Hello and welcome to Epic Education – a show of tips and tactics for surviving epic content. I’m your guide Shamgar and this is Episode 22: “The Tower of Despair pt 5″ alternatively titled “The Off tanking Game”
Last time I talked in detail about tanking and healing Horoth and Suulomades, the 2 bosses in the final fight of Tower of Despair. There is still however much for the rest of the party to do.
The next role is that of the off tanks. This will be most of your dps. The off tanks are responsible for attacking the bosses from the rear. This allows them to dps without being hit. That’s important, especially with sulu who moves around a lot. Healing may not always be readily available and the best way for these people to reduce damage is to not get in front of the bosses. It’s important to keep as many of these people on the bosses as much as possible. Orthons keep coming until the Horoth is dead and if we want the optional chest we need to kill sulu before we kill Horoth. Unless the trash orthons are really getting out of control this group of players will focus on the bosses.
The goal here is to do as much dps as possible without pulling aggro. Be somewhat conservative though. Theres probably a good reason you aren’t one of the primary tanks so you really don’t want boss aggro here. Once the Horoth tank is comfortable with his threat start attacking Horoth (usually this will be after the first wave of orthons which you can kill). When sulu is about to come down, the sulu tank will break off from off tanking Horoth. Once they have set up sulu the off tanks should head in that direction. On the way it is somewhat traditional to kill a few orthons and if the trash party is struggling this is very beneficial.
When attacking be aware of how sulu moves about. Remember if you get cursed its your responsibility to take care of it. Also be aware that at this point it is possible that you are out of range of the groups healing capabilities. Be mindful of your hps and do what you need to to stay alive. If you need to, run over to a healer and (politely) ask for a heal. Remember if you die Horoth gets 25% of his health back so don’t die.
When sulu is defeated head back to Horoth, again quickly cleaning up some trash is acceptable. Once you’re there continue to take down Horoth until victory is achieved. Remember, as an off tank trash is not your responsibility. Unless trash is getting out of hand stay on the bosses. You do not want to be wasting time running around after trash. Now if an orthon jumps into the off tanks and just keeps attacking, feel free to show him the error in his choice, but otherwise your focus is the boss. It is not the tank that kills the boss, the tank mostly protects the party from the damage. its the off tanks that really kill the bosses.
With all the trash running about we need some trash killers. Casters are ideal for this especially self healing ones. Whether they use insta-kill spells or just blow them up, casters can quickly kill trash and allow the dps players focus on the bosses. Monks and rogues also make good trash killers because they have abilities like stunning fist, quivering palm, assassinate and sneak attack that can quickly dispatch a few orthons. Artificers are another strong choice with their impressive set of damage options and trash is an excellent target for a ranger’s manyshot (and both can use improved precise shot to continue dps on the bosses – but be wary of pulling aggro – when using manyshot my ranger will generally alternate shooting Horoth and sulu 5 seconds at a time). The big idea with trash is to use as few people as possible to keep as much dps as you can focused on the bosses. Unless you have some extra heals to go around self sufficient characters are ideal for trash. Dps bards make good trash killers so they can keep the rest of the trash party alive. Other wise trash killers should head towards the off tanks or a healer to get topped off. Remember, staying alive is your responsibility. Too that end keeping a displacement or a blur going will greatly help.
Trash killers may be tempted to kill the portals spawning orthons. This is mostly a waste of time – they respawn just as fast as the orthons. Leave these be to help consolidate dps, orthons arent that big of a concern.
This covers the necessary roles the party needs to fulfill. There are however other abilities and tactics that deserve discussion for this fight. These often become increasingly more useful on higher difficulties.
Sometimes finding healers can be tough. If your party is short on healing consider bringing sulu closer to Horoth, the thrones on the opposite wall will do. This will put you in range of blasphemy and stuns and gives sulu more room to move in, but it does allow someone to easily heal both tanks if they need to. While sulu is down you can have an off tank with umd switch to scroll healing Horoth while one of your healers moves to heal the sulu tank. After sulu is dead they can resume dps on Horoth. It can also be helpful to keep the party in a tight group to make things easier for the few healers, perhaps even having everyone pile in close behind Horoth and let the orthons come to you. The off tanks then take a moment to turn around and crush them.
A light monk brings the unique earth grasp buff that grants immunity to stun effects. This can be exceptionally useful to the Horoth tank and healers. If available this monk is usually told to make this their top priority. Unless your tank is an AC build don’t worry too much about him, he’s going to be getting heal spells which cure stuns pretty often but that doesn’t mean he and any off tanks in the vicinity wouldn’t mind some grasping. This monk can off tank (and often will do so on Horoth full time-just be aware of if the tank starts blocking or being very defensive) but I often find having them split their attacking focus between Horoth and any nearby trash to be the most effective use of their dps. Mostly my experience is that a monk in this role focusing on Horoth either pulls aggro from a defensive tank or aids an offensive tank in killing Horoth too quickly. It’s also worth mentioning that you can throw your earth grasp buff. Simply target the person you want buffed before activating the ability and so long as they are in range (which is about the range of a heal scroll) they and anyone around them will get the buff. This can save you some running and even off tank sulu. And don’t forget to earth grasp the party just before Horoth comes down – its amazing how much he likes to open with a blasphemy.
Hamstring is another ability that can be used against Horoth. It will actually slow down his attack speed. Like the light monk this person can help with trash and/or off tank Horoth. Again, just be careful about pulling aggro or killing Horoth too fast.
Some groups utilize a back up tank for Horoth. This person continues attacking Horoth when the off tanks go to sulu. The idea here is that if the Horoth tank dies they take over. This eliminates confusion of who Horoth is going for and protects the party from a pit fiend running across the map and sneaking up on the rest of the party.
This role can be eliminated with a well organized and disciplined party. Perhaps a safer method though is to have the back up tank also dps sulu but have them get a few extra swings in to make sure they are next in line for Horoth. If your light monk or hamstringer are off tanking Horoth this role also becomes somewhat unnecessary. While its true that these other players are likely not ideal to take aggro of Horoth we still know where it’s going and if all 3 of these roles are being used then we are running out of off tanks and are going to kill Horoth way too fast. Of course the best option is just not to let your main tank die, but it happens.
The other useful ability is a caster’s cloud kill. While the spell doesn’t actually damage either boss or the orthons (devils are immune to poison) it does grant a 20% concealment bonus against the bosses which equates to a 20% reduction in both Horoth and sulus’s melee dps. On my caster I will generally lock open examine windows for each so I know exactly when cloud kill goes down, but most tanks are pretty good about asking (politely) for a new cloud. As an added bonus most of the orthons will be aggroed by the cloud and leave the tanks alone, very handy if you are killing trash. Other fogs either don’t actually provide this concealment bonus or they are far too visually distracting to be used in this manner.
Lastly let’s talk about haste. As long as you wear boots of anchoring you cannot be rehasted. The problem is that if you take off your boots then you can be banished. While this is probably not a problem for the sulu party, most of them will still be wearing boots just in case Horoth wanders over. To get around this problem when casting haste it is best for the person casting it to actually count down to their cast (or of this person doesn’t have voice someone who does can count down for them). This will alert people to take off their boots and once the haste lands they can put them back on. Trash killers should run to the off tanks to participate in the mass hasting. Unless this is on the sulu party try and cast haste shortly after Horoth uses blasphemy (if you are using earth grasp to prevent stuns likely the only sign of blasphemy will be the spell graphic, a purple spiral cast around Horoth similar to symbol of death activating). While Horoth is capable of casting blasphemy with little time in between castings, this is exceedingly rare. In any case, make sure you put the right boots back on after you get haste.
Hopefully you recognize that there is a lot going on during this fight. Teamwork and a certain degree of autonomy are required. Try and keep chat clear of extraneous chatter and listen to whats going on in case your party needs to pull an audible. While a skilled leader can keep on top of things you should be expected to be able to listen and fulfill the role asked of you (if you need to ask for clarification and if you don’t feel comfortable with a task let the leader know). In addition you are expected to accomplish 2 other things. Don’t die and refer to rule #1.
That will end this week’s 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 begin discussing the Lord of Blades. Thanks for listening.