The Highlord's Return: a Legion Timewalking Mage Tower Guide for Tanks

Last updated on Dec 07, 2021 at 15:03 by Mwahi 1 comment

This Mage Tower challenge for tank specializations — Blood Death Knight, Brewmaster Monk, Guardian Druid, Protection Paladin, Protection Warrior, and Vengeance Demon Hunter — is a two phase encounter which tests your ability to use your defensives properly while also making you pay attention to your surroundings.

The two main enemies you will be facing are Inquisitor Variss and Highlord Kruul. One of them will be active during Phase One while the other one becomes active during Phase Two. In addition to them there are also various adds that spawn and need to be dealt with.

On the following page you will get to know all of the abilities the enemies have, how to counter them, and how to successfully complete The Highlord's Return Mage Tower Challenge!


How to find the Tank Mage Tower Challenge

Patch 10.0.5 has re-opened the Mage Tower Challenge, meaning you can once again complete and collect the various rewards offered! As it stands, the Mage Tower will remain open until the end of the expansion, so there should be plenty of time.

The Highlord's Return is meant for all the tank specializations: Blood Death Knight, Brewmaster Monk, Guardian Druid, Protection Paladin, Protection Warrior, and Vengeance Demon Hunter. You can queue for it in the Broken Shore main hub area by talking to War Councilor Victoria.

To reach this area, you can take a portal from Orgrimmar / Stormwind's portal room to Azsuna and then fly or take the flight path to the Broken Shore hub, Deliverance Point. You can also use the Dalaran Hearthstone Icon Dalaran Hearthstone to quickly reach Dalaran and then fly to Deliverance Point.


The Highlord's Return Challenge Overview

The tank challenge known as The Highlord's Return is a 2-phase encounter where you need to deal with various enemies while keeping Prophet Velen alive. In Phase 1, your main enemy is Inquisitor Variss; after he dies, Phase 2 starts, and your main target will be Highlord Kruul. If Velen or Kor'vas Bloodthorn dies at any point in the encounter, it will automatically end.

The main struggle points of this encounter are paying attention to various knockback effects so you do not get knocked off the platform, and using your defensives properly.

If you wish to take a quick refresher course on the tank you are about to do the Mage Tower Challenge on, you can take a look at the guides below.


Gear for the Tank Mage Tower Challenge

There are no items that are mandatory for you to complete the Tank Mage Tower Challenge. That said, there are ways you can optimize your gear a bit if you wish to.

Whenever you enter the Mage Tower, your gear will be downscaled to item level 120. Due to this reason, any gear that has multiple sockets on it can be more useful than your currently equipped gear.

Some old trinkets are mighty in the Challenge. Pocket-Sized Computation Device Icon Pocket-Sized Computation Device with Cyclotronic Blast Icon Cyclotronic Blast is a solid burst of damage that you can deal to the enemies.


Gear Restrictions

Something to keep in mind is that there are a lot of gear effects and systems that have been disabled during the Challenge.

  • Dragonflight Embellishments
  • Shards of Domination;
  • Legendary Powers from Shadowlands or Legion;
  • Battle for Azeroth and other previous expansion systems (Azerite Gear, Traits, Essences, Shards);
  • Tier set bonuses;
  • Mists of Pandaria Legendary Meta Gems.

Crafted Gear for Timewalking

Crafting Mists of Pandaria Dreadful gear with Relic of the Past IV Icon Relic of the Past IV or Relic of the Past V Icon Relic of the Past V is an excellent alternate source of Timewalking gear as it will have sockets and will be of a low enough item level to receive legacy gems/enchants.


Gems and Enchants for Timewalking Gear

If you are using Shadowlands gear, you should use the current expansion gems and enchants, as the ones linked below will not work for you. If you are using Timewalking gear, you should instead use the enchants and gems listed below.

  • Meta Gems for Head slot:
    • Strength: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond Icon Chaotic Skyflare Diamond
    • Agility: Agile Primal Diamond Icon Agile Primal Diamond
  • Strength: 1x Sovereign Tanzanite Icon Sovereign Tanzanite and rest Bold Queen's Garnet Icon Bold Queen's Garnet
  • Agility: 1x Nightmare Tear Icon Nightmare Tear and rest Delicate Queen's Garnet Icon Delicate Queen's Garnet
Slot Strength tank recommendation Agility tank recommendation
Neck Enchant Neck - Mark of the Hidden Satyr Icon Enchant Neck - Mark of the Hidden Satyr Enchant Neck - Mark of the Claw Icon Enchant Neck - Mark of the Claw / Enchant Neck - Mark of the Trained Soldier Icon Enchant Neck - Mark of the Trained Soldier
Shoulder Greater Crane Wing Inscription Icon Greater Crane Wing Inscription Greater Tiger Claw Inscription Icon Greater Tiger Claw Inscription
Cloak Enchant Cloak - Minor Power Icon Enchant Cloak - Minor Power Enchant Cloak - Fortified Leech Icon Enchant Cloak - Fortified Leech
Chest Enchant Chest - Eternal Stats Icon Enchant Chest - Eternal Stats Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats Icon Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats
Wrists Enchant Bracer - Superior Strength Icon Enchant Bracer - Superior Strength Enchant Bracer - Greater Agility Icon Enchant Bracer - Greater Agility
Gloves Enchant Gloves - Super Strength Icon Enchant Gloves - Super Strength Enchant Gloves - Major Agility Icon Enchant Gloves - Major Agility
Legs Angerhide Leg Armor Icon Angerhide Leg Armor
Boots Enchant Boots - Greater Assault Icon Enchant Boots - Greater Assault Enchant Boots - Greater Agility Icon Enchant Boots - Greater Agility
Rings Shadowlands Tenet Enchants
Weapon Enchant Weapon - Dancing Steel Icon Enchant Weapon - Dancing Steel Enchant Weapon - Crusader Icon Enchant Weapon - Crusader

Strategy for The Highlord's Return (Kruul)

Over the 2 phases of the encounter, your main focus should be on avoiding the various knockback effects while simultaneously keeping Prophet Velen alive and dealing damage to either Inquisitor Variss or Highlord Kruul. Although there are many different types of adds that spawn, most of them have low health and can be cleaved down.

One important thing to note is to try and keep as many big defensives for the second phase of the encounter as you need them to survive the Annihilate Icon Annihilate stacks. Feral Hide Drums Icon Feral Hide Drums should also be saved for the second phase as that phase is on a timer due to the damage intake increase from Highlord Kruul.


Phase 1 of the encounter

During Phase 1, you have to deal with Inquisitor Variss and 3 types of adds that spawn throughout the phase. Your goal is to defeat Variss while keeping Prophet Velen alive, which will then trigger the start of Phase 2.

Prophet Velen is active during both phases of the encounter, and you need to make sure he stays alive. He will stand still and not move, so take note of his position. He will sometimes heal you a little bit. Still, generally, his biggest contribution is the Holy Ward Icon Holy Ward Orbs he spawns roughly every 30 seconds. These orbs can be triggered by walking over them. They will instantly heal you to full health while disorienting and interrupting all enemies for 5 seconds.

Holy Ward orbs

Generally, the Holy Ward Icon Holy Ward Orbs are best used depending on the circumstances. You do not need to use them as soon as they spawn, as they will only disappear after roughly 2 minutes. This means that you can have multiple orbs up at any given moment. Try to have multiple orbs up once Phase 2 starts to make the transfer easier to manage. Some of the more critical uses of the orbs are listed below.

  • Healing yourself while you are on low health
  • Interrupting Drain Life Icon Drain Life from Inquisitor Variss if you do not have anything else available
  • When overwhelmed by enemies and in need of time to stabilize the situation

Inquisitor Variss

Inquisitor Variss is your main enemy in Phase 1. He will constantly be casting Mind Rend Icon Mind Rend that deals some magic damage, and Drain Life Icon Drain Life, which heals him if not interrupted. He also has an Aura of Decay Icon Aura of Decay around him, which puts a stacking debuff on you as long as you stay inside the area. The debuff reduces your maximum health, so be sure to keep an eye on it and get out at around 5 stacks to be safe.

Add name Ability name Short information Countermeasures
Inquisitor Variss Aura of Decay Icon Aura of Decay Pool around Variss; debuffs you when in its area, reducing your maximum health Pay attention to the stacks; the safest bet is to walk away at around 5 and let them reset
Inquisitor Variss Drain Life Icon Drain Life Channel that heals Variss IMPORTANT — Use your interrupt or any CC to stop the cast from going through
Inquisitor Variss Mind Rend Icon Mind Rend Constantly casting this deals Shadow damage Interrupts and CC abilities will stop this, but it is not important to interrupt as the damage it deals is minimal

Tormenting Eye

Multiple Tormenting Eyes will spawn throughout Phase 1. They will channel Inquisitive Stare Icon Inquisitive Stare at you, which will knock you away if you are not facing them at the end of the cast. They have very low health, so you can kill them fairly easily. If you cannot kill them all, then try to kill the ones that are not as grouped up with the rest, so all the Inquisitive Stares come from the same direction and are easier to face.

If you are playing this challenge as a Guardian Druid or Blood Death Knight then the Tormenting Eyes are IMMUNE to Physical damage.

Add name Ability name Short information Countermeasures
Tormenting Eye Inquisitive Stare Icon Inquisitive Stare Channel that is targeted at you; if you do not face the channel when the cast ends, you are knocked away Either kill the Tormenting Eye or face the Eye as the channel ends to avoid the knockback
Inquisitive Stare

Smoldering Infernal

Multiple Smoldering Infernals will spawn and then constantly resurrect throughout the encounter. They have a debuff on themselves, continuously damaging them, so you do not need to focus on them actively. Every time they die, they start "respawning" at the same position, eventually returning to life. The main thing they do is Smash Icon Smash; this is a straight-line knockback targeted at you. If you get hit by it, you are knocked back by a fair amount, most likely off the platform ending the encounter. It is important to sidestep it. If you do get hit, you can use Goblin Glider Kit Icon Goblin Glider Kit or any charge/leap abilities to get you back on the platform.

Add name Ability name Short information Countermeasures
Smoldering Infernal Smash Icon Smash Casts in a straight line; if you get hit by it, you get knocked back Step aside from the line before it is cast; if you do get hit, use Goblin Glider Kit Icon Goblin Glider Kit or any charge/leap abilities to prevent being knocked off
Smoldering Infernal Fel Resonation Icon Fel Resonation Deals damage to enemies nearby at the cost of its health Mostly ignorable; pay attention when they are low health to finish them off quicker

Nether Horror

Four Nether Horrors will continuously spawn from gates throughout the encounter. When they spawn, they will most likely go straight to Prophet Velen, so grab threat on them as fast as possible to avoid Velen dying. They have very little health so you can cleave them down relatively fast with your abilities.

Add name Ability name Short information Countermeasures
Nether Horror Psytalons Icon Psytalons Their melee attacks debuff you with Psytalons Icon Psytalons which increases your arcane damage taken They have very little health so you can cleave them down fast before the debuff can stack
Nether Horror Nether Storm Icon Nether Storm Inflicts magic damage to enemies Interrupt or CC, kill the adds as soon as possible

Phase 1 strategy

The best way to deal with Phase 1 is by managing the adds that spawn properly. In the beginning, rush on Inquisitor Variss and damage him until you have around 5 stacks of Aura of Decay Icon Aura of Decay, after that start dealing with the adds that have spawned. Once the adds have died, or you no longer have a stack of Aura of Decay, you can go back on Variss.

  • Damage Inquisitor Variss until you have around 5 stacks of the Aura of Decay Icon Aura of Decay debuff
    1. Be sure to interrupt or CC Drain Life Icon Drain Life
    2. Do not waste your interrupts on Mind Rend Icon Mind Rend, use defensives if you need to
    3. Face Tormenting Eyes as they finish their cast of Inquisitive Stare Icon Inquisitive Stare
    4. Keep an eye on Smoldering Infernal Smash Icon Smash casts and sidestep them
    5. Pick up any Nether Horrors that spawn so they do not kill Velen
  • Once you have around 5 stacks of Aura of Decay Icon Aura of Decay, walk out of Variss' aura and start dealing with the adds
    1. Tormenting Eyes and Nether Horrors have really low health so you can most likely cleave them down without having to hard swap
    2. You do not need to focus hard on Smoldering Infernal as they will slowly die from Fel Resonation Icon Fel Resonation
  • Use Velen's Holy Ward Icon Holy Ward Orbs to heal you or to interrupt any casts as needed
  • After the debuff from Variss' aura has worn off, go back to damaging him and repeat the steps above until he is dead

Phase 2 of the encounter

After you kill Inquisitor Variss Phase 2 will start. Highlord Kruul will fly down and become the active boss. Use Feral Hide Drums Icon Feral Hide Drums during this Phase. Nether Horrors and Smoldering Infernals will continue to spawn throughout this phase, in addition to some new abilities you need to look out for. Tormenting Eyes no longer spawn, so you do not need to worry about them.

One of the new abilities to look out for are the purple beams that periodically move through the encounter area. These beams slow and push you back if you happen to be hit by them. You can use movement speed abilities to walk through them; otherwise, try to avoid them, or you will be pushed off the platform.


Highlord Kruul

Highlord Kruul has various abilities that he will cast on you, but the most important of them is Twisted Reflection Icon Twisted Reflection. This cast needs to be interrupted as if it goes through, it will keep healing the boss, and the fight will become impossible to finish. Annihilate Icon Annihilate is a simple Physical damage nuke that stacks a debuff on you, which increases the damage taken from him. At first, this is not that deadly, but you need to use stronger cooldowns to survive as the debuffs stack up.

Add name Ability name Short information Countermeasures
Highlord Kruul Annihilate Icon Annihilate Hard-hitting Physical damage ability that debuffs the target, increasing damage taken Use your main mitigation tool and start using bigger cooldowns as the debuffs stack
Highlord Kruul Netherstomp Icon Netherstomp Leap attack that deals damage knocks targets back and leaves a hard-hitting felfire puddle on the ground Move out of the leap area and felfire puddle as soon as possible
Highlord Kruul Twisted Reflection Icon Twisted Reflection Cast that will heal the Kruul and put a debuff on the target, which also heals Kruul every time he attacks Interrupt/CC it every time; if this goes through the fight is lost

Phase 2 strategy

Phase 2 is all about managing your cooldowns for Annihilate Icon Annihilate, interrupting Twisted Reflection Icon Twisted Reflection and avoiding being knocked off by the Smoldering Infernals' Smash Icon Smash or by the new purple lines moving across the platform. Think ahead about how you will use your cooldowns to prevent getting one-shot by Annihilate Icon Annihilate when it has multiple stacks.

  • Start focusing down Highlord Kruul and put as much damage into him as you can
    1. Be sure to interrupt Twisted Reflection Icon Twisted Reflection or it will be a wipe
    2. Use a combination of defensives for Annihilate Icon Annihilate as the stacks start to go higher
    3. Avoid the felfire pools that are left behind by Nether Storm Icon Nether Storm
  • Pick up any Nether Horrors that spawn and cleave them down with Kruul so Prophet Velen is not in danger of dying
  • Avoid Smash Icon Smash from Smoldering Infernals by sidestepping it
  • Use the Holy Ward Icon Holy Ward Orbs to heal you or to help you stabilize the add situation — the disorient also works on Kruul

Rewards for the Tank Mage Tower Challenge

Once you complete the Challenge, you will be rewarded with a transmog set which is a re-color of your class Tier 20 (Tomb of Sargeras) set.


Demon Hunter


Death Knight



If you complete the Challenge as a Guardian Druid, you will also obtain the special fel variant of the "werebear" shapeshift form.








Additional obtainable rewards

If you manage to complete all 7 of the Timewalking Mage Tower Challenges at least once, you will also be rewarded with a mount: the Soaring Spelltome

If you wish to obtain additional mounts, you can look at our Mount guide to help you get started collecting all the various mounts.

There is also the achievement Tower Overwhelming Icon Tower Overwhelming which will be rewarded to you, if you manage to complete the Timewalking Mage Tower Challenge on all 36 specializations.



  • 17 Feb. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.0.5
  • 07 Dec. 2021: Added extra sources of viable timewalking gear.
  • 01 Dec. 2021: Guide added.
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