My Early Experience in Dragonflight Season 2 Mythic Plus

I’ve been pushing quite hard in keys this week, I think it is fair to say:

In total this week alone, I’ve run around 40ish keys between 15 characters, including the goals of filling all 3 Great Vault slots on my two Keystone Hero chasing characters, filling two slots each on my 3 Keystone Master-chasing characters, and then filling a slot each on the remaining 10 characters. I’ve seen the new dungeons from each role at least once, and I’ve pushed as low as a failed +2 (my poor mage got the worst possible Vortex Pinnacle group) and a barely-failed +16 (a Freehold where the tank tried a corner tanking strategy on Harlan Sweete at the end that led to a wipe because of Swiftwind Saber damage he was taking to the face), and I’ve seen the dungeons pre- and post-nerfs (those first few days where dungeons with Nelth in the name were spicy as hell!).

I want to start with this – I really enjoy this season, even more than the last.

The changes to affixes have, by and large, worked, at least for this first week when the affixes admittedly work very well with the dungeon pool and synergize effectively. I’m playing less specifically against Storming and Raging and more specifically against how the effects of those affixes change the dungeon – Raging in particular for how it plays with stops and control effects you might use to help ease incoming damage, and Storming largely for how it affects where you tank stuff in places like the first boss approach in Freehold or the open bridges of Vortex Pinnacle. The dungeon set is, overall, quite enjoyable, with a good mix of dungeons in terms of atmosphere, mob types, routing variables, and the tuning is a lot closer overall with the rounds of fixes this week, which puts very few keys as outliers in difficulty (the two BfA dungeons are arguably free clears with a competent group, but they can still get messed up, and Vortex Pinnacle is decently well rebuilt but has some absolutely harsh boss mechanics in a good way).

Let’s break down my existing pushing in a few ways now.

Season Two’s Difficulty Curve

I think, in general, that any season past the opening season of an expansion is going to be easier for a few reasons.

Gear curve is a big part – you’re fighting a lot less against the need for vertical player progression, so while gearing is still important, the average player starts the season at a relatively higher point on the gear curve than they possibly can in Season 1 of an expansion. In Dragonflight, you could come into Season 1 geared up to near 385 average if you were extraordinarily lucky with super rare drops and farmed those daily, which left 36 levels of vertical progression for the very tippy-top end player to reach a season maximum of 421 average. In Season 2, it was possible to roll in at the top end as 421, with the new absolute peak being 447 – 26 item levels to climb.

One thing that was laid bare in patch notes during Shadowlands is that Blizzard often scales difficulty in dungeons by applying a flat percentage that is less than the jump in gear power for a tier, so while player power is a scaling 1% per item level (which means as item level climbs, the value of an item level also climbs), dungeons get scaled up around 20-25% flat, which means they do not keep pace with player gear and, over the course of an expansion, the relative difficulty of most dungeons goes down, because you’re gaining power in 1% increments, exponentially-scaling, while the dungeon is getting a flat 25% per tier, which also scales up the next buff and the one after, but because this scaling is one shot of 20-25% instead of 1% at a time, the value by which it scales also doesn’t keep pace with player power. You’re gaining 26% more power over a tier, which ends up actually mathing out to absolute values of 40% or more power because of the scaling, but the dungeon is gaining 25%, and this overlong math drudgery is why dungeons feel easier as the expansion progresses – because they are.

Now, Blizzard actually gets a unique chance with the seasonal model of Dragonflight to retune the floor per-season, since the dungeon pool is changing, although I believe that they’ve largely stuck to the same curve based on what I’ve seen so far – and so what is that? Easier dungeons overall. While some of the dungeon pool has tough moments so far, there’s not really a Ruby Life Pools-level challenge where the key is substantially harder, and there’s also not a Shadowmoon Burial Grounds style key where it is substantially easier. The “easy” keys are still rife with mechanics and challenges that can mess you up, and the hard keys mostly come down to requiring mechanical awareness. Vortex Pinnacle bosses are tough – but they all have simple mechanics that you do correctly and win or mess up and fail. In fact, so far this week that has been the big observation I’ve had – the biggest thing that predicts success in a dungeon run is knowing the boss mechanics. You can fail a lot of other checks and still time most of these keys with smart play – I’ve had vast overpulls in Brackenhide Hollow, rough bridge gauntlets in Halls of Infusion, and some tricky routing in Freehold – and they’ve all succeeded as long as people do mechanics on the bosses correctly.

Fortified week will be a fascinating look at how the other side of tuning is, as I can see some trash pulls being rough in the coming week (stars in Vortex Pinnacle, a lot of trash in Brackenhide, Neltharus side hallways, etc), but I still expect that Fortified weeks will be the easier, de-facto “push” weeks, and perhaps even more so with this dungeon pool, as a lot of what makes the trash “hard” this time out is mechanics you can more easily respond to, that behave more like boss mechanics – not interrupt soup, not a flurry of CC or lockdowns, but instead smart positioning, dodging, and managing things calmly.

Overall? Season 2 dungeons are, relatively, easier-feeling than season 1, at least so far. This is an observation even outside of the effects of gear curve, inter-season stat scaling, and the like – it’s clear that Blizzard took the feeling of dread players had for the other side of the DF dungeon pool in M+ and made some targeted adjustments that have cleaned up the dungeons for the better, as they are much more fun to play in than I expected, while not being free keys or too easy.

Retro Dungeons Good? Retro Dungeons Good.

One of the best things about Dragonflight Mythic Plus has been how it has drawn upon existing content in World of Warcraft and modernized it with Mythic Plus and fresh gameplay. Last season saw minor revamps of some Legion Mythic Plus dungeons with Court of Stars and Halls of Valor, a larger refit for Shadowmoon Burial Grounds from Warlords of Draenor, and a huge revamp to Mists of Pandaria’s Temple of the Jade Serpent, adding a new mode of play and fresh, modern tuning to dungeons that were old (11 years old in the case of Temple of the Jade Serpent, don’t think about it too hard). This season saw three dungeons with existing M+ balancing and tuning brought back with two Battle for Azeroth choices in Freehold and Underrot, one additional Legion dungeon in Neltharion’s Lair, and then a Cataclysm dungeon with Vortex Pinnacle, a dungeon which will turn 13 this year (this getting old thing is weird, yeah?).

What has been interesting is seeing the tuning changes and rebalancing done to the dungeons that already existed in Mythic Plus – Freehold and Underrot both feel a fair bit different, with even routing changes made that force some rethinking of older routes used in BfA, while Neltharion’s Lair is pretty similar to the Legion original. Vortex Pinnacle saw the most changes, which makes sense – it has straightforward routing, but the boss mechanics have been substantially altered to the point of being new fights outright (the mechanics are mimics of the old versions, but very clearly changed to be 2023 versions of the original ideas), new trash has been added, and even the dungeon itself has seen visual modification to make things work a smidge better (the time of day has been altered from a permanent high noon to sunset, bathing the slightly-dated Cata-era textures and modeling in a smooth golden glow).

These dungeons don’t feel out of place with the design philosophy of the modern game at all, which is probably either the biggest compliment or the biggest insult I could pay them, depending on if you like the current game or not, but assuming you’re playing retail in 2023, this is good. In fact, my favorite conspiracy theory in my head right now is that if Blizzard was to stop new active content development for WoW, the current state would be a decent model for it – with Classic to pick up the old-heads and a retail-lite seasonal model where old content is cycled in and out in packs of dungeons, retuned and retrofitted for Mythic Plus (and hell, let’s do raids while we’re at it). Vortex Pinnacle was one of my absolute favorite dungeons of all time, to the point that I used to listen to the song from it at work in moments demanding calm and a high level of focus, so getting to play a modern take that still feels pretty close to the original is genuinely great. Even the dungeons I loathed in the recycle pool, Freehold and Underrot, are much better in these slightly-tweaked forms and I enjoy them vastly more compared to their BfA iterations. A part of it is losing the stinky Teeming affix (both dungeons were densely-packed nightmares on those weeks in BfA), but the general tuning of abilities and such also helps!

And this season also marks an interesting point – with a Cataclysm dungeon successfully brought into Mythic Plus, we now have a template for what it looks like to take a dungeon with no prior timed-mode design (Challenge Mode or M+) into M+, and that opens up a lot of prospects for the future in the old dungeon pools. If 10.2 is indeed an Emerald Dream patch, we could see Darkheart Thicket from Legion, sure, but we could also see Sunken Temple, maybe? If we have a Red Dragonflight patch at some point, Grim Batol could return in M+, dragons in general could use the War of the Ancients – a lot of possibilities open up.

The Upgrade System of 10.1

Flightstones? Crests? I’m just trying to do dungeons here!

Okay, so the new upgrade system – I’m of two minds about it.

On the one hand, it is genuinely an improvement over Valor in a ton of ways – raid gear viability, number of upgrades, the discount system – all of it flows into a rapid burst in power, which saw my raid main gain 8 item levels in an easy week of pushing. Flightstones don’t feel bad at all as a currency, and while Crests are overcomplicated, they’re more permissive than old Valor and the encouragement is there to play your characters more without an arbitrary rating requirement for high-tier upgrades – you want Heroic raid level loot, do content on that level, without needing to think about what rating equates to that.

On the other hand, the way this model is tiered and broken down is needlessly overcomplicated. There are 5 name descriptors for type of loot and 4 crest types, and there’s overlap in gear levels, and you have that one weirdo in your group that insists on using the name referrers so he has to ask if X content drops Champion loot, and you’re still trying to understand what that means and he refuses to search it himself, and then there’s confusion over when/how you reach discount breakpoints in some slots, not to mention that there is a way to not spend crests if you have previously on an identical upgrade in the same slot, but only on that character even though people confusingly thought it was account-wide, and the system makes so much sense in the raid context but almost none in the Mythic Plus context and it’s possible to waste a crest but also not really, so some people are being excessively stingy with crests while others are spending that shit up like it’s going out of style. Basically, it’s Blizzard – the system makes sense through a funhouse mirror and once you distort your view accordingly, you’ll get it, but until then, it is a headache to navigate, even if a trip to the upgrade vendor simplifies it a lot by answering the can I/can’t I question of upgrading. Both the caps and the costs are generous and permissive of much more upgrading than even uncapped Valor last season, so hey – it’s still a win, but an iffy win.


This week is kind of a poor point of comparison, because the affix mix for week 1 has been straightforward to a fault, but the affix revamp is measurably an improvement in my eyes. By remixing and reordering the affix pool and removing seasonal affixes, each affix added means more when it hits and changes gameplay, but the affixes this week have also been exactly what I want from the affix system – they don’t become the only thing I have to think about, but they definitely supplement the dungeon in smart ways. In Freehold, Storming is genuinely hair-raising because of careful pull routing and ledges, but that still boils down to how the dungeon is laid out and not just the affix, and Raging means that you have to think harder about how you manage a pack where CC is required as a stop mechanism for certain casts – again, it accentuates the dungeon design without consuming it and becoming the thing you’re counterplaying. We still, to this point, do not have the affix rotation calendar, so who knows what fresh hell awaits even just tomorrow, but so far, I like the new implementation – it hits the mark for me and makes the dungeons more interesting without taking away from them.

My Goals

I know that my goals for M+ this season are slightly insane, and that’s fine. This first week, though, I chased them adequately and I feel really good about my progress. I will hit KSM on my Monk with reset day, there is no question now about that, because even a full round of like +5 keys will give me the rating I need in all likelihood. It’s felt really good to push harder than ever before on these goals and to maintain high rating, high ranking, and to be far ahead of the curve on gearing my raid main. Playing so many characters has given me a lot of valuable perspective on the dungeon pool this season and I look forward to the ways in which this will help me as an effective raid leader.

It’s been a lot of fun too! One thing that was a genuine worry with setting such ambitious goals for myself was that I might burn out on the game or M+ in general, and neither has been even close even in a week where I did over 40 keys. In fact, having my alts spun up and chasing has felt really good – it’s the most alt play I’ve done since Legion, enabled by the fact that gear is the sole power gaining vector in my character progression and so I know that pushing keys will push me towards these goals without having to do anything else outside of it (although there is stuff like the Loamm weekly and the Fighting Is Its Own Reward quest that are worth doing at times!). I’ve really had a blast seeing each of the dungeons from a handful of perspectives and being able to judge how classes and specs feel on my own merits instead of just watching a tier-list video and feeling bad for some specs.

What’s more, my charity fundraiser 12 hour stream on season launch day doubled its goal, raising $500 for the Autism Society of America and causing me only minor physical harm, dairy stench, and gastrointestinal duress, and it may become a season launch ritual with that level of success. Overall, just one week in, it has been a tremendously fun season and I feel great about what it is to come.

Next Week

I have 15 Great Vaults to open. That is the first time that has ever happened to me and it feels…daunting, but in a good way.

Likewise, I have an easy downhill segment to push to KSM on my monk with the reset. Even if I just put up a +10 or +12 per dungeon on Tuesday, I can easily get my Keystone Master achievement and my omnitoken for tier, and anything beyond that on my main monk will push me into Keystone Hero gap-closing, which is a better outcome than I expected with my initial goal setting.

Now that the early-season jitters (and fixes) are out, I plan to spend more time focused in and running dungeons in the coming week, putting up higher keys, higher rating, and pushing gear on my stable of characters ever higher. Why? Because I can, but because of how I’m wired…I just like doing keys. A lot. Doing keys alone is my happiest place in WoW, because there’s no need to do anything but join a group and test my limits, and for as much as I enjoy raid nights with my team or hanging out, sometimes there’s just something oddly soothing about struggling against hard content in solitude and solace.


3 thoughts on “My Early Experience in Dragonflight Season 2 Mythic Plus

  1. Wait, this stuff is supposed to be getting easier with each season? Oh dear… 😂

    My casual friend group’s experience with M+ this first week was an utter shitshow. During S1 when we first dipped our toes into M+, the first few levels seemed fine and it was only around hitting +10s that things started to fall apart. This time we struggled even with +2s. I was hoping that this was just the normal way of a new season…

    In Uldaman we wiped on the first boss because the fire/lava spout absolutely deleted all of our dps on the first attempt, though we still timed the dungeon easily. But in Vortex Pinnacle we failed even the +2 since we were utterly befuddled by that new mechanic on the dragon boss, the expanding circle that silences and kills you. I think it was after three or four confused wipes that I finally looked up a guide and was like “ohh, so that‘s what you’re supposed to do”. Clearly thinking that we’d know the fights since we ran this dungeon so many times back in Cata was foolish.


    1. Mathematically easier in scale sure, but the mechanics are tough if you haven’t seen them!

      I had an easy time because I watched a ton of the PTR stuff, predownloaded new Plater profiles and WeakAuras to point out bad stuff, and came in quick with new gear – all stuff that made them easier to figure out. Also, don’t worry too much about Vortex Pinnacle – it’s the key I saw bricked the most last week because the mechanics are so different in execution from the original that no one knew what was happening or why they were getting trucked by things, haha


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