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Atlas Strategies in Metamorph 3.9 and Conquerors of the Atlas

Conquerors of the Atlas

Conquerors of the Atlas, and the new MetaMorph League, introduced a ton of new content to Path of Exile. The ARPG is getting a full rework of the Atlas system, pushing the need for an entirely new guide for the end-game mapping system. We’ve also been pumping out other guides too. If you’re in need of a  POE league starter build for 3.9, we already assembled a decent list. ISKMogul also has a whole stable of Path of Exile 3.9 guides, check those out below.

The Atlas was already a complex little system in POE. The management and customization of dozens of maps is a huge part of the end-game. So now you will need to rethink your approach. Although a few things are still in place from older patches, making the changeover a bit easier to handle. To avoid cramming this guide with repeating a basic overview of map drop mechanics, we’re just going to refer you to our previous Atlas guide from Blight, refer to the Map drops section there for a basic overview of how maps drop and the basics of map tiers in POE’s 3.9 Atlas.

The one biggest change that governs Map drops is that the connection system has been altered in Conquerors of the Atlas. Instead of having connected elements influence Map drops by the next connected Tier, Map drops are now governed by Regions. We will cover Region altering later in the guide, but the basic idea is that entire Regions of Maps will be restricted to a either White, Yellow or Red. Although the connections system from older Atlas systems is still here to a degree.

Basic Atlas Strategy

The basic idea in the Atlas for 3.9 is to rush the “Citadels”. These Citadels are the boss areas of the colored regions that spawn on the Atlas. The Citadels first need to be unlocked though. To do this quickly, rush through the maps in the nearest region as best you can, this will hopefully unlock the Citadel fights. Map drop tiers are still governed by the completion objectives system, but there’s a new additional system.

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Awakening is the new Tier upgrade system in 3.9. In basic terms, the number of Watchstones you have socketed increases your Awakening level, this in turn governs different modifiers to Maps on the Atlas.

Awakening System in Conquerors of the Atlas

Awakening System in Conquerors of the Atlas

Hover over the center of the Atlas to see your Awakening level. Each map now has a basic completion objective, as it did in older expansions, but now a Map will also have an Awakening objective that must be completed by interacting with the Watchstone system.

Here’s the basic flow of the Atlas:

  • Level to the Epilogue and unlock Zana and Zirac. This will involve a new quest line around unlocking the new Map Device.
  • Complete Zana’s Quests by hunting maps for the targets she gives you, each one will unlock a new Citadel, and thus a Conqueror boss.
  • This process involves both completing quests and Maps, focusing on Tiers 1-3, in the very beginning.
  • Watchtowers (where you insert Watchstones for a Region) spawn after you defeat that Map’s boss.
  • Finding the Watchtowers relies on RNG, so focus on the Atlas corners and farm maps there until you get it.
  • Each Citadel is governed by a Conqueror of the Atlas, which is a boss that acts as the gateway to that Region.
  • Each Conqueror has their own unique Influence and attached Exalted Orbs that can be used to modify items.
  • The first 4 Conquerors only spawn in the far NE, NW, SE, SW corner zones.
  • Those same first 4 Conquerors and Watchstones can all be farmed without upgrading other Tiers, so White Maps.
  • Progress through Regions and begin to collect Watchstones from defeating these Conquerors.
  • Use Watchstones to setup your desired spread of Map Tiers in Regions, also increasing your Awakening level.
  • Farm Maps to your hearts content.

Here’s a video guide if you’re more into that sort of thing:

Sextants Are New Again

Sextants have been updated in Conquerors of the Atlas. Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Cartographer’s Sextants have all been retired. In their place, several new types of Sextants exist:

  • Simple Sextant
  • Prime Sextant
  • Awakened Sextant

Sextants are no longer applied to individual maps, but are now applied to regions of the POE 3.9 Atlas. This will make applications of deeper Atlas strategies much easier. However, each Sextant has their own mod pool too, so things will get interesting in that regard. This application is governed by the new Watchstones, which themselves govern their own region of the Atlas. Said Atlas Regions are governed by the Watcher/Wathstone item slotted into their relevant area on the Atlas.

Getting the Watchstone involves a new Atlas strategy, the POE 3.9 Atlas starts you off in the center. Then as you progress through maps, you will unlock new Regions. Eventually, these regions will begin to unveil the new bosses of Path of Exile 3.9, the Watchers.

Watcher Boss Strategies for the POE 3.9 Atlas

Watchstones are the new addition, which effectively replaces the old Shaper and Elder influence systems. Zana has apparently been working with other Exiles to take them down, and now those folks have apparently gone insane. These resulted in a new set of bosses which eclipse the old Guardians in power by a wide margin.

These new Watchers will be your new end-game obstacle. Expect to have to overcome them though if you want to unlock the full potential of the Atlas in this new system. With that in mind, here are some tips on what to do when taking on these new bosses. Each one has their own mechanics and rewards. Each boss also unlocks different modifiers specific to their loot pool. Players can also claim special Exalted Orbs from beating them that enable new crafting options.

Atlas progression can be divided into two parts: Pre-Awakener fight and Post-Awakener fight.

The Awakener fight will first be available upon obtaining 20 Wachstones and completing each Conquerors quest line. During this time the Atlas must be progressively upgraded with the obtained Watchstones in order to reach the required region level for another Conqueror to spawn.

Post-Awakener, after the quest line is completed and the Conquerors begin spawning randomly, you will be able to obtain the remaining 12 Wachstones from whichever regions still have unobtained ones. Each Conqueror can be defeated exactly once on the Atlas and upon defeating all four Zana will offer another Awakener fight.

Watchstone Strategies

Watchstone usage in Path of Exile is a pretty tricky prospect. Each Watchstone is linked to a colored region of the Atlas, known as a Citadel colloquially. There are multiple different types of Watchstones, each with their own effects.

There are also Tiers within the Regions, based on how many Watchstones are socketed into the relevant Citadel. These range from Tier 0 (Normal Atlas, no Watchstones in Region) to Tier 4 (Full end-game Atlas, Four Watchstones in Region). These tiers can be modified to create a tailored Atlas, based on how many Watchstones are socketed in.

The POE community has once again come through in a pinch, offering a full guide on Watchstone combinations, find it here.

The Watchstones can directly correspond to a Region on the Atlas, although they can be slotted into any unlocked Watchtower. The Region lock just determines which Watcher you have to beat to gain that Watchstone. Each color you see on the Regions in the Atlas means that the related Watcher has a potential to spawn. A recent patch has made it so that after three maps are run, once that color appears in a region, the player will be prompted by Kirac to talk to Zana, who will then open a portal to fight the related boss.

Once the player has defeated a Conqueror and claimed the Watchstone, progress to the next tier of Maps to unlock the next Watchstone. Watchstone unlocks are tied to Conqueror influence. Players have to run 3 different maps from the same corner to spawn their first Conqueror. Otherwise, there is a 33% chance per map if you are running the same map.

Conqueror influence can be guided by focusing on specific regions. By inserting four Watchstones into a Regional Citadel, the Conqueror fight for that Region is unlocked. After that first series of fights within the Atlas quest, Conquerors will spawn randomly. But by holding off on engaging them (not inserting all four Watchstones in a given Region) you can soft-lock them to that Region for a short time. However, when a new cycle happens and the Awakener spawns, the influence is also reset after the Awakener fight.

In order to get all Watchstones as quickly as possible and not waste any encounter-cycles it is therefore advisable to:

  1. Prioritize running maps in regions that have the most unobtained Watchstones remaining to trigger Conqueror encounters.
  2. Focus on regions closest to spawning Conquerors first.
  3. Only run maps that match the regions current map-tier in order to trigger the first encounter. After a region is influenced lower tiers will suffice.
  4. Pre-Awakener: Obtain Watchstones equally from all regions. Ideally, this would mean that by the time of the first Awakener encounter, after obtaining 20 Watchstones, four regions have 2 and four regions have 3 obtained Watchstones.
  5. Another Pre-Awakener approach is to focus purely on a single region, forcing Conqueror spawns there instead, which means the regions with the least activated Watchstones. Watchstones are obtained and then you should move to the next region. Repeat this in the early progression as the requirements for progression are easier pre-Awakener, and it’s easier to get a basic supply of Maps and Watchstones.
  6. Post-Awakener: At the beginning of each cycle, after an Awakener fight, plan ahead which Conqueror you want to encounter where. If possible make sure every Conqueror has a region to go to where the respective Watchstone is still locked.
  7. Post-Awakener: Try to obtain 3 Watchstones from each region before going for each fourth and therefore last one.

Here’s an image that illustrates which Regions are where on the Atlas. We also included a breakdown down below of what maps are where. Also, check below for what maps are in each region.


Tirn’s End Lex Proxima Valdo’s Rest Glennach Cairns Haewark Hamlet Lex Ejoris Lira Arthain New Vastir
Alleyways Arsenal Graveyard Armoury Academy Arena Ancient City Cage
Cursed Crypt Ashen Wood Lookout Beach Castle Ruins Barrows Arachnid Tomb Arcade
Laboratory Bazaar Mesa Colonnade Chateau Bone Crypt Defiled Cathedral Moon Temple
Museum Belfry Mud Geyser Coves Conservatory Caldera Estuary Courtyard
Primordial Pool Bog Overgrown Ruin Fungal Hollow Leyline Canyon Geode Waste Pool
Strand Cemetry Peninsula Glacier Phantasmagoria Pit Relic Chambers Park
Temple Crystal Ore Pier Lava Chamber Vaal Pyramid Reef Tower Basilica
Waterways Desert Villa Pen Precinct Thicket Toxic Sewer Courthouse
Wharf Dunes Wasteland Plaza Dig Lair Gardens Primordial Blocks
Atoll Fields Burial Chambers Racecourse Malformation Shipyard Siege Sunken City
Tropical Island Haunted Mansion Scriptorium Ramparts Shrine Core Colosseum Acid Caverns
Iceberg Jungle Valley Factory Shore Grotto Arachnid Nest Sepulchre Summit
City Square Mausoleum Lighthouse Sulphur Vents Terrace Crimson Temple Dark Forest
Ghetto Orchard Crater Vault Perandus Manor Carcass Desert Spring
Necropolis Underground Sea Overgrown Shrine Excavation Vaults of Atziri Lava Lake Palace
Spider Forest Volcano Mineral Pools Marshes Olmec’s Sanctum
Death and Taxes Arid Lake Promenade Cells
Maelström of Chaos Port Vaal Temple Flooded Mine
Poorjoy’s Asylum Maze Acton’s Nightmare Channel
The Coward’s Trial Residence The Hall of Grandmasters Dungeon
The Putrid Cloister Plateau Infested Valley
Whakawairua Tuahu Underground River Spider Lair
Coral Ruins Mao Kun
Ivory Temple
Caer Blaidd, Wolfpack’s Den
Doryani’s Machinarium
Hallowed Ground
Oba’s Cursed Trove
Pillars of Arun

Using these Watchstones will alter the regions as a whole. This can for example turn an entire region into a class of Maps. So if you want a region of all White (Tier 1-5) Maps, you can do that with this new Atlas system. Most people will, and should, opt for a mix of regions that allow content to be accessed at at decent pace.

Only one type of Watchstone can be inserted into a Regional Citadel at a time, there’s a tray on the side of the Atlas for storage.

The Shaper and Elder Return

The Shaper and the Elder may have been defeated, but in-lore there are some dimensions where they weren’t eradicated. Now, POE players will need to use new sets of Map Fragments to unlock the Shaper and Elder fights.

The fragments, like other Fragments, have their own effects when put into the Map Device. The Shaper and Elder Fragments (Knowledge, Shape, Fear and Emptiness) add 10% increased Quantity for items found in the attached Map area.

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