Wednesday, February 4, 2009

[Druid] (UPDATED) Gearing and strategies for Heroic Sarth3D

artist rendition of Sartharion. Notice dangerous breath and big, beefy arm.

UPDATED: changed FR value to be 334, which is what current testing shows to be needed. Added a bit more help on how to get to 334 with pieces of gear.

Yesterday I went over the new mechanics of how resistance works. Now let's go over some of the particulars of why we care: Sartharion with all the drakes up.

Sartharion with 3 drakes (Sarth3D from now on) is the hardest raiding challenge in the game, currently. Oddly enough the 10-man version is harder than the 25 due to the DPS budget being very high, the inability to heavily stack the raid and the necessity for a tank to survive more huge breaths without a ton of cooldowns. But I get ahead of myself. This is dealing with the 25-man version. I've not tried the 10-man version and can't speak with experience to it. Hopefully soon. :)

The basic particulars of the fight can be found at wowwiki. A guide to basically how we did it as well as a really excellent movie can be found at Fusion Strats. I'll do an overview of the 3-drake version.

The environment is the same for all of the difficulties of this fight:
  • There are lava waves that come from one side of the island to the other in 30 second intervals. They have holes in them in predictable places depending on which side they come from so that players can move to them and dodge. They cause a knockback and a good amount of damage in the 3D version - enough to kill you.
  • There are meteors that randomly target a player. If they hit you, they will spawn a fire elemental add that should be tanked. These also do significant damage at the worst part of the fight and can easily result in someone's death. If a fire elemental gets hit by a lava wave, they will enrage and do 3x the damage and have 3x the health.
  • Then there are the void zones. These look identical to KT's void zones and with 3D's buffs up, will one-shot most players as well.
Now on to the actual fight:

First, Sartharion is activated. With 3 drakes alive the raid gains significant debuffs that stay on them until those drakes die: 100% shadow damage (Tenebron), 100% fire damage (Shadron), 25% less health (Vesperon), He is tanked away from the landing points of the drakes while the DPS classes stay fairly calm and await Tenebron at his landing point. DPS shouldn't bother really working hard on doing damage to Sartharion at this point; it doesn't help and can only bother a tank who is very survival-geared and is likely struggling with threat.

30 seconds into the fight, Tenebron lands. This is where the test begins. Tenebron is tanked and dpsed immediately. The goal is to kill Tenebron in 45 seconds. After a short time, Tenebron spawns a portal which spawn adds. These spawn every 45 seconds or so, and if two spawns of adds occur it is almost certainly a wipe. So there's the first step: your tanking and DPS must be good enough to down Tenebron in 45 seconds or so. If you can't do this, you're going to have some problems.

45 seconds after Tenebron lands, Shadron lands. This is where things get tricky. Shadron himself provides a 50% fire damage buff to Sartharion, meaning his breath is doing 200% * 150% = 300% damage. This is on the order of 32-42k damage, and that's with your tank having a 25% less stamina debuff on them. Even with defensive abilities and some resistance the tank on Sartharion will taking some damage here. Ideally when Shadron lands, Tenebron is dead. Immediately after Shadron lands, he needs to be tanked and hopefully DPSed hard. There is no hard set rule on how long he can be up, but it should be no more than perhaps 120 seconds. In addition to that, the flame adds that pop up are now doing more damage thanks to Shadron and the whelps are doing a fair amount of damage. Shadron also spawns an acolyte who makes Sartharion completely immune to damage and increases shadow damage. Fun times.

45 seconds after Shadron lands, Vesperon lands. This is the hardest part of the fight. There is almost no possible way that Shadron will be dead at this time unless you have ridiculously awesome DPS. Vesperon also needs to be tanked, though no DPS should be on him; all DPS should be on Shadron (or the adds if they get too crazy). Shortly after he lands, Vesperon will also launch a portal. His acolyte increases fire damage by another 75% and causes Twilight Torment, which does 3k shadow damage whenever anyone does any damage.

At this point in the fight you will have Shadron up, vesperon up, and both acolytes up. This means lava waves are instantly fatal and must be dodged by everyone. The fire elemental adds are doing 3-4k damage per hit, and there are probably many. Meteors do 12k damage. Shadron and Vesperon's breath do 10k each. There may still be whelps up, and they do significant damage. Every dps is taking 2-3k damage per attack.

And Sartharion's breath does a whopping 57k-74k damage.

The goal is to survive this hell long enough to kill Shadron. If you can do this and have enough people to survive, you have it won. Typically on your first couple of wins, your Sartharion tank will take about 3 giant breaths before Shadron dies, 4 if you're unlucky or slow.

If you down Shadron and have most of your people up, the next step is to kill the acolytes, then kill adds, then kill Vesperon. Kill another acolyte if it spawned. Then kill Sartharion. By comparison, this part is really easy; the hardest part is stabilizing after Shadron is dead. Chances are there will be a few people dead and you'll have to struggle to survive against the twilight torment buff, but if you can it's smooth sailing.

For tanks, there are basically three jobs: tanking the drakes, tanking the adds, and tanking Sartharion himself. In practice the non-Sarth tank will be tanking adds and drakes. Anyone can tank drakes, but because of the double duty druids make the worst tanks for anything other than Sarth; they simply have too hard of a time dealing with the amount of adds that spawn, and without a block mechanic take a lot more damage. Paladins and Warriors are best for these roles.

And thanks to how druid mechanics work, they're one of the best at tanking Sartharion. DKs and druids are both pretty advantageous. Before the resistance stuff, most guilds went with either a well-geared DK who could use their multiple, quick-reset cooldowns to mitigate most of Sartharion's breaths or a druid who could use their cooldowns + external cooldowns such as guardian spirit or hand of sacrifice and huge HP to survive. A decently geared druid could get well over 52k HP for this fight before the 25% debuff, which made surviving the Shadron-buffed breaths easy and the Vesperon-buffed breaths doable with big cooldowns or help from others. It was harder for a warrior or paladin to do this as they would likely need buffs to survive the breaths before Vesperon landed, meaning the coordination was even more demanding.

How it usually worked is that they'd use survival instincts + barkskin for the first breath and then pain suppression/hand of sacrifice/guardian spirit for the next ones until Shadron was dead. This requires that you have those classes available and you have a clear communication with those players so that they know who is up next. If your buffers die, you may wipe. If they're slow you may wipe. If they get tail swiped or get confused, you may wipe. That's why most people believe (correctly) that the best tank for this job is a death knight, since they don't have to worry about anyone else. The disadvantage is that they won't have as much armor as a druid and won't have as much health, making them squishier for earlier phases and harder to heal when Sarth gets really buffed up later.

And as we showed yesterday, there is a better way.

an example of where not to tank Sartharion

Instead of having to rely on using every ohshit button known to man, what if we do this a bit smarter? The melee attacks Sarth does are strong, but not so bad on a druid; they start at about 8k and move up to 12-14k at the end of the fight, but that doesn't matter. If we instead concentrate on dealing with the worst case - the breaths - via resistance gear, and we know something about how they work, we can figure out what we need to survive the worst possible case.

Well, if we can guarantee that we have 30% resisted breaths at all times, the worst damage we can possibly take (after protector of the pack and BoSanc/Grace) is 44112 damage. To get that, we need 334Fire Resistance. If we want to use barkskin to save ourselves from that attack, we need 47k health before the -25% debuff. If we want to use survival instincts, we need 45k. If we want to use a mighty fire protection potion and a nightmare seed, we need 50.5k.

So the magic numbers if you don't want to have to worry about other people saving your furry butt is 334 Fire Resistance and 50.5k health before Vesperon's debuff. Or 37900 afterwards. More fire resistance is pretty good too, by the way, but it's good like avoidance is. There's no guarantee that you will take less damage, just better chances that you will.

The problem with this plan is that unlike BC, there's not really any good resistance gear that's craftable or purchaseable. What is the general gearing strategy you should use?

You should be shooting for maximum stamina, good armor, and as much fire resistance as makes sense. You must get 334 FR and 50.5k health. Threat is not important on this fight at all in this role, and in fact it makes a lot more sense for another tank to taunt off you after the worst breaths are done, as they'll have more avoidance and likely do more threat. Similarly, dodge isn't important at all either. The physical attacks hurt, but they're not going to kill you. So your gems should be stamina gems unless the socket dictates otherwise (and even then it should be a part-stam gem). Your enchants should be stam related or fire-resist related.

And here's how you get 334 Fire resist without sacrificing too much.

Well, for starters, a fire resist aura is 130 FR right off the bat. That's pretty easy.
There's no stamina boost for cloaks, so the superior fire resist cloak enchant (+20 FR) doesn't really trade anything other than avoidance. And for this, dodge doesn't matter.
Another easy one is the Arcanum of the Flame's Soul - requiring honored with Kirin Tor. That trades basically 7 stamina for 25 fire resist, which is a great tradeoff.
You can use a Lesser Flask of Resistance (50 FR) or a Flask of Chromatic Wonder (35 FR, 18 stam). Assuming we use a lesser flask of resistance, that gives us 225 of the 334 we need.

If we're a leatherworker, the easiest thing is to go with Fire Resist Fur Lining. This gives 60 FR and brings us to 285 FR. Yeah, we lose the 90 stamina, but it's still the best tradeoff on a per-slot basis.

If we're not a leatherworker, it gets trickier. The BC items like Inferno Hardened Gloves
are a good tradeoff for the stamina. Because of the sockets, Blastguard Pants are slightly better than the badge legs. However, the real win comes from random dungeon greens you might find on the AH. The Geist Gloves of Fire Protection give 65 stam and 40 FR - better than the Inferno-Hardened. There are similar rings and amulets that have good bonuses like this. You have to get lucky, but trading a ring and an amulet for two FR pieces will be enough and shouldn't set you back too far in stam.

After 285, your best bet is the AH. Look for greens of Fire Protection as mentioned above. If you have the old Inferno Hardened Gloves or legs, those are a good choice. All you need is 50 more FR, so gloves + a couple of patches should do the trick.

And then the rest needs to be awesome gear of awesome. Well, kind of.

Head Valorous Dreamwalker Headguard
Neck (random green of fire prot)
Shoulders Valorous Dreamwalker Shoulderpads
Chest Polar Vest
Waist Polar Cord
Legs Valorous Dreamwalker Legguards
Feet Polar Boots
Wrist Bindings of the Tunneler
Hands Valorous Dreamwalker Handgrips
Finger1 Gatekeeper
Finger2 (random green of fire prot)
Trinket1 Essence of Gossamer
Trinket2 Commendation of Kael'thas
Back Cloak of the Shadowed Sun
MainHand Origin of Nightmares
Ranged Idol of Terror

As you can see, a lot of this isn't even best in slot. There's the Polar gear, a valor badge ring, a heroic trinket, and a crafted neck. The shoulders and legs are purchaseable. The head isn't best in slot; Hood of the Exodus would be better. And the bracers aren't all that hot either. The total values from this set of gear is 345 FR and 50.9k health. I'm a tauren, so you'll have 50.7k as a nelf. Still, that's enough to survive. This wasn't my gear, even; I chose to go with more FR (I had 310) and less stamina (50.5k). But that was enough.

If you're not a leatherworker...well, hopefully you have other profession buffs to deal with it. If you replace the fur lining with a 46stam/30 FR ring and 46 stam/30FR neck, you actually get slightly more health. (fewer other good stats like avoidance and threat, but a smidgen more health). This assumes a 50 stamina boost via a profession. If you don't have that, you'll need to get better gear in various slots. And if you're a Nelf, you might need more too. Again, all of this is doable, but you may have to juggle depending.

As to the strategy, we followed fairly close to what Fusion did. We used 4 tanks instead of 3 and 7 healers. I was the Sarth tank, and we MDed to me and tanked him on the last small island before you get to the main one. This had the disadvantage of having his head close to the healers so they could be easily breathed on, but had the advantage that I didn't have to move that much to avoid lava waves and the healers didn't have to move as much either (and could avoid the tail swipe. We had a holy priest and a paladin on me for heals, and afterwards they mentioned how healing was not particularly difficult; they had healed the add/drake/raid damage before, and that is where the action really is. I would call out which side the wave was heading, as I could easily see it and wasn't doing much. Honestly, there's very little that the MT gets to do. Threat isn't an issue, and for a large chunk of the fight that matters you can't actually damage Sartharion. We used our bloodlust at the start of Shadron's landing, and then again when Sartharion reached 10%.

The important part as MT is to call out the waves, sit tight, don't attack more than you need to (Sarth can be parry hasted), and watch Sartharion's cast bar. You have 2 seconds to get a cooldown on you to survive his breath, minus lag. I personally used barkskin for the first, survival instinct for the second, and Mighty Fire Protection Potion and Nightmare seed for the third. After that, hopefully barkskin will be up.

After Shadron's death, another tank taunted off of me so that I could res a DPS. From then on I was going into portals, killing flames as they spawned, and relaxing.

Hope that helps out all you prospective tanks. Good luck finishing up the current content. :)


Torosso said...

A better ring for stam is the crafted frost resist ring - Titanium Frostguard Ring

Its got 100 stam and a socket for even more stam - win.

hypetech said...

Also with mixology the Lesser Flask of Resistance is bumped up to about 75 FR (can't remember exactly) while Chromatic Wonder, with mixology, is only 39.

kane said...

I'm Warscreamer of Moonglade, and I am feral tank with ambition to tank this dragon.
However my trade skill is no leatherworking, but jewelcrafting.
I saw that you use Commendation of Kael'thas, good choice to avoid melee hit afer breathe, however I have access to Figurine - Monarch Crab, I use to put Solid Dragon's Eyes to get IMBA stamina trinket, only disadvantage is 1min cooldown on use.
Would you kindly suggest me which one of them is better for tanking Sarth?

Cypis said...

With barkskin, you need 35289 health (or 47053 without the 25% buff).
With Survival Instincts you need 45243 health without the 25% buff).
With nightmare seed and a mighty fire protect potion, you need 50549 health.

Any chance you could post the numbers for the 10man version? I'm terribad at math apparently :(

Mugio said...

I'm curious about your choice to gear for 277 resist. I agree that it is easy to get for most people and that you'll still be wearing a large portion of very good gear. Hitting 277 will be my initial goal.

I wonder if it would be better to gear for 415 resist. It seems like its possible to reach 415 resist and still have 50k buffed HP pre-debuff based on some posts seen on EJ. Is the lost of armor and dodge in such a setup worth the additional reduction in breath damage?

Race said...

Liar! Thats Trogdor the Burninator, not Sarth! Lying Liar who Lies!

Taran said...

I said consummate V's! Consummate! Guy wouldn't know majesty if it bit him in the butt...

Kalon said...

Torosso - I completely forgot about the Titanium Frostguard ring. Yeah, that is definitely a better choice overall.

Hypetech, I purposely tried to avoid mentioning specific bonuses for professions other than leatherworking - but you're right, alchemy also has an innate advantage because of mixology. 25 more FR can really help here, and would mean you'd only need one ring or amulet with 30 FR to get to the 277 point.

Kane - thanks for coming by. I use the commendation because I'm not a JC. If you have a monarch crab, that's obviously a much better choice here.

Cypis, in 10man the max breath you can take at 277 FR is 35291 damage, which equates to a bit over 47k before the fight. So you shouldn't need to use any cooldowns to survive it - though you might consider it to make your healer's lives a bit easier.

Mugio - thanks for coming by as well. The EJ posts that reference 415 FR are decent, but they also reference having no less than 4 AH green FR items. That's not likely to happen any time soon. If you can get to 415 FR though you'll be mitigating a ton of damage, and if you have 50.5k health you'll be able to deal with all breaths without a single cooldown. Still, it's a very costly task that requires a lot of sacrifice, and more importantly it's just not that necessary.

Race - Trogdor Strikes again! HAHAHAH

Taran - that happened to me once.

hypetech said...

Just double checked and lesser flask of resistance is 82 resistance with mixology.

Anonymous said...

We did 3D last night for the first time in what took us easily over 100 tries. This was the first time we tried the resist strat, I wanted to hit the 415 mark and was able to get a decent set to 418. I have no pieces from the AH and 3 old pieces from tanking the Adds with Illidan.

I am using only 6 solid sky gems,so my stam could be higher, but I didn't want the trade off.

I am LW/enchanter

Head Val Dream Headguard
Neck Heritage
Shoulders Val Dream Shoulderpads
Chest Polar Vest
Waist Polar Cord
Legs Inferno Hardened Leggings
Feet Polar Boots
Wrist Sinner's Bindings
Hands Inferno Hardened Gloves
Finger1 Phoenix-fire Band
Finger2 Titanium Frostguard Ring
Trinket1 Essence of Gossamer
Trinket2 Commendation of Kael'thas
Back Platinum Mesh Cloak
MainHand Origin of Nightmares
Ranged Idol of Terror

Character: cavlon@US-detheroc
Race: Tauren
Fire Resist: 418
Health: 49441
Agility: 741.7689
Armor: 30960.54
Stamina: 3903.768
Dodge Rating: 98
Defense Rating: 85
Resilience: 0
Dodge: 33.67037%
Miss: 5.095427%
Mitigation: 70.16603%
Avoidance PreDR: 41.26205%
Avoidance PostDR: 38.7658%
Total Mitigation: 81.73141%

The fight was ridiculously easy, will be doing the 10 man this weekend. Thanks for the info your site!

Anonymous said...

sorry, should have pointed out that I have the 8 Fr chant to gloves and was using the 50 resist flask.

Kalon said...

Anon/cavlon - grats! And I'm glad to hear that it went so smoothly. The FR set really makes a difference in 10 man, I'm told; since you don't need any cooldowns you can spend as long as you want killing the disciples or the drakes without it being a problem on your side. That takes a lot of the time pressure off and makes things a lot more manageable.

Flamedor said...

Thanks about this. My guild have started work on 3 drakes now and I had yet to see any summarising posts regarding fire resistance, and as a result I was reluctant to try it.

However, I have noticed that you have not included Mark of the Wild in your resists, this can increase your resistance by a further 76, which means you only need to look for 71 fire resistance. This is hardly a pain to get :)

Unless, of course, I am stupid and this does not stack with the aura?

Flamedor said...

Ah, on further research it appears they don't stack. How I have not found this before I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I have been looking to build a Sarth3D tanking set for a bit now and am glad to see a concise list of gear that would get the job done. My GL isn't too sure about using FR for this fight, but I think he will change his mind once I put this set together.

Hopefully this will get me removed from the whelp/fire adds tank spot (which druids are horrible for).

Aberdee said...


Kalon thanks to your FR gear list, and Torosso thanks to your ring suggestion, our little 10 man group within a 25 man "serious but not hardcore" raid guild managed to clear OS+3 10 man for the first time tonight, an achievement that many people probably thought was beyond our guild.

For anyone else trying to gear up - I (druid) had JC instead of leatherworking, and used a Monarch Crab with 2x +41 stam gems and a belt buckle with a +41 stam in it (didn't need socket bonuses elsewhere).

So - thanks buddy, and many congratulations on your new family.

Kalon said...

Aberdee - thanks and congrats on your kill!

Aberdee said...

ANOTHER thank you!

We just cleared it 25 man, too...


Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoble said...

Yet another "Thanks!" for this awesome post. We'd been struggling with the fight but trying the resist strategy helped a ton. I had a stamina set before that I could get to 54.7k buffed hp.. dropped off 3k hp and picked up the extra FR to get to 341 FR and proceeded to win easily. Never died to a fire breath unless healers were dead and I wasn't full life.

Again, thanks for this awesome and informative post! I also loved the related one about how resistance works.

Phil said...


sorry I just can accross this post looing for good DK tips