Analysis of the Mythic+ Hakkar Nerf in 9.1 - Energy Paused During Blood Barrier
Just over three months ago, we highlighted a number of issues and bugs on
as part of a series of articles highlighting the issues players face against certain bosses on tyrannical. Yesterday's 9.1 PTR build changed the
spell cast by this pesky loa to indicate a possible cast removal.
So, of course, we went and tested it. And man, De Other Side just got a lot simpler.
Hakkar Changes in Patch 9.1
Beyond the tooltip change is a rather stark break from the way Hakkar worked in 9.0, for the better:
is now a simple spell that fires missiles while the barrier is up.
Hakkar is pacified and unable to do anything during
Hakkar no longer gains energy while
As a result, you can technically keep an "infinite" barrier should you want to do so (or just delay breaking it deliberately to then blast the boss with a
or something - we'll get back to that later), and you always get the same amount of time in the no-shield phase.
You can see the behavior below, with my focus frame clearly showcasing Hakkar's energy being completely paused:
There's a lot to unpack when it comes to the impact of this change. Let's dive straight in. One word of warning, though: they're
Less Damage During
The change to
means less damage during
A little-known fact (until you look at logs of your runs) is that, currently, on live, immediately after casting
, Hakkar casts and channels
14 seconds. After this, even if
is up, Hakkar will go back to his general routine of giving people
and whacking the tank, if they are in range.
You can see this in effect on
, for instance, with
being cast during the barrier. No melees happen because the Vengeance Demon Hunter is being very careful to not be in melee during this time.
All of this is now gone. With the change to
just being an additional effect of
and the removal of the cast by Hakkar, it means that there is
other than what you bring in during
Choices on Cooldown Usage
Due to Hakkar not gaining energy during
, this means you have some choices on cooldown usage.
In 9.0, not breaking the
as soon as possible typically meant losing valuable seconds before the next one, due to Hakkar's energy increasing even when shielded. This gave DPS, and the group overall, a really nasty dilemma:
Do they beat up adds to prevent being swarmed, and lose valuable time on the boss, which turns into even less time on the boss during the no-shield phase?
Do they stay on boss but save cooldowns, thus shortening the no-shield phase?
Do they blow cooldowns to pop the barrier faster, and run dry during the time when damage can actually be done to the boss?
None of those three situations felt good, and in reality, the only "fun" way to kill the boss was to kill it in sub 2 minutes (doable with proper planning all the way until +25 fortified, and essentially not possible on high tyrannical). It was made even worse by
effectively making sure you only had one real attempt on the boss.
All this is a thing of the past; since
no longer encroaches on the no-shield part of the fight. The no-shield part of the fight is now a fixed length no matter how long you take during
, so you are now able to plan and decide cooldowns beyond just "we need to break this barrier".
Obviously, the optimal strategy will still be a gloves-off approach to killing the boss before second barrier, but for pugs and coordinated groups alike, dealing with the adds while the barrier is up will no longer feel like a waste of damage. Since this time off target no longer is held against you, there may be strategies involving just chilling out a bit, dealing with adds, then going out of
with DPS cooldowns, such as
Waiting will no longer be punished twice on this boss.
Overall, this is a fantastic change. It turned an unfair boss into a fair challenge, and a zerg boss into something with, potentially, a bit more finesse and strategy to it than currently, even on low-ish keys where the timer is (somewhat) lenient.
We were not able to test the interaction with the mini barrier break, however, due to the behavior on logs, we expect it to be gone; the first part of the barrier (which was the source of a lot of the missing/erroneous data in our initial article report and was later found by Bicepspump to be a bug) is no longer prematurely applied. As a result, it is unlikely to be a thing anymore. This might lead to some interesting changes for certain groups, as it will no longer be possible to "postpone" a barrier.
Overall, these are fantastic changes. Spot on as to what was needed, both in terms of theory and implementation.
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