Mythic+ 101: Overcoming Anxiety

In many of our chapters of the Mythic+ 101 Series, we have discussed tips, tricks, and information to help players take their first steps into Mythic+. But what if someone is worried about their first run or taking the leap into more difficult keystones? In this chapter, we offer advice towards overcoming one of the most elusive hurdles players may face in competitive game content — anxiety.

Table of Contents

Identifying Anxiety

Merriam Webster defines anxiety as, “fear or nervousness about what might happen.” This applies to gaming in many ways, but one of the most common triggers for anxiety is a system that “ranks” or “scores” people. Every system has its pros and cons. On one hand, many players love competition; it motivates them to continually improve their skill as a player and feel good about their progress towards any number of goals. However, the comparison of individual player skill can take a once-relaxing activity and add a layer of angst. Ranking systems exist in all types of games, and are usually barriers for people who struggle with anxiety. World of Warcraft is no different in that Mythic+ increases in difficulty and has a public scoring system here on Raider.IO and displayed in-game.

Anxiety in Mythic+ can present itself in various ways. The most common forms of anxiety for players in Mythic+ are:

  • Fear of playing with strangers
  • Fear of taking on more difficult key levels
  • Fear of an unfamiliar route or strategy in a timed environment

People may find themselves asking themselves questions like, “What if something goes wrong and I get blamed?” or, “I don’t know these people, can I trust them with my key?” The Mythic+ scoring system is partially responsible here, as it adds an extra layer of responsibility and potentially large consequences for small mistakes.

These anxious thoughts can be intrusive and distracting. So how can you recognize anxiety in yourself or your party members? On a personal level, you can monitor your feelings when you consider trying a harder dungeon level, trying a new strategy, or even preparing to take your first step into Mythic+. Try to identify the source of your worry. You may notice you are worried about what may happen if you fail the run, or even worrying about meeting and playing with new people.

When identifying anxiety in your party members, try to pick up on key behaviors or comments. This may be different depending on whether you know your party members or not. If you know your group, pay special attention to departures from your team’s normal routine. Perhaps your group may need to fill an absent team member’s spot with a new player, or is considering a new route. If someone in your group is reacting negatively to potential changes in the group composition or routing, they may be anxious. You may also notice behavioral changes, such as someone who is normally chatty seeming very quiet, or vice versa. For unfamiliar players from Group Finder, they may be quiet or react negatively around new people, or may be uneasy or resistant to trying a strategy you know but they do not.

Anxiety Prevention in Mythic+

Now that we have covered how to recognize some tell-tale signs of anxiety, we will discuss what you can do to help prevent anxiety in your run, and how to help manage anxiety in your group members. Although these topics tie in with our chapter on “Netiquette”, it is important to know how to manage anxiety within your groups rather than simply avoiding toxicity. A lot of Mythic+ anxiety can be prevented before a key even begins, as there are some important actions that you can take to be a good ally for your teammates. The majority of this section focuses on anxiety within your party as a whole, but keep in mind that many of these recommendations also apply to personal anxiety prevention.

In both pick-up-groups (PUGs) and consistent teams, aim to cultivate an environment that is open to questions, discussions, new ideas, and constructive communication. This does not mean you cannot criticize or analyze your runs, but consider your manner of delivery when offering advice or suggestions.

For PUGs specifically, taking the time to talk about your strategy and route prior to starting a key helps prevent lingering doubts and cognitive dissonance that can arise mid-run. Make sure your whole party is comfortable with the plan and that everyone understands what their role will be within the group. Long-term Mythic+ teams may have these discussions in advance; however, it can still help to recap your strategy before beginning a key.

In PUGs, make sure that you aren’t too focused on Mythic+ score. Groups who place a higher value on growth mindset (learning and improvement) are often more successful and likely to continue playing together. Ultimately, most of us want to increase our score, but a lot of toxicity can stem from overvaluing the instant gratification of a score increase (colloquially referred to as an “IO injection”). Anxious players tend to be concerned with the score and success of the dungeon already, as they worry about burning bridges or getting flamed by their fellow party members. Although many long-term teams will have similar scores by running together frequently, there can be cases where some members increase their score either by playing with other groups or due to absences of core party members on a particular day. Talk with your group about these instances in advance and make sure your team has a plan for when off-nights may occur. Knowing what to expect can prevent a lot of anxiety.

Despite our best efforts, anxiety can sometimes spike for a player in the middle of a run. Anxiety can be difficult to comprehend for those that do not struggle with it, but please do your best to be understanding. Positive reinforcement can help with these struggles; comments like, “Wow, nice stun there!” or “That was a really good dodge!” can help reassure players that they are seen and valued. It can also help to remind those suffering from anxiety that they are not alone, and that the key is a team effort. Anxiety often makes people feel isolated, so letting a player know in the moment that they have support can help lessen the impact that their anxious thoughts may have on them.

Overcoming Personal Anxiety

Breathing exercises are considered one of the best ways to manage anxiety. This may come as a surprise to some, but it turns out that breathing is a good thing to do when gaming too! In general though, “taking a step back” can be a good practice in Mythic+ so that we can take a moment to recognize ourselves becoming heated and respond when we’ve calmed the nerves. If you are getting ready to start a dungeon and you feel anxious, maintaining your own composure and taking a few long, deep breaths can help relieve stress and prevent mistakes.

Additionally, a little positivity can go a very long way. Instead of thinking of a mistake as a problem, think of it as a learning opportunity. When meeting new players, view it as a chance to meet a new good friend. It is okay to take a break and step away from the game if you are struggling. Get up and walk around for a few minutes or get a glass of water. Pet your dog/cat. Take the time to clear your mind. Remember that ultimately, you are playing a game. There may be a challenging dungeon ahead or an inherent scoring system at play, but if you focus on having fun and improving your own skill rather than increasing score, you will be more relaxed and usually perform better too. Practice makes perfect, so treat every key as an opportunity for learning, whether you are entering a +28 or a +15.


You may find that preparing for dungeons ahead of time alleviates some of your performance anxiety, particularly at the onset of a season or expansion, when dungeons, affixes, or both are brand new to you. Arming yourself with knowledge about the dungeon mechanics, boss strategies, and important pulls is a great way to set your runs up for success, and can help you feel more confident in approaching these scenarios for the first time in-game.

“Where can I go to learn more about keys?” you might ask, and we’re glad you did! Aside from our Mythic+ 101 resources, Raider.IO has a few unique tools for players interested in learning more about Mythic+. For newcomers to Mythic+ keystones, browsing our Weekly Route Series will help you understand the key mechanics, pulls, and dangerous sections of each dungeon, and each Weekly Route article provides you with specific dungeon routes, adjusted for each week’s affixes, and geared towards beginner and intermediate players who are just getting their feet wet in keys. If you’re ready to enter higher keystones or compare your strats with the best of the best, you can check out the Play Like the Pros series to see what advanced routes the top players/streamers are running each week! Additionally, when users are Verified on Raider.IO (meaning that they are using the Raider.IO Desktop Client to Live Track their runs), you can now view people’s routes on Raider.IO through our very own Auto Route Creator, launched in 2023! And, if you want to get really fancy, check out the Raider.IO Mythic+ Replay system to compare your in-game performance against your previous runs…or even against runs of other teams!

In the event that you’re interested in perusing the dungeon maps and mob types in a more freeform manner, Keystone.Guru offers interactive maps for each dungeon and a lot of really cool features. Keystone.Guru grants freedom to explore every section of the map, including mob types, important casts, trash percentages, and other key features. While you can use Keystone.Guru to generate your own routes, you can also browse the most popular routes in each dungeon, allowing you to see what PUG groups are typically doing in keys. When used in conjunction with the powerful Mythic Dungeon Tools addon, you can import Keystone.Guru routes (including our curated Weekly Routes!) into your game directly and share your planned route with your group before your next key begins.

Overall, give yourself some extra time to study – especially at the start of a new season when the dungeon maps are new (or recycled). Before your first key session, maybe study some routes or watch videos from your favorite WoW content creators…or perhaps you’ll find it helpful to browse the dungeon journal or study a route ahead of your first key session. Maybe even join the Mythic+ Friends or Women in Warcraft community Discords to brainstorm with other players and learn from experienced mentors! Feeling prepared for an oncoming challenge is a great way to develop confidence in key and reduce anxiety.


Prior to getting involved with teaching Mythic+ through the Mythic Plus Friends Discord community, pushing higher keys, and Mythic raiding, I too was anxious about Mythic+. I was playing very casually and did not want to add additional stress in my life, but I enjoyed the concept of Mythic+ dungeons. At the time, I did not think much about the scoring system yet, but knew that I was capable of going into higher dungeon levels than I was doing at that time. To that end, I decided to sign up for a group doing a dungeon one level higher than I had previously finished. I was told that my score wasn’t high enough, and that the group could not trust me and would not take me to the run with them.

After some discussion, I gave up and moved on with my evening. I felt defeated and alone, and it made me nervous to continue interacting with more strangers. I recognized what was happening to me and resolved to channel that feeling into passion and drive instead. I wanted to prove to myself that I was good enough, and that I could be trusted in those dungeons. I knew I would fail along the way and likely get rejected again, but that would be okay as long as I was learning and having fun. Once I got over that mental block, I was able to relax more and enjoy the game while taking on more challenges. Wayne Gretzky, a legendary hockey player, once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” While this quote is often overused, there is truth to it and it applies to gaming as well. Do not let your fear of failure make you miss out on fun opportunities!

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

Overall, anxiety can seem overwhelming — especially in a gaming environment where external pressures can come from many different angles. Try to conquer each aspect of your anxiety slowly. Make one new friend and then expand from there. Even if you have more strangers in your party than friends, at least you’ll have someone to rely on and build synergy with. Continue researching different strategies for any dungeon you wish to try on a higher level. Preparation and practice make all the difference when pushing keys. Remember to maintain a positive, learning-based attitude, as the way you carry yourself can also set the tone for the group as a whole. Most importantly, have fun! See all keys and new experiences as opportunities for growth in your skill as a player. Relax and enjoy the game for what it is and you will be one step closer to overcoming anxiety.


About the Author

MarianasTrench (Mari/Marinara) is an MMO veteran who has played most classes in Mythic+ and Mythic raiding. He is a staff member at the Mythic+ Friends Discord. While he loves Mythic raiding and higher Mythic+ content, he also enjoys helping other players get involved and expanding the Mythic+ community through the Mythic+ Academy at Mythic+ Friends.

About the Editors

Gogogadgetkat has been playing WoW since late BC, and has been the GM of her guild Propaganda since its creation in 2014. As a career healer, Kat has a number of CEs and old-school heroic kills under her belt, all on a variety of healing classes and specs—she’s a serial altoholic! In addition to Mythic raiding and a little Mythic+, creating safe, inclusive spaces in gaming is her longtime passion; Kat has been an admin for the Perky Pugs community since late BfA, and is also a founding council member and the community manager for the DEIBAJ initiative Women in Warcraft. She is excited to bring her wealth of experience and love of writing to the Raider.IO team.

VitaminP (VP) is the Content Manager of Raider.IO. VP holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and has worked for Raider.IO since the formation of its News Section in November 2018. VP specializes in tanking classes and has loved doing competitive Mythic+ on and off since early Legion.