With the holidays underway and the new year looming, Blizzard has finally broken the silence on the release of the most anticipated raid announced with Legion, The Nighthold. Normal and Heroic difficulties will unlock on January 17th, with Mythic and LFR unlocking in the following weeks. They've also stated they won't be releasing 7.1.5 in the middle of the progression race, so it's likely it will come before then in the first couple weeks of January.
Since WoW is currently still the most fully-featured, content rich game available to us as a guild we'll be continuing forward in Legion into 2017 and aiming for more fun, more progress, and more ass kickery. We'll revisit our game of choice as new MMOs release in 2017, but the current content cadence of Legion is a good sign for the continued viability of the game. And now is still a great time for anyone who's fallen off the Legion wagon or never hopped on to get into the game, because the next patch and raid will make gear and weapon catchup easy.
TL;DR: Nighthold gonna get got, 7.1.5 brings cool changes n shit, focus on weekly goals for quick gearing. Each of the sub-sections below is cross-posted to the forums for comments and discussion.
Nighthold will be a 10-boss raid and the first raid of the expansion to drop Tier gear, which contains 2-piece and 4-piece set bonuses that provide a powerful benefit to each specialization's core gameplay. There will be 6 pieces of gear for each class which gives you flexibility in choosing which 4 pieces you want to equip for the set bonus, so you don't have to worry if you happen to have two legendaries that overlap with the tier pieces (well, once you've aquired the full set anyways). You can also combine pieces from all four difficulty levels, so you can grab pieces from lower tiers while waiting to acquire them in higher ones.
The same set works for all specs on a given class and changes effect based on your current spec, so you won't need to acquire between 6-24 pieces for offspecs, just the 6 pieces. LFR drops 845 ilvl, Normal drops 875 ilvl, Heroic drops 890 ilvl, and Mythic drops 905 ilvl. All items can still Warforge and Titanforge, though I don't know if the new cap has been announced, it could conceivably be as low as 905 or as high as 920, with legendaries moving to above the new cap. You can preemptively check out your tier set bonuses on Wowhead.
We're aiming to recruit more players over the next few weeks to prepare for the release of The Nighthold, and invigorate our existing players who've gone on hiatus towards the end of this content cycle. It was unrealistic for us to aim for Mythic raiding during the first raid tier due to logistics (20-man requirement) and relative unfamiliarity with the game and its raiding, but numbers permitting there's a core of our players now that are equipped to set their sights on Mythic progress as the end goal. Having said that, we have to taper our expectations a bit given a few things:
- Our server cluster is not a prime destination for Mythic raiders, as evidenced by the fact the highest clear so far on our cluster is 4/7M EN (no M ToV progress) and most of those kills came after the guilds already had a net ilvl of nearly 880, so equivalent to the gear that drops, and a month or more after the raid dropped. I don't count Mythic Nythendra because she's a little bitch that PUGs have been able to do with 20 people.
- Our current raid schedule of Tue/Thu 7:30-10:00 PM PST, which constitutes a 2-day/5-hour raid week, is on the low end for a Mythic progression guild and we'd need to increase our days, hours, or both to make meaningful progress. Consider that there are 10 bosses and unknown trash in Nighthold, and that affords us roughly 30m per boss+trash in a given week, which is longer than it would take to one shot everything, but much shorter than it takes to progress.
- Most of our members have jobs, school, families, and other obligations which restricts their playtime in a given week, so the amount of time we have to farm gear in guild groups through Mythic+ is limited, meaning we enter each raid tier at a considerably lower net ilvl than hardcore Mythic progression guilds that play up to 16h/day.
- The strict 20-man, same server requirement on Mythic raiding makes building a roster a logistics and interpersonal nightmare. Toeing the line between being undermanned to raid any given night and having too many people sitting out, whilst also ensuring all roles are properly represented and maximized is not an easy undertaking.
To put it simply, the hardcore raiding scene in WoW is too hardcore to be competed with given standard life obligations and a reasonable raid schedule that balances game time with time for family and other hobbies or interests. I have no doubt many of our players current, and hopefully to come, could compete with those at the top in terms of execution, but that's only a small part of the equation for Mythic raiding.
The nice thing is that there's much more to the game than Mythic raiding, and no real pressure to begin it immediately upon the release of The Nighthold. None of us should at this point be tying our self-worth, enjoyment, or gaming acumen to raid ranking, since it's all relative to the time input of each guild. Heroic raiding is fun, Mythic+ dungeons are fun, PvP is fun, and it's all made more fun by playing with awesome people like those we've accumulated over the years. Mythic raiding will be fun too, if and when we get there.
So all of this in mind, here are my expectations as GM for this raid tier, and hopefully the guild can share in these reasonable and achievable goals:
- Clear Normal Nighthold within the first 1-2 weeks, or even the first day depending on tuning.
- Make meaningful progress each week into Heroic Nighthold, and have fun doing it.
- Aim for Mythic progress towards the end of the tier, if/when the logistics and gearing are sufficient.
- Do better than we did last tier, week to week, and continue that trend forward.
In the near future (hopefully), patch 7.1.5 will release, and with it comes a number of important changes to classes, gearing, catchup mechanics, and so on. Bellular has a nice video which covers a lot of it. There aren't patch notes yet, and the state of the PTR is still in flux, so don't take any class modifications as gospel just yet. You can read through various iterations and changes on Wowhead 7.1.5 articles or the transcription of the 7.1.5 Developer Q&A, but I'll summarize some of the more important ones here.
1. Artifact Knowledge: There will be new tomes that can be purchased at the Order Hall which accelerate Artifact Knowledge level gains, with different versions for new mains and for alts. Long story short, regardless of if you're new to the expansion/game or want to make an alt or switch mains, leveling your weapon up will be quick and easy. You can read more on specifics here.
2. Gear Stat Changes: Long story short, gear stats are being rebalanced with the goal of a 10+ ilvl upgrade always being an upgrade regardless of secondary stats. This necessarily means a rebalancing of the stat weights on gear and how secondaries and primaries provide combat benefits. It remains to be seen how well the rebalance works, but the end goal is that classes do similar damage post-patch as pre-patch, and you no longer have situations where you can't equip an 880 piece over the 850 you have on because it doesn't have a specific secondary that's core to your specialization, while still having secondaries matter when comparing same ilvl items. If they can pull that off it will be a very beneficial change to spec play and gearing.
3. Class Changes: There's some minor and some major tweaks being made to classes with the new patch, though the state of balance is still quite volatile. The end goal is better parity between specs in the same role and a better feel for some specs play, though you should still expect to see different classes excel in different situations (ex: DH AOE burst, Hunter AOE sustain, Rogue ST sustain, Warlock cleave, etc). A compilation of all current changes on the PTR is available here, or you can read your class forums if you'd rather just see people complain that somehow everything is a nerf and the world is coming to an end (it's not, and all classes should wind up in a good place).
4. Legendaries: Some of the more outlier legendaries are being brought down, while others are being brought up. Additionally, some classes which relied on specific legendaries to be competitive are being buffed baseline while those legendaries are nerfed, with the intention of increasing their viability across the board. Additionally, a few new legendaries have been added for each class and in general.
5. PvP Season 2: Is actually already out now. So go get your rating up suckas.
6. Other Stuff: Some arena/battleground visual changes. Brawler's Guild is being added back with new bosses and rewards, in a new setting and with more than single player content. Mythic+ gear rewards will be rebalanced to coincide with Nighthold. Micro-holidays are a thing, they last a day or a weekend and are tied to in-game events, and they may have pets for Borken.
Weekly Gameplay and Gearing (PvE and PvP)
Outside of the weekly raids, I've noticed that some folks aren't really sure where to direct their efforts and seek their enjoyment, so I figured I'd go through the various other types of gameplay available and how to make the most of them for varying levels of effort or time investment.
Weekly Goals Summarized
- Attend the raids on Tue/Thurs!!! ==> Lots of loots, sometimes, tier pieces with Nighthold
- Complete a high M+ key for weekly (up to +12) ==> Guaranteed high ilvl loot in weekly chest
- Get 10 arena wins and push rating ==> Guaranteed high ilvl loot in weekly chest
- Do emissaries or M+ or arenas or whatever floats your boat otherwise
New Player Gearing
This is directed towards people who haven't started playing the game at the time of this posting, but may be considering it. Gearing is not that bad, just ask for help from the guild and we can gear you to a suitable ilvl in a reasonable timeframe. Gear sharing from a few M+ loot, a quick Normal EN raid run, and suddenly you're within striking distance of "the pack".
Don't feel intimidated about being behind, with 7.1.5 and Nighthold, you'll be able to catch up quickly on your artifact weapon just by doing world quests and spamming the Artifact Knowledge mission, and a run through Normal Nighthold will drop 875 gear, which at current is the average ilvl of the top 20 players in the guild.
Each week you'll receive a Mythic+ Keystone in the weekly chest, which is either a few levels below the maximum you completed the previous week (max +9), or if you didn't complete one the previous week you can get a low key (+2) from the chest at the end of the first Mythic/Mythic+ you complete that week. You can use this and build it up throughout the week, or you can forego it and just join other key groups. The affixes are different each week, and some weeks are better than others for pushing high keystones. They follow this rotation:
Good Weeks (spam high M+): Bolstering/Overflowing/Tyrannical (spread dmg, don't overheal), Sanguine/Volcanic/Fortified (kite out of pools, dodge floor lava), Sanguine/Overflowing/Tyrannical (kite out of pools, don't overheal)
Okay Weeks (spam like good or weekly like bad, depends on group): Bolstering/Skittish/Fortified (spread dmg, watch threat, bring a hunter/rogue for threat xfer), Teeming/Skittish/Fortified (careful of pulls with added big threat mobs, watch threat, bring a hunter/rogue for threat xfer), Raging/Volcanic/Tyrannical (stun at low health, dodge floor lava)
Bad Weeks (just aim for weekly): Raging/Necrotic/Fortified (tank has to kite 15+ stacks, stun at low health), Teeming/Necrotic/Tyrannical (tank has to kite 15+ stacks, careful of pulls with added big threat mobs)
You should plan your weekly maximum goal for each character around their current ilvl and try to be realistic, even though a fresh 110 could be hard carried through a +12 it's unlikely and takes an 890+ group. I aim for a +12 on my characters 880 or higher, +10 on characters 870 or higher, +7-9 on characters 860 or higher, +4-6 on characters 850 or higher, and whatever I can manage if they're below that. The weekly chest is by far the best way to progress your character consistently, and it only gets better when in 7.1.5 all those 880+ pieces in your bank become better due to the secondary stat changes.
If you have more time than just for the weekly, you should either look to run high keys (relative to your ilvl) for artifact power and higher base ilvl loot (type # in search bar etc), or look up specifically which gaps you need to fill and which dungeons drop them and join whatever they highest key for that dungeon is that will take you. For example, much of the well itemized gear for Guardian Druid is in Eye of Azshara, so I may search for that instance specifically and apply to all groups above +8 when spamming M+ on my main.
Using Your Key vs. Joining Groups
First of all, you need to be willing to PUG, and it's sometimes better to start groups than join them as a DPS, using your own key or advertising to "build a carry group" and look for keys. As a tank or healer you have plenty of options and are probably better off joining key groups since you don't have to use your own key. If you do form a group to run your key, one thing you can do is armor stacking, try and invite as many people of your armor type as you can and as high ilvl as you can so you can share loot (or mooch loot). I also recommend checking out the Premade Groups Filter addon, and trying a string like the one mentioned here to filter better.
There's currently a prevalence of "carry groups" looking to run keys, which consists of a tank/healer/dps/dps, generally mythic raid geared, who will invite you and 3-chest your key (generally, some suck occasionally). For lower keys below +10 I recommend utilizing these groups because you cut out uncertainty in pushing your key up. It may take several applications to get in a group, and you may wish to look up the group leader on wowprogress to ensure they're actually high ilvl, but once you get in it should be a smooth 6 chances at loot. Bear in mind you will always see groups willing to run Maw of Souls, and you'll see some willing to run Darkheart Thicket, Court of Stars, and select others (different groups have different motivations). But if you have Black Rook Hold, Halls of Valor, or The Arcway, you'll probably have to form a group normally to push it up at least +1 for a dungeon reroll, which isn't that hard if you don't just invite the first DPS that apply.
Aside from that, looking to use your high keys to run full or partial guild groups to get people their weekly chest is a good idea, or simply to enable all loot acquired to be circulated within the guild. At this point I'd consider anything above a +7 to be a "high key", though some of the more geared guild members would say above a +10 is a high key. But don't get too hung up on that, since if needed we can always form 4-man groups to fish for keys to run, so use your key as you see fit throughout the week to best acquire items for you.
PvP (Rated BGs, Arenas)
The two primary forms of PvP are Battlegrounds (10v10) and Arenas (2v2, 3v3). I'd encourage everyone to queue them just for the fun of killing people, and we definitely need to do more PvP as a guild since we've neglected it while coming up to speed on the PvE. In addition to killing people and gaining honor and prestige levels, you can also progress your character meaningfully by doing PvP in a smart way.
Daily Rated BG wins afford a large chunk of Artifact Power, significantly more than any other daily reward, so they're a good thing to target for consistent AP gains, and more fun than world questing. However, bear in mind that you need to win to get the daily bonus, so your mileage may vary on how quickly they pay off. Queueing up with other experienced players by finding a group is advisable.
In addition to that, there's a weekly chest from Arenas just like there is from Mythic+ dungeons, with the following reward levels for Season 2 (much higher than Season 1, and Season 2 has already started!):
All of these can Warforge and Titanforge, and as you can see the tiers above 2k rating are quite good indeed. It's not "easy" to get to 2k rating per se, but you'll get gear as you rank up and once you reach higher rating levels you just have to maintain your rating through a quest requiring 10 arena wins each week to keep getting high weekly rewards.