dramatically and thus reducing the chance for a full-to-dead burst of spike damage on a tank.

    Phase 1 Healing

    1. Top off raid HP just before Dissonance Field explosions.

    Have the raid full or nearly full health just before the explosion by monitoring the energy levels of the field closely. DO NOT be mislead by the health of the field -- it is the energy that dictates when it explodes and often the Field's health drains faster than the energy. Follow-up the Sonic Discharge explosion with a quick raid-wide heal or two if possible to avoid any spike deaths from random Corruption or Dread Screech damage.

    2. Plan ahead who will heal the Cry of Terror target when he or she steps out of the Field to get topped off.

    3. Use a raid cooldown of some sort for every single Corrupted Dissonance Field explosion.

    For example, as a Mistweaver I’m able to get nearly the entire raid covered with Renewing Mist and stock up Chi as a Field explosion is about to hit, to ensure I have a quick series of 2-3 raid-wide heals available. We also have our Priest using Spirit Shell for every Corrupted Dissonance explosion and all raid members use a personal CD as well any time it is available.

    Phase 2 Healing

    1. Utilize the best strategy for your raid composition.

    Depending greatly on the strategy and raid composition you use (2-4 healers, 2-3 tanks), you may find Phase 2 healing anywhere from near-impossible to quite manageable. Based on our experiences trying everything mentioned thus far, I strongly recommend a 3-tank/3-heal strategy if your raid can manage it. As described above, this method makes Phase 2 much less dangerous and while spike damage still can and will occur on both tanks and raid members alike, you can easily assign one healer per tank and then allow all 3 healers to spend time spot healing the raid as well when his or her tank is not in danger.

    2. Rotate cooldowns and stuns.

    Windblades can and should be stunned anytime they are a threat and are not currently fixated (as they are immune during Fixate). This is especially important when using a 5/3 split strategy where most Windblades are attacking one single target. An AE stun can buy a great deal of time between cooldowns or personal mitigation abilities for the tanks and therefore greatly reduce required healing.

    3. Communicate when healers are fixated.

    A very common occurrence will be a healer that becomes Fixated and must kite a Windblade to one side or the other. This often forces the healer out of range of his or her “typical" healing targets, so make sure healers are vocal about when they are moving and what the other healers should cover in the meantime.

    4. Try to regen mana during the end of Phase 2.

    This is the only period in the fight where healing will not be as heavy as you’ll be down to 1 Windblade and 2 Reavers. Try to allow 2 or 3 healers if possible to halt all healing and completely regen during this period. Even 10-20 seconds of full-regen time can be a massive boost to mana pools and very vital as the fight progresses.

    Phase 3 Healing

    1. Make liberal use of the most efficient heals.

    Since the raid should be entirely stacked up during this Phase, this is a great time to make use of the most efficient AE heals available, such as Spinning Crane Kick, Chi Burst, Swiftmend, Wild Mushrooms, Holy Radiance, Healing Rain, etc. Tank healing is secondary as they do not take a great deal of damage and will be covered by the miscellaneous raid heals for the most part.

    2. Preemptively dispel-spam Visions of Demise targets.

    With the change to dispel mechanics this expansion, you can start spamming dispel a second or so before the actual Visions magic debuff is applied to the target without incurring a cooldown. While it will use an extra GCD or two to do so, if it saves a potential extra damage tick on that player, it will be well worth it.

    3. Don’t be fooled by Calamity.

    Since this spell always does 50% of the current health in damage, it often seems that the damage is much more severe in this Phase than it really is. This isn’t to suggest holding off on healing is a good move since Heart of Fear is still a potential hit on non-tanks if positions get messed up, but generally speaking the raid will seem to spike down from 100% to 30-50% very quickly, but rest assured that same drop won’t also occur from 30-50% down to zero as well, given that Calamity will only be half of their current health the next time around.
    Last edited by Kulldam; 02-08-2013 at 04:03 PM.

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