Break the Meta: Tips & Tricks for Eligible Specs, Vol. 2!

The “Break the Meta” Event is back! This reset, players can compete for in-game prizes and Break the Meta bragging rights by pushing keys with groups composed ONLY of the eligible “Off-Meta” specs. These specs were determined by looking at participation in keystones at levels 25 and higher for the last 8 weeks, and taking the tank, healer, and DPS specs that fell in the bottom 50% of participation for those roles.

Let’s take a deeper look at the eligible specs for this tournament and go over how they function in Mythic+ so that you’ll know how to play with them and what they bring to the table!

Table of Contents

Eligible Specs


The three eligible tank specs for this event are:

We have seen a surprisingly even balance across all 6 tank specs this Season, so while these three specs may be in the bottom 50% of participation, they are definitely still used by players in high keys, and bring some great stuff to the table!

Blood Death Knight is a spec that brings some tremendous pieces of utility to a Mythic+ keystone. Their Death Grip and Mass Grip spells are very powerful abilities to control mobs and set up pulls. They also contribute Anti-magic Zone, which should be used regularly! When played well, Blood Death Knights have an incredible ability to survive without external healing, and this factor has some great benefits, especially with some of the Off-Meta healers we’ll be seeing this week. A Blood Death Knight that is able to properly utilize their defensives and self-healing will allow the healer to focus more on damage taken by the rest of the group, keep up with Grievous stacks, and most importantly, pump as much damage as they can to help down some of these big Fortified packs quicker! If you’re a healer in a group with a Blood Death Knight this week, make sure to keep an eye on their Runic Power so that you know when they’ll be scrambling to stay alive, and when they’re safe.

For those DPS players playing with a Blood Death Knight, it’s important to be aware that threat can be an issue to play around. They pair well with classes like Rogue and Hunter thanks to their threat redirection effects, while they struggle when paired with DPS specs that deal heavily frontloaded damage on pull.

If you’re playing Protection Paladin for this event, make sure to take advantage of their huge dps potential to contribute to AoE pulls, especially with the Fortified Affix. They pair well with groups heavy on Ranged DPS due to their increased interrupt potential with Avenger’s Shield. They have a lot of possible self-healing, but healers should give them a little bit of extra love on pulls where they don’t have their defensives available to them (Guardian of Ancient Kings and Ardent Defender).

Protection Paladins should use their group utility and immunities to cheese mechanics, avoid damage, or help out their party members. With the Break the Meta event being on a Grievous week, Protection Paladins can consider talenting into Hand of the Protector to help their healer out by healing their group members (remember with the talent, their heal scales with missing health even on group members, so the lower, the better!). Legendaries to consider running for this week are Bulwark of Righteous Fury for more damage, or a hybrid offensive/defensive approach with Divine Resonance (if you’re Kyrian).

If you’re trying to win this event, Protection Warrior is a fantastic option for the tanking role, and they synergize well with some of the other specs available in this event, such as Mistweaver Monk with Ring of Peace, especially if you play Kyrian. Protection Warriors in the Kyrian covenant have access to Spear of Bastion, which tethers enemies to a chosen location. It has a number of uses in many dungeons, but check out the clip below from this MDI Season as Dratnos explains how Ambition uses it to max efficiency in Theater of Pain:

Just be aware that Protection Warriors aren’t without weaknesses. Bleed effects in particular can be tricky for Prot Warriors, though if they’re Kyrian they can clear them with their Phial of Serenity in a pinch. Unlike the other two eligible tank specs in this event, Protection Warriors lack self-sustainability. They have far fewer spells and abilities that they can use to keep themselves alive and will require significantly more attention from the healer. Additionally, with the increased damage going out from some of the trash during Fortified, it will be tricker to keep a Protection Warrior alive if Grievous starts to stack up with no way to clear it.


The three eligible Healer specs for this event are:

Holy Priests bring a lot of utility to their groups. Power Infusion remains strong, even in this event without its very best targets being allowed, and it has a powerful external in the form of Guardian Spirit, which can be used to allow the tank to stay in for pulls they’d otherwise need to kite, or to save DPS players when targeted by deadly boss mechanics. Holy Priests can reasonably play every single covenant, so for full optimization they can be slotted into whichever Covenant your group is missing for the dungeons of that zone - though of course, 9.1.5 isn’t here yet so the swap might still be a painful process! Soon!

Holy Priests also maintain all of the class-based utility, such as Mind Control, Mind Soothe, and Life Grip. Here’s an example from last season of the MDI of how Life Grip can allow you to skip trash in the Necrotic Wake!

Mistweaver is a spec that requires expert piloting to manage high level dungeons this season. Mana can be a frequent issue if the monk isn’t careful, but they do contribute several useful effects such as Mystic Touch, which represents a lot of extra damage if your group is primarily dealing Physical damage. They also can facilitate skips and/or kiting with Ring of Peace, and their burst healing throughput can be extremely high - it’s just very mana intensive as well!

Restoration Druids can bring substantial utility as well. This week’s affixes are Fortified, Inspiring, Grievous, and of course the Seasonal affix Tormented. Restoration Druids have access to spells like Ursol’s Vortex, Typhoon, and Entangling Roots, which can all be used as excellent crowd control mechanisms to move, displace, or contain mobs. These are especially useful to keep the Inspiring mobs out of packs so that you can deal with the trash around them minus the Inspired effect. While this week does not have Raging to deal with, Restoration Druids do bring Soothe to the party, which can help with any mobs that have enrage effects on their own.

The healing pattern of a Restoration Druid is mostly HoT-based, so they can struggle a bit with quickly healing up big burst damage. They have the toolkit to do so, but it can be very mana intensive for them to spam direct heals. This healing style, however, lends itself well to healing group-wide damage and being able to spend ample time DPS’ing if HoTs are rolling! Don’t be surprised if you suddenly see your healer in Moonkin or Cat form!

Ranged DPS

The eligible Ranged DPS specs for this event are:

Arcane Mages have impressive burst damage that can come in handy when dealing with those pesky, but dangerous, Tormented mobs. They also bring the standard Mage crowd-control and immunities of Polymorph and Ice Block which are useful in every dungeon. Arcane Mages also tend to lean towards being Kyrian, so that could help fill out some covenant diversity needs in your group!

Beast Mastery Hunter is a flexible ranged spec that has a notable advantage relative to Marksmanship in that it can provide a bloodlust effect without losing DPS. Beast Mastery also handles intense movement without losing any damage whatsoever, which can be very helpful against some bosses.

Destruction and Demonology Warlock can both pump out incredible damage. In particular, they excel in their cooldown windows, which are every 3 minutes for Destruction and every 1.5 minutes for Demonology. Outside of their cooldowns, they provide helpful utility through Healthstones and Gateway, which can be used to set up some clever skips or facilitate kiting. Destruction in particular can deal truly incredible AoE damage - a recent build that’s popped up in the MDI revolves around the Wilfred’s Sigil Legendary coupled with talents that further enhance the Infernal window and increase soul shard generation to deal very high AoE damage as long as the pull sizes are big enough. Demonology, on the other hand, tends to fill more of the single target specialist role.

Shadow Priests offer strong single-target damage by default this expansion, but they can also add a sizable amount of AoE to their kit with the addition of one talent, Searing Nightmare. Depending on the situation, they have access to some powerful utility - Vampiric Embrace, nerfed as it is this expansion, is potent against Grievous, and priests bring a variety of purges and dispels that can often fill the gaps in the group’s coverage. Shadow also brings all of the same class-specific utility mentioned above under Holy Priest.

Melee DPS

The eligible Melee DPS specs for this event are:

Rogues have been seen mostly as Outlaw since Battle For Azeroth’s Season 2 started, or Subtlety this season, but Assassination has unique strengths that are worth considering for this event. Of course, the strongest Rogue things are not spec-specific but rather tied to the class as a whole - effects like Shroud of Concealment which were previously meta-defining and are now merely very very good. Assassination can offer high overall damage along with potent single-target burst that’s well suited for handling Tormented and Inspiring mobs that need to die quickly if they’re involved in a pull.

Enhancement Shaman is a spec that pairs well with other auto-attackers who can benefit from Windfury Totem. They can funnel a solid chunk of DPS into a priority target, and they thrive when they can set up for their burst cooldowns - something that is often possible in Mythic+ for players with some foresight. They can sometimes suffer from a lack of inherent tankiness, and require particularly observant pilots as the keystone level gets to the point where avoidable damage starts to one-shot.

Feral Druid is the second Druid spec eligible for play in this competition, and it’s absolutely worth considering even if only for the access to all the powerful spells in the base Druid kit. Highly based on bleed effects, they scale well beyond the point where most melee specs are target capped, though in practice the delayed nature of their damage and the number of set-up globals they have to spend means that things can die too quickly for the full potential to be realized, particularly in low keys. Their single-target damage can be fantastic, largely because they only need to change over one or two talents to switch between a raid build and a Mythic+ build. They can also help your party zoom through your dungeon with Stampeding Roar!

Frost Death Knight is one of my picks for strongest specs eligible for this event, as their cleave damage is phenomenal! The challenge for Frost is that their damage requires planning ahead and solid knowledge of when there will be an opportunity to get full value out of their abilities - if these decisions are miscalculated, you can find yourself waddling from one pack to the next while your Breath of Sindragosa evaporates along with your overall DPS. Frost Death Knights have the potential to provide your team with an easy way to deal with one of the more treacherous affixes this week in certain dungeons, as they can use Control Undead to capture Inspiring mobs without losing a majority of their damage like an Unholy Death Knight would. This allows your tank to pull large packs without having to worry about not being able to interrupt. This niche strategy can be used in Necrotic Wake, De Other Side, Plaguefall, and Theater of Pain - especially with a Captain pull in the Xav wing of the dungeon!

Fury Warrior provides consistently strong cleave damage and is surprisingly resilient for a melee DPS without an immunity, featuring a large health pool, passive damage reduction, and lots of self healing. Like most of the specs currently hard capped at 5 targets for AoE, they struggle if the pull sizes get too large, but their short cooldowns mean they have damage for almost every pull. In terms of utility, Fury Warriors bring Rallying Cry and Spell Reflect, which can be used in all sorts of creative ways!

Havoc Demon Hunters excel at AoE damage on large pulls. Pair them with magic-heavy group comps to take advantage of Chaos Brand’s 5% magic damage increase. They have a very versatile cc in the form of Imprison that allows for skips and will be invaluable for those tricky Inspiring mobs. An AoE stun on a 1-minute cooldown with Chaos Nova will also come in very handy for keeping the tank and group safe on large Fortified pulls. The high mobility and strong personal defensive options of the Havoc Demon Hunter make them a great fit to cope with the increased damage intake that comes with Grievous, and Darkness can also be used to prevent some overall group damage while the healer catches up.

Retribution Paladin, at its best, can provide life saving utility and can make tremendously valuable plays with effects like Lay on Hands, or combining their immunities with taunts to save the tank or to take dangerous tankbusters. Even ignoring these aspects of the spec, their damage shouldn’t be underestimated either - especially their burst cleave within Avenging Wrath. If you are playing Retribution for this event, or with a Retribution Paladin on your team, keep an eye on threat on some of those big AoE pulls, especially with a Blood Death Knight tank, who doesn’t have much snap threat. With Avenging Wrath, Wake of Ashes and Divine Toll, you might find yourself tanking as the Retribution Paladin if you pop everything at the start of a pull. Give your tank a few seconds to get some threat before going nuts!

Survival Hunter is a spec that has never found a home in the PVE metagame ever since it was reworked to be a melee spec. There are some things working in Survival’s favor this expansion - largely uncapped AoE, for example, could potentially mean they slot in well to a group that is interested in setting up big pulls. They also have a nice AoE focused legendary in Wildfire Cluster that can further push them into that niche. The challenge for Survival Hunters comes from their single-target DPS, so they pair well with groups that have high damage specialists for the boss encounters and Tormented and Inspiring mobs of the dungeon.

Finally, Unholy Death Knights, a BFA MDI throwback, thrive on large AoE pulls as their damage scales up quadratically with more mobs (up to 9) but are able to provide respectable single target as well with their Army of the Dead. They have very frequent access to most of their DPS cooldowns, making them a great option to provide consistent damage throughout the dungeon, especially on Fortified weeks. Their Anti-Magic Zone gives the group magic damage reduction on a fairly reliable cooldown; while this might not affect Grievous directly, it will help tremendously in giving your healer a breather or to catch up on healing.


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.

Hulahoops has been playing WoW since Vanilla. She has recently shelved Retail to go back and re-experience TBC in all its glory, but will one day make her way back to the Shadowlands. In her hey-day, Hulahoops could be found raid-leading in Mythic Progression, or competing in 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 7 years. Judgment isn't just a spell! Hulahoops decided to put the law books away and follow her passion for gaming and esports by joining the team at Raider.IO. In her capacity as Production Manager, Hulahoops oversees events, content, and more!