BDGG Thoughts on Mythic Sanctum of Domination and the Race to World First
Sanctum of Domination had its 20th world kill on July 30th, and now that we’ve had time to sit down and rest, it’s time to do a recap of what happened in this race. There were class surprises, vastly different boss strats, and a shakeup in the guild that holds the world first belt.
I’ve sat down with the leadership of
who ranked world 4th in this tier to get some deeper insight into how this race felt.
- Melee officer for BDGG, typically a Death Knight but mained Ret Paladin for this tier
- Main tank and GM. Plays every tank, but was primarily on a Death Knight
- Shadow priest and officer, this tier came through on his boomkin
- Healing lead officer, plays a variety of healers but typically mains Disc Priest
- Strategy lead and analyst. Plays a large part in developing strategies with the raid team.
What Went Well
Let’s start with what went right about the raid. For anyone who watched the race to world first closely, they’ll have noticed that the first 5 bosses of the raid ramped nicely up to
. Something that is notably different in this raid, is the pull counts throughout the instance, with a noticeable spike in the middle of the raid then a dropoff until
You can see the hours spent on each boss by
below. Sylvanas and Painsmith alone make up for more than half of all of progress.
Image Credit: Warcraft Logs
But this is a good thing. Most raiders considered
to be their favorite boss of the instance. And as
pointed out immediately he loved that there weren't multiple bosses that required 100+ pulls and were 10+ minutes long.
The first 6 bosses of this raid had a really good difficulty curve and interesting design. The design team also made some very creative design choices which definitely showed on some of the bosses. Painsmith and Fatescribe are both bosses that can't really be compared to many bosses from previous raids.
As far as BDGG is concerned though:
I think my answer here has nothing to do with the raid, it's more seeing us play closer to our potential, and seeing all the work we've put in after last tier start to pay off.
Best part of the raid by far was getting to do so well this tier while also being a part of the best group of guys around. Love my boys :)
There are always class shakeups with the release of every new tier, but there were some notable ones this time around that left a lot of people caught off guard. There's a lot more to go into here, but most people ask about Venthyr Balance Druids and Enhancement Shamans.
Probably the biggest factor that made Druids such a huge part of this raid was its unique demand for
was utilized heavily throughout every encounter in Sanctum of Domination, but it was especially valuable on the 2 most difficult bosses.
Sylvanas was unique in that movespeed was an increase in dps in a few situations, and some of her mechanics were almost impossible to dodge for some classes and covenants without movespeed of some kind. This made druids extremely useful and given that their damage profile was one of the best for the fight, it made it extremely easy to slot in as many as you had. We had a pretty small roster going into the tier, so it was difficult to get too many Druids. We went into the tier with 3 (2 main and 1 alt) and pivoted a Shadow Priest into a 4th druid mid tier once we saw how overpowered shard sets are and the druid alt also had the unholy shard set.
But another thing that really brought druids to the front line was just their damage profile. They excel at basically everything you want on Sylvanas.
Great spread cleave for Dominations Arrows and Phase 2's adds
The highest single target burst potential in the game right now
Multiple usages of 3m cooldowns in Phase 3
Splitting / staggering druid cooldowns to carry specific parts of the fight
They provide more utility than any other class in the raid through
, and most importantly for this fight their exceptional off-healing capabilities. Tie that all together with them being virtually invincible when not inside
and tanking every mechanic to their deaths :) (: Boomkins are unique in that they are extremely sick and extremely cringe at the same time.
Not only do you have to run a 5k for Phase 2, but we knew Veils were going up in size in Mythic. Combine this with
for Domination Arrows in Phase 1, good single target damage (especially for add sets in Phase 2 to skip orbs, etc) and being a very tanky class, and you get it.
We've been publicly calling them the best class in the game for awhile, so we went in with plenty of options along with 3 people maining it. The switch to 4 happened later from a Shadow Priest since and we put a geared rogue in that slot.
is the Venthyr ability that go so much attention this race. In Sanctum of Domination most top druids went Venthyr for the increased damage and overall survivability, but it came at a cost. The balance rotation became more complex and punishing as a result, and many people decried that it was a "trap" near the end of the tier. In retrospect, BDGG tends to agree that if you're not comfortable with the changed spec, then stick with your familiar Night Fae builds.
Enhancement, What Happened?
It has been several tiers since an Enhancement Shaman was on the roster of a world first kill, let alone 4 of the top 5 kills. What made this class so strong so suddenly? Part of the answer lies in their existing utility of
, but there was also some fateful convergence with other melee classes becoming stronger this tier thus indirectly buffing
. When you consider how much damage they add to Warriors and Demon Hunters on top of their own damage, they are a huge damage boost to the raid. Some guilds were ready for this. Others, like BDGG, had to react quickly.
One of the reasons we decided to do splits early was because Enhancement Shaman was exceptionally strong and I made the decision that it was worth taking a risk on one of our mages playing it. He had never played melee in a progression setting but is a pretty good multiclasser and our initial read on Enhancement Shaman wasn't correct due to having someone less comfortable with the spec play it during testing.
We had briefly talked about running Enhancement during testing, but never fully committed to it. This was obviously an oversight, as it ended up being very strong on its own before even considering what it brings with Windfury Totem and its other utility. Luckily, Herus was comfortable enough to make a mid-prog swap to it. Big save by him.
Notable Strategy Changes
This tier stands out in that it had and continues to have multiple viable strategies for several of the bosses in the instance. This lead to some interesting internal testing and math where we had to decide what strategy we would commit to going into the first week of the raid. A good example is the
first kills using the trinket
to skip tank adds. Some of these got hotfixed right away, others patched on reset, and even weeks after the first kill, more unique strategies are being found.
I found that flexibility on strategy and being able to create strategies different from other RTWF competitors in order to kill most bosses the best part of the raid.
Solo Tanking Guardians of the First Ones
BDGG was the first guild to employ a solo tank strategy on
. What lead to this? You do everything you can to prepare for the next race, but once it starts, you are forced to work with what you have.
It was a strategy we immediately knew was possible on testing. Sloot was confident it would work assuming we had 3 BoPs available, which we would, and we knew that Guardian had the possibility of being the big DPS check of the tier, which meant optimizing for damage as much as possible. Losing a tank and running an extra dps felt like an obvious decision.
As for 5 healing, we'd done the math and knew that adding a healer meant more overall dps but we had lost our 6th healer too close to the tier and I felt confident that it wouldn't drastically affect our ability to kill it week one.
Guardians ended up not being the DPS check that everyone expected it to be, but that didn't mean it missed its mark. It was a very well designed fight, where adding a healer could actually net lower overall raid DPS. Healers will note that optimizing cooldowns on this fight around
made it one of the best in the raid.
The only real downside was losing raid utility from whatever tank I was going to be playing (
). But pretty much every fight after the first few looked like a dps check, so we always kick around 2-3 different plans.
Bosses That Stood Out
Every raid has its hits, so every raid also has its low points. Blizzard seems to have landed on this 10 boss format for a raid, and it can be easy to fall into a predictable format with that, but this raid definitely breaks any mold by avoiding a predictable ramp in difficulty through the instance.
Some Fell Short
Unfortunately there were three bosses that were undertuned;
just needed a bit more health to make the dps check relevant, otherwise it was a cool encounter design.
Unfortunately there is no middle ground for difficulty. The fight is either easy, or super difficult by the way the intermissions are designed. If you were unable to all go clockwise with the runes, it would require very specific raid coordination, making the fight way more difficult.
On the first week of progression, it was very easy because of the phase transition mechanic forgiveness they added this tier. Essentially, when certain bosses get close to pushing into a new phase they stop doing certain abilities. Out of all the bosses this was used most on KT to allow each phase to take exactly 3 minutes, making dps checks trivial. By the time everything was fixed 2 weeks later, everyone had so much gear that the dps check was trivial regardless of push timings.
taken an appropriate amount of time we were probably looking at a 10ish day tier for WF, which would've been right on the money. I think particularly KT let us down. We spent a lot of time coming up with intricate stuff for the boss, but the boss just kinda got deleted. Most of it was still relevant and very similar to what we did in prog, but it was just underwhelming.
But the day 1 bosses also saw some immediate hotfixes. BDGG decided to go to
first while other guilds went for Remnant of Ner'zhul. However about an hour into pulling we realized this was a mistake and changed bosses as well.
was massively different from testing, to an almost frustrating degree. Between testing and when it went live they changed so much that it went from a 1-2 pull boss to nearly-mathematically impossible and required nerfs on day 1. Getting to that boss and seeing that they'd changed all the timings as well as how hard the room AoE ticked for was pretty rough.
Others Were Great
definitely stood out as far as difficulty goes, considering he was harder than both both of the last two bosses. Mechanically I think this fight was sick, but it was a bit brutal to wipe to (for similar reasons as Xanesh from Ny'alotha where you just suddenly wipe).
As far as Sylvanas goes, phase 1 and 2 were pretty lame in my opinion, but Phase 3 made up for it, that phase was very fun.
From a design perspective
might be one of the best bosses I've seen in a long time. It was a perfect combination of ramping difficulty through the phases, an interesting intermission, and a good amount of personal responsibility to deal with mechanics.
On the other hand KT might be one of the worst penultimate bosses I've done in a while. With the week one strategy the raid spent 40 seconds every phase being afk to extend the phase to 3 minutes.
As expected, Painsmith will go down as one of, if not the best bosses this tier. But maybe not for tanks? We'll get more into tanks another day.
Most people are in love with Painsmith, I thought it was relatively boring from a tank PoV.
From BDGG's side, they consider this tier another in a long list of fantastic raid tiers that blizzard has released. It had a good mix of bosses and interesting class design, but also left a lot to talk about in the wake of the Shards of Domination system. Seeing the world first kill by Echo in the first reset caught many people by surprise. Will blizzard aim for the 10-14 day length of tier for world first next time?
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