Lunar Guidance, Macros
While Terestian Illhoof is considered an “optional” boss within Karazhan (tucked away behind a “Suspicious Bookcase” on the way to Aran), tell that to any Feral in your guild and you’re likely to get your butt Shredded. You see, Illhoof drops Terestian’s Stranglestaff, the best meow-meow staff available until … well … for a long time. I won’t go into the details of the entire encounter here, as there are several superior guides available (Karthis from Teeth and Claws recently released one from the standpoint of a Feral Druid), but he presents the perfect opportunity for adding a new skill to your retinue: preemptive healing via Focus Target.
One of Illhoof’s key abilities — especially from the viewpoint of a Healer — is Sacrifice. Every so often, he will wrap a random target (other than the main tank) in “Demon Chains,” an effect which causes 1,500 damage per second until the chains are “broken” by enough damage (they have around 13,000 health). 1,500 damage/sec can be a lot to keep up with, even for multiple healers, especially if people are slow to react and switch their heal target. Which is where the Focus and Focus Target frames come in.
You may be familiar with the concept of “Focus” but, just in case, a Focus is a “stored” target that you can easily return to at any time and — with the right unitframes addon — can monitor the status of despite otherwise switching targets. Although there are several addons that will allow you to display Focus and Focus’s Target windows, I use and recommend Pitbull. (For information on setting up Pitbull, visit this thread over at WoWAce.com.)
Once you have a unitframes addon set up to display Focus and Focus’s Target windows, you should set Illhoof as your Focus using the command /focus (you can also bind a command to set focus through the Keybindings options).
Throughout the fight, keep your eye on the Focus’s Target window. When you see it change to someone other than your tank, the person targetted is likely about to become the victim of Sacrifice. Noticing this as soon as it happens can generally buy you 1-1.5 seconds to begin casting a fast casting Heal (I recommend either Regrowth or Rejuvenation in anticipation of Swiftmend). And if you happen to be the only healer in your raid using this technique, you can call out the Sacrifice target over voice chat sooner — and more audibly — than any Boss Mod addon can announce (just make sure your raid knows you’ll be doing so beforehand).
While I’ve used the Terestian Illhoof fight to demonstrate this technique, it can be helpful for several encounters where the boss changes targets frequently. Most immediately, it can be applied to the Shade of Aran fight, where he randomly switches targets to cast Arcane Missiles, Frostbolt, and Fireball. Combining Focus Target with mouseover healing can give his selected victim precious seconds while other, less observant healers catch up.
Note: Should you ever become the victim of Sacrifice yourself, you can Barkskin to reduce the damage taken by 300 every second, buying healers a little extra time. But you already knew that from my earlier post, right?