I am always up for a good challenge in the World of Warcraft. Pushing my own skills to the very edge to achieve some crazy goal, now that’s one of the most exciting parts of the game for me! However, not even I was prepared for the Mage Tower Artifact Challenge.
The Mage Tower Artifact Challenge is actually a collection of solo trials with different versions for different specs. There’s about five different DPS only challenges (including one for Disc Priests) and then a tank and a healer one. The trials vary in difficulty, with the general consensus being that the tank and healer ones are perhaps a touch more challenging. However, each trial is a beast in it’s own right.
Despite being released when the Broken Shores dropped last patch, the Mage Tower Artifact Challenges were in fact tuned for gear from Tomb of Sargeras. That’s right, these trials were made with the assumption that you were wearing gear that wasn’t even in the game yet. Talk about a rough ride!
Rather than take that as a hint to wait until Tomb of Sargeras, myself and a number of other crazy individuals decided to give it a shot. And then another. And then another. For as long as the Mage Tower Building was up in the Broken Shores, myself and a host of other players would spam the challenge in a dogged attempt to beat the challenge. Then, when the Mage Tower was down, we’d all farm Nethershards to pay for the 100 Shard cost per attempt.
The challenge was completable, the handful of successful YouTube video tutorials could attest to it. However, it required either an insanely high level of gear or a lot of RNG luck. And of course, a deep knowledge of one’s class. At first, the only holy paladins I knew who’d successfully completed the challenge were all mythic raiders geared to the nines. We’re talking 910+ ilvled gear, kited out with the best. And then there was me, barely 890 with just two legendaries.
But when has being underprepared ever stopped a determined paladin?
In this case, it almost did. Only after about 10 item levels of gear improvement, over a dozen new traits, and a hundred attempts, was success within my grasp. But then, one fateful Sunday, on my very last attempt for the day, the stars aligned and I, Fussypants, holy paladin extraordinaire, completed the trial. And there was much rejoicing.
How exactly did I do it? And can you, intrepid reader, do it too? Let’s find out, after the cut!
Before we begin though, a little disclaimer. This challenge took me dozens upon dozens of wipes so don’t expect to waltz in and defeat it right away. It is meant to be difficult and frustrating at times, that’s part of the experience. However, I also completed this before Tomb and all that new gear came out. The difficulty level I encountered has most likely diminished, which means an easier time for you guys! I wish you the best of luck!
Flasks of the Whispered Pact
Drums of Fury
Potion of Prolonged a Power
Tome of the Tranquil Mind (Optional, will explain)
You will need one of these for each pull (with the exception of the Flask, which persists through death). I personally did not use food or runes but that might also be a good idea.
I had an equipped item level of 901 when I completed the challenge and I really don’t recommend going any lower if you can help it. I used the legendaries Prydaz, Xavaric’s Magnum Opus and Chain of Thrayn, both of which were game changers. The Prydaz protected me from damage that would have otherwise killed me multiple times and the Chain supercharged my Avenging Wrath, which trivialized some phases that might otherwise have been difficult. For trinkets, I actually just used whatever I had in my bags so I ended up with Naglfar Fare and Chrono Shard. And finally, I had the four piece bonus from Nighthold which was definitely helpful but not as game changing as the legendaries.
Artifactwise, I had all the traits and one tick into Concordance. My weapon was pretty solid, around item level 927 I believe, but as you get more ticks into Concordance, I can see the item level of the weapon mattering less and less.
Tier 1: Crusader’s Might. You’re going to be doing a good deal of hammer smashing this encounter, often intertwined with healing, making this talent incredibly valuable. More often Holy Shocks translates to more damage and healing. Light’s Hammer is a touch too mana intensive and I personally think the 5 second wait on Bestow Faith is too slow (since the damage is very spiky).
Tier 2: Unbreakable Spirit. There’s a lot instances where stuff is going to be wailing on you pretty hard – more frequent Divine Protections means less damage on you. Cavalier may be valuable in the first phase if you plan on running away from the Rogues but other than that, you don’t need to move all that often. And, you should be staying pretty close to your friends anyway, voiding Rule of Law.
Tier 3: Repentance. This one is a requirement. You are going to need to CC a lot of adds in the first phase, making this talent absolutely necessary. The strat relies on it.
Tier 4: Devotion Aura. There are four people in your group, including yourself, meaning that with this talent, everyone is taking 5% reduced damage. I cannot stress how important this is. And then, for the phase when you’re on your own, you get the full 20% damage reduction on yourself, well, that’s pure gold. I spent most of the fight under 75%, rendering Aura of Sacrifice useless (especially on the last phase as well). And the heal from Aura of Mercy is just not big enough to compete with Devotion Aura.
Tier 5: Holy Avenger. A big part of this challenge is figuring out when and how to balance your CDs and by taking Holy Avenger, you’re adding yet another spell to add to your arsenal. I typically cast this with Tyr’s Deliverance to get another CD almost to the level of Avenging Wrath. Both Holy Prism and Divine Purpose are fine talents but they don’t bring as much utility.
Tier 6: Sanctified Wrath. The damage is spiky and constant enough during this encounter making so that this talent, which usually results in a lot of overhealing, is incredibly valuable. On the parts where you need to DPS, this talent is especially helpful. Judgement of Light and Fervent Martyr both are not situationally as strong.
Tier 7: Beacon of Faith. Certain members of you group will be taking pretty much constant damage (cough, cough, Jarod), making this talent incredibly useful. Additionally, the second to last phase practically requires it because two of your allies will be taking damage at the same time.
You are assaulting Black Rook Hold with your good friends Jarod, Granny Marl, and Callie. Your job is to keep your allies alive, despite the fact that they are all terrible at what they do. If anyone other than yourself dies at any point, you fail the challenge. I typically put my Beacons up on Jarod and Callie.
While there’s technically something like 7 stages to this fight, I prefer to break it down into four phases. They are, as I lovingly call them, the CC phase, the DPS phase, the Ghosts phase, and the Last (or Panic) phase. Each phase has it’s own intricacies, which I will try to go over now!
The CC Phase
Also known as the phase where all of your allies suddenly and inexplicably find themselves with out CC, I personally find this phase to be the most unforgiving. You have to juggle stuns, interrupts, and keeping everyone alive while fighting several waves of adds.
There are three types of adds which must be countered in different ways. The Risen Mage builds up stacks of a damage increasing buff and must be stunned at around 3-5 to allow the buff to fall off. Otherwise, he can very easily one shot your allies. The Risen Archer casts Mana String, an ability which leaves a nasty DoT that both deals high damage and drains all of your mana. Put one of your allies in between yourself and the Archer so they take the DoT rather than you. The Risen Rogue, the easiest of the three, has a fixate ability where he’ll choose a target and chase them around, dealing lots of damage (spoiler alert, it’s usually you). His other ability, Knife Dance, deals moderate AoE damage to everyone in your group.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Never Repentance the Mage because your allies will swap targets, leaving the Mage alone to kill everyone. They’re not very bright like that.
Wave 1: Archer = Light Damage
Make sure the Mana String is intercepted by Jarod and DPS as much as you can. Try not to end the phase with the Mana String DoT still up because it will make the second phase harder.
Wave 2: Mage + Archer = Moderate Damage
Repentance the Archer right away. Get as much DPS on the Mage as you can. Stun him with Hammer of Justice when he get’s to half health or 4 stacks, whichever comes first. Once you’ve stunned him, the CC will usually be up on the Archer, so go reapply Repentance on her but be careful that you aren’t running into a Mana String. Try to end the phase with only a few seconds left on your Hammer of Justice CD (this can be done by throttling your own dps).
Wave 3: Mage + Rogue = Moderate Damage
Same as before, Repentance the Rogue right away and stun the Mage at about 4 stacks. During the Rogue’s Fixate, you can either Divine Steed away or Divine Protection and take it to the face. As before, watch the cooldown time on your Hammer of Justice to ensure it’s up in time for the next phase.
Wave 4: Mage + Rogue + Rogue = Heavy Damage
Precast Holy Avenger and Tyr’s Deliverance right as the wave is starting. Repentance one of the Rogues and stun the Mage as before. Be careful of the other, unCCed Rogue because he will deal either a lot of damage to yourself or the group as a whole. Once the Repentance falls off, be sure to put it back up on the Rogue because dealing with two of those at the same time is not a fun time.
Wave 5: Mage + Archer + Rogue = Heaviest Damage
Cast Avenging Wrath as soon as the wave begins. Repentance the Archer and be sure to keep that up on her as long as you can. Just like before, stun the Mage at ~4 stacks. Once the Rogue casts Knife Dance, use Devotion Aura. As soon as they come back up (typically a few moments after the Mage goes down), use Holy Avenger and Tyr’s Deliverance again. There’s a lot going on, but keep your eyes peeled for Mana String, which can screw you over in the heat of the moment if your CC falls off and you can’t reapply. Frantically heal everyone and congratulations, you’ve gotten through the first phase!
After the first phase, you can wait for as long as you’d like before attempting the second phase. Use that time to get mana back and wait for cooldowns to come back up.
The DPS Phase
Hot on the heels of the hardest part of the challenge is, in my opinion, the easiest part. You are now on your own, and have to DPS your way through a series of rooms to find your allies again. Being the radical Holy Paladin that you are, you have a number of tricks up your plate sleeve which makes this state almost trivial. Don’t worry about the 6 minute timer, you’ll make it through with plenty of time to spare.
Room 1: Pop Avenging Wrath, Holy Avenger, and Tyr’s Deliverance as soon as you’re unstunned. Work your way around the room killing the Eyes one by one. They’ll deal a sizable chunk of damage to you upon death but for the first four or so eyes, your Tyr’s Deliverance heal coupled with your Prydaz will mean that you don’t have to worry. You should be returned back up to full health almost as quickly as the damage comes. For the last two eyes however, you may have to pause to heal yourself up to full before killing the next one. Piece of cake!
Room 2: I ran to the top of the stairs and immediately casted Consecration, temporarily disabling the pesky Fel Orb. DPS the bats down first, then get the big guy. Again, not too bad.
Room 3: If you’d like, you can wait for your Holy Avenger to come back up before you unlock the gate but it’s not mandatory. Once you’ve opened the gate, dispel the Panicked Souls and start healing up the three Damaged Souls as quickly as they can. They will slowly die over time so I’d throw at least a Light of the Martyr on all of them before focusing on one to bring up to full. As soon as they are all healed, attack the Risen Archer at the top of the stairs. She has the same abilities as before, but you can just Hammer of Justice her when she tries to cast Mana String.
Room 4: Don’t let the Fel Orbs get near you or bad things happen. They can be temporarily disabled with one hit so smack them with a Judgement or a Holy Shock or something if they’re in your way. When unlocking the gate at the top, be sure to throw Consecration down to protect your back.
Room 5: Pop Avenging Wrath and Tyr’s Deliverance and immediately focus down the Eyes. As before, you shouldn’t have to heal yourself too much but keep your eyes open just in case. Once they are down, kill the Dread Corrupter and then you’re done!
As before, you have as much time as you need to drink and wait for cooldowns to finish.
The Ghosts Phase
This phase is rather tricky to figure out but once you have a rotation that works for you, it gets much easier. Your allies have conveniently gone insane and are now attacking each other (and therefore require even more healing, the nerds). At the same time, Mr. Boss Man is drawing in souls from the edges of the room which must be healed to full before they get to him. They’re super annoying because they never appear on your frames, forcing you to click on them out in the game world, and they read as out of line of sight for a really long time before you can heal them up. You need to heal up 8 spirits, which come in waves of 3. Each spirit you fail to heal up fully later becomes a hostile mob which is just dandy.
I began by Beaconing Jarod and Callie, since the two of them attack each other first. You will need to swap Beacons depending on who is attacking who so keep your eyes on your allies as well as the ghosts.
The following CD rotation is what worked best for me. You may find that a different combination works better for you but if you need a good starting point, this is what I did.
Wave 1: Avenging Wrath. This will likely be the easiest wave (I healed up all 3 spirits within seconds of the phase starting, giving me plenty of time at the end to prepare for the second wave and heal up my allies).
Wave 2: Drum of Fury and Potion of Prolonged Power. I typically got 2 of the three spirits on this phase, but you also have to really watch out for you allies here because they destroy each other pretty hardcore here.
Wave 3: Holy Avenger, Tyr’s Deliverance, and Lay on Hands. With this combination, I managed to heal up all three spirits but you definitely should be able to get at least two, leaving just one more spirit needing healing in the next wave.
Intermission: All of the spirits that you failed to heal become hostile mobs and attack you and your party. Luck, your allies come to their senses and help you fight these mobs. These mobs have the same abilities as the first phase so be sure to tackle them in the same way. I only ever had one mob to fight but it changes depending on how many slipped through.
After the intermission, you have a few moments to prepare before the last phase begins. I used this time to change a talent. Instead of Sanctified Wrath, I swapped to Judgement of Light. This was more of a precaution than anything. If I happened to die in the last phase, the Judgment of Light would keep healing my allies for as long as there were stacks left, which could have given them enough time to finish the fight. Luckily, I did not end up needing this, but it’s a good fail-safe. I’d also recommend using this time to drink to get some mana back.
The Last (or panic) Phase
At this point, the boss finally becomes active! Because of the nature of this phase, you can’t really do much damage to the boss so don’t worry about it. Mr. Thorn is actually a very easy boss but one of his abilities can very easily one shot the whole group. Make sure to run out to the edge of the room as soon as the fight begins.
For his first ability, the boss will jump on you, creating a large pool of badness around you and dealing a sizable chunk of damage. Get out of that pool as fast as you can but do not heal yourself up. Move around the room in a big circle to conserve space since his fel pools of nastiness will eventually fill the whole area.
The second ability Lord Erdris Thorn has is one called Ignite Soul, which after 8 seconds, deals damage equal to your current health to the rest of the group. If you’re like me and have more health than everyone else in the group, you can very easily kill everyone else. For this reason, stay around 30% health for the whole fight. If you get below that, heal up to that point (since his jump will likely kill you) but do not go far above that amount either.
Use your cooldowns when you need them most but I’d recommend against using Tyr’s Deliverance (since you can’t control who it heals and you don’t want it to heal yourself). If you happen to have too much health for an Ignite Soul, use Devotion Aura to mitigate some of that damage. But most of all, don’t panic.
And voila! You are now the proud owner of a brand new flaming hammer! Be sure to make Jarod, Granny Marl, and Callie know just what you think of them and never get within 100 feet of them again!
Hopefully this guide will be of use to someone! Good luck!