June 22nd, 2021
Quick Guide to Shadowlands 9.1 Changes
The release of Shadowlands 9.1 marks the end of one of the longest running major patches in the history of the game. That said, do not expect there to be a large amount of content in this patch, since this is a mid-expansion patch and will be largely focused on rehashing existing systems while implementing a few new ones. The next patch contains a new raid, a new stand-alone dungeon, and a reimagining of Torghast, along with some quality of life improvements throughout. There are a handful of major and minor changes coming, so we’ll be covering most of the news at a birds-eye view, while diving deep on a few of the gear-focused topics.
Important gearing changes
I wanted to spend the most time focusing on the changes to how gearing will work in 9.1, specifically regarding your Legendary item, which you might need to reforge into a different slot if you plan on raiding.
The most notable change to gearing in 9.1 is the addition of Domination Gear. These pieces of gear are unique because they have a new, special Domination Socket on them, which accepts a new type of gem called a Shard. Domination Sockets come attached to gear from the new raid’s bosses or from the new faction’s quartermaster.
There are three categories of Shards which you can choose from; Blood, Frost, and Unholy. Each one of these categories has three subtypes to choose from, which can be boiled down to “offensive, defensive, and healing”. You take these Shards and socket them into gear which has a Domination Socket, granting you access to some neat powers depending on the Shard you choose.
If you socket three Shards of the same category (Blood, Frost, or Unholy), you get access to a set bonus, called a “Rune Word”. Rune Words only work in the Maw and Torghast, but are extremely worthwhile and should be heavily sought after due to the incredible power they grant you.
Wait, hold up, I might need to remake my Legendary?
Domination Sockets only come on specific slots of gear, which change for every armor type, and you generally want to ensure that you have a Domination Socket on every single piece of gear you can since they increase your power or utility by a fair amount. The problem is that for many classes, their current legendary is in a slot where a Domination Gear will need to go. Unless Blizzard allows you to add a Domination Socket to a Legendary piece, it means you might need to recraft your Legendary to be in a different slot.
At the time of this writing you cannot add Domination Sockets to Legendary pieces of gear.
You can use the following graph to see if you need to remake your legendary. If the grid is green, it means it’s safe to create a legendary in that slot. If the grid is yellow, you can still put your legendary there, however there is a high ilvl slot from raid in that slot to be aware of. Red slots are a hard “do not craft”, since it would cost you a Domination Socket slot– and you want as many of those as possible.
⚠️ Note: Hunters should not craft a Back legendary because they will be getting a unique “quiver” from raid which goes on your back, hence why Mail is marked as “shaman only” for the Back slot.
The good news is, if you need to re-craft your legendary, Soul Ash is becoming Bind-On-Account in 9.1, meaning you can run Torghast on your alts and ship the surplus to your main character to re-craft a Rank 4 legendary. Generally speaking, hold off on crafting one until the actual raid comes out, just in case Blizzard decides to allow Domination Sockets to be applied to legendaries at the last minute.
Gear Item Level Changes
With a new raid tier and Mythic+ season, it means the item level of gear is changing once again. The only caveat is that the new dungeon, Tazavesh, will drop 226 gear (or 233 gear if you do its bosses on “Hard Mode”) and the final two bosses of the new raid will drop slightly higher item level gear as well. The first number below is the base ilvl of gear from the raid, and the second number represents the final two bosses.
- Raid Finder: 213 / 220
- Normal: 226 / 233
- Heroic: 239 / 246
- Mythic: 252 / 259
The scaling of Mythic+ loot is also changing, which can be seen in the following graph:
There are a few more ‘birds eye’ topics to cover, which I wanted to note for general awareness as well. These will be less impactful than the gear changes above, but still good to know about regardless.
New zone: Korthia, The City of Secrets
A new zone will be added to the Shadowlands and will be the main focus of all 9.1 content. It’s essentially a zone filled with secrets, as the name implies, and the goal of players will be to work with two new factions, Death’s Advance and The Archivist’s Codex, to reveal secrets about this new zone.
The two new factions will offer a handful of reputation-locked rewards in exchange for participating in their content. Death’s Advance will give you Crafter’s Mark III (craftable 200 items), transmog appearances, and some mounts. The Archivist’s Codex is slightly more complex and should be the heavier focus for reputation grinding. The Archivist’s Codex will give higher rewards on world quests, “Crafter’s Mark of the Chained Isle” (230 craftables), applicable gem sockets for gear, and random Conduits Upgrades.
Primarily focus on The Archivists Codex, which is the long-term gain reputation.
New dungeon, Tazavesh, the Veiled Market
There’s a new 8-boss dungeon being added in 9.1, which only has one difficulty granting 226 gear. Each individual boss within the dungeon will have a “hard mode” mechanic, which turns the bosses into a more difficult version, but also granting a higher gear reward (233) for that boss specifically. It will not be a part of the Mythic+ system yet, but it will likely be split in half and added to Mythic+ in a future patch. Learn more about the new dungeon on WoWHead.
New raid, Sanctum of Domination
A new ten-boss raid is coming in 9.1. It will drop a week after the patch itself comes out, which gives you plenty of time to work on the main story, unlock flying, run the new dungeon, and prepare for the raid itself, which comes out on July 6th as Normal and Heroic, with July 13th being Mythic raid. Learn more about the new raid on WoWHead.
New Mythic+ Affix, “Tormented”
The final affix in Mythic+ (added to keys at a +10 or higher) is a “seasonal” affix, which is getting replaced in 9.1 with the start of Season 2. We will no longer get Prideful spawns, and instead we will begin dealing with a new affix called Tormented. The abbreviated version here is there will be mini-bosses, called Lieutenants, scattered throughout the dungeon which your team will need to kill. When defeated, these Lieutenants drop anima powers, much like Torghast, which give you incredible powers for the remainder of the dungeon. If any Lieutenants are left alive at the end of the dungeon they will greatly empower the final boss making it extremely difficult to defeat, so you’ll generally kill all of them unless you’re very confident in your abilities and group. Learn more about the Season 2 affix, Tormented, on WoWHead.
Torghast is getting a complete overhaul and is getting turned into a speed/score based system instead. The most notable changes are that there is no longer a death counter, so you cannot fail runs by dying too many times. The number of floors has also been lowered to 5 from 6, there is new anima powers, as well as a character-based upgrade system which will make your time in Torghast easier over time.
Pathfinder Flying + Non-restricted Maw Mounts
The final item I wanted to note was that you will be able to unlock flying account-wide by completing the new 9.1 main story line, which is fairly quick to achieve, with no reputation grind required. Along with this, you can also use all of your mounts in the maw (no flying, but you can use normal mounts in the zone at least). This will happen passively by working on the main Maw Walker storyline, so don’t sweat too much about this.