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Challenge Modes are a great new addition to the game, I've spent a huge amount of time in them since MoP launched, but I've also noticed that a lot of people give up easily because the initial brick wall to figuring them out can be daunting. I want more people to enjoy and discuss these modes! They're a lot of fun :)
Why Should You Do Challenge Modes?
Because they're a ton of fun! For years players have pined for a chance to prove their skill in a five person environment - Challenge Modes offer that opportunity. These are not only for the hardcore, however. Anyone can put in some effort and get Bronze times or even Silver, all the while improving yourself and your teammates so that you can tackle Gold when you are ready. The rush of doing well in a challenge mode is unparalleled.
If you want tangible rewards they are:
So now you want to go but you're a bit overwhelmed?
I've put together walkthroughs for all of the current dungeons so that groups starting a dungeon can have a reference to start with and adapt the strategy to their group, reducing some of the frustration and initial hurdle of learning what you can and cannot skip, which trash is hard, etc.
Some basic tips that hold true for all challenge modes before you start:
Consumables! You need these. There are:
18 second Invisibility Potions, that take 1 Ghost Mushroom and 1 Sungrass each.
15 second Lesser Invisibility Potions that take 1 Wild Steelbloom and 1 Fadeleaf each.
Flasks - Tanks should use DPS flasks
These represent a lot of the tank damage you will take during Challenge Modes, because you can't afford to CC most of the time and you often have to pull multiple packs together. The way you best handle these are by coordinating large tank cooldowns, smaller tank cooldowns, large healer cooldowns, and soft CC (interrupts, stuns, disorients, etc). For example, with my group a pretty standard 'hard' trash pull would involve a shadowfury on the pull, while I start a remorseless winter, leading to an extended stun while the DPS is AEing hard, then if there are casters that need priority interrupts we will have one person on each (or multiple on one as the situation warrants) and interrupt them while AE'ing the trash. If not enough is dead when stuns wear out, the tank will pop a big cooldown like Icebound Fortitude, or a healer cooldown like Tree of Life. Every party has a different composition, this is going to be the most challenging part to figure out. Once you know what you can do to keep a group mostly controlled for 30 seconds at a time, you will be much more successful in Challenge Modes.
Typically bosses are not a huge hurdle in Challenge Modes, trash represents bursts of intense difficulty, while bosses test your ability to sustain high dps and mechanical aptitude for longer periods of time. Bosses are typically where you will want to use DPS cooldowns, but in some instances trash packs are good places for these as well.
Healers should be drinking before you pull any trash pack or a boss, mana is a huge issue and spending 2 seconds getting out of combat can save you from wiping when your healer goes OOM at the last 10% of a fight.
Guides for individual dungeons, listed in my personal of easiest to hardest:
Scarlet Halls -
Gate of the Setting Sun -
Mogu'shan Palace -
Temple of the Jade Serpent -
Siege of Niuzao Temple -
Shado-Pan Monastery -
Stormstout Brewery -
Scarlet Monastery -
I won't make any claims that these are the most efficient routes, but I know there are a lot of random videos and it can be hard to sort through to find good information on a few of the zones, so these all are at least a great jumping off point on your quest for Gold times, and maybe you'll start to think of your own tricks and take world first!
Even with these guides, expect to spend some time in these dungeons - they are difficult, but it's far more about determination than anything else. Just keep at it and don't give up.
If you enjoy them, please check out our guild at www.aftermath-guild.com
If you need to poke me in game feel free I'm on a lot and have no problem talking shop or answering questions.
Edited by Marza on 10/20/2012 3:08 PM PDT
Excellent guide, very helpful. There's not enough literature on Challenge Modes so thank you to you and the hardcore community for contributing everything big to the rest of the playerbase yet again.
Edited by Kyne on 10/13/2012 12:38 AM PDT
Q. How do you start them?
Correct, you have to fly there. Once you get gold on a particular zone, you gain Challenger's Path for that zone and can teleport there for free once every 8 hours, and the cooldown resets any time you finish any challenge mode (regardless of medal).
Could you do a general FAQ too? E.g. does the timer start when you zone in? Should you use flask and food? Is there a minimum gear level? What DPS numbers are typical? Is healer DPS important?
Edited by Autumni on 10/13/2012 7:59 PM PDT
Some of this is addressed in the initial post, but I do think there is merit to a general FAQ style video as well. To answer your other questions: Timer starts a countdown ala BGs when you click the orb, you cannot see mobs past the 'wall' until it hits 1. You can see this in several of my videos. Minimum gear level: No, but you only get normalized DOWN to 463 not UP to it, as noted in the reply above.
Minimum dps numbers...those are highly subjective and going to vary by class and encounter style. On some fights we all do 90k+ and on some everyone is sitting around 40 or 50k. I will note that I've done at least some of these with lower dps classes, you just need skilled PLAYERS. Keep in mind your buff composition, it can bring up the value of a player that is doing less damage on skada or recount (for example melee haste in a hunter/melee heavy group).
Healer dps: Our healer DPSed in heal spec whenever he got an opportunity, usually boss fights I can pop a cooldown and he can DPS early on. In some videos you may see him doing 20k on a boss, but the myth of 4 dps 1 tank requirements is silly, our healer respecced DPS for only one single boss in all of the instances, Yan Zhu the Uncasked. That fight is tuned fairly ridiculously and while I'm sure you can do it without stacking dps, it definitely is a lot easier if you just 4 dps it (he also does almost no damage and people can heal from the beams as the fight goes on).
Composition really doesn't matter a whole lot if you're looking for gold. It certainly matters if you're going for the best time, but for getting all golds I think everything works.
We've only done 5 so far and our composition is probably one of the worst you can get.
My only problem with them as a whole is how unfair a lot of the instances are to melee as opposed to range heavy composition. A lot of the unfairness can be prevented, but a flame strike in SM going off in a range heavy group is completely different beast than one going off in a melee oriented group.
Videos are helpful to a lot of people just starting out to give a basic idea. The biggest thing that transfers over to most groups is a basic understanding of mechanics, little tricks with patrols and of course where to skip mobs with stealth/invisibility pots. For anybody just trying out challenge modes you will still need to test things for yourself to see what your limits are, unless you're running the exact same composition.
Apart from our gear being brought down in ilvl, does any of our gems from say comparing a blue chest ilvl 463 with no gems to an epic chest ilvl 472 with 2 gem sockets still function, and do our trinkets proc based effects get reduced or remain the same?
Everything gets reduced, however gem slots offer you a stronger return of stats for their itemization budget. In simple terms, even though your say, 389 chest with 2 sockets gets 'reduced' to 463, it's still better than a 463 with no sockets (assuming actual stats are just as good for your class obviously).
Due to this, the 'best' gear is going to be the gear best itemized relative to its ilevel, so the variety of gear available will increase over time and thus it is possible to get 'better' challenge mode gear, but it's very minor. If you have a 463 or better in every slot you're more than geared enough to start tackling these, and if it's a matter of raid gear with sockets vs a blue without, take the raid gear (unless the stats on it are just suboptimal for you vs a blue that is stronger, again).
Marza, Im curious as to what stat weights you are using for reforging. I can see the DPS benefit to hit capping, and to a lesser extent, expertise. But there are places you reforged mastery to hit or expertise. Just curious what you were basing your reforges on, as Im looking into working on all golds myself as soon as I can get guildies to step up lol
My reforge is pretty sloppy atm ;p Was originally done by mod but I've just freeballed it since the raid week started as I got more gear, I try to stay close to hit cap and exp soft cap, I'd love to hard cap it but it's a bit of a pita. Otherwise I favor mastery. I'm not as big into doing my own theorycraft about it as I used to be tbh. I need to fix my gems then I'll reforge again around them.
As far as which tanks...they all have their plusses and minuses. I think Ferals kind of lack stuns compared to warriors and monks, and dks have a plethora of CDs and good sustainability. I'm positive you could get gold with any tank.
Edited by Marza on 10/15/2012 11:44 AM PDT
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