367 days of Mage Tower Challenges

I have now completed my year long journey of Mage Tower challenges.

All in all I got a total of 26, with only Affliction Warlock and Guardian Druid done before the turn of the year. With the recent maxing of artifacts via the Artifact retirement questline I’ve run in a glut of 15 in just under a fortnight.

Before we get into it, I don’t have either a Rogue or a Priest at 110, so that was 6 specs I wasn’t going to do right off the bat. I do have a Shaman at 110, but she was horribly under-geared, and I didn’t really want any of the available appearances.

So with that in mind, for the other 9 classes, the ones I got in order were:

  1. Affliction Warlock (July 2017 – 911 ilevel)
  2. Guardian Druid (Dec 2017 – 923 ilevel)
  3. Marks Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
  4. BM Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
  5. Survival Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
  6. Feral Druid (Apr 2018 – 920 ilevel)
  7. Frost Mage (Jun 2018 – 933 ilevel)
  8. Windwalker Monk (Jun 2018 – 900 ilevel)
  9. Frost DK (Jun 2018 – 920 ilevel)
  10. Destro Warlock (Jul 2018 – 954 ilevel)

Everything below was post artifact Empowerment in July 2018:

  1. Havoc DH (917 ilevel)
  2. Prot Paladin (941 ilevel)
  3. Protection Warrior (923 ilevel)
  4. Vengeance DH (923 ilevel)
  5. Fire Mage (932 ilevel)
  6. Fury Warrior (926 ilevel)
  7. Unholy DK (917 ilevel)
  8. Balance Druid (939 ilevel)
  9. Arms Warrior (926 ilevel)
  10. Demonology Warlock (958 ilevel)
  11. Blood DK (923 ilevel)
  12. Arms Warrior (926 ilevel)
  13. Brewmaster Monk (918 ilevel)
  14. Resto Druid (939 ilevel)
  15. Holy Pally (932 ilevel)
  16. Arcane Mage (930 ilevel)

So what is my impression of this addition of challenging solo content to the game?

The Scenarios

Some of the scenarios were laughably easy, whereas some of them were stress inducingly difficult.

The Impossible Foe

This was a fight against Agatha, the Imp Mother. For half of the specs I ran through this scenario it was a one shot. Helped enormously because you could cheese this scenario to a degree, as it was counted as being on the Broken Isles, and all the buff pots and food that work in outdoor areas in BI also worked here, although I didn’t find that out until I did my last one, Fury!

However even without those, the scenario itself was largely very easy.

Feral: For my disco cat appearance, and absolutely destroyed it thanks to Brutal Slash basically decimating everything in its path. One Shot!

Unholy DK: Despite not having the first clue how to play the spec, was also a one shot.

Fire Mage: Took a couple of pulls, due to the lack of self heals available for Mages, but it went down in 4 pulls regardless.

Fury Warrior: This was definitely the hardest spec to run in this scenario, and surprisingly this took a good 10 pulls before getting it down.

Feltotem’s Fall

This one ranged from easy to difficult…

BM Hunter: Without the healing legs or Pet Spec ring this was very difficult and I had to leave it until a later time. Once however I got both those legendaries (within a day or two of one another) this scenario became a complete joke. Main problems here without leggos are interrupts and self heals.

WindWalker Monk: Given the monk’s toolkit, which includes self heals and a plethora of interrupts and stuns this was a cakewalk. In fact this was the only Mage Tower I completed at less than the recommended MT iLevel of 905, when I completed it at iLevel 900, less than 8 hours after hitting 110. Mind you I had gotten pretty handy with the WW after spending a lot of time in the weeks beforehand levelling her to 110 for the Void Elf heritage armour. 8 vastly under-geared pulls and done.

The God Queen’s Fury

This was a slight step up in difficulty, depending on the spec.

Ret Paladin: I went in here and just destroyed this on the free pull. 940-ish gear mean I overgeared it to a decent degree.

Demo Lock: Took a few goes until I got some handle on Demo as a spec. I’ve not played Demo AT ALL, and yet it still went down in about 4 pulls. Mainly wiped here due to missed interrupts on Sigryn’s Blood of the Father cast, but overall my Warlock’s high gear level (958) got me through this.

Arcane Mage: Weeeelllll. This was definitely the hardest spec to complete this challenge on. I did this at a lower ilevel (930) than any of the other two classes I finished it on, and man there was a WORLD of difference in difficulty. Whereas Ret had access to damage reductions, stuns, speed boosts, self-heals and two different immunities, and my Warlock had high gear, a pet and self heals, Arcane had a far harder time, especially with the lack of self healing.

This took a good couple of hours worth of solid work in order to get it done, immediately off the back of my last healing Mage Tower. This took a lot of practice at shield usage, judicious use of healing orbs and kiting like a madman in order to pull it off successfully, not to mention on-the-fly learning how to play Arcane Mage πŸ˜›

Not an appearance I was especially eager to get, but it was the last day before pre-patch, the final spec I could complete any Mage Towers on, and decided “Feck it, let’s at least try it, if only to get the last appearance for the Mage”.

Completed it 90 minutes before the servers went down for pre-patch πŸ˜€

Closing the Eye

This was a scenario I ran 4 times:

Frost DK: Not bad, took a good 10 pulls or so but got through it ok.

Survival Hunter: Despite not playing Survival at all, gear got me through this on the free first go. One shot, mainly thanks to being decently geared.

Havoc DH: Man, this was fun. Havoc was able to jump over the Razor Shards, but it took a while to get the hang of it. Was a close call, as I never play Havoc with my DH, but it went down after a handful of pulls.

Arms Warrior: Hooo boy. This was a bloody close one! I was always getting to phase 2 with the Corrupting Shadow boss, but had difficulty getting the adds down in time. Took a few pulls to get a handle on it, but then on the 4th pull I had just about run out of room, the boss had 20% health left (19 million) and it just started summoning in the adds and if the adds touch the boss he regains 15% health per mob. Luckily Executes were chunking him for about 5-6% of his health per hit, so I was just about able to down it in time before I lost my last centimetre of free space and adds begun to move:

Yep, he stopped there to summon in the adds when he was at 21% health. It was tight.

The Highlord’s Return

Now we get to the harder scenarios.

The tank challenge, man it was fun. This was the only scenario that I completed in totality, having finished it on every single tank spec.

Guardian Druid: Well, this was one of those challenges that was either ridiculously easy if you had the right legendaries (Luffa’s, which increases the range and damage of Thrash by 25%, Ekowraith which buffs the Affinity talent effects by 75% (more Thrash range and damage again!), or Lady and the Child, a Boomkin legendary that increased Moonfire damage).

Needless to say I had none of them. As such this was pretty damn challenging. Lack of Luffa’s and Eko meant I couldn’t out-range the Aura of Decay, and even with that, getting about the platform as a druid can be a bit ponderous and plodding at times. And with infernal knockbacks… yeah. But I got there in a few dozen tries. Worth it, because the Werebear appearance is one of my favourites.

Prot Paladin: I’d tried this pre-empowerment, but kept getting dinged about the platform by infernals in P2. So after finding a decent strat and talent setup I gave it another bash and went in and DESTROYED Variss pretty damn quick, which meant only one infernal in P2, and therefore a win!

Prot Warrior: This was one appearance I didn’t think I was going to get at all. My Warrior was still 106 about 6 weeks away from the then-estimated date of the pre-patch, so I needed to get her levelled to 110 and get her geared, but I was busy levelling the Monk at the time and working on my Frost Mage MT. So after hitting 110 I left her for 4 weeks(!) while I worked on the Monk & Mage, then came back to her…

It took about a week while I geared her and got her 2nd leggo Order Hall upgrade. This one was pretty hard. Took a good 33 pulls for without a doubt one of the more difficult tank challenges, but it did reward one of my favourite appearances.

Vengeance DH: Oh My God. Pull 1? Wipe.

Pull 2? I wiped at this point:

0_o

I got knocked off towards the very end, was gliding back on and checking mob positions mid-glide, slid face first down the only crack in the entire platform and Velen died with Kruul sub 1%…

Either way, this one was very easy, and went down in about 6 pulls all told!

Blood DK: Velen man, fucking Velen. Worse than a terribad LFR player, this guy dying to adds caused more wipes (10) than anything else. However once I put together a couple of macros for Variss interrupts and Gorefiends grasp to pull mobs to ME, then it went down. The weapon though? Eesh, pretty damn ugly.

Brewmaster Monk: This honestly was one I didn’t think I was going to get. Time was running out, I was 900 ilevel, I’d not touched a Brewmaster since very early Warlords, and back then I was awful at it, so I didn’t hold out much hope. But with a few days left before pre-patch I decided to spend a couple of days gearing in order to give it a bash, just to see how hard it was and to round out my Tank challenges.

LOL – Easier than the Vengeance DH even πŸ˜€

4 pulls in total! Talents? They made this one a complete breeze tbh. Statue took care of the adds, and kept them off of Velen, and Niuzao Ox tanked Kruul for me for 45 seconds towards the end of the fight, saving me a lot of hassle!

With those two talents this essentially became a DPS challenge where I had to interrupt Variss & Kruul now and then, as well as avoid infernal knockbacks. Definitely the easiest tank challenge of all.

Thwarting the Twins

FUCK ME PURPLE. If I never see Karam or Raest again in the years I have left on this Earth, it’ll be too soon. I fucking HATED this scenario. This was, by far, the hardest scenario out of all the Mage Towers I ran.

This scenario, in the later phases (there were 5 altogether), was ridiculously overly-complex. The mental bandwidth required to execute this MT was just stupid.

  • Kiting a Mob (Karam) that will one-shot you.
  • Kiting adds that will seriously hurt/one-shot you.
  • Hand spawns that cast a spell that will one-shot you that needs interrupted and burned ASAP.
  • Watch for rune spawns that need to be stood in for several seconds, while hoping Karam doesn’t catch you. If not stood in they spawn an add that will kill you.
  • Kill Raest to complete the scenario.

Balance Druid: This was my first experience with the scenario back when the Mage Towers were first launched. Balance was my main at the time, and I was trying to get this done. I had a torrid time, so much so that I gave up and swore never to do this scenario again. Shortly after I changed main to…

Affliction Warlock: Well FML. Back here again, but this was cheesable, and so wasn’t quite as difficult as Balance. The Warlock leggo ring that makes Corruption do more damage also slowed mobs by 60%, and combined with the talent that makes Corruption permanent and the ability to AoE mobs with Corruption? All of the mobs were able to be slowed permanently which made kiting them a damned sight easier. Done at a now fairly low-ish ilevel of 911, this was far easier than Balance.

Marks Hunter: BLAM BLAM BLAM DED. I’d been playing MM for a few weeks beforehand, and an ilevel of 943 made everything just melt. Which was fucking satisfying.

Frost Mage: Right, pull up a chair…

55 Pulls. At least. I switched from Bigwigs to DBM after a good couple of dozen tries at least because Bigwigs shockingly had no great module for the Mage Tower challenges (yes, it took me a while to realise).

This was, by far, the single hardest encounter in the game for me. This surpassed even the Green Fire fight against Kanrethad back when I was undergeared for that back in Mists. This was actually vastly harder than that.

Karam could be slowed by some of the Frost toolkit, but if you didn’t get him into the next phase quick enough he began to DR (become immune to) the slow and would begin speeding up until he was running so fast it was impossible to kite him any longer.

Combine that with most of the Frost spells having cast times of at least 1.8 seconds with my level of haste, which meant kiting Karam was a tough job when Hands had to be interrupted and burnt down ASAP.

In short, with the number of things needing done towards the final phase in that encounter (Kite Karam, Avoid Adds, Stand in Runes, Interrupt & Kill Hands, oh and kill Raest to actually beat it) I found the mental throughput to be exhausting and overwhelming. However, eventually, I beat the damn thing, and was shaking like mad when I did, and nearly felt like crying from relief. This was an appearance I really really wanted to get, now that I have a Mage to play again.

I did it pre-empowerment, and empowerment might’ve made it a lot easier, on the other hand it may not have, but I was proud to have done it while it was still rock hard.

Balance Druid: Yes, I came back again, both to the scenario and with this class. This was post empowerment, and I had to be convinced to give it another bash. I one shot the fucking thing, and both Karam and Raest just melted. Man that was cathartic πŸ˜€

End of the Risen Threat

This is the healing challenge, and not one I thought I’d ever get near. I hadn’t healed at all since Mythic Nighthold progression way last year, and the two classes I had that could potentially complete this were Resto Druid and Holy Paladin.

The biggest thing about this challenge was how different it was from all of the other challenges. This came in 4 distinct phases:

Phase 1: Run a gauntlet of 5 different waves of differing combinations of 3 mobs (A Mage, a Hunter and a Rogue).

The Hunter had an attack that if it hits you drains most of your mana and hurt a lot. So you either had to stun or LoS it with your tank. Mages had a nasty stacking buff that could end up one-shotting even your tank and Rogues had a annoyingly heavy AoE damage Fan of Knives style attack, and would also enrage and fixate on you doing heavy damage.

  • Wave 1: Hunter (Easy)
  • Wave 2: Mage & Hunter. (Pretty ok)
  • Wave 3: Hunter & Rogue (Pretty ok)
  • Wave 4: Mage & 2 Rogues (Hard)
  • Wave 5: Mage, Rogue & Hunter (Hardest)

After this you were able to take a breather for as long as you like, and wait for cooldowns to come back up again (and yes, for those last 2 waves, you needed to pop cooldowns to keep everyone up).

Phase 2: This was on a 5 minute timer. Kill a bunch of different mobs, dispel then heal a set of different mobs up that were taking ticking damage, kill a bunch more mobs.

After that then there was another intermission that meant you could rest for as long as you wanted before continuing. Overall this phase was very easy on both classes, and served as a palette cleanser between rough patches.

Phase 3: This was where most runs came to die, and was rough on both classes I used. Here your team were mind controlled and started fighting each other, meaning you had to heal the entire team (usually 2 at a time, 3 together in one wave). However while you’re doing that, the final boss is drawing ghosts in towards himself from the edge of the room, in waves of three, that you need to heal up to full to rescue.

Each ghost had about 4 million health and any you failed to heal to full before they reached him (about 10 seconds from appearing to hitting him) they then became hostiles in P4 and had to be killed. You needed a total of 8 rescued before the next phase would trigger.

So on both I went for 3-2-2-1, which meant 2 mobs became hostile in the next phase, as I deliberately missed 1 mob in each of the middle phases, and the fourth wave gave me my 8th Ghost healed up.

Phase 4: Kill any mobs you didn’t heal to full in P3 (same classes of mobs as P1), then fight the boss. Once you got here this was a lot easier and just required concentration and focus. This involved the boss fighting the tank, jumping to your position and both dropping a fel pool on the floor (GTFO) and applying an Ignite Soul debuff to you, which would damage your entire party with whatever level of health you had remaining when it went off, which meant you had to do the entire last phase at 20-40% health at most.

Resto Druid: The first healer I ran through this was my old favourite healing spec. I’d been intermittently playing Resto as an alt spec for LFR shizzle since Siege of Orgrimmar and have always found it to be a fun and relaxing spec. More of a raid stabiliser than a tank healer, I’ve always enjoyed the trickle-up style of hot-based healing and find it fairly chilled.

Then I came to this challenge and shit my pants. Resto struggled in P1 where there was a lack of big bomb heals and regular interrupts, which meant Jarod, your tank, was having to be used as a shield against the Hunter’s Mana Sting.

The tricky P3 was made a lot easier by Tranq on Wave 1, Drums and Tree on Wave 2, then spamming heals for the next 2 waves. P4 was pretty ok, although it took a few attempts at this phase to get a feel for how low you could leave your own health for the Ignite Soul debuff. A lot of Swiftmend usage as well as double rejuvs on EVERYONE except for me.

Holy Paladin: Another one I honestly didn’t think I’d get done, as I was REALLY struggling with healing the Ghosts and my party in P3 here, mainly because Holy Pally is primarily a single target (tank) healer. I had to put a LOT of faith in my double bacons (man I love that nickname) to keep my party up while I was healing ghosts, and shuffle my 2nd beacon around a LOT to keep team members alive.

P1 was a lot easier on the Pally thanks to a couple of stuns, which helped keep the Mage & Hunters under lockdown fairly often. P1 then became a fairly predictable strategy to Repentence Hunters and stick Hand of Justice on Mages when they got to 4 stacks of Arcane Blitz.

But that P3 man, sheesh it was TOUGH. Had to deliberately let mobs go through on waves 2 and 3, just to keep my party up. P4 though was pretty good for Holy, as you were concentrating on keeping your tank up for the most part, and were able to stick your double beacons on the 2 DPS members of the team. Died a few times because I was too low for the jump that hurt you and applied the Ignite Soul debuff, but after a few goes at this stage I got there in the end!

The overall Mage Tower experience.

For me, Mage Towers ran the gamut from the laughably easy (Unholy DK, Ret Pally, Fire Mage, Balance Druid (after empowerment)) through the decently challenging (Fury Warrior, Arms Warrior, Havoc DH), onto the really challenging (Blood DK, Resto Druid, Holy Paladin, Arcane Mage) and finally onto the downright frustratingly difficult and made me want to assume the Foetal position (Frost Mage, Blood DK, Balance Druid (before empowerment)).

Overall though? I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I loved that beating these various scenarios was all down to me, and how well I was able to play the spec (and in some cases learn it from scratch!).

Some classes had it a lot easier than others. Monks were laughably easy in both DPS and Tank challenges. Demon Hunters had a decently easy enough time of it, as did Warlocks and Hunters. Others though got really shafted, like Mages (bar Fire), Druids (bar Feral), and Tanks & Healers in general (bar Brewmaster and Vengeance), for whom both scenarios were significantly more difficult than the majority of the DPS challenges.

Well, except for Karam and Raest. Fuck those guys.

And as you have already seen, if you were a single spec player, and played nothing else, then you could either have got lucky and got Agatha in Impossible Foe, or really fucking unlucky and been a Frost Mage or Prot Warrior.

But in the end, I did 26 out of the possible 36 specs, because I didn’t want to be in a situation where I might decide to main a new spec in a couple of years and think to myself “Man, I wish I’d done the Mage Tower for this spec back in Legion”, and regret never having done it. I feel that way still about the Hunter’s Challenge Mode armour from Mists of Pandaria, as I only got it on the Paladin.

If nothing else, Mage Towers made the players become at least passably familiar enough with a spec that they could beat it, thus gaining a greater appreciation of the various specs in the game.

What made it worth it

Some of my favourite appearances?

Click the images below for full size:

Guardian Druid
Frost Mage
Prot Warrior
Brewmaster Monk
Resto Druid
Havoc Demon Hunter
Frost DK
Marks Hunter

Others included the Feral Druid form, Affliction Warlock, Survival Hunter and Ret Paladin.

So from the first, my Affliction Warlock back in July 2017:

Affliction Warlock: The First Tower

To my last, Arcane Mage 90 minutes before servers shut down and Mage Towers went away forever:

Arcane Mage: The Last Tower

I had a blast, and I hope you did too! πŸ™‚

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