The third season of the year of Lightfall has just begun in Destiny 2 with the start of Season of the Witch. Coming off the heels of the tense narrative at the end of Season of the Deep, this new season sees us Guardians working alongside one of our enemies in an attempt to take down the Hive God of War. In the process, one of our oldest allies must undergo a dark ritual and become the thing they hate most and we must feed them tithes of death and destruction so that we may grow strong enough to face Xivu Arath. Narratively and thematically, this season is already very strong and is taking us down the dark path that will lead to The Final Shape.
Gameplay-wise, Season of the Witch is where true change and innovation have started entering the seasonal model (which will soon be abandoned for the newly announced Episodic model). There are tons of new pieces of gear to collect, including a couple of highly desirable weapons and an Exotic fans have been asking after for years, two engaging new seasonal activities and the mysterious Deck of Whispers system which combines deck building and Destiny 2. In short, there’s a lot to unveil with this spooky season.
Here’s everything you need to know about how Destiny 2 Season of the Witch works, including the new Deck of Whispers and Arcana deck-building system.
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- Why I’m Excited to See More Vex in Destiny 2 Post The Final Shape
How to Start Season of the Witch
To start the Season of the Witch storyline in Destiny 2, all you need to do is log on. After loading up the game for the first time this season, you’ll be given a little narrative preamble by Immaru, Savathun’s Ghost, before being dropped into the Way of the Witch opening mission. Season of the Deep’s finale revealed that we need the aid of the Witch Queen herself to get through the portal into the Pale Heart, where the Witness awaits us, and Immaru is our only path to resurrecting the Hive God of Lies: However, he isn’t charitable and will only rez Savathun if we can deal with her murderous sister, Xivu Arath.
The first mission sets a lot of the stakes narratively and has us unveiling some parts of the Throne World that Savathun once kept hidden, namely the aptly named Savathun’s Spire. From here, follow the questline to get a brief idea of all the new seasonal systems – including the two new seasonal activities, new loot and the new Deck of Whispers – before you get unleashed to experience Season of the Witch on your own.
Following Way of the Witch, you’ll be given The Bladed Path Seasonal Quest which will update and receive new additions each week for several weeks.
The first seasonal activity to get used to in Season of the Deep is Savathun’s Spire. Out of the two activities this season, the Spire is a lot more traditional than its seasonal counterpart. In it, you and two other Guardians will venture into a large Hive Spire at the heart of the Throne World, one Savathun previously kept under lock and key, so that you can obtain ample offerings to tithe Eris’ new Hive form.
In terms of what you’ll be doing within the Spire, most combat objectives are split between fighting massive waves of adds and figuring out how to interact with several Light-imbued crystals. These crystals do a variety of things such as acting as a weapon that you can fire or serving as a barrier that protects certain high-tier adds. At current, it seems that there are three specific crystal types to keep track of:
- Void Crystals have a barrier around them and protect nearby enemies, meaning that you must enter the barrier and destroy the crystal from within to drop that protection.
- Solar Crystals burn you when picked up and need to be hauled to a separate part of the arena.
- Arc Crystals imbue you with the Crystalline Charge charge buff when meleed. Then, you must find inactive Arc Crystals and melee them while the buff is active to reawaken them.
Outside of the combat sections, Savathun’s Spire certainly aligns with the Witch Queen’s main role as the God of Lies. There are hidden chests that you can find which are activated by shooting specific elemental glyphs with the right element, teleportation circles that must be sussed out by their designated Hive Runes and plenty of jumping puzzles that will take you up the guts of the Spire. It’s a very fun time and there seems to be a good deal of variety to keep the activity fresh, at least for a certain while.
The main reason to run Savathun’s Spire is that it is your main source of a new resource called an Offering. There are three types of offerings, each designated with a rarity: Feeble Offerings (Uncommon), Robust Offerings (Rare) and Powerful Offerings (Legendary). You will use these Offerings in the next seasonal activity, the Altars of Summoning.
You’ll find the Savathun’s Spire node in the H.E.L.M. If you want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of Savathun’s Spire, make sure you’re bringing in a Witch Key whenever you plan on playing: this will net you some additional loot from the ending chest. As for what the chest can drop, it will be your primary source of the new Season of the Witch seasonal armour and weapons, including the current hot-ticket item, the Kept Confidence Strand Hand Cannon.
Altars of Summoning
The other new seasonal activity in Destiny 2 Season of the Witch is the Altars of Summoning. This is another 3-man matchmade game mode and you’ll unlock access to it once you complete the Invoke mission during the main seasonal story. In comparison to Savathun’s Spire, the Altars of Summoning are a lot more experimental, specifically with how the activity works and rewards you for continued play.
To begin the Altars of Summoning, you must activate three Hive runes from a selection of glyphs at the Ritual of Introduction using the seasonal artefact, the Acolyte’s Staff. From personal experience, your aim in the Ritual of Introduction is to have each of your players activate the same Rune which, if done successfully, will award you some Orbs of Light and the Lucent Blessing buff. Then, the actual activity will begin and point you to one of the three arenas in the Lucent Oubliette.
This is where the Offerings you picked up from Savathun’s Spire come in. When you reach the combat arena, you must first put forward one of your Offerings before combat can begin. Only one member of your fireteam has to sacrifice an Offering and the rarity of said Offering will determine the difficulty of the encounter, with more challenging encounters awarding swifter progress towards your rewards.
As for the encounters themselves, they can be pretty tough with a Powerful Offering. There appear to be a handful of different variations for each encounter. For example, one encounter involves activating six Arc Crystals around the arena so that the boss loses its invulnerability barrier, all the while you’re being hounded by Shriekers and Lightbearers, whereas another involves killing Tribute Bearer Wizards and taking said the tribute to specific plates so that you can damage the boss. Each encounter has a strict time limit of 5 minutes.
Come out the other side successfully, and you’ll earn progress towards the final challenge. If you fail, though, don’t fret as you can simply put in another Offering and try again (although you will have lost the Offering you put forward for the failed encounter). Fully filling the bar means that you’ve gathered tithes for Eris, and she will award you with a chest containing seasonal armour and weapons, resources and even Opaque Cards (which we will discuss soon).
In essence, the Altars of Summoning act as a suped-up version of Destiny 1’s Court of Oryx. Better, more coordinated teams will be able to get through the activity and claim more loot at a faster pace due to being able to take on the Powerful Offerings, whereas lesser-skilled teams can still get the same rewards, just a bit slower on lower-tier Offerings. After a successful run, the activity won’t kick you back to orbit, either, letting you swiftly continue to a new set of runs.
Season of the Witch H.E.L.M Area
As with all current Destiny 2 seasons, Season of the Witch brings with it a brand new addition to the H.E.L.M.
This new area is the Atheneum and it fits perfectly with the witchy, occult aesthetic of the season. By entering a Hive portal in the southern wing of the H.E.L.M. you will transported off the ship and into the Throne World. Visually, it is one of the most striking and beautiful seasonal areas in Destiny 2, where everything radiates this sense of strange darkness.
Within the Atheneum, you will find the two most important parts of the Season of the Witch loop: the Ritual Table and the Lectern of Divination. Starting with the more conventional offering, the Ritual Table is where you’ll be building reputation and decoding your seasonal Engrams into new loot. There’s a reward track, there’s a decoder and there are bounties but, unlike previous seasons, there is no upgrade track.
As for what gear you can acquire, you can decode Witch’s Engrams in many different ways. You can obtain the new season armour for each class by using the Witch’s Armour decoder or the Witch’s Weapon decoder for a guaranteed seasonal weapon drop. You can also decode Witch’s Engrams into Rediscovered Red War Weapons which includes the likes of the Deadpan Delivery Shotgun and Nightshade Pulse Rifle.
As for what seasonal weapons are on offer, Witch’s Engrams can decode into:
- Brya’s Love Void Scout Rifle (Precision Frame)
- The Eremite Solar Fusion Rifle (High-Impact Frame)
- Kept Confidence Strand Hand Cannon (Adaptive Frame)
- Semiotician Strand Rocket Launcher (High-Impact Frame)
- Locus Locutus Stasis Sniper Rifle (Adaptive Frame)
- Eleatic Principle Arc Machine Gun (Rapid-Fire Frame)
Deck of Whispers
Meanwhile, the second offering in the H.E.L.M. is much more interesting. The Lectern of Divination is tied to the new Deck of Whispers system and it will be your main way of obtaining special buffs and building a deck of strong, game-altering cards while also being a source of resources and upgrades. The Deck of Whispers is a new mechanic Bungie is trying out in Destiny 2. It combines deck building with Destiny’s vast array of buffs and builds to create a unique system that can heighten the experience of the new seasonal activities.
The Deck of Whispers is comprised of 55 cards in either the Major Arcana or the Minor Arcana. As you unlock new cards, more rewards and opportunities for build crafting will become available, with new cards coming online with each weekly reset. You can check your progress on how many cards you’ve found and what each unlocked card does via the Lectern of Divination.
The most important cards in the Deck of Whispers are the Major Arcana cards. In total, there seem to be 12 different cards in the Major Arcana, with 5 being available to unlock in the first week of the season. Once you have unlocked a card in the Major Arcana, it will appear in the Athenaeum (the seasonal area in the H.E.L.M.) where you can interact with it.
Each Major Arcana card has a specific effect attached to it: for example, The Sisters card has a chance to drop Special Ammo on any final blow, whereas The Adherent allows you to regenerate health and shields upon rapidly defeating combatants. These effects will only be active in the seasonal activities – Savathun’s Spire and the Altars of Summoning – but the cards won’t actually do anything until you have 5 of them. At that point, they become a deck.
From the Athenaeum, you can see which Major Arcana cards are in your collection and which are currently in your deck. By walking up to a specific card, it will tell you what it does and give you the choice to either add it to your deck or remove it from your deck. Because there are only 5 cards available to unlock in the first week, you cannot build a unique deck yet and every player’s deck will be the exact same for that first week: However, in subsequent weeks when more cards become unlocked, you’ll be able to create your own special deck with effects that benefit your build and playstyle.
Once you have a complete deck ready, you can experience their benefits while inside the seasonal activities. At the beginning of each encounter in either Savathun’s Spire or the Altars of Summoning, a random card from your deck will be drawn. You will then gain the effects of that card for the entirety of the current encounter. Then, when you start a new encounter, a different card will be drawn. You can see which Arcana effects you are currently under by looking at your buffs or by finding a projection of the chosen cards near the Offering section of each arena.
If you have multiple players in a fireteam with a complete deck, each player will draw one card from their own deck and the effects will be spread across the entire team. So, in the image below, two members of our fireteam have 5 cards, allowing 2 Major Arcana effects to be active on the field at any one time. If all three members of a fireteam have a complete deck, then you can have 3 different Major Arcana effects active at once.
The Major Arcana effects can really shake up combat in these seasonal encounters, making them way more enjoyable and allowing you to go wild with different effects. Things get even better if you’re really into build crafting: By making a deck with cards specifically suited to your chosen playstyle, you can craft a powerful set of buffs that always augment you in massive ways. While a bit limited right now, the Deck of Whispers will only go from strength to strength as the season pushes onward.
The other type of card in the Deck of Whispers is the Minor Arcana card. Instead of granting you buffs or bonuses in the seasonal activities, Minor Arcana cards will grant you everything from resources to Witch Keys and they can even offer upgrades to the Ritual Table. The classic upgrade which gives you a guaranteed Deepsight weapon from focusing each week comes from the II of Worms Minor Arcana, for example.
When you pick up an Opaque Card that transforms into a Minor Arcana card, it seems that there are a few different options that it can transform into for example, my first Opaque Card from the Ritual Table reward track turned into a Witch Key whereas my friend’s card turned into 20 Enhancement Cores. However, certain Minor Arcana cards (such as the open-world ones) give the same reward to every player.
While not as game-changing as the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana is a nice shake-up to the tired upgrade menus of the past few seasons.
How to Get More Cards
At this point, the question on most players’ lips is likely going to be about how you can get more cards. Unfortunately, at this point, it is kind of vague. To unlock a new card at the Lectern of Divination, you first need to find an Opaque Card. With an Opaque Card in your inventory, you can return to the Lectern of Divination to reveal it: if the card ends up being a Major Arcana card, you will need to complete a small quest that involves collecting Insight before the card becomes unlocked.
There are several ways to find Opaque Cards throughout the game. First, you can obtain them randomly when completing activities throughout the system, such as Strikes or the Crucible. The Ritual Table reward track also offers 4 Opaque Cards as rewards for levelling up your Ritual Table Reputation Rank. Meanwhile, some other cards are directly inside certain seasonal areas – there’s a free card behind a tree in the Athenaeum – but, because they require a specific elemental attunement, you cannot pick up most of those open-world cards right now.
Additionally, there’s a chance for the final chest to drop an Opaque Card when you complete a full run of the Altars of Summoning. The cards that come from the Altars seem to be the ones that become Major Arcana cards so, if you’re looking to build out your deck, get to gathering your Offerings and head into that specific seasonal activity.
Essentially, earning new cards, both Major and Minor Arcana ones, seems to come down to playing the seasonal activities. If you want more cards, play Savathun’s Spire or Altars of Summoning for your best chance at them.
Season of the Witch Seasonal Loop
So, now that you know all the main components of the seasonal activities, how does the seasonal loop for Season of the Witch look?
- Enter Savathun’s Spire and collect seasonal gear alongside Offerings.
- With sufficient Offerings on hand, enter the Altars of Summoning and complete enough encounters to earn more seasonal gear and Opaque Cards.
- Redeem those Opaque Cards at the Lectern of Divination and, if they belong to the Major Arcana, complete the Insight quest tied to them to unlock them for your deck.
- When you have more than 5 Major Arcana cards, pick and choose which ones you prefer and make a deck around them.
- With a complete deck, head back into Savathun’s Spire and the Altars of Summoning to earn more loot and more cards while experiencing the benefits of your deck.
- Rinse and repeat.
The hardest thing to grasp about this season is the Deck of Whispers mechanic. Manage to wrap your head around it, though, and the Deck of Whispers can become an incredibly fun way to spice up seasonal activities in meaningful ways. Additionally, a reminder that the newest reprised Raid, Crota’s End, launches on September 1st, giving Guardians another source of sweet loot and fun.
That was everything you needed to know about Season of the Witch works in Destiny 2.