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Epic Education 21: Tower of Despair pt 4

Hello and welcome to Epic Education a show of tips and tactics for surviving epic content.  Im your guide Shamgar and this is Episode 21: The Tower of Despair pt 4″ alternatively titled The Tanking Game”

The last boss fight in the Tower of Despair is all that stands between us and victory.  Before we head through the portal lets shrine and buff.  Be careful when you shrine, the portal is literally on top of the shrine making it very easy to misclick.  If you do go through accidentally before you move type /stuck and you will be returned to the shrine and the chest.

For this boss fight we need to get a death ward, resistances in fire, electric and sonic, and blurs and displacements will be handy for some folks fulfilling specific roles, but the bosses do have true sight.  Spell resistance can be good to help protect against blasphemy which the primary boss will use regularly.  Holy aura will also help as well by blinding the trash mobs.  We also should at this time get our banish protection items ready.  Boots of anchoring are the surest way of avoiding being banished during this fight, but a spell absorption item can also suffice provided you remembered to take it off during the previous parts of the quest.  Don’t put on your booties just yet though.

Once youre ready go through the portal.  Above you sit 4 pit fiends and a horned devil on their thrones who will proceed to have a short conversation concerning you.  Some groups will actually do mass buffs and songs on this side of the portal while waiting for the storyline scene to play out.  On your level are more thrones on the north half of the room on the west and east walls.  The south half of the room is slightly wider, if you picture an upside down lollipop you will more or less have an idea of the room.  After a few moments the pit fiends will start disappearing, at that point drop a haste (hopefully extended) and then everyone should put their boots on.  If you put your boots on earlier you won’t get the benefit of haste since they block the spell from landing on you.

The primary boss is Horoth, a very beefy pit fiend.  Not only is he an accomplished spell caster using meteor swarms, power word stun, energy drains, disintegrate and the dangerous blasphemy, but he is a very powerful melee opponent.  He hits like a freight train and his melee attacks have a chance to proc 2 independent DoT effects that last for 2 minutes and combined can do over 150 damage per tick on elite.  He is however a fairly easy boss to lock down and control, his aggro list never flushes and he enjoys pummeling a single target.  His most fearsome ability however is the ability to heal about 25% health whenever anyone in the room dies.  That’s right, a few quick deaths and Horoth will be at full health.  Once Horoth is defeated the raid ends in victory.

When Horoth reaches 60% our “old friend suulomades joins the fray.”. He is an optional boss, you don’t actually need to defeat him.  If you do however you will get an extra chest that will drop large shroud ingredients, though it does not drop raid loot.  He’s also worth a nice chunk of experience points.  Sulu is very similar to how he fights in the raid Vision of Destruction.  He doesn’t hit as hard as Horoth, makes heavy use of chain lightning and energy drain spells, and his melee attacks curse.  However he does not teleport nor does he flush his aggro list making him also fairly easy to lock down.  Lastly he still has the ability to lock down his target with chains greatly impairing movement and attack speeds.

During the entire duration of the fight orthon guards will periodically spawn from 3 portals in the south half of the room.  They are not terribly difficult to deal with, but if left alone can quickly achieve overwhelming numbers.

This fight is very much a role driven one.  We will assign various people to different roles and expect them to fulfill those roles.  The best leaders and groups in this raid are those who can adapt on the fly and shift people around in roles to accommodate those who are struggling or when folks die or get banished.  On elite this fight can be brutally long, but a team working together can crush this fight.

The first role we need is a Horoth tank.  Ideally this tank will have a strong combination of the following: hit points, threat, healing amp and damage mitigation. To save spell points you should expect healers to make heavy use of heal scrolls.  A tank with a combination of high damage mitigation, high hit points, and/or high heal amp allows the healers to increase time between heals allowing a higher percentage of heals cast to come from scrolls instead of spell points.  Our tank does not necessarily need to be strong in all 3 of these areas but should be strong in at least 1 and decent in the other 2 otherwise they will either die or require a large number of resources to keep alive.  Our tank also needs to be able to create a large amount of threat.  We want Horoth to really pay attention to this tank.  High dps is the most direct route but there are many items and class enhancement abilities that create extra threat.  The skill intimidate can also be used.  High threat will also allow our off tanks to swing harder making the fight last less time which equates to fewer resources.

The Horoth tank should acquire aggro and back into a wall.  The most common choice here is to set up in between 2 of the thrones.  Horoth doesn’t move much so backing into a corner is more about creating space and separation for others to work in.  Once they have horoth’s attention it’s mostly up to the tank how they proceed.  Most tanks aren’t very defensively minded, they are going to swing for the fence until they or Horoth is dead.  Some characters take a more defensive approach. These are often AC builds that have traded dps for defense or sword and board build made far more popular with the changes to the shield mastery feats, defender enhancements and the release of physical resistance.  These characters do less dps but often use threat modifiers or intimidate to maintain aggro.  When sulu jumps down it can sometimes be wise for a tank to take a completely defensive position and simply pull out a shield and block.  This will mostly be determined by how well the healers are able to keep up with the damage.  Shield blocking can help keep you alive but it will also lengthen the fight.  Regardless of how you as a tank approach Horoth whenever you find yourself stunned immediately start blocking, it may not look like it but you are blocking some damage and this could be the difference between life and death.  Remember, as the Horoth tank you are fulfilling a vastly more important role than defeating him in a 1 on 1 battle.  By maintaining his aggro you are keeping everyone else alive and this is your primary concern.  Also, make sure you don’t kill Horoth before the party kills sulu if your party is doing so.

Sometimes the tank dies and someone less than ideal gets aggro.  The absolute worst thing you can do with aggro is run around in the middle of the field.  If you do need to run, do so in smallish circles between the north wall and the altar.  This will protect the party (and your healers) from being run over by Horoth while keeping you within their healing range.

Paired with the Horoth tank are his healers.  For most groups this will be 2 dedicated healers at least 1 being a primary healing type, either a divine class or a heavy duty reconner if the tank is warforged.  The other heal can be a scroller, like a umd rogue or non-healing focused bard.  Depending on your tank and your healer it is possible to have only 1 person healing if they are a primary healer type.  As often as you can, dump a heal scroll into the tank.  Periodically you will fall behind just using scrolls (pay special attention to a failed save on a disintegrate or a blasphemy that stuns you – these often require a full heal spell in response).  My general advice to new healers is this: every time your heal scroll timer is up the tank gets a heal scroll. Mass cures go to the party (which should mostly be together in their respective groupings and mostly won’t be your concern when they aren’t attacking Horoth).  The heal spell is your emergency spell.  Use that when you need to give someone a big heal right now.

As the Horoth healer this does not mean that you don’t heal the rest of the party as you are able.  That may mean you quickly run out of range of the Horoth tank (drop your heal scroll right before) toss someone a heal and run back to give the Horoth tank his next heal scroll.  However, your primary concern is to keep the Horoth tank (and yourself) up.  If you want to attract less attention from orthons who can interrupt your scrolling, give yourself an invisibility and don’t use your lantern archon.  A radiant servant can get close enough to use their aura to heal the tank (useful when stunned) but be warned this will put you in meteor swarm blast radius which can 1) kill you and 2) eat your spell absorption charges.

The next role we need is a sulu tank.  Like the Horoth tank we want the same combination of tanking skills, but sulu requires a less refined tank build as he does less damage and has a lower to hit.  He does however inflict a healing curse which makes warforged a popular choice when paired with a reconner.  Fleshy tanks are still very viable however.  They (and their healer) just need to be ready with curse pots.

Until sulu arrives the sulu tank should be fairly conservative about attacking horoth.  The idea is that if something happens to the horoth tank you dont want to be next on the list.  Tanking both at the same time usually ends badly.

Sulu will jump down on top of the alter in the north part of the room.  The tank should grab his aggro and run to a corner.  Sulu moves around a lot so we want to limit the angle he has to move in making a 90 degree corner ideal.  Taking sulu to the opposite side of the room will also bring you outside horoth’s banishment range alleviating concerns of stuns and giving you more footwear options (I like Madstone boots for the extra hps – just make sure you put your anchor boots back on when you re-enter horoth’s range and that you have guild remove curse pots).  As with Horoth the tanks tactics depend on their build.  Most will simply swing for the fence but some will rely on defensive methods to carry their team to victory.  If you decide not to kill sulu (most often this means things are going poorly) the tank can either just block or kite – but again do not do so in the middle of the field, pick a corner and don’t just run around the pillars, they block heals.  Also be aware of the chains if you are kiting you will need some heals during that.

The sulu tank will also need a healer unless they are a self healing caster type (in which case they still might need some help).  This is usually done by 1 person and can even be done by a secondary healer type (bards and reconners – who I highly recommend take the first tier action point for repair damage).  Like the Horoth healers your primary concern is keeping the sulu tank up.  This will likely involve decursing.  If you are able you should use mass cures to top off the party when they need it.  As with the Horoth tank, use scrolls as often as possible to stretch out your spell points.

Sulus curses can be problematic to deal with, so here’s a few pointers.  If you are the tank, backing against a wall can limit your field of vision.  Angle your camera so that it points straight down over head to clear your vision.  Turning off auto attack also makes drinking pots more reliable as your attack sequence won’t interrupt drinking.  Your healer may find it useful to lock open an examine window for you as well.  When you are cursed the symbol that floats above your head appears in your examine window.  This will quickly tell your healer that you are cursed.  Finally, if you get cursed while your pot is still on timer block immediately.  Like with horoth’s stuns, that extra damage mitigation while cursed could save your life.

Before we end this episode lets establish our 2 ground rules for this fight.  Rule #1: don’t die – remember that any death results in Horoth regaining ~25% of his hit points.  Rule #2: refer to rule number 1.

That will end this weeks Epic Education.  If you have any questions, comments, or corrections you can email me at DDOEpicEducation@gmail.com or visit myDDO blog at my.ddo.com/pjstechie. Join me next time as I finish discussing the Tower of Despair.  Thanks for listening.