WoW Wednesday: Conquering the Horrific Visions

Ny’alotha, the Sleeping City, has awakened. N’zoth, the God of the Deeps, has been freed from his titanic prison. Now finally under his full command, the armies of a reinvigorated Black Empire threaten to reshape all of Azeroth according to his twisted design. Nightmares infest the waking world, and now champions must fight against a corrupted monstrosity that fights not with soldiers alone; it fights inside your very mind. This week we’ll be taking a look at your chief method of progression in the new Patch 8.3, “Visions of N’zoth,” in the Horrific Visions system.

Horrific Visions are a new type of flexible content for 1-5 players to progress through. Intent of exposing Azeroth’s champions to the corruption in order to better mitigate it, Wrathion returns to assist. Using the horrific dreams of N’zoth, he opens a gateway to one of many possible futures for players to assault. Featuring two weekly rotating maps, Stormwind and Orgrimmar, heroes will begin by only being able to strike at one district of the city at a time. Fighting the minions of the Old God, they will also be battling rising corruption. Defeating the section’s main threat, dying without anyone to resurrect you or losing all of your sanity to corruption will immediately end the Vision.

As you adventure through the Horrific Visions, you will also receive aid from the Black Prince himself. Inspired by his masterwork in Pandaria, Wrathion will create Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve. This is an upgradable cloak with 15 individual ranks. Each will improve its stats and item level, including the amount of Corruption you can safely have on your gear, AND the sanity resistance you’ll have inside Horrific Visions. This cloak will become vital to improving your runs through the Horrific Visions, as higher ranks will increase the amount of time you can stay inside while also permitting easier entry to the more dangerous zones.

Queuing for Horrific Visions becomes the challenge, as while you can queue as many times as you like those runs are based on how many Vessels of Horrific Visions you can acquire. One of these is required for each time you wish to run a Horrific Vision and is only awarded once through completing one Major N’zoth Invasion per week. You’ll largely only be able to collect 30’000 Coalescing Visions, the currency for your Vessels, per week unless you grind every mission per day. In unlocking all of Patch 8.3’s features, including Horrific Visions, you’ll receive a large amount of Coalescing Visions and this will allow you to jump-start your runs.

Maximizing how many times you can run visions will become a priority for those looking to rank up Ashjra’kamas. Each rank requires legendary quest items dropped by powerful enemies inside the Horrific Visions, and only a handful can be earned each time you enter. The first six ranks can be completed within the first week of Patch 8.3’s launch, with additional ones unlocking weekly. This means that you can stockpile extra Coalescing Visions and spend them on additional runs in the next week. However, as you further increase the power of the Shroud of Resolve, the requirements will become greater. You may require multiple items that perhaps only drop in one section of the city, while multiples may drop in more dangerous sections.

Completing objectives and slaying enemies in these visions will earn you Corrupted Mementos. This currency is explicitly used to purchase rewards tied to the Visions. The main expenditure for players will come in the Titanic Research Archive. Unlocked after your first run through the Visions, the Research Archive is similar to Chromie’s Talent Tree for “The Deaths of Chromie.” Progression in this tree will cost several hundred thousand Corrupted Mementos but will also grant much more ease for those traversing the Horrific Visions. Such effects allow players to use ‘Sanity Restoration Orbs’ which resurrect allies and restores Sanity while active. Others can grant you a full resurrection, effectively giving you a second chance to take the greatest rewards from your run.

These may not be enough to save you, however. The deeper you progress into these Visions, the greater the toll it will take on your mind. Each city section in the Horrific Visions has a Madness associated with it. These Madnesses each have different effects to impede your progress and will change from area to area. Rotating weekly, these are drawn from each area’s specific pool of Madness Effects, acting similarly to Mythic Keystone affixes. Some will cause simple effects, such as damage-dealing pools of bad. Others will create images of your avatar that will fear all members of your party.

Even as you maximize your Ashjra’kamas and select every trait on the Research Archive, you’ll still have more to do in the Visions. Completing your first Vision and clearing the hardest areas will award you your first Faceless Mask. There are 5 masks in total, and each can be selected and deselected prior to your entrance into a Horrific Vision. All must be unlocked before they are used, but each has a similar purpose. On top of increasing the Health and Damage of Enemies, as well as the drop of Corrupted Mementos, by 20% they also have a potentially deadly effect. One reduces your total sanity, while others increase the damage of creatures by 200%. All can be stacked together and used to double your potential rewards.

And the rewards are indeed great for completing the Horrific Visions. Completing your first each week will reward you with a piece of item level 420 gear, as well as up to 6000 Corrupted mementos. Completing your first will also grant you a new Essence for your Heart of Azeroth, which can only be progressed the further you adventure. Progression for Ashjra’kamas is done solely through the Visions and is vital to your power scaling; at Rank 6 you’ll gain an ability to instantly dispel the Corruption effects caused by your gear, while at Rank 12 you’ll gain a passive proc that increases your primary trait EXTENSIVELY. Upgrading it past Rank 15 will halt stat gains but increase Corruption resistance for your gear.

All of these rewards, however, scale depending on the difficulty. Equipping more Faceless Masks can reward you with gear up to item level 470, just five shy of what can be awarded through Mythic+. Further progression will also allow you to chase further ranks of your Essence, as well as complete several achievements. Some will award you more Faceless Masks, while others will reward you with titles and mounts. Completing everything your Visions have to offer will unlock exclusive rewards with Wrathion, including a new backpack transmog for your cloak.

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WoW Wednesday: The Legacy of the Black Emperor



Much to our excitement, and my own surprise, Patch 8.3 has been announced! “Visions of N’Zoth,” will take players to the sleeping city of Ny’alotha, where an untold terrors await the champions of Azeroth. There the old god, N’Zoth, has laid dreaming for untold millennia. His dark fortress is one just on the other side of a dark reality; a world of twisted promise for what he plans to unleash upon a slumbering titan. But in the sleeping city, there rests a familiar face.

Along with extensive data-mining about new Allied Races (which we’ll talk about in the coming weeks), an old friend was revealed:

Wrathion, the Black Emperor: Despite all his schemes, Wrathion could not avoid succumbing to the madness that claimed his father. With his mind corrupted by N’Zoth, the Black Prince is a force of unbridled hatred, capable of annihilating all who oppose him in blood and flame.”

This patch brings forth the final conclusion to a tale of power and absolutes. For this WoW Wednesday let’s take a moment to discuss Wrathion, the Black Prince, and the steps that opened him to corruption in more than just his legacy.

Players who leveled through Azeroth’s new world in Cataclysm might remember seeing Wrathion, just not without his characteristic turban. Lain by the black dragon Nyxondra, players first encountered the Prince as a humble egg being studied by Rheastrasza. This red dragon wanted more for her black brethren, who’s patriarch was busy on bringing about the end of the world for a second time. Corrupted wholesale by the influence of the Old Gods, the Black Dragonflight had become pawns in their bid for freedom and were eager to corrupt the entirety of Azeroth to get their way.

Introduced to this earth-shaking conflict well before his technical birth, Wrathion would be freed from his father’s legacy by Rhea’s efforts. Using a titanic device known as the Eye of the Watchers, she did the impossible and managed to purify the egg of its corruption. Quickly secreting it away, Rheastrasza was slain by Deathwing for her hubris, and the egg thought destroyed.

Everyone, however, was deceived. For in killing Rhea and destroying an egg, Deathwing had destroyed one of the red dragon’s own clutch. Wrathion, still unhatched, was quickly secreted away to the Vermilion Redoubt, one of the Red Flight’s hatcheries and sanctuaries. There he would remain until eventually being, ‘collected,’ by the rogues of Ravenholdt Manor. Hatching from his egg, Wrathion swiftly took charge of the shadowy organization with one goal in mind: Deathwing and all of his corrupted brood must die if Azeroth was to survive the Cataclysm.

Empowering a rogue adventurer, Wrathion set his champion upon Deathwing. Subverting the assault on Wyrmrest Temple and preventing the literal end of the world, Wrathion’s Agent traveled across Azeroth to attack the Black Dragonflight. It would be by his orders that Creed, Nalice, and even Ravenholdt’s own Fahrad would be revealed and slain as Black Dragons. Using his knowledge of the void gleaned through his time in the egg, the Black Prince created the tools for rogues to deliver the true lethal blow on Deathwing. Now the last free Black Dragon of his flight, he recruited those of Ravenholdt who would travel with him and vanished from the public world.

With the emergence of Pandaria, Wrathion traveled there after experiencing a terrible vision. Foreseeing a return of the demonic Burning Legion, Wrathion is set on uniting the Alliance and the Horde by any means necessary. Even if that requires one to decimate the other in total world war. Initially throwing his lot in with both the Horde AND the Alliance in an effort to bid them into war, Garrosh Hellscream’s rule as Warchief tips the scales into a terrible manner during the war. Throwing his support behind the Alliance, the Black Prince quickly finds himself at a crossroads.

Taking relics from across Pandaria to heighten his own power and tip the scales of chance; the heart of the Thunder King, a Lance of Lightning, even basking the power of the Celestials. But yet the War spirals on and not to his liking. With the Siege of Orgrimmar and High King Varian Wrynn’s allowing the Horde to continue existing, Wrathion’s plans were foiled. Instead of believing that one made the other truly stronger than if they were alone, the black dragon was instead certain that were they to be divided, even for a moment, all of Azeroth would fall.

Thus, he decided to create a second plan. A better plan. Conspiring with the bronze dragon Kairozdormu and the infinite dragonflight. Freeing Garrosh Hellscream, Wrathion sent the pair back thirty-five years to an alternate Draenor. There, Garrosh took it upon himself to create a second Orcish invasion, one that threatened to tear Azeroth asunder. Uniting in the face of such adversity, the Horde and the Alliance tore through to the other side of the Dark Portal to quell this invasion.

But Wrathion watched throughout. Taking the opportunity to recruit the Alliance’s elite forces to his guard, the Black Prince kept an especial eye on the Kirin Tor and Cordana Felsong. Only when his former champions found him, did the dragon often quickly take his leave.

Thus, the Legion came, and Wrathion was nowhere to be seen. Though his plans were not unfathomable.

With the beginning of the Blood War, the Black Prince was already eager at work. Despite being an outcast from his own race, Wrathion was eager to discover any information he could find to further his kind. It began, initially, with seeking out the location of the Dragon Isles. This was the dragon’s greatest hatchery, their greatest stronghold, and their best kept secret. Even as he searched for more, his eyes were everywhere. Blacktalon Agents were present not only in Nazjatar, watching the developments of Queen Azshara’s trap, but they too were waiting in the old lair of Deathwing to watch a particular Spiritwalker collect a dark essence.

Finding his searches coming to dead ends, and with N’Zoth freed by the naga queen, Wrathion knew that time was short. With an Old God left unchecked for the first time in over ten thousand years, it was possible that anyone could become a victim. Anyone could become a thrall of darkness. Scouring the world, Wrathion left a journal for his old champions to direct them to an artifact of power.

Scouring the library of Shen’dralar, the records of the Pandaren Lorewalkers, even searching the ancient titan facilities, he looked for a way to purge the taint of the Old Gods, even on a small scale. Believing that the Forge of Origination, a titan artifice that could create an apocalyptic scouring of Azeroth, was key Wrathion searched the Vault of Archavon and beyond. Eventually, his feet found him before Karazhan and the spectral remains of Medivh, the Last Guardian. Taking his words to heart, Wrathion prepared to make his plans to change the future by any means necessary. Even if that meant tipping the scales of fate once more.

Taking all he had learned in his travels, Wrathion prepared a plan those familiar with the Void Elves may find familiar. Standing in the darkness, much like the Shado-Pan, he intended to both ‘poison’ the influence of the Old Gods and weaponizing the power of the void against it.

Once more, this comes to the forefront in “Visions of N’Zoth.” Doing what he does best and picking his Champions carefully, Wrathion will delve into the darkness where the Void lingers the strongest. Helping the Champions of Azeroth in rooting through the corruption of Ny’Alotha, he will assist them in forging legendary cloaks (once again) to protect them from the darkness. But as we’ve seen so many times before, undoubtably when one stares into the Void, the void too stares back…

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