I honestly didn’t anticipate this.
In my last check-in on Mythic Plus back on 1/1/2023, I had just hit Keystone Master for Dragonflight Season 1, passing the 2,000 rating mark just two hours into the new year in my local timezone and marking the occasion with a post about the process. I had done it almost entirely via PUG groups, as I generally do with KSM, and the early push across that first marked finish line felt really satisfying – but it came with a new question in Dragonflight.
That question, simply put, was this: where is the line where I stop, focus in on an alt, or just wait for Season 2?
So far, that answer is…not yet found, mostly.
I’ve been running some alts through keys. My Evoker, Demon Hunter, Paladin, Priest, Hunter, and Druid all have keys to their names. Uncapped Valor as of this week has meant that I’ve been doing more low keys than usual to try and get bonus Valor out of the process (before ultimately finding it a boring way to go and instead being the bonus Valor carrier for high key parties).But mostly, I’ve settled on a couple of goals that define a sort of soft endpoint for me.
The first one I finally hit this week – on my Monk, I obtained the 2,400 Mythic Plus rating cutoff that entitles me to the full rank-up of Valor upgrades for Mythic Plus gear, maxing out my drops from the mode at 415 item level. In truth, it was feeling a bit like a slog, because the rating tapering that happens in the climb to KSM gets a lot worse as you climb even higher, to the point that new record dungeon runs are still sometimes only worth 4-6 points of rating increase for me. Going from 2000 to 2400 took longer than the climb from 0 to 2000! This can make things feel like a bit of a chore, but it also came down to me simply pushing with a little less focus for a few weeks after KSM. I was still finding and pushing new high keys, mind you, but the hunt for that new record and those new rating points just wasn’t as strong a motivator right off the bat. I only seriously started to push on the 2,400 rating requirement for the last Valor upgrade tier once I started capping the M+ drops I did have at 411 – and knowing how WoW’s item level value scaling works mathematically meant that the last 4 item levels would be the biggest single upgrade I could get per piece since item value scales multiplicatively as you go up the mountain.
I really had the vigor to get it once the unlock on Valor was announced, though, so Blizzard did kind of force my hand there, but given that we likely have two more months of the current season (and possibly more!), it felt like a good time to get the push done and it was a nice gesture by Blizzard to remove their own artificial progression cap earlier than expected.
The second goal I am working towards now is Keystone Hero. This achievement comes in once you reach 2,500 M+ rating, and rewards a stone that unlocks a lightning-infused tier set appearance for the current tier sets across your account (provided you have the base piece unlocked already) and supposedly also unlocks a standard-appearance version of your Mythic tier set, which in Vault is a grey-air elemental color across the board. This goal is one that would be new for me to reach, but I can see doing it as my rating is in reach, albeit with the agonizingly slow pace of ratings gain that comes along with being higher up the scale. In some ways, this goal is sort of a fun stretch for me – I don’t “need” it in any meaningful way and the appearance unlock it does offer is one of the most underwhelming visual effects for a Mythic tier set ever (you have to literally stop and stare at your zoomed-in character to even see the wisps of lightning crackling in the shoulder effects, and the Monk tier helm doesn’t even have the lightning!), but there is a certain amount of pride in getting it and the feeling of being close to it is egging me on towards the finish line in a way I tend to feel with such achievements in WoW.
The last major goal I am working on is trying to get to timed +20s in each dungeon. While the portal is a sort of interesting idea (that will be less functional in Dragonflight with the seasonal pool rotating dungeons in and out), I think I mostly just want to do it for the sake of testing myself. The +19 I have done was a fun experience, and pushing 18s on a regular basis with PUGs has felt rewarding in a way that a lot of the game just hasn’t in a long time. A lot of what first got a fire lit under me about Mythic Plus was wanting to prove my skill with the game to people who often dismissed it, and then I found myself enjoying the push on my own grounds, wanting to prove to myself that I have skill level in this game beyond what I might often acknowledge. Extrinsic motivation turned intrinsic and I have been motivated since Shadowlands Season 2 to push in order to find my wall. Pushing early, pushing fast, getting to KSM before the community has accepted skips and routes that save time and create efficiencies – that’s the real fun for me in Mythic Plus, and it helps that the window around the start of a season is when things are the most in-flux and thus the community in random groups is the most understanding and patient PUGs can ever be.
So far, I have not yet zoned into a +20, because time and available keys have not yet aligned in a way to allow it. Eventually, my goal is to try and fill my Great Vault weekly with +20 slots on my Monk, getting eventual upgrades in most gear slots to item level 421. In order to break the PUG stigma, a big part of my M+ gameplay lately has been pushing the lowest keys I still have on the books to higher ones, both for rating but also to simply create a track record of success in higher keys that will allow me to get invited with ease to +20s.
I’ve also started settling in on other, smaller goals that I do with less focus within the mode.
For starters, I’ve been working to tank higher keys with more strangers. I’ve noted in the past that I don’t really like tanking for PUGs (and avoid it if at all possible) and most of my push on my Monk in Mythic Plus has been as Windwalker, which is fun and helps me gear for raid…but I play Brewmaster in raid, and so I’m not really practicing my raid skillset outside of the raid environment. For me, this is fine to a point – I’ve played tank in raids as my main role for most of the last decade – so I don’t feel I need the practice outside of learning specific raid fights, but I think the added confidence doesn’t hurt. I was able to tank a +16 Algeth’ar Academy with two guildies and two PUG DPS last week and it felt really good – we easily met the timer, I was able to manage some big, pro-style pulls and keep myself alive through the high incoming damage, and short of an aggro-death for the stupid germinate adds on Overgrown Lasher, I am finally decent enough at 10.0 Brewmaster snap threat to keep DPS from unaliving themselves to their own burst DPS. I’ve watched a couple of high-key Brewmaster players and gotten build advice from them that has given me a build that works a lot better for me in Mythic Plus (and the idea to play a more damage-oriented build in raid, which has upped my raid performance a smidge as well).
The second thing I’ve been doing more of is healing in Mythic Plus. Not a lot on my Monk, since the gear priority is almost inverted for Mistweaver compared to both Agility-based specs, but on alts. So far, I’ve exclusively healed Mythic Plus keys on my Evoker, Priest, Paladin, and Druid, and all of them are interesting specs to engage with in Mythic Plus (on Priest, I’ve been playing Holy because I do not have the scatterbrain to play Discipline at the moment!). Healing in Mythic Plus is a fascinating endeavor – my guild’s resto Shaman has had an interesting experience in pushing rating (he’s likely going to overtake me on the scale in a week or two) given the balance of his class and the general experience of healing this expansion, and it has been interesting to see firsthand how healing keys can be. I’ve healed as high as a +13 on my Monk and I am toying with the idea of starting at the bottom on my Monk and building a healing set from scratch (well, with the exception of the stuff I currently have that would carry over like Tier pieces and such) so I can try and build out a set with proper healing stat priorities. For now, however, my healing fix is far better suited for alts, because the grind from the bottom is real with them and I’ve wanted to learn more about Evoker to write about the job and how it feels in this early part of the expansion.
Another major goal of mine has been to record most of, if not all of, my high-key Mythic Plus runs and put them without commentary on YouTube for the sake of just having them out there and pushing myself to rewatch them and analyze my play. I’ve also left chat in these videos unaltered so that the PUG environment can be seen and my experience can be shown – I think people often believe that PUG = bad, and I think that some of that is accurate (I’ve been in bad groups, you have too, surely) but I also think some of it is a sort of fatalistic belief on the part of some folks (I’ve had a bad PUG experience, so that means all PUGs are bad, so when I am in them, I am looking for the bad experience and amplifying anything that could even be seen to be bad in my head so I can affirm my predetermined outlook that PUGs are bad and thus anything that relies on them is also bad). In coming back to WoW, one of the things I think that surprised me is that PUGs are often less toxic than they are made out to be, and in fact some PUGs are very pleasant groups. My high key runs have overwhelmingly had great groups that are friendly, greet each other, get shit done efficiently, and then part pleasantly – even when the key fails the timer. If you find yourself wanting to watch some of these runs, they are out in the public sphere:
So with almost two months since KSM, how has the journey been?
Honestly, I am glad I came back to WoW for a handful of reasons, and one of those has been the fun of getting deep into Mythic Plus again on my own terms. I’m not measuring dicks with anyone else or trying to push beyond my means, and I’ve found a lot of joy in pushing on my terms and reaching new and better levels of play for me. I honestly expected that the difficulty scaling increase of Dragonflight would put me off the idea, since I already was the type to stop around 15-16 keys in Shadowlands and those were relatively easier than the same key levels in DF, much less the higher keys I’ve made my staple engagement with the game as of late. It’s been fun to share success stories with my guild, to help people push higher, and to discuss the strategies, routes, and skips we run into in separate PUG groups and then try some of them when doing keys together. With a group that just wants to have fun and find the fun in the game, it is really great to see the joy that comes from pushing and learning for more than just me, and our key runners will often post new records and screenshots of crazy pulls and such.
Once I finish Keystone Hero on my Monk, I actually don’t see my M+ engagement ending for the season, at least not there. I’ve enjoyed gearing and playing alts in the mode, and I think I’ll probably keep pushing pretty hard to get a near-full 421 loadout on my Monk before the season ends, knowing that it will likely set me up for success when season 2 of Dragonflight launches closer to the summer. It’s been a lot of fun to find my limits and to feel like I’m not at them yet, and if a +19 wasn’t the limit for me, then it leads me to a fun question of “what is?” I could see doing +20s when pre-launch, even after I resolved to return to WoW, I was pretty critical of the idea and doubted if I would ever bother.
To be fair, it hasn’t all been roses either. This season has some of the tightest-tuned dungeons via the Dragonflight-new half of the pool, while it also has a lot of lenient tuning in the throwback half of the pool (Shadowmoon Burial Grounds is a key that you can easily 2-chest as high as low 20 range keys, even while you struggle to run a Ruby Life Pools at 3 levels lower!), so there is a feeling of dead keys or hot potatoes that no one really wants. There is also a weird imbalance in how serious routes are that also goes neatly along the era of the pool for the most part – the older dungeons have very straightforward routes with little deviation (save maybe for harbor routes in Court of Stars!), while the newer dungeons have very flexible routes that can lead to group conflict (Azure Vaults has a couple of different fall-down skips that can let you bypass the horrible hornswogs, Nokhud Offensive has settled on a route that clears most of the trash at boss 3 to skip nearly everything or actually everything on the last boss area, and MDI has shown some new tech with Ruby Life Pools that can skip the thunder proto-dragon). While my early-season write up was positive about Thundering, I’ve found it a little less good as time has moved on – in theory, it has a lot of interesting strategic implications, but in practice, you’re in a PUG that clears it early to avoid issues, or in a coordinated group that’s playing with fire right up until the 3 second final countdown on the buff. Blizzard has also been slow to respond to tuning issues with the dungeons, and while a fair bit of the early season was due to the holidays (a very understandable reason to not be glued to work and one I think they deserve), since the holiday season, tweaks to dungeons have been slow to roll out. There are still some major issues with certain mechanics (Bonemaw in SBG is still almost impossible to hit with melee AoE abilities unless you are directly under the great worm’s chin, even after they claimed to fix that) and there are some mechanics that encourage creative use of game issues (the Astral Whirlwind trash at the end of Algeth’ar Acadmey can be cheesed by pulling them onto the stairs so melee can use Z-height to be out of the whirlwind but still in melee range). I also think that the newer dungeons are plagued by what I call “interrupt soup” – where each trash pack has 2-4 interruptible mobs with multiple different named casts, and a few are “trap interrupts” designed to pull your interrupt onto cooldown before the real big threat comes out. It’s fine for this to happen sometimes – learning the right choices to make is a part of graduating up the keystone level curve! – but when it is almost every major pull in a dungeon, it stops being fun and starts to feel like a drag, especially when you’re trying to help teach players who are new to this level of play and the issue is less DPS or overall performance but just those fine points like proper interrupting and management of enemy abilities, which the game does a poor job of teaching on its own to players. It also creates a meta that over-incentivizes interrupts and short CD ones at that – so you bring melee more than ranged and you especially try to make room for healers with actual interrupts like Paladins, Shamans, Evokers, and Monks. It’s good for these things to be useful and worth a group spot! – but so much of the success of a group depends on interrupts in Dragonflight and the game makes it excessively difficult in some newer dungeons to manage this successfully, which then puts the older dungeons into stark contrast, where even dungeons made for Mythic Plus like Halls of Valor and Court of Stars are far less rigorous on what they require a group to interrupt to be successful.
As a mode, though, Mythic Plus remains the thing that keeps me most glued to WoW, and with the DF changes, it has actually had an even stronger hold on me. Here’s my current rating by dungeon to close on!
4 thoughts on “My Continuing Dragonflight Season One Mythic Plus Push – 2,400 Rating, Keystone Hero?, and the Hunt for a +20”
Grats on 2400! My gm and RL both got it a few days ago too. I think uncapped valor is pretty motivational.
I am personally a little less motivated around rating. Even though I’m a tank I primarily prefer to push my own key, probably because I usually feel like a key’s failure is my fault regardless of whether it is (a rare tank, I know). Tanks van also get invites that hop, skip and jump rating up, so if I do target dungeons I tend to be able to go 2 or more key levels higher than my current timed. Still at 2260 right now, but I’ve got a hot 18 smbg in my bag that is gonna pop this morning, so that should be fun.
I haven’t been doing alts much. At the beginning of the season it was fun to crack them out, especially during normal dathea when I honestly wondered if we’d be able to kill the boss on heroic without a warrior (turns out heroic is much easier than normal for a little prot paladin). RL forbade me from bringing an alt to any fight, so I stopped gearing the warrior and gifted the raid with three weeks of prog on heroic broodkeeper, who absolutely shredded me on the paladin.
Co-tank said that the tanks in her other raid were hurting hard on Raz, but the minute we started pulling I grabbed a beer because I gotta say… There is absolutely no comparison in terms of incoming damage. Started to fall asleep at the keyboard. Easiest fight to tank. Well maybe not easiest, but it’s clearly going to be a bigger mechanics, DPS and healing check than any type of challenge for me!
Good to get the update on your m+ this season though. Best of luck getting your 20s. I feel like pushing your own for at least the first few is the right way to do it. I doubt you’ll get a pug invite to a 20 having never timed one…
I’ve wanted to learn more about Evoker to write about the job
Too much FFXIV! 😂
And after last weekend I actually get the comment about Nokhud trash, that was indeed very different from the way we’d done it on normal and heroic…
Congratulations on 2400!
If only all my classes didn’t feel so weird to DPS in DF… I’m on the way to 2000 (19xx and 1820) on both toons (Fury/Enhancement) right now and I can’t describe it much better than I seem to have forgotten how to properly do DPS since SL. Managed to heal a couple +12/+13s with some buddies this week and even without a lot of practice it felt so much less stressful than playing DPS with the same people… I have an inkling I just need to L2P again but it doesn’t seem to work with going hard on practice the last 2 weeks, oh well. Maybe it’s KSH only again for me.