This past Sunday my 8-man ops team finally downed Dread Master Brontes on hard. I say "finally" even though we didn't spend that many nights wiping on her, but whenever we did it felt a bit like we were struggling more than we should have - if that makes sense - wiping a lot to repeating the same mistakes over and over, until we finally found just the right way to handle each phase. I won the Volcanic Kell Drake pet that she drops as well, so double yay for me!
That leaves the Dread Council itself in Palace hardmode as the only encounter in this tier that we haven't downed yet. With how many different moving parts that fight has, I expected it to be a major pain in the butt, but after actually seeing it for the first time and judging by some comments I've seen from others, it might not turn out to be as bad as I thought. Seeing how nightmare mode Dread Fortress isn't scheduled to come out for another month, we might actually complete the current highest tier while it's still current! Off the top of my head, I can't think of a time I ever managed to do that before, either in SWTOR or back in my raiding days in WoW. I'm quite giddy at the thought.
Then again, the question of what the current highest tier is is a bit relative. Dread Fortress and Palace may well drop the best gear in the game right now, but my guild has only killed a single boss in TFB NiM, so that content continues to sit there, taunting us. The other night we went in with a bit of a hodgepodge group and almost got the Dread Guards down, but only almost. Scum nightmare is even worse: the last time we went in there, already wearing a lot of 78 gear, we tried to one-tank the first fight to maximise our damage output and still failed on both mechanics and dps. (Mind you, that one felt to me like we should be able to do it with a bit of practice, but still... it's a bit discouraging to fail on the very first boss of the previous tier once you outgear the fight, even on NiM.)
I'm not sure how happy I'd be to go back to TFB and Scum to work on the nightmare modes there now. I mean, they are great operations and I love them both, but TFB originally came out one and a half years ago. We learned it on story, we wiped on and later farmed it on hardmode, we spent two and a half months trying and failing to kill the Dread Guard on nightmare, until Oricon came out and brought blessed relief in the form of a much-needed change of scenery. Having three difficulty tiers to progress through within the same operation is just a bit tiring. I mean, the gear we have now should make it considerably easier, but we've already seen that the fights from that tier remain challenging even once you overgear them, so it would still be proper progression with lots of wiping.
From that point of view I'm not really looking forward to the release of Dread Fortress and Palace NiM either to be honest. We just don't have a history of being very successful in nightmare modes, and considering that we still struggle with the ones that we already outgear, I can't see us doing very well in nightmare mode Dread Fortress when it gets released in April. Here's hoping that Bioware will surprise us and give us a completely new operation sooner than expected... and for now, we still have a Dread Council to defeat.