Over the last week and change, a repeat event happened that gripped the WoW community – the livestreaming of the world-first Mythic race within Battle of Dazar’Alor.
It feels like ages ago, but the first time this happened in any real context was only just a few months ago, with Method’s livestream of their Uldir runs. It led to some great jokes (“first to the moon, first to G’huun” with regards to a US guild being the first to reach Mythic G’huun), but it was also an extraordinary event for the game.
It was not that long ago that Mythic guilds were the most secretive operations on the planet, with only very minor details about kill strategies ever reaching the public eye. Most of the infamous strategies we’ve heard have only been due to exposure for rules violations and bans (most famously with Ensidia using Saronite Bombs on Heroic Lich King to respawn the platform), and the overall shape of their strategies weren’t available for months after those kills. Just two years ago, despite Mythic Kil’Jaeden in Tomb of Sargeras having been down for a few months, it took until nearly the release of Antorus before Fatboss had a guide for the fight available, which exposed their strategies for the fight.
The Uldir race changed that in a way that I think is fascinating. Mythic raiding is often regarded as the top level of WoW gameplay, exceeding anything else in terms of difficulty and dedication required – and I think the events of Uldir both added to and took away from this mythology. Mythic raiding is work, in a way – long hours spent puzzling over fight mechanics and how to maximize the available resources to produce a kill. However, it is not often work that immediately manifests a high level of skillful execution, and even PTR training and preparation can only close so many gaps.
These livestreams from Method reveal some of the reality of what that level of play entails – a lot of wiping, tons of micro-adjustments in strategy and execution, and a ton of time spent waiting for things to lock into place. The raiders all have multiple geared alts ready to clear, with different race and class combos to maximize returns. During these most recent streams, for example, Method switched to trolls on Mythic Jaina in order to allow a movement-impairing debuff to drop off sooner than usual, granting a slight edge to their strategy.
Another fascinating moment was in the execution of the Water Elemental phase on Jaina – since on Mythic, killing her add splits it into two smaller adds, doubling the number of debuffs that can be out on the raid, Method’s strategy was to ignore the add and focus on bringing Jaina down, which was a suicide pact, as the add would pick off raiders one by one and the hope was that they could beat Jaina before the elemental and Jaina beat them. This created a bit of tension, as their best attempts with this strategy prior to NA reset were around 10%, before they finally killed the boss before US guild Limit had a chance to reclear and gain additional gear, which would have likely allowed them to claim the world first (as of this writing on Wednesday, 2/6/2019 at 10:44 AM PST, Method has claimed world first and second with a reclear after EU reset, and no other guilds have yet conquered the fight).
Overall, I enjoy the Mythic world-first race being so lively and public. In the past, it was both a huge component of the game, with hundreds of guilds fighting it out over the title in the heyday of WoW and tons of ink spilled over the topic, but with little or no detail available to dig into. Seeing the execution is fascinating, as it is often easy to make jokes about the kinds of things mythic raids will do for a win, but seeing the thought process is interesting and carries an appeal for a long term player like myself.
I think the mythic race also shows something interesting about WoW during times like these – even with the game in a bit of a rut for day-to-day gameplay, with a playerbase largely in revolt – the game still has a large groundswell of interest and popularity, with an audience that comes out to see things like the Method livestreams. The Mythic BoD race actually saw even more cutting edge guilds pushing ahead to do the content and stream it, which has made this race one of the most open and easiest to follow in the game’s history. I imagine that many of those players just want the game to be in the best state it can be – as most of us do, and the continued popularity of the mythic world-first livestreams proves that there are a lot of people who will turn out for the game as improvements are made.
Lastly, I think one thing I’ve learned about my own gameplay from these events is that I probably never want to be a cutting-edge mythic raider. I fancy myself an above-average player, trying to make informed choices about secondary stat allocation, Azerite traits, talents, and being willing to adjust and learn new playstyles to keep an edge in my gameplay, but at the same time, what I do to optimize my own gameplay looks nothing like that! These cutting edge players keep so many characters geared, progressed, and available for a moment’s notice to make broad switches in strategy, like an all-troll raid. Meanwhile, my raiding main just hit 385 average item level with the Dungeon Event reward last night and after buying seals for raid this week, I had 600 gold on that character, so yeah…definitely not at that level! As much as I wish I could play WoW as a career, I think I’d struggle to do so in the way these guys do.
While the next raid likely won’t carry the same pomp and circumstance, as Crucible of Storms is only two bosses, I am interested to see just what mechanics we run into that will force these guilds to make crazy plays in Nazjatar!