Dragonflight RWF: What is Split Running?
At the start of Shadowlands, prior to the Castle Nathria Race to World First (RWF), we published a breakdown on the RWF preparation strategy known as “Split Running”. Much of what we described is still relevant, but Dragonflight has heralded some changes in how loot is awarded. These changes have had some impact on Split Running, so it’s time for an update!
Read on to learn more about what Split Running is, how it functions, why raiding guilds do it, and how it has shifted in Dragonflight!
Table of Contents
What is Split Running?
Outside of anomalies such as Emerald Nightmare and Sepulcher of the First Ones, the RWF typically lasts around 7-10 days. This means that the guilds competing for World First will get, at the very most, two semi-full clears of the raid’s gear. To gain a competitive edge, RWF guilds must maximize the gear they can obtain outside of the Mythic raid itself. This is where Split Running comes into play.
Guilds are allowed only one kill of each boss on Mythic difficulty each week. During progression, it is unlikely that guilds kill every boss in the first week, so RWF guilds must maximize their gear through all other available avenues, such as Mythic+ dungeons, world quests, killing rares, crafting, and most importantly: Normal and Heroic difficulties of the raid.
To get the most bang for their buck in Normal and Heroic difficulties of the raid, top guilds have long been utilizing Split Running as a strategy. As the number of pieces of loot each boss drops is determined by how many people are in the raid, it is important for guilds to ensure that each split run through Normal and/or Heroic difficulty has (if possible) a full 30 raiders.
Let’s assume that a guild has a roster of 25 main raiders. Instead of clearing the raid one time on Heroic and one time on Normal with all 25 main characters, they will “split” those players up into multiple raid groups. For example, a roster of 25 raiders may be broken down into 5 separate raid groups and allot 5 main characters per group, with the rest of the members of each raid being alt characters or outside “helpers”. Even for non-RWF guilds, depending on a guild’s advertised raiding hours, it is common for players to maintain additional characters to use in split runs to balance efficiency of loot drops, time investment, and the guild’s advertised hours. This minimizes loot competition and maximizes the loot funneled into crucial characters of main raiders.
For RWF guilds in particular, outside helpers are a crucial component to the splits process. Helpers are people that are not part of the main-raiding force, who voluntarily give up their own ability to acquire gear. While having many alts helps plan and organize splits, volunteers are the bread and butter of modern-day split raiding.
To raid in a RWF guild, players are typically required to have a large number of alt characters for a couple of reasons, one of which is to help fill up split runs. Unfortunately, that still leaves a number of slots that need to be filled. As mentioned in the previous section, this is where bringing in split runners from outside of the guild comes in. This strategy has been employed by top guilds for a handful of years now, and has swiftly become standard practice.
Guilds such as Liquid, Echo, Method, and others advertise weeks prior to the RWF to recruit those who are willing to join their cause and donate their time and loot lockouts. Many guilds will also recruit help to provide assistance in Mythic+ dungeons. Raiders on the bench may need helpers to fill groups or to provide specific keystones to target some important gear pieces.
Splits are planned and tracked through elaborate spreadsheets to organize all the volunteers, and more importantly, all the gold they are owed for their time! That’s right – community helpers who attend split runs to aid RWF guilds get compensated for their time and sacrifice of passing loot.
Ultimately, this makes splits using helpers prohibitively expensive to any guild not competing at the highest level, and represents a substantial portion of the cost RWF guilds spend each raid tier.
If you are a fan of the RWF, or of any of the competing guilds in particular, participating in split runs is a fantastic way to get involved! Look out for posts on Twitter, in guild Discord servers, and in event streams for info on how to sign up for splits. You can be a part of the RWF, get a little extra gold in your pocket, and feel the pride of your “home team” winning, knowing that you helped them get there.
The launch of Dragonflight saw a handful of changes that have had an impact on the strategies and preparation behind Split Running.
RAID LAUNCH SCHEDULE
For many years now, raid launches have followed a schedule where Normal and Heroic difficulty are released together, and then Mythic the following reset. This creates a week that is solely devoted to split running and gathering up as much gear as possible. For Vault of the Incarnates, Blizzard decided to release all 3 raid difficulties simultaneously. Split running is still taking place, as it is way too important to ignore as a source of player power.
However, as Ion Hazzikostas mentioned in our recent interview, every minute that guilds spend in Normal and Heroic splits is time lost towards progressing through Mythic difficulty. Guilds will need to ensure their splits are impeccably organized and efficient or they will fall behind in the RWF of Vault of the Incarnates.
We will likely see splits over the first couple of days, but it will be really interesting to see which guilds, and at what points, decide to make the trek into Mythic!
One of the biggest changes, which has actually made the planning of splits significantly easier, is the return of Group Loot. Personal loot meant that splits needed to be sorted by armor type, ensuring higher chances of getting the proper loot items. With Group Loot, the loot table is always static and you have the same chances of getting gear no matter what classes are in the raid. Additionally, there are no more trading requirements holding people back from helping, such as needing a specific piece at a specific item level just so you’ll be able to trade gear if you loot it!
The last change isn’t a monumental one, but it does have an impact. Blizzard announced that Bind on Equip items (BoEs) will be changed to Bind on Pickup (BoP) for Mythic difficulty of Vault of the Incarnates. While not necessarily part of split running, guilds would also make use of BoEs by purchasing them from helpers from all over. Mythic BoEs are no longer available, so guild staff will only be in search of gear from Normal and Heroic. Additionally, BoEs drop off specific and unique trash mobs which have weekly lockouts, so the auction house is unlikely to be flooded with purchasable gear this time around. This will likely save guilds a significant amount of gold that would otherwise be budgeted for BoE purchases!
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About the Author
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 General Manager, Hulahoops oversees events, content, and more!