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BDGG's Thoughts on Class Balance and Insights for Mythic Sanctum of Domination
vor 6 tagen
The sentiment for class balance in Sanctum of Domination is that class balance was a lot better and there were several notable mixups compared to Castle Nathria and that this tier was one of the best. It's always good to see players be able to play their favorite/main class and be viable without having to worry significantly about changing to an alt but let's break it down by roles.
Melee as a whole got a lot more attention in Sanctum of Domination compared to Castle Nathria. Death Knights being a little worse enabled a more diverse makup of melee overall, and the damage of nearly all other melee just got better. This lead to guilds trying to squeeze in as many melee as they could while still having the appropriate damage profiles for the difficult bosses.
While the class balance got changed drastically between tiers, it mostly ended up being determined by shard sets and gear rather than the entire class being good or bad. More on shards in a future article.
Since the launch of Shadowlands, the melee meta has largely shifted into the direction of bringing the classes with incredibly powerful raid utility, rather than a variety to cover different damage profiles. In Castle Nathria we saw this with top guilds bringing several Death Knights for the value of
. This meta will continue to shuffle between Death Knights, Warriors, and Demon Hunters depending on which class brings the most damage each tier.
For a melee class without utility to be brought to the raid at a world first level, they need to exceed by an incredible amount in a niche area, such as Rogues for boss damage. Ranged DPS don't have
, and bringing these additional CD's (and then buffing their damage via an Enhancement Shaman) is one of the main reasons I think you see guilds trying to squeeze in as many melee specs as they can.
One spec that was expected to perform extremely well was Fury Warrior, due to their new legendary that allows them to keep their cooldown up permanently during execute. Unfortunately with the Sylvanas design, they only get to execute in Phase 1, which makes them lose a lot of value. This fight design largely caused Warriors to pivot to Arms, a spec that doesn't lose a significant amount of damage without being able to Execute.
This is where Enhancement Shamans come into the mix, because Arms Warrior is the class that benefits most from
Totem des Windzorns
. On top of already doing competitive damage, Enhancement brought Windfury for 1 or 2 Warriors, and 1 or 2 Demon Hunters, which adds more damage to the raid than any one DPS class can by themselves (assuming DH and Monk debuffs are covered).
Ranged came into SoD in an interesting spot. Hunters were the favorites prior to testing, then saw massive nerfs, then saw some last minute buffs that made them strong (depending on gear/shards). Mages had more than 1 viable spec. Boomkins had drama surrounding their covenant and survivability. Overall, the ranged meta was quite diverse.
Boomkins and Covenants
One of the questions we received most during and after the race is: Why are boomkins dying so much? There were mumblings about changing covenants, but also druids were tasked with a lot of jobs in this tier. So the question remains, was Venthyr Druid or Night Fae Druid better?
Night Fae Druid ended up being better in the end because the amount of wipes it causes learning a new playstyle in progression turned out to be higher than the time save of having extra "potential" dps with the new spec that could not be practiced before the new patch came out. As far as class discussion is concerned, at the highest level bringing up to 3-4 movement speed increases was helping the DPS check of Sylvanas, and bringing more also helped consistency on that fight which made it incredibly strong paired with the damage profile of Boomkin being good for that fight in general.
BDGG Analyst and Co-GM
Venthyr Druid is fine, and in fact is likely to be the best Druid build and one of the best overall DPS builds during farm. It has incredible power, and a huge skill-ceiling when played correctly. The issue is that it is a high skill-cap build that is completely different from how Druids played Night Fae, which they only started to really play on day 1 of mythic progression with almost no practice. This meant they were playing a build that heavily rewards skill and intense focus during mythic progression without the muscle memory to back it up. Over time it will get better, but in the first couple of weeks it created this perfect storm that resulted in Boomkins just feeding more than anyone normally would because of their new build.
BDGG Officer and Raid Leader
As gear came in and the top 10 guilds cleared the instance, I think you saw a notable shift back to Night Fae druids which is to be expected. It does make you wonder about the role that covenants will play in the next race. Will last minute changes to covenant balances force players to be more adaptive and prepared?
came in with some very interesting thoughts about mages in particular.
is a prominent theory crafter in the mage community and a valuable contributor to SimulationCraft.
Going into Sanctum of Domination, Fire had been heavily nerfed and was looking unplayable in progression for top guilds due to its low single target damage; however, the damage of its single target spells was increased significantly just before the raid was released. This puts Mage in a very interesting position where all three specs are viable to play in this raid and have different strengths and weaknesses. Fire still does lower overall single target damage compared to Frost and Arcane, but is close enough that the strongest spec for a given fight tends to be based on how well the damage profile of each spec lines up with when you need to do damage on each fight. Arcane can use
between every 90 and 100 seconds depending on the number of
procs you get for
. Fire can use
around every 70 seconds thanks to
(sometimes more often with
Seele der Macht
), and Frost does consistent damage throughout the whole fight, but requires high uptime with
for pure single target situations to be competitive with Arcane. Each spec has a different ideal covenant to take full advantage of its strengths, so switching for progression on each boss was not feasible for us. For Fire you want to be Night Fae, for Frost you want to be Venthyr (but any covenant is fine for AoE heavy fights like Kel'Thuzad), and for Arcane you want to be Kyrian (Venthyr is also fine for single target fights). We used mostly Kyrian Arcane because it has both single target and AoE burst damage for situations like Sylvanas' Phase 2 burns and Painsmith's end of intermission adds, strong overall single target damage for fights like Guardian of the First Ones, and gains extra priority target damage when adds are stacked with the priority target thanks to
It will take some serious changes for Hpal/Disc to be taken off the top spot with shaman a close 3rd. I think any way you spin it the changes for Holy Priest, Resto Druid, and Mistweaver Monk to be meta would be adding some sort of raidwide damage reduction or unsurpassed HPS. But that’s not the only factor, we also see the 2 dominant specs bringing in very high DPS as well. What’s the answer?
Healer strengths fall into 3 categories. HPS, DPS, and Raid Cooldowns. You need to be strong in at least 2 of the categories, but ideally all 3. There is the possibility that the healing profile matches an encounter perfectly, but that’s pretty rare as most healers have tools for various situations.
Disc Priest and Holy Paladin... Again
The truth is the healer meta can’t change until the core issue is fixed. These healers just bring too much damage and utility, and it’s not like they are being challenged in HPS either. They hit the trifecta, and it’s hard to see how things can change while that's the case. Blizzard did come in with nerfs to
, but it still is extremely strong. Overall, it doesn’t seem that the balance team views healer DPS as an issue. When you stack Holy Paladins and Disc Priests, you essentially add 1-2 DPS to your raid comp for free. Until that changes, it’ll be hard to convince the top guilds to shift.
Of course, the above is still true for Resto Shamans as well. However bringing less DPS than the other two specs caused it to lose favour in the overall meta. With this tier being so focused on movement speed,
Totem des Windsturms
still made them a very strong choice, especially if you didn’t have enough druids. It will only take some small touches to bring them back to the top though.
Mistweavers on the Rise
Right now it seems that Mistweaver is the biggest contender to make it into the healing meta. As we’ve talked about, healer strengths fall into 3 categories. HPS, DPS, and Raid Cooldowns. Mistweaver HPS and DPS are actually very good right now. They do provide
debuff, and that allows for a more diverse raid composition, but it’s not quite enough on its own. We did see some Mistweavers on some early-ish Sylvanas kills though, so they are close.
Personally, I think
being an AOE cooldown could be just the trick to bump Mistweavers over the top. And let’s be real, the visual of something called Tiger’s Lust being a mouse-placed ability could be very very cool.
There was one notable front runner this time around. Prot Paladin made its return into the top tier of tanks, and it came down to fitting the needs of the instance very well. From the perspective of BDGG, we had put a lot of thought into tanking this tier and wanted to get the choices right.
Paladin was good for a few reasons: there were a lot of things to immune, both on the raid with
Segen des Zauberschutzes
and personally with
(KT frost blast, solo tank guardian, sylv stacks, running through balls on painsmith), does the highest amount of damage, brings off healing, and had a playstyle that allowed you access to all of that without falling into the "oh no, my shield of the righteous is down and I got one shot" trap that used to plague protection.
Our read on Protection Paladin was actually pretty good throughout all of farm. I think most tanks were pretty viable in this tier for different reasons and there was a lot of diversity in the top ranking guilds as well.
The second tank was different between the top 5 guilds, almost split evenly between Monk and DK. DK dealt with the whole of the Sylvanas fight very well, both with cooldowns and a frequent pre-immune for stacks, and has access to a 2m raid cd in
. There were some grip uses on Soulrender, KT, and Fatescribe. Also, the vamp blood legendary turns the cd into a little bit of damage for your demo locks, if that extra squeeze was needed (we ended up just playing destro, however). Dropping Blood for a BrM had to do more with raid comp. WW lacks in ST a little bit, which was what ended up mattering in the Sylvanas fight. BrM also handles a lot of the sylvanas fight well on it's own.
A lot of this was due to the nature of gear RNG this tier as well. Our BrMs got no shard sets, while my BDK had a set mythic week. Our WW was very geared with a shard set, so it didn't make a ton of sense for us to drop it to put in a class with slightly higher st and a tank doing ~1k less dps.
We had contemplated running a warrior as well, as Rally is potentially the strongest cd in the game, warrior has a decent toolkit defensively,
Banner des Eroberers
has decent dps value, and dps warriors were looking a little uncertain there for a bit without an execute phase on sylvanas. But Warrior is one of the worst tanks at the sylvanas fight, and with rally being a 3m while AMZ is a 2m, we decided that we would make a pivot to warrior if needed, rather than the other way around.
Well Balanced Selection
Tanks were incredibly diverse and well balanced this tier. Most guilds used a Prot Paladin for the immunities + damage, but you could have really used anything. DK and Warrior were both excellent options for the raid cooldowns, Monk does solid damage and has excellent utility, and Bear brings a 1-minute roar which is incredibly valuable on Sylvanas. Ranks could really play to their own strength this tier.
In terms of classes that were meta before and now are not: Vengeance. But mostly havoc is back as a good spec, and darkness was very good. Veng is actually still fine defensively, just maybe a little low on damage.
What do you think? Did any of your favorite classes and specs get extra love or left behind? Class balance is always changing in World of Warcraft, and many argue that this is a good thing. But is the reign of a few specific specs coming to an end? Time will tell.
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