RWF Player Perspectives: Heroic Castle Nathria Tuning

Every time a new raid releases, we get a one-week sneak peek at the various bosses and encounters on Normal and Heroic mode before Mythic gets released the following reset. Of course there is beta testing to get an idea of what certain bosses might do, but not until the raid actually launches on live do we get the full understanding of the fights we’re up against.

During the Race to World First (RWF), the best players from around the globe use this first week of raid release to focus on getting as much gear as possible in preparation for Mythic. They also use it to learn what they can about the encounters and begin to devise their strategies for the following week. One thing that can influence these strategies is the difficulty level of the Heroic raid. The ease or difficulty with which guilds make their way through each raid on Heroic can give a sense of what kind of gear levels will be required for Mythic, which mechanics will be the hardest to manage, and more.

At first glance, Castle Nathria appears to be tuned higher than many of the previous tiers, with Heroic difficulty taking two full days to be cleared. Of the five raids in the last expansion, all but one (the Eternal Palace) was fully cleared on Heroic difficulty within the first 24 hours of release. We decided to ask some of the raiders that will be competing in the RWF for their perspective on the tuning of Castle Nathria on Heroic difficulty and what it might mean for Mythic. Here, you’ll hear some thoughts from members of BDGG, Aversion, Pieces, and Lazarus Imperative.

Have you tried Heroic Castle Nathria yet? Let us know what you thought about the difficulty level over on Twitter. Stay tuned on Raider.IO for live global coverage of the Castle Nathria Race to World First, including more player insights and interviews!


Jones: Heroic tuning? First thing that comes to mind is the missing difficulty “curve” that Blizzard is always trying to create. Wing 1 (Huntsman, Hungering Destroyer, Lady Inerva Darkvein) is much harder tuned than Wing 2 (Sun King, Artificer Xy’mox, Council of Blood). With Sludgefist coming next, you can really feel Blizzard’s mindset of reducing loot amounts. We had issues with raw DPS and HPS requirements on that fight. We did not have any Legendaries built and none of the characters we were on had killed any Heroic bosses previously, thus we had no Heroic loot in the raid either. However, I cannot think of another raid where we have needed to “play” the game on Heroic difficulty, and actually discuss DPS and healing cooldowns, positioning, etc.

With Huntsman getting hotfixed already, and requiring only time and gear to deal with the DPS/HPS requirements of Lady Inerva Darkvein and Sludgefist, more nerfs are not necessary in my opinion. I think the current Heroic tuning reflects the need of gear, which will be the same in Mythic. None of the bosses are really hard mechanically, you just need to make sure to get as much gear as possible. In the past, these “gear-checks” were mostly reserved for later bosses, which I feel is not going to be the case in Castle Nathria.

Droin: Lady Inerva Darkvein is tightly tuned. I am expecting some kind of nerf in the upcoming days. Raid-wide damage is really high for it being a Heroic difficulty boss, and the DPS check isn’t “free” either. You have to play the boss mechanics clean otherwise you will have some dead players, or you might even wipe if you do not handle the canisters well.

Council of Blood is tuned kind of hard as well. If you don’t have the DPS to push a council member to 50% or 0% to reset Oppressive Atmosphere, it can become a real threat pretty quickly and destroy the raid. We did not have many problems with this boss due to good overall DPS, but I can foresee guilds struggling here.

Sludgefist is tuned way too hard for Heroic in my opinion. I cannot remember a Heroic boss that forced us to play the mechanics so cleanly, assign healing cooldowns, and focus on our positioning for the best way to maximise our raid-wide DPS.

In general, I would say the Heroic raid is tuned just fine. There are some easy bosses and some hard ones. I really enjoy hard tuning, so my saying the tuning is “just fine” essentially means that it is hard. I don’t recall another Heroic raid being tuned this hard in the past. It is hard for me to guess what Mythic tuning will be after this Heroic week because the mechanics themselves aren’t that difficult, it is more so about the gear and putting out enough DPS and HPS. I am expecting Lady Inerva Darkvein, or potentially Artificer Xy’mox to be some kind of early road-block such as Fetid Devourer in Uldir or Ashvane in Eternal Palace, with Sludgefist being the first real wall of the raid. The benefit of Sludgefist being tuned so difficult on Heroic difficulty is that it forced us to play the mechanics super clean, giving us lots of practice for Mythic week.

All in all I would say if they manage to tune Mythic properly, we could be looking at a top 3 raid of all time!


Max: I think that the tuning of Heroic thus far is definitely a bit harder than the past few expansions of Heroic raids. That being said, it appears they tuned the raid to be cleared at a higher gear level than what many high-end guilds have available to them. I think some mechanics definitely need to be looked at, like Huntsman Altimor’s Sinseeker in large raids, and also the general scaling for a 30 person raid. Overall, I hope no changes are made to Heroic difficulty. I really like it and think it’s healthier for the game for Heroic to be more difficult. It also makes me very excited for the Mythic raid, even if the difficulty level might make it bleed over into Christmas.

Hippo: Overall I think the raid is tuned for Legendaries, and not being 40 item levels under the drop rate of the raid itself. For us at BDGG, doing armor stack splits made it harder, and guilds who were spreading out their splits armor-wise and having more mains in the raid had more success than us. I think the difficulty of the raid is definitely harder than other first tiers though, since I don’t see any way that a pug group could get AoTC. In previous tiers, people were not only pugging but also selling the raid the first week. Overall, tuning was tight but reasonable. I’m hoping that Mythic tuning is also this hard, which will give us a good progression tier ahead of us.

Psycho: I think that the current tuning for Heroic is definitely higher than previous tiers, but this is mainly because the later bosses are tuned around people having Legendaries and higher item levels. So while people are all watching the top guilds struggle pushing the later bosses, they need to keep in mind that they are attempting to do this while on under-geared alts without Legendaries. Overall, this raid has been incredibly fun, the boss fights are engaging and challenging, and I can’t wait to step foot into Mythic.

Sups: I think the current tuning is fun as a healer. It's been a while since fights legitimately challenged your overall hps. While it is not the hardest thing to heal in the world, it is refreshing to see healing be more worthwhile. There was a fear that you would just stack shamans and priests and absorb through everything, but I do not believe that will be the case. In terms of how the tuning of Heroic affects Mythic, I would not be surprised to see 5 healing being more common in Mythic than previous tiers.

Zephah: The tuning so far has honestly been a blast. Heading straight into Heroic, we weren't totally sure what to expect given our item level, and it was pleasantly challenging to me that the bosses did not just flop over in a day in base Mythic dungeon gear. I'd say it's tuned in the medium to hard range as you get towards the end, as it was difficult in lower gear but still possible for sure.

I think this tier has been a little more difficult than what we've come to expect in recent history from Heroic. Even the "easy" fights still present a challenge and Sire is pretty tough for a Heroic tier boss, maybe one of the hardest I've seen in an opening week. I personally prefer it, as I think the challenge is welcomed and it hopefully is a good sign to come for Mythic tuning.

I'm not sure at this point there's a whole lot I'd want nerfed/buffed. There have been some issues in the live versions of the fights, such as Sludgefist having a very faint ground mechanic that I believe was already changed—Sire Denathrius has been having sort of a repeat disconnect issue from past mechanics that worked in the same way. Outside of that, I don't think there's anything major I'd want them to change already. I think ultimately my hope is just that the raid is tuned well enough to create a competitive race.

If Heroic tuning has anything to say for tuning for the Race to World First, I think this tier might have a shot at being one of, if not the best tiers ever. It goes without saying that I hope this statement doesn't age like milk, but this tier has felt great so far and if Mythic tuning is anything like Heroic, I think we could be in for a competitive race and a solid tier.


Dan: I think Heroic tuning is fine. I think a lot of people are struggling because we’re extremely undergeared without crafted legendaries, and haven’t done Mythic+ yet. I mainly hope they will fix the red-on-darker-red visuals on the ground and some of the “no counterplay” mechanics that are happening such as getting stunned on Stone Legion Generals while the ground effect spawns under you, resulting in a one-shot. I think current tuning means the tier will not be a pushover, which I personally think is a good thing!

Bastu: Heroic this week has been far more challenging than previous tiers. The difference in power between the gear we have equipped and that from the Heroic raid is larger than ever, leading to the issue of a lack of numbers across the board. The raid seems to be tuned around having Mythic+ gear and Legendaries, but a lot of players in the top ranked guilds are also holding out on crafting Legendaries due to fear of tuning from Blizzard. The bosses will undoubtedly be nerfed in order to make it more accessible, and I expect the average item level to be a lot higher come the end of Heroic week due to locking into a main after the raid and farming Mythic+ and PvP. Because of this, I think Mythic tuning will not be as big a shock as Heroic was.

Lazarus Imperative

Fridays: So far, the tuning for Heroic Castle Nathria seems more or less spot on. The fact that it felt like gear mattered was a good sign in my eyes. On Heroic difficulty, Ny’alotha was extremely easy and you could clear it in a single run from day one. When it comes to Mythic tuning, I don’t know how much insight Heroic can actually give us. Those are two different levels. In Mythic, damage is higher, requirements become more strict, new mechanics are introduced, and so forth. The optimist in me wants to believe that Mythic will be a challenge for all of us, because that’s where the fun is at. What is clear though, is that this raid has potential to be one of the best raids in a very long time!

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About the Author

Hulahoops has been playing WoW since Vanilla. If she’s not leading her Mythic Progression guild TBD through raids, she’s probably practicing for the MDI with her team Angry Toast. Hulahoops is a Holy Paladin in every sense of the term: she moderates the Hammer of Wrath Paladin Class Discord, and she was a practicing Lawyer for the last 7 years. Judgment isn’t just a spell! Hulahoops recently decided to put the law books away and follow her passion for esports by joining the team at RaiderIO as the Events and Community Coordinator. She is also passionate about making Azeroth an inclusive, welcoming space for all gamers and is a proud co-founder of the Defias Sisterhood community.