Soloing for fun and profit, special edition: Notes on soloing at 100

So admittedly, it’s been a long time since my last soloing guide, so long that those old guides are now horribly out of date in terms of advice (and a little out of date with regards to rewards).  Those have probably been the things that have driven people to this blog the most, and I’m happy to have helped people out with their soloing adventures, even those that (for some reason) don’t play enhance shaman.

I’d like to keep going with those in the future, but with the item squish and changes to level scaling, a lot of my advice boils down to “hit the boss a couple times and get your loot.”  So until such time as I do a full guide to each of the remaining expansions, I figured a short post on what’s changed in Warlords would be good.  Some of this will be general advice, some will be enhance-specific.

So what’s new?

It’s so easy

Part of the fun of soloing is to figure out how to handle an encounter by yourself that was originally designed for 10, 25, or 40 people.  Overcoming a tricky fight was a rewarding feeling, and once you learned how to do it, you had another boss you could farm every week if you so chose.

Well, if you liked the challenging aspect of soloing, I have bad news.  Then again, it’s also good news in another sense!  The item squish has made soloing much, MUCH easier than it was pre-squish.  How easy?  Well, when Wrath 25H bosses go down in only a few hits, you know something’s changed.  The long and short of it is that any encounter from Classic through Wrath is a cakewalk, and pretty much everything in Cata is a breeze as well.  And this applies to any difficulty; I routinely solo 25H Cata raids without breaking a sweat.

Why is it so easy now?  Well, in order to preserve your power against lower-leveled targets post-squish, Blizzard implemented a scaling buff that increases your damage done to and reduces your damage taken from anything lower-level.  From what I recall (don’t quote me), the buff kicks in as soon as you outlevel something, and reaches full power when you hit ten levels above it, up to level 90.  Again, I could be mistaken, but this means that you get the full power of the buff against level 80 targets, five levels of it against 85s, and no boost against 90s.  Couple that with the boost in power from level 90 to 100, and a second boost from your gear, and you become a walking death machine.  Said buff makes you considerably stronger to low-level mobs than you were pre-squish, which has mostly positive effects.  The biggest positive is that everything becomes much easier to kill, so there’s never been a better time to give it a shot.

There are some drawbacks to this, though.  The biggest one for enhance is that our AOE can be difficult to pull off against some targets.  Naturally, this is because we need two attacks to set up our AOE (Flame Shock + Lava Lash), and it’s very easy to kill a mob with FS or an auto-attack before we finish setting it up.  I haven’t looked at Classic raids in a while, but I know that some BC raids can be a pain, Battle for Mount Hyjal in particular.  Most mobs in that raid have a small amount of health, and even with my mediocre 652 ilvl, FS can one-shot most of them (all of them if it crits).  And if it doesn’t, an auto-attack can if I don’t get LL off quick.  This can be avoided if you don’t care about loot from trash by dropping Magma Totem instead, but if you do want loot, be prepared to curse a lot as errant crits destroy your AOE attempts.

An alternate strategy could be to remove most/all of your gear to reduce your various stats, letting you get off the necessary spells without as much of an issue.  It’s up to you if that’s worth the trouble.

The profit is good (sometimes)

Because Warlords has opened up new avenues of soloing, specifically Cata raids, soloing can actually be profitable again.  25H Cata bosses each drop ~125 gold on a kill, and trash frequently drops about 1 gold per mob.  That latter one has varying impact; while BoT and FL have loads of trash mobs to kill, DS has a couple dozen in its first half with some more you can kill around the base of Wyrmrest, BWD has about two dozen total, and Tot4W has none.  While all Cata raids are fairly short, this still means a lot of gold can be had just from clearing bosses.  And that’s before factoring in the gold you get from vendoring epics!

As an example of how much you can expect to make, look at Dragon Soul.  Eight bosses times 125 gold equals 1000 gold just from bosses.  Each boss can drop six epics (though Spine only drops three sometimes), with weapons netting 40-50 gold and armor between 15-30, as well as a couple tier tokens for 5 each and trinkets for 45.  As a rough estimate, on the low end you can add another 120 gold per boss, with Madness (which only drops weapons) giving 240 on the low end!  This rough estimate gives about another thousand gold, meaning you can expect to gain at least 2000 gold from a full clear of the instance.  This is before factoring in trash gold (admittedly not much), recipe/belt drops (also admittedly not much due to the market getting flooded now that everyone’s soloing the place), and the gems you can purchase with the boss currencies.  Not bad for a half hour’s work!

And of course, this is only one Cata raid!  If you run every Cata raid on 25H (minus Throne of the Four Winds, Conclave is just too much damage to work through in under a minute), you can get 3250 gold just from killing bosses, and easily get over double that from vendoring epics.  And as all of these are super easy to clear, it’s a no-brainer to add these to your weekly routine.

For everything else, however, gold drops aren’t so great.  The scaling gold drops still apply, meaning no 250 gold payouts like the good ol’ days.  Expect to earn about 10 gold per boss for things like BC and Wrath raids.  There’s still gold to be made from vendoring epics, though, so there’s still profit, just not as much.  Funnily enough, the scaling gold drops still affect Cata raids, it’s just that 25H gave 125 gold per-player back in the day, so it still works!

New rewards

Gold is good, but that’s not the only reward you can obtain.  6.1 added two reasons to go back and run old raids:  pets and music.

First, Blizzard has continued the Raiding with Leashes achievement series with a new set of pets to collect from the second half of BC raiding.  The raids of Tier 6 (Battle for Mount Hyjal, Black Temple) and 6.5 (Sunwell Plateau) have had several pets added to various boss loot tables.  Here’s the pets you can collect and where to get them:

These pets have a somewhat low droprate (~5%), and unfortunately three are located in the very annoying Battle for Mount Hyjal raid.  Again, if you don’t care about trash loot, just drop a Magma Totem and it’ll go a lot easier; the Horde base part is still annoying since you have to run back and forth between the front and back almost every wave.  And yes, three pets are located on the Reliquary of Souls, so even with amazing luck you’ll have to run BT at least three times.

Collecting all twelve pets will reward you with K’ute, a mini Naaru pet.  It doesn’t battle, but it does look cute!  Get it?  K’ute?  Never mind.

The other new reward applies to the garrison jukebox, a new reward from a short quest in your garrison.  The quest sends you all across Draenor in search of parts to build a jukebox for your base, rewarding you with the ability to change the music that plays in your garrison.  However, you can’t set your music to just anything you want, at least not right away.  Instead, you’ll have to hunt down different music rolls, unlocking more songs to listen to.  There’s a variety of sources for music rolls, but I’ll only list the boss drops here:

There’s also A Siege of Worlds, but that drops off Blackhand in Blackrock Foundry, and I don’t think anyone will be soloing that anytime soon.  Of these remaining ones, Sha of Fear might be the only one that poses a difficulty to obtain solo; I tried two-manning ToES with an admittedly-undergeared DPS friend of mine and we couldn’t get past the first boss.  Granted, my gear isn’t amazing either; it may just take better gear to handle it solo.  The rest, however, are easy to solo; none are 100% drops, so it may take several attempts to get your rolls.  Regardless, if you have an attachment to any of these music tracks and want to hear them while you’re hanging around your garrison, you know where to find them!

As a side note, don’t get the impression that Horde have more music rolls due to this list.  Each faction has three rolls exclusive to its faction (not counting the seven you get upon completing the jukebox quest).  There’s one purchased for 500 Lion’s Landing/Domination Point Commissions in Krasarang, one available from a dungeon (cleaning Grime-Encrusted Objects in Gnomeregan for Alliance, killing Jin’do in ZG for Horde), and one available from fishing in a capital (Forlorn Cavern in Ironforge for Alliance, Pools of Vision in Thunder Bluff for Horde).

Tips for enhance

Now, I’ll give a few additional tips for enhance soloing at 100, some of which may apply to other classes who have similar mechanics:

  • Glyph of Flame Shock is your best friend for soloing.  Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.  The glyph heals you for 45% of the damage FS deals.  It’s not a whole lot in current content, but for soloing it’s amazing.  With the scaling buff, FS deals considerably more damage, which means you’re getting healed for considerably more health.  One FS is enough to keep you healed for most any situation, and with multiple FSs running, you’re effectively invincible.  Effectively is the keyword here; there are situations where that’s not exactly enough!  The same applies to Feral Spirits and the Storm Elemental (if you talented into it), as they heal you for a percentage of the damage they do as well.
  • Glyph of Shamanistic Rage is another good glyph to have, letting you clear off pesky magic debuffs with ease.
  • Glyph of Fire Nova and Glyph of Lava Spread can each be useful in certain situations.  Glyph of Fire Nova will increase the size of your Fire Novas by five yards, while Glyph of Lava Spread increases the radius of how far Lava Lash spreads your Flame Shocks.
  • Here’s a link to my general talent recommendations for soloing; for the level 60 and 100 tiers, Ancestral Swiftness and Liquid Magma are also acceptable alternatives, respectively.  Astral Shift gives you an extra damage reduction cooldown that you can use whenever, Earthgrab Totem gives you additional crowd control, and Totemic Projection has the most use in soloing of these situational talents (especially on Yogg-Saron to move a Magma Totem close to the Constrictor Tentacles).  AS/EotE comes down to personal preference (I like EotE; being able to sling two SS and LL in a row is enough to make mincemeat of many bosses), Ancestral Guidance is about the only good talent on that row (and really good when combined with a lot of Fire Novas), and Primal Elementalist gives you the very useful ability to control your elementals, letting you set up more complex strategies if needed.  Lastly, SET and LM are both useful for soloing, depending on what you prefer.  Most fights go by quick enough that you don’t really need two damaging elementals, but the healing provided by SET can be beneficial in some scenarios.  It also lets you drop a Searing Totem and get two damaging totems at once, as well as providing a good amount of healing (especially considering its heals are a percentage of its damage, and its damage is boosted against low-level targets).  On the other hand, LM can be great on fights with a lot of adds, while still being a nice damage boost on single-target fights.  Again, it comes down to preference; I just like having more elementals at my disposal for flavor’s sake.
  • Use ALL of your damage cooldowns on every fight.  A recent change allowed for three-minute cooldowns to be reset following boss encounters, which means that Ascendance, elemental totems, and Bloodlust will reset after every boss.  The only cooldown that won’t reset is Feral Spirits, but it only has a two-minute cooldown anyway, so it’ll almost always be up by the time you reach the next boss.  This mostly only applies to Wrath raids (25H) and on, as BC bosses die so quickly to your regular attacks you’d waste time popping cooldowns.

Boss pointers

Some bosses are still a bit tricky, even with scaling buffs.  To round out this post, I’ll detail those that I’ve found here (so you don’t have to wait for my long, long guides out eventually).  Most of these apply to 25H more than other difficulties, as the numbers there are high enough to matter:

  • I only tackled Yogg-Saron once after 6.0 came out, mostly because that kill dropped Mimiron’s Head.  A nice way to start the pre-patch!  I wrote a lengthy guide on how to solo Yogg but forgot to publish it, and most of the info in it is irrelevant now (including how to solo Thorim).  The one thing that is tricky about Yogg is the Constrictor Tentacles that are impossible to attack with anything but Magma Totem.  Most of the time, you can drop it when it grabs you, but sometimes the game fails to find a spot to drop it in.  The way around this is to make sure you have a Magma Totem dropped before phase 2 starts and use Totemic Projection to move it to the base of the tentacle.  Remember to refresh it every so often when you’re not being grabbed.  After that, deal with the tentacles around the room, hop into the brain portal, kill the neutral adds inside, nuke the brain, and then nuke Yogg when he vomits you back up.
  • This is less of a tricky fight, more of a “haha, that’s funny” thing.  At the beginning of 6.0, the gunship battle in ICC was somewhat difficult; not impossible, but difficult.  This was changed with a buff to the cannons, letting them scale with level and ilvl.  At 100, you can finish the fight literally seconds after it starts; spam 1 to charge up the meter (don’t overheat!), wait for the other ship to get close enough to let you fire on it, and use 2 to fire the super attack.  You can do that a second time and finish off the ship before they can even land a shot; hell, even that might be overkill, it might just take the first one.  Just a funny side note!
  • Another thing that was changed relatively recently was the ability to skip the Valithria Dreamwalker encounter in ICC.  The door behind her is now always open, so you can walk around and skip straight to Sindragosa.  No need to have a healing spec ready; then again, with how stats change on your armor, it’s not like it’d be hard to.  I mean, it’s kinda mean to leave her there, but whatever, the Lich King will be dead shortly afterwards, I’m sure she’ll be fine.
  • In BWD, Maloriak is the only encounter that might be difficult.  When he releases all the aberrations at 25% health, he can actually pose a threat to you.  Each aberration boosts damage done and decreases damage taken by 20% for all enemies near it.  If all of these are released at once, all of the aberrations and Maloriak will have a significant damage boost and will also take a lot less damage.  This means burning him down will be difficult, and they can actually do enough damage to overcome the scaling buff.  The best way to mitigate this is to avoid pushing Maloriak during the initial black phase (assuming you’re doing this on heroic) and let him release a wave or two of aberrations before pushing him below 25%.  This will help avoid stacking the buffs too high.
  • Also in BWD, make sure you’re fully healed before pushing Chimaeron below 20%, as that extra health is a good safety net.  Also make sure you don’t pull Chimaeron without activating the Bile-O-Tron by talking to Finkle Einhorn in the cage behind him.
  • In BoT, you can use your Earth Elemental to keep Halfus Wyrmbreaker busy while you free the dragons and nuke them down.  After that, Halfus himself is pretty simple.
  • Also in BoT, make sure you use a damage reduction cooldown just before Valiona uses Blackout, especially if you have below 260,000 health.  This ability used to be spread amongst anyone nearby, but while soloing you’ll take the full brunt of the damage.  Unless you have amazing damage, you’ll need to deal with it twice, so talenting into Astral Shift is a good idea for this fight.
  • ALSO in BoT, Sinestra can be difficult if you don’t understand the mechanics.  The first phase is simple enough, just burn her down to 30%.  Whelps will respawn if you kill them on top of each other, so kill them one at a time and spread out.  In the second phase, you’ll have to keep up the damage on Sinestra; this will burn down her mana some as she uses it to replenish her health.  Keep up the pressure until the shields around the giant eggs to either side disappear (it will be shortly after Calen tells her to give up; keep your damage up until you can see the shields have gone), then run to each one and quickly nuke it.  Then the last phase will start, at which point you should pop all your cooldowns and burn her down.
  • In FL, it’s a good idea to talent into Primal Elementalist at least for Shannox.  That way, you can tell your Fire Elemental to attack Rageface when he pounces on you, breaking him off immediately and letting you get back into burning down Shannox.
  • In DS, have the Glyph of Ghost Wolf equipped for the Hagara fight.  If she does the ice transition, you can use Ghost Wolf to continue moving even when you’re affected by the full ten stacks of Frostflake.  If she does the lightning transition, you should wipe and try again, as it’s impossible to do that solo (at least on 25H); the totems are just too far apart.
  • Ultraxion needs to be burned down ASAP in DS, as he’ll wipe you shortly after Hour of Twilight goes off.  If he does get it off, you have a couple more seconds to burn him down before you wipe.  Don’t bother using the extra button, just focus all your damage on Ultraxion.
  • For Spine of Deathwing in DS, the main thing to know is that you’ll have to keep moving from one side to the other to avoid having Deathwing roll you off; if you don’t have the Cata module for DBM, install it, as the timers are updated to let you know how long you have before he rolls.  The fight is fairly simple now, though.  Kill three tentacles and stand in one of the holes they leave.  This will make Deathwing roll, getting rid of the amalgamations that spawn while keeping you on board.  Kill Corrupted Bloods as they spawn until you get nine, then kill the remaining tentacle.  Lead the amalgamation over the dead bloods until it absorbs nine of them, then kill it next to the plate.  When the plate pops up, kill the tendon to make it pop off.  Kill bloods until you have nine dead again, then kill another tentacle and repeat the process of lifting up the second plate.  Then do it all again for the third and final plate.  You shouldn’t have to have Deathwing roll again after the first time.
  • Madness isn’t too tricky either.  Burn the tentacle on the platform you’re on, swapping to the Mutated Corruption when it spawns.  Then just focus on burning the tentacle down; when it’s dead, hop to the next platform.  How most people do it is to start on the original platform (Ysera’s), then go left (Nozdormu), left again (Alexstrasza), and then all the way to the right (Kalecgos).  Any combination works, though; you’ll need to start on each platform once to get a particular achievement for the meta, as a point of information.  Once all four tentacles are dead, jump back to Ysera’s platform (second from the right), pop all cooldowns, and burn his head down.  Bloods will spawn that will heal him if they get close, but you should have enough DPS to nuke him before that happens.
  • I have not yet had success in soloing any Pandaria raids.  There’s no scaling buff applied to level 90 content, so you’re only doing normal damage based on the level difference.  It might be possible to handle soloing Pandaria raids with better gear, but at my current gear level it’s not possible.  Dungeons are easy though, if you want to go get most of the Pandaria dungeon meta out of the way (some achievements require multiple players, and at least one requires a full group).

And that’s it!  At some point, I’ll make in-depth guides in the vein of my old guides, and I’ll have to update those to make them less verbose (as most strategies are now “punch the boss until it dies”).  Good luck on all your soloing endeavors!


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