Struggle in the Darkening Deeps

We were in Meridian again on Saturday night and primed for a dungeon.  Last week was about moving the guild, travel, and a quick level.  This week it was back to business.  The lineup was:

  • Jollyreaper level 23 mage
  • Earlthecat level 23 warrior
  • Zahihawass level 23 cleric
  • Gizalia level 23 mage
  • Hillmar level 23 cleric

We stayed in town just long enough to admire the locals while somebody assigned their unused soul points.  Clearly, OCD is not a common group trait.

That guy again... with the hat...

Once soul points were assigned and we had sufficiently discussed how that unicorn mount looks like a paper cut-out, it was time to go.

LFG take us away!

The destination was the Darkening Deeps, which was way over in Guardian territory.  So we decided to skip the overland travel attempt.  That was probably a good thing.

More after the cut, including spoilers about certain fights.  You’ve been warned.

We were underground again.  There were no quests waiting for us, aside from the standard “kill the bosses” quest you get with every dungeon in Rift.

There was an odd palette change early on.  Standing a bit in from the start point, looking into the dungeon, I had this view.

We're headed into that nicely lit area...

And then a couple of steps forward, the way forward changed.

Maybe not so light...

I guess that was the “Darkening” part of the dungeon.  Onward to the “Deeps” aspect!

We were faced with a decision not too far beyond that point.  The first large area of the dungeon appeared to be a spiral ramp which lead both up and down from our location.  Figuring that the word “Deeps” was a clue, we headed down the ramp.

This lead to a series of running battles with groups of mobs that also included what appeared to be a series of inbound, fire based artillery strikes.  An orange circle would appear on the ground… a pretty big circle… which was the warning that the area in question was about to be consumed with fire.

Double Incoming!

This meant, in addition to pulls and adds, we had to stay on our toes all the way down the ramp.  In the picture above we were pretty much at the bottom, having just gotten through the narrow bit, where the incoming circle bled off either side of the ramp.  That sometimes meant either running away from a fight or into some additional adds.

As exciting as that was, I think we only lost one of the mages early on before we started chanting “step out of the fire” on Skype every time the circles showed up.

At the bottom of the ramp and a little ways along we ran into the first boss.

The standard first boss setup...

There was the boss, two minions, and some sort of ward on the boss making him invulnerable.  We had seen this setup before.  We marked targets, killed the minions, then killed the boss.  It was not a huge effort.

Number three... dead

We were not sure what he was wearing on his back there.  From a distance it looked like it might have been a jet pack, but turned out to be a barrel with a couple of side buckets.  Whatever it was, it did not seem to enhance his fighting ability.

Slaying him opened up the force field behind him, letting us move on.  Rift seems pretty set on the idea of you killing all the bosses.  None of this sneaking past.

Immediately behind the former force field were a couple of mobs who summoned a few more invisible mobs that surprised us so much that we wiped.  We killed the boss, but the yard trash got us.

We soul walked back away from the scene, except for Gizalia who had died on the ramp, buffed up again, and took the whole thing a bit more carefully this time.  Staying close to Earl, the tank, seemed to be a good idea, so he could pull the adds off of us.

Earl calling "bad hair day" on a mob

We moved on, slaying as we went, ending up in a big open area with light coming in from the ceiling and some people in cages around the perimeter, including one Michael Bringhurst, whose name appeared amongst the bosses on the quest tracker.

Making sure everybody was ready, I opened his cage.  He got out and walked around, reading his lines.

Out of his cage for 20 seconds and what does he do?

Yeah, the people in the other cages were warning us off, but he was on the list so we were expecting trouble.  And we got it.


One boss?  A werewolf?  How bad could it be?


It could be this bad

We had a lot of trouble with this fight.  I think we did it five times before I went to look up what was going on.

We did a straight up fight.  Then another.  Then one where the casters stood way back, but it turned out to be too far back as a forcefield shuts off the fight from the earlier parts of the dungeon (no kiting I guess) leaving most of our damage outside of the fight.  Then we came back from that one but Michael was still buffed up from the previous fight and one-shotted us.

Werewolf awaiting our next assault

Anyway, it became time for Google to help us out.

If we had been paying more attention to werewolf lore, we might have figured it out.

It turns out that the light shining down isn’t sunlight (it was day outside I thought), or chemical light, or some form of magic light.  It is moonlight.  Full moon, moonlight I guess.  This is why Michael Bringhurst turned into a werewolf. (Though crap, in how many games do werewolves just wander around no matter what the lunar conditions?)

And, as it turned out, if he stands in the moonlight he gets a damage multiplier buff that keeps incrementing up so long as he is in that fine shine.  So the key it seems, as with Carol Ann, is to keep him from going into the light.

With that bit of knowledge, we got ourselves together, stormed in, and wiped again.

And then, finally, we did it right and brought him down.  There were enough deaths that we had to leave the instance for down to have the healer restore out soul vitality, which is the Rift equivalent of WoW equipment damage.

Zahihawass suggested a group shot over the body, just in case that was the last boss we could manage.

Michae Bringhurst with the hurt brought

At this point, part of the group turned around and started heading back to the ramp, failing to notice that a small door had opened up in the back of the moonlit chamber.  There was more to do in the depths of the Darkening Deeps.  So we rounded everybody up and headed into spider town.

There was a room with spiders and spider nests.  And you had to kill the spider nests because once you engaged the spiders, the nests started spawning more spiders.  That lead to a couple of frantic fights and another death until we hit our stride with the whole thing and knocked out the last of the nests.  At that point we moved forward, rounded the corner, and found the next boss.

Big freakin' spider

And this was not going to be a stand up fight.  The big spider had some tricks of his own, which lead to more wipes.

Wrapped up in battle

Among Tegenar Deepfang’s bag of tricks is the knack of focusing on, and then webbing up, one of the party members every so often during the fight.  At which point that person is helpless until the rest of the part frees them by attacking the webs.

In the first fight, Hillmar the healer was the first webbed up, which became awkward.  Fortunately Zahihawass had some healing to keep Earl alive.  But that killed our momentum in the fight and when the second Tegenar trick came along, some summoned spiderlings which went right after the mages, it was a wipe.

We tried a couple of different tactics with little success, aside from discovering that, as with the werewolf fight, the room gets blocked off when battle begins.  So we had one wipe with the mages locked out of the room.

As it was getting late, our Google threshold was lowered, and after a couple of wipes I went searching for answers.

Unfortunately, the answers were ones we had already figured out.  Get the DPS to free the person who has been webbed up ASAP and kill the spiderling adds as fast as possible.

We did not manage to come up with the right approach and kept wiping.

Dead again

The wheels kept coming off, we were not getting any new insight as to how to deal with the fight, and it was getting late.  So we decided to call it a night.

Part of the problem is likely how we are balanced as a group and how we have our roles configured.  Both Earl and Zahihawass went off to look into revising their specs.  We also might want to put another level on the group before we go back again.

We shall see if we can come up with anything better before our next attempt.

Until then, the spider has won.

15 thoughts on “Struggle in the Darkening Deeps

  1. Warsyde

    The werewolf and the spider are the two hardest bosses in this instance by far. The werewolf is the hardest if you don’t know what you’re doing, the spider is the hardest if you do.

    I’ve been in pugs that couldn’t clear the spider boss, so don’t feel too bad. One tactic that can work (but seems to have become unpopular) is for everyone in the group to stack up together right behind the boss except for the tank who tanks with the boss facing away from the group. This makes it easier to dps down the webbing when it occurs (you’re right there) and easier for the tank to grab the attention of the spider swarms.

    The final boss fight is a cakewalk compared to the spider, so once you clear the spider you’re golden.

    I believe the big bucket on the back of the first boss was full of the explosives he tosses.


  2. pkudude99

    Warsyde gave the best srat for the spider — have the tank in front of it and everyone else stack on it’s ass. The tank can then easily pick up the adds since you’re close enough fir his AE taunts and abilities to hit them, and you can quickly get the webbing off.

    I’d also suggest that *everyone* do a few pvp warzones to get the 2500 favor needed to buy your 9th soul. At 0 points for anyone it includes a CC breaker, so anyone who is webbed can break themselves free of the 1st one they’re hit with, though with a 2 minute CD if you get hit up a 2nd time, then yeah, the group’s gotta free you. Since most builds only use 2 souls and a 0-point anyway, no reason not to have the free CC breaker for boss fights by using the pvp soul as the 0-point.

    Based on the buffs I’m seeing it looks like Earl’s changed from Warlord plus 2 dps souls to Warlord / Paladin / Void Knight, so he should be a lot more survivable now. I’d still think he’d be better off as a Reaver/Paladin/Warlord for better AE aggro, but so long as he’s using his Warlord calls it should still work as he is too. Gotta love how the game lets you mix and match and still work.

    Nice to see you finally picked up HI for your heals too ;-)


  3. amberbinder

    Are these bosses for Alliance only?? Just curious because my Horde char is almost able to go on dungeons.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Warsyde – Yeah, we were playing with tactical formations. The ranged DPS standing back (and out of the room) was one. We did give lumping up together a go, but it was the end of the night and I think we were down on our RL ability to operate at that point.

    @pkudude99 – I actually redid my own warrior as a Reaver/Pally/Beastmaster combo just to try it out in solo work. Reaver stuff looks very interesting for a tank.

    @amberbinder – Really? You can’t even get the game right in your troll for page views? I removed your URL but left your comment in as a warning to others; ignorant comment trolling doesn’t get you traffic.


  5. SynCaine

    This place on Expert is (was) fun as well. Makes the boss after the spider interesting, and the extra boss you get is great for old-school WoW players.


  6. ferrel

    I truly appreciate that you guys went in without looking at spoilers initially. That is how I prefer to do things myself (which ends up leading to a ton of wipes).

    Darkening Deeps is actually one of my favorite dungeons. It is relatively short and has some interesting mechanics. Once you get past the spider things are a bit less complex until you hit the goblin boss but even that is straight forwards.

    I’m not sure if Scarn is in the regular version or not. That is an enjoyable fight too!


  7. flosch

    Ooooh… Darkening Deeps. I remember that place. First one I saw a lot of wipes in. Key for us was to have AoE on the spider boss so we could kill the tiny spiders fast enough. In fact, I even wrote about it at some point. ( about halfway down; not sure how interesting that is to read, but at least I got the game right! :D) I also agree with Warsyde, compared to the spider, the final boss of the dungeon is a pushover.

    And when I read about you chanting warnings to get out of the fire, I just had to think of this classic: In case you or other readers don’t know, there was an ability on Shade of Aran in Karazhan called Flame Wreath. It was cast on random players, and as soon as those moved out of the wreath of flame cast around them… well, the raid blew up. So everybody was urged not to move at all when the spell was cast, just to be safe. It was a hugely popular meme in our guild at that time, so that’s what I think of these days when people talk about chanting warnings.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ferrel – Our general philosophy has evolved over the years… and it has been more than five years now… to try things at least three times before a resort to Google. We are also going to try to avoid dungeon finder like interfaces to get to instances when we can. This is not out of a dislike for them… I personally think they are a huge success for the lonely PUGer… but so we see more of the world as a group.

    @Flosch – Yeah, I think we have to get Earl spec’d for some AoE. The wee spiderlings were racing right past him.


  9. Vatec

    Warsyde and pkudude99 pretty much covered the main points. One note: if you go -up- the ramp first, you can greatly simplify the descent part later. In fact, one of the big differences in the Master Mode version of the dungeon is that you -can’t- go up the ramp at all due to a force field.

    Darkening Deeps isn’t my favorite dungeon, but it’s entertaining enough once you get the hang of it. Generally I’m not a big fan of the “wipe over and over until you figure out the gimmick” style of boss fight, but that seems to be the current standard in MMOs….


  10. Warsyde

    I’ve been trying to studiously avoid walkthroughs as I do each flashpoint (instance) in SWTOR. I broke down for the 2nd one (Hammer Station) while waiting for our tuesday group to get to it, but have stayed strong otherwise.

    Strangely enough, Hammer Station is the only one we’ve had trouble with so far. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s just that much harder than the ones before and after, or if we were so focused on trying to follow the dictates of the walkthroughs that we weren’t using our own brains.

    Regardless, it’s far more fun to be surprised by what a boss might do than go “oh, there goes his SuperAbilityX, just as described. Step to the right all and it won’t hit you.”


  11. pkudude99

    @TAGN — So long as Earl has taken 1 of the “Call” abilities in Warlord (you don’t get them as root abilities, but must spec for them in the tree — 1st is “Call to Battle” at 6 points) and has Battlefield Awareness up (which he does) then the call acts as a large AE threat boost. IIRC the formula is that it will do 9x his endurance score in pure threat to any mob within 10m of him. It also only takes 1 combo point to fire off a call, so in a pinch he can just do a point builder then a call, another point builder, then a 2nd call (they have 15s CD’s after all). Sure it’s “better” if he can have 3 points on them to make them last longer than their CD, but if you need aggro *now* then a 1-point call will still fill the bill.

    There’s also the “Imposing” skill which makes his threat go off the charts for 15 seconds after activation.

    Personally, I’d still go with Reaver primary, Paladin 2nd, and a 0-point 3rd soul at level 23. Like this.

    20% additional threat generation from Paladin, as well as the block buffs and Retaliation. From Reaver you combo Plague Bringer with Necrotic Wounds and you’ve already got all the AE threat you could ever want. Add in the Weakening Essence threat increaser field, spammable Vicious Cleave 3-target AE, and the Crest of the Abyss armor buff and. . . yeah. And of course with Tempered Will he’s got a CC breaker on a 1 minute CD, rather than a 2 minute CD lke the pvp soul gives him. He could even add the pvp soul to get a second CC breaker too, if he wanted, though eventually he’d drop it for VK in order to gain “maximum mitigation.”

    Don’t get me wrong, a heavy Warlord/Paladin works fine too (and is in fact my preferred tanking spec at 50), but Reaver’s got all the early AE stuff. It’s only after level 30 or so that other tank builds really start to have good AE capabilities, so prior to that it’s a bit harder using the spec he’s in, is all. Used to be easier when Spotter’s Order was a spammable call, but that got nerfed since it was easy to abuse, so it’s not a call at all anymore :-(


  12. Tremayne

    @Warsyde – the last boss in Hammer Station is nasty because he’s a full on ‘skill check’ – the fight requires all of the group to watch positioning due to his AoE attacks and deal with adds, and the healer WILL have to watch the whole group and triage them instead of just spamming heals on the tank. It’s not a fight with one gimmick that becomes easy once you learn that trick.

    @Wilhelm – my favourite bit of Darkening Deeps is the peanut gallery comments from the other prisoners while you fight the werewolf, but I’m guessing you were too busy to appreciate them :)


  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Tremayne – Oh, we all had time to scroll back and read the comments from the other NPCs while we were getting ourselves back together after a wipe. Those were an amusing addition.


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