I really enjoyed my first proper run of Torghast, despite not bothering to read up on any of the finer points of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands' endless dungeon. I wasn't entirely sure what breaking the numerous vases or freeing soul remnants would do for me, but both were strangely satisfying as I worked my way through the floors of that first layer. I don't recall having any real problems—I picked buffs that seemed like they would help me and everything died on command. Even the last boss was accommodating and fell over with little fuss.
Encouraged by my first successful run, I hopped straight into the second layer. Again, I worked my way through the various floors. Nothing seemed to hit overly hard, and while I was being cautious with my pulls, I was never close to dying. So when I reached Goxul the Devourer on the last level of this Layer 2 Torghast wing, it was a bit of a shock.
No matter what I tried, I couldn't get his health below 70 percent. I went back to the vendor located close by and looked at my options. None of the buffs struck me as being good enough to knock enough of this guy's health off before he inevitably destroyed my shadow priest—I don't actually remember exactly what was on offer but I do remember that it all seemed to be useless. But I tried again anyway because I'd spent the best part of an hour making my way to this point and the thought of that time being wasted was soul-destroying.
I used up all of my allotted deaths and got no closer to beating him. I logged out in a huff.
The next day, I googled Torghast difficulty and was mildly relieved to find that others were having similar problems with the boss in the end layer of that wing. There were several players in my guild who had managed to clear it, but they had either been grouped up or went in as tanks or healers. Like Battle for Azeroth's Visions of N'Zoth, Torghast was apparently scaled more favourably for tank and healer specs to make up for their lack of damage. I'd already just switched specs, though, and I wasn't prepared to start switching again.
Feeling a little better about the beating I'd taken, I tried the other available wing later that week. But I couldn't kill Arch-Supressor Laguas, the Layer 2 boss there either! I got so much closer, granted, and I almost had him, but 'almost' doesn't net you any Soul Ash. So I went away empty-handed again and lost another hour of my time.
I returned to that second wing a few more times that reset but still couldn't kill that bloody Layer 2 boss. I had offers from my guild to run it as a group, but but I was too annoyed by that point to accept their help. This gates legendary crafting and upgrades, and I didn't want to have to rely on others to run me through a piece of required content on a weekly basis because I was unable—or too unskilled?—to do it for myself.
I'm not quite sure what happened after that reset. I think a kind of stubborn determination kicked in and I was not going to let this beat me. During a Torghast study break, I read that the difficulty of the bosses can vary massively, depending on your luck with the buffs you're offered. Luck, or RNG aren't words that WoW players are overly fond of under normal circumstances, but I held on tightly to that fact and used it to console myself over my failure.
So I found myself back in Layer 2 of Torghast. Since the wings change each week, I reasoned I might have better luck with these new ones. The levels leading up to the boss were as easy as they'd been the week before, but I couldn't enjoy myself because I expected to die in the boss fight once again. But I did it. I killed Cellblock Sentinel easily and on the first try. So it was down to buffs! I felt confident again.
I was still behind on Soul Ash, but I was actually able to enjoy Torghast for the first time since that first successful run of Layer 1 the previous week. Over the coming weeks I started really looking forward to reset to have an excuse to jump into Torghast and I even repeated the layers I could manage a couple of times because I like that kind of monotonous, switched-off grind. It kinda reminded me of Diablo 3 once you've secured your six piece set bonus and nothing can really touch you unless you're pushing really high Greater Rifts.
I didn't make it through all of the available layers, but I was progressing further and further, and the feeling of triumph I'd got when I managed to kill a boss on a layer I hadn't beaten before was well worth the time. I also spent a lot of time exploring. Finding little niches or drop-downs that hid groups of breakable vases or soul remnants. I was in no huge hurry to get to the last boss, which I may or may not have been able to kill, but that no longer seemed to matter. If I didn't kill it, it was bad RNG—nothing to do with my skill as a player. And I was quite ruthless about leaving and resetting the layer if the buffs I received weren't to my liking.
And then Blizzard nerfed it.
We've posted more details about the changes being made to Torghast:https://t.co/Wfq4KmyfcgDecember 17, 2020
If this had happened a few weeks previously, I'd have been overjoyed. But now? I felt pretty disappointed. With the nerf, I can now clear all 8 layers of a wing on most weeks. The last two or three can be dodgy as hell and very dependent on luck, but it no longer feels like a personal triumph—I can clear it now because it's been nerfed. I don't even have 200ilvl yet so those layers are just going to keep getting easier.
Torghast has been out for just over a month and most of the challenge has gone now. It feels like it's been relegated to just another piece of monotonous content to do because you have to, not because it's fun. I don't think I've spoken to anyone that enjoys the process of clearing Torghast anywhere near as much post-nerf, which is a huge shame.
I'm not saying that Blizzard didn't need to do something—some classes and specs were falling behind with their Soul Ash gains after all—I'm just not sure such a blanket nerf was required. There was a huge discrepancy between the levels leading up to the last boss, and the last boss itself. The difference was huge and jarring and happened when you'd already spent a big chunk of time working your way towards your Soul Ash, only to leave empty-handed and frustrated.
Despite all that, I would have been happy if the nerf just hadn't happened at all. I suppose as one of the (arguably) weaker specs in Torghast, I was in the lucky position that I wasn't as desperate for Soul Ash as other classes and specs might be. As a shadow priest, there's only has one legendary item for me that's worth crafting, so I was in a position where missing out on the reward wasn't such a big deal. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss those little moments of triumph as I managed to kill a new boss.
Perhaps the newly released Twisting Corridors will bring back some of that original Torghast challenge. And if it does, I guess it's better that cosmetic items like pets or mounts are gated behind that sort of content rather than legendary gear. I haven't had a chance to jump in and test it out yet, but hopefully I'll be back to swearing angrily at bosses again when I do.