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Method Jdotb Q&A #17
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Jdotb plays a Resto Druid and placed second in the Mythic Dungeon Invitational LAN finals. He has achieved multiple World Firsts and currently holds many of the top times in the NA Region. He frequently streams his Resto Druid gameplay (or Disc Priest on the beta). Find him here:
There’s been some hand wringing on the BFA beta because two classes (hunter and druid) were given abilities (Spirit Shock and Soothe, respectively) that remove enrage effects, including the Raging affix. I think the knee-jerk reaction from the community has been that this feels unfair, and that an affix shouldn’t be able to be completely negated by a class ability. Let’s examine this one from all angles before I tell you why it isn’t actually a big deal.
First, Spirit Shock and Soothe are each on a 10 second cooldown. So unless you’re single targeting one mob at a time, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to remove more than one or two Raging debuffs on any given pull. Granted, some mobs are more dangerous than others, and maybe you only “need” to dispel Raging from one or two mobs in a pack to see most of the benefit. But it’s also important to keep in mind that these abilities aren’t just a complete removal of the Raging affix but rather a way to dispel individual enrage effects on a short-ish cooldown.
Second, lots of abilities in the game negate other affixes already. Bursting can be completely immuned by Divine Shield, Ice Block, etc. The Dwarf racial Stoneform can clear a full stack of Grievous (though admittedly it will start stacking again instantly if you’re still in combat). Bolstering can be prevented on a high health mob by using Banish or Mind Control on that mob before the rest of the pack dies. Necrotic can be removed with Divine Shield or prevented from being applied with Anti-Magic Shell. So the idea that an ability shouldn’t be able to remove or counter an affix runs contrary to the entire M+ philosophy in Legion.
Are Spirit Shock and Soothe incredibly useful to have during Raging weeks? Absolutely. Will you feel like you “have” to bring a BM Hunter or a Druid on Raging weeks? You might. There will almost certainly be some mini bosses that get incredibly scary when they hit Raging, and being able to remove Raging from them will feel almost necessary on higher keys. But unless you want to do a wholesale rework of the affix system that makes every affix unavoidable, these two abilities aren’t any more unfair than dozens of abilities that already exist.
Tank threat has been nerfed considerably in beta. How has that affected group comp selection and pushing higher keys (8+) so far?
To be honest, I haven’t noticed the tank threat rework at all in my beta experience. It’s still very rare for a DPS to pull off the tank once the tank has had more than two or three seconds to build aggro (RIP Bladestorming Arms warriors), and you can still kite mobs indefinitely with several tank classes without fear of losing aggro to DPS.
The bigger issue for tanks right now is how much damage they take and how little self-healing most tanks can do. It’s very common for tanks to get absolutely trucked by single trash packs in higher keys, even on Tyrannical weeks. When you add in affixes like Raging or Necrotic or Fortified, tanks require full time spam healing to stay alive in the best case scenario, and often the tank has no choice but to hightail it out of the pack because the damage is simply unsurvivable.
In fact tank frailty has perhaps made BFA even more of kiting expansion than Legion ever was, which is ironic because most people assumed that the threat generation nerf was aimed squarely at preventing tanks from being able to spend a few seconds attacking a group of stunned or silenced mobs and then kiting them for 30 or 40 seconds while the DPS whittled the pack down. Kiting used to be the optimal strategy, but it’s beginning to feel more and more like the necessary strategy for some of these dungeons.
So how has that affected group comp selection and pushing higher keys? It’s made classes with snares incredibly valuable. The big AoE crowd control abilities were subject to a lot of pruning or nerfing in BFA, so the ol’ Leg Sweep into Solar Beam into 3x Arcane Torrents into 4x Frag Belts rotations are much shorter in duration, meaning the tank is going to have to spend a substantially longer portion of the pull actually getting whooped by the mobs. With the relative tissue paper status of tanks in BFA, that means you’re going to need to start kiting, and the best way to kite is to have permanent AoE snares on the trash. Warlock was the king of snares in Legion with Sacrolash’s Dark Strike, but legendaries are gone and many snares were nerfed. Enter Frost mages.
Frost mage is now the MVP of trash kiting. By combining Blizzard (an 8s AoE with a 50% base snare that lasts 15s) with the Frigid Winds talent (all chilling effect reduce target’s movement speed by an additional 15%), you can keep a group of mobs safely away from your tank for as long as you’d like. Expect to see a lot of M+ strategies that revolve around Blizzard kiting.
Other than that, I’m not sure tank threat will really have any effect on M+ in BFA.
How important is healer throughput vs healer utility in M+?
It’s tough to say how important healer throughput will be for BFA, so I’ll frame this question for Legion. The short answer is that both of them are situationally important, but the devil is in the details. What dungeon are you doing? What affixes? Tyrannical or Fortified? Do you have strong self-healing classes in your group? Do you have strong utility DPS (e.g., rogues and warlocks)?
Certain fights are going to test your throughput regardless of the circumstances. Dresaron is always going to hurt, as will L’ura and Talixae Flamewreath. Your group comp will make those fights a bit easier or harder, but you’re not going to be able to skate your way through those bosses without knowing how to pump some healing numbers. And other fights will test your burst healing capability — Melandrus and Mephistroph come to mind. Some classes are better suited to that style of healing while others struggle with it.
And affixes can have a big impact on throughput requirements. Grievous makes some bosses that were otherwise ho-hum suddenly difficult, and healing through 15 stacks of Bursting is challenge even if you’re expecting it. Tyrannical might add two minutes to a boss fight, and now mana is an issue on fights where you were routinely ending at 50% on Fortified.
But throughput is often not the reason why a group wipes on a boss. I feel like most healing specs are capable of roughly equivalent healing numbers in a dungeon and have similar enough tools that you can usually brainstorm some way to heal through most encounters. Instead, surviving becomes an issue of mitigating damage or preventing it entirely before it occurs rather than healing through it because the damage becomes so heavy that you cannot live through it long enough to be healed.
In this circumstances, throughput will often take a back seat to healer utility, and this is why the M+ meta was dominated by holy paladins and resto druids. No amount of throughput is going to keep you alive through an 11m Wicked Slam from General Xakal, but bear form or plate armor + 15% extra HP will. You can’t heal through a 12m Arcing Bolt from Hyrja, but you can slap Ironbark or Blessing of Sacrifice on a teammate to keep them alive. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the best defensive in the game, Blessing of Protection, which is single handedly responsible for letting groups kill Moroes on high keys.
Mitigation is the most relevant form of utility when pushing high keys, but other forms of utility can also be important. Most high level M+ groups have skips they like to employ in dungeons, and certain forms of CC are pivotal (e.g., Repentance) to get past mobs without aggroing them. Or combat CC like Ursol’s Vortex or Ring of Peace can be make-or-break on large pulls where face-tanking the mobs isn’t a realistic option.
I might be biased, but I feel like throughput is strongly dependent on player skill while utility is essentially just an issue of class selection, so good players will be able to figure out throughput no matter what class they play but would be handcuffed by their class when it comes to utility. In that sense, utility is more “important” because you can’t necessarily scheme your way around it — your class can either do the thing or it can’t.
Role Rankings in BFA Beta M+ as of July 10
If you’ve spent any time in a beta streamer’s chat this past month, you’ve no doubt seen a litany of questions about which classes are looking good for BFA. The good news is that you can now safely ignore every other streamer and instead listen exclusively to my end-all-be-all opinion this week for all your BFA class selection needs.
Top 3 DPS
- Frost Mage – The damage is competitive, but you’re in the dungeon to cast Blizzard a lot. Like…a LOT. The Blizzard snare will be a focal point of many trash strategies in BFA, and you can expect to see it feature prominently in the MDI. The new BFA intellect buff is a nice bump for other casters and your healer. Ice Block is a great ability for pushing high keys and will have some uses for certain cheesy strategies.
- Destruction Warlock – These guys can do serious work on the DPS meter currently, and they bring all the usual great warlock utility. Healthstones are always nice but are especially good early in expansions when healers struggle to move health bars quickly. Portals enable a lot of neat skips in dungeons. Summoning is great for quality of life but will also likely be utilized in certain dungeons to let players swap specs (or gear LOL) midway through a dungeon.
- Outlaw Rogue – BFA dungeons look like they’re gonna be similarly melee-unfriendly like Legion dungeons were, but if you’re going to bring a melee you can’t do much better than Outlaw. The damage is strong, and rogues have top notch utility. Shroud lets you skip a lot of trash that’s gross to deal with. Lockpicking will let you activate some very convenient skips in Tol’Dagor. Cloak of Shadows will let rogues soak some dangerous boss mechanics. And let’s not forget every healer’s favorite rogue ability: Feint.
Top 3 Healers
- Holy Paladin – Is anyone surprised? The class had a few abilities tweaked coming into BFA, but the deep toolkit that made pallies so dominant on live and in the MDI hasn’t changed much. Blessing of Sacrifice and Protection are top tier external defensives. Divine Shield lets paladins soak mechanics or avoid one-shot mechanics. Lay on Hands is extra useful in BFA where tank health is an issue. Beacon of Virtue is still great for quickly topping a group off, and Holy Shock is a great two-way spell. The icing on the cake is that pallies, long known for fantastic single target damage in Legion, have also become pretty good at dealing AoE damage as well. And the new Avenging Crusader talent lets paladins focus exclusively on dealing damage for sustained portions of a boss fight. If you’re looking for a flavor of the month/year/expansion healer in BFA, hop on this bandwagon.
- Discipline Priest – The big news coming out of this spec in BFA is that Power Word: Shield no longer has a cooldown and can now be spammed. No other healer has access to on-demand shields, and shields are strong in the infinitely scaling M+ environment. The usual warnings still apply to Disc: they struggle with Bursting because they have nothing to hit for Atonement healing, and the healing style itself can be a bit awkward for players accustomed to more traditional healing classes. Disc AoE damage isn’t great, but their single target DPS can hang with actual damage classes on fights where healing isn’t much required. Power Word: Fortitude is a great buff for the party (10% stam).
- Restoration Druid – I’ll probably get flayed by the Mistweaver community for not putting them here, but I haven’t seen anyone play MW on beta yet so it’s tough to separate hype from reality at this point. Druids essentially got nerfed across the board coming from Legion. They lost some throughput cooldowns due to talent shakeups. Their rejuvs are much shorter in duration in BFA than in Legion. Their damage took a big hit when legendaries were removed. Bear form got its stamina slashed significantly, making druid much less capable of eating big hits. But this class was strong in M+ in Legion, and it still plays a lot like it did in Legion — just a bit worse at…pretty much everything.
Top 3 Tanks
- Vengeance Demon Hunter – And not even because it’s tanky. In fact, this spec is sorta squishy on beta. But the damage. My god, the damage. Vengeance can legitimately top the meters on big AoE pulls if it isn’t forced to kite, and its single target damage is still healthy. Their sigils are great for CC, and their mobility is top notch. Try keeping up with a panicked DH in Waycrest Manor trying to reset their Necrotic stacks. I dare you.
- Brewmaster Monk – Admittedly this one is based on community feedback more than any first hand experience with the spec — I haven’t actually run with a BrM monk yet. But I hear really good things. They got Guard back in BFA, giving this already-sturdy tank even more mitigation. Self-healing is still an issue, but monks have more tricks than perhaps any other tank to kite mobs. Ring of Peace is a great tool for managing giant pulls, and Transcendence is always good for at least a few wacky hijinks in each dungeon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see BrM at the center of some really crazy pulls in the MDI.
- Blood Death Knight – Blood DKs got nerfed pretty hard coming into BFA, but let’s be honest: they had a lot of room to come down. This class still suffers from mobility issues, but its self-healing is still strong. Gorefiend’s Grasp is still the envy of every tank, and the threat generation is still good. The loss of Vampiric Aura will sting, but even without the group leech DK was still a great tank in Legion and hasn’t fallen THAT far in BFA.