Back when Ulduar first came out, I hated this fight on normal. I had just had my mana regen nerfed to the ground and here was a fight were the Steelbreaker tank took so much damage (being only Naxxramas geared) that I had to spam Holy Light all out to keep him/her up. Added to the fact that I had to assign another healer to watch for the Fusion Punch debuff, it just seemed a giant pain. After having done it a few times, it stopped being so difficult. On both easy and medium modes, it became one of the easiest fights in all of 25-man Ulduar.
Then came the fight on hardmode and my hatred returned.
– Hardmode for 10-man raids –
Before I get into it for 25-man, let me first touch on the 10-man version of the hardmode. This is, in my opinion, one of the easiest hardmodes in 10-man Ulduar. Even before the ilevel 245 gear came out it was easy, so now it should be even easier. As this is pretty much a “healer” blog, I’m going to focus on what you have to do and ignore the rest. 😛
Most people run it with two tanks (one on Steelbreaker and one on the other two) and two healers (a tank healer and a raid healer). If your DPS is really, really good and your healers are under-geared, you -can- try it with three healers, but I don’t recommend it. Some good healer combinations are Disc priest/Tree druid, Healadin/Tree druid, or Healadin/Holy priest. I’d admit to have never tried the fight with a Resto shaman, but I’m sure it can be done. They’re quite good tank healers, although the DPS tends to be too spread out to let them really shine as raid healers here. For tanks, having a Prot paladin on Steelbreaker really helps, as they can focus on Cleansing the debuff off, letting the healer focus on healing him/her up after the Fusion Punch. Having a DK somewhere in the raid (doesn’t matter if it’s a tank or DPS) also is incredibly helpful, since they can just yank Brundir right off the blue runes.
There are three phases to this fight, one for each of the mobs. It’s generally considered good form to kill Brundir first so that your DPS can take advantage of the blue runes, so I’m going to assume that’s the way you’re doing it. Even if you kill Molgeim first, the fight is generally the same for healing.
Phase 1: Raid damage should be pretty light, so the Raid Healer will mostly be focusing on the Off-tank who is tanking both Molgeim and Brundir, throwing out occasional heals to the DPS who are taking a constant, low-level AoE. The Tank Healer should be standing well away from the raid, focusing on healing up the spike damage on the Main-tank from Steelbreaker’s Fusion Punch and dispelling the debuff. (And keeping him/herself alive!) If you don’t have a Prot paladin as your Main-tank, dispell -first.- This is very important, as the DoT will kill your tank incredibly fast (in a single tick later in the fight)! When you see Steelbreaker start casting his Fusion Punch, start hammering your dispell and the moment it’s dispelled, give a fast heal followed by a heavier heal. The main point of this phase is to conserve your mana and let the Tank Healer get into a rhythm.
Phase 2: Brundir is now down, so you’ll have blue power runes and green death runes to deal with. The Off-tank should be pulling Molgeim close to Steelbreaker, so the Tank Healer now will be keeping up both tanks at the same time. Raid damage increases a lot during this phase, so the Raid Healer should be focusing on that. Both healers need to be aware of where green runes are (they’ll kill people who stand in them, so more raid healing them) and where blue runes are (they buff the bosses, so the tanks will take -far- more damage) to ramp up the healing. Again, you need to focus on using as little mana as you can. A good idea on this phase is to have the Tank Healer stand off on their own, opposite the raid, but in range of the tanks. It makes him/her less likely to get a death rune, something that can really cause headaches when you’re trying to heal two tanks at once.
Phase 3: Here’s where the fun begins. Raid damage becomes extremely heavy and so does tank damage, but at least there’s only one tank at a time. You CANNOT let ANYONE die during this phase. If any of the DPS dies, it is a wipe. Steelbreaker does more and more damage with every death, both on the tanks and with the AoE, so you cannot afford to lose a single person. Also, it’s a DPS race at this point, so you can’t lose anyone for that reason, either. This is why you try to conserve mana during the earlier phases, because you have to go all out here. It will probably be necessary to have someone other than the Tank Healer dispelling the Fusion Punch debuff at this point, so if you can have a Shadow priest or a Ret paladin do that, it’d be best. If not, have the Raid Healer do it. If not, just be -really- on your toes. During the fight, there will be a tank switch. The first tank will explode (literally!) so don’t fret when they die, as it’s planned. The second tank will take even MORE damage than the first (as will the raid, joy), but this is the final stretch, so just spam like mad. If your DPS is up to snuff, you win! If not, the second tank will explode too and you’ll wipe. Fun!
– Hardmode on 25-man raids-
This is the one I really hate. The fight is fun and easy on 10-man, a giant pain in the butt on 25-man. This fight is all about coordination and survivability. Oh and no one can screw-up.
For raid make-up, you can be flexible. You’ll want three tanks (at least one Prot paladin is -highly- recommended), with your highest HP tank going last in the phase 3 rotation. You’ll also need plenty of good DPS, with enough Replenishment so that every healer will have it up always. Two DKs are recommended, but one is necessary, of any flavor. Then we come to healers. You’ll need 5-6 healers, depending on how good your DPS is. Our DPS is phenominal, so we tend to run with 6. Healer set-up and ability is very, very important. Each has to be able to pump out at least 5k HPS sustained and be very quick on their toes. There will be a constant raid damage that is extremely high, with three select ranged DPS (“soakers”) in the raid getting a debuff that ticks for 10k. I’m not joking when I say that damage is high and that your healers have to be at their best. Generally, it’s 3 raid healers and two tank healers who also heal the melee. For raid healing, Tree druids are absolutely insanely good during this fight (ours does about 8.5k HPS!), as are Holy priests. Disc priests can be surprisingly good, too, if they aren’t afraid to use Prayer of Healing a lot. We had one being responsible of our three “soakers” and she did so well at it, she had GCDs to bubble the tanks at times. For tank healing, a Healadin is pretty much necessary to keep up the tanks near the end of the fight with Beacon, while Holy Light bombing the raid. A Resto shaman or another Healadin should be doing the exact same thing. Again, Disc priests can be useful to help out with that. In general, Disc priests are good floaters for this fight. IMPORTANT: Have a healer assigned as a dispeller on the Steelbreaker tank at all times that you don’t have a Prot paladin tanking him. For our three “soakers,” we used two hunters and a Shadow priest. Shadow priests -rock- at it, since they take less damage, but if you have hunters, they need to do it, since they can’t DPS in melee. If you don’t have hunters, Arcane mages or warlocks are other good choices.
Phase 1: The easiest phase. We kill Molgeim first, as dealing with the green death runes just -sucks.- So long as everyone keeps well away from Brundir, this is all about saving mana. The tanks shouldn’t be taking much damage yet, so long as the bosses aren’t in the blue runes. All healers should try to end the phase as close to full mana as possible. Close to the end of this phase, Steelbreaker should be moved to the middle of the room (his final position) with your Death Knight(s) being ready to move Brundir to just north of him.
Phase 2: The goal is to get Brundir close enough to Steelbreaker that the melee will be able to kill Brundir while still within Steelbreaker’s hit box. All of the raid needs to be within Steelbreaker’s hit box area, other than the three designated “soakers,” during phases 2 and 3. That way, the only ones getting Static Disruption are the “soakers.” The Death Knight(s) should death grip Brundir so that the Steelbreaker tank is -just- outside the range of the Overload. The melee will be standing at Steelbreaker’s back, the “soakers” to either his left or right, the rest of the ranged DPS and all healers will be standing on Steelbreaker’s tank. During Overload, the melee run to the Steelbreaker tank with everyone else standing still, since they’re out of range already. The “soakers” might have to adjust slightly (not much, though) and their designated healer might have to move a little, too, but also not much. Having this positioning really helps limit the damage taken by the raid and allows the healers to not have to move around as much. After the last Overload and hopefully before Brundir dies, the healers and ranged DPS should move to Steelbreaker’s back, at least 15 yards from the tank. Luckily, Steelbreaker has a huge hit box, so it’s easy to do. 🙂
Phase 3: You should be set up with the entire raid stacked up behind Steelbreaker, within his hit box but at least 15 yards from the tank, with your three “soakers” at range from him and at least 12 yards from each other. Once the positioning is right, this is really just a matter of HPS. Keep everyone up! The tanks will be taking insane amounts of damage here and will -need- a cooldown for each Fusion Punch, as they will be one-shot without one. Try to keep vent clear so you can call when they’ve used their own cooldowns, having an order set for the healers to use theirs. Cleansing the Fusion Punch debuff should be given to a non-tank healer and you might want to consider having a Ret paladin or a Shadow priest do it. The healing needed on both the tanks and the raid is so high that losing a single GCD to cleanse it off could kill someone. The tanks need to count down to their Meltdown, so Steelbreaker can be taunted off; a smooth tank transition is very, very important. This phase is all about DPS and HPS, so keep it up. I save my Divine Sacrifice until the last tank of the phase and you might want to consider it too. The damage at that point will blow your mind. Good luck!