Something of an interesting theme has been developing in comments I’ve seen regarding the reception of Torghast in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
My impression has been very positive, and I’ve had a ton of fun soloing through it across all layers of difficulty, but many writers I follow, many guildies of mine, and people I see do generally seem to be a little less responsive to it – claiming that the difficulty tuning is too high and soloing it is an impossibility for many at higher layers.
Now, I want to be clear and say that while I’ve played Torghast on multiple classes and specs and had an enjoyable experience on all of them, I don’t discount that someone playing another spec or class might have a hard time, and tuning in Torghast is very much variable for class and spec, as the interactions that make up a Torghast run are tuned differently per class and spec. At the same time however, I’ve seen people say that Torghast is too hard while also saying Phantasma is worthless, a combo of statements that tells me more than probably was intended!
So given all of that, after a 5-player run with some friends this week and observing points of failure, I wanted to put together a guide of sorts. And with that, let’s dive in!
Part 1: What Is The Flow of A Torghast Run?
Torghast is a simple system based on the popular roguelike genre seen in tons of games – high degree of player power improvement on a run basis, randomized map layouts for each run, and a large amount of variability run to run. When built well, this model works off of a baseline of tuning that ensures the randomness of each run does not impede progress, but instead serves to deliver new and different gameplay experiences.
The way Torghast delivers this is through a base setup that repeats across the board. Torghast is split into instances, each of which has a unique tileset (when they launch, the Twisting Corridors combine tiles from all of the base six instances) and while full 3D gameplay cannot obtain the full randomness of an isometric game, the instances use room tiles that snap together in random order to build the map. You’ll recognize rooms as you run each tileset multiple times, but the layout is different and unique each time.
Within each instance, of which two are open each week currently, you have the option of selecting a Layer. Layers are granular difficulty adjustments not unlike Normal > Heroic > Mythic, but they scale much less drastically between each layer, as the difficulty ratchets up only slightly between a given set of layers. Similarly to Mythic Plus, however, as you climb to higher layers, there is a affix unique to each layer that kicks in as you climb, increasing the effects. One instance has a ticking fire damage debuff that does a small percentage of your health in damage every few seconds. Coldheart Interstitia has an enemy health buff that increases the health of your foes by a percentage value. This seems to start at layer 4 with the first floor being 1 stack of the debuff, and increases by a stack for each non-broker floor. Higher layers past that start with more stacks of the debuff, climbing higher by the end of each run.
A Torghast run, after selecting a layer, consists of six floors. The floors have what Blizzard describes as a “sawtooth” difficulty, meaning that challenge climbs from floor 1 to 2, then drops for the Broker floor at 3 and the first segment of 4, before climbing again as you ascend and ultimately face the boss on floor 6. The flow of floors is always the same, with floors 1 and 2 being normal floors with enemies, floor 3 being a rest floor with a Broker vendor, floors 4 and 5 being normal floors, and finally floor 6 with a Broker vendor and the final boss of the run.
Your gameplay inside of Torghast is similar to any dungeon or raid you might have run in WoW, with some exceptions. When you first zone in, you’ll have an Anima Power globule waiting for you, and then you can set right out to killing all the enemies you see before you. Enemies are akin to BfA dungeon trash, in that each type of enemy has a special ability of some sort, and you’ll generally find a kill order forming unique to your playstyle as you proceed. There are melee mobs with frontal cone attacks that can one-shot you under a set of buffs, but those attacks can be dodged, ranged mobs with heavy-hitting Critical Shot abilities, but those can be LOSed for control, and casters with various abilities including fears. There are also elite mobs with higher health and a stacking buff that eventually renders them immune to CC, and rare mobs which use special abilities and can often be challenging.
But that’s not all there is to kill in Torghast. Something unique to the Jailer’s domain is destructible props in the form of jars all over the place. Breaking jars can be done either with standard attacks (pull mobs on top of them for a big burst of reported DPS!) or with a right-click interaction that performs a whirlwind melee attack shattering all jars in a fixed radius around you. Breaking jars is actually important, as you’ll gain a decent amount of Phantasma from this and some larger jars with special animations also drop Anima Power globules.
There are also imprisoned souls sprinkled throughout Torghast. Freeing a soul grants you a 1% stacking primary stat boost, so it is well worth saving them all when you can. Some souls have timewaster mechanics tied to them (heavily bound souls need you to undo their 4 shackle posts first, some souls are being infused into armor and offer a choice of freeing them for the standard boost, or gaining a larger but temporary buff by completing their binding to the armor). Keep an eye out for souls throughout each floor, as the buff they offer makes clearing the run so much easier!
There are also mini-quests and special chest events littered throughout most floors in a run, with each floor limited to one of these. Quests usually involve finding a chained NPC, who will fight with you until you complete their objective on that same floor (finding a lost item, rescuing a friend, killing a specific enemy) at which point they’ll despawn and leave behind an Anima Power globule. Chest events offer Anima Power in exchange for solving a puzzle of some sort – there are 4-lever binary locks on some chests, or a 4-point rune puzzle where each rune slot changes specific runes in the sequence, with your goal being to set each one to the correct color to unlock the chest. There are also line puzzles that gate access to special rares in some floors, which usually just involves connecting a series of line tiles to cause an anima flow to unlock a door. There are also random key drops you can find on the floor, and finding all of these on a given floor will unlock a chest on that same floor. Lastly, some of the chained NPC quests grant you new followers for your Covenant adventure table – there are at least two unique NPCs per Covenant found in this way, and the infamous Meatball also returns to the mission table in this fashion.
Lastly, guarding the end of every non-Broker floor is an Empowered mob, who takes after one of the standard trash mobs in the run but has drastically more health and scarier damage output. Finishing this enemy off grants an Anima Power and access to the next floor.
So your flow through a floor is simple. Kill enemies, break jars, loot dead bodies, solve puzzles and quests, pickup all available Anima Power globules, kill the Empowered enemy, proceed to next floor. What about Phantasma and Anima Powers?
Part 2: Anima Powers and Phantasma – The Beating Heart of Torghast
What makes Torghast fun (in my opinion) and doable in almost any group configuration is utilization of the Anima Powers sealed away inside the tower of the damned. Anima Powers are acquired through globules on each floor, which, when clicked, will offer a choice of 1-3 different powers at random. While powers have ratings akin to gear, this is more of a collectible card game rarity and not fully indicative of the actual performance of a given power. The choice is completely yours to make in all settings, as solo, you obviously are the only one choosing, but in group settings, everyone gets to pick their own power at each globule. Powers have categories like Conduits, in that they can increase Potency, Finesse, or your Endurance. There is no requirement to pick a specific type, so choose what you like.
When you reach a Broker vendor, you can also use your Phantasma to purchase Anima Powers and some items. Each Broker has a randomized selection of Anima Powers you can choose from, or you can choose a Plundered Anima Cell, which spawns a globule your whole group can interact with, or a Ravenous Anima Cell, which allows you to turn any NPC (even the Broker vendor, if you’re done with them!) into an Anima Power globule for use. This is one of the reasons why Phantasma acquisition on a run is crucial – the amount you gather directly influences your ability to stockpile more anima powers, and more powers make a run go smoother, generally speaking. If you need self-healing, the items on offer are powerful and pretty low cost, so for a pure DPS spec, it may be worth getting items to pad out your survival on top of Anima Powers!
Anima Powers themselves are available that offer general boosts (like secondary stats, primary stats, etc), Covenant-specific boosts (usually to your signature Covenant ability like the Kyrian Steward), class-specific boosts, spec-specific boosts, very special powers based on the theme of a rare spawn or quest NPC, and then a category I like to call “incentive to murder every Mawrat.”
An average run for me ends with between 20-35 Anima Powers in total. Anima Powers can usually stack (although not all of them) and there is a high degree of synergy between them, meaning a power that might not look super appealing on paper can be made to be quite strong if you have a different power complimenting it. (A sidenote rant – when people complain about min-maxing Anima Powers and how you need cloud computing to figure out which ones to take, I can tell they haven’t seriously looked at Torghast and how it works, because it is quite intuitive and even the best mathematical power can often fall down a list when you’re 20-30 powers deep!)
My advice on Anima Powers is this – read them carefully, and pick the ones that address your concerns on that specific run. Class guides will often make some recommendations, and I would encourage you to read more on them for that reason, but in each run, things can change a lot. For me as a Holy Paladin, for example, I generally take most damage output powers early in a run, because I am pretty sturdy and can heal through a lot of incoming damage with relative ease. Later on in a run, however, I do tend to counterbalance with defensive powers to ensure smooth sailing – it also helps that as you have a baseline of Anima Powers, you have more synergies to build with.
A last note on Phantasma – it only persists for that individual run of Torghast, so there is no long-term saving or spending here. Collecting Phantasma can also offer a boon based on Anima Powers – there is a power that grants damage absorption based on Phantasma collected, and if you are having trouble staying healed up, this one is very good and can offer thousands of health worth of extra survival!
Part 3: The End Boss
The end boss of each run is randomly pulled from a pool of options. Each boss has different abilities, and the third-floor broker offers a holographic preview which, while it won’t mean much your first time dealing with a boss, will surely eventually end up in a Wowhead guide somewhere so you can match the picture and read ahead if you want. However, generally speaking, the bosses are pretty straightforward. They have telegraphed mechanics, and most of their abilities are survivable if you need to take one on the chin to see how something works. The boss will be the only enemy on the sixth floor, so you can take your time at the Broker prior to the boss to recharge, manage anima powers, talents, and gear, and prepare mentally. Because of this, some of the Anima Powers you may be offered on the last floor are insanely high value (there is a 90 second complete immunity power, and if you get that on the last floor, it is almost always an automatic, no-brainer choice!), so make sure to consider your powers with that in mind. If you have a previously-purchased Ravenous Anima Cell, the sixth-floor Broker is your last chance to use it, so do your business with them and then make them into power.
If you’ve played WoW for a decent length of time, the end bosses of Torghast are not going to offer much in the way of surprises mechanically. They have straightforward mechanics with telegraphs and cast times, generally can be stunned, silenced, and interrupted, and what makes them bosses are the number of mechanics they have (generally 4-6 each) and their large health pools that scale off group size and Layer difficulty (plus any Torments that might buff them). Some bosses can be hard and tuning is still a moving target on these, but my experience 3 weeks deep is that most of the time, they’re fine, provided you pay attention to the mechanics and respond accordingly.
The boss drops your Soul Ash for the run and has a chance of dropping other items (Runecarver memories, pets, etc), so be sure to loot them prior to leaving!
Part 4: Soul Ash
Soul Ash is the primary, overriding reason for anyone to be doing Torghast. Soul Ash is the currency needed to craft a Shadowlands legendary, alongside base items from crafters, Missives with secondary stat selections, and the memory containing the power you’d like to use.
Soul Ash is rewarded in fixed amounts per layer, with each layer offering its bounty once per week. The caveat here is this: if you start at a higher layer, you can acquire all of the Soul Ash of the lower layers combined, meaning you can choose to babystep it one layer at a time up and up, or go straight to 6 (or 8 starting next week) and get all of the Soul Ash. This incentivizes getting good at Torghast, because with smart, careful, skillful play, one run of each instance available in a week is all you need to get maximum Soul Ash.
Given that, the best way if you want to be in and out of Torghast quickly is to do a maximum difficulty run right out of the gate, unfortunately. There’s no shame in starting low and working your way up, and in fact, the first couple of runs on a new character, I’d recommend doing so – you can learn the peculiarities of the trash loadout of a given instance, get practice with mechanics, and then ratchet up the difficulty to finish with some practice under your belt.
Part 5: Putting it All Together
So now we have explored the full nature of Torghast – the flow of a run, Anima Powers and Phantasma, the end boss floor, and how Soul Ash acquisition governs the minimum amount of play one might want to do on a weekly basis. Now, let’s tie that all in to a single run.
The most important thing to keep in mind with Torghast is that there is no time limit on a run. There is no need to be an aggro Mythic Plus, Raider.io shaming douchebag and pull all the things to AoE down. In fact, Torghast’s tuning and design discourages this heavily. My single-biggest piece of advice, thusly, is this – pull slowly, deliberately, at range. Keep mobs coming in a controlled pace and feel around for the ideal pacing of pulls. If you can survive and thrive with denser pulls, do it – but feel your way through each layer and use those earlier floors to gauge a rough pull density to run with.
Likewise, because there is no time limit, it is valuable to explore each floor to full discovery, shattering all jars, grabbing all anima powers, and discovering all quests and treasures that await you. This is key to gaining as much Phantasma (and thus, anima power) as possible, and while a run done this way can take some time (my average layer 6 run is around 45 minutes solo), it does make the run smoother, at least in my experience.
When pulling mobs off of larger rooms, something I’ve noticed is that mobs tend to be linked, but not as tightly as you would expect. Elites and rares generally do not chain pull if you grab a jobber mob off the edge of their segment of the room, or even one standing next to them, and even on higher layers where you tend to see two or more elites hanging out together, they can usually be pulled individually, allowing you to bring them back and take them 1v1 instead of getting into an escalating unfair fight. The best strategy I can advise is this – pull normal mobs out from the edges of a room first, working your way towards the center, and always give yourself around 30-40 yards distance from the next pull in the event of a fear or knockback. With rare and elite mobs, try to ensure a fully cleared room first – any non-elites and mawrats should be dead and dusted so you aren’t getting beaten on from all angles or having to deal with multiple different mechanics. With normal mobs, general pull strategies work here – for ranged mobs, you can easily LOS around corners and pillars where available to force them to come to you, for melee mobs, a simple tag will force them to chase you down. How best to pull depends on your class, spec, and strategy – when playing Havoc Demon Hunter, I’m aggressive as hell and will pull everything together for the strong cleave the spec has, while on my Holy Paladin raiding main, I take smaller pulls and prioritize single target, with a focus on whatever is doing the most direct damage to me.
With anima powers, more is better, and you’ll want to figure out how best to prioritize your pickups based on your playstyle. Generally, it is a safe recommendation to go with powers that accentuate your weakness as a class and spec – on my Holy Paladin I take damage buffs, on a tank I would likely do the same, and on a DPS, I would emphasize survival generally – but these tend to only be true at the start of a run. Once you’re 10+ powers deep, you have a lot more flexibility to extend past your weak spots into building strength – for example, there’s a common power for Paladins that increases Hammer of Wrath damage by 30%, which is fine, but not necessarily special. Well, you can later get powers that increase it to a 4-charge ability, a power that makes it sometimes usable at any target health after casting Judgment on an enemy, and then on top of that, Avenging Wrath lets you use it at any time outside of execute range. The 30% buff on its own is fairly unexciting, but once you start adding these other traits in, it becomes far, far better. This is what I’m thinking of when discussing synergy, and why most static recommendations based on a min-max modality fall flat in practice – based on the options you’re offered and what you take prior to a given power being offered, the net power of a trait can often be far different in the real world. In short – take what you want and what makes your play feel comfortable and safe, and look for synergistic powers that can maximize powers that are less potent on-paper.
Lastly, my core advice is this – build up your skills in Torghast such that you can run a single, max-layer instance of each type per week, so that you can get the power you want in as little time as possible. Build up to that as needed – practice your runs, time your pulls, play with different anima power loadouts on lower layers, but work towards getting to that point. Torghast is fun to me, and I think it is one of the better things Blizzard has added to the game, in this expansion but also generally – but at the same time, I’m keen to not burn out on it. There’s no penalty for failure other than time and repair costs, so don’t go in looking to aggressively succeed. Allow yourself room for wasted runs and go in the next time with the knowledge that those failures offers.
Speaking of failure, if you do hit maximum deaths, it does NOT immediately end the run. It instead frees the Tarragrue on your current floor. If you ascend to the next floor before he catches you, you’re free – until your next death. This means that even at maximum deaths, you can save your run. If he catches you, however, he will kill you and send you back to the start of the current floor, which means that he is now blocking your progress and at that point, is an insurmountable obstacle, thus ending your run. Keep that in mind – if you hit max deaths deep into a floor, you can race to beat him back to the end, or be resurrected if you have a player with that ability in a group setting, and push onwards with determination to continue the run. Just don’t die again!
Addendum: On Group Scaling and Party Running
This one is highly personal to me, because I will be frank – I absolutely hate running Torghast in a group. I did a 5-player run with friends this week, and it amplified that despite my friends’ best efforts otherwise. But, that being said, you may want social friction and player interdependence in your gameplay, or not be as keen as I am on seeing Torghast as the next great solo skill challenge, and that is fine!
So let’s talk scaling. I’ve only done solo and 5-player runs, so I can only speak directly to that scaling, but here’s what I’ve heard – small groups (2-3 players) tend to be the sweet spot for most scaling, while solo is pretty comparable in difficulty, and larger groups of 4-5 players being the hardest. The larger your group gets, the more you are going to want a traditional group composition of tank, healer, up to 3 DPS. Smaller groups, you can use whatever, but I noticed that damage scaling in the higher group sizes tends to favor having a tank with a pocket healer over a 5 DPS comp or 4 DPS/1 healer. That being said, I believe there is scaling on other factors (solo definitely scales based on role, and I would assume that role scaling would take place with larger groups too), and I am fairly certain that there is item level scaling of a gentle sort, akin to what was done in Horrific Visions, where each layer likely has a floor and ceiling item level for scaling mob health and damage.
Running in a party is not much different – as mentioned earlier, Anima Power globules give each player an individual choice, and those choices do not affect the others in the group unless the power specifically notes as such. Phantasma is rewarded to every player, so everyone gets to buy their own powers at the Brokers. The only difference is that while power selection is player-tailored, the Anima Cell options are a fixed inventory and that is at a group level – so only 1-2 Plundered Anima Cells total per Broker can be bought for the whole group, and only one Ravenous Anima Cell can be purchased at floor 3. The other difference is that the number of deaths afforded to you group before a Tarragrue stampede is increased.
Generally, my experience with groups, even friends on voice chat, is negative, because you are effectively handcuffed to the least skilled/attentive player in your group, and if you aren’t the tank, an overly aggressive tank pulling too much can overwhelm the group. My advice from above, while given from a solo perspective, still applies – careful pulls, thoughtful measuring of maximum pull density, and full exploration/power acquisition will win the day.
If you use Deadly Boss Mods, there is good news and bad news. DBM does have a Torghast module which will make big alert sounds when a mob is about to hit you with something particularly threatening! Bad news – it is not included in the stock DBM download you get, and based on the rankings of download popularity on Curseforge, it seems a lot of people miss this one! So make sure if you use DBM to install the Torghast/Challenges addon pack for the additional Torghast-specific alerts it offers – you can download it via Curseforge here.
There are also lots of guides on Wowhead for Torghast, and I would recommend looking them over, as they have more specific individual mob attack guides, tailored guides per instance, and boss overviews.
In conclusion, I think Torghast is a great mode of play and a fun option that meaningfully extends the value of WoW by offering a repeatable, endlessly different mode that contains some challenge. The challenge can feel overwhelming, but is not insurmountable with a bit of preparation and practice, and the game gives you the tools to do so. Hopefully this guide helps tie some of the gameplay together for you!