Enrage: 13 minutes.
Required: Crowd Control
The buffed versions of the Watchknight Triumvirate in this encounter’s Challenge Mode act almost identically to their Normal Mode counterparts, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the fight is the same difficulty-wise. The bosses all have increased HP, larger defiance bars, and the phases have been made substantially longer: there’s no out-DPSing mechanics before they become relevant this time around.
As in Normal Mode, this fight applies heavy damage pressure but no condition pressure; high direct healing—such as from a Heal Tempest or Heal Druid—is extremely important as the fight progresses into its more chaotic phases. The squad should have dedicated players, usually with some self-sustain, for off-tanking when two Watchknights are active at once. Lastly, a source of
Axe & Warhorn
Knowledge of all of the Normal Mode mechanics is essential for clearing this Challenge Mode; check out our guide below as a refresher. As the overlap between the two encounters is large, as a rule we will not be repeating mechanic explanations in this guide and instead focus completely on the Encounter Walkthrough.
The DPS phases of the Strike Mission have been lengthened in Challenge Mode and the initial DPS phase has been removed, so the encounter will begin with a puzzle phase instead. The fight still alternates between puzzle and DPS phases as usual, and outside of the aforementioned removal, the DPS phases line up mechanically with their Normal Mode counterparts almost exactly.
All DPS phases still have the squad fight the Triumvirate in the same order: Vermilion (Red) Arsenite (Green) Indigo (Blue). Any active Watchknights that are not the current target in the sequence will have Ley-Woven Shielding and cannot be damaged.
The only two mechanical changes in Challenge Mode are as follows:
- The introduction of Empowered, which is a stacking 5% outgoing damage buff that is applied to a Watchknight whenever a player fails their large AoE mechanics.
- One stack will be applied per shockwave during Vermilion’s Dual Horizon.
- One stack will be applied for each player that enters the red AoE near Arsenite during Pernicious Vortex.
- One stack will be applied for each player that enters the bright red ring around the far edge during Indigo’s Crackling Wind.
- Boiling Aether puddles are larger and will never despawn during a phase (only on phase transitions). These changes necessitates proper placement of these puddles, or the squad will not be able to position themselves properly to deal damage or avoid mechanics as phases go on.
The puzzles in Challenge Mode are not in a set order, meaning the squad will not be breaking the Watchknights’ defiance bars in the same order every attempt. As in Normal Mode, breaking a defiance bar will make the other two Watchknights untargetable, meaning breaking the wrong one is an unavoidable squad wipe.
The squad will have to break the defiance bars of every boss at least once by the end of the encounter, however, so process of elimination will single out the Watchknight to break during the final puzzle phase.
The most obvious visual change to the fight is that when dropping in for the puzzle phases, each Watchknight will only flash their Danger Zone telegraph for a brief moment before it vanishes, meaning the three telegraphs’ positions must be committed to memory in order to geometrically solve the puzzle.
There are multiple ways to figure out which Watchknight needs to be broken. One solution path involves looking at the Danger Zone telegraphs.
Vermilion (Red) should always be your anchor point; it always spawns in first, so keep your eyes locked on its safe zone as you mentally process the next two Danger Zone positions:
- If both Arsenite (Green) and Indigo’s (Blue’s) Danger Zones cover Vermilion’s safe zone in full, break Vermilion’s defiance bar to create a safe zone behind Indigo.
- This is the only pattern where the safe zone isn’t at Vermilion’s position.
- If Arsenite’s Danger Zone cuts Vermilion’s Danger Zone in half, break Indigo’s defiance bar to create a safe zone on one of those halves.
- The way to visualize this scenario is that Indigo’s Danger Zone is the only one that fully covers Vermilion’s safe zone, while Arsenite’s only partially does.
- If Arsenite’s Danger Zone covers Vermilion’s safe zone completely, while Indigo’s avoids it, break Arsenite’s defiance bar to create a safe zone around Vermilion.
- This is the puzzle pattern that is depicted in the video above.
Another way to solve the puzzles is to look at the Watchknights’ positions (or the directions they’re facing relative to each other), as outlined in this visual aid by [BEST].
- If a Watchknight is in the middle, break Vermilion’s defiance bar.
- All three bosses are extremely close to each other in this pattern, which is another way of figuring it out visually.
- If the Triumvirate form an equilateral triangle around the center of the arena, break Arsenite’s defiance bar.
- This is the only pattern where Vermilion is facing away from the center of the arena.
- Otherwise, break Indigo’s defiance bar.
As the Challenge Mode starts out with a puzzle phase, you can practice determining which pattern is which and finding the solution by just starting the encounter.
As the defiance bars of the Triumvirate are larger in CM, if you want to see the white safe zones to determine whether your solution is correct, you’re going to need to bring a friend or two along to break those bars!
Phase 1 (100%-60%)
The squad will fight each Watchknight solo in this phase after they drop into the center, with occasional Danger Zones from one of the others; read the When Do I CC? section below for tips on when (and when not) to invert them. Otherwise, this phase is identical to Phase 2 in the Normal Mode version of the fight.
Vermilion’s tank should bring it to the edge for Puddle placement, moving slightly along it whenever one is dropped.
The squad can tank Arsenite on the edge of the arena or in the center in this phase, but Puddles from the Disc mechanic must be placed properly along the edge.
For Indigo, make sure no Puddles are placed in the center of the arena, as the boss cannot move and therefore melee classes will be left in the lurch otherwise.
Note: In the DPS phases of the encounter, any active Danger Zones will always disappear whenever a boss is brought to one of its HP barriers.
Phase 2 (60%-20%)
This is by far the most punishing phase: bad Puddles, bad tanking, and lack of CC calls can quickly ruin a pull. Healers need to be on point whenever Pull or Push are activated to avoid downstates.
- Prototypes Vermilion & Arsenite
- The fixates should bring Vermilion to the edge (for Puddle placement) while keeping Arsenite near the center. Healers should keep an eye on Arsenite’s fixate.
- Everyone besides Arsenite’s fixate should stack on Vermilion, and whenever the Disc is sent the group’s way, Vermilion’s fixate should move the boss forward a bit while the targeted player stays behind to drop their Puddle.
- Prototypes Arsenite & Indigo
- Indigo will always be rooted in the center of the arena in this phase, so move Arsenite along the edge to avoid Power Transfer, while the group handles Puddles exactly as in the first phase.
- Three players will be selected for Tri-Bolt often, be prepared to place a Puddle behind the group if additionally selected for the Tether.
- Prototypes Indigo & Vermilion
- Vermilion, for this combination in particular, preferably should be tanked by a player with survivability.
- As Vermilion should be kept away from the center for Puddle placement and Power Transfer, this means its fixate will take increased damage from Indigo’s Push due to their distance from the boss. Healers should keep an eye on Vermilion’s fixate and support them from afar.
- This does not mean that Vermilion’s fixate should camp on the very edge of the arena, as they will lack support and will likely go downstate. It is almost always preferable to place a Puddle slightly closer to the center of the arena if it means avoiding going downstate and forcing someone else to get fixated.
- Keeping Vermilion at the edge of brown tether range is the sweet spot, but the fixate can move the boss in and out for Puddles and the Push as needed.
Phase 3 (20%-0%)
Keep the bosses split to avoid Power Transfer, but otherwise this phase plays out extremely similarly to the beginning of Phase 2. As long as the squad does not drop a Puddle on top of Indigo, the Triumvirate should fall quickly once the squad makes it to this point, due to the lack of Danger Zones and the decrease in mechanical complexity as each Watchknight in the sequence is scrapped.
Boiling Aether Stacking
Because of the larger size of the Boiling Aether puddles in CM, positioning them correctly is imperative in order to have space to deal with the encounter’s many other mechanics.
An efficient way to create this space is to stack Puddles; i.e. placing subsequent ones inside any that are already on the field.
Every player should do this when they are selected for Indigo’s Puddle mechanic (after the Spread) as they will be teleported out of danger the moment the Puddle is placed, while for Arsenite’s Disc, players should make sure they have full endurance and double
When Do I CC?
Deciding when to invert a Watchknight’s Danger Zone during the DPS phases is one of the most impactful decisions a commander can make in this encounter, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, at least most of the time.
Our recommendation is simple: always invert Vermilion’s Danger Zone, while only inverting the other two Watchknights if there are downstate players or other emergency factors to force the decision.
Vermilion and Indigo cover almost the entire arena with their Danger Zones, and Vermilion’s in particular is hugely synergistic with the Push and Pull mechanics from the other two Watchknights. Giving the squad more space to work with during this mechanic will always be a positive, as it prevents destabilization and the worst-case scenario in Phase 2: Arsenite and Indigo being tethered, and causing the Pull and Push mechanics to happen at the same time.
For Indigo’s Danger Zone, it’s not hard to avoid tethering Vermilion and Arsenite in Phase 2 in the small safe zone, but make sure that the squad (and especially Vermilion’s fixate) always moves quickly to the safe zone to avoid Vermilion’s Dual Horizon activating while it is inside the Danger Zone!
Arsenite’s Danger Zone only covers half of the arena, and in Phase 2, only really affects Vermilion’s fixate since the group is fighting Indigo while it is rooted in the center of the arena. There’s not necessarily any harm in inverting it (provided it’s not at the last second, of course), but it doesn’t really help either, unless there are downed players inside of the Danger Zone telegraph as stated above.