This Week in Raiding: Shannox the Raid Killer

Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress. - Bruce Barton
Putting together a new raid team can be tough, and I don't envy Raid Leaders who have to do it.

There are countless pitfalls to deal with: Schedules to coordinate, divergent personalities that need to mesh, boss strategies to learn, communicate and change on the fly. Each wipe that occurs is a disheartening experience to a new group, shaking it's confidence in itself.

Unfortunately, that's what Mountain Top is going through with it's raiding progression right now.

I hate you, Shannox. I really, really do.
(or, How To Kill Morale in 27 Excruciating Pulls)

Oddly, it wouldn't be so bad if we were wiping early or doing something stupid like standing in traps. Quite the contrary, as once our Tanks got the mechanics of stack-dropping down (The Doggy Dance? The Crystal Trap Two-Step?), the first part of the fight became simple and our raid group is getting through it cleanly and reliably.

Our strategy is to burn Rageface down as soon as possible, then get Shannox to between 35% and 40% and kill Riplimb. The doggy poop really hits the fan for us when Riplimb goes down and Shannox freaks out; gaining two stacks of Frenzy and doing 60% more damage 60% faster. This is ouch-time for our Main Tank and the time for the Healers to do a gut-check and earn their paychecks. Invariably, it's where we've been failing.

We're so close, though. 9% wipe. 7% wipe. 4% wipe. A freakin' sub-1% wipe. Tantalizingly, terribly close to seeing him die like the mongrel that he is. Getting within a dog's whisker of success means that we're doing something right, but the repeated failures also means that we need to be doing something better. Keeping the Tank alive during the Frenzy phase would be a good start.

Once that last dog dies the healing strategy needs to completely change. Efficiency goes completely out the window and it's Wrath-style healing again: Spam big heals or else your tank is going to die within seconds. Mitigation cooldowns such as Hand of Sacrifice must be utilized, but it's often hard to spare the global cooldown in order to cast it. The reactionary, triage style of healing that we've been trained to use throughout Cataclysm needs to be quickly forgotten; by the time you see and react to damage it's probably already too late. Sadly, the realities of mana management do not make this style of healing practical any longer, and healers with their mana tanks drained can't keep anyone alive.

A fight like this requires very good coordination, communication and rapport between healers, something that a new Raid Group like ours isn't likely to have built up yet. A strong role leader who can analyse problems and implement solutions is also a luxury most new raiding groups - particularly more casual ones - won't have. I'm not going to sugarcoat things, it's been a really difficult and demoralizing test of our new team. We're all good healers, but we don't know each other well enough to really push each other or properly hold each other accountable. I would love someone to tell me, "You suck. This is what you did wrong and here's how to fix it." That's easy; it's much harder to have to try figure it out for yourself.

Of course, the random connection issues and weird happenings that have plagued us haven't helped much either. We've had to call raids two or three times now because of gigantic, crippling lag spikes on our top DPSers. The opening of the final Harry Potter movie cancelled tonight's raid. More than a few pulls have been delayed due to baby aggro from the Dwarfling and our Death Knight's two kids. Not to mention having one raid memorably and frighteningly cancelled due to a real life emergency which ended with an ambulance trip to the hospital. Lady luck, it would seem, is not on our side.

(or, So What're You Gonna Do About It, Pally-Boy?)

Keeping the tank up during Shannox's Frenzy is tough, but that clearly is the problem and the main reason we've been unable to down this boss. I think that better coordination of the healers and their cooldowns is all that we need. The Tank simply can't go for more than two seconds without a major heal.

I think I am going to suggest a more coordinated approach. We have two Holy Paladins healing, so you would think that we wouldn't be having this problem, but with both of us healing independently- and using our cooldowns independently - there are gaps in the incoming heals. Looking at the death logs in recount after the fight shows that the Tank can go from full health to a fine, bloody mist in a mere three seconds, so any gap in large, incoming heals will be invariably fatal; especially as the stacks of Jagged Tear begin to mount up.

I am going to do two things: Firstly, I'm going to suggest to our healers that we setup a Cooldown/Heal rotation. I envision having one Paladin spam Avenging Wrath/Divine Favor boosted Divine Lights on the tank while the other uses cooldowns such as Hand of Sacrifice and Aura Mastery to try prevent damage, at the same time healing efficiently with Holy Light and Holy Shock. When the first Paladin gets low on mana, they switch. This should prevent any gaps in the incoming healing and at the same time help prevent both Holy Paladins going out of mana at the same time. This in itself should be enough, but...

Can a Mastery Build Save the Day?

The other thing I am going to do is experiment with a Mastery build. There has been a lot of talk about Illuminated Healing builds lately: Rohan, Enlynn, Adgamorix and this thread on the official forums have all been talking about how it's a great, but incredibly specialized tank healing build that shines in encounters like this at the expense of virtually all versatility. I even talked about wanted to try out it's viability when I talked about the changes to Illuminated Healing.

I think that this build is ideally suited to this fight: Insanely heavy incoming damage where the shields will shine. Enlynn of Bubblespec wrote a great, detailed post on this style of play and has inspired me to finally try it out. I hope it will give us the boost that we need to finally put this boss down, permanently.

How has your raid group dealt with the Shannox Kennel Club? Any tips? Did you make any changes to your healing composition or style that you felt made a difference?


  1. Great article. You definitely have the right idea about what happens when the Rageface dies. In a 10 man raid, before Rageface is dead, you've got 1 healer chasing the Riplimb tank around while helping with the raid, 1 full time on the Shannox tank, and 1 Shannox/raid healer. Once he goes down, you have 1 Riplimb tank/raid, and two that need to really focus the Shannox tank. After Riplimb dies, every healer has to work hard to keep the Shannox tank alive. I think coordinating your cooldowns is a great idea. Good luck with your new raid group!


  2. Having tanked this just last night on my prot pally, I can definitely say that the P2 damage is insane. If your Shannox tank is using any long cooldowns before P2, they need to save them. All of them. Warriors, DK's, and Pally's can keep a cooldown running almost full time for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes in P2 if they are careful. Add in communication with the healers, and they will know when weak and strong cooldowns are up, and where the gaps are to help with their cooldowns. It just requires good communication so that you have 100% coverage between tank and healing cooldowns from that point on.

  3. This is the only boss we have down atm in 10 man and we have downed him 3 times now but here is what we do, I hope it is of help.
    Pala tank -boss
    Druid tank - Riplimb
    Shammy on the pala tank, druid on the druid and priest on the raid.

    Burn Rageface first, the damage the minor enrage causes is more than made up for in the reduced healing the raid will tke and the increased dps you will recieve from non- interrupted casters.

    Take Riplimb to 10% then take the boss to 35% and kill riplimb. The reason to reduce Riplimb firsis in case you take the boss below 30% you can kill him quick.

    The final phase is hectic but you should have the two tank healers on one tank by that point. Also this is probably a noob tip but I had all the dps take a potion when we used hero in the burn phase and the bosses health just melted away.

  4. I went discipline for this fight, if your third is a priest, its a good place for that spec. We use hymn of hope right before riplimb dies so that everyone gets some mana back and then everyone spams like mad whatever they have.

    We got him down our 2nd after some attempts and with different teams (which does make it more complicated), but main thing is trying to go in with as much mana as you can have and then just spam, since he should die before you run oom even using heavy duty stuff.

    But i have to add we have a spriest too, and he is using both hymns to support the heal team.

    Tranquility from Os druid or hymn from os spriest, radiance from os pally etc. Look at what your team has and use everything

  5. I'm not sure if you're raiding 10 or 25 - by the sounds of it I'm going to assume 10 man.

    What we do for this fight is have the healers stand center field, with each of the two tanks at max range from the center - one on one side with Riplimb and the other on the other side with Shannox.

    We also try to kill the dogs at roughly the same time to avoid having Shannox enrage while the healers are split between healing the raid and healing the tanks.

    This also helps to avoid the whole chasing people around thing and allows you as a Holy Paladin to just plant your feet and heal your bum off.

    As far as cooldowns goes the fight is pretty straightforward - though I don't recommend using Hand of Sacrifice after the enrage. Make good use of Guardian and Holy Radiance, even Aura Mastery a Devo Aura. Divine Favor during Blood Lust/Time Warp helps a lot with HR tics.

    Hopefully this helps. Good luck!

  6. I don't notice any significant damage increase when the first dog dies. Are you using only one tank? That might explain it. we use two tanks, and have them far enough apart so that they can both drop their stacks of JT when the dog chases after the spear.

    We kill Rageface asap, as the interrupts and Face Rage damage that he does to people is a problem while he is alive - I would much rather have the boss's minor enrage to deal with once Rageface is dead.
    Our raid is slightly better geared than yours, but not by much. This fight is easier for our healers than Halfus Heroic was, so I would look to your tactics rather than thinking this boss is insanely hard - it isn't.