Healing Notes: Mythic Hellfire Assault

Recently I’ve taken over more responsibility in my raid team, and have been quasi-coordinating our healing team, picking things like healing comp and raid/tank CD uses. I thought it might be interesting to kind of document my experiences here, for those of you who may be progressing at a similar rate to us and are looking for tips and tricks on how to approach Mythic encounters from a healing team perspective. As well, this will hopefully help me analyse and improve upon my own leadership skills – something I’m pretty terrible at.

This is my first attempt at a simple, but hopefully informative, analysis of Mythic Hellfire Assault’s healing requirements. I’ll be providing simple comp advice, detail any healing strategies, and when the encounter warrants it, I’ll address more advanced issues too. I’ll be assuming you already know the encounter itself, but I’ll provide a link to my detailed guides on Wowhead just in case. 🙂

So here goes:

Mythic Hellfire Assault Setup & Composition

Hellfire Assault Wowhead Guide
Recommended number of healers: 4
Recommended composition: 2 Discipline Priests, 1 Holy Paladin, 1 of {Restoration Druid > Mistweaver Monk > Restoration Shaman > Holy Priest}

Two Discipline Priests are desirable because this fight features extremely heavy tank damage. While Holy Paladins are excellent tank healers (particularly with 2-piece tier 18 and the Archimonde trinket), they typically deliver tank healing passively via Beacon, and tanks will require more dedicated healing than that. As I’ll cover later, this is one of the more tank-damage-intensive fights we’ve encountered thus far.

I prefer healers with tank cooldowns for the final spot. Of the remaining healers, I think Restoration Druids are a great choice since they can frequently Ironbark the tank and can put up some strong tank healing with few GCDs, focusing the rest of their healing on the spiky raid damage. Mistweavers also have a fairly frequent tank CD, but it is weaker against this heavy type of tank damage (the fixed absorb will break very quickly, offering little to no benefit from the increased HoT effect).

Send a Discipline Priest to each side, and be sure they are specced into Clarity of Will. Put your tank with weaker CDs with the Disicpline Priest/Holy Paladin healing team.

Damage Patterns & Healing CDs

As I just alluded to, the majority of the healing in this fight will be tank healing. Hulking Berserkers will afflict their tanks with Slam, which increases all Physical damage taken. The speed at which your raid can kill Hulking Berserkers while still maintaining the priority kill order on the other adds will determine how dangerous the tank damage becomes, but you’re rather likely, even with a few Legendary rings in the raid, to see Slam reach 3 or 4 stacks.

Tank CDs should be used when the tank is tanking a Hulking Berserker or Grute and has several stacks of Slam. Something like 3 stacks is a good time to start rolling lighter cooldowns, with heavier cooldowns used during 4-5 stacks. It will probably take your raid a few attempts to figure out when these cooldowns are most necessary, and how to align them with tank cooldowns. Having tanks call out for cooldowns is generally the best idea.

When no Hulking Berserkers are active, tank damage is fairly light.

Another source of high single-target damage is linked to the Felfire Munitions mechanic. The player who collects Felfire Munitions will take fairly heavy damage while running up to the Hellfire Cannon, and may also take damage from Felfire Artillery or Felfire Flamebelcher attacks at the Cannon. There should be a designated Munitions-runner for each side; be sure to keep that player topped up, and shield/HoT them before they begin their run. You may wish to save instant heals for this player as they return from the task, as they will quite likely be at low health. Holy Paladins should consider placing their second beacon on the Munitions-runner whenever the other tank is out of range.

In some raids, Holy Paladins or Restoration Druids are used as the Munitions-runner. This allows the Munitions to reach the Cannons without loss of DPS uptime, and as these healers have some mobility (with Speed of Light for Paladins and Displacer Beast/Dash for Druids) they can run the box quickly and return to heal the raid. This requires your Discipline Priest(s) to effectively solo-heal a side for several seconds, but you can delay running the box until the raid is stable.

Raid damage is mostly spiky – from the first phase’s Howling Axe to the rest of the fight’s Conducted Shock Pulse and occasional Felfire Volley. Raid damage does become high, whenever there is a Felfire Demolisher active on your side of the encounter area. Their Massive Siege Nova attacks deal moderate to heavy raid damage, and when a Felfire Volley goes off at the same time, this can be really devastating. Use minor cooldowns like glyphed Avenging Wrath or the Legendary ring effect to heal through this.

If a Gorebound Felcaster is pushed to Metamorphosis at the right time, the raid will take very little damage from the ensuing uninterruptible Felfire Volleys. However, if the Felcasters are accidentally dropped below 50% health while the rest of the raid is focused on killing a Hulking Berserker or a Fel-Infused Siege Weapon, then you may take heavy raid damage. Wiping to this is in no way the healers’ fault – controlling Metamorphosis is an essential tactic of the fight, and your raid must learn how to avoid this happening. However, popping some damage-reduction CDs or calling for things like Rallying Cry or Vampiric Embrace/Ancestral Guidance from your DPS players can save you from the brink … sometimes.

The mini-boss interlude from 3-5 minutes in the fight also features heavy raid damage, and it is here that major cooldowns should be used. It’s possible to use something like Tranquility early in the fight and have it back up for dangerous points within the mini-boss phase, so consider sending your Resto Druid healer to the left side where the Demolisher arrives early.

Because the raid must spread out to avoid chaining Conducted Shock Pulse damage, area-limited cooldowns like Spirit Link Totem or Power Word: Barrier can be difficult to optimize. Consider using these as additional tank CDs instead of raid CDs.

Dispels & Important Debuffs

You’ll want to monitor the following debuffs:

  • Slam on your side’s tank (Here is a WeakAura to monitor Slam stacks – very simple, but requires you to have your tank focused).
  • Felfire Munitions on your side’s Munitions-runner, just so you know it’s up.
  • Corruption Siphon during the mini-boss phase will put players on extremely low health; they require focused healing and, when possible, absorbs to protect them from other sources of damage.

Dispels are required for players who are stunned by the initial hit of Conducted Shock Pulse. This is especially important if it is your co-healer who is stunned!

Effective Health Monitoring

As a Restoration Shaman who tried healing this in progression – and ultimately sat myself, since I have that power now 😛 – I can tell you that one thing I found really vexing about this fight is the way that Clarity of Will and other absorption effects can obscure the incoming damage pattern on the tank. To me it felt like the tank was on 100% health pretty much all of the time, and then suddenly – BAM! – the tank’s health would plummet, and he’d be dead before I could even get a Healing Surge off.

I thought, you know, maybe I was just bad, and didn’t notice tank damage early enough. So I dug in to logs and made a graph of the tank’s apparent HP against the incoming damage on one of the attempts where I felt helpless to keep the tank alive, and here is what things looked like:

Tank's HP in green; damage taken per second in red

Tank’s HP in green; damage taken per second in red. Click to enlarge.

It’s no wonder I found this problematic! Look at that spike just after 3 minutes – yeah, there’d been some spikiness before, but the tank was stable for over 15 seconds and then pow, down to 20k health in just over 2 seconds. I was lucky that I’d just finished a cast, and was able to get a Healing Surge off in time to start bringing his health back up. I wasn’t so lucky the next time this happened…

Even just tracking Slam isn’t enough, although Slam stacks correlate a lot more closely with incoming damage than the tank’s apparent HP does:

Slam stacks (yellow) vs incoming damage (red). Click to enlarge.

Slam stacks (yellow) vs incoming damage (red). Click to enlarge.

You can see that, when Slam stacks are high, incoming damage is pretty high. But there are times where the damage spikes even without high Slam stacks.

The takeaway point here is that the tank’s current HP is in no way actually indicative of the tank’s actual health. You need to be able to see the tank’s effective health clearly in order to see when the damage spikes are coming. And I found the standard UI’s raid frames – which I’ve otherwise been using for this tier, since I like the way they handle mechanics in later fights – to be woefully inadequate at that. I used to track total absorbs on a target when I was playing a Discipline Priest, but it wasn’t really relevant to me as a non-Disc player … until now.

You can use a WeakAura like this one to track the amount of Clarity of Will on the tank, and at least see when it is starting to get chewed through quickly. Something that tracks total absorbs might be more useful, but I don’t yet know how to do that myself – this is a good enough approximation to make healing the tanks on this fight about 100% easier. Alternatively, configure your UI to show a real indicator of how much absorption your tank has, and here’s the important part: swap to heal the tank when you see the absorption amount plummeting rapidly – even if the tank is on full HP. The damage is going to break through any second now and you need to be prepared.

This is another reason why healers like Restoration Druids or Holy Paladins are better suited to healing this fight – they can be more proactive or have effortless steady streams of healing rolling on the tank, giving them a little more time to react when they see damage break through the shields.

Good luck! And if you have any tips or tricks you’ve gained from healing this fight, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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About Dedralie

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3 Responses to Healing Notes: Mythic Hellfire Assault

  1. Lazio says:

    Hi,
    Restoration Druid here.
    I was assigned to carry the Munitions in my group and an Rsham did the same in the other group.
    As you said, my displacer-beast allow me to pick up the ammo, drop it and be back in less than 5 seconds so it was not really the problem.
    But, we noticed 2 things that can help.
    First, your healer partner can be stuned by a Conducted Shock Pulse after you already dispell another debuff on a dps. After it happend 2 times in a row we used the glyph for a second dispell.
    Second, we believe that picking up some ammo and delivering it is a triger for the next wave and so you may want to delay it until the raid is stable and the other side finished their pack too.

    This week we used legendary rings aroung 1min30 so we get it back for the mini boss.

    Hope this helps someone.
    Keep up the good work Dayani !

    Lazio – Dalaran (EU)

  2. Lothrik says:

    I use a WeakAura to track tank damage taken via the Resolve tooltip. That plus tank CD tracking will help you predict incoming damage spikes a lot more than absorb tracking IMO.

    Hand of Protection clears all Slam stacks and should be used periodically throughout the fight as tanks exhaust their available CDs. It’s basically a soft reset button on tank damage.

  3. Nzete says:

    We got our first kill tonight as disc, disc, pally, shaman. I was the disc with the shaman. Stemming from the discipline “can heal for crap”, I do find that shaman is my preferred healing partner for any two healing situation.

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