Exorsus Interview: Does Castle Nathria Require a Blue Team?

With the Race to World First (RWF) for Castle Nathria a little over a month away, we wanted to chat with Guild Master Alveona of Exorsus (Экзорсус) on their decision to faction transfer from Horde to Alliance after a long history with the red team. The Russian guild is the creator of the popular addon Exorsus Raid Tools and has been at the top of the raid race for a long time, holding many World Firsts, including two raid victories and endboss first kills.

Originating from a Reddit post pointing out Exorsus’s shift to blue, we’ve seen quite a few articles in the past 10 days covering this topic from websites such as Wowhead, Icy Veins, and EarlyGame. The speculation surrounding the Exorsus faction change has been largely attributed to the amount of bleed effects in the upcoming raid tier such as Jagged Claws on Huntsman Altimor, Crimson Flurry on Sun King’s Salvation, Carnage on Sire Denathrius, and most notably, the heavy-hitting Wicked Laceration bleed DoT on Stone Legion Generals. However, according to a recent news post on Wowhead by Squishei, the Dwarf racial Stoneform and the Kyrian covenant ability Phial of Serenity no longer remove some of these Castle Nathria bleed effects.

Despite this recent change, the importance of having a bleed removal ability through Stoneform or the Kyrian Phial of Serenity still seems to hold some weight, but is there more to it for Exorsus? Today, we sit down with Alveona to hear his thoughts on the tier and evaluate the impact of the factors involved in their decision to faction-transfer the entire Exorsus guild to Alliance.

Starym: You’ve recently transferred most of your guild’s characters from Horde to Alliance. Was it really only due to the various bleed mechanics in Castle Nathria or did you have other reasons as well?

Alveona: We’ve been planning this move for quite a while and were mostly just concerned about some logistical issues tied to this. I’ve been really surprised that almost every popular WoW-related media made a news post about it, and surprisingly people in comments have been suspecting that the prevalence of bleeds in Castle Nathria was the one and only concern.

I’d say that the decision goes way beyond that. Swapping to Alliance for Castle Nathria will yield additional XP through the boosted War-mode rewards (for being on the less populated faction), some more optimal raiding racials (even aside from the dwarf racial, Stoneform), and also just the fact that it would be nice to do something different than what we’ve been doing for almost 10 years as a Horde guild. On top of all of that, there is currently a 30% faction-change discount available through Blizzard, so swapping to Alliance seemed like the best move for us overall.

Regarding the “main concern” for bleeds, it’s not even as major as some people have been describing it. For example, having a racial that removes bleeds on Sire Denathrius is almost completely useless. On some bosses, however, the impact of a bleed-removal is tangible, so the Dwarf racial was just “another reason” for this transfer rather than the root cause.

And as for the recent "change" you've seen on Wowhead - it's not actually new, been ingame for plenty of time and not something that actually surprises us. We suspected the mechanic to be working just as it's described in this article.

Starym: Did the Alliance Night Elf racial Shadowmeld have any weight to this decision for any Mythic+ content pushers in Exorsus?

Alveona: As for Mythic+, most of my players are not big fans of that content, so it wasn't a major concern. However, I suspect some top Mythic+ pushers will try Alliance in Shadowlands too due to some cool racial ability combos for some dungeons.

Starym: There’s been a lot of talk over the current power of Alliance racials in general, what do you think about the discussion?

Alveona: I’m seeing some comments from top guild leaders which are asking for some nerfs and it actually amuses me. The real thing is that top guilds don't really care about balance issues as long as it’s not affecting them in a negative way. The main reason they’re trying to prevent any sensible bonuses for Alliance is the fact that the current Race to World First became too “media-dependent” and guilds are interested in drawing upon LOADS of people to help their splits, which is way easier to organise on the Horde side (for obvious population reasons).

In fact, that was one of the main reasons why we stepped back in BFA (apart from BFA being the worst nightmare of an expansion) - we’ve always been one of the most (if not the most) creative guilds with some insane strategies and tricks. However, the race itself changed too much in the last 2 years (media-coverage leading to “standardized” strats, a strong need of help from the community in terms of split raids, gold, populist moves from guilds etc.). I actually enjoyed the good old-fashioned race way more, but at the same time, I understand that the current changes with broadcasting were the only way to keep the event alive.

Starym: After such a long time as Horde, how hard was this decision (also from a purely financial/gold standpoint)?

Alveona: Financially, it’s not that big of a deal. I’d say the total cost was ~ $4-5k. Talking about being “tied” to Horde - not really. Most of our roster has been playing together for more than 5 years. For us, this game is only about raids. Sadly, since Legion, it’s the only part of the game that actually keeps us playing. The only sad part is that we’re leaving plenty of “inactive” players on the Horde, but they’re playing casually and even have their own casual raid, so they should be good to go. Plus, they’re always able to join us on Alliance.

Starym: Do you think other top guilds will follow suit and also transfer over? Are they just waiting to see how the tuning of the bosses turns out before they pull the trigger?

Alveona: As I've already mentioned, I'd suspect other top guilds to stay on the Horde side as long as they can for the reasons I've listed. And only if e-mail/Twitter “bombardment” of WoW developers won’t work and they will consider it. We probably will see some influencers temporarily join the Alliance to get some “world first level 60” KEKW stuff tho.

Talking about racial imbalance - it’s always been a thing. However, only when it’s something that disturbs top guilds’ plans will they try to report and ask to “fix” it. Remember the additional damage to beasts/goblin jump/troll debuff shenanigans? All of the above were WAY more impactful than the current situation, but it’s something that was not disturbing top guild plans.

As for my prediction about developer decisions - as we all know the WF race is something they don't really track that much (apart from bosses looking too bugged on streams), plus nerfing a faction that already suffers from severe faction imbalance makes almost no sense, considering there’s nothing game-breaking in the current state.

Starym: Do you think faction-switching an entire guild to suit the raid tier is a viable, or even required move for a top-end guild going forward (if the raids have mechanics that favor one over the other)?

Alveona: The RWF attracts more and more resources of any type (media, fans, gold, money etc.) every time there’s new content. It’s an arms race, and when some guild invents something new, it becomes part of the “meta” if it proves a valuable addition for preparation. That’s one of the reasons why all this discussion about “bring back Master Loot” is highly overestimated. No matter how much effort Blizzard will spend on making progression preparation easier for top guilds, they will find something else to waste all their time on to make characters min-maxed.

Starym: Does this move indicate that you’ll be pushing especially hard in Castle Nathria, perhaps harder than in previous tiers?

Alveona: This is a hard question. The problem is that the current race looks more and more like a full-time job, rather than some sort of short-term competition. And considering there’s no “rules”/“prize” or “owner” of this race, it’s a tough commitment for every raider. I'd prefer not to lose my current roster in pursuit of this goal, since we had 2 RWFs already. However, if everything will look good and our more “semi-hardcore” (it’s not actually that way for a broad audience, but it is compared to current WF contenders) preparations will be quite effective, who knows? We always prepare some interesting ideas/strats and Shadowlands looks like an expansion with a lot of new mechanics to iterate with.

Starym: What do you think of the bosses on the beta so far?

Alveona: The raid looks really solid for an entry tier to an expansion. There are different types of bosses and some promising mechanics. Sire Denathrius looks cool in terms of the Mythic encounter. Some bosses look weird (say “hello” to 87 tests of the Council of Blood and still looks “meh”, but it’s one of the first bosses, so I don't really care). Other than that, we’re looking forward to it. Let’s hope this time around, the “red-themed” raid will last longer than 17 hours!

Starym: Do you think Shadowlands’ first tier will/could be properly difficult?

Alveona: If you want my prediction, a standard 8-10 day window should apply as always. However with the Mythic raid release being tied to holidays, there’s a chance for some super over/under-tuned bosses which may screw up everything.

Related Links

More articles on the Exorsus guild faction change speculation:

About the Author

Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.