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Blue Posts Round-up: Apr 3

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Today's blue posts talk about the new Artifact Solo Challenge, changes to Brewmaster / Mistweaver Monks and Outlaw Rogues coming in Patch 7.2.5.

Artifact Solo Challenge

Mage Tower is now active in NA and players are already whining about the challenge being too hard, crying out for nerfs. It's supposed to be challenging and there are currently no plans to tune down the difficulty. The scenario will get easier with better gear.

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I get that these appearances are the new hotness and everyone is after them, which causes frustration. However, it's worth noting that the solo challenges to unlock the new appearances are intended to be just that; a challenge. We don't expect the majority of players to obtain them within the first cycle of the Mage Tower being constructed.

Our aim for these challenges is for them to be comparable to that of the green fire questline for Warlocks in Mists of Pandaria. In that case, only a few Warlocks were able to defeat Kanrethad immediately, but more and more were able to overcome the challenge as the expansion progressed.

As we progress through the course of Legion, your character will become stronger (through Artifact progression, gear upgrades, etc), which will naturally ease the difficulty of these challenges. Likewise, as more and more players complete these challenges, more community generated content will appear giving advice for those who are struggling.

Ultimately, each artifact appearance has a different source. Some reflect dedication to a particularly gameplay style, such as raiding or PvP, others for reaching milestones like completing the 7.0 Order Hall line. In the case of these challenge appearances, they are meant to show that you've truly mastered the nuances of your spec.

Brewmaster Monks in 7.2.5

A huge post with plans to address issues with Brewmasters in a forthcoming content patch.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Hail! First round of Brews is on me, Monks. Shall we talk a bit about Brewmasters?

As Seph talked about in a recent Rogue thread, 7.2.5 will include much more significant class change than 7.2 did, and one of the specs that we're focusing on is Brewmaster. Brewmasters are currently quite strong, performance-wise, but have a few notable issues that we'd like to work out.

Offensive Abilities

Rotationally, Brewmasters are using a mixture of offensive and defensive buttons. Some parts of this worked well, such as Keg Smash and Tiger Palm granting partial charges of your Brews. One part that hasn't worked out well is in Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire. Having no direct defensive value, or interaction with other abilities in your rotation, they end up feeling disconnected, and leave you wondering why you're hitting them. There are a couple minor artifact traits that give them some defensive value, but that's ultimately negligible as far as rotation design goes. One saving grace here is the Blackout Combo talent, which gives a strong reason to care about Blackout Strike, and add a lot of depth (and complexity) to your rotation.

Another problem is that Blackout Strike has a 3.0s/Haste cooldown, which is actually rather bizarre on a class with a 1.0s GCDs. Experienced players have learned that you should get a significant enough amount of Haste to bring that down to something in the 2.2-2.5sec range, and alternate Blackout Strikes with other abilities, with awkward 0.2-0.5sec gaps in between your abilities. This also means that with the forced gaps, you become GCD-capped, and Energy stops functioning. Finally, one last problem we're looking at is that there are rather limited options for customizing the rotation through talents (pretty much just Blackout Combo), and no baseline variability, leading to some people finding it repetitive and predictable.

We'd like to clean this up, and here are our current thoughts on how (not set in stone, very interested in discussion and PTR testing). 
  • First, Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire will have a direct defensive value: they'll grant a stack of Elusive Brawler (per target hit, in Breath of Fire's case).
  • Second, Blackout Strike will more smoothly fit into the rotation. We're going to try it having a cooldown, but Tiger Palm significantly reducing that cooldown, such that you can Blackout Strike every few GCDs, and not have any forced partial-second pauses. We want to make sure that Energy (and thus Haste) controls the speed of your rotation, so that that's in your control. If you want a more full, button-spammy rotation, you can favor Haste. If you prefer being more tactical with your GCDs, optimizing the timing of each one, you can favor other stats.
  • And finally, to let you customize the rotation with both higher GCD utilization and some variance, we're planning to add a talent that gives Tiger Palm a high chance to reset the cooldown of Breath of Fire. (Where exactly to put that talent is unclear; replacing Chi Burst is the current idea, but we're not super thrilled with that.)

Defensive Abilities

Overall, Stagger is working quite well in the general case. Ironskin vs Purify (and in particular when to Purify) is a good choice, though maybe a tad bit skewed toward Ironskin right now. However, it becomes problematic in the extreme case, where Stagger is used to cheese mechanics that aren't intended to be survivable. For example, a Brewmaster may use High Tolerance and Fortifying Brew in order to get 100% Stagger, soak several of some raid mechanic that is intended to be entirely unsurvivable (probably even piercing immunities), Purify twice quickly, and get healed through what little of the damage is remaining. The key source of this is when Stagger reaches 100% or near-100%, and our planned changes to solve this focus on that:
  • We'll be reducing the Stagger gain of Fortifying Brew, and slightly reduce the Stagger gain of Ironskin Brew.
  • We'll be raising Brewmaster's base armor to compensate.
  • We're going to add a cap on how much damage can be Staggered (high enough that you won't hit it in normal gameplay, but enough to stop cheesing mechanics).
  • There is also an artifact trait that increases the Stagger gain of Fortifying Brew that has been mostly-useless since 7.1.5, which we're going to redesign.

Again, the point of this is not at all to be a nerf in intended circumstances, but rather to shift around where the mitigation comes from, such that it can't be used to unintentionally bypass mechanics.

Relatedly, one mechanic that causes imbalance with tanks is that in a tank-swap situation in a raid, tanks can store up a large amount of active mitigation while not actively tanking, both in terms of ability charges, and buff durations. In general, this is fine, but it can be taken to extremes, and Brewmasters are a good example of that, frequently being able to go into their tanking with a 30+sec duration Ironskin Brew rolling. Some amount of this is fine, but to keep it within a reasonable range, we're going to put a cap on how long you can extend tank active mitigation buffs, to a maximum of twice their base duration. Thanks for reading! We look forward to your feedback.

What are you doing to address the fact that ISB has basically become the new shuffle and requires 100% uptime? That's literally brew gameplay right now -> 100% ISB uptime and anything left goes into purify.

I touched on that a bit, that the decision is skewed a tad bit towards Ironskin right now. There are 3 changes here that will help with that:

  • The increase to base armor will help with the problem of Ironskin falling off feeling like a death sentence.
  • The reduction to Ironskin effectiveness will slightly decrease the difference between Ironskin being up and not.
  • Our current plan for the mentioned artifact trait replacement is Purify percentage, which will increase the value of Purifying.

How does a talent like Tiger Palm resetting Breath Fire work when you have the legendary chest? Clearly we wouldn't take it since Keg is resetting breath about every 5 seconds. With both it would be absurd.

Occasional legendaries that push you away from or toward a particular talent are generally OK. If you have the Breath of Fire chest, you likely will want to pick one of the other talents instead of Spitfire (the Tiger Palm resets Breath of Fire one), and that's OK.

Will there be exceptions added to this rule? For example, will this not just completely negate the use of the 'Bastion of Light' talent for Protection Paladins? Gaining the instant charges allows them to go much further beyond the "twice their base duration", essentially throwing away all that additional SotR uptime that comes from the talent during the activation window.

There may be, yes. We don't want to invalidate any existing gameplay, just prevent the "I've been offtanking for a bit and have a crazy long duration buff up when I take over, skewing my priorities."

Without hard numbers, it is difficult to see if this will be a blessing or a curse.

Numbers matter for performance, and I want to reemphasize the fact that the changes I'm talking about are intended to be net-neutral, performance-wise. Of course they will affect performance, but we'll offset them with number tweaks, in whichever direction is necessary.

The point of all of these is gameplay, mechanics, and particularly rotational flow.

My first concern on hearing that there is a stagger cap is what does that mean for damage intake: once you're at stagger cap, do you take full damage from hits? How do you anticipate this working on mobs like The Demon Within, which is already hitting for approximately 5 million white damage per auto set? Extrapolating further to future mythic tiers, it's not necessarily unreasonable to anticipate mobs that will be hitting a monk in excess of 7+ million white damage (for example) every 1-1.5s. Given brew generation in your most favorable circumstances, it seems there is a real possibility of brewmasters essentially hitting some upper limit of mob they're able to tank before they're essentially as squishy as a dps, save dodging, due to having capped stagger.

To be clear, the stagger cap is not on the amount you can stagger per-hit, but on the total amount you can have delayed in your "stagger bar" at once. As stated, it's mainly a limit to avoid abusive cases, similar to how spells like Guardian Spirit have a point where they stop working. If you're about to try to soak something that will do a few times your maximum health in damage (even after cooldowns), you should expect to die immediately. This should come into play only in relatively extreme cases.

What exactly do you mean by a cap on how much damage can be staggered? Is there a maximum amount of damage that is allowed to be in the stagger dot? Or does each attack have a maximum amount that can be absorbed from it and added to the stagger dot? This is hugely important to know.

There will be a maximum amount of total damage that you can have banked in your Stagger DoT. Any overflow beyond that will continue through to your health.

I personally love the way Blackout Strike fits into the rotation, especially with Blackout Combo.

And you're not alone; we recognize that there are many Brewmasters who love Blackout Combo, and have Haste in the right thresholds to make it flow reasonably well. One of the things of utmost importance to us with this rotation change is that it doesn't feel worse to those like you. We have several experienced Brewmasters internally who voiced this apprehension when first hearing about these changes, and after playtesting it they all agreed that it felt the same to them. In our books, that's a win, since it's an improvement for the rest of the Brewmasters who aren't in that sweet spot. We hope that sentiment is common externally as well, so please test it out when the PTR goes up, and let us know how it feels. Your feedback on this really matters.

The ability to be GCD capped, or very close to it, is something that I have always loved about brewmasters and on a personal level of feedback it is really important to me that that type of gameplay is still available and viable. Brewmaster has always been a very high APM spec (even if not all of the GCDs directly translate to defensive benefits) so please be careful to maintain that as you tinker with the rotation.

We absolutely hear you, and are targeting Spitfire, Rushing Jade Wind, and Haste at players like you. It'll probably take us some iteration on the energy and proc rate numbers to get the feel just right, so we'll need your help with PTR testing feedback.

Please Increase the IsB duration cap, at least 30-40s. 16s is too short.
And when will you address that bears have been OP for too long and EASIER to play without any significant nerf?

We're starting with a cap of "double the base duration," but that may feel too restrictive, and we'll iterate. This is still early in the process (PTR hasn't even started yet), and none of this is set in stone.

Cheers to everyone that has provided valuable feedback here so far. We'll keep reading and iterating.

First, Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire will have a direct defensive value: they'll grant a stack of Elusive Brawler (per target hit, in Breath of Fire's case)." -- I am sure you are well aware this will push Mastery's value through the roof.

That's certainly possible, and we'll adjust stat tuning if needed. Again, this is intended to be performance-neutral, so we're not trying to buff OR nerf overall performance here.

On the AM max duration discussion, there's been a ton of great feedback on that so far. I'd like to go into why we're considering this change a little more. Forgive me for the verbosity (hah):


This effects Brewmasters more than other tanks, but not exclusively. The main reason that this affects Brewmasters more is that they are meant to split their resource between two brews: Ironskin and Purifying.

Consider a simple situation of two bosses, each beating on a tank. The Brewmaster is using a mixture of their Brews, maintaining ISB while using excess on PB (or maybe even letting ISB fall off when the boss stops to cast something, or is otherwise unthreatening for a moment). She gets more Brew charges than she needs to keep ISB up, but she's using those excess charges on PB, so ISB duration is remaining low.

The co-tank, let's say a Warrior for example, is built a little differently, having two separate defensive resources (Shield Block charges and Rage for Ignore Pain). Both are being generated and consumed at a similar rate, also not gaining increasing Shield Block duration.

Things are good here, and let's suppose for the sake of argument the two tanks are 'balanced' in this context.

---

OK, now let's change the design of the fight, to one where there's one huge boss, and the two tanks take turns tanking for 30sec at a time. Arguments of this being a less-engaging fight aside, let's look at how that affects the tank balance.

While the Warrior is OTing, he's building up Shield Block charges, but once he hits max charges, they're being wasted. He can use one at a time as they're generated, but they don't last longer than it takes to generate, so his Shield Block buff duration doesn't grow over time. Similar deal with Rage and Ignore Pain. He builds up Rage, and when that caps out, he builds up an Ignore Pain stack, but that caps out pretty quickly too. Excess Rage is wasted (at least defensively anyway; they can put it into damage). When the Warrior taunts, he goes into it with some buffer of his max Shield Block charges, maybe a single partial Shield Block buff, and max Rage and Ignore Pain. Overall, he could carry over some value from that time not tanking, but not all of it.

Meanwhile, when the Brewmaster is not tanking, they're building up charges of their single defensive resource, Brew charges. Once at max Brew charges, she starts using Ironskin Brews, as they're generated. Since there's nothing to Purify, she never does so, and all of her charges go into Ironskin Brew, creating a surplus of Ironskin duration that just grows over time. When she taunts, she goes into it with max Brew charges, and a 1min long Ironskin buff. She never has to Ironskin the whole time she's tanking, and can send all of her Brew charges into Purifying, over tripling (if not more) how often she can Purify, providing a sizable gain over her Warrior counterpart. All that time she spent not tanking goes into storing up defensive value for when she is tanking, with no limit.

If the two tanks were 'balanced' in the first fight, then the Brewmaster is overpowered in the second. Alternatively, if you argue that they're balanced in the second fight, that means they're underpowered in the first. The goal of this change is to place a reasonable limit on how much value you can carry over from time spent not tanking, so that we can tune the tanks to be balanced in both of these situations, not just one of them.

I totally get that right now you can always get benefit out of hitting Ironskin Brew, never being fully wasted, and so the prospect of going to a system where there may be a time where you're just sitting on full charges, wasting them sounds like a negative. Please understand that for most other tanks, that's just normal; a Warrior that's not tanking is just wasting the defensive value of their Shield Block charges once at max charges, and that's just an accepted norm. By bringing Brewmasters into parity in this regard, we can then tune them to be more consistently balanced with other tanks, which is the core goal of the change.

One of the most common responses so far has been "I understand wanting a cap, but 2x*duration is too short". Totally reasonable argument, and we'll need your help finding what the right cap is. We chose that to start with because that's consistent with things like Ignore Pain, Mark of Ursol, Blood Shield, Soul Fragments, etc. Given the more liberal use of Brew charges, it may be more appropriate to be higher for Brewmasters.

I'd love to keep hearing your thoughts on this, and I hope that this massively-over-verbose post helped better explain our thought process here. Thanks to those of you that stuck with it, reading it all the way through. :)

This is probably the most extreme example I can pull from in game currently and it results in 21.5 million staggered, which is certainly a lot but I know on Mythic Gul'dan, there have been moments where I've had between 10 million and 18 million staggered and subsequently purified. How will this design idea allow those two different situations to co-exist? How does the game react to me being sent to stagger cap because of a single huge ability that should've killed me rather than the fact that the boss encounter just hits extremely hard? And if your retort is "well, brewmasters shouldn't be able to solo fel scythes and still continue to tank the boss" my counter is "what about guardians doing the same thing with roughly the same amount of externals?

That is exactly my retort, and Guardians shouldn't be able to either. Soloing every 100-Energy Fel Scythe is perfect example of the cheese this is intended to prevent, and we'll be preventing it on Guardians as well.

How much of a threshold are we talking? One stagger bar? Two? Five? Ten? 

When we reach this threshold, what happens? Do we begin to take unmitigated hits? Will stagger simply stop working? If so, what's the plan for taking an unmitigated raid boss hit, as a few bosses are capable of 100-0% a 910 brewmaster in a single swing?

The current idea is that the Stagger bar that the UI shows is the cap, which matches up with your health bar, since that'll be the most understandable and intuitive. Then, however much of a buff to max health is needed to make that balanced.

Example, with 80% Stagger, 33% Armor for convenient numbers:

HP: 100/100 ~ Stagger: 0/100

Take a hit for 30, armor reduces that to 20, then stagger takes 16, and 4 goes through to HP.
HP: 96/100 ~ Stagger: 16/100

Time passes and 8 of the Stagger damage goes over into HP.
HP: 88/100 ~ Stagger: 8/100

Then you take a big hit for 60, armor reduces that to 40, then stagger takes 32, and 8 goes through to HP.
HP: 80/100 ~ Stagger: 40/100

You quickly Purify 50% of that.
HP: 80/100 ~ Stagger: 20/100

Then you take a *massive* hit for 210 (something cheesy), armor reduces that to 140. Stagger would take 112, but there's only room for 80 in your Stagger bar. So Stagger takes 80, and 60 goes through to HP.
HP: 20/100 ~ Stagger: 100/100

TL;DR: The Stagger bar on your UI is now representative of your maximum stagger pool, and any overflow damage continues on into your HP bar. Max HP is increased as needed, such that these two bars combined are a big enough pool for normal gameplay.

Alright, second round is on me as well, Brewmasters. Now that the weekend is over, we've had a chance to discuss all the great feedback you all have provided so far. Here's what we're thinking:

(Note that the below changes likely won't make it into the first PTR build.)

Stagger Cap

As I said, the goal of this was cheese-prevention, not intended to impact normal gameplay. A Stagger cap of 100%*HP has a lot of value to us due to it functioning intuitively within the UI. We had hoped that the amount we need to buff HP/Armor would be reasonable in order to make that work, but looking at the numbers and your feedback, we don't think there's enough room there. Therefore, we're now leaning toward a 200%*HP cap, and that just won't be visible in the UI (but then, neither is the cap of Guardian Spirit and the like).

Active Mitigation Duration Cap

There has been a ton of useful feedback about this topic. Being able to carry over a ton of banked Active Mitigation (and Ironskin Brew absolutely is AM in context) from tank swaps and low damage phases is extremely powerful, and contributes to imbalance between tanks. But we're also sympathetic to how it adds an additional complication that you need to keep in your mental space. We think that just loosening the restriction up a bit so that the window you can safely press Ironskin Brew in is much wider will satisfy that, so we're going to try a cap of 3x Duration instead of 2x. And to clarify, calling this "base duration" was inaccurate; I meant the duration of a single cast of Ironskin Brew, including traits (so 3x Duration would be 24sec with 4/4 of that trait).

Magic DR

We've talked about having armor and potentially HP as tuning knobs to use. We also have the % of Stagger that applies to Magic to use. All of the changes we're discussing in this thread are for mechanical and playstyle reasons, and then tuning is a separate (but big and important) issue. Just to set expectations, Brewmasters with Mystic Vitality are currently seen as extremely strong against Magic damage, sometimes overpowered. Guardian Druids are also overpowered against Magic damage, and that will be adjusted as well.

Thanks, and keep the feedback coming!

Mistwaver Monks - Essence Font With CD

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

What are we supposed to do when Essence FontEssence Font is on cooldown, Uplifting TranceUplifting Trance isn't available, Whispers of ShaohaoWhispers of Shaohao has been used, and the the group still needs to be healed?

The initial version going out has a small buff to baseline VivifyVivify. Also, the changes greatly increase the practical value of mastery, which is a hidden buff to the VivifyVivify, Enveloping MistEnveloping Mist, and EffuseEffuse casts you'll be making in between Essence FontEssence Fonts.

Part of it, though, is you should have more of cadence between the high-priority heals that somewhat solve problems on their own, and the spells that don't always do that. You asked what to do when the "best" 3 or 4 things are on cooldown or not available, and that's similar to a Druid falling back to laying down RejuvenationRejuvenations when she can't use Wild GrowthWild Growth or SwiftmendSwiftmend, or a Paladin using Flash of LightFlash of Light between Light of DawnLight of Dawn and Holy ShockHoly Shock cooldowns. Making use of the no-cooldown spells that are more limited is meant to be a moment when you look forward to the next heavy hitter coming back (even if it's just a few seconds for an Essence FontEssence Font).

The concerns in feedback seem to mostly reflect tuning--that the "filler" kit of VivifyVivify, Enveloping MistEnveloping Mist, EffuseEffuse, and Soothing MistSoothing Mist isn't strong enough. Possibly that's true and the problem has been papered over on live by the ability to focus everything on Essence FontEssence Font. Overall tuning will be something to watch on PTR, as with any spec getting any degree of shakeup. Tuning debates usually aren't too productive in early feedback, but maybe a helpful thing to say is: "if we hadn't been making any changes to Mistweaver, it would probably have gotten a small flat throughput buff before the next raid."

With the changes to Mistweaver during the transition to Legion, there was already a degree of homogenization from what was previously a fairly unique gameplay experience to something more similar to what already existed in other healing classes. As you consider further changes to Mistweaver, is further samey-ness something that's "on the radar"?

It is, although possibly in the opposite way. If anything, thinking that Essence FontEssence Font had to be forced into an off-cooldown design from the start "just to be different" probably didn't help anybody. The spec flowing better for everyone using it matters more than symmetries or antisymmetries between specs and how they look on paper. Nobody actually playing either spec is going to forget whether they're on a Mistweaver or a Resto Druid just because Essence FontEssence Font follows a successful design like Wild GrowthWild Growth. The spells around them, the different interactions they have, and the whole pile of talents, traits, and item bonuses all doing different things ensures that.

There's always a balance between lessons and good designs that are generally true throughout the game, and variance between specs. And powerful AoE heals usually having some cooldown (for a number of reasons) is a factor that's more likely to improve Mistweaver gameplay than worrying about being a carbon copy of other specs (which it's pretty far from, all things considered).

Outlaw Rogue: RTB & True Bearing

Changes coming in Patch 7.2.5.

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Two things I think many of us can agree on right now: 
  • 1. True BearingTrue Bearing's cooldown reduction per combo point spent mechanic is fun to play with. The mechanic has been on the spec for a long time as a passive with a different name (Restless BladesRestless Blades), and largely drove the pacing and feel of the spec.
  • 2. True BearingTrue Bearing is much stronger than any of the other single Roll the BonesRoll the Bones buffs, on average.

That said, we're going to make two changes to Outlaw Rogues in 7.2.5:
  • 1. The True BearingTrue Bearing mechanic is being added to Outlaw as a baseline passive (called Restless BladesRestless Blades), tuned to an appropriate pacing and power level for how many combo points the spec currently generates. Restless BladesRestless Blades, currently in 7.2.5 is tuned at 0.5 sec of cooldown reduction per combo point because realistically, the spec now generates easily 2-3x more combo points compared to a couple expansions ago, and the pacing impact and tuning of Restless BladesRestless Blades should reflect that.
  • 2. True BearingTrue Bearing will remain as one of the 6 Roll the BonesRoll the Bones buffs, but will be tuned down from 2.0 to 1.0 sec of cooldown reduction per combo point. We're serious about balancing each of the 6 individual buffs against each other, and True BearingTrue Bearing at 2.0 sec is clearly out of line.

We'll be keeping a close eye on Roll the BonesRoll the Bones during 7.2.5 development, and as usual will make further tuning/adjustments as necessary.

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the mage tower quests are not a skill check, they are not  even very much of a gear check, they ARE however a massive hardware check, IF you have less than perfect internet connection...they are impossible to complete due to the zero tolerance timing, one tiny lag spike and its failed.  

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13 hours ago, Realmouse said:

the mage tower quests are not a skill check, they are not  even very much of a gear check, they ARE however a massive hardware check, IF you have less than perfect internet connection...they are impossible to complete due to the zero tolerance timing, one tiny lag spike and its failed.  

Those are mean to be raid Mythic difficulty level wised and I think they are tuned just like it should (WW monk here). I tried and failed 21 times before beating it and it felt awesome. I had to use everything I can to beat it and I'm only 895 ilvl. Sometimes in mythic you die of bad luck or because you failed to predict what will happen soon enough and I can guarantee that lag will kill you. It's not mean to be easy so yeah, hardware and a good internet connection is mandatory.  

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people rushed mage tower though they knew it would be a challenge like the green fire questline from pandaria.. and now cry for nerfs? pathetic.. ofc they wont stand a chance at actual gear levels. maybe after tomb opens they can try.. but crying for nerfs right now is just the usual shitstorm.. do people really think they walk in get the appearance first try? blizzard told them it wouldnt be the case. its a CHALLENGE for a new appearance. but if wow players have to work for something they get cringy..

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my only beef with the mage tower is that blizzard flat out lied to us.  they said it would be a skill based scenario, it is not. they said it would need expert levels of class knowledge, it does not (basic understanding of a class is all that is needed, anything else has no use in there),  they said it would be like the warlocks green fire quest, this is so far from the truth its aggravating..the mage tower is proving grounds 2.0.

  

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      The first part of this huge interview, featuring how to get better at M+, class balance and more.
      In this first of a two part interview, the champs go into class balance, how to get better at M+, their thoughts on the affixes, the dungeons and much more.
      The Mythic+ crew of Jdotb (Resto Druid), Shakib (Veng DH), Darkee (WW Monk), Mittbitt (Balance Druid) and Marvink (Aff Warlock) shattered a large number of records recently and decided to have a chat with us on the most successful thing to come out of Legion, the Mythic Keystone Dungeon system. In the first part of this mythic interview, the dungeoneers talk about how to get better at running M+, class setup and balance, affixes, the dungeons themselves and more. With a huge amount of experience under their belts there's no one better to discuss the issues surrounding WoW's latest endgame activity, so let's dive right in.

      Let's start simple: why do you do it?
      Darkee: I do it for the challenge and prestige.
      Jdotb: For the challenge and fun of it. Having a stable team makes m+ a lot more enjoyable.
      Marvink: It’s a source of end-game replayability that lets you push your limits outside of raids. Pushing actually feels like raiding in a smaller more close-knit environment, and you get to constantly try to beat even yourself with the scaling content.
      Shakib: The moment of glory at the end of a world first run.
       
      For people that are just starting out running higher and higher M+ runs, as well as for those that want to get into the WF race, what would be your advice to them?
      Jdotb: A few things: first, try to find a group that you can run with all the time so you can develop solid communication and start building some in-house strats. Being on the same page as your group is incredibly important. Five pretty good players being vocal, knowing what mobs will be pulled, etc. will beat five all stars that haven’t played together. Second, make a lot of equipment sets and get comfortable switching among them. One for avoidance cap, one for trash aoe, one for pure single target, etc. It helps a lot to tailor your equipment to each specific encounter. Third, watch vods and steal strats.  You can find other groups doing a lot of really innovative stuff if you pay attention.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel every dungeon.

      Shakib: The best advice I can give to anyone trying  to become better at M+ is to play with the same people. It doesn’t have to be the same exact 5 people every single time since some people might not be able to ALWAYS play. I personally play regularly with 10-15 people. Sure, I try to stick with the same 5 as much as possible during a push week and that would be the best scenario for everyone, but it can be hard sometimes so at least having people you know or have played with before helps a lot. Having to explain the strats to a new person will slow down your progression and might even make it not enjoyable.
       
      What would be the top 3 tips you would give to other high M+ teams?
      Jdotb: Sometimes you will have to replace people if you want to push for world firsts. It sucks, but it’s necessary. Prioritize playing with people that are available all the time. It’s hard to overcome playing infrequently even if it’s with really good people. Always be open to new strats for your runs.  If someone asks, “Why do we…” or “Why don’t we…”, take the time to really consider if there isn’t a better way.
      Shakib: At the highest level of m+ you have to treat 90% of the mechanics as if they are going to kill or nearly kill you. Mechanics that you used to ignore now become deadly. This applies for bosses and trash. Communication is key. I do think that having people that call out CC throughout the dungeon is very important. At a very high lvl overlapping a 6 second silence with a stun can result in a wipe, especially in huge packs where 1 cast goes off and the dungeon is over.
       
      You mostly use the same setup for your runs, could you talk about the choices there and why your class/spec is the best for this type of play? 
      Darkee: Windwalker brings high damage and “good enough” survivability. It really shines in mass aoe pulls due to our exponential scaling with Spinning Crane Kick. This allows the other 2 dps to bring more single target focused builds. We also have exceptional burst damage for high priority short lived adds (one example being the adds that shield the third boss in Seat).
      Jdotb: Four of us (Shakib, Mitt, Marvin and Jdotb) have been running together for several months. Darkee is a recent addition. His spec (Windwalker) does the most dps of any class in m+ right now by a country mile. Windwalker defensives are ok but not great, but Windwalker dps is so good that it doesn’t matter. The common theme among the rest of us is that our classes are very good at living.
      Marvink: Our group composition just sort of fell into place. For me, affliction will always have its place in high dungeons. Their damage is very competitive but a large portion of their appeal is the insane personal self-sustain. Having one less person the healer has to worry about a lot of the time helps quite a bit. As there are many dungeons with demons this expansion, Banish is very helpful in some dungeons on Bolstering and Bursting week allowing you to pull a little larger than you would without it. And don’t forget the important Arcway buff through enslave demon.
      Shakib:  Vengeance demon hunter: While dh’s don’t bring much group utility (ex: BoP, Leech aura, Battle res…) we bring an insane utility toolkit (trash control) and the strongest overall damage during a dungeon for a tank spec. We also have very good self sustain, especially during Metamorphosis, which almost makes us invincible. The great self-sustain lets our resto druid have even more globals to dps.
      Restoration Druid: The reason that druid is one of the two top pick for a healer spec is mainly because of their survivability via bear form and Barkskin. On top of that they are able to heal pretty much any situation while dealing a pretty decent chunk of damage if they pick the talent Feral Affinity. Ironbark is a very nice external on a short cooldown. Typhoon during a sanguine week is a lifesaver. Brez is definitly a big plus.
      Affliction Warlock: This spec is currently great at everything. They have a multitude of talents to pick from which our lock swaps between depending on the dungeon. Their damage is top tier while also having insane survivability (several defensives, the self-healing from drain is powerful, lets you somewhat ignore some mechanics while healing through them). Really good utility also for many situations. Stun, gateway, the decurse from the infernal pet but most importantly they can enable huge pulls by equipping Sacrolash's Dark Strike which slows every enemy affected by Corruption by 60%. This allows us to do some big pulls where I kite and the dps take care of the pack without having to deal with mechanics (mostly used in dungeons like Neltharion’s lair, Blackrook and seat). Healthstones <3
      Balance druid: Once again, same as resto druids you are basically never worried of a balance druid dying during intense damage taken periods because of their bear form. Brez and Typhoon are also nice to have. While not having a low cooldown interrupt can be an annoyance on heavy casting fights like Medivh in Upper Kharazan, Solar Beam is extremely strong for huge caster pulls - 8 seconds of silence is HUGE.
      Windwalker monk: This is a recent pick up, while windwalkers have always been a really good dps pick for m+ they were lacking survivability to justify bringing them. With the start of the new tier windwalker monks have been destroying dps meters which made us pick Darkee as our 5th. They always have cooldowns up. Leg sweep is the best aoe stun in the game. We also really like playing with 1 melee in our comp.
       
      If you had to pick the single strongest and weakest class and spec for pushing high M+, what would they be?
      Darkee: I think class balance is more like a tier list rather than clear-cut winners and losers. However, if I had to choose the best/worst, Mistweaver would be the worst. There are many contenders for best but my vote goes toward affliction lock. Strong damage, very strong survivability and they bring utility in the form of healthstones/gates/summons/soulstone.
      Shakib:  Affliction warlock is definitely the strongest overall spec. Good at everything, great survival, great utility. I can’t think of a downside of bringing a warlock. I would usually bash on Shadow priests but I think enhance shaman is the weakest key pushing spec in the game, not only are they melee which makes them more vulnerable to dying in big packs but they also have probably the weakest defensive toolkit in the game. From what I’ve heard they have really good single target and 3-4 target cleave but after that pretty much any other class is better.
       
      Do you feel Blizzard have done a good job with class balance throughout Legion? And do you have high hopes for BfA in this regard?
      Darkee: This answer would just be salt coming from a windwalker main (Rank 1 Krosus parse getting beat by rank 830 warrior parse). However, I think balance will be much easier in BFA with the removal of tier sets.
      Marvink: M+ has basically always been ruled by how much AoE burst you can get, you can always pull more if you have the damage. There’s always been some sort of mix of classes and trinkets that just rule the scene and not much has been done to limit the effectiveness of them outside of raids, one gets changes and another one takes its place.
      Shakib: The class balance has been decent throughout the xpac, the main balance that I would like to see is defensive changes. The defensive toolkit a class has is usually the main reason they are brought into a high m+ dungeon. Blizzard has surprised me several times this expansion when it comes to dungeons. Never did I think there would be this many changes done to balance dungeons out, it’s not a perfect balance but at least we know that they care about dungeons a lot more than before. They even hotfixed some of the bugs or “exploits” that were happening pretty quickly recently. Especially having a dungeon tournament hosted by blizzard themselves so my hopes are very high for BfA and future expansions.
       
          
      Let’s start from the most obvious: rank the dungeons in order of difficulty on the highest M+ numbers.
      Mittbitt : (Most difficult) Seat of the Triumvirate - Some of the trash is always brutal regardless of affixes, and the the last two bosses can make or break your key.
      Maw of Souls - The trash is not too controllable and does significant damage to all players, and the second boss can get fairly chaotic. Also the timer is not generous at all.
      Neltharion’s Lair- Ularogg Cragshaper, and Dargrul eat up a significant amount of time overall for the key by getting an undesired transition or add. Also the trash in the dungeon is very strong, specifically the scorpions at the end.
      Darkheart Thicket- Dresaron and Shade of Xavius can be quite scary, more so Xavius requires a great deal of durability.
      Halls of Valor -Hyrja can be a big block in whether or not you can complete the key, and some of the trash can be quite difficult if not dealt with correctly.
      Black Rook Hold - The bosses can be challenging, however the trash gets hard to deal with quickly.
      Upper Karazhan - Each boss has their own element making them difficult, however Shade and Mana Devourer can get messy and require extra coordination to kill.
      Lower Karazhan - Overall I don’t feel that this dungeon is exceptionally difficult, however the Mounted Strike can chunk anyone in melee range of Attumen the Huntsman, and unless you have a comp to cheese Garrotes, Moroes can get sketchy quickly.
      Eye of Azshara - The only two scary bosses in here are Lady Hatecoil, and Wrath of Azshara. Although not too difficult the winds pushing players around is obnoxious and can get very dangerous very quickly.
      Vault of the Wardens - The trash and the mini bosses are quite dangerous, other than that avoiding extra phases on Glazer are one of the essential parts to getting more time available in the key.
      The Arcway - Getting left side at the beginning of they key makes the timer much more relaxed and makes it the easiest key, unfortunately we did not get left side on our timed 27. What makes this key particularly difficult is Ivanyr, Nal’tira, and the large amount of time that Advisor Vandros takes up.
      (Least difficult) Court of Stars - Overall the trash is not too difficult, and mainly only the second boss is frightening as the damage caps early on the last boss, and the first boss is straightforward.
      Shakib: Lower-arcway-vault-court-upper-eye of azshara-blackrook hold-cathedral-darkheart-neltharion-halls of valor-maw-seat.
       
      If you could change a few dungeons which would they be and how would you change them?
      Darkee: Something needs to be done about that entire archer area in Blackrook. Getting through it with me only dying twice is considered a success. I would make it so you can’t out-range shoot but drastically lower the damage it deals.
      Marvink: I’d remove the very far back Warden spawn in Seat, and add a profession to the Starlight Rose Brew in Court of Stars. I’d also make Hyrja only able to cast the ability she’s currently linked to, not if she just has stacks.
      Mittbitt : I would reduce the amount of role play in some dungeons, such as the Court of Stars boat ride and talking, Neltharion’s Lair waterfalls and maybe even the shuffling of the rocks on Ularogg Cragshaper.
      Shakib: Court of stars: The rng on the buffs is interesting and cute at low lvl keys but becomes frustrating when you need a perfect buff combination (on top of having people change professions just to maybe have it up during your 1 run) to finish a key in time. I think in m+ it should either be a set combination of buffs or just disable all of them just like we saw in the MDI.
      Seat: similar to CoS, the warden locations should be set spawns.
      Arcway: Having a 50/50 on the door that’s open at the start is another point that can greatly impact the dungeon time (maybe less if warlocks wouldn’t be able to control the OP chaosbringer pet on the left side of the dungeon). Maybe a decent fix would be a toggle left/right as you start the keystone depending on the side you think your comp can clear faster on.
       
      Which is your favorite and least favorite dungeon to run?
      Darkee: My favorite is Upper with Court being a close second. Least favorite is easily Blackrook.
      Marvink: My favorite dungeon by far is Court of Stars. I despise Halls of Valor (I’m look at you Hyrja).
      Mittbitt : My favorite dungeon to run is currently Vault of the Wardens. I enjoy the layout of the dungeon and how it allows me to optimize my cooldowns. My least favorite dungeon to run is Upper Karazhan, I do not enjoy the bosses, nor the tuning for the dot on Mana Devourer.
      Shakib: Favorite dungeon is hands down Lower Kharazan. There’s nothing I love more than pulling big and lower is a goldmine of huge trash packs. Turns out dh’s are also quite strong at doing exactly what I love :). (Seat is really close behind.) My least favorite dungeon has to be Neltharion’s lair. Even though it is a pretty straight forward dungeon there’s something about the environment and the mob type that just gets to me.
       
      What are the easiest affixes and do they vary from dungeon to dungeon?
      Shakib: I would say that the Sanguine, Volcanic, Fortified set of affixes is the easiest for 12 out of the 13 available dungeons. The one that stands out as not a “harder” dungeon but just much slower. A LOT of time gets wasted during the scavenger hallway. I would say that the easiest set of affixes for Blackrook Hold is Teeming, Quaking, Fortified, the pulls are usually really big pulls so adding a couple mobs here and there doesn’t slow you down as much as people may think in there, at least not as much as Sanguine.
       
      Are there some affix combos you just will not get out of bed in the morning for?
      Darkee: Teeming Explosive is a bad joke. Explosive in general is just not fun. It doesn’t help that monks deal 50% less damage to them during our main cd, and our main cd is up at the start of every big pull. I just don’t play unless I have to during Explosive.
      Jdotb: Obviously some of the affix combinations are particularly disgusting, but we’ll run keys most every day regardless. We’re fiends. At the very least, affixes like Bolstering and Tyrannical make you appreciate the Volcanics and Fortifieds.
      Marvink: Bolstering, Explosive, Tyrannical. Not my cup of tea for that amount of trash management, and marathon boss fights are never fun.
      Mittbitt : I will always get out of bed for some mythic plus regardless of the affix combos, however the affix combo that least excites me is Bolstering, Grievous, Tyrannical.
       
      What do you think of the current affixes as they are now? Which should be changed or even removed completely and are there any you’d like to see added in BfA?
      Jdotb: Tyrannical is the big offender at the moment. You don’t have to dive very deep into the analytics to see that all the highest keys are on Fortified weeks. The 40% hp on Tyrannical is the problem - it just makes the bosses take waaaaay too long. The damage bump is fine where it’s at, but the hp buff needs to be cut to at most 25%, maybe even 20%. Bosses are already the hardest parts of high keys because of scaling; making them do more damage AND live almost half again as long is insurmountable.
      Bolstering is probably a bit too punishing. If you screw up, you can’t really undo it without wiping. If the Bolstering buff had a duration (maybe 10-15s) or a cap (maybe 10 stacks) it would be a lot more palatable.
      Explosive starts to feel a little overwhelming on high keys because the orb health scales with the key level so instead of just requiring a global cooldown, the orbs now need people to focus them for several casts.
      Volcanic is a joke now that probably needs to be reworked. It isn’t threatening and half the time it doesn’t even require you to move.
      Quaking for the most part is ok but can be devastating on boss fights where you absolutely need your Prydaz, Xavaric's Magnum Opus shield up to live through certain mechanics. There isn’t a way to play around that currently. If Quaking always did damage to your hp pool directly instead of eating shields, I think it would improve the affix a lot.
      Mittbitt : I feel that Tyrannical needs some tuning, possibly by dropping the hp that bosses receive and beefing up trash more. However, Tyrannical boss hp and abilities get out of control much sooner, and honestly are the least enjoyable mythic plus weeks where we typically farm 20-24 keys.
       
      What’s your favorite, least favorite and funniest “trick” you’ve used in the past to get that tier done in time?
      Jdotb: My favorite trick would have to be keeping the cats in the front of DHT from jumping. That made the instance so much less frustrating.
      Least favorite trick is delaying on the second platform of Viz’aduum. He always targets me with the disintegrate so I have to spend a minute or two running back and forth between two spots.
      Funniest trick was probably taunting Ularogg to keep him from going underground (has since been fixed) - if you were successful, he would instantly punch you really hard and probably kill you on higher keys, so the taunt “winner” would usually be the dead guy.
       
      That's it for the first part of this interview, we had to cut it up into two for, well, obvious reasons! Huge thanks to the Mythic + crew for the insightful answers and you check back in a few days when we finish this up with their thoughts on addons, raiding and its impact on M+,  the Mythic Dungeon Invitational, their suggestions for the future of M+ and much more!
    • By Stan

      Call of the Scarab micro-holiday is back with new temporary faction mounts. The event is active through January 23, 2018 and the mounts last for 7 days.
      2018 Updates
      Players who have completed Antorus, the Burning Throne raid need to talk to Rhonormu near the gong to enter the correct event phase of Silithus. The Scarab Lord Black Qiraji Resonating Crystal mount received a brand new model this year. You can find more information here. Two new mounts can be purchased for 1 Abyssal Crest during the event. Ruby Qiraji Resonating Crystal can be purchased from Warlord Gorchuk. Sapphire Qiraji Resonating Crystal can be purchased from Field Marshal Snowfall. The mounts are not permanent and last for 7 days. Blizzard (Source)
      *1/21- The Call of the Scarab Micro-Holiday is now live. Players who have completed Antorus , the Burning Throne and who are in a different phase can speak to Rhonormu near the gong to enter the correct event phase.
      On January 23, 2006, a bloody war was triggered by a simple sound: the banging of a gong. No rallying fanfare, no bloodthirsty yell; just an eerie silence. Those long, uneasy seconds of dread. The calm before the storm.
      Standing shoulder-to-shoulder before the Scarab Wall, no one could have predicted what would happen—an epic ten-hour battle that claimed the lives of thousands of Azeroth’s bravest—or fully comprehended the effect it would have.
      ACTION FIRST, FACTION SECOND
      That’s not to say the battle at the gates of Ahn’Qiraj came as a surprise. When the menace of C’Thun turned into an urgent threat, leaders across the world pored over plans and forged unlikely connections as pressure mounted. Both factions knew war was coming and personal glory was a hubris no-one could risk. Any notion that one army could defeat General Rajaxx and his colossal battalion was soon abandoned as fantasy.
      It was a unique time: scattered armies with varying allegiances were thrown together and faction pride was put aside. Let’s be clear: the battle at Ahn’Qiraj was won purely on the principle “united we stand, divided we fall.”
      WARMONGERING VS. GOLD HUNGERING
      This uneasy alliance was not without its critics. Some showed their disapproval by shunning the war effort altogether, but others expressed opposition through acts of aggression. Rogue elements on both sides, unwilling to stomach this perceived betrayal of their faction, did not sit idle. Just as neutral auction houses became a tool for factions to share resources, they also became virtual battlegrounds. Crucial resources were picked up for next-to-nothing and sold on for personal gain. As with all wars, those who profit aren’t always the brave.
      The sheer scale of that war effort is almost unimaginable when we live in a time of extended storage and fast mail. But back then, backpacks and cloth stacks were smaller. Getting precious resources gathered, sorted, and sent took many hours. And it took several weeks to source bandages, food, and equipment—resources that were in high demand and would soon dwindle.
      THE IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBRANCE
      There are parallels with current events that are impossible to ignore: once more, we Azerothians stand united against the Burning Legion as they wreak havoc across the Broken Isles. We attempt to put aside a complex, bitter history in order to defeat a common enemy. We eye each other suspiciously, even as we fight side by side.
      We would do well, in these dark times, to remember the courage and spirit of those who were there at the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj. We must have long memories if we’re to make quick work of the demon forces we now face.
      From January 21–23 we ask that you join us as we remember the fallen and celebrate the victory. All of Azeroth are invited to a special holiday, ‘Call of the Scarab,’ where we will gather to perform acts of remembrance and share our factions’ pride.
    • By Jovovich
      World of Warcraft - [Horde][US-Arthas]Unhuman - Francais - 2/11M - www.unhuman.ca
      Unhuman est à la recherche de nouveaux visages qui seraient intéressés à joindre ses rangs!
      Forum: http://forum.unhuman.ca/forum/7-recrutement/
      Raiding:
      - [Raid] Undying AtBT: 2/11M, 11/11H, 2soir, Mardi et Mercredi 7hpm à 10h30hpm  (EST)
      - [Raid] Baguettes & Squareheads AtBT: 1/11M, 11/11H, 2soir, Mardi et Jeudi 7h30pm à 10h30hpm (EST)
      - [Raid] Casual as Fuck AtBT: 9/11H, 1soir, Mercredi 7hpm à 10h30hpm  (EST)
      PvP:
      - [PvP] Unhuman RBG: 1800 rating, 1soir Dimanche des 9hpm (EST)
      Communauté:
      - Plus de  450 accounts
      Unhuman est plus qu'une guilde de raiding performante, c'est aussi la plus grosse communauté Francophone sur World of Warcraft US. Depuis sa création en 2006, Unhuman cherche à offrir à ses raiders un environnement de jeu qui favorise la progression et ce avec des joueurs d'excellent calibre. Nous sommes constamment à la recherche de nouveaux joueurs que ce soit PVE ou PVP, mais aussi des masters du Pet Battles, des champions de l'Archéologie ou peu importe ce qui vous branche ingame. Vous êtes donc assuré de trouver ce que vous cherchez chez nous peu importe votre style de jeu.
      Pour toutes questions...
      - http://unhuman.ca/
      - Jovovich-Arthas, Guild Master
      - Falfuris-Arthas, Officier
      - Shockadins-Arthas, Officier
    • By Jovovich
      World of Warcraft - [Horde][US-Arthas]Unhuman - French - 2/11M - www.unhuman.ca
      Unhuman is RECRUITING!
      Forum: http://forum.unhuman.ca/forum/7-recrutement/
      Raiding:
      - [Raid] Undying AtBT: 2/11M,11/11H, 2day, Tuesday and Wednesday 7hpm to 10h30hpm  (EAST)
      - [Raid] Baguettes & Squareheads AtBT:1/11M, 11/11H, 2day, Tuesday and Thursday 7h30pm to 10h30hpm (EAST)
      - [Raid] Casual as Fuck AtBT: 9/11H, 1day, Wednesday 7hpm to 10h30hpm (EAST)
      PvP:
      - [PvP] Unhuman RBG: 1800 rating, 1day Sunday starting at 9hpm (EAST)
       
      Community:
      - More than 450 account
      Unhuman is a performing raiding guild with multiple raid groups, it's one of the biggest, for not saying the biggest one, french community on World of Warcraft US. Unhuman has been created in December 2006 and will continue to live for a long time, Unhuman is trying to give to our raiders everything they need to be focus only on good progression!. Unhuman is always looking for new players of all kind, PvE or PvP, even with Battle pets or Archeologists or anything else you can do in the game....You will be sure to find your way with Unhuman!
      For any question...
      - http://unhuman.ca/
      - Jovovich-Arthas, Guild Master
      - Falfuris-Arthas, Officier
      - Shockadins-Arthas, Officier