Warbands and Tempest Challenge Leagues

As part of the launch of Path of Exile: The Awakening, we've created two new challenge leagues - Warbands and Tempest. In this article, I'd like to talk about how these leagues work and give some insight into their development.

Like the ten previous challenge leagues, Warbands and Tempest are self-contained economies that are essentially an optional fresh start for players. They have a set of difficult challenges with prizes that reward mastery of Path of Exile. Challenge leagues are extremely popular, so we put substantial development resources towards them.

While these two leagues play very differently from each other, they both share a design goal - to make the area that you're playing in matter more. In their own unique ways, both Warbands and Tempest provide fluctuating incentives and obstacles for playing in various world areas.

Warbands League

In the Warbands league, warring clans have spread throughout Wraeclast. During your travels, you'll occasionally encounter one of their Warbands - a tight-knit group of enemies who cooperate to take you down.

Our primary design goal with the Warbands league was to create an encounter where your enemies feel intelligent and work together. In addition, adding mechanics that allow the presence of these Warbands to wax and wane throughout Wraeclast based on player behaviour creates some very interesting economic consequences regarding the exclusive items that they can drop.

Not only are the Warbands designed to use skills in synergistic ways, but each of the Warband members has a distinct role. The regular warriors try to engage you in combat directly. Their behaviour can change substantially based on pack composition. Supporting Warband members generally use support skills that help the warriors without attacking you unless you get in their way. The higher elites and warband leaders start out by directing combat, making sure that their subordinates are attacking the right targets. They commonly have auras to improve their allies. If much of the Warband is slain, the elites and leaders will take matters into their own hands and become very aggressive, trying to finish the encounter quickly with their own deadly attacks.

Each of the Warbands was designed by a different Grinding Gear Games designer, to give them a distinct personality.

As you progress through the game, you meet Warbands with more senior members. In Normal difficulty, you encounter Warbands that just consist of Warriors and support members. Elites start appearing in Cruel difficulty and Leaders start appearing in Merciless, becoming more frequent in Maps.

Each of the Warbands has several exclusive Unique Items that can only be obtained by killing their members. While we don't want to reveal the full details right now, there are Unique Shields that can be obtained from any member of the Warband, plus very rare Unique Rings that only come from the most senior members. Rumour has it that they sometimes drop magic items that have a new mod exclusive to their Warband.

Warbands aren't tied to a specific world area. They each control various parts of the world map and these areas of influence ebb and flow over time. If players target and hunt a Warband in a particular area, then they can wipe out its influence in that area, causing it to move elsewhere. Only areas with very strong influence can spawn the most senior Warband members.

Warbands is the standard challenge league, where death is not permanent, so we've been able to balance the encounters to be challenging and the rewards to be worth it.

Tempest League

In the Tempest league, Wraeclast is affected by magical Tempests. These can cause a variety of effects that influence both monsters and players, such as changing their sizes, causing damage, altering drop rates or even automatically animating weapons that drop.

When you're in an area affected by a Tempest, you'll occasionally see markers on the ground. They signal that the tempest is about to strike that area. When it strikes, it affects everything caught within the radius - either players or monsters. Depending on what the effect is, it can have either negative or positive consequences for those caught within the blast. This produces some really hectic gameplay situations.

We initially tested this idea with blanket mods that affected the entire level, but found it far more engaging if the mods are stronger but only affect entities in a specific location. With careful positioning you can deny monsters from getting positive buffs or kite them into negative ones.

Some rare tempests are positive for you in both directions. For example, the Glimmering Tempest causes you to find better items and for monsters to drop better items. If you manage to hit yourself and some monsters with the same blast, then you'll get compounding results.

Like other systems in Path of Exile, Tempests have prefixes and suffixes. The prefixes dictate the effects caused by the periodic tempest strikes that occur, and the suffixes cause the entire area affected by a tempest to exhibit a new behaviour. For example, a Tempest of Animation causes all of the weapons dropped by monsters to rise up and fight you before you can claim them.

When a Tempest affects an area, it affects it for everyone in that league. Approximately 50% of areas are affected by a tempest at any one time. These tempests change every hour, on the hour. You can look at the world map to see what Tempest affects each area. Some of the tempests are rarer and much more valuable than the others, so it's good to keep a lookout for them.

Tempests can also affect end-game Maps. Because there's no world map for maps, the community will need to collaborate to share information about which valuable tempests affect which areas at the moment.

As Tempest is a hardcore league, death is a one-way trip to Standard. Because the Tempests change every hour, players can choose to take risks to maximise how much they get out of good tempests, or potentially play in other areas until the tempests move, in order to get past places where they are stuck.


There are a set of eight challenges that span across both leagues and other new content introduced in The Awakening, such as the Jewel system. As you complete challenges, a Totem Pole decoration in your hideout grows to permanently display your accomplishment. In addition, the first 50 players to complete all eight challenges will receive an exclusive Warbands/Tempest t-shirt.

These two challenge leagues launch alongside The Awakening on July 10. We're greatly looking forward to playing them alongside you!

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Last edited by Chris on Jun 30, 2015, 3:59:42 PM
Ragnar119 wrote:
Really like the sound of Warbands League. Its like a group of rouge exiles in one area, witch is great.

The other HC league I am not a huge fan of, especially as other people will have impact on areas that I play in, and I dont like that, so I hope it will not go to vanilla game after league end.

Player activity doesn't affect which Tempests show up where.
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MrSparkle001 wrote:
In the Tempest league do negative tempests add an item quantity bonus like with maps? With greater risk comes greater reward and all that?

They generally don't, however Tempests that are bad for you will also be bad for the monsters, so you can still turn them to your advantage. Likewise, tempests that are good for you will also be good for the monsters. There's a built in risk/reward to both.

Personally, the map tempests being secret is something I'm looking forward to, because we've hidden some really cool ones in them.
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Hilbert wrote:
Dan_GGG wrote:
There's a built in risk/reward to both.

GGG still has a misconception what Risk Reward is.

Reward for players are Good items aka barely anything blue, max linked if white/blue, uniques and so on.

Reward for you sounds like: "It's easier to kill those monsters"

What I'm saying here is that risks and rewards can come in multiple forms, not that there will only ever be one form of reward in Tempest. I apologise if that wasn't clear from my post.

Short term power or survivability can absolutely be a reward though. It doesn't mean that the league can't or won't also have longer term rewards available. Part of making areas matter is the idea that where you go can be based on which kinds of risks you're willing to take, and which rewards you'd rather pursue.

Not that you're going to get more specific details out of me that easily :)
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Wizardhawk wrote:
Will it be lootable still

Weapons animated by this mod will still be lootable after you fight them.
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The kind of icon indicates which clan is in the area, the number of dots indicates how much of a presence they have there (how many are likely to spawn, and which ranks you can get).
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