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Raid Review 14: Caught in the Web

Raid Review 14: Caught in the Web

Alternate names: CitW

History: originally intended to be released with update 14 as part of the Menace of the Underdark expansion pack, Caught in the Web was not released until patch 14.1. It was subsequently closed until patch 14.2 because of a raid timer issue.  The initial delay was because of intense and emphatic negative feedback on the Lamannia preview server.  There were further changes with update 15 to address several issues and in updates 16 and 17 there were changes to the raid loot to allow for more upgrades and an increase in the drop rate for heroic commendations.

Level: 24

Quest pack: Menace of the Underdark expansion

Flagging: this is a fairly long process, but only needs to be done once and there is no preraid for each run of the raid.  Players must first complete the Web of Chaos series to access the expansion in general.  Then they must run the quest Beyond the Rift to get to the city of Eveningstar in  Forgotten Realms.  There are then 3 quest series that must be run, in order (though the series themselves can be run in any order save for the capstone quests of the first 2 series).  Once you have completed the final chain you are flagged.

Objective: rescue Ana from the demonweb.

Overview: travel into the demonweb and find Ana, then escort her out of the demonweb.  Guard her as you fight Lolth twice and an assortment of her minions.

What’s really going on: take a stupid girl through a winding path of floating rocks and web bridges and fight the lamest (and bustiest) raid boss ever.

Best raid features: the demonweb is a fresh change from 1 room raids and is reminiscent of Tempest Spine in that you are traversing a landscape.  It may seem rather windy and maze like, but in reality there is really only 1 path with a small offshoot to an optional.  This raid also features a number of chests that are granted based on how well you completed – how many of the optional orbs you destroy and how much health Ana has left when completed (all of the chests were originally tied to Ana’s health but this was changed after player feedback).  The raid loot is also quite good, but not so overpowering that it renders all other loot obsolete.

Also, the trash here is not entirely trivial and trash fights are meaningful.  This is particularly true of the final phase of the raid where in fact trash mobs are the “boss” and must be killed at roughly the same time requiring some coordination.  Otherwise they just keep on coming.  Something slightly different than an all out slaughter.

The choose your shrine placement is also pretty cool.

Worst raid features: player feedback was intense and numerous during the testing phase on Lamannia.  No one was keen on a raid that involved escorting an NPC (players remember Coyle) especially one that was troublesome and who’s health determined the amount of chests.  This was worked on repeatedly to mitigate (and in fairness they did a decent job and NPCs have come a long way since Coyle). 

The Hand of the Goddess was a neat idea, but poorly executed.  Initially a player would kite the hand around ideally hanging it up on the landscape and then going AFK for 30 minutes.  The Hand was then changed to have randomized aggro and went away far earlier making it almost inconsequential.

Lolth was perhaps the biggest disappointment. Not only does she not move, but she has essentially only one attack, shooting lasers from her eyes/head that cause healing curses and can also drain a significant amount of sp – around 400 a shot on hard – which was something players were very opposed to.  She is so big that players end up fighting her belly button the whole time.  To add insult to injury, Lolth is to far away for players to use auto attack despite not having to move.  Even worse was that attacking Lolth was incredibly difficult because of invisible walls (presumably sloppy environmental structure).  While this was mostly fixed in the first boss fight, the second time around remains a problem.  Unless you see your dice rolling for hits, you need to adjust to more reliably hit her.  Considering that we were facing Lolth, and the success with the previous raid boss LoB and the Titans in Master Artificer, this was a huge disappointment.

Also, drop rates for certain weapons were pretty stinkin lousy.  12 players, 6 chests, and 0-2 items is a common result.  Drop rates were adjusted later, specifically for heroic commendations.

Prominent builds/Key roles: the biggest role is babysitting Ana.  Ideally this person is fairly self sufficient, but you can hand her off throughout the quest.  It works best if this person isn’t a major melee since this not only causes her to take damage, but tends to result in other players taking her from you.  For the first part where you wake her up, it’s best if this person doesn’t have sp since you will likely get shot by Lolth.  At the very end it helps if they have strong ranged dps since they can shot Lolth while parking Ana near the exit for a quick get away.

Trappers are also nice since Lolth drops spell wards (which used to be bugged and overly abundant).

How we run it: mostly on normal since it isn’t terribly difficult.  Most players are picking up the idiosyncrasies of the quest resulting in more groups able to easily complete.  With the recent changes to commendation drops, hard is becoming more prevalent.  Elite remains something for only the boldest of adventurers.

Also, we have raid bypass timers so many people run this to ransack.

Why we run it:  the loot is pretty nice and includes +4 tomes and now, with changes to tomes, you can get a +5 upgrade tome.  Also, its the end game raid so we will play it to death then move on when the next one lands.

Notable loot: an assortment of weapons (noticeably missing a kopesh) and +4 and 5 tomes.

What you need to know: if you fall you will die and land at essentially the beginning near a resurrection shrine.  You can use this to your advantage as when you are dead you will land here before you snap back to your stone.

To win you have to kill all the portal keepers at nearly the same time.  This involves some coordination as mobs keep spawning and portal keepers with them if there are less than 2 alive.  Killing a portal keeper also turns nearby mobs into portal keepers.

There is also a death timer of up to 2 minutes on higher difficulties during the time Lolth is active.

Best way to fail: the last 2 islands have a huge number of mobs, bum rush them instead of pulling them in smaller waves.  Lack of coordination killing portal keepers also helps.

Best bug: Ana’s AI was so bad that in the end cut scene if you ran in front of her you broke the quest and could not complete without help from a GM.  Players will probably still wait for the scene to finish even after this gets fixed.

Bonus Tidbits: this raid is the culmination of a 16 quest arc (across 4 story arcs) spanning 2 campaign settings (Eberron and Forgotten Realms), 4 explorer areas, and the plane of the Demonweb.

This quest was also released with the increase in level cap to 25 and major changes to the way epic quests worked.

Personal favorite moment: the first time I saw Lolth, before I discovered how lame fighting her belly button was.