The Night Fae dungeons, De Other Side and Mists of Tirna Scithe, probably have some of the least impactful buffs in terms of time saved, but these buffs are notably some of the highest quality of life changes.
Night Fae is also the most represented among DPS specs, which make up three of your five slots in your party with the meta DPS specs of Fire Mage, Rogue, Marksmanship Hunter, and Balance Druid. This means that most groups will at least have a Night Fae in their party as the DPS specs will likely bring it.
Mists of Tirna Scithe
Mists has Savory Statshroom which gives you 10% main stat for 10 minutes. This is a decent buff and definitely helps on the first boss in Ingra Maloch as phasing this boss quickly is pretty important. There is also the vines to the left on the opening of the dungeon which are also really important as it allows you to skip a pack with a Tirnenn Villager in it, which is the hardest mob in the dungeon. The last buff in Mists is the Depleted Anima Seed which when clicked by a Night Fae, it updates your checkpoint in the dungeon and whenever you die you release at the anima seed.
The theoretical time save that the Mists of Tirna Scithe buffs provide is on the lower end, but the access to checkpoints and the vines at the beginning make the buff pseudo mandatory in order to feel more comfortable in the dungeon. The difference in having to blow a battle rez versus just running back to the group has potential to be a monumental time save on the whole as well.
De Other Side
De Other Side has a pretty underrated buff in Haunted Urn. The urn stuns all targets within 30 yards for 10 full seconds. This also stuns mobs that can normally not be stunned and even mobs that are affected by Inspiring. There are 2 Urns located on the ring outside of the Mueh’zala area. There is 1 urn in the Hakkar the Soulflayer hallway. The final urn is in the Dealer Xy’exa Ardenweald area.
The stuns from the urns in De Other Side are nice for certain situations. The first situation is to stun the Enraged Spirit on his Rage cast, making him cancel it. The second situation is on a big pull in the Ardenweald area. The Ardenweald area’s trash lacks a lot of anti-kite mechanics and casts which makes the potential for big pulls in this area incredibly high. Keeping your big pull grouped up and stunned for 10 seconds is really profitable as the rest of your party is then able to have a high DPS burn and your tank is able to generate threat in the meantime without having to worry about survivability.
The Venthyr covenant buffs are probably the most impactful in regards to time gained across all covenants and unfortunately one of the most difficult to obtain. This is due to the fact that there are very few specs that actively want to be Venthyr.
Some of the specs that want to be Venthyr are Enhancement Shaman, DPS Warrior, and Discipline Priest. Unfortunately, not many of these choices are meta for dungeons, this means that typically you will have to adapt and push somebody else onto that Venthyr role.
Asking somebody to play an off-meta covenant choice is only really a strategy for the highest of key groups and it will typically be those who lose the least by swapping. The common choices for people to play the Venthyr role are healers (notably Restoration Shaman) as they typically lose less than DPS lose to play Venthyr. Other Venthyr options are Rogue and Unholy Death Knight.
Halls of Atonement
Halls of Atonement has the Loyal Stoneborn ability which is one of the most important covenant buffs in regards to time saved in a dungeon. The Loyal Stoneborns scale with dungeon level and do heaps of damage whenever controlled. They also give you a damage reduction buff as well which can can be very beneficial on stuff like Prideful. The Stoneborns are most impactful on single target and using 2 into Halkias or High Adjudicator Aleez.
They fixed mind controlling 2 of them at a time, but it is possible if you are in combat with both of them and mash your extra action button in quick succession. On top of that the Stoneborns are buffed by haste effects such as Bloodlust or Power Infusion. It is not uncommon for the Stoneborns to do ~10k+ DPS per use on single target alone.
Sanguine Depths’ covenant ability is Sinfall Boon which are lanterns that you click, kill mobs on top of the lanterns, and collect 1 stack of the buff per mob killed inside the lantern circle. This lantern gives you 5% damage and healing per stack and the duration is refreshed if you activate another lantern within a minute and kill more mobs inside its circle.
There are 6 lanterns in this instance and the only ones that are not super useful are the ones around the Executor Tarvold ring. These are the ones that you are able to reliably refresh the lantern buff to stack up extended duration of the buffs themselves. The ones at the beginning of the instance and the General Kaal trash gauntlet are both very useful and very powerful as they can allow you to get well over 5 stacks of the buff comfortably for a minute duration.
Patch 9.0.5 Changes to Venthyr Bonuses
TLDR: You still really want a Venthyr.
Halls of Atonement – Loyal Stoneborn
Overall, these nerfs were necessary to bring Halls of Atonement Stoneborns more in line with other covenant specific dungeon buffs. The increased duration that they do all of their damage in also effects things such as the potency of Power Infusion on the stoneborns. I do believe that the covenant buff here will be less enticing as a whole, but still very strong in this instance. The general placement of the stoneborns + the fact that killing them is normally inefficient due to the amount of count vs the HP they have means that controlling them is still the preferred method, just slightly less mandatory than before. I do still believe this is an incredibly compelling covenant for Halls though.
Sanguine Depths – Sinfall Boon
Sinfall Boon – Duration changed from 60 sec to 75 sec on the buff.
This buff to Sanguine Depths lanterns is very questionable in my opinion from a balancing standpoint. The lanterns in Sanguine Depths were already some of the most powerful buffs when used correctly. When used normally the lanterns were already a solid buff in their own right.
There are few lanterns that were able to be extended just due to the length that it took to run from pack to pack, but the ones that it was feasible on are now more easily accessible to get that extension for a substantial time gain buffing up the power of the Sinfall Boon stacks even more. Even at its base value, the increase in duration of Sinfall Boon will make Venthyr infinitely more desirable in Sanguine Depths keeping Venthyr as still one of those covenant buffs that you really want.
The Kyrian buffs are incredibly strong, but requires smart use of them to actualize their power. There are strategies in both of the Kyrian dungeons that allow you to play around the buffs themselves and gain tremendous power which is really nice. An interesting point is that most groups have a Kyrian in the group in some form or fashion. Many tanks are the Kyrian covenant and also one of the meta dps specs in Windwalker Monk. As far as tanks go, Vengeance DH, Prot Warrior, Brewmaster Monk are Kyrian, Prot Pally can be Kyrian, Guardian can be whatever covenant they want, and Blood DK is probably not Kyrian.
The Necrotic Wake buff forms around the remains of the Malfunctioning Goliath. There are 3 of them in the instance and they summon orbs that give you the Anima Exhaust buff. This buff pulses an insane amount of AOE around the party for a minute and also heals nearby party members. You do need to be in melee of the targets, which can be wonky at times, but In my experience this damage buff can be upwards of 6-7% of your damage in the dungeon. This is a considerable amount in total and a very powerful buff because of it. There are 3 of the goliaths littered around the instance and they don’t have great locations, but they are still really potent.
These buffs are best used on packs that you are not using many of the Necrotic Wake specific weapons on as doubling up on high amounts of offensive cooldowns can be too much and better used elsewhere. It is just another passive damage source inside of Necrotic Wake that helps you speed up the dungeon even more.
Spires of Ascension
Spires of Ascension’s Spear of Destiny is one of those abilities that when played around it can be very impactful in the dungeon. It is similar to the Urn in De Other Side except it makes enemies within the circle take 20% increased damage while being stunned for 10 seconds. With mobs such as Forsworn Squad-Leader, Forsworn Goliath, and the 3 angel mini bosses before Devos, the use of the Spear is pivotal to some pulls success or failure.
The spear is best used compounded with offensive damage cooldowns and potentially Prideful which is why this covenant buff is so important. Being able to stun a pack and blow it up with insane damage can help convert something that would normally be 2 pulls into 1 singular pull saving you minutes since there are 2 of these spears in the instance.
The final covenant is the least important covenant dungeon buff and that is the Necrolord covenant. The Necrolord covenant buffs are the least impactful as a whole and on top of that Plaguefall’s timer is so lenient that the covenant buff is not very impactful to timing the key. Theater of Pain and the buff associated with theater is fairly solid, but the accessibility to Necrolord covenant options is really low.
The only specs that prioritize Necrolord are Restoration Shaman, Elemental Shaman, and Unholy Death Knights. Restoration Shaman is most certainly in the meta currently, but a few of Resto Shaman players have swapped from Necrolord to Venthyr. This is because when you are talking about which buffs are more important the Venthyr buffs are significantly more important than the Necrolord ones.
As alluded to above, Plaguefall’s timer is very lenient. That coupled with the covenant buff choices of Rapid Infection, Corrosive Gunk, or Congealed Contagion being the buffs gained, now you can start to see why this can be problematic. More often than not you Fleshcraft the red slime to get the Rapid Infection which is a 15% haste for allies within 10 yards. Consistently staying within 10 yards of another player is not always feasible and while it could translate to decent damage, it is far less important than other covenant buff options.
That coupled with the fact that Rigged Plagueborer virtually play the dungeon for you, makes Plaguefall’s covenant specific buff largely irrelevant.
Theater of Pain
Theater of Pain’s covenant specific buff is actually really strong as it gives you Necrolord’s Chosen. This translates to 10% Versatility and 10% speed for 5 minutes. The buff is good, but unfortunately the issue is the placement of the banners themselves. The banners sit at the start of the wing, meaning that a lot of the pain points or time losses incurred by bosses cannot be alleviated a bit by the banners buff. The Theater of Pain banners are not perfect, but they definitely would be useful to obtain top level runs in this dungeon as the timer starts to get a bit rough as you go higher.
Unfortunately, with Plaguefall’s buff being so poor the likelihood of you asking somebody that would not already be Necrolord to go Necrolord is fairly low. With the reduced pool of specs that actively play Necrolord as well, this makes this buff incredibly hard to come by even though it would be nice in a lot of situations.