The UI seen in this video is Splug's UI
Originally Posted by SplugWelcome back to the Ulduar raid guide! Call me Splug. In this video I'll be going over our strategy for the General Vezax hard mode achievement.
If you'd like more information or would like to learn more about downloading this movie, click "more info" on the movie information box on YouTube to head directly to TankSpot! Also, be sure to subscribe by clicking the Susbcribe button to the right so you will be automatically notified as we release movies.
This video is accurate as of patch 3.2.0a. Future patches may alter the fight in ways which cause the video to become obsolete.
As the melee positioning on this encounter is relatively static, we'll be zooming out to a ranged perspective for this video. A large portion of the fight's learning curve comes from the difficulties associated with surviving abilities that are not used against targets at point-blank range.
The primary defining element of the General Vezax encounter is the disabling of most forms of mana regeneration. Normally, mana can be regenerated by breaking the Saronite Vapors that float around the room, and standing in the resulting pool. However, this hard mode is enabled by leaving all six saronite clouds alive, and allowing them to coalesce into a seperate entity, the Saronite Animus. To complete hard mode, the raid must wait for all six clouds to spawn, one every thirty seconds, kill the Saronite Animus, and then kill General Vezax. This also ensures the fight cannot be blitzed in less than three minutes.
The first leg of the encounter - the three minute stall - contains all the mechanics of non-hard mode with no change other than the finite mana limitation. Any ranged class is absolutely reliant upon casting from within the mana cost-reducing residue of shadow crash: if they are left without a crash at any time, they should cease all mana-consuming attacks and wand, but at the same time the fight cannot be prolonged forever due to healer mana constraints. Most classes may wish to research alternate talent specializations which sacrifice throughput in favor of efficiency and mana sustainance. Additionally, discipline priests can take some advantage of shadow crashes, as they do not reduce the effectiveness of power word:shield. All other healers are located within melee range of Vezax, allowing them to remain stationary throughout the encounter.
To ensure all casters have consistent uptime on shadow crash, we've broken our raid into two groups. One group always stays on the left edge of shadow crashes, the other always stays on the right. One member of each group is given a raid icon, and all other members of the group should try to stand exactly on top of the marked player. When a group is targetted for shadow crash, they strafe away from the other group at least the radius of a shadow crash, then double back into the very closest corner of the fresh crash after it lands. This allows the other group to remain stationary and continue casting, as well as minimizing this group's movement. In the event that several shadow crashes target one group, the opposite group's shadow crash may expire. If this happens, they slide toward the group that still has a shadow crash, until they reach the closest corner of the nearest crash.
Once the Animus spawns, the dynamic and pace of the fight change drastically. General Vezax gains a shield reducing all damage by 99%, meaning all damage needs to transition to the Animus as soon as threat and positioning permit. In addition to adding a second tank to the encounter, the animus will apply a shadow buffet which deals damage to the raid every two seconds in incrementally larger doses. This damage needs to be healed through normally, which will drastically tax healer resources. You'll want to throw bloodlust on the second half of the Animus' health, to assist with healing throughput, as well as burning any damage cooldowns. If damage players discover their mana pool does not sustain four and a half to five minutes, they may want to withold casts in later phase 1 attempts to ensure they're able to go full burn the entire duration of phase 2.
In 25-player difficulty, Vezax will continue to cast Searing Flames during the animus phase. Your interrupt team will need to use either focus target or mouse-over interrupt macros to prevent Vezax's cast while dealing damage to the Animus. In the 10-player environment, Vezax will not cast Searing Flames while under the effects of the Animus' shield.
DBM requires at least one player target General Vezax to receive Shadow Crash notifications. If you notice the mod stops working for your raid when the Animus spawns, have your main tank continue to target Vezax throughout the Animus phase. It does waste the tank's damage, but it will simplify the ranged's job.
Starting at roughly 25 to 30 applications of Profound Darkness, you will want to begin rotating your paladins' raid damage reduction cooldowns. Shadow Aura Mastery followed by Divine Sacrifice will help to reduce this damage at the later stages of the encounter.
Once the Animus is defeated, the fight becomes very similar to the initial phase, with one key difference. The effects of the Saronite Animus' Profound Darkness will still be active, meaning all shadow damage will be increased several fold. As such, Shadow Crashes are now quite lethal. Mark of the Faceless damage is classed as physical, meaning it is unchanged. It's also worth noting self-inflicted shadow-based damage, in particular from Shadow Word: Death, is now much more dangerous. Beyond that, the normal concerns presented by a long non-hard-mode attempt remain: healers and ranged will be running out of mana, and if deaths during the encounter reduce the number of ranged players too low, you will need to appoint either healers, melee, or the offtank to move out to provide sufficient Shadow Crash targets. Be sure anyone leaving melee range does not do so immediately before a crash, as it may cause them to become a legal target before getting far enough away to make it to safety.
Thanks for watching this movie! As per usual, feel free to ask questions or add suggestions either on YouTube or in the strategy thread on TankSpot.com. Also, TankSpot Donors can download all of these movies in High Definition directly from our servers -- click the second link in the movie information box to learn more!