Raid Review 10: Tower of Despair

Raid Review 10: The Tower of Despair

Alternate names: ToD, The Devil You Know, Tower

History: The Tower of Despair was released in 2009 at the end of August with Eberron Unlimited (also known as module 9).  Aside from a few minor tweaks (boss HPs and increasing his blasphemy spell’s area of effect) and a notable bug fix, this raid has largely been unchanged.  The biggest change was having players unfortunate/clumsy enough to fall into a pit of lava be retrievable by dropping their soul stone on the platform instead of in the pit of lava.

Level: 20

Quest pack: The Devils of Shavarath

Flagging: there are 4 quests to run in the Devil Battlefield explorer area.  Technically that is all that’s required to flag.  However, you will need to journey through the explorer area to a sort of holding area outside the raid entrance.  The first time you run here you can talk to the NPC and he will flag you for a quick teleport to this cave.  You cannot run to the cave while in a raid group so it is recommended you do this before hand.

Objective: a devil traitor has given your party an opportunity to rebalance the power struggle on the Plane of Shavarath by sneaking into the devil fortress and defeating General Horoth.

Overview: Infiltrate the devil stronghold and kill their leader General Horoth.

What’s really going on: a series of 3 boss fights broken up by a few trivial trash mobs.  The first fight is against a horned devil and orthon in a trap filled jail cell (complete with penalty box for those who die).  The second fight is against a pit fiend with several cold damage aura shadows – kill the pit fiend before the shadows kill your shadow kiter/tank.  The last fight is against Horoth and Suulomades (optional kill) with some orthons for backup.

Best raid features: 3 challenging boss fights each with its own dynamics to navigate.  The final boss heals when players die providing a very compelling reason not to, but without locking you out.  Raid loot featured some minimal crafting options for customization and set bonuses for prestige enhancements.

Worst raid features: aside from the first boss fight, mostly a series of park the boss and smash it out fights.  Essentially a series of 1 room boss fights.  So many raid rings that getting the one you wanted was often a challenge – even a 20th reward list would contain less than half (and possibly a +4 tome).

Prominent builds/Key roles: some sort of tank for Horoth and a pseudo-tank for Sulu (I’ve seen several caster tanks here).  Also a shadow dancer for part 2 – either a kiter or a tank.

How we used to run it: when first released the final boss fight usually entailed the 1 person with boots holding Horoth while everyone else stood out of banishment range and used the best (often completely feeble) ranged weapon they had.  The range on banishment was quickly widened. 

Most groups “required” a warforged tank for Sulu (both because of his cursing and to utilize a caster as a healer).  Kiting the shadows was also the offered method for a long time (I actually still find it to be more exciting though less reliable to tanking).

How we run it now: over time we got more creative with party structure.  Fleshy tanks for Sulu became more prominent often with bard healers.  The part 2 shadows are more often tanked instead of kiting (because their damage is an AoE effect, staying within the effect results in far less damage than when hovering on the border while kiting).  We also got stronger and more people figured out what was going on.

Why we used to run it: the rings.  There was a set bonus that almost everyone could use at the time.  Monks especially needed rings because they could add damage to their unarmed attacks.  Of course their preferred monk ring was desired by every dps character in the game.  Also, +4 tomes.

Why we run it now: new characters (especially monks) still look for rings but most of the sets are outdated (especially the caster sets). There are still +4 tomes.

Notable loot: craftable rings that also pair with necklaces or belts for a set bonus.  +4 tomes

What you need to know: dying is generally bad.  In part 1 there’s a penalty box.  In part 3 the main boss, the guy you need to kill to win, heals 20-25% for each player death.

The final boss casts blasphemy.  This does 2 things.  First it stuns (no save).  Spell absorption items and a light monk’s earth grasp prevent it.  Second, it casts a banishment (will save). If you fail the save you are sent back to the city of Stormreach. You can prevent this with spell absorption items (both the stun and banish effects remove charges separately) or you can wear boots of anchoring.  You can get boots of anchoring by finding special crafting ingredients in the Shroud end reward list, the flagging quests, and the 2 side quests in the devil battlefield as well as the Devil Assault quest in the marketplace.

Best way to fail: die, a lot.  Have someone intimidate the shadows to the main party in part 2 (generally that causes a lot of dying).

Best bugs: on hard and elite, Sulu’s chest didn’t drop. (It’s been fixed).

Bonus Tidbits: this quest continues the Shavarath campaign arc after the events of the marketplace invasion and Vision of Destruction raid.  These quests were the first to take place on another plane (several quests had areas that other planes bled into, but these quests are entirely extra planar).  We can now also travel to the plane of dreams and the demonweb.

This raid was released when level cap was raised to 20 and when DDO went to the free to play and micro transaction model.

Personal favorite moment: a tie between the time I solo healed on my artificer (a rogue and war chanter did some minor spot healing and a pale master tanked Sulu) and the elite run with something like 40 deaths (most in part 3).

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