An Inside Look: Mythic+ Changes in Patch 9.1

Patch 9.1 brings a sweeping set of Mythic Plus changes. As always, the Seasonal Affix is rotating, but in addition, there are an unusually large number of tuning adjustments coming to the dungeons that will affect Affixes, Trash mobs, and Bosses. Patch 9.1 will also introduce in-game Mythic Plus Rating, which will become the new way that the Keystone Master reward series is earned. There are also some sizable quality of life changes coming in the form of a new NPC, Ta’hsup, who will provide several useful Keystone services.

Class Tuning is also coming in 9.1, as are several new items and systems that will change the landscape of Mythic+ indirectly — these are outside the scope of this article, but Blizzard has released a full list you can check out here.

Several of these changes will occur when Patch 9.1 hits, but several more are delayed until the week or two after. Check out this post for timing details!

Table of Contents

Hello Tormented, Goodbye Prideful!

The new seasonal affix is called Tormented, and it’s taken several lessons from how previous seasonal affixes have functioned. Like the BFA Season 4 affix, Awakened, it consists of four Lieutenants being added to each dungeon. They follow similar rules to Prideful in that they don’t reset health if you wipe to them, and they have True Sight, so you can’t just sneak by them (without a little extra work).

They also offer both a “carrot and a stick” incentive to kill them — the carrot is Anima Powers, where each Lieutenant offers each role a predetermined choice between 3 Anima Powers. It’s worth noting this choice does not appear to have any RNG, quelling a common concern players voiced before the Affix was fully revealed. Each Lieutenant has several abilities that have been expanded over the past few weeks of PTR builds, and they also each have an Aura: Ticking Damage, 50% Slow, 50% Less Healing Taken, and 50% Increased Physical Damage Taken. These Auras are active on the final boss of the dungeon unless you defeat the corresponding Lieutenant.

This affix shows a lot of promise for high-end keys, offering enough incentive to engage with the minibosses that the meta is less likely to become as geared towards skipping the affix as it did during Prideful. It’s worth noting that several end bosses are quite doable with the less impactful auras, like the 50% Slow, and it may still end up being a time save to skip the associated Lieutenant in higher keys. For weekly keys and players looking to increase their score, the affix is also likely to play quite nicely, as it offers solid amounts of flexibility and, in many dungeons, you can gear up with several useful Anima Powers before engaging the hardest parts of the instance.

Affix Tuning

The Seasonal Affix row isn’t the only one seeing changes this time around. An important note from the Patch Notes is that “The weekly affix rotation has been updated,” which is intriguing. Perhaps weeks like Tyrannical/Bolstering/Necrotic are going away, but it is also potentially bad news for the best push weeks such as Fortified/Bursting/Volcanic. With in-game incentives to play on both Tyrannical and Fortified weeks being added (more on that below), it makes sense that the other imbalances in the affix calendar are being examined. However, it would definitely represent a big change if keys become relatively similar difficulty on all weeks rather than the current push week / okay week / dead week paradigm.

Several specific affixes are also being tuned — the biggest changes are coming to Storming, which is now slower and more predictable, and will also despawn after connecting with a player. This change goes a long way towards helping melee players and melee-heavy groups compete on those weeks, which is a very welcome change in an expansion that has taken several melee-unfriendly steps.

Three other affixes received smaller changes:

  • Bolstering now only grants 15% Health and 20% Damage, down from 20% Health & Damage. This is unlikely to change much fundamentally about the affix, with the same nightmare scenarios being equally damning, but some of the affix’s bite has been reduced.
  • Necrotic is now applied on every other autoattack from Level 61 monsters, which means most of the bigger CC-immune things but not the smaller bread-and-butter monsters. This behavior has existed for Bosses since BFA, but is now being extended down slightly to some of the trash. However, this may be the least impactful of the affix changes, as Necrotic was usually most impactful in pulls comprising largely of the level 60 mobs, which will remain unchanged.
  • Finally, Raging is getting nerfed to a 75% damage increase down from 100%, which should help reduce the punishment for not having a Hunter, Rogue, or Druid on hand to soothe it. This also represents a small nerf to strategies like intentionally enraging the Flesh Crafter in The Necrotic Wake, and any similar strategies that involved using the extra damage output to increase the damage monsters did to other monsters.

Trash Tuning

The biggest news here is a blanket nerf to all auto-attacks (Trash & Bosses) — 10% less damage will be coming from Autos. This goes a long way towards helping out the tank specs that struggle with the heavy incoming auto-attack damage, especially on pull, of Shadowlands dungeons.

Reading through the patch notes, you’ll also find “Mythic+ dungeon's enemy damage has been increased by 35% and enemy health increased by 39%.” This is a standard change in every new patch; it is the “scaling up” that means a given level key remains roughly the same difficulty even after we’ve gained 26 item levels across our characters. The numbers here are in line with what they usually are for this sort of change, though it’s interesting that Blizzard has decided to scale up health a little bit more than the damage.

Dungeon by dungeon, we have a series of relatively minor changes, mostly nerfs, to specific Trash enemies. In Halls of Atonement, the mind-controllable gargoyles have seen another damage nerf, which turns into a difficulty increase rather than decrease for most groups, since the gargoyles usually fight for us rather than against us. Shards of Halkias have also been changed to deal less Thrash damage, but in a wider area, making the common outrange strategy less viable. It’s likely that a new Line-of -Sight based strategy will be adopted to handle this damage that remains deadly in higher keys. Wicked Bolts have also been tuned up, which turns the already dangerous casts into must-interrupts.

In Mists of Tirna Scithe, a few enemies have gained a little health, and the Bucking Rampage ability in the maze, the big circle around enemies that knocks you back and deals heavy damage, will now trigger its cooldown at the start of the cast, which means you can stun it or otherwise interfere with the cast and it will not instantly re-cast.

Plaguefall has seen a massive nerf to the Plagueborer strategy, with most of the Rigged Plagueborers in the dungeon being replaced with Wretched Plagueborers, their non-exploding cousins. The gauntlet Plagueborers continue to be Rigged, but they’ve been limited to only a few spawns (4 total waves from last known PTR data). This will fundamentally change the way trash is approached in Plaguefall by higher-end teams, though many weekly key groups will likely not feel much of a difference.

Sanguine Depths has had several small nerfs to trash mechanics, with the most notable being that Vestiges of Doubt no longer cast Growing Mistrust, the extremely large puddle of gunk on the ground before the second boss that ticked for heavy damage if you put so much as a toe into it. This change provides a lot of relief to melee players who otherwise lost a tremendous amount of uptime in that section of the dungeon to those puddles.

Boss Tuning

Bosses have also been affected by the general tuning changes this patch — the 10% less auto attack damage, as well as the “scaling up” buffs of 35% damage and 39% health. In general, this means that bosses will feel a little less lethal and die a bit slower, once you’ve gotten the keystone level to a similar difficulty as before. A big change for several boss fights will be the fact that the buff from killing Prideful is no longer there to nuke down the boss. For the later bosses in the dungeons, this will largely be offset by the fact that you’ll have 3 or 4 Anima powers on each player in the group, but for the earliest bosses in each dungeon, there’ll be the biggest relative buff from the seasonal affix rotation.

With that in mind, many of the specific boss nerfs make a lot of sense — several of the hardest bosses that appear early in dungeons have been targeted for nerfs, such as Kryxis the Voracious and Executor Tarvold in Sanguine Depths, Globgrog in Plaguefall, Ingra Maloch in Mists of Tirna Scithe, and both Hakkar and Dealer Xy’eva, one of which is usually the first boss, in De Other Side.

Other nerfs have landed on Amarth in The Necrotic Wake, which should make the boss a little less punishing to fight without a weapon, as well as Nalthor the Rimebinder, who has had further changes made so that it is less punishing to players targeted for Dark Exile. Xav the Unfallen has had another Banner Health nerf, while Xira the Underhanded has been added back into the game in the first boss fight in Theater of Pain — the only buff to a boss encounter and certainly not something that should change the fight’s status as one of the easier fights this expansion. Finally, Ventunax in Spires of Ascension has had a nerf that will dramatically reduce the difficulty of longer fights, as it now despawns all existing void zones at the end of each Recharge, effectively capping the number of active void zones at 2 (down from 4).

In-game Mythic+ Rating

Two months ago, we were able to reveal that Blizzard will be adding Mythic Plus Rating to the game directly. This new system has had several further discoveries made surrounding it since then, here’s what we know:

  • Score will be visible to both group leaders and group applicants in the in-game LFG window.
  • Score will increase linearly rather than exponentially, which is different from the RaiderIO Score system that gave increasing amounts of points per level as the key level got higher.
  • Time within the keystone is worth minor bonus points, similar to RaiderIO Score, with a big rating penalty if the timer is depleted.
  • There’s a bonus 2 key levels (15 points) worth of score available for each key you can get over the +10 level.
  • You will gain points for your Best Tyrannical and Best Fortified runs. The formula for this will be calculated for the higher run, and then you’ll also gain rating from the lower of the two at about one third value.

This in-game Mythic+ rating will be used to determine the Keystone Master achievement, with a score of 2000 points being required for the achievement as well as the top level Valor Upgrades associated with it. This is achievable with roughly 15s in every dungeon on both Tyrannical and Fortified, but there is some flexibility here. You can do some higher keys in some dungeons or either affix in order to make room to do less of the other dungeons or affix.

In related news, all item level rewards from Mythic+ have been scaled up by 26, with a slight re-adjustment to the pacing per keystone level. That means End of Dungeon loot now caps out at +14 instead of +15, but Great Vault loot now caps out at +15 instead of +14.

It is also worth noting that Blizzard have added Dungeon Teleports as a prestigious top-end reward for Mythic Plus: “Hero's Path: Shadowlands – Completing each Mythic+ dungeon at Level 20 on time will now grant an achievement and a teleport to the completed dungeon's entrance. The teleport has an 8 hour cooldown that resets after completing a Mythic+ dungeon.”

Ta’hsup, the Keystone NPC

Soon to become everyone’s favorite Ethereal, Ta’hsup is arriving in Oribos with several quality of life features. First off, he’ll offer you a keystone if you don’t have one, provided you’ve done at least one Mythic+ Dungeon on that character. Secondly, he’ll allow you to lower the level of your keystone rather than having to awkwardly start and then reset dungeons until your key is at the desired level.

The biggest function of Ta’hsup, however, comes at the end of successful dungeons, where he’ll arrive and offer “a one-time Keystone exchange to any player whose current Keystone is at or below the level of the dungeon that was recently completed on time. Keystones that are a higher level than the dungeon that was recently completed on time cannot be traded, including the Keystone that was used to start the run.” This welcome change will allow you to turn your key from a dungeon you’d rather not run into another random dungeon, which helps players who are hunting specific items as well as players who just have a dungeon or two they’d rather not do as frequently.


About the Authors

Dratnos hosts the The Titanforge WoW Podcast. He’s also an Officer in the World 36th guild poptart corndoG, and a commentator for events such as the MDI and the Race to World First! He streams on Twitch, where he likes to review his friends’ logs.

Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.