What Healer Should You Play in Season 4 of Mythic+?
Season 4 of Mythic+ will be launching on January 21st with the new Awakened Affix, Operation: Mechagon Mythic+, class change,new gear and new Item Levels. In this article, AutomaticJak takes a look at all the Season 4 changes and analyzes how the healer meta might shift in Season 4 of Mythic+.
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Tanks in Season 4
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With the end of Season 3 comes a sweep of class and content changes that see to shake up the state of the healing meta for Mythic+. In the Eternal Palace, Paladins and Discipline Priests were repeatedly stacked in the most competitive of Mythic guilds to counter the heavy incoming burst damage and the tight DPS requirements, but in Mythic+ they were heavily overshadowed by the Resto Druid dominance that has enveloped the past two expansions. Season 3 was a perfect example of how healer balance is about much more than raw throughput and how lopsided utility has led to one spec holding a significant plurality over the rest.
Druid has completely dominated Season 3 with the distinct ease at which they can handle the various emissaries, specifically the
s or the
’s knockback and
’s slow and “grip-back” effect. Their immense capability for handling not only Azshara’s Emissaries but also on negating the
affix, which only 1 other class out of 12 can do, and providing a combat rez with
(which only 2 other classes out of 12 have) put it solidly ahead of all competition in Season 3. With the new Season, Druid will still dominate the utility side, but if there continues to be more low-impact affix weeks like
, then other healers, especially Paladins and Mistweavers, can see some substantially higher representation than previously.
The Awakened Affix
So what is awakened? From Squishei’s
Awakened Seasonal Affix Overview - BFA Mythic+ Season 4
"The Season 4 Affix is Awakened and will be the 4th affix for the duration of the Season. The “Awakened” affix will place 4 Black Empire obelisks in the dungeon at various points. When interacting with an Obelisk, you will cross into N'zoth's realm and be attacked by the Obelisk's Defense Lieutenant, which will summon some additional adds to aid it. When the Lieutenant dies, a portal will appear on its corpse, allowing you to return to reality. While you're in N'zoth's realm, you are completely phased from the rest of the dungeon and are immune and invisible to everything in reality. You're able to use these portals to skip whatever you want, as long as you kite the Lieutenant to where you want to exit.
However, you can opt to not kill some of the 4 Lieutenants before engaging the last boss, but that will cause all remaining alive Lieutenants to teleport to join the encounter and you'll have to defeat them all at once. The benefit is that Lieutenants that are teleported to the final boss will not summon their extra adds. You'll have to choose whether to deal with the Lieutenants on the final boss without extra adds, or deal with them at the Obelisks and let them summon extra adds.”
Most Lieutenants will need to be kited in order to kill them in a proper position in order to make the most of the trash skipping advantage and to pick and choose what you pull. This might provide some low impact towards immobile healers such as Priest, if the damage is too heavy on the party but a great deal of movement is required, but by and large this affix should put all healers on more equal footing than Season 3.
Druid was able to easily use their toolkit to nullify the threats of many Emissaries, but with “Awakened,” the mobs are immune to crowd-control and many of their minions are minimally impacted by them as well. Single-target damage will be heavily rewarded from the healer side to quickly neutralize the eye-stalk minions that spawn with one of the Lieutenants or, instead, to just focus the Lieutenant while the tank kites it into the ideal position.
While the “Awakened” Affix serves to lessen the utility gap between Druid and the rest, there has been some class tuning to help close the gap as well. In the process of these class changes there were some unintended issues that arose. Resto Druid receiving damage and healing nerfs for Season 4 is a good move towards balance for Mythic+, although it doesn’t “solve” the root problem, however it makes them weaker in Raiding: an area they already struggled in.
A New Mega Mythic+ Dungeon
Along with the Awakened Affix's arrival also comes the introduction of Operation Mechagon into Mythic+. With this introduction we will see a very challenging megadungeon be applied to the scaling of Mythic+ and with it, some extremely challenging encounters along the way. In the Junkyard section,
make for a rough encounter when set to new scaling. All bosses seem to have particularly heavy challenges to them but having to deal with
at the same time as
will make for a seriously strenuous fight for healers, forcing high level healer to have excellent single target throughput, or strong mechanical prowess by the team to avoid the shots by weaving interrupts and hiding in the
will both require high throughput and mobility due to the unavoidable and heavy damage that is churned out.
in particular from the former can be much more difficult to deal with for immobile healers, especially when you need to quickly top targets.
in particular looks to be quite a grueling boss due to the ridiculously high
that is expelled periodically in addition to dodging the buzz saws that propel themselves around the room. Mechagon at current looks to be a challenging Mythic+ dungeon for both the Junkyard and the Inner City. While there will be plenty of time for the dungeon to be more optimized it seems at present to heavily reward healers with strong mobility and focused single target healing, similar to how King's Rest has heavy emphasis on focused single target damage on the tank or a random party member.
Viability of All
At all levels and even up to 15, there's solid representation across the board
At the highest level, the disparities show, but some still represent the off-meta
Before we get to the Tier List below, it's always important to add disclaimers. The order which you will see is not meant to infer that the classes are incapable of doing high level Mythic+ but more to highlight where the current meta is heading, help returning healers in making a decision on what to play if they’re on the fence, and to discuss why these classes do so well.
While I personally raid as a “meta” class on my main as Discipline Priest, I also love to push Mythic+ keys as both Priest and Mistweaver getting both specs to above 3k on Raider.IO’s scoring system. It is certainly more challenging to join a Pick up Group while not playing the meta. However, Mythic+ is much more about bringing in a team of players who are experienced in the dungeon and playing together than it is about bringing the perfect class.
The Tier List
A new challenger for Druid approaches!
The Major Contenders
: In shocking news to everyone, Resto Druid remains the best healer for most Mythic+ weeks when pushing keys at a higher level. While their passive damage from the
trait was nerfed alongside their mastery, the spec still does strong damage and healing while having a plethora of utility and tools that other healers do not bring.
affix weeks, like the one we just left, highlight the importance of the
ability which becomes mandatory the higher that you push. Similarly
is a scarce utility tool that only two other classes bring, and seeing as how the other 3 Druid specs do not see widespread use, it most commonly falls to the healer to bring it. The attempts to proliferate Battle Rezes to other players through the
from Engineering have added a good back-up plan, but has done little to remove the reliance that groups have upon the Druid class.
This is mainly due to the fact that the Engineering item has far more restrictions than a
by requiring high level engineering AND is a significantly worse replacement for a Druid’s
. Not only does it return the player at 60% instead of 100% (with a chance to backfire and hurt the caster) but it also takes 5 seconds to cast on the player and has an incredibly low range of around 5 yards. This puts the resurrecting player at a significant loss for uptime but also leaves them vulnerable to any enemies nearby.
all have strong situational value depending on the key but their effectiveness wanes somewhat now that their widespread use on
is gone. Resto Druid also brings the best healer external in
which has a remarkably low cooldown for the damage reduction that it brings. Druid has stood at the top of the Mythic+ healer meta all of this expansion, and the last, with the trend continuing in Season 4.
The rise of Holy Paladin has been ongoing since the introduction of
and despite the incoming nerfs to it, the azerite trait will still continue to dominate their playstyle in Season 4. The cap to
in 8.3 will do little to hurt Paladin in Mythic+, giving them plenty of leeway to flexibly use their abilities to damage or heal without issue.
In addition to their excellent Azerite trait, Paladins have some solid utility tools with
. While Paladin’s crowd control is not as powerful as Druid’s, the spec makes up for this in raw damage output, not only with
extending the duration of
traits heavily increasing
As bosses and some enemies become even more challenging with increased scaling in the final season of BfA, single target damage becomes increasingly valuable and this healer spec has it in abundance. Couple that with the new seasonal affix which places less emphasis on utility and HEAVY value on single target damage and Paladin looks to be an absolute powerhouse going into the next season. The only reason Paladin is not rated at the top of the tier list is because they are not as well-rounded in the utility field as Druid. While they lack a Battle Rez and
, these effects are more mitigated if you’re utilizing Raider.IO’s scoring system which focuses more on pushing the highest keys on the easiest weeks rather than having a well rounded set of keys completed from week to week.
The Memeweaver is rising in 8.3 with slight buffs to
, Cocoon and significant buffs to the
talent. This ill-used talent will now be doubling the HoT extension, from 2 to 4, from
providing a massive boost to the Mythic+ Monk. With this increased extension, Mistweaver is better able to mix dealing damage while passively healing. In Season 3 there has been a constant flow between damage and healing, where you set up your
on the tank and give them
before you go in to provide as much damage as possible before having to jump back in to focus on healing the tank. Now, Mistweaver can easily get refreshes on all of their HoTs which will help increase their damage throughout in dungeons. Since the spec has very minimal passive damage, like Druid or Paladin, this is very significant in making Mistweaver more competitive.
From a healing standpoint, Mistweaver has often struggled with covering consistent incoming damage on the group. For encounters like
or Heartsbane Triad
, this would require less efficient use of
with only about half of the party covered in
. Now with
, you are more easily able to prepare full coverage of the party resulting in higher passive healing and stronger value from
, saving you significant mana.
Mistweaver gained significant traction from its representation in the Mythic Dungeon International due to some of the incredible pulls that were possible thanks to the
ability from the
essence. With the buffs to
, it looks like Mistweaver may be even more highly represented in Season 4’s MDI if the trend of 2x Unholy DK mass pull continues. For pushing higher keys, the spec has good strengths in
but vulnerabilities in low passive damage and healing which are patched from
’s buffs putting it on competitive grounds with the top two above.
The Black Sheep
: With a new Season of BfA comes another set of nerfs to Discipline Priest seeking to contain the high damage and healing that Disc brings to the raiding environment. As a result, these raid-focused nerfs to
invariably hurt the Mythic+ side of Discipline as well. It seems that the mastery buff is meant to assuage some of these issues caused by the raid-focused nerfs.. However, the net result ends with Discipline having to walk an awkward line between direct healing with
and building up a high count of
on enemies to help support these direct heals.
Discipline’s utility is often fairly lopsided for a Mythic+ environment, bringing strong defensives with
, but lacking severely in crowd control with just
to serve that role. Discipline is the Black Sheep of Mythic+ healers since it has an average toolkit to heal in Mythic+ but its gameplay differs so significantly from raiding that many struggle to perform the role properly on higher keys. In a raiding environment
is the primary source of Discipline’s healing, with a heavy emphasis on providing damage during downtime and with minimal tank healing focus. In 5 mans, Disc can no longer rely on Paladin
or on other healers to assist and must change their gameplay, talents, azerite, and essences to compensate. As a result there is a constant tug of war between healing through
by dealing damage or directly throwing out healing to support your group. This is made all the more difficult with
, when there are no enemies to strike to support the Discipline Priest, revealing some significant vulnerabilities from week to week. The spec has continued to improve with essences but still holds a number of weaknesses relative to others that make it more challenging to play at a high level.
With the constant conversation around utility it should look weird to have Resto Shaman so low on the list at first glance. Resto brings a plethora of tools, being the only healer with a kick in
, they also have stuns, slows, speed and a hard crowd control. Unfortunately, this issue is two-fold, the utility that is brought is often easily replaceable and Resto’s throughput lacks in key areas. AoE stuns are heavily supplied in dungeons with Warrior/Monk tanks and Havoc Demon Hunter’s, each bringing their own, along with slows and the hard crowd control of Rogues or DH’s. The kick can be uniquely helpful, but only when utilized consistently throughout the dungeon, or if it is used to bring a ranged dps who can replace some of the utility lost from not having a Resto Druid.
Shaman’s throughput can also be an issue with weak support from the tank, both in direct healing and externals. The best options in many cases can be redirecting the damage to the rest of the team through
or to the
a Shaman brings as well. Both of those are long cooldowns and are best when planned but also demonstrate how focused Resto Shamans are on healing stacked up groups of people rather than one or two individuals. Shaman’s reliance on
in particular, with no alternative to replace or enhance it for 5 mans makes their life significantly more difficult when pushing higher keystones. While their healing is often too focused on AoE, their damage is very heavily focused on single target with a mediocre 3 target cap to
and insane damage from the
trait, Shaman is a single target monster if they are given time to set up and cast.
The often-touted versatile healer and Jak of All Trades struggles to find its ideal place in Mythic+. With a short list of utility to bring to the table, like Disc (
), it has a weak external and more heavily relies on just healing through damage rather than mitigating it. The defensive in
can have a much lower cooldown through
but isn’t much of a defensive when your tank does not actively heal themself. Much like Resto Shaman, Holy Priest heals are more focused on group-based healing than supporting a single target. While
is a powerful spell, it holds a heavy cooldown that feels more like you’re leaving your tank vulnerable if you do not have it at the ready while your other Holy Word in
sits dormant most of the dungeon as you wait for group-wide damage but hope everyone is stacked.
One of the greatest strengths from Resto Druid is the ability to flexibly focus your HoTs into a singular target, then allow them to go to work while the Druid moves into Cat form to begin dealing damage. Holy and Resto Shaman struggle heavily with weak passive healing that cuts into their damage, hurting them significantly in higher keys. Both healers can do solid or insane (RSham) single target damage, but rarely get the opportunity because tanks remain reliant on healers to sustain them further, elevating strong HoT healers like Druids.
While all of these healers have been represented at high levels in Mythic+ and are capable of pushing at that 1% level, some require more work, patience and strategy than others in order to make them work. While some specs like Mistweaver received buffs that helped in raids and mythic+, patching their weaknesses, other specs like Disc received nerfs for raids that hurt them in mythic+. Alternatively, Shamans and Holy Priests received nothing, keeping them in limbo. As the developer team moves slowly this expansion with class changes we look towards Shadowlands for greater utility proliferation to prevent Battle Rezzes or affix-negating abilities from being relegated to too few specs and for greater variance in talents to assist, but not homogenize, specs in better focusing their healing depending on group size.
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