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Method Jdotb Q&A #7 - Weekly Affix Advice, Tyrannical Shade of Xavius
17/4/2018 em 17:38
Our latest Q&A with Method Jdotb is now live which includes advice on Tyrannical Shade of Xavius, the idea of random affixes, M+ in BFA and more!
Check out our previous Q&As with Jdotb:
Method Jdotb Q&A #7
What would you think about affixes not being assigned weekly, but rather be generated by RNG each time you join a new dungeon?
This suggestion has existed since the dawn of M+, and it certainly has some appeal -- especially during weeks where the affixes are terrible. So let’s start with the ways this idea makes sense.
There is currently some frustration in the M+ community about the existence of “push weeks”, i.e., weeks where the affixes are particularly favorable. Especially near the start of a new M+ season, it isn’t uncommon to see a majority of instances receive new record times during these push weeks. If you or your team have the misfortune of being particularly busy or unavailable during these push weeks, you will likely feel that you were unfairly denied the ability to join in on this gold rush of raider.io score. Randomizing the affixes on each key would prevent groups from being able to focus all their effort on “easy” weeks. And on the other end of the spectrum, it can be hard to find people to play with during the harder (read: Tyrannical) weeks. A lot of folks become scarce, and it makes forming groups more challenging.
Randomized affixes would also break up the monotony of week-long affix schedules that inevitably sets in around the weekend. After you’ve run the same affixes for three or four days in a row, it starts to get a little old. Getting new affixes each key would keep the experience perpetually fresh.
But there are also merits to affix schedules. It adds an element of structure in this otherwise chaotic expansion where RNG determines so much. Putting groups on a somewhat even playing field each week allows for a better sense of competition instead of feeling like you’re totally at the mercy of the affixes that rolled on your key.
And while affixes can start to feel a little stale after week, it is nice for those of us that do M+ constantly to have weeks where we go all in and weeks where we can kind of relax. Certain affixes also require an adjustment period where you tend to forget that the affix exists until you’ve already screwed it up badly. Anyone who is doing their first non-Bolstering key after a week of Bolstering will have a small panic attack the first time the tank pulls multiple trash packs. Having a week to acclimate to those affixes is extremely helpful instead of having to try to rewire your brain each time you start a key.
Ultimately it’s a judgment call, but I think I’d prefer to stick with the weekly schedules. Having to pray for both a good dungeon AND good affixes would be just a little too Legion for me.
The MDI tournament has a lot of hardcore progression raiders involved on the teams. Do you feel that this is an advantage due to the “experience” of playing under pressure to try and get world ranked raid kills?
There are certainly a lot of progression raiders in the MDI, but I think the causal connection you’ve described is backwards. I don’t think that progression raiding gives its participants an edge -- instead I think that the people that perform well under pressure in raiding will also excel in M+. There are differences between 5 man and 20 man content, but they are much more similar than they are different. And the MDI and the “Race to World First” are also very similar. The behavior you see from top guilds (scheduling raids on beta to see bosses, having alts so you can class stack) has clear analogs in M+ (spending a lot of time perfecting your trash pulls, multiclassing to gain advantages in certain dungeons). So I think it’s natural that you’d see a lot of overlap.
The biggest common denominator between the two camps is free time. Free time is and forever will be the most valuable commodity in PvE, and you will find that a disproportionate number of progression raiders and M+ pushers are either still in school, work from home or are totally unemployed. Having the advantage of practicing all day, every day is nearly insurmountable. When people ask me how I got good at resto druid, the answer is simple -- I play a LOT. Like a LOT a LOT. I’ve spent more time in Maw of Souls than most people have spent in Dalaran. If you asked me whether I’d rather have a team of pretty good players that practiced together five hours a day for a month leading up to the MDI or a group of exceptional players that practiced one hour a day, I’m taking the pretty good group every time. You can’t overcome that kind of dedication.
The MDI actually a bit different from raiding in the sense that everything is public. The vast majority of the world first race happens behind closed doors. Only the kill video is typically ever released, and maybe a pull count to let everyone know how “hard” the boss was. But the pressure from raiding isn’t quite as focused as it is in the MDI. If you wipe on a boss in a raid, there is a general sense that you’ve wasted some time and let your competition get a bit closer, but the results of your failure are cumulative, not immediate. In the MDI, if you wipe on a big pull or deep into a boss fight, there’s a decent chance you just lost the match. And you did it on stream in front of tens of thousands of viewers. That’s a dramatically different kind of pressure that I’m not sure raiding will ever prepare you for.
So yes, MDI and raiding feature a lot of the same players, but I don’t think it’s because one prepares you for the other. I just think both activities draw the same kind of player.
What things have you seen coming in BFA that you are most excited about in terms of M+ and the future of the MDI?
It’s still a bit early in the BFA alpha to have a great sense of where M+ will end up. There are several unreleased dungeons, the level cap still hasn’t been set to 120, and the Azerite system is still in the works. M+ isn’t even available to test yet. So a lot of my hopes for BFA are based on rampant speculation.
The removal of tier sets in BFA is a big step in its own right since tier sets were one of the main reasons M+ers felt compelled to raid. But tier removal is also a big step in a more symbolic sense because it appears to signal that the developers are trying to make raiding less central to the PvE experience. I don’t think it’s ever reasonable to assume that you’ll be able to stop raiding completely and not miss out on some important gear, but if knocking out a quick heroic raid each week sufficed it would make the quality of life for the M+ community a lot better.
Many tanks are being massively overhauled in the self-sustain department. The current kings of the M+ tank meta (Blood DK, Vengeance DH, Prot Paladin) are all capable of keeping themselves alive through a lot of punishment, and DKs and Paladins have several tools that heal the party as well. In Legion, it isn’t uncommon for tanks to be the top healer on a M+ boss fight or trash pull. But BFA is looking to change all of that and remove most of the tools that tanks have to keep themselves alive. While this is obviously a bummer for tanks, it adds a much-needed sense of purpose back to healers who have found themselves feeling like a fifth wheel for long stretches of time. The recent success of 4 DPS teams in the MDI has highlighted how unnecessary healers can be in the status quo; ratcheting up healer relevancy is long overdue.
Hopefully BFA is also more alt-friendly than Legion. With the removal of legendaries and artifact power, it’s likely that BFA will let you play multiple characters without feeling like you have to devote months of playtime to keep them all up-to-date. This has been especially problematic in Legion because of how exclusive the M+ meta is, and if you didn’t happen to pick one of the “in” classes as your main then it will probably take you months to catch your new character up. If BFA lets people play two or three characters conveniently, it will open M+ up to a lot more people.
How do you feel about healing meters being a marker of success or ability for a healer?
Healing meters, like most metrics in WoW, are nearly meaningless without context but an important tool nonetheless. This is doubly the case in M+ where group makeup, affix combinations and gearing choices can have an outsized impact on healing required. The key to healing meters is understanding what their actual use is: self-comparison.
Healing meters (and meters in general) are misused too often because people want an objective way to demonstrate how good they are at the game. Superficially, meters seem to give you a quantitative way to say, “Look how well I press my buttons.” But anyone who’s played the game at a high level knows how easy it is to pad the meters and skew the numbers in your favor. If someone wants to use meters competitively, there are endless ways to goose your output. That’s not to say that there isn’t some value in comparing yourself with your peers, just that using meters alone as an indication of skill is dubious at best.
The other pitfall of meters is how wildly different two seemingly-similar encounters can be. You could have two groups that are identical except for their tank, with one group having a Vengeance DH and the other group having a Blood DK. The DH offers no healing support to its group, while the DK has Vampiric Aura that gives 20% leech to all party members for 15s on a 45s cooldown. This will considerably reduce the healing required on certain fights and in some cases almost eliminate the need for a healer. Some DPS classes have incredible self-sustain (Warlocks, Demon Hunters) or mitigation (Druids, Rogues) that will dramatically reduce the amount of healing they need. Warlocks, for example, have such good self-healing that any time spent healing them is often wasted because the warlock was going to top themselves off anyway.
The real value of healing meters is in their use as a tool for self-improvement. Comparing yourself against others introduces several variables that are hard to control for, but comparing yourself against yourself limits those variables considerably. If you know that you routinely do 1.5m HPS on Talixae Flamewreath, you can try swapping some legendaries or trinkets around and very quickly see if your healing throughput has changed substantially. Healing meters will let you determine whether new gearing choices or cooldown usage or spell rotations have made you do more or less healing relative to your previous efforts.
Will good healers generally pump on the healing meters? Absolutely. But the amount of nuance that exists (especially in 5 man content) makes meters just one small piece of the puzzle when determining player skill.
How do you keep up teammates of Shade of Xavius during higher Tyrannical keys? My teammates always die even when I’m spamming Regrowth and one Swiftmend.
The short answer is that a lot of times I don’t keep my teammates up on Tyrannical Xavius. It’s a difficult fight with loose timers; his spells have a rough rotation but there is no set duration between casts. What makes Xavius one of the most frustrating bosses in M+ is the combination of his burst damage, random targeting, and fast cast times.
Xavius is a prime example of the kind of bosses that I think are patently unfair in M+.
Seta de Pesadelo
(one of the most aptly named spells in the game) makes me want to get a developer in a locked room.
Seta de Pesadelo
has a few issues: 1) it has a 1.5s cast time meaning you will likely have less than .5s to react if you’re in the middle of a global cooldown; 2) the damage from
Seta de Pesadelo
snapshots the moment it leaves Xavius’ hands, so if you apply an external (like
) or personal (like
Pele de Árvore
) defensive while the spell is in midair it will still do full damage; 3) it picks a random target; 4) it has a variable cooldown so you can’t precisely predict it; and 5) it’s not an AoE ability so avoidance doesn’t affect it. Add all these up and you get a recipe for battle resses.
Seta de Pesadelo
is the sort of ability that I hope disappears in BFA. Spells that can’t be predicted, can’t be avoided or interrupted, cast incredibly fast so that healers have a tough time reacting to them with externals, etc. Hyrja’s
(1.3s cast time!) is another such spell. These kinds of mechanics aren’t fun and basically make you want to avoid Darkheart Thicket and Halls of Valor at all costs on high Tyrannical keys. I realize that given the scaling nature of M+ you will eventually hit a point where spells will one-shot you, but abilities that do a lot of damage should be segmented to deal damage rapidly in a short window rather than all at once.
Devorar os Fracos
, for example, is a superior mechanic to
Seta de Pesadelo
simply because it deals damage in chunks. It still hurts a ton but at least you can react to it and heal through it. And Hyrja’s
is a superior mechanic to
is applied to its target several seconds before it does damage giving the target and the healer an opportunity to coordinate cooldowns.
Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, my actual advice for keeping people alive is to get familiar with the rotation of Xavius’ spells. He will cast
Seta de Pesadelo
very soon after the pull, and then he will alternate between Bolt and
Devorar os Fracos
while also sprinkling in
and Festering Rip. I try to cast
when I sense a
Devorar os Fracos
is imminent so that it’s already up when the damage starts. I use Felshield Emitter for
Seta de Pesadelo
Devorar os Fracos
But mostly I pray that all the spells target the tank.
Weekly Affix Advice
The affixes this week are Bolstering, Skittish and Fortified.
Dungeons Most Affected by Bolstering:
: Several trash packs in Blackrook Hold have mobs with varying amounts of health which makes Bolstering especially annoying because it’s almost guaranteed that one or more of the mobs is going to end up Bolstered with lots of health remaining. Doing this dungeon pack by pack rather than with big pulls slows it down substantially.
Eye of Azshara
: The signature pulls in Eye of Azshara are the crabs and goblins which involve a dozen or more mobs at a time. If the mobs don’t get grouped tightly it’s very easy to end up with a crab at 40% health and 15 Bolster stacks.
Halls of Valor
: Halls of Valor is notable for its dangerous spellcasters -- particularly the Thundercallers -- and those spellcasters also happen to have more health than the mobs around them. It’s easy to accidentally Bolster a Thundercaller who proceeds to start one-shotting your party with Thunderous Bolt and Thunderstrike.
: Who hasn’t tried to pull the entire spider room and ended up with a Manafang Devourer with more health than Nal’tira? A Bolstered Withered Fiend can easily start handing out naps with Arcanic Bane, and high health Withered Manawraiths are often grouped with those Fiends making it hard not to Bolsters the Manawraiths. Rats and Mana Wyrms round out the reasons this dungeon can quickly get out of hand with Bolstering.
Seat of the Triumvirate
: There aren’t necessarily any packs that are notably dangerous for Bolstering in this dungeon, rather it’s the layout of the dungeon itself that makes Bolstering an issue. It’s far too easy to pull trash in Seat by accidentally wandering into a mob’s aggro radius, and you can end up in combat with three packs at once in the blink of an eye.
: Lower Karazhan has too many big pull opportunities in it for Bolstering not to rear its ugly head a few time. The timer in Lower Karazhan is very forgiving so you can take it slow on Bolstering and pull smaller, but it makes the dungeon very tedious, and Lower Kara punishes you with the length of the run back if you wipe.
Dungeons Most Affected by Skittish:
: The Wyrmtongue pulls after Illysanna are difficult to pull together with Skittish. If you’re trying to do the Felspite Dominators on the stairs up to Smashspite, your DPS will need to be very careful.
: Trying to pull all the trash at the start of the dungeon will be very difficult this week since the tank has to maintain aggro on the move. Pulling all the Rockbound Pelters after Rokmora will be very dicey as they can easily aggro a DPS and start casting on nearby DPS.
Seat of the Triumvirate
: The adds on L’ura are already tricky for a tank to pick up without nerfed threat, so DPS and healers need to have their heads on a swivel this week. Tricksters are always dangerous but will be even more difficult for a tank to corral. Trying to pull a lot of trash in Zuraal’s room will require a lot of coordination to keep mobs from peeling off.
Dungeons Most Affected by Fortified:
Halls of Valor
: Valarjar Thundercallers and Runecarvers start to get lethal on higher keys, and the Storm Drake’s Lightning Breath has a chance to wreck the tank. Make sure to dodge the Ebonclaw Worg leaps. The four kings will all hurt, and tanking multiple of them will be iffy.
Maw of Souls
: Seacursed Soulkeeper’s Brackwater Blast will start needing personal cooldowns. Night Watch Mariner should be skipped as the damage is likely unlivable on higher keys. Shroud Hounds will kill someone if they leap to the same target. Skjal’s Give No Quarter will be deadly.
: Rockbound Pelters and Blightshard Shapers will shred the party with their respective casts. Rockbound Breaker’s Avalanche will be lethal. Stoneclaw Grubmaster’s Stone Shatter will probably kill anyone standing near the tank. Emberhusk Dominators do tons of damage to the three furthest players from them, so be prepared to pop cooldowns.
: Dreadborne Seers will start killing people Prophecies of Doom. Searing Wound from Wrathguard Felblades will require significant healing and can quickly overwhelm the healer if it goes out on multiple targets. If one person takes multiple casts of Arcanic Bane from Withered Fiends it will kill them, and the Withered Manawraiths will start doing real damage to the tank. The Plagued Rat packs are very dangerous for melee.
Dungeons Least Affected by This Week’s Affixes:
: Most of the trash packs in DHT have few enough mobs that Bolstering won’t be an issue, and the only big pulls (the Hatespawn Slimes) have mobs with identical health values. The lack of big pulls also makes Skittish less likely to be an issue.
: Relatively little trash in Upper Kara means that Bolstering doesn’t have many opportunities to rear its ugly head. Pulling several packs of Mana Devourers can be issue on Bolstering if your DPS is sloppy, but all the mobs have the same health so it can be done cleanly.
Court of Stars
: Aside from one questionable pull (the Duskwatch Guard sitting among a group of Mana Wyrms at the second beacon), Bolstering shouldn’t be an issue at all in Court of Stars.
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