There were some differences between our last run at The Fall of Lantern Hook and this time around.
Different people, different time, different levels, different classes.
But the biggest difference was that this was our first attempt at a group run since All Souls Day in Rift, the patch 1.11 revamp of every single soul in the game. Everybody was learning to play their class again.
One thing was the same as our last attempt though. We only had four in the group. Gizalia wasn’t feeling well and took the night off, which left us with the following:
- Jollyreaper level 42 mage
- Earlthecat level 43 warrior
- Zahihawass level 44 cleric
- Hillmar level 48 cleric (mentored down to 43 on Earl)
A short group learning how to play their roles with completely changed skills going up against an five person dungeon?
Recipe for a wipe, right?
Well, we had nothing else planned, so we figured it would be good training. We put on our mean faces and headed out to Lantern Hook.
How would we do?
Pretty darn well.
We met up at the basement pool in Lantern Hook, which is the entrance to the Fall of Lantern Hook instance.
Once the four of us were there, Jolly jumped in the water and we all got prompted to join him in the instance. This made me wonder if it was really necessary for all of us to get out to Lantern Hook or not. What is the range on that “join instance” message? Do you have to be close by, or can you get pulled in from another zone?
Anyway, we were in and set about clearing out the groups around the pool within the instance. There we started figuring out how to play our classes. Earl went with the Hoplite warrior spec, Zahi the Glacial Priest cleric spec, Jolly the with some sort of elemental mage spec, and Hillmar was the Flame Keeper cleric spec. It was up to us to make them work together.
We started off pretty well. Compared to last week, if was nice to have, as we say, the man in the can out in front. Earl has been our tank for six years now. And he seemed to be getting the basics of his spec.
I just followed what the Flame Keeper guide told me to do. Rather than doing a lot of healing, the Flame Keeper gets a lot of protection wards with some healing on the side. Zahi was able to both deal out damage while tossing out some heal over time spells. And Jolly and his minion we working on the mage thing.
We cleared the initial room, let Earl grab the quests (the rest of us had them from our last round) and went off to go slay the first named guy. Then it was up the tunnel to the room of doom.
We were at the point where we wiped multiple times previously. We wiped because we accidentally pulled half the room… and there are a lot of mobs in the room. So it was up to Earl to pull carefully.
And he pulled half the room.
Only, much to our surprise, we lived.
So he pulled the other half of the room, and we managed to power through that as well.
There were a couple of aggro containment issues, and Zahi died once, though I was able to get off my combat ress and bring him back mid fight. But for the most part, a situation that was a wipe-fest last time turned into a manageable event.
As the healer especially, I went from struggling to keep hit points up on the tank while getting off a heal now and again to the part members taking damage to maintaining wards on the group with a very deep hit point buffer behind them. And while I have a few straight out heals still, I also have wards that including a healing component.
We cleared the room and knocked off Rorf and his pets, then started in on the room of the Pyromaster. You can see in this screen shot, the wards on people, represented by a new UI element, the aqua blue bars surrounding the health bar.
Essentially, with the wards, I end up as a healer working with a group with health pools that are effectively a lot bigger than they were pre-patch 1.11.
Add in Zahi, whose spec includes some heal of time spells that he can throw around to backstop my wards and healing ceased to become an issue. People only died when I wasn’t keeping close enough attention, which is something that tends to happen to me and my own hit points.
And this was with a new spec where I kept having to mouse over skills to remember what they did. I suspect healing will be even more effective once I figure out what the heck I am doing. Meanwhile, my mana bar appeared to be locked in the full position no matter how much healing I had to do. So going after groups of mobs in the instance became no big deal.
We did have a wipe at the Pyromaster himself. That fight involves running all over and keeping line of site. But after the wipe we were able to keep ourselves together and out of the pillars of fire that the Pyromaster throws around long enough to bring him down.
So it was a matter of pulling and killing until we got to the final boss, Emberlord Eeretu.
Yeah, sure, everything was going smoothly up to this point, but we managed to get this far last time just fumbling around and lacking our regular tank. This was the real deal, the final battle, the big enchilada.
We reviewed our past mistakes on this battle. We tried to formulate a strategy which could be summed up as, “try to kite him, stay out of his flavor crystals, don’t die.” Then we piled into the room and had at him.
And we won on the first try.
The fight wasn’t without its drama. I had to focus on healing more so than in any past fight in the instance, and I had to toss out heals all around, including to myself, while staying out of the flavor crystals of death. But we knocked him out, nobody died, and as I mentioned before, look at my mana bar.
There was no end of fight screen shot because at the exact spot where I am standing in that picture, an exit portal for the instance opens up to let the group out without having to schlep back to the start. However, it activates on contact, and so it opened up and swallowed me whole. Our end of instance pick had to be back where we started.
As for our post-instance summary… well, it sure seemed to go our way, and we were done in a little over an hour. All with a group 20% short on staff.
The new specs seem to be somewhat over powered relative to their pre-patch 1.11 predecessors.
My mana usage was miniscule and most of my big spells seemed to be instant cast. (Which would make Syp happy I guess.) With backup healing from Zahi and Earl’s tanking, any deaths were purely errors on our part and no the result of content being too tough.
Of course, that sort of thing has happened to us before. When we were finding old world instances too easy in post-Cataclysm WoW… we were doing two and three in an evening no problem… one of the things people brought up in the comments was that the talent tree abilities had all been upgraded to focus on level 80-85 content, and were thus over-powered for the sub-60 content we were running.
So I have to wonder if we are seeing the same thing before Storm Legion. Will the soul rework for the expansion trivialize all of the 1-50 content?
Of course, there are other factors.
For example, Hillmar was mentored down from level 48, and mentoring is clearly imperfect, so I could have been feeling much more powerful because of that.
And then there is the fact that, as a group, we have been doing this for a while. We were running the Deadmines and as a group six years ago.
I have been doing group based content with roles since at least 1993 when I started playing TorilMUD. So there is a certain level of competence that comes from simple repetition, pretty much despite myself. Sometimes I need to be reminded that a lot of this stuff in learned behavior and can confound people who are very competent in other games, but do not have the same gaming background as I do.
I suppose we shall see how things go when we facing the final three instances before Storm Legion. The Fall of Lantern Hook might have just been an easy instance.
The remaining three instances are flagged as levels 48-50 in the dungeon tool. We plan to go after them at whatever level we happen to be when the time comes by just traveling. The overland ride will do us good and we will probably get a better idea of how our respective specs play.