Healing tips for Atramedes
Atramedes is a dragon who can be found in the northern chamber on the lower level of Blackwing Descent. Before Atramedes enters the room, your raid will get to witness a brief flashback RP scene depicting Atramedes’ “creation.” Maloriak, Nefarian’s resident evil wanna-be scientist, concocted a salve using agents from the various dragonflights which is supposedly going to give a little black whelp “sight beyond sight.” Sadly for poor Atramedes, Maloriak is an idiot. Instead of granting the whelp amazing new powers, it turns him completely blind.
Now you, oh merry band of adventurers, have the unhappy task of killing this blind and fully-grown dragon, who’s quite unhappy about all the offensive noises and smells you’ve brought to his lair. For shame.
The Sound of Silence
Since a blind dragon can’t very well see the people who’ve come to kill him, what could you possibly have to fear? Well Atramedes has a few tricks up his sleeves. This quickly became my favorite encounter in the first tier of Cataclysm raiding, thanks to the unique “sound” mechanic used in his fight. When your raid engages Atramedes, a graphic will display in the bottom half of your screen that will measure how much Sound you’ve acquired during the fight. The higher your Sound, the better Atramedes will be able to “hear” you, and thus the more damage you will take. If your sound bar completely fills up Atramedes will know exactly where you are, and will instantly kill you. The first image below shows what your display will look like at zero Sound; the second is nearing 100 Sound. After the blue sphere completely fills up the gold one, the edges of the graphic will momentarily display a fiery glow before Atramedes turns to one-shot you. (Blizzard has recently changed this interface slightly, so that if you mouse over it you will see a numerical value for your current Sound level.)
All of Atramedes’ special abilities will cause you to acquire Sound, and nearly all of them are avoidable. Your goal should be to keep your Sound as low as possible at all times since acquiring Sound that could have been avoided will cause you to take increasing damage from the Sound attacks that you can’t avoid. As a healer you’ll want to be aware of who has acquired more sound than they should, since it will give you a heads up as to who will be needing some extra attention because they’ve taken a bit more Sound than they should have. If you have the latest version of DBM installed, it should tell you sound levels for everyone in your raid.
Atramedes switches between two phases – one on the ground and one in the air – and has abilities which function differently in each. While on the ground, it is best for your healers and ranged DPS to remain stacked on top of one another to make Atramedes’ ground abilities easier to handle. The first ability you will see is the Sound-based attack Modulation, which shares a graphic with Halfus Wyrmbreaker’s roar. This will give everyone in the raid 7 points of Sound and cause damage that scales based upon how much Sound you already have. Next, Atramedes will use Sonar Pulse, which will send 4 gold Sound discs swirling out from his body. As ranged you will have plenty of time to dodge these rings, which you must do. Getting hit by them will cause some damage and give you another 7 points of Sound. Because the rings are animated, some players have a difficult time telling where they actually end; give them a wider berth than you think they need. Also, it’s much less risky to dodge them horizontally rather than moving backwards towards the edge of the room.
Occasionally, Atramedes will use his Sonic Breath attack on a random member of your raid. (Guides will tell you it’s the person who has the highest sound, we’ve not found this to be the case. It can, however, target either a ranged or melee player.) Sonic Breath will cause Atramedes to turn toward his target and breathe fire at them. If the fire hits you, it will cause damage and give you several points of Sound for each tick. We handle this by ensuring that the ranged are stacked together before he chooses a target, and then we have the target run in a clockwise direction around the room while the rest of us shift counter-clockwise. The targeted player should run close to Atramedes, rather than in a wide arc toward the back of the room, since it will be easier to stay ahead of the breath attack this way. Speed boosts like Body and Soul and Darkflight are useful here if the target is having trouble staying ahead of the breath.
Searing Flames is Atramedes’ final ground ability. It causes massive damage to the entire raid and must be interrupted by striking one of the 10 Dwarven shields around the outside of the room. Fortunately, handling the shields will never be your assignment if you’re healing. We assigned this task to a member of our ranged DPS. You will be able to heal through 1-2 ticks of Searing Flames, 3 will be rough, and 4 will probably be a wipe. Obviously, that means the shield-striker (or gong-banger, as most of our raid and the rest of the internet seems to call this position) really has to be on top of interrupts. Using one of the shields will also reset everyone’s Sound to 0, so it can be used if raid members have taken too much incidental Sound damage and are probably going to die. Use the shields sparingly for this, if at all, since you only have 10 shields total. Once they’ve been hit, Atramedes destroys them and they do not respawn. Running out of shields will result in a wipe.
Tank healing is relatively light in this encounter, which is good since there will be a decent amount of raid damage going around. Use cooldowns like Tree of Life and Tranquility after Searing Flames to top off the raid, and drop Efflorescence and/or Wild Growth on your ranged pile after each Modulation.
After 80 seconds on the ground, Atramedes will fly up into the air and the second phase will begin. It is extremely helpful to have everyone in your raid in motion when this phase begins. Ideally, you should all be somewhat spread out and running around the outer edge of the room. Doing so will better prepare you to avoid Atramedes’ air phase version of Sonic Breath, which is considerably more difficult to dodge than the ground version. Fortunately, you’re a druid! (If you’re not a druid, sorry but the next bit won’t much apply to you, and additional apologies that you failed the character selection screen.)
Like the ground version of the ability, Atramedes’ fiery Sonic Breath will target one player (again, guides say the person with the highest Sound, but we’ve also found this not to be the case) and follow them around the room. It is extremely difficult to get ahead of the breath if it starts right on top of you, which is why we always try to be in motion before Atramedes picks a target. If the raid is reasonably topped-off as you transition into this phase, shift into Cat form. Doing so gives you a few extra seconds to pop Dash if Atramedes should target you, and that will keep you well ahead of his Sonic Breath. You also have the option of running up next to the Sonic Breath’s target and using Stampeding Roar to give them a brief speed boost. Staying ahead of Sonic Breath for as long as you can is essential, because the only way to stop Atramedes’ attack is to hit another shield. The longer you can hold out, the less shields your raid will need to use. (As always, Squelchy has another great guide with some tiips for the air phase gong-bangers in your group.)
Atramedes will also drop Sonar Bombs throughout the room during the air phases. These tend to spawn wherever a player is standing, so you must continue to be on the move even if you’re not the target for the breath attack. The bombs first appear like the gold rings you see for Sonar Pulse, and then eventually explode and leave a patch of fire behind. Running through these flames will do a small amount of damage and also place the Roaring Flame debuff on you, which is a DoT that deals fire damage and gives you additional Sound per tick. It’s a magic effect – dispell it immediately if you see if on anyone in your raid. There shouldn’t be much healing during the air phases, so you’ll have a chance to regen mana as you run around avoiding the ground effects. The fire patches from the Sonar Bombs as well as a trail of fire from the air Sonic Breath will linger into the next ground phase, which can make positioning more of a challenge. Take the time to get all of your ranged pile stacked up again, since doing so will make it much simpler to deal with the next ground Sonic Breath.
This encounter should not be particularly intense for healers, as it’s more about avoiding as much damage as possible than it is about raw throughput. Aside from keeping 3 stacks of Lifebloom on the tank I rarely needed to toss any additional heals on him at all, leaving me free to heal the raid as needed. Remember that dodging Sound attacks is the most important job you have on Atramedes – having to use too many shields to reset Sound or dying because your Sound reaches 100 is not helpful to your raid.
Atramedes drops one piece of leather caster gear, the Helm of the Blind Seer. It has Spirit and Crit on it, so is not ideal for Resto. Pass on this if you’ve already gotten your T11 helm; otherwise pick it up and reforge the Crit to either Haste or Mastery.