Like many players - and also unlike many players - I've been doing 2-3 DRMs most days since the update which improved scaling to allow CMs to be soloed - one of the best updates that could have been done to the system. I find the content fine, a bit repetitive, but not the worst thing I've spent time on in the game. But doing this for a couple of months I've compiled a small list of changes that I think would shore up many of the issues players have with the content. Lacking any other good way to get this list out there, I present it here with the hopes that community feedback can build on it, and it can be seen and considered by the dev team.
Without further ado, below is the list of changes that I think would largely improve the DRM experience, categorized for consumability.
The main impetus for these changes is to not have some DRMs be artificially more difficult than others, especially when there is no difference in reward acquired. These changes also will complete the "scaling fixes" - I consider those incomplete as it is certainly possible to solo all DRMs, but 3 of them are excessively more difficult or punishing than the others when going it alone, and for those most players simply need to group up to finish them, defeating the purpose of the scaling changes.
Prevent bosses in Thunderhead Keep and Caledon Forest from resetting on party wipe. - I believe this is due in some way to a pathing script that is set to the bosses - THK Destroyer walks in circles around the forge, while the Icebrood Construct walks up and down the bridge. This makes soloing arduous there are several mechanics that can easily wipe a solo player (or a less experienced group). In the spirit of keeping the DRMs on a similar difficulty level to maintain the variety that keeps them replayable, these bosses should not reset when a party wipes.
Add 1 minute to the Timer CM on Snowden Drifts. - I'm not going to complain about difficult content, so I consider this a lower priority, but once again I feel like it's just an unusual and frankly unexpected difficulty spike compared to all other CMs, and, much like what happened with Dungeons and Citadel of Flame in the past, inconsistent difficulty leads to lowered variety in content as players gravitate towards the content that's easier and/or faster to complete, especially when rewards are the same. As it stands, this is a very difficult CM to solo, best done with a class that can provide swiftness or superspeed to the escort to buy time, consistently boonstrip to remove protection from the boss, DPS to beat the timer, and with enough active defenses to survive the boss's fast attack patterns and CC chains that can fully wipe you if one connects. As a group, I've found even with the strong raid/CM comp of HB + Alac + 3 DPS, all 3 DPS need to be hitting 10k+ DPS to still beat the timer - which should not be difficult (I main DPS DH so I'm easily well above that) but is once again a stark difference compared to the checks required for ALL other DRMs.
Scale down supplies run in Bloodtide Coast pre events. - Actually, this morning I was at last able to solo all 3 pre-events AND set the challenges, which I had previously missed by just a handful of seconds each time. The trick was to hope the enemies spawned in such a way that I could kill a group of 2-3 in between supply runs, and to use the supply drop off closer to the entrance rather than the one closer to the quaggan cave. But this is a silly set of pre-events that is way harder to complete solo than any other set of events. Simply scaling down the supplies needed would bring this in line with all the others.
Allies and Gameplay Variety
The main impetus for these changes is to bring the Ally mechanic - which is, in theory, a good mechanic for creating a better variety of gameplay - into line with what I assume is its intended vision. I want to offer some praise for this mechanic's idea: Much like fractal instabilities, the allies have the potential to tweak the moment to moment gameplay of each DRM, but the problem is the variety of power level is too great - some allies are basically useless in CMs, while others provide extremely powerful tools that can shave minutes off of the timer. There is a system that allows you to pay seals to pick your ally each run, but this basically feels awful to do every time, because you are forced to do it before you "roll" to see if you got an easier run or not, and this also completely destroys the intention of having "varied moment to moment gameplay". Instead, what we need to see are certain allies buffed to remain useful in CMs, so players can pick a certain one if they'd prefer to have it, but aren't randomly punished if they choose not to pay up front.
These Allies need stat or skill buffs: Sylvari, Norn, Ebon Vanguard, Flame Legion, Crystal Bloom, Asura, Tengu, Olmakhan - These ones die far too easily, and it's usually not worth taking any time to res them. The benefits provided by their presence are miniscule compared to what a single player can do. They have no ability to keep themselves alive (like the Exalted) and any skills gained (such as the Golem or the Fern Hound) are weak and a waste of time. The Ebon Vanguard banners are not placed well to be particularly useful in the fights where they would matter. Some of these allies are close - the Crystal Bloom have a useful buff from the crystal, but the NPCs that carry it get murdered by a stiff breeze of CM Bursters. The Flame Effigies actually seem to be able to handle themselves a bit better and their aura is alright, though they are still nothing compared to CM Elites. The Tengu bow 2 actually does decent boss damage, but unlike the Charrzookas, you have to keep the NPC alive to get more in a boss fight, or pick up arrows which are a joke, because holding the bow will destroy any chance of DPSing you have once your ammo runs out.
For reference, these Allies are GOOD and don't need any significant changes: Exalted, Deldrimor Dwarves, Charr, and on the edge, Seraph. - The Exalted provide a great transformation (with the 3 skill from Masteries) and they actually down state and heal each other back, allowing them to hold off against CM foes. The Dwarves Acid is a special action that doesn't interrupt your ability to DPS and provides super strong damage and bar break. The Charrzooka 2 skill is a highly powerful skill against stationary bosses or groups and is worth going out of your way to pick up. The Seraph are on the edge - the watchknights still can get overwhlemed and die, but they are fairly bulky and provide consistent CC against enemies and bosses - I see them lasting much longer on their own than any ally besides Exalted, so I'll give them a pass.
The last section I have focuses on minor improvements to rewards and DRM currency acquisition that will make the final rewards feel more achievable and better to achieve.
Adjust the Dragon Boons' duration. - One of the issues with the system is that you are encouraged to not play with your character beyond doing DRMs, because otherwise you will lose out on potential rewards as the Boons from killing a Primordius/Jormag champin wear off. Often doing a single meta or other daily or bonus events will be enough to reduce your first-gained boon to the point where it won't even be in effect the next time you run a DRM. With the most recent mastery increasing rewards while under the effect of both, this issue has been exacerbated. Now, in order to get the most rewards, I will need to use my alts to play other content to try to keep my main with both boons at all times. This could be easily fixed by increasing the duration of the boons massively - up to 3 or 4 hours per boon? Why are we punishing players for playing other content? Several hours per boon will still make me want to come back before it expires, but now I can actually go run a drizzlewood meta and not feel like I'm sacrificing some reward for others.
Add the Cold and Fire damage types to the ascended weapons. - I'll admit I swiped this one from the GW2 subreddit - but this is an easy change that I've never seen a better place to apply. These are fire and ice weapons that take massive amounts of materials and time to craft - while I think it's crazy to sit here and ask for tons of cool extra effects on them, can we at least set the toggle on them to give them those unique death animations when used?
Add an Infusion for the relevant Boon Effect as an additional reward to finishing the Ascended Weapon achievements. - Again, these are some of the most expensive weapon collections in the entire game. One really cool thing to do would be to add - even if it's by way of a vendor who "checks' if you've finished the achievement to grant you these items by mail or some little hack like that - a bonus Infusion to completing each one, perfect for your million new ascended weapons, and that Infusion should grant you the related "wrist effect" of ice or fire, just as if you had the related Dragon Boon on you. At this point, you deserve to have that boon effect on you 24/7 if you want, you've done enough DRMs to last a lifetime!
That's everything I've got. I think these changes wouldn't be terribly difficult - many of them are just tweaking values or fixing something that really seems more like a bug than anything - besides adding the Infusions at the end. But I think they would make the DRMs smoother to play, better to Solo, and more rewarding to complete, so I think these would be great things to improve the big content addition from the end of the Icebrood Saga.
Let me know your thoughts, if there's anything you agree or disagree with, and your own suggestions below!