How To Collect 32 Watchstones
Path of Exile’s endgame revolves around an infinite multiverse represented in the Atlas of Worlds. Its zones are selected from a pool based on over a hundred map types, all of which are assigned to one of eight regions. As players adventure through the Atlas, they receive map items that let them access new worlds or old ones at a higher difficulty setting. There are several other ways of increasing the challenge (along with the spoils). Watchstones, which upgrade all-new maps in individual regions and eventually the entire Atlas, play a crucial role in this high-level climb.
Each region can have four Watchstones active at a time, meaning that a total of 32 Watchstones are needed to unlock the endgame’s greatest challenge. Every four activated Watchstones anywhere in the multiverse add an Awakening Level to the entire Atlas. Finishing maps past a specific Awakening Level threshold raises the total Awakened Atlas bonus, which increases modifier effects and the likelihood of receiving lucrative missions. Whether you are interested in speedrunning or just wish to reach the most rewarding content in the game as quickly as you can, you will want to speed up your journey towards a full set of Watchstones. However, this process can take a very long time unless you focus on the goal.
Where do Watchstones Come From?
Except for player trading, you will loot all of your Watchstones from bosses. Although you may be able to obtain more advanced Watchstones with special effects from other boss fights later in the game, your starting Watchstones will come from the four Conquerors of the Atlas. Those powerful enemies can take over regions, adding influenced monsters and items to their zones. After completing a few different, sufficiently advanced maps of any type in an influenced region, you will get the chance to defeat the Conqueror and claim a Watchstone and the region’s Citadel. Each Citadel map contains a Watchtower with four sockets that you can use to activate Watchstones.
Although the Conquerors are recurring bosses, each can only drop one Watchstone per region. After you beat one Conqueror, the others will not spawn in that region again until after you overcome the other three. Fighting them again in that region is pointless for the purposes of raising the Atlas level, although they do drop other valuable loot including their unique versions of Exalted Orbs. Each of the bosses will first show up in one of the outer regions of the Atlas. Engaging them in other regions after their first defeat requires having Watchstones active in the target area. This number of Watchstones necessary increases with each new region until you get to four.
How to Speed Up Your Progression?
Collecting 32 Watchstones may seem like a daunting task. It can take months if you don’t focus on the goal. On the other hand, following this sequence could get you there in just a few days:
- After first entering the Atlas near its center, beeline towards one of the outside regions, completing whatever maps will take you there the fastest. It doesn’t matter which of the four options you start with. Run maps there until you defeat your first Conqueror and acquire his Watchstone;
- Socket that Watchstone in one of the inside regions (to be referred to as R1);
- Repeat this process in the other three corners to defeat the remaining Conquerors for the first time;
- Socket two Watchstones in another inside region (R2);
- Run the R1 maps until you defeat all the bosses again;
- Socket three Watchstones in a third inside the region (R3) and repeat the boss farm in R2;
- Socket four Watchstones in a fourth inside region (R4) and repeat in R3;
- Socket four Watchstones in an outside region (R5) and repeat in R4;
- Confront Sirus. From now on, this boss will appear in the Atlas every time you defeat all four Conquerors, preventing them from spawning again until you either defeat him or lose all portals to his map;
- Socket four Watchstones in another outside region (R6), kill the three remaining Conquerors in R5, and then socket four Watchstones in the penultimate region (R7);
- Finish the boss farm cycle in R6 and socket four Watchstones in the last region (R8);
- Complete the farm in R7 and R8.
There are several best practices to keep in mind along the way. First, try to unlock all the citadels as fast as following the sequence allows you, to avoid being delayed by them later. As a rule, you will want to make sure your best map drops will be for the region you are currently farming and the region you will run after that. Farm higher-level map items for upcoming regions, but don’t use them until it’s time to hunt the Conquerors. Socketing them in advance should help there, but you should also keep an eye on your map stock as you go along to make sure you don’t hit a sudden wall. Also, keep the Awakening Level high by leaving Watchstones in previously used Watchtowers, but avoid having more than two there to avoid useless high-tier map drops.
If you stall out due to lacking maps at high enough tiers to summon Conquerors, consider buying those maps from other players with Chaos Orbs to jumpstart your progress. The high-end loot you will get once you have all the Watchstones will make it easy to cover your costs. Alternately or in addition to that, it might be worthwhile to take a detour from the grind to raise your Atlas Completion bonus, so long as you do not play maps at the tenth tier or higher. Finally, remember that you don’t have to actually defeat Sirus to resume your progress against the Conquerors. Simply activating the portals to his map and then going to another map can be enough, though you would miss out on good loot at higher Awakening Levels.
The suggested approach for filling all the Watchstone slots for the first time can be rather complicated and awkward at times. However, it can speed up the process immensely. Once it is done, you will find it much easier to push forward towards full Atlas completion or to complete your power leveling. You may also wish to farm the unique Watchstones dropped by Sirus or the craftable ones given for completing the Maven’s challenges. Replacing the starting Watchstones with them will unlock even more advanced content, as well as letting you tailor the endgame experience to your preferences. Whichever way you go, following the suggestions in this guide should give you a valuable headstart.