Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Engineer Tank versus Stormtlaon's Lair

I had one major goal this past Beta weekend. I wanted to run Stormtalon’s Liar (STL) with my Engineer Tank. I had had one previous experience with tanking as an Engineer around level 15 in the Adventure “Hycrest’s Rebellion”. Now at level 20, it was time to see what Wildstar’s dungeons had in store.

First surprise 

Upon hitting level 20, Stormtalon’s Lair did not magically appear in my list of dungeons I could queue for. After doing some digging, I discovered that first you have to go to the actual entrance of the instance. Then you can queue for it. Visions of The Burning Crusade danced in my head. Since this was my first go at STL, I opted to queue with both DPS and Tank selected. The queue popped almost instantly and I had been selected to tank.

Prep 

In Wildstar, you use action sets. These are the powers you have on your hot bar and can use during combat. At level 20, I’m limited to only 7 active powers. In addition to the powers themselves, the action set remembers the points you spent to enhance your powers as well as the talents (called AMPs) that you’ve chosen. You get two action sets you can switch between. Additional sets are purchased with Elder Gems (an end game currency). Effectively, you are limited to two action sets while you level up.

I have mine set to a DPS build and a tank build. I’ve love a third for PVP, but that won’t be happening.

Prep step number one, I switched to my tank Action Set. 

Tank Engineers and DPS Engineers also value different stats on their gear. When I’m DPS, I love Moxie for crit and Finesse for Assault Power. As a Tank, I want Insight for Deflect (which is basically avoidance) and Tech for Support Power. Attack Power in Wildstar is broken down into Assault Power and Support Power. A piece of gear will one or the other, and rarely both (and even when both appear one will be higher). Your powers are also categorized as Assault or Support (also Utility). Assault Power makes Assault powers hit harder but does nothing for Support powers and the reverse is also true.

It has been hard while questing in Wildstar to maintain a good set of tanking gear and DPS gear. Often you have to choose between a DPS piece and a Tank piece as a quest reward, but I’ve tried to keep a decent set in my bags.

Prep step number two. I put on the best tank gear I had. 

Next, I switched Mode. Engineer has two modes: Eradicate and Provoke. Eradicate mode increases damage, while Provoke mode reduces damage and increases threat. Your mode also controls the temporary buff I got when I activated the mech suit. The Eradicate suit gives you crit and assault power. The Provoke suit gives you damage reduction and avoidance.

Prep step number three, I switched to Provoke mode. 

Hammer Time 

I zoned in and spotted the first trash pack. It’s Hammer Time!

Some of the trash mobs hit really hard, or have specials that hit really hard. We wiped at least twice to trash. Wildstar had taught me to be moving almost constantly. That’s a good thing in solo play. It works less well in group play. Your healer is targeting their own heals. I kept moving out of the healing telegraph to avoid a mob telegraph. The heal would miss and would die. Also, there are plenty of patting mobs roaming the dungeon getting an add pretty much equaled death for our group. I really missed not having some sort of Death Grip type pull in my arsenal.

Wildstar doesn't joke around. I mean, sure, its jokes around a lot, but in Stormtalon, those mobs play for keeps. 

While one of the member of my group expressed concern about surviving the first boss when we were dying to trash, we soldiered on.

We arrived at the first boss, Blade-Wind. Stormtalon's Lair is a like a big air elemental raid. Blade-Wind fits right at home. He is a big elemental surrounded by four channelers. After we DPSed the boss, he would go immune and we would work down the channelers. It reminded me a little bit of the Magtheridon encounter. When a channeler died, it spawned a spark. If the spark hit you, you were rooted, and that was, generally speaking, a bad thing.

The boss hit like a freaking truck pulling a freight train. I had about 9k hit points, plus my shield. This guy hit for 3k a pop. I had to pop the mech suit on the pull and again when he came out of the immune. Liberal use of med sprays was involved.

After the second wipe, I switched out some gear. It was classic WotLK thinking time: stamina (called Grit in Wildstar), stamina and more stamina. Nothing mattered except what would give me the biggest health pool.

Despite the wipes, no one was getting angry and no one was looking to cast blame. I kept waiting for someone to start yelling at the ‘phail tank’ and kick me to get a new one. That never happened. We actually talked about strategy. I don’t remember the last time I did that in a PuG. We decided to only DPS the channelers down most of the way, but not kill them. This meant we didn’t have as many sparks to deal with.

Between the new strategy and the gear change, we got him down. One of the group members was quite relieved and shared how a previous group had spent hours on just that boss.

We moved on. More trash. More wipes. Sometimes it just made more sense to leave Bobby (my Bruiser Bot) unsummoned until after the pull.

We get to the second boss. He’s another elemental. Every 30% or so, he disappears and summons adds. These adds freaking hurt. I would save Bobby’s taunt for when the adds spawned and then have him pick up the adds. That gave the healer a few seconds to recover and the DPS a few seconds to work on them. If (err…when) Bobby went down, I would use my AoE taunt and we’d finish them off.

This showed me a key advantage of the Engineer tank. The Bruiser Bot essentially represents another pool of health. I haven’t seen anything yet that is taunt immune so when things get crazy, have Bobby taunt and even if he goes down, that’s 6 or 7k worth of damage soaked that your healer didn't have to heal, and you can get him back in 15 seconds.

But that was the easy part of the fight. Now the fun begins. The next thing that happens is the boss blows you back to the entrance and start channeling a nuke that will one shot the party. You have to interrupt it. But in Wildstar, nothing is that simple. Bosses have Interrupt Armor. We had to use multiple interrupts to first break through the interrupt armor. That is, of course, assuming we could get to him in the first place to use our interrupts. Tornadoes spawn when he blows you back and move around the room, a bit like Blade Lord Tay’ak in Heart of Fear. If they hit you, they knock you up in the air and take some damage as well as some additional fall damage. Worst of all, you've wasted precious time not getting to the boss to the get the interrupts.

Yes, this is the very first dungeon in Wildstar. It’s intense.

We continued working our way through the dungeon and dying a couple of more times. Next we were ready to face off with Arcanist Breeze Binder. I promise I'm not making up these boss names. Nobody knew or remembered a strategy for him. The big problem was once again adds. Every few seconds he would summon another set and they would overwhelm us. Eventually, we figured out we could interrupt the cast where he called the adds. That made the fight much easier.

A few pulls after Arcanist, you face the High Priest who calls down Stormtalon herself.
I wish I could tell you more about this fight. It was freaking crazy. Red telegraphs were everywhere. One telegraph centered on a player who had to move it around the room while avoiding other telegraphs. We lost two DPS in phase changes, but we were doing okay. Then I saw the healer go down. I cycled through everything I had. Mech suit, Recursive Matrix, Med pacs. We lost another DPS. Now it was down to just me and the Stalker. Stormtalon’s health was in the single digits. I could tell I didn't have long before I would go down, but instead Stormtalon dropped. The other players cheered and we rezzed the dead. It was nice to actually finish a fight on this side of the dirt for once.

Satisfaction


It was the most satisfying kill I've had in a five man in a long time. I'd compare it to an early Magister's Terrace.

As I zoned out, it felt like a hard won victory. There was no steamrolling, no pull as much as you want and AoE blast your way through it.

 It was intense, it was hard, and it was a blast.

I think the 'scoreboard' screen at the end is bugged. Yes, I died 20 times. There is no way I should have been #1 in staying alive. #1 at dying, yes. Also, no way I was #1 in heals or kills.

The scariest part to me is it was just under two hours and this is supposed to be one of the shorter dungeons.

Special thanks to Raidy the Stalker, Deyedia the ESPer, ThunderTorque the Engineer for a great run. Extra special thanks to Hakurei the Medic for being our healer.

After the run, I decided to head to my house and take it easy.

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