Another week, another (late) Weekly Scuff!
This one will be pretty short, because I haven’t done that many keys since getting KSM for Season 2 of Shadowlands, and also because in around 13 hours from when I am drafting this post, my sub will go inactive for a bit. Thus, this will be the last Weekly Scuff for a bit – probably 2-5 weeks, depending on how I feel. As I have been hyping all week, later today I’ll have a post up explaining that in detail, but for this feature, I had toyed with the idea of just simply stating what affixes were up for the week and discussing them that way, but I just didn’t find it an appealing prospect. Better analysis in that vein is up on a lot of sites, and I write this feature specifically to discuss my gameplay and perceptions, which can differ and are a bit more interesting – at least I think so!
So let’s get into it!
Week 3, Season 2 In Summary
Last week, I did 5 keys in total. My highest was a +16 timed Mists of Tirna Scithe, and my lowest was a timed two-chest +5 Sanguine Depths I did to Valor cap for the week. Of my 5 runs, I timed 4 of them, with a +15 De Other Side being the only thorn in my side for the week.
Last week’s affixes were a mix of healer challenge via Necrotic, melee challenge via Spiteful, and boring boss slogs via Tyrannical. As my gear personally climbs and the average item level of a +15 run does as well, Tyrannical becomes less of a factor, but it is settling into that groove of pure boredom, where long boss fights feel somewhat unthreatening but instead just like endurance tests.
I started the week at 2,002 Mythic Plus rating and ended at 2,016. My item level was up to 235 average by the end of the week, off a trinket item level upgrade via Valor and a new ring. I was able to remix my enchants and gems to start gearing for Versatility in balance, as I am rapidly approaching a high point in Haste where diminishing returns start to make each rating point feel less impactful there.
Observations About Week 3, Season 2
The affix mix was pretty decent for pushing last week, all told. Crossing another +16 dungeon off the list was rewarding, and the affixes didn’t feel too punishing. Necrotic, in a run done well, is all about the tank and healer managing it properly, so as a DPS player, I just don’t feel that pressure. Spiteful, on the other hand, was a bit of a pain in the ass, but it largely was because my first run last week…I forgot about it, got melee’d once by a Sprite, and immediately remembered hating it. It complicates a few dungeons – Spires won’t let you angel fly between platforms if you are in combat, so sprites roaming around who got tagged means waiting for them to despawn or killing them. This early in the season, while DPS has climbed rapidly, they are still beefy enough that killing a full group of them can be a challenge, especially in a melee-heavy run.
Tyrannical remains my most hated affix out of sheer boredom, as I sort-of spoiled above. The boss nerfs remain effective at removing the unfair challenge it could sometimes feel like, but the tedium of chipping away at a huge boss health bar is still one of my most hated things in World of Warcraft.
Routing for Tormented is still a work in progress, it seems, as lieutenant placement seems like it might rotate some more as the season moves on, but that remains unclear to me and I’ve seen discussion in even the Mythic Plus Friends Discord that suggests that people don’t quite have it figured out yet. It seemed the same last week and this week, although I did see a hotfix note that suggested a lieutenant in Necrotic Wake would be moving – the second one, specifically. Most DOS runs are now doing full ring clears to 65% trash, then doing the bosses in reverse order of Season 1 with a full slate of Anima Powers from Tormented, and that does make the bosses substantially easier and more fun. Likewise, a couple of skips are becoming more codified by the community – the third Lieutenant in Mists of Tirna Scithe can be pulled before the first boss with a pet class using their pet to attack through the mists blocking the way, bringing the lieutenant there forward. I haven’t done enough Sanguine Depths to see if the Druid ranged snap pull on the fourth lieutenant still works – they did move that add forward and lower in the dungeon, so the range may not work out anymore, but I only saw it once anyways.
Otherwise, my only consistent gripe remains the Valor cap – if you’re playing weekly, it feels like an obstacle, and the tiny amount you can get each week (750!) feels bad for major upgrades. This week, I began targeting upgrades for my offhand weapon, and at 500 a pop, that’s fine enough for one a week, with two more to go to cap it at 246, but weekly play means that will take two more weeks. It almost feels like the way I did KSM and keystones in general in Season 1 was better for engagement with Valor – run very few, then sprint a whole lot of them when Valor cap is around 10,000 for the season and you can rapidly pick up more. A part of my excitement for my game-break is that returning will mean being able to dash through all the catchup mechanics – rapid Renown catchup, Valor cap being expanded more than just a single week’s worth, and the like.
Week 4, Season 2 So Far
This week, I’ve done 5 total keys. My best timed result was a +15 Mists of Tirna Scithe, and my lowest was a three-chest +2 Sanguine Depths I did for fun with some folks I ran keys with back in week 1. I started the week and am currently at 2,016 Mythic Rating in-game, and my item level went from 235 to 239. My vault brought me a 252 set of bracers (very non-exciting, but an upgrade all the same) and then I got a dropped 233 pair of pants that was a direct upgrade to my perfectly secondaried 229 pants (literally the same item), I upgraded my offhand from 236 to 239 via Valor, upgraded my heavy-Vers ring from 236 to 239 via Valor, and finally, upgraded my single-target legendary cape from Rank 4 at 235 to Rank 6 at 262. I timed 4 out of 5 keys, with my one untimed key being a +16 Halls of Atonement with a sort-of meh tank and healer. They were okay, but they had some definite positional blunders and kiting management that led to poor execution on a few problem spots. It was still fun, though!
Observations About Week 4, Season 2
This week has actually brought about one of the most interesting changes to the Mythic Plus scene in a while. For Shadowlands so far, Blizzard has designed the affix rotation to prevent Fortified from overlapping with Bolstering, because it can make some trash pulls really quite hellish. However, now in Season 2, we have it for the first time in Shadowlands, and my god, it’s pretty terrible! It demands a degree of execution that many pugs simply won’t pull off – keeping trash nice and even and then rapidly burning everything at the tail-end of the pull. With the AoE cap of many abilities in Shadowlands, this sucks, frankly – you cannot rely on a damage spread from capped spells and abilities to do the trick, so you must manage it more actively. Now, this is fine – but again, in PUGs, it’s…problematic, to say the least. I often find myself solo-managing it in groups I’ve done this week, picking the high target to focus and burn and swapping more regularly, along with using my single-target loadout to make me a strong ST focus despite the Fortified affix set.
There is one other big bad issue this week, and that is with Quaking. Quaking is a nuisance at best and can pull apart lesser groups by causing big spreads, extra pulls, and friendly fire. The Tormented lieutenants add a fun twist to this, however. On nearly all of them, area denial is a big part of the design – Arkolath leaves fire puddles, Coldheart does Frost Lance, Cold Snap, and Biting Cold, all of which force you to reconfigure around different parts of the area you pull him in. Varruth requires stacking for the Wail of Terror, and Soggodon pulls the tank in, and then also pulls and shackles the entire party for his main trouble mechanic. When going into each of them, you need to manage the pulls differently to account for Quaking – Arkolath and Coldheart largely work as they normally do because players can be spread and just have to be mindful of positioning on things like Cold Snap, Frost Lance, or the fire puddle cast to ensure readjustment can be done to account for Quaking. However, Varruth is much better done with smaller stacks – splitting the party into two stacks can help to mitigate some of that Quaking damage, but you’ll likely take some. Soggodon is the worst for it, because his group grip and shackle means if you don’t hit the shackles in time for Quaking, you can have a 5-stack of it, which is almost certainly a wipe. Using the Quaking timer WeakAura is a good idea to manage it, because if you can time out the pull to ensure no nasty overlaps, it all falls together pretty neatly. So far, I haven’t had any runs where a sterling timer was scuffed due to such overlaps, but it definitely has created stress for healers and some “oh shit!” moments where I’ve been very afraid of bad things happening.
Otherwise, the second Fortified week of Shadowlands Season 2 feels like it is settling into a groove, as DPS climbs ever higher and routes become more locked-in. Part of that groove (and likely also a part of the nasty affix set this week) means that groups are getting more selective, with people pushing for higher ratings and higher item levels to be allowed admittance. So far, I’m finding that at 2,016 rating and 239 item level, my acceptance rate is still reasonable, with around 10 minutes being the upper bound for finding a group, but I’ve had some moments where I’ve given up on finding groups and just done something else in the game instead because it felt like I wouldn’t find a run. I’m inclined to believe that the affix set for this week, being the first double-trash buff week in Shadowlands, is pushing people away from running. It hardly feels like a standard Fortified push week, and instead feels a lot more like a challenge waiting to be met, so a lot of people who don’t want that in their gameplay are bowing out for the week, and it’s hard to blame them. There is also likely some measure of other factors, as people opting not to play due to the ongoing Activision-Blizzard lawsuit could certainly be a factor, as could the increasing number of people doing what I did two weeks ago – hitting Season 2 KSM and taking a bit of a breather from the game. All of this together has meant finding a group this week is harder, but not necessarily awful, and mostly at higher keys. I’ve actually seen a lot more +10 and under keys in LFG this week, which was not really the case for the past few weeks as the season kicked off. Perhaps alt groups?
For The Rest of the Week
Eh, I’m probably done with dungeons until I resub.
No, seriously – I ran a few before writing this, and got my second vault slot unlocked (albeit with a 246 item and not a second 252 choice), because my understanding is that I might still be able to open it upon returning to the game. If not, no big deal, but I’ll test when I come back to the game and let you all know!
With that, the Weekly Scuff goes on a brief hiatus. May all your keys be three-chested and your vault give you the items of your dreams.