An Inside Look: Tormented - 9.1 Seasonal Affix

The new Mythic+ seasonal affix, Tormented, was recently added on the patch 9.1 PTR. After looking it over on the PTR and evaluating its key elements, we're going to do a deeper dive into Tormented today.

First, let’s take a quick look at the affix itself, based on Wowhead's original post:

  • The affix is called Tormented and it is most similar to Awakened.
  • There are 4 Lieutenants per dungeon; they appear on the map and their health does not reset on a wipe.
  • Killing a lieutenant gives each player a role-specific Anima power
    (for example: Signet of Bolstering, Champion's Brand, Crumbling Bulwark, and Pendant of the Martyr).
  • Each lieutenant left alive gives the final dungeon boss a buff (50% increased damage from a specific source, 50% move speed reduction etc.)

For more info on the specific Lieutenants and Anima powers, head on over to Wowhead.

Now let's explore the implications of Tormented. We will discuss emerging strategies, effects for Mythic+ players at various levels, Anima powers, prospective class compositions, and more.

Previous Affixes and Skips, Lieutenant Difficulty

The Tormented affix draws so many obvious comparisons with the BFA Season 4 Awakened affix, which leads us to ask whether it will develop similar strategies against it. For instance, players commonly skipped an Awakened miniboss and did it along with the last boss in several BFA dungeons, which had relatively easy final bosses or with awkward miniboss locations. This practice was less common amongst the lower key crowd and was sometimes expanded to include two Awakened minibosses with the last boss among the high key crowd, as the time save became vital to time keys. Prideful is another affix that is frequently skipped among the high key community, though it's much less common in lower keys due to the high degree of coordination required to make the skip work.

It's reasonable to speculate that lower key groups will likely skip very few Tormented minibosses, as the Anima powers they offer will be very tempting, and removing their aura from the last boss means there's both a “carrot and a stick” that incentivize you to kill the Lieutenant. Among high key groups, it's possible that there will be some dungeons where it's a time save to skip a Lieutenant, but it would need to be one that neither made the final boss impossible with its aura, nor offered significantly time saving Anima powers. However, there is a good chance that such Lieutenants will exist. Of the end bosses of this expansion, only Halls of Atonement’s Lord Chamberlain jumps out as being a likely candidate to remain fairly easy with one aura active, though perhaps other bosses like Devos in Spires of Ascension will be possible to defeat while empowered. Skipping more than one Lieutenant and fighting a final boss with multiple auras and way fewer Anima powers is likely to be uncommon.

Another interesting question is how hard the Lieutenants will be to take care of. Prideful represents an affix that has a very warping effect on the dungeons this season, as Manifestations of Pride are extremely scary and can basically never be fought with other mobs. They also generally require the commitment of some offensive and/or defensive cooldowns in higher level keys. Early indications suggest that the Lieutenants are generally less demanding to kill than Manifestations of Pride, so it's possible that strategies will develop that involve fighting them with packs of enemies or potentially even bosses. One notable exception has been Executioner Varruth, which feels more like a Manifestation of Pride and will likely require the use of some resources while being less feasible to fight with other enemies.

Anima Powers

The Anima powers themselves have interesting metagame implications. For instance, healers will be losing the several huge infusions of Mana that Prideful gave, so perhaps a good strategy will involve securing a mana regeneration Anima power early on in each dungeon, such as Portable Feeding Trough or Overflowing Chalice. This type of strategy looks like it will be possible as Anima powers do not appear to have an RNG component and are fully predictable for any given role - though it remains to be seen if they change weekly. As of right now on PTR, there are a few Anima powers that look fantastic on the damage meters, such as Volcanic Plumage for DPS and The Stygian King's Barbs for tanks. These will likely be tuned down, but regardless, it's likely that we'll end up with some Anima powers that are stronger than others, which may mean weird pathing to secure them early in the dungeon.

Class Composition Meta

Another interesting question is how the metagame will change in terms of which classes and specs perform best. For this, bear in mind that Prideful leaving could have as much or more impact than Tormented arriving. Factors to look at are if certain specs handle Lieutenants particularly well, such as Holy Paladins having Blessing of Protection to help handle the nasty bleed effects of miniboss Executioner Varruth. There also may be some specs that perform better with the Anima powers offered to their role than others, or specs that are particularly well suited to surviving final bosses that still have a Tormented aura active. Additionally, specs that have fantastic burst cooldowns could enable Lieutenants to be killed with other enemies (Fire Mages may finally be viable in Mythic+!)

It has also been noted that Prideful has been operating as a “band-aid” for bosses that are particularly difficult, especially on Tyrannical weeks, obscuring how brutal they are and making it extremely punishing to wipe and then face the prospect of fighting the boss again without the Prideful buff. To name a few, bosses like Hakkar, Executor Tarvold, and Ventunax were almost always killed using the Prideful buff and many expected they’d require nerfs in a world without the affix. Instead, it may be the case that Tormented slots seamlessly into this boss-nerfing role, with pathing and power choice in several dungeons, especially on Tyrannical, being specifically targeted at those bosses. In De Other Side, for instance, it will certainly be possible to do Hakkar last and have all four of your Anima powers, and indeed unlike Prideful, you’ll retain them for a second attempt if you wipe!


About the Authors

Dratnos hosts the The Titanforge WoW Podcast. He’s also an Officer in the World 36th guild poptart corndoG, and a commentator for events such as the MDI and the Race to World First! He streams on Twitch, where he likes to review his friends’ logs.

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.