RWF Changes in Dragonflight: Top Contenders Weigh in

Dragonflight is ushering many changes to WoW, like a fully revamped talent system, the addition of a new playable class and race, and even some smaller changes to the base UI. Today, we interview top raiders to look at some of the upcoming changes and how they may impact the Race to World First (RWF) for Vault of the Incarnates, Dragonflight’s first raid.

Top competitors in the upcoming RWF will have to contend with:

For a better understanding of how these changes will affect the RWF, we spoke with players from Echo, Method, Liquid, BDGG, Aversion, and Soniqs Imperative. So without further ado, let’s dive into their thoughts!

Table of Contents

“Mythic and the other difficulties launching simultaneously is a very big wrinkle in the established process and is rather uncharted territory.” —Siory, Liquid

Q-1: Mythic starts on week 1 of the raid. How do you think this will impact the race itself? Will the first half of the week (or more) be reserved for splits? Will it alleviate some of the time requirements from top players?

Dota - Echo: This is a fairly meaty question and I’ll try to answer from my personal opinion rather than as a representative of Echo.

In a vacuum, it does make the race a bit more interesting, as there are strategic decisions to be made in allocating time towards getting gear or progressing on fights. Depending on crafted gear, we’ll be starting the week approximately 35 ilvls below the first Mythic drops as opposed to ~20 that we walked into Sanctum of Domination with (pre splits), so we’ll definitely start off with acquiring gear. Assuming the raid isn’t a complete walkover, we’ll have to run many splits to acquire tier gear and raid trinkets. How much time we spend on them will depend on how impactful they are tuned to be, and then we fill the gaps in our gear with 398-402 mythic+ items.

Outside of the vacuum, the dynamics of the race change a little. As there is so much more power to gain at the start of Mythic week, it’ll be a game of chicken to see which guild hops into Mythic first and how soon they’ll hit a wall. Much like Sepulcher of the First Ones, where so much power was tied into Mythic week with potential 4-pieces of tier, we might expect for Blizzard to tune bosses with power that is only obtainable in that week.

Siory - Liquid: Mythic and the other difficulties launching simultaneously is a very big wrinkle in the established process and is rather uncharted territory. The strategies guilds develop in an attempt to extract the maximum potential from this new situation could potentially have a large impact on the relative power level of a guilds’ raid forces, particularly in the first week of the race. Unfortunately, I don’t think this change is going to reduce the time requirement at all. Players are still going to be spending as much time per day as they can either progressing Mythic or increasing their power, even if that time isn’t being spent doing the types of splits seen in the last few expansions.

Nate - BDGG: With all three raid difficulties releasing simultaneously, there is a greater sense of urgency to step into Mythic difficulty to progress as soon as possible — every Heroic or even Normal split will cost valuable time. It’ll be hard to judge the cut off point, with the raid’s difficulty and the value of the loot itself being a big deciding factor. All in all, the time requirement should be lower, but using that time efficiently is even more important now.

Nexxzz - Aversion: The changes are very exciting for us because our players no longer have to worry about taking time off work for a “Heroic-only” week. Instead, the race starts immediately, which is definitely a good thing. The time investment for splits will depend on how crazy the top guilds decide to go. If they plan and prepare for 8 splits, then they will spend an entire day in Heroic difficulty. Our guild won’t be doing many splits, as our players don’t have the time to level 8 characters each.

Riggnaros - Soniqs Imperative: I think Blizzard is going to make sure that they have a much easier raid lined up for the first tier of Dragonflight. Obviously, we never want to underestimate anything, but traditionally, the first tier of each expansion has been on the easier side of the spectrum; combining that with the fact that they are coming off the heels of one of the most difficult raids ever released (Sepulcher), I definitely won't be surprised if this race lasts around 6-8 days.

Q-2: How will the new Group Loot system affect the RWF, especially in regard to split-raiding?

Dota - Echo: We don’t know exactly how the group loot will assign token drops, such as whether there will be duplicate or missing tokens as we kill a boss. But if we run with the assumption that the above were true, then splits will not be as deliberately targeted as they were in previous tiers. With personal loot, we could guarantee a token off each of the first 3 tier bosses with 9 traders with equal or better tier, and the raider. With enforced group loot, we’ll have to run a first priority and second priority for each token at minimum, as well as multiple runs per raider. It might make it more viable to do most of the splits early to determine which characters manage to acquire their 4-piece, but that will depend on how they tune the tier sets. It’s plausible that there is a scenario where getting a high item level weapon and trinket as well as 2-piece tier will outweigh looting 4 pieces.

Cayna - Method: The loot system in place for Dragonflight means that it will be similar to Legion. During the raid, we will be able to focus gearing mains and main alts. Unfortunately, we can no longer guarantee a 100% chance to obtain specific tier pieces anymore, as a boss could potentially drop 3 of the same tokens regardless of the raid’s composition. We will have more control over the loot, and there will be more loot to allocate. Overall, I see the changes in a positive way, and it should also be easier to gear in a reactionary fashion. Between Normal and Heroic raid clears, we have a pretty good chance of getting 4-piece, but some people will be unlucky. The biggest implication of the loot system change is that splits can be done a lot more “in house”; no more high levels of begging from viewers (hopefully).

Nexxzz - Aversion: Guilds will want to run as many splits as they think is efficient, and that means having to level and pre-gear a lot of characters. Let’s assume you want to gear 24 characters, and you want to do that as efficiently as possible during your Heroic splits: If you are doing eight splits, you can put three main characters into every split and you will loot a total of 384 items (8 bosses at 6 items x 8 splits). Doing only four splits, you would have to bring six main characters instead, and would only be able to allocate 192 items. If one guild decides to go nuts with splits, they force every other guild that wants to remain competitive to run a similar amount, which could lead to a very wild split-raiding phase during week 1.

Riggnaros - Soniqs Imperative: It completely depends on the guild and their goals. For the top guilds, I think in general it makes things a bit easier on the logistical side of things. No more planning 20 diff group comps where we kill a specific boss first then go back and kill an earlier boss so an item will then be tradeable. No more changing around splits every time an item drop occurs to re-min/max the loot distribution probability.

Group Loot window - “Need or Greed” is back

Q-3: How will the changes to BoE drops affect the top guilds? Are you expecting higher/lower prices and availability?

Cayna - Method: I suspect it will drive down costs. I have not looked into it too deeply, as we do not have official numbers on how many total BoEs will be available in the raid instance. For example, for the lieutenant mobs that drop BoEs, how many are there in the raid? Where are these mobs located?

In general, this change will lead to all of our splits acquiring all BoEs, which we can save in our guild bank for later use. We should get a fair amount of these, and while we would normally skip trash, we will now target the lieutenants to get the extra loot. In theory, this should lead to us having a lot more loot than before, even from Mythic difficulty. In case the RWF lasts longer than one week, there might actually be a reason to split Mythic on alts in order to get an extra BoE or two, depending on the difficulty of the bosses before the first lieutenant.

Siory - Liquid: BoEs being target farmable will allow for much more directed attempts to gain any necessary BoEs. Currently, how much they will cost is somewhat hard to predict because we don’t fully know what slots, ilevel, or drop rates we’ll be seeing come launch. As usual though, we’re expecting to spend as much gold as it takes to outfit raiders with any gear we can obtain.

Nate - BDGG: With the recent changes to BoE's, there should be more of them within the game. However, availability (and pricing) for the race will depend on the placement of the lieutenants that drop them in the raid — especially for Mythic versions. For the top guilds, things will mostly stay the same; BoE’s will still be very valuable, and our pockets are deep.

Riggnaros - Soniqs Imperative: Predicting the economy on stuff like this is always a gamble. I would be lying if I gave a confident answer. We’re just going to see how it plays out and make a call based on that. Hopefully things stay on the lower end of the spectrum, as very few guilds have access to hundreds of millions of gold, and it’s always a feelsbad to lose out on several raid item levels as a result.

Sources: Liquid and Echo. Guild advertisements for helpers during Sepulcher

Q-4: It looks like class set bonuses are a bit “simpler” now and are not supposed to impact talent choice or playstyle too much. What do you think of this approach and the first reveal of the set bonuses? Will the sets in their current iteration be as impactful as they were during the Sepulcher of the First Ones?

Saltad - Echo: This is not something new, Tier sets of the first tier of an expansion are usually more basic than the ones following. I think it's somewhat fine, but there definitely are a couple of them that are completely tonedeaf to how the class actually plays, such as Elemental 2-piece. The impact of the tiers are completely class dependent. Some of them are immensely important and others are simply just 3% DPS increases. Current expectations also put the tiersets harder to obtain than in Sepulcher, which also makes the tier sets less impactful overall for the race itself.

Cayna - Method: The set bonuses are definitely simpler this time around, but that doesn’t mean they can't still be powerful. This will come down to tuning, although some of the set bonuses don’t seem to align with the gameplay at all (i.e. for Enhancement Shamans, it looks like the 4-piece bonus is a 0.5% DPS increase). Numbers can’t really fix an issue like that, so some of the bonuses might need a redesign.

Telegon - Liquid: I don’t like the approach, personally. I believe that the game is the most fun when it has the most depth, and tier sets can certainly contribute to that depth. My primary concern is that the “total” lack of external or secondary power systems outside of talents and tier sets will cause the game to feel worse than at the end of Shadowlands. Additionally, the tier sets will certainly be less impactful than they were in Sepulcher.

Nate - BDGG: I personally would have liked to see some more complexity to the tier sets, but I’m unsure how feasible that would have been, given that it is the first tier of the expansion. Generally speaking, the sets are not as impactful as they were during Sepulcher, which should mean that they may not be as important to chase, but we will have to see how that plays out.

Riggnaros - Soniqs Imperative: There are some pros/cons for sure. It’s less “punishing” for the people who are unable to get them initially, but also less powerful in the bigger picture. In terms of the race specifically, we never want it to be decided by gear drops/RNG, so I think this is an overall plus.

Source: Nate, BDGG

“...A week 1 catalyst would significantly smooth out the gear acquisition in week 1. There will be players who do not acquire their tier sets and get looked over despite equal preparation.” —Dota, Echo

Q-5: The Inspiration Catalyst was looking like it could’ve been a week 1 addition for a while, but it has since been revealed to be the same as the current Creation Catalyst (coming on the 6th week after the raid’s release). Do you think a week 1 availability would’ve been beneficial for both the game and the RWF (in terms of lowering RNG and perhaps giving guilds that don’t have the resources/time to invest a better chance)?

Dota - Echo: As a player that didn’t get a single shoulder or chest token in Sepulcher’s Mythic week, I would find that a week 1 catalyst would significantly smooth out the gear acquisition in week 1. There will be players who do not acquire their tier sets and get looked over despite equal preparation. Guilds who will only run 1 or 2 potential mains might see that replicated more often in their roster. I hold the position that the creation catalyst was at minimum 3 weeks too late for the average player (outside of the RWF) and, if I could go back and acquire a tier shoulder or chest token on week 1 as opposed to losing out on months of preparation due to RNG, I would obviously take that in a heartbeat.

Cayna - Method: I think not having the Catalyst week 1 is a mistake for the RWF, but I am sure Blizzard has their reasons whether I agree with them or not. It would definitely help with some bad cases of RNG, yes. In general, I think it is more healthy to have access to the Inspiration Catalyst on week 1 for Mythic+ and PvP players, while raiders will likely find a way around it somehow.

Siory - Liquid: I feel this is a pretty tough point of balance for Blizzard, even discounting how it may or may not interact with the race. However, I think their choice to make it available later will end up feeling worse for those players that, either because of luck or playtime, can’t get their tier set as fast as the average person and end up feeling like they can’t play up to the expected level because of it. Certainly having it available earlier would help with gearing RNG in the race itself, particularly with Mythic being available from the outset. While I would personally prefer less RNG in the race, I’m fairly certain that Blizzard doesn’t really take the nature of the race into account when making decisions about systems like this.

Nate - BDGG: Week 1 availability of the Inspiration Catalyst would have had a resoundingly positive effect on the game as a whole. I understand Blizzard’s approach in using this as a catch-up mechanic, but unless tier-acquisition rates are increased, the delay will definitely not feel great regardless of what kind of player you are.

Nexxzz - Aversion: I think it should be available after one or two weeks so that guilds who can’t split run as much as the top guilds can acquire their set bonuses once they reach the tougher bosses.

“The Alliance racials are quite potent and have been for some time, so I don’t doubt that every guild will have some cross-faction action going on for the RWF.” —Devnate, BDGG

Q-6: Are we going to see any cross-faction raiding in the race since it will be enabled from the start? Is the added choice of the opposite faction’s racial abilities significant?

Siory - Liquid: It’s quite likely there will be races from both factions in the raid most of the time. Even if there aren’t racials that help to make encounters or strategies easier to execute, RWF players tend to have a very “minmax” mindset and will want to be taking advantage of even relatively small racial throughput gains. However, there are some concerns about losing time due to cross faction raiding being bugged in some way or messing up the Hall of Fame despite the rules Blizzard outlined for that.

Nate - BDGG: Most certainly. The Alliance racials are quite potent and have been for some time, so I don’t doubt that every guild will have some cross-faction action going on for the RWF.

Nexxzz - Aversion: It could be the case, yes, because the Dwarf racial is decent for Diurna, which could make progression easier in the first few days. We will have to see if a guild decides to go to Alliance for the Race.


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.