Jdotb BFA Q&A #1 - Top Specs for Mythic+ Season 1, Best Dungeons to Run this Week
Season 1 of Mythic+ has started and the first Battle for Azeroth Q&A with Method Jdotb is now live and he discusses his thoughts on the best classes for Season 1 of Mythic+ and the best and worst dungeons to run this week!
Method Jdotb Q&A #1
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The Q&A has been on hold the last few weeks while I’ve focused on the BFA launch, but with Mythic+ releasing this week my hiatus is officially over. Let’s get reacquainted.
What have you been doing to get ready for the release of keystones?
I followed my own advice and leveled up three characters: a Holy pally, a Disc priest and Resto druid. I haven’t gone crazy with world quests like some folks, but I managed to get all three characters to Revered with Champions of Azeroth so that their necks are fully empowered, and two of them are level 20 on their necks and the other is 19.
I’ve done mythic dungeons on each of them every week, so they’re all now between 340 and 345 ilvl. I did a few island expeditions (the best source of Azerite power in the game), but that game mode needs a makeover if Blizzard expects people to spend any more time in it than what it takes to get your weekly quest done.
I still need to get Pathfinder for the mounted speed increase (Tortollan rep vexes me), but otherwise I feel all my characters are ready to dive into M+.
Will any raiding gear be required if I want to push keystones?
Required? No. There were several players in Legion who were regularly in the hunt for world firsts without mythic raiding gear, and BFA has gotten even more friendly for players that want to avoid raiding with the removal of tier gear.
But it’s certainly advisable to raid, at least on heroic difficulty. There will be very few sources of Azerite gear at 370 or 385, so giving yourself one more shot a week at getting those pieces will add up very quickly. And the base ilvl of raid gear is very good, meaning it won’t have to titanforge very high for it to be a good piece.
There will always be an advantage in WoW to doing varied types of content. Mythic raiding isn’t required, but I would suggest pugging heroic at the very least (which shouldn’t be too time-consuming once guilds start clearing Uldir).
I feel like I can’t get my item level beyond 330 due to lack of drops and upgrades. Is my only option spending money in the auction house?
Don’t be too discouraged by bad loot RNG up to this point. It’s easy to look around at the things everyone else has and feel like you’re getting left behind, but in the grand scheme of things these last three weeks have been mostly meaningless. M+ and Uldir will release this week, giving you reliable access to 355-370 gear, and LFR will be out in a few weeks. Warfronts and world bosses will also be releasing this week, which are another easy source of 355-370 gear.
340 gear has been gated with the weekly mythic lockouts, but M+ now offers infinite repeatability so you can just keep jumping right back in to another dungeon for upgrades. Now is when the real gearing process begins, and there will be plenty of ways to catch back up quickly that won’t involve spending money.
How many, and what kind of items do you expect to get in the first weekly chest?
For those that aren’t familiar with how M+ loot works, you get rewarded with chests at the end of each dungeon, but you also get a weekly M+ cache that awards loot based on the highest dungeon you completed the previous week. If you complete a +10 or higher key this week, your chest the following week (Sept 11) will have at least one piece of 380 loot (or 385 if it’s an Azerite piece as Azerite pieces only drop in increments of 15 ilvls).
Blizzard added a new wrinkle to the weekly caches so that they can now drop between one to three items. The chance for additional gear is completely random and not related at all to high high of a key you did. Anecdotally from my time in beta, it felt like the chances for each were about 70% for one item, 25% for two items and 5% for three items. Don’t get your hopes up for many jackpot weeks.
You can get any item from any M+ dungeon. You are not guaranteed an Azerite piece, and Azerite pieces cannot warforge or titanforge. Weapons can only warforge (i.e., 10 levels max). Everything else can titanforge up to the 400 ilvl cap.
You can call this a cop out if you’d like, but I’ve got Vengeance DH, Blood DK, Brewmaster Monk and Protection Paladin all ranked just about evenly. Unlike Legion, where the self healing from classes like DH or DK often meant that those classes were totally self sufficient, every BFA tank will need help from the healer. This puts all the tank classes on much more even footing and allows them to actually showcase their relative strengths. None of the tanks have stood out to me so far as being must-have the way that Blood DK was in Legion.
1A. Vengeance Demon Hunter
- Still a beast at dealing damage. Many expected DH damage to get toned down at some point in beta, and it did get a minor adjustment towards the end, but the firepower this class brings is top notch. DH is still noticeably squishier than some of its counterparts when its cooldowns aren’t up, but it has great self healing and excellent mobility to kite if the pull starts doing too much damage. Sigil of Chains is one of the premiere tank abilities for grouping up mobs, and Chaos Brand will add a significant boost to group DPS. Vengeance is a very offense-oriented pick.
1B. Blood Death Knight
- The community was a bit down on Blood in beta because the memories of Legion era DK were so fresh. What class wouldn’t feel weak when compared to that juggernaut? But it’s clear that DK is still a survival specialist, and while it can’t support the group like it used to Vampiric Aura, it is still very adept at keeping itself alive which is no small feat in BFA. DK damage is solid if not amazing, and Gorefiend’s Grasp is still the best ability in the game at setting up trash pulls. DK also brings a battle res, which will be rarer in BFA than they were in Legion, and there are a few undead pets it can pick up in M+ (Beastmasters in King’s Rest and Honor Guards in Atal’Dazar) that do ridiculous damage.
1C. Brewmaster Monk
- Brewmaster has always had a good kit for M+, but its lack of self healing in Legion made it too much of a liability when other tanks could function completely independent of the healer. Now that all tanks will need at least some healer help, monks will get a chance to show off their bag of tricks. Ring of Peace and Transcendence are really fun for setting up big pulls, and Keg Smash lets monks continue to generate aggro from a safe distance while kiting. Stagger makes monk healing much more predictable than other tanks, which is very nice from a healer perspective. Mystic Touch will likely be a little less useful than its Chaos Brand counterpart because the meta is favoring casters, but it will still add a chunk of damage for most groups and would be very strong for anyone trying to run two melee.
1D. Protection Paladin
- Prot paladins always seem to get less attention than their tank brethren, and I suspect it’s because the class has always had a strong support element built in that blurs the line between tank and healer. Paladin has by far the most utility of any tank in the game with its blessings and heals, and it does good damage and has good survivability. The biggest thing missing from the Prot kit at the moment is a way to gather trash mobs quickly and conveniently -- paladin mobility isn’t great, and it has no tools to physically move mobs. I suspect Prot will find its niche in higher keys where the pace of the dungeon inevitably slows down a bit.
The real story with the tank rankings, unfortunately, is less about the four classes above and more about the two classes left out: Guardian Druid and Protection Warrior. Guardian Druid is a class that isn’t bad per se, it just doesn’t do anything exceptional in the M+ format. It’s specialty is taking damage like a champ, which makes it a great raid tank, but you need more from your tank than that in M+. A lot of its utility, like heals or dispels, require you to leave bear form which isn’t feasible for a lot of encounters. Prot Warrior, on the other hand, DOES do some exceptional things in M+. Its AoE damage with Thunderclap is nutty, and it can put some DPS classes to shame on big pulls. The problem is that Prot also takes some exceptional damage when it tanks big packs of mobs, and it will quickly get overwhelmed by damage. These two classes will struggle to see representation in the M+ meta.
The Melee DPS meta in BFA feels very similar to Legion in that most melee specs seem to be at least “good” (sorry Feral), but a few of them are simply better. Specs like Survival, Enhancement and Retribution aren’t awful, but they just aren’t quite as good as some of the top tier melee.
1. Subtlety or Outlaw Rogue
- Both rogue specs are elite, it’s just a question of whether your group needs more AoE (Outlaw) or single target (Sub) help. Sub will probably be the more popular pick in high keys as its ability to deal with Infested mobs is very helpful. Sub rogues can spam Shuriken Storm and gain one combo point for each mob hit by it, so if you pull several mobs along with an Infested mob the rogue can alternate between Shuriken Storm and a five combo point Eviscerate and melt the Infested mob. What puts rogue atop the melee rankings isn’t its damage, though, but rather its utility. Plenty of melee DPS have very good damage, but rogue gives the group Shroud of Concealment. With the removal of Failure Detection Pylon from M+, it’s substantially harder to skip trash packs in BFA without having to burn a battle res. Shroud was good in Legion, but in BFA it may well become required for certain dungeons.
2. Havoc Demon Hunter
- Fel Barrage and Eye Beam give Havoc incredible AoE damage on a relatively short cooldown, and Chaos Brand adds a lot of group DPS. DH has good defensive and utility abilities (e.g., Darkness, Netherwalk, Blur, Consume Magic), and its mobility is top tier. If Rogue didn’t have Shroud, DH would probably take the top spot.
3. Unholy Death Knight
- Unholy probably hasn’t popped off the page the last few weeks in dungeons because it requires some ramp time to truly get going, but this spec gets really wild in large trash pulls. DK utility isn’t amazing, but it brings a battle res and Anti-Magic Shell which is very useful for soaking certain mechanics. You’re mostly bringing Unholy for its damage, though.
Honorable mention to Windwalker Monk and Arms Warrior, either of which might make their way into the top three once we start seeing some high keys. Windwalker is a spec that I have trouble evaluating because it requires some gimmicks to really unlock its damage. It’s very dependent on things like Touch of Karma, which can be difficult or dangerous to utilize effectively, so I suspect there will be large variance in the performance of Windwalkers -- the damage will either be impressive or pedestrian. Arms Warrior is tough to rank right now because of the recent change to its mastery. The spec is less burst-oriented than it was beta, but it might end up doing just as well if not better on long trash pulls. Until I get a chance to see how warriors are performing in high keys, the jury is still out.
1. Frost Mage
- Frost has been and will continue to be the king of ranged DPS in BFA unless it gets nerfed. It does great damage in all scenarios with Frost Orb, Comet Storm and Glacial Spike, and the constant 65% slow it can put on large trash packs with Blizzard will be pivotal to the pull strategies for many teams. The spec also has great utility with double Ice Blocks, the Arcane Intellect buff, a real Bloodlust and Invisibility to drop aggro. Expect to see a frost mage in most high keys.
2. Affliction Warlock
- Aff is another spec that didn’t impress anyone in heroic dungeons but will absolutely floor people in high keys. Aff’s single target damage stands alone in the DPS community, and you will see some warlocks do 5-10k more DPS on bosses than anyone else in the group. Stacking three of the Inevitable Demise trait allows warlocks to deal hundreds of thousands of damage with their Drain Life, and warlocks can use this either to pop off on a boss or get rid of a dangerous trash mob very quickly. This single target damage combined with the warlock utility kit (Healthstone, Summon, Gateway, Soul Stone, etc.) makes them a very strong ranged DPS for M+.
3. Balance Druid
- The community has been down on Balance druid after sims showed them being weak in raids, but raiding performance and M+ performance are frequently divergent. Boomkins will still be a strong M+ class due to their AoE and utility -- they are one of the tankiest specs in the game with moonkin and bear form, and their CC is very strong with Solar Beam, Typhoon, Soothe, etc. Don’t forget the battle res, either. The Restoration Affinity kit also got beefed up a bit in BFA, so Balance druids can throw out some decent healing in a pinch.
Honorable mention to Beast Mastery hunters. Damage-wise they are probably worthy of being in the top three, but they don’t have a battle res like warlock or druid. The meta will probably see a lot of rogue/mage/x DPS lineups, so it will be important for that third spot to have a battle res unless the healer or tank bring one.
Like my tank rankings, I have several of the healers being more or less equal. Legion punished healers that didn’t have strong defensives, for both themselves and the group, but I haven’t seen that kind of overwhelming one-shot type damage yet in BFA. Maybe we’ll get there, but until we do there isn’t much separating the healers.
1A. Holy Paladin
- My top choice through much of beta, Holy pally lost a bit of pep from its step coming from Legion but it still remains a very strong class. Its throughput struggles a bit compared to other healers, but its utility and defensives are terrific. Pally may not be the strongest class in a given situation, but it has tools for every situation which is something no other healer can say.
1B. Discipline Priest
- Disc priest is a spec with big strengths but also big weaknesses. It’s the only spec with access to shields which can be lifesaving in the face of big damage, and it has group mitigation with Power Word: Barrier. Its damage is stellar, and it can continue to DPS even (especially) when the group is taking damage. However, Disc lacks a true throughput cooldown (no, Shadowfiend and Schism don’t count) making it hard to catch back up on healing if you’re caught off guard by damage. Disc struggles more with some affixes than most healers, namely Bursting and Grievous, so there will likely be some weeks where you’ll get frustrated as a Disc priest. But when it’s in its element, Disc is probably the best healer in M+.
1C. Mistweaver Monk
- Mistweaver healing throughput is scary good right now. I had one friend of mine describe monk’s sustained AoE throughput as being “like Holy pally with wings up all the time”. I’ve heard complaints about the healing of nearly all healing specs in one way or another, but I’ve never heard a single person complain about their monk which is very telling. Their damage is lower than I’d like, and I still don’t think they bring great utility, but if raw healing is what you’re interested in, there isn’t a better choice than monk at the moment.
1D. Restoration Druid
- The healing still feels good, and the defensives and utility are great. Druid is the only healer with battle res or stealth, both of which will be even more important than in Legion with the removal of Failure Detection Pylons. Resto damage keeps getting buffed because Feral damage keeps getting buffed. Ironbark is probably the best external in the game, and it’s not uncommon to have it up for the tank for every pull. Druid continues to get incremental buffs, and it’s finally showing.
The two specs I’ve left out, Restoration Shaman and Holy Priest, aren’t necessarily bad healers. They just don’t bring anything to a dungeon that one of the top four healers don’t already bring. If you’re a priest, you don’t really gain anything by going Holy over Disc unless you really need throughput cooldowns. And while shaman healers are great for raids because of their cooldowns, those cooldowns don’t translate well to M+, and it feels like the shaman class is balanced around those cooldowns being strong so the rest of the kit is mediocre.
Sept 4 Affix Advice
The affixes this week will be Fortified, Sanguine and Necrotic.
Dungeons Most Affected by Fortified
- The mini bosses following the Golden Serpent (Queen Patlaa, Queen Wasi, King Rahu’ai and King A’akul) are all scary without buffs, so giving them more health and damage makes this room uncomfortable at best. Spectral Berserkers leave a nasty physical DoT on the tank that stacks, and it can quickly get out of control on Fortified weeks. Watch out for Spectral Beastmaster’s Poison Barrage as it can easily wipe a group if it hits multiple party members. Shadow of Zul will deal a lot of damage to the tank, so make sure to have cooldowns ready.
- The Heartsbane witches and Bewitched Captains do tremendous damage to the tank, and the Matrons have a lot of health. The confined quarters of the manor don’t leave much room for kiting, either. The Gloom Horrors before the final boss do a lot of damage when they jump, so you will want to be careful about which party member is standing furthest out (which is what determines who gets leapt on).
- You will want to try to steer clear of Tick packs as they can easily wipe a group if they all explode simultaneously. Be careful on packs with Headhunters (who root) and Blood Matrons (who charge and cleave) as you can get one-shot by this combination. Bloodswarmers will be at the very least incredibly annoying and potentially lethal if their Sonic Scream interrupts healers. Pay very close attention to the Spirit Drain Totem from Bloodsworn Defilers. Fetid Maggot’s Rotten Bile can quickly kill a ranged player if it isn’t interrupted.
- Be sure to interrupt Hired Assassins as their Toxic Blades / Hail of Flechettes combo can easily wipe a group. Mine Rats target random players with Throw Rock, so be careful not to pull too many and risk bad RNG on who gets targeted. Taskmaster Askari wrecks tanks, so make sure to have cooldowns ready for him. Watch out for Mastermind’s Energy Lash as it hurts quite a bit, and don’t let Feckless Assistants finish their Transfiguration Serum cast or they will turn into Grotesque Experiments which are much more difficult. Be vigilant with Crawler Mines on the way to Mogul as they will do quite a bit of damage if they explode on a player.
Dungeons Most Affected by Sanguine
- Most of Waycrest takes place indoors in tight hallways, so the potential for a misplay where you drop Sanguine pools in a bad spot is high. Try to engage trash mobs in rooms that are more open so you have room to move when the mobs start dying. Pay special attention to the trash outside Raal’s room as the hallways are narrow and there are lots of mobs in each pull.
- As you’d expect of most prisons, this place is cramped. You spend a little bit of time outdoors at the start of the dungeon, but the bulk of your time will be in close quarters without much room for kiting. Be especially careful about killing mobs in doorways (which is easy to do), as it can make it almost lethal to try to move into the next room until the pools disappear. Be mindful of the trash around Jes Howlis as he will run back through the cell block and might potentially stop for a few seconds in a recent Sanguine pool.
Shrine of the Storm
- Shrine isn’t terribly constricted, but it does feature lots of big packs that have the potential to drop tons of Sanguine. The mini bosses (Windspeaker Heldis, Runecarver Sorn and Elemental Guardian) all have a tendency to stand still and cast uninterruptable spells, so be especially careful where you drop Sanguine pools around them.
Dungeons Most Affected by Necrotic
- Waycrest gives minimal room to kite and has several large trash pulls, so it’s hard for tanks to avoid racking up stacks and harder still to get rid of them. Waycrest also has some notoriously heavy hitters for bosses (Goliath and Lord Waycrest), and tanks will feel the burn if they get unlucky with stack resets.
- The first boss of Tol Dagor has lots of little adds that will pile up Necrotic stacks very quickly on the tank, so the adds need to be a priority. Once inside the prison, tanks have very little room to maneuver so it’s hard to reset Necrotic.
Dungeons Most Affected by This Week’s Affixes
- As you might have guessed by Waycrest’s appearance in all three categories above, this week will be painful. Necrotic and Sanguine punish you for not being able to kite, and Fortified makes the trash that much worse. Expect to have to memorable runs.
- Like Waycrest, this dungeon is tailor made to feel awful with Sanguine and Necrotic. The trash isn’t especially deadly so try to focus on positioning and making sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with bad Sanguine placement.
Shrine of the Storm
- Be especially careful around the mini bosses, as dropping Sanguine near them can extend a pull unnecessarily. Heldis and the Elemental Guardian will both sting on Fortified. Also be mindful of the Depthbringers and Cultists on the way to Lord Stormsong, as they pack quite a wallop on Fortified.
Dungeons Least Affected by This Week’s Affixes
Siege of Boralus
- Siege has plenty of room to move around for Sanguine and Necrotic, and none of the trash is especially deadly. Tanks might need to be a little careful on the second boss if the adds haven’t been completely cleared before she jumps back down from the ship as there will be increased Necrotic stacks, but it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
- A few of the trash packs get nasty on Fortified, like the Honor Guard pull before Vol’Kaal, but there’s enough trash in Atal’Dazar that you can skip them. The open layout of Atal’Dazar leaves plenty of room to kite and drop Sanguine safely.
- Lots of space for Sanguine and kiting room for Necrotic, and most of the trash is straightforward. You’ll want to be careful around the Vermin Trappers as their traps can be very dangerous. Also the miniboss Ludwig Von Tortollan is buffed by Fortified and hits the tank fairly hard, so don’t take him lightly.
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