Heroic Ragnaros - Warlock Strategy
This guide is meant to assist those in progress of defeating Ragnaros in Heroic diffuclty. The main focus will be in playing as Demonology in 25-man mode, but some 10-man strategies as well as those of other specs will be included.
Recommended talent spec: Demonology
Alternative talent spec: Affliction
The reason Demonology is strong against H-Ragnaros is because of the high on-demand output as well as the reasonable utility Demonology has over other specs against Molten Elementals, Sons of Flame and Lava Scions. Affliction also has potential for high output in phases 3 & 4, but is lacking against Sons of Flame and Molten Elementals and is penalized heavily from movement when Ragnaros is in execute range.
What you should have: Timers for boss abilities (if available), Sorrowsong =), raid frames, Glyph of Corruption and Soul Link (if running few healers) and the usual mods for debuff tracking (PowerAuras or NeedToKnow.) If you're playing 25-man, you will also want to invest heavily into Mastery if you're playing Demonology.
In phase one your job is to only do normal DPS while not dying, unless you're on trap duty. Have your teleport down in your designated spot, which should be around halfway from the outer edges of the platform and the boss' pool if you want to land Shadowflames and Immolation, although that is not too important. When low on space you can hang around the outer edges as you can always teleport back if you get knocked off, but you should still always keep at least 10 yards between yourself and the Magma Traps, because if you get knocked into a trap while on GCD (even if your Teleport is available) you will almost certainly wipe your raid. You should also try to stay in range of your local Fire Resistance Aura.
As Demonology, start out with Felguard and blow your cooldowns (except Doomguard). You can alternate between Felhunter and Felguard for cooldown usage, but it's not absolutely necessary as DPS isn't very important unless your guild is trying to reach a fixed amount of Magma Trap spawns. You should be able to get your cooldowns twice in this phase and can use them freely.
Shadowflame is extremely useful spell in this encounter because of the long range you can hit it from in phases 1-3. The range at which I'm standing in the picture is about the maximum range for landing Shadowflame, but you'll have to be few yards closer to hit Immolation.
If you're on trap duty and you're taking traps one at a time, you'll have to pay some attention to when you should be taking them. You need visible raid frames so you'll never take a trap if someone is too low to survive it, although you can call out for hunters to use Deterrence and DK's to use AMS and so on. You should never take a trap when Wrath of Ragnaros (and preferably not Hand of Ragnaros either) is coming up or people who get hit are likely to die.
Always before taking a Magma Trap make sure that:
Your teleport is ready and close enough or your Demon Leap is ready
The Magma Trap Vulnerability has expired
Nobody is too low on HP
Wrath of Ragnaros is not coming in the next ~10 seconds
Nobody else is about to take a trap and if there are multiple traps out the one you're about to take is at the worst spot for your raid
You should always give a warning to your raid a few seconds in advance or do a countdown before you trigger a trap, which will allow them to use their damage-reduction abilities like Anti-Magic Shell or Feint. Also, the timing allows you to always take the first trap as soon as it spawns, but you'll have to be ready for it: Move next to it and land your teleport and give out your warning before it has formed, and trigger it as soon as it appears. Do not stand where it is about to spawn, or you will get damaged and knocked back, but that won't trigger the trap.
You should primarily use Demonic Circle: Teleport or Demon Leap to cancel out the fall damage from triggering the traps, but you can also survive the fall with other methods like engineering parachute, goblin jump, or a fast Slow Fall or Leap of Faith. If you're in trouble, just ask for help.
If you are doing double traps, you should communicate well and listen to your healers. If you aren't, you will be left with Traps to take in later phases, during which you can take traps in similar manner between the Molten Seed waves in p2, for example.
When Splitting Blow is being cast, quickly look to see where it is being cast (or ask, in case the animation bugs out for you) and where the Sons of Flame are being spawned. Move to your designated spawn or if you don't have one go where you're going to be needed, which is usually at the spawns nearest to Sulfuras or if Sulfuras isn't in the middle, the side it is on.
A good idea is to open with Shadowflame, which you can hit several Sons with if they're clustered. Continue with single nuking (or AoE if they're really clustered) your target and landing any stuns you have (Axe Toss/Shadowfury) but don't use them until after the Son actually starts moving. Note that no slows work on the Sons, and you should switch target as soon as your target goes below 50% HP if help is being needed elsewhere. Also, listen to your fellow raiders and don't blow your stuns if your target is going to get Death Gripped or knocked. Make sure you and your guild communicate about your disables. If your Felstorm is ready when the intermission begins, you must use it almost as soon as the Sons spawn, or you won't have it ready for the first set of Molten Elementals in next phase. Note that your Felguard cannot use Axe Toss while Felstorming.
Only knockback effects and stuns work on Sons of Flame, so you don't need to glyph Shadowflame for this. The only way to slow the adds is to damage them, and your primary goal is to get all of them at 50% as fast as possible.
Opening with Shadowflame is a good idea as you can land it on multiple targets with ease. Mind that the adds spawn with small intervals depending on how far they're from Sulfuras, so if your target is far away you'll have time to land a nuke on Sons near the hammer before your Son spawns.
The approach for this phase will vary a lot, depending on if you're using the AoE tactic or not. I'll try to cover the non-AoE tactic as well, although I haven't spent much time actually doing it. The middle-ground tactics are basically a mixture of the two.
With all tactics you need to be vary of the Sulfuras Smash that comes right after second Seed Explosion, as well as the World in Flames that will always be cast a while after the explosion, so be sure to not be too close to the outer or inner edges of the platform or you won't have time to run away. You must also take into account any leftover Magma Traps and Sulfuras Smashes when you're preparing to dodge the incoming Engulfing Flames.
You can use your cooldowns at least once in this phase, but you should start saving your cooldowns once the boss gets close to 50% health. You should always have your Felguard out and Felstorm ready for Molten Elementals.
Stack your raid up and move together when the seeds are incoming. You need a working timer for this to work without mass deaths. You will also need to watch said timer and move at a certain point, you can't wait for someone to tell you to move in VOIP or wait until you see other people move or you might die to latency. Do not use teleport or Demon Leap until you've seen the animation for Molten Seeds or you might screw your raid up if one spawns on a separate location. Regardless of whether you're spreading out or staying together, you'll have few seconds of time to DPS the boss and then switch to the Molten Elementals when they spawn. Be sure to be as far away as possible without losing range, or you will die to the Seed Explosion. Note that you can pre-target the Molten Elementals while they're still inside the Molten Seeds, but you can't cast any spell at them until they become active.
Note that you cannot normally use any of your melee range AoE spells (Shadowflame, Hellfire, Immolation) because if you're at melee range when they spawn you will die to the seed explosion, and even if you don't, if you get fixated by a Molten Elemental when his buddies are close you will get smacked for up to a million fire damage or so. Note that Hand of Protection doesn't help you as they hit for fire damage instead of physical. However, it is possible that you won't get fixated, in which case the Molten Elementals never try to attack you (unless their current target dies or removes the fixates) so you can just stand still and DPS them while most of your raid runs away and smack them with a Shadowflame as they pass you.
If you're Demonology, have your Felguard stand about 5 yards toward the raid from the middle of the Seed pile. Activate Felstorm second or two before the explosion and start casting Seed of Corruption as soon as the Molten Elementals become attackable. You should be able to get 2 seeds off before they get too close to you, at which point you can turn around and start running away with Hellfire on. If you didn't get aggro, you can simply hit them all with Shadowflame and Hellfire.
This is around how you should place your Felguards. Activate Felstorm well before the Adds activate.
With Affliction and Destruction you won't be able to much AoE, basically the absolute best you can do is stand at max range channeling Rain of Fire on the seeds before explosion so you might get one tick in, then land some Seeds of Corruption with Soulburn as Affli or Shadowfury and more RoF as Destro and try to get a brave Shadowflame off while running away.
I don't know if there's any definite single-targeting strategy that is being used, so I'll just cover the basics of what I learnt.
You will again find Demonology most useful, as you can easily control your (or someone else's) Molten Elemental that has been separated from his buddies by chaining your Felguards Axe Toss and Aura of Foreboding. Again, note that your Felguard cannot use Axe Toss during Felstorm and it has some travel time, so you'll want to either activate Felstorm slightly before the Seed Explosion or save it until after you Axe Tossed.
Affliction and Destro can only maintain moderate control over the Molten Elementals, although Destruction can stun several elementals with a well-placed Shadowfury and reduce incoming damage with Nether Protection. You might want to use glyphed Shadowflame with these specs if you're having hard time.
Most importantly you shouldn't linger near the outer edges of the platform or you will get roasted if you get caught by the first set of Engulfing Flames that come soon after the Molten Elementals.
When you're preparing to end Phase 2 listen carefully if your raid leader tells you to take it slowly with DPS so people can pool resources, and when the boss starts casting splitting blow nuke him until he is submerged, because all damage done to him during this time is less damage that needs to be dealt in Phase 3, where DPS is crucial.
Much like the first Intermission. The Lava Scions spawn slightly before sons, so you'll probably have time to DoT up the nearest one. Mind the Blazing Heat if you get it and kill the Sons as you did in first intermission. Your guild should, however, aim to keep 1-2 Sons alive until the intermission is about to end, so if you see low HP sons far away from the hammer, don't put any DoTs on them if you aren't sure, and DPS the Scions instead.
If you're low on Soul Shards, you can Drain Soul or Shadowburn the Sons of Flame before they die to refill. You can use Felstorm if it seems necessary, but you'll want to try to save it for the next phase.
Oh, and, if you do get Blazing Heat, running in circles around the first batch of fire will stack them all under it.
Your goals vary here mostly depending on if you're playing 25-man or 10-man. In 25-man, you must put everything you have to DPS if you want to make it with 2 meteors, which is vital for having a successful Phase 4. In 10-man, you also should go all out if you're aiming to only get 1 meteor (only possible if your DPS is extremely good), but if you're only going for 2 meteors, which is fairly easy, you can probably save your Doomguard and Volcanic Potion, and your guild can save the Bloodlust. I will explain the 25-man version.
[Note that this phase will get significantly easier after a few more lockouts of gear, and the DPS requirement may become trivial. As long as your guild struggles to hit 2 meteors, you should all-in in this phase, but when your guild is constantly getting through this phase with the desired amount of meteors with extra time to spare, you will want to consider saving your Volcanic Potion, Doomguard, or your second set of cooldowns, and perhaps using Affliction over Demonology.]
As Demonology, this is your time to shine. As soon as Ragnaros Emerges, you can blow your Metamorphosis, Demon Soul, Volcanic Potion and Felstorm (you can delay the potion a bit if necessary.) Put your DoTs and pet on Ragnaros and Shadowflame the Lava Scions along with Ragnaros to activate your Sorrowsong (only triggers from direct damage, so you'll need your Shadowflame to hit the Scions until boss is below 35%) and activate your Immolation. Switch to Felhunter as soon as your Felstorm is over. You should stay so close to the boss you won't get hit by the first Sulfuras Smash, and should be hugging the Lava Scions to burn them down with Immolation and Shadowflame. As soon as you have some procs to go with your Volcanic Potion and Crescendo, hit Doomguard. If you're under 30,000 DPS in this phase, you might be doing something wrong. If 40,000 or above, you're definitely doing it right.
As long as you don't get Blazing Heat, you can hug the boss and the Lava Scions for almost the full duration of your first Metamorphosis and Time Warp.
The first World in Flames cast in Phase 3 won't come until around 30 seconds after Ragnaros emerges, so you don't need about being too close to the boss until then. Remember, in this phase it is crucial to do as much DPS as you can, even you will have to move a lot. Time using your instants for Engulfing flames: you can delay your Nightfall and Fel Spark procs, you can hard-clip Corruption and sometimes even Doom (if they were cast without modifiers) and save up your Shadowflame and Immolation as well as Soulburn: Soul Fire. Note that Engulfing Flames is cast 4 times in a row, and never twice in the same spot. If you didn't have to move for the previous cast, there's a 50% chance you will have to for the next one. If you get caught badly, you can survive if you're full HP and manage to pop a Healthstone between ticks. Use Shadowbolt as filler (regardless of Decimation) until Impending Doom has procced at least 4 times and Metamorphosis Cooldown is same as that of Demon Soul, so you will get it up again before the 3rd Meteor Spawn (which you have to beat.) The 3rd meteor spawn, which spawns 2 meteors at once, happens slightly before phase 3 has lasted for 140 seconds, so you should be able to get both Demon Soul and Metamorphosis twice, unless you're really unlucky with Impending Doom.
Once the boss hits 10% HP, no more Living Meteors will spawn and you should try to DPS the boss while he goes down under (any damage done to him at this point will still transfer over to Phase 4). After the Living Meteors are frozen, make sure they're being knocked to the sides.
DPS is extremely important in this phase and the World in Flames casts come at very rapid rate, so you'll need to utilize all your instant casts to minimize DPS loss from movement. Again, Shadowflame is exceptionally good at this.
You can DPS the boss when he's coming up, but don't stand too close or you'll fall into his pool. If it's your job to keep the meteors to the sides for a while, just slap them with any instant as soon as the Combustible buff appears (5 seconds after the last knock), just make sure you're not knocking them into anyone. When the Breadth of Frost Spawns move into into your designated spot (assuming you're using them) from the outer area of the circle. Watch your proximity and if you have to leave the Breadth for any reason (Dreadflame, Meteor Fixate) always first run 5 yards directly away from the middle of the Breadth, then circle around it. If you have to knock the meteors, always try to be sure there's no-one behind it – if you kill a firefighter with it, you'll probably wipe. If you can't see, be vocal about your intentions.
When a Meteor is being kited to a Breadth of Frost (and if you're doing it, make sure you have the raid leader's consent) you should stand in that Breadth (if you're standing in the one the Meteor is being kited to) until the Meteor is close and then move out, again directly away from the center of it. If there is anothe Breadth nearby, you can maynard into it. You can precast your nukes to the Meteor, but DO NOT apply any DoTs or instants to it before it is frozen, or you will knock it away and break the fixate. Also note that as soon as 10 seconds is over, the Living Meteor becomes nearly invulnerable again, so you should use any mean necessary to make sure it dies before the debuff runs out. Also, note that most AoE or cleave-like abilities don't work on them, notably Shadowflame, and the damage modifier will be removed from DoTs as soon as it fades. When the Meteor dies, hurry into the next Breadth of Frost if you aren't already standing in one.
Because melee DPS will also want to park into the Breadth of Frost, the boss will conveniently usually be in Shadowflame and Immolation range. Try to time your cooldowns and apply DoTs when the boss is being taken to the roots, so you'll make most of the extra 50% damage he takes. If the roots spawn across the map and the boss is kited out of your range while you're surrounded by Dreadflame, you don't need to play hero DPS when you can just sit in the Breadth of Frost and take no damage. When the Living Meteors are down, all you have to do is not panic, not trigger a Lava Geysir and listen to any instructions your raid leader gives while normally DPS'ing the boss.