A Journey of One Hundred Deaths

A journey of one hundred deaths begins with one’s first corpse.

-A liberal interpretation of what Laozi meant

100 deaths is my estimate for the cumulative number of corpses our group left littered about the instance we assaulted last week.

Some of us died more than others.  I had to go back to the healer in Meridian twice during the evening because I had hit the “10 death penalty” point, as did Earl.  Zahi hit that point much earlier on due to an unfortunate turn of events at the first boss.  Jolly and Giz also had their share of deaths, with the combat ress capability of myself and Zahi allowing a couple of us to get in multiple deaths in a single fight.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  First, there was the usual cast of characters.

  • Jollyreaper level 50 mage
  • Zahihawass level 51 cleric
  • Hillmar level 51 cleric
  • Earlthecat level 52 warrior
  • Gizalia level 53 mage

And then there was our destination, which last week was Exodus of the Storm Queen, the first Storm Legion instance.

Zahi has scouted its location, found that it took place in the Chancel of Labors up in Storm Pine Peaks.  That being a small location, at least relative to other outdoor instances, and because it was the teaser dungeon for Storm Legion, we actually talked a bit about doing another instance after we wrapped up Exodus.  Due to a character swap, Zahi is missing the Realm of the Fae achievement, so we thought we might go back and do the expert version as our encore.

We got ourselves together in a group and on Skype, pulled up the LFG tool, and chose our poison.

50-54... we're good

50-54… we’re good

And in we went.  More after the cut because of pictures and spoilers and long winded descriptions of events.  You have been warned.

And here we are.

Teleporting into the instance, our initial suspicions seemed to be confirmed.  The first boss, Dominax, was right there in view.  This looked to be a speed run ala our previous push into Caduceus Rise.

First boss, upper left corner

First boss, upper left corner

Dominax turned out to be an event.  Once we stepped into the instance, we were called upon to defend the four doors around the room and were given a special power that appeared to be required to defeat the three mobs that were invading through each.

We fumbled around at the first door for a while until we figured it out, moved to the second and almost got it right, then by the third knew what we were doing.  Four doors defended, we turned to Dominax himself, in a big armored suit.

We learned quickly, if fatally, that we had to break line of sight when Domi called out our names.  Earl had enough of a hit point buffer on him to survive this attack, but the rest of us went down pretty quickly.

Our second try was more successful, and we managed to get through with only one death, brought back by a combat ress, and were quick to celebrate when Domi’s suit went down.

The problem here was that the suit fight was only the first part of the battle with him.  He turned into a whirlwind that we had to defeat.  We realized this when we noticed we were all taking damage from a pretty powerful, room-wide AOE attack that Domi puts out in his whirlwind form.

Zahi, Jolly, and Giz all went down pretty quickly to that while I struggled to keep Earl and myself alive through an epic round of chain healing.  We seemed to be surviving, so the others respawned and re-entered the instance.

And died.

The AOE would hit them shortly after they came back and, in their weakened form, they would die on the first hit.  I think Zahi got killed so many times during that fight that he had to visit the healer for a soul repair during that fight.

Meanwhile, I was barely keeping Earl and myself alive and Earl was chipping away at Domi.  The bosses hit points were slowly but steadily going down.  Then they hit 10% and stopped.  We sat there, hanging on, Earl chopping away, but no further progress was made.  Clearly some other action was expected of us.

And then the end came, I was slow to heal Earl and he went down, leaving me alone for a minute or so of self-healing before I went down as well.

This does not look good

This does not look good

We returned to the scene and Dominax was back in his suit.  At least we did not have to go through the door battle again.

We looked around to see what we might have missed and noticed that there was a trap of some sort on the floor over in an alcove.  It seemed that we missed the part about us dragging whirlwind Domi over to the trap and activating it at some point before he reached 10% health.

We could do that.

We brought the fight over to the trap this time, which also had some nice pillars to hide behind in order to break line of sight during the first part of the battle.  Things went well, with only one person failing to break line of sight and dying.  We got Domi into his whirlwind form, knocked down his health, and saw the control panel for the trap begin to sparkle.

Jolly ran over to the panel and activated it.  We all breathed a sigh of relief.

And then the quest NPC shouted something like, “Grab the blue shard and throw it in the forge quickly!”

And we were all, “What blue shard?” and “What forge?” and “Just how quickly?”

Earl eventually grabbed the blue shard from the floor at the trap and I found the steps up to the forge and called Earl over, but we were too slow.  Domi burst out of his crystal and caused us to wipe again.

The fourth time around everybody had a role and a place to stand.  Earl would pull to the trap.  Jolly would activate the trap.  I would rush in, grab the blue shard and toss it into the forge.

I wasn’t clear on how to do the tossing, but I figured I would get some indication when I got to it.

As it turned out, the throw is automatic when you get to the right spot.

At the forge

At the forge

Dominax went the way of the T-1000 and a shiny chest appear with our reward.

Not a bad fight.  Learnable through trial and error and occasionally paying attention to NPCs shouting at you.  The AOE deaths from the whirlwind segment were unfortunate, but we made it.

From there it was into the next room, the door to which opened up after the Dominax fight, through a bit of trash, and down stairs to the next boss, General Grim.

The General seemed like a much more reasonable fight.  He was there, by himself and not in some crazy suit, and lacked a mana bar, so wasn’t a caster.  We might be able to just get stuck into him.  So Earl went to him at his end of the room.

It started out as a stand up fight, with us doing pretty well and avoiding the weapon he sent flying around the room.  And then suddenly he shouted something about somebody dueling him one on one and running to a circle in the center of the room.

We stood there going “What?” and then started discussing who should go click on the thingy and duel this guy when we were suddenly all dead.

If you don’t get in the ring with him right away, he just kills you all with a word.  Which seems odd when you think about it.  If he could do that, why didn’t he just do that when we showed up in the first place?

Anyway, we came back for the fight again, this time starting it with Earl, now the designated duelist, in the circle and ready.  The fight went about as before, the duel started, and then ended as Earl took too long to figure out what he had to do.  Earl died and the enraged General Grim ran about the room killing us.

Laying about the room dead again

Laying about the room dead again

On the third try we did everything in the right order, Earl won the duel, the General was defeated.

The duel in the circle

The duel in the circle

We were then pointed towards the back door of the building where we were to face the next boss, Valthundr.

Like, oh my gawd!

Like, oh my gawd!

Here we died a lot and eventually had to break down and go find some help on the web.

Another picture of death

Another picture of death

I found a quick summary over at Rift Junkies, which cleared up what we were seeing.

The big Val has two special attacks.  The first one insta-kills you if you are outside of melee range from him and also delivers a knock back.  He then moves to do his second attack by running to the center of the room, at which point you have to break line of sight or be frozen, which will lead to your death shortly.

To counter the first attack, and reduce the impact of the knock back, we kept Val close to the wall with our backs up against it.  To counter the second, we fought him near the pillar we were going to hide behind.

The pillars are interesting.  There are only a few in the room, and Val destroys the one you are hiding behind after each time he does his second attack.  So you had best be killing him before you run out of pillars.  An early death in one fight put us behind schedule of damage and we were out in the open and out of pillars.

There are also more pillars available in the room before the fight starts, but once it starts several of them are blocked off.  We started our pillar progression in the wrong spot and ended up stuck against a barrier and exposed when the freeze time came.

Eventually though we got the pillar order right, all stayed alive.

By this time we had all been to visit the healer to have a full soul refurb done, which is not a cheap date for some of us.

A plat still seems like a lot

A plat still seems like a lot

But there we were, looking at the last boss, Chekaroth.



And then dying to him.

That was fast

That was fast

Chekaroth is also an event where there is an initial rush of mobs at the group which comes in waves.  You have to survive this for a set time.  We were surprised by it the first time and managed to wipe a couple of times on this just trying to manage aggro and kill things.  You do get a buff to help kill the attackers after a bit, which helps to keep you from being beaten down too much before the main battle starts.

And then Chekaroth starts in.  He shoots out a blue death beam that has to be interrupted by the tank.  He throws out another spinning weapon that you have to kill or avoid.  He hits the whole group with AOE, including a freeze spell that, once it stacks up on you, turns you into a snow statue.  The only way to avoid that is to go stand on some glowing orbs that show up every so often during the fight and remove the spell.

Of course, the blue beam goes off when you need to run to an orb, and when you are on an orb that whirling blade of death is coming your way so you either need to kill it or get out of the way.  Killing it will give the group a buff, but that takes some focus.

All in all, we were never quite able to pull it together.  We got Chekaroth down to about 30% health, but people were always dying early on in the fight, making things very tough. I was having problems keeping up with all the healing, which meant missing myself or missing the orbs, which meant me dying.  And while Earl was very good at interrupting the blue beam when we called out, sometimes we missed calling out because we were running to an orb or avoid the spinning blade or trying to kill the spinning blade or standing there like a frozen snow statue.

We went through about a dozen wipes… enough that all of us had to visit the healer again… and decided to call it a night.  It seemed like we were close, but we kept making mistakes.  Part of it was by the time we got to that fight, we were worn out and it was late.

Some of it was the variety of equipment we had.  A couple of us had managed to get into Storm Legion and get fully equipped with updated gear.  Earl was especially durable, being so equipped.  A couple of us, myself included, were partially equipped, but still wearing a lot of pre-expansion gear.  And I think Jolly was all pre-expansion gear.

So we will have to return to the Exodus of the Storm Queen again to finish it off.

On the bright side, the instance is pretty small and we now have the first three bosses down.  We should be able to quickly get to the last fight.  We just have to be ready and equipped for that fight.

6 thoughts on “A Journey of One Hundred Deaths

  1. pkudude99

    Still sounds like a fairly decent 1st run.

    I don’t know how much plat y’all have, but it seemed like the Auction House was pretty well stocked with the new SL gear for 50, and the level 50 stuff from drops seemed like it was a bit better than the stuff that you could get as quest rewards. Most pieces seemed to go for 2-4 play, so a full gear out was about 50 plat. If you’ve got the cash, it might be worth the expense.

    It will also help if you decide to go back and do the Realm of the Fae expert. The new gear is roughly equivalent to T2 purples from “Chocolate Rift” (as opposed to Vanilla WoW) so you’d be more or less on to a bit over-geared for it even in “just greens.”


  2. bhagpuss

    Honestly, that write-up could stand as the definitive explanation of what I hate about what MMOs have become. Great piece and immensely entertaining to read, but I’d rather clean my oven with my toothbrush and brush my teeth with it afterwards than go through anything like that myself.

    The key part for me is this:

    “The General seemed like a much more reasonable fight. He was there, by himself and not in some crazy suit, and lacked a mana bar, so wasn’t a caster. We might be able to just get stuck into him.”

    That’s ALL I want. That’s all I ever wanted. My character has spells/skills. The NPC has spells/skills. I use mine as I see fit, he uses his according to his AI. To counter my ability to improvise he gets a much bigger HP/Mana pool.

    END OF.

    Please god someone in our putative niche heaven gets that.


  3. NoAstronomer

    I’m with bhagpuss. I don’t think I could ever again play a game like this article describes. In fact I’m not even sure it qualifies as a “game”.



  4. Solf

    I can’t say I’m a big fan of the current ‘puzzle-like’ design for the bosses, however in my opinion it is still wastly superior to the ‘everybody keeps pushing one button’ stand-up fight. I am a bit at a loss how to come with an example that you’d have shared experience to understand… I’ve never played EQ but I heard something about tanks being able to go /afk to drink coffee while tanking — if true, that’s an awful design in my opinion.

    At the same time I think that puzzle-like design needs something that WoW did in Cataclysm — specifically an in-game prior-to-fight listing of all boss gimmicks so that you can figure out how to counter the stuff rather than try and figure out stuff during the fight (while scrambling to keep alive). Reading stuff tooltips mid-fight isn’t good design either.


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