Complexity Limit Post-RWF Interview

After a remarkably close Race to World First (RWF) in Sanctum of Domination, where only 0.4% separated first and second place, we chatted with silver medalists Siory, Eric, and Goop of Complexity-Limit about their experience and key takeaways. Despite the outcome, Complexity-Limit is determined to take back the world first title next tier. Look out, Echo!

Table of Contents

“I’m always hyped for the RWF. It’s the most unique experience in gaming. Losing has only made all of us more hungry to win it next time.” —Goop

Q: After watching the conversation between Rogerbrown and Max, Max mentioned that you didn't feel quite as prepared going into this RWF compared to previous tiers. Can you please elaborate on this? What were some of the biggest differences between your prep and Echo’s, and what would you change in retrospect?

Siory: While we did spend a similar amount of time testing, researching and talking about the bosses in the PTR phase, one area of prep where we definitely weren’t as diligent as we should have been was in testing the bosses post-release in Heroic week after we saw how significantly some of them were changed from PTR. This knowledge deficit was most apparent in our flawed understanding of Kel’Thuzad’s ability cycles. Also, it’s not something I’m involved with as much personally, but I don’t think we had as complete of an understanding as we would have liked of the power of Shards and some of the special weapons from the raid.

Eric: I suppose I’m missing some context on this question, since I didn’t get a chance to watch the conversation. I didn’t particularly feel our prep lacked or we were underprepared in that sense. Usually, our prep is extraordinary and we’re pretty good as a guild at leaving no stone unturned. Maybe this cycle we didn’t check every box, but I’d say for the most part it felt pretty normal.

Goop: Most of the Echo guys made “mirror mains” or duplicate characters of the same class in order to offset bad loot RNG. Many of us did this in Castle Nathria and dropped them for this tier because we felt the gains weren’t worth the time investment and the mental drain associated with maintaining 2/3/4 characters of the same class. Unfortunately, this was probably the wrong call because of the insane power of Shards of Domination and specifically the unholy set bonus. Even if you played a good class, there was a 0% chance you were going to be used for a single difficult boss if you did not have any of the 3 set bonuses, and the unholy bonus was by far the best for almost every DPS and healer in the game. Therefore, there was still a significant power difference between having that or one of the other two sets as well.

Q: How big was the impact of Shards of Domination in the race and what do you think of the system in general? Did you have many issues with specific players or even specs not getting the correct combinations and if so, how did that affect you?

Siory: I don’t think the Shards had all that much impact on the race, but the intrinsic problem with them is that they could have had a very large impact. The large amount of damage the unholy set (and only the unholy set prior to buffs) added combined with the relatively low health tuning of the raid could have lead to a situation where, if one guild got lucky with a large number of unholy sets, they would have a significantly easier time. While that didn’t happen, the power gains were still so significant that slotting decisions had to consider who had the set and who did not. I personally feel this is a massive problem with any new system of relatively untested borrowed power. The systems can’t be that initially imbalanced while simultaneously having such uneven methods of acquisition.

Eric: The impact of the Shards cannot be understated, specifically the unholy bonus during progression. A character with an unholy bonus vs a character without (even in some cases if said character had a frost or blood set) could be thousands of DPS, and when the damage check on Sylvanas week 1 was so tight, having the set could not be worth more.

Goop: The system was really horrible for RWF but overall isn’t as bad for the general playerbase. You will get all 9 shards within 2-3 weeks and then the only issue is looting the domination socket pieces to use your desired set. The double RNG acquisition is still a bit punishing though especially if you’re trying to start a fresh alt and I don’t think the system is very good overall. The bonuses are completely passive and don’t do anything to make your class feel better. The unholy bonus is also a huge eyesore. I hate the purple bullshit always swirling around my characters. Make it stop please.

Q: What were some of the biggest surprises in terms of spec selection/power or boss strategy prep from the PTR when you got to live?

Siory: In the context of what I do in the guild, the biggest surprises were in regards to how boss tuning changed from PTR to live. In particular, we were surprised by how many of the early bosses were tuned up significantly from PTR (in some cases only to be nerfed within the first week) and how the later bosses were tuned down or generally left in the same anemic state (e.g. Kel’Thuzad) as they were on the PTR.

Eric: I think we overrated a few classes and underrated a few others as well. It's always going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible to always nail every prediction going into a raid tier. Specifically, I think we overrated Demonology Warlock, and underrated Arcane Mage. I think for the most part with having such a large roster, we never really lose out because we have so much class coverage. And even in the few cases that some things are missed or overvalued, very rarely do those things end up costing you (rip G’huun). As for boss strategy from PTR to live, the obvious one was Kel’Thuzad, which ended up being a huge letdown. Once it was discovered that you could simply AFK and stop DPS, which would force the boss to simply repeat his ability pattern every phase, it made the fight a repeat of itself 3 times. The fight was a joke.

Goop: Arms warrior and Enhancement Shaman being strong were probably the biggest surprises. I don’t think we found that out until a couple of days before Mythic opened. Shadow Priest also ended up weaker than expected because they were undeservingly and randomly nerfed for a second time during Heroic week.

Q: Max has mentioned that you felt like you were always behind Echo this time around, which wasn’t the case last tier. How did that impact the way you played or your motivation if at all?

Siory: Being behind the RWF is definitely less interesting. Unless you’re extremely confident in having a significantly better idea or read on a fight, it’s far easier to just borrow the leader’s strats and try to catch back up trying to duplicate what they did without spending any of the time iterating to get to that point.

Eric: I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for myself I always stay focused on what is at hand and what we’re doing and not let our competitions' success or failure dictate my mental state. Nothing to blame this tier on other than we played pretty poorly and they played amazingly and it’s as simple as that.

Goop: I think decisions were made to cut a lot of our breaks short, which felt pretty random to me. I personally don’t get affected by stuff like “being behind” Echo or the race being close.

Q: The Boomkin effect — your choice of Venthyr starting with Kel’thuzad seemed significant. How much do you think it impacted how the race progressed and finished?

Siory: I’d posit that the Moonkin’s covenant choice had a non-negligible impact starting much earlier than Kel’Thuzad. Their damage profile, while somewhat similar, is so much more extreme as Venthyr. It’s so extreme that it affects when bosses need to be pushed or phased and has large ramifications if the Moonkin either dies or can’t maximize their output during cooldowns. There is also a very reasonable argument to be made that as Venthyr they have fewer survivability options for RWF-style progression where gear levels are low or bosses are full of one shots.

Eric: I’d disagree that it was significant. I don’t think our Moonkins playing Venthyr is what cost us the race. I still think playing Venthyr during progression was the correct call. Night Fae is simply “easier” because it’s more familiar than Ventyhr having played Night Fae since the expansion launch, but it’s not like Venthyr is incredibly difficult. Like I said prior, I think we just played poorly all around the board and Echo played great.

Goop: Venthyr was easily the better choice based on available data from testing + Heroic week in every way possible. Door of Shadows is a worse reactive tool than Soulshape, but being able to cover large distances with it on a boss like Painsmith also made it the better ability. When it came to Mythic Sylvanas, the answer becomes a bit less clear and the two covenants become really close in power, and overall are good at doing different things. I don’t think the covenant choice had any impact on the result of the race though. All of Echo’s players just played better as a whole and their prep was better too.

Q: As a viewer, this was probably THE best Race to World First experience so far. Did you get a feeling for that during the race? Did the race itself feel different to you this time around in general?

Siory: I definitely got that sense during the race. As someone not directly playing in the raid and thus having the ability to view the production efforts first hand at the GSPC, I can also say that the amount of energy and effort being put into production there was definitely up.

Eric: The competitor in me is not satisfied with losing, and ultimately that’s what this is all about. So unless we get world first, it’s hard for me to feel great. The race didn’t particularly feel different in one way or another; it’s all just about staying focused and reaching a shared goal, and unfortunately, we fell short of that this time around.

Goop: Yeah we lost so it felt a bit different lmao.

Q: If you had to pick a couple of key spots during the race which were the most impactful, (where you and Echo either gained or lost the most ground), what would they be?

Siory: The most obvious point to me is Painsmith. It was a tough situation because while it was pretty obvious to me that the problem was the collective level of play, not latency or bugs or even strategy, it’s not really my place in the guild or something I’m personally very good at to try to address that specific problem. That fight and our play on it cost us a huge amount of time and was primarily why we ended up feeling so behind, which also has an impact on the attitude and mentality of the guild for the rest of the race.

Eric: Painsmith. We played horribly on that boss as a group — a ton of individual mistakes (myself included) that just cost us so many wipes, and Echo played amazingly on it and made so much ground due to it.

Goop: We took too long on Painsmith. Our strat could have been a bit better, but mostly it was a play issue. We also took way too long on Fatescribe and Kelthuzad. I personally played poorly on Fatescribe and wish I could redo it better, but that’s life. Kel’Thuzad was a major strat problem that we resolved overnight and very quickly killed the next day, but considering how close the race was, we maybe could have won if we played a single one of those bosses better.

Q: That crucial decision to stay up on that final night and getting SO close (0.6%) to the kill — how did that all play out internally? As Echo was coming closer and closer and your team became more and more tired, what was happening in your heads/internal discussions? Did you just basically know 100% that Echo would get it when you did call it a night?

Siory: I’m pretty sure that most people knew or at least felt at that point that we either killed it that night or Echo would come back with a refined strat and kill it at some point the next day. While it was possible to hang onto some hope that maybe it would take them long enough that we could just do a quick Heroic clear and, between added Shards from that and loot from the weekly vault, we could extend and manage to kill it before them, that always seemed like a bit of a stretch. The players in Echo, even before they all raided in Echo, have always shown an inexorable ability to progress and kill a boss in relatively short order after they get that close.

Eric: After staying up until around 4 A.M. pulling G’huun the night before Method got world first in Ul’dir, I think we’ve learned about pulling late into the night. Fatigue starts really playing a factor and, at a certain point, you just have to go to bed and hope you don’t wake up to their kill.

Goop: Yeah, we stayed up to try and finish it and it was definitely killable that day. I think everyone knew Echo was close and that would be our best shot.

“That final night of the reset as a whole was probably the tensest time of the race because everyone had the sense that we were on the clock.” —Siory

Q: The critical Nori disconnect (DC) in one of the best pulls you had — how much did that affect morale at such a late stage in progress? Was that the single most disappointing/tense moment in the race or was there something else?

Siory: When it occurred, I think most of the players were tired enough to be somewhat numb to large swings in morale, though it of course had an impact. Everyone knew we lost a really good pull, but analytically, it still wasn’t a guaranteed kill based on DPS trends at the time of the DC. That final night of the reset as a whole was probably the tensest time of the race because everyone had the sense that we were on the clock.

Eric: Extremely disappointing, but it is what it is and you just have to move past it. No good comes from dwelling on the past and letting that affect you.

Goop: Like I mentioned earlier, this kind of stuff doesn’t affect me. The only thing that disappointed me in this race was our play on Painsmith and my personal play on Fatescribe.

Q: What was the most important WeakAura/custom addon/setting made specifically for this raid?

Siory: While I’m not sure it was the most crucial, for this tier we started using a custom tool for streamlining boss mod updates and it definitely saved a ton of time compared to the old methods of distributing .lua files through Discord.

Eric: Honestly, nothing in specific is really coming to my mind. Reloe always does an amazing job with our internal WeakAruas for literally any of our needs. I appreciate his presence on the team a lot.

Q: What did you think about Sanctum in general — the specific boss mechanics (regardless of their actual difficulty) and its difficulty curve?

Siory: I feel similarly about Sanctum as I did with Battle of Dazar’alor. They are both raids that end up feeling worse than they probably should because of all the potential promise they squandered due to a combination of poor tuning and isolated cases of poor design. Guardian, Fatescribe, and Kel’thuzad had some good design ideas, but all three were criminally undertuned in a similar fashion to Rastakhan, Mekkatorque and Blockade. Kel’Thuzad is also analogous to Blockade in the way that it could have (and should have based on the character) been cool and exciting if you look at the design ideas in isolation. But in practice, Kel’Thuzad just ended up feeling pretty bland and repetitive because of the way those ideas were put together.

Eric: Pretty disappointing overall; the tuning was very poor (I assume just to the misevaluation on how powerful Domination Shards are). The raid had a pretty good difficulty curve up to Painsmith, then an extreme drop-off on Guardian and Kel’Thuzad, and then it ramped back up for Sylvanas (only really during week 1 though; the fight became an insane joke with gear).

Goop: The beginning of the instance all the way through Painsmith was great. Guardian and Kel’Thuzad are two of the most disappointing bosses of all time. The tuning of Sylvanas was fine.

Q: What do you think of some of the more creative uses of game mechanics in this raid, like the Kel’thuzad cheat death trinkets, off-tanking the add on Sylvanas phase 2, and anything similar you may have seen or used yourselves? Did Blizzard make the correct decisions there?

Siory: I always like seeing the creativity of players when it comes to overcoming challenges in games. However, I tend to view the ability to remove challenges from a raid encounter with little to no cost as a specific failure or oversight of the design. In that sense, I’m not surprised Blizzard elected to fix these specific situations.

Eric: Honestly, the trinkets on Kel’Thuzad didn’t really matter too much. In the end, it all came down to saving a battle rez, which you had some to spare because of how easy the fight was. The one mechanic I actually really thought was cool (and sorry if you played a character that didn’t have an ideal time with this) is the full row of spikes with no gap in the Painsmith intermission. Using gates, blinks, covenant abilities, disengages off the side — all of that stuff I thought was really cool.

Goop: Any time something like this happens, it’s completely fine. If Blizzard designs an encounter that we can break in any way, that is not ever going to be the player’s fault and it is up to them to decide to fix it or leave it as is. No competitive player will tell you anything different. Not my problemo.

Q: What do you think of Sylvanas as a boss specifically? Which were her best and worst mechanics or even some you’d like to see again in the future?

Siory: Sylvanas in Mythic definitely feels better than the lower difficulties, mostly due to the more structured Chains in P1 and the accelerated pace of P2. P2 in other difficulties is overly long and under-engaging. There is just too much running and not enough “doing” in that phase. While P3 in general is better, I also think it doesn’t do enough to involve players with mechanics over its duration, even in Mythic. There are positional requirements for some mechanics, but for most of the phase, players who don’t get Arrows or Death Knives can just stand in the correct spot and do their thing. Even the positional requirements are undermined by a bug they introduced with a hotfix to Veil in P3 during our progression that causes it to not apply the debuff at all even to the target quite frequently.

Eric: I think pretty mediocre overall — not an amazing boss, but not awful either. Her becoming untargetable from the Veil and silencing you from the Banshee Wail are terrible mechanics. Any boss that forces you to stop damage for any reason is also very unfun to play and unfortunately, there are a lot of those in this raid. (Albeit it's only really in p1 for Sylvanas, so not the biggest offender.)

Goop: I absolutely love forced RP in encounters — the longer the better. I can get in some great headscratches during the p1 intermission or when I’m waiting for a dumbass NPC to build a bridge.

Q: What were your best and worst experiences in the race?

Siory: Being able to have an event together in person at all and Ftbabbier.

Eric: Best — all of the good inhouse bits and memes that come from raiding in Limit. Fortunately, they happen so often, but it’s always hard not to laugh and smile when raiding in this guild. Worst — losing :(

Goop: Firefighter Domey was a pretty good meme. Siory’s soundboard becomes more powerful every progression cycle as well.

“Knowing how high our upside is despite how poorly we played this tier, we’re always looking forward to the next race and taking back the throne.” —Eric

Q: After all is said and done, how did you feel about this tier? Are you more or less hyped for the next one? Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Siory: This tier was definitely let down by its tuning and left a lot of its potential unrealized. However, the scale and scope of raiding in WoW are still pretty unrivaled as a gaming experience. As long as that’s true and as long as the encounter team keeps making fights with great potential (even if they don’t always get there), I think people will continue being hyped for the next raid tier and RWF.

Eric: I think something that has always remained a constant from Blizzard is how great the raids have been. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was one of their best. It was just a very mediocre raid. As I’ve mentioned previously when winning the race is what most of us play the game for, coming up short in that goal never is going to feel great. However, knowing how high our upside is despite how poorly we played this tier, we’re always looking forward to the next race and taking back the throne.

Goop: I’m always hyped for the RWF. It’s the most unique experience in gaming. Losing has only made all of us more hungry to win it next time.


About the Author

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.