Last week marked a strong point in the still-nascent content season 2 of Shadowlands – the first point at which Mythic Plus players could unlock Keystone Master through running keys around a +15, along with the start of the Mythic World First raiding race. For me, last week marked a fun achievement in which I knocked out enough high keys to have earned KSM myself, and so as of last Friday at 10 AM local time, I had my Soultwisted Deathwalker and the ability to upgrade my main’s gear to 246 item level.
Let’s discuss more.
My Week In Summary
I did 18 keys last week in total, timing all but 4 of them. My best key last week was a timed +16 Necrotic Wake, and my lowest key was tied between a Spires of Ascension and Theater of Pain +12. I started the week at 1,468 rating and ended at 2,002 rating, just enough to get Keystone Master for the season, at which point I mostly stopped doing dungeons for a few days and spent most of my time AFK in Oribos on the mount, doing laps in Oribos on the mount, or running around doing Korthia chores on the mount. Did I mention I got the KSM mount?
I did two alt keys on my druid, one as a tank, one as Balance. The tank run was a Theater of Pain +2 which missed the timer by 4% – the group was really, really bad. The second run as balance was a timed Sanguine Depths +2.
Observations About Week 2, Season 2
Fortified, as I hinted at last week, is fairly challenging early in the season on high keys since gear has not scaled high enough to let a group quickly dispatch trash in AoE. That being said, it feels less challenging than Tyrannical overall – trash fights are still fairly tame with a few huge exceptions. The accompanying affixes last week were Inspired and Grievous, with Tormented at +10 and higher, and that affix set can make trash complicated. The worst part is that it was still close enough to Season 1 that a lot of people treated Inspiring like late Season 1, opting to burn the Inspired mob in tough packs early in the week instead of CCing, which created a fair number of dicey plays. I would attribute most of my failed keys to a mistake of that sort.
Grievous is a healer-centered affix and thus, as a DPS, I largely was able to ignore it. I try to bring generic food with me to eat between pulls if I have stacks still on me, because it helps the healer to not have to clear the debuff off of me, and being in the good favor of my healers is a general practice I like to be in!
Tormented routing has changed slightly, as I noticed identical positions but a rotation of the lieutenants through the dungeons. I couldn’t tell if there was a pattern – it seemed to be that defensive power-givers swapped at first, but then in TOP, Coldheart switched with Incinerator, so…maybe not? It also, so far in the runs I’ve done this week, seems to be the same as last week, so it perhaps isn’t down to a differing placement for Fortified versus Tyrannical? It doesn’t change the character of the dungeons much, but it may throw a wrench in any week 1 routes you might be using, especially if they count on having certain powers going into certain bosses. I’ve seen more De Other Side runs use a full trash ring route where you go the Season 1 path, but only enough to get all 4 anima powers before tackling the first boss, who on this route is Dealer Xy’exa.
Routing seems to be locking into a pattern, with many tanks and groups now more familiar with how the affix set works and changing up routes slightly. I will say I have noticed generally more tanks in LFG and it seems easier to put together a +10 or higher run, although if you play at weird hours, you may be stuck waiting. I had a group come together at 2:30 AM PST on a weekday that took around 20 minutes to get a tank after getting the first 4 party members, but it still came together and off we went. The only time I had a real struggle was a pre-reset Tuesday early morning +17 Mists of Tirna Scithe, which I ended up tanking for. There’s not a great story there, as the shaman healer who had the key was not able to keep up with group damage and the group knocked the key to a +16 before ever pulling a boss, failed on the trash pull before the two big boys in the leadup to the first boss, and disbanded. Oof.
My vault gave me a choice of an item level 252 Inscrutable Quantum Device, a 252 set of boots, or a 249 helm. After simming, the boots won with a 1% DPS increase compared to a 0.5% increase for the IQD, so boots it was. (I already have an IQD upgraded to 246, which is part of why the increase was so minimal.) Because Domination sockets still seem potent and I have a helm with one, albeit at only 226, I did not sim the helm. If a 252 option appears in the future I probably would check it, but right now it just doesn’t seem worth it.
As I noted in my post about getting KSM last week, the rating system climb grows exponentially harder as you get closer to KSM. Granted, that is from the casual +15 or thereabouts level of play – if you can do +16s or especially +17s and up, you’ll find the last bit of rating rolls out pretty easily. Generally, at the point you’re replacing a previous top run on a given base affix, the amount of work per point is much higher, but you can offset this by making larger jumps. If your prior best was a +14, then timing a +17 is going to be a big boost, especially if that run becomes your overall best. In fact, that is what I would recommend – if you had a bad base affix week the previous week, running a higher key on the current affix set will allow you to invert the best run and get a larger shot of points.
Lastly, and most annoyingly, I am able to corroborate reports that getting KSM does not, in fact, unlock account-wide gear upgrades with Valor anymore. The character you want to upgrade gear on must also hit the rating milestones for each tier of upgrades themselves. My druid cannot upgrade gear past 226 at all until she hits the 600 rating for 229 and then each subsequent milestone, which makes the alt grind a much more difficult task out of nowhere. When I return to the game after my sub break, I might consider focusing an alt for Mythic Plus progression (probably my druid or hunter) but the simple fact that Blizzard made it that much harder to bring up an alt after the grind those last 200 rating points can be feels pretty bad!
My Current Week to Date
So far this week, I’ve run 3 keys. Yep, 3. My highest is a timed +16 Mists of Tirna Scithe, and my lowest a two-chested +5 Sanguine Depths. My goal for maintenance is to get the 4-run vault slot with all 15’s or higher, in order to have two item level 252 choices to pick from. The +16 Mists was great, I had a good run with a good group and we timed it with just 2% of the timer to spare, marking my third dungeon with a timed +16 on the books. The Sanguine Depths was sort of bad-funny, because I just wanted to hit Valor cap to be able to upgrade my Overcharged Anima Battery trinket from 236 to 239, so I went. It was a largely LatAm group from Ragnaros and Quel’thalas severs, and then myself and an also obviously overgeared Frost DK. The Frost DK was pulling most of the packs while the tank fought to keep up, and the rogue that came along had a broken weapon by the end, pulling 500 DPS to the 5,000+ of myself and the DK (each). It was bad, but in a funny way, and I got the Valor I wanted out of it so hooray!
Observations About Week 3, Season 2
For the real serious runs I had this week, the affixes are kind of bad. Necrotic is easier on trash packs now compared to last season, but only marginally – and even the hero tank in my +16 often wouldn’t kite as much as they needed to in order to keep the heat off. Spiteful is still awful for melee and whomever at Blizzard thought it would be fun can eat my whole ass. That being said, I didn’t get tagged by sprites but once or twice (the first time admittedly because I forgot Spiteful was an affix!) and they still have a large enough hitbox that you can skirt the edge and hit them with melee attacks without being swiped yourself. This is actually easier if you’ve been progressing the raid, because Painsmith Raznal’s balls (…phrasing?) are good melee practice for riding the outside edge of a target’s hitbox!
Overall, as people start to find their groove on the seasonal affix, routing is becoming less contentious and dungeons are more of a groove now. I am still really enjoying running, but getting KSM did kind of deflate me in that there’s not another goal that the game itself rewards via rating, but I do find myself starting to think about how pushing to +20s might suit me if I won’t be raiding, especially with the Challenge Mode-styled teleport unlocks at that level. Doing +16s and +17s in current gear with some measure of success makes it feel doable, and by the end of the season with KSM players riding around in 248-250 average item level, I suspect that +20s could fall over pretty easily.
For The Rest of the Week
I move tomorrow, and this is likely to be my last post from my current apartment! That also means I likely won’t run many more dungeons, perhaps a few late in the weekend and on Monday once moving starts to settle down and things at the new place are more setup. My goal is to get two more +15 or higher runs complete to get that second 252 slot in the Great Vault, and outside of that, not much else. At some point, I’ll probably start chasing rating a bit more to be able to get more invites to higher keys. Next week will likely be my last one with more full anecdotes of my experiences for a bit, as I am letting my subscription to WoW lapse at the end of the month and I’m taking at least a month away, if not more.
To be honest, I am enjoying Mythic Plus a lot right now and I see a viable pathway to stay playing just to enjoy dungeon runs, but at the same time, I have a lot of doubt and questions about if I should support Blizzard given the current news. I expect that I will likely come back, but I may let it sit until much later in the season. Either way, I’ll still be discussing my dungeon runs and in the interim, I might write more simple posts about what affix sets are up and the impacts they can have.
But for now, I’ll be back next week with far-fewer tales of scuffed keys (hopefully!).