This Week in Raiding is a (hopefully) weekly feature discussing the raiding encounters that my guild tackled this week, the lessons learned from them, as well as any news or thoughts on raiding in general. This week we have the Magmaw encounter, with some specific thoughts on healing as a Holy Paladin, although many of these ideas can be applied to other healing classes as well. This article specifically talks about the 10-man normal version, but should be the same for 25-man normal. If you would like a more detailed description of the fight, please check out WoWpedia's write up and Tankspot's video.
Depending on what strategy that your raid group is using, healing the Magmaw encounter can be an intricate affair requiring split-second timing and the reflexes of Spider-Man or it can be a simple stand-in-one-place-and-stare-at-GRID snoozefest. While I really enjoy the challenge that a truly intricate fight brings to the table, if I have to spend more time watching the ground for an effect than I do watching the health levels of the raid, then I'm going to take any opportunity that I can to simplify the encounter.
The main mechanic on this fight that will give healers problems is Pillar of Fire, which will target anyone out of close melee range and hit hard and fast for a lot of damage. In order to avoid this, people need to move out of its way extremely quickly. This can be very hard for healers who are focused on their raid frames and who, frankly, have more important things they should be worried about.
The very simple way of getting around this is to stand with the melee. Pillar of Flame will not target you, and if you have a good group of DPS, the Lava Parasites will not bother you either, allowing you to focus on healing. You need to stand in very close though; get used to hugging a great big, glowing red worm.
There are a few other things to be aware of:
Magmaw will ignite half of the room and then smack his head on the floor causing damage to anyone within. You'll see smoke coming from the floor if he's targeting your section (and I'm sure DBM and your Raid Leader will be screaming at you as well) and you'll need to run away. The best strategy is to run to the tank's position. Using Holy Radiance at this point for the Speed of Light boost allows you to get out the fire quickly and heal at the same time. Once it's over, quickly run back to your original position. Stay as close to Magmaw as you can while running to avoid becoming a Pillar of Flame target, as well as a cautionary example of what not to do.
HOLY RADIANCE and LIGHT OF DAWN
These spells are very powerful in this fight. With everyone except the tank and (typically) one DPS clumped up, it's very easy to hit a lot of people with your AOE spells.
BEACON OF LIGHT
There are two potential Beacon of Light targets on this fight: the Tank or the Pillar of Flame DPS target. I beacon the tank, but there are a couple of compelling reasons to consider putting Beacon the PoF target.
1) If your PoF target tends to get hit occasionally or is getting hit by the Lava Parasites a lot, then Beacon can help heal him while you focus on the tank.
2) Range: Depending on where your PoF target is moving to after a Pillar of Flame strike, he may move out of range of your heals. Beacon of Light's 60 yard range ensures that he is always in range and always receiving heals.
The choice will depend on your particular group and their strengths. If you Beacon the tank, you will be spending a majority of your time healing the raid instead of direct healing the tank. If you run with two tanks on this fight, Beacon the one that is tanking Magmaw at the moment.
During the transition phase the Tank is going to be Mangled until Magmaw gets chained down. This hurts like hell, so be ready to heal through some serious damage (and hope your DPS are on the ball with getting the chains taken care of). This is a very good time to use Hand of Sacrifice in addition to Divine Protection, Hand of Protection or Divine Shield. I normally go with Divine Protection (not glyphed) which will reduce the incoming damage on me by 20%. I hesitate to use the more powerful bubbles here because a) the redirected damage is fairly easy to heal through using Protector of the Innocent's passive healing and b) I prefer to reserve them in case any Lava Parasites get into the melee group and start chomping on my bottom. Once you bubble they will go find a different target that can (hopefully) deal with them better.
*Edit: It was pointed out in the Comments that you can directly Hand of Protection your tank. This will, of course, prevent all incoming physical damage. Just make sure that you communicate to your tank that you're going to do this, since it will prevent him from attacking, and he will likely lose aggro until the effect wears off or is clicked off.
WHEN TO USE COOLDOWNS
Your tank will be taking a lot of initial damage during the pull, so I find it's very useful to pop either Divine Favor or Avenging Wrath as soon as I get into position. It is a good idea to save a cooldown for the heavy tank damage of the Mangle phase, and Guardian of the Ancient Kings is an excellent spell for this since you'll be casting your heals directly and only on the tank during Mangle. Otherwise use Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath on cooldown.
This fight can last awhile if your raid decides to burn down the parasites as opposed to kiting them, so mana management becomes very important. However, there is a built in mechanic that makes this a lot easier. In Phase 2 when Magmaw is chained down and the DPS are going nuts on him there is virtually no incoming damage. This is the ideal time to pop Divine Plea and any other mana regeneration trinkets or potions that you may have. Also, you're standing in melee, so don't hesitate to throw out a Crusader Strike or two to generate some free Holy Power for when the damage starts coming again.
RANDOM DAMAGE TO LOOK OUT FOR
It's important to ensure that everyone is topped off and close to full health during Phase 2 because Mangle will wipe all of the tank's threat, so that when Magmaw breaks out of the chains he will switch targets to the next person on the aggro table. Quite often this will be the healers, but can often be the top DPS as well. On 10-man normal it can take a DPS from full down to less than half health, so it's key to ensure that everyone is as topped up as possible beforehand.
Of course, we can all claim that we're killing raid bosses to help save Azeroth; doing good and noble deeds because we are paragons of virtue. Balderdash. We're in it for the shiny purple loot. For Holy Paladins, Magmaw drops Breastplate of Avenging Flame, a wonderfully itemized little outfit, perfect for the stylish Paladin this season. With Spirit, Haste, a red and a blue socket and a +20 Haste socket bonus, it's well worth getting.