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M+ Record Holders: An Interview with the Champs, Pt. 1

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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.

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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 KickSpinning 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, BanishBanish 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 MetamorphosisMetamorphosis, 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 BarkskinBarkskin. 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 AffinityFeral Affinity. IronbarkIronbark is a very nice external on a short cooldown. TyphoonTyphoon 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 StrikeSacrolash's Dark Strike which slows every enemy affected by CorruptionCorruption 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 TyphoonTyphoon 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 BeamSolar 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.
 

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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: achievement_boss_archaedas.jpg 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.

ability_warrior_battleshout.jpg 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.

spell_fire_felflamering.jpg 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.

spell_shaman_lavasurge.jpg 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.

spell_nature_earthquake.jpg Quaking for the most part is ok but can be devastating on boss fights where you absolutely need your Prydaz, Xavaric's Magnum OpusPrydaz, 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!
Part 2.

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What I personally think should be improved on Blizzard's side is to have different World's Firsts for each of the affix combinations. It is safely to say that it is impossible to balance all the affixes perfectly as they all behave very differently and require different tactics to beat anyways.

 

Separating the records that way seems a lot more fair. If you've been playing for 4 months breaking record after record, only to be trumped by a new team because one week's affix setup was extremely favorable is truly demoralizing.

 

Looking at it from another point of view, if you break records because of "this week's favorable affix setup", you may end up doing no M+ record attempts for many weeks or perhaps even months until that favorable affix setup happens again, further limiting motivation.

 

I'm all for diversity in having many different types of affixes, it's a different flavor each week, I would also not be opposed to having even more different types of affixes. Perhaps some middle ground to this is to have people be able to choose what affixes they want past the reward keystones. So if a keystone would give loot up to +15 in chests, then you can choose your own affixes for +16 and beyond?

 

Just a bit of food for thought.

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11 hours ago, Yridaa said:

What I personally think should be improved on Blizzard's side is to have different World's Firsts for each of the affix combinations. It is safely to say that it is impossible to balance all the affixes perfectly as they all behave very differently and require different tactics to beat anyways.

Is it not the community that makes this "world first" ranking? Blizzard only has a per week leaderbord system, aka they only measure you against the very same affix combination in the very same week. Making those rankings even cancel out the loot progression over the months.

Choosing your own affix would be kinda lame, people would choose the 'cheesing' 90% of the time.

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1 hour ago, AartS said:

Is it not the community that makes this "world first" ranking? Blizzard only has a per week leaderbord system, aka they only measure you against the very same affix combination in the very same week. Making those rankings even cancel out the loot progression over the months.

Choosing your own affix would be kinda lame, people would choose the 'cheesing' 90% of the time.

Not everyone likes the easiest way... Choosable affixes would be epic with separated WF table. 

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      De Other Side Halls of Atonement Mists of Tirna Scithe Plaguefall Sanguine Depths Spires of Ascension The Necrotic Wake Theater of Pain Look for the following all week long:
      Caretaker Kah'Toll in Oribos has a quest for you. Or, if you forget to pick it up there, you can start it within the Adventure Guide (Shift-J). Quest Requirement: Complete 4 Shadowlands dungeons on Mythic difficulty. Rewards: One loot box containing a piece of gear from Heroic difficulty Castle Nathria. Passive bonus: The final boss in each dungeon drop additional loot on all difficulties (except Mythic Keystone difficulties.) EVERY WEEK
      The Bonus Events system consists of a rotating schedule of different activities, currently scheduled to run each week beginning on Tuesdays. Each Bonus Event grants a passive bonus to a particular game activity and offers a once-per-event quest with a noteworthy reward for accomplishing a related goal. The in-game calendar can serve as your one-stop reference for the event schedule. The Adventure Guide also offers a direct link to active Bonus Events, allowing you to easily accept any associated quests.
    • By Staff
      Here comes Mythic raid testing! The final non-Sylvanas boss also gets his turn as the Painsmith gets a look on Heroic before Friday's Mythiy Tarragrue and Eye of the Jailer encounters! You can also check out all the bosses tested so far in our raid video preview compilation here.
      Raid Testing May 13-14 (source)
      On Thursday, May 13th and Friday, May 14th, we will be continuing our raid tests in the Sanctum of Domination.
      Thursday, May 13th
      Painsmith Raznal - Heroic Sanctum of Domination
      13:00 PDT (16:00 EDT, 22:00 CEST)
      The Nine - Heroic Sanctum of Domination
      14:00 PDT (17:00 EDT, 23:00 CEST)
      Friday, May 14th
      Eye of the Jailer – Mythic Sanctum of Domination
      13:00 PDT (16:00 EDT, 22:00 CEST)
      The Tarragrue- Mythic Sanctum of Domination
      14:00 PDT (17:00 EDT, 23:00 CEST)
      As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a test environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the bosses being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.
      Q: How do I get into the raid zone?
      A: In Oribos, Dalaran, Orgrimmar, or Stormwind, you may speak to Nexus-Lord Donjon Rade IV in order to teleport into the raid zone while it is open for testing. (The option to teleport into a zone will not be available when the zone is not open for testing.)
      Q: What character should I use to test the raid?
      A: Whichever you prefer. We will be scaling players’ effective level to 60 for raid testing, and their item level to an appropriate threshold for the encounter(s) being tested.
      Q: How long does testing last?
      A: The primary purpose of testing is to give us the information we need to balance the encounters, evaluate how mechanics are playing out in practice, and identify bugs. Once we’re satisfied that we’ve received that information for a given boss, we’ll be shutting down testing. Usually this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, but there are no guarantees.
      We appreciate you taking the time to test our content and look forward to reading your feedback.
    • By Starym
      Here's another weird one from the world of Mythic+, as a player was taking a +15, only to realize/start suspecting they were part of a boost mid-run!
      Ans2167 applied to a 4-man group as a tank, and during the run figured out something wasn't right, as one DPS was doing extremely low damage, not interrupting etc. After a quick investigation of the char it seemed likely they had bought all +15s and this was their last one for Keystone Master and that this run might be a boosted one as well! Here's the full story:
      Now, it's not 100% certain that this was a boost, as it could have just been a friendly carry, but considering that's still not ok to do, as you can't not mention that when listing the group, it was still a pretty shady bunch of players. But, it still seems more likely that it was in fact a boost run, so let's take a look at some further comments from the tank on the matter:

      So, was it a boost or wasn't it? And what would you have done in this situation?
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