Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Same as it Ever Was

I've not had a big enough chunk of free time to pull off an instance run (SWTOR or LOTRO) in ages, but this past week I actually had a few hours to myself without having to go anywhere or do anything*, so the siren song of running a SWTOR instance proved too irresistible.

Rather than learning a new (for me) instance, I figured that I ought to ease back into instance running with some of the original SWTOR instances: Hammer Station, Athiss, and Mandalorian Raiders. Why those three? Well, they are my favorites of the original instances (with the possible exception of False Emperor), and they are also the three I'm most familiar with. Even with the leveling adjustment put in place, I figured that these three instances ought to be the Azjol-Nerub of SWTOR**: once you learn them, it's a fairly quick and painless run.

Unless, of course, you're dealing with an all DPS group.

(Guess what groups I got?)

Now, to be fair, the Hammer Station run was pretty straightforward with a standard Tank/Healer/DPS/DPS group configuration, and we pretty much blitzed through the entire instance. Not exactly at the same level as a classic Azjol-Nerub run, but we finished in about 15-20 minutes, and that included me getting stuck on the other side of the meteorite cannon while everybody else took out some more trash before the final boss.


But Mandalorian Raiders came next, and the run consisted of all DPS.

My prior experiences in the "Fun With Mandos" instance with an all DPS group meant that the toughest boss to take out was the Houndmaster, the first boss, and this group proved that in spades. The Houndmaster hits too hard for a standard DPS to handle without utilizing Tanking abilities or having a Healer in tow, and to compound the problem we had people attempting to down the Houndmaster instead of the hounds first. After the third wipe, somebody asked in chat "Why can't we down this guy?"

"We don't have a healer," the Jedi Sentinel tanking the Houndmaster replied.

The Jedi Sage we had in our group wrote something incoherent in group chat, and then said "I'll do it, but remember to move in the right direction. Got it?"

"Of course."

This time we managed to down the boss properly, with the Sage's healing supplemented by the healing stations around the boss fight.

After that, the Mandalorian Raiders instance proceeded much quicker, with the only hiccup being the Sentinel who thought it a good idea to jump onto the downward descending platform in the section leading to the final boss. As you can guess, he finally caught up to the platform in time to die due to falling damage.

"Rez me!' he cried.

"I'm trying, but I can't select you," I replied. "How the hell did you manage that one?"

"I'm talented. Hee hee hee."

I grumbled something as the Sage rezzed him.


Athiss was a different beast entirely.

I knew I was in for an interesting time when we kept having people reject the instance before we finally got a full group.*** Then while a few of us jumped down into the ruins and healed up, a Jedi Sentinel sliced the elevator...

And jumped down anyway.

"Hoo boy," I thought. "I hope that was just an accident."

But by the time we got to the first boss, I could see clearly that it wasn't an accident. That same Sentinel pulled one too many mobs for a pure DPS to tank, and we wiped on the trash. Then we nearly wiped on that first boss, even though that's actually kind of hard to do with four DPS burning down that boss quickly.

But things seemed to settle down a bit when we plowed through the next several rounds of trash, until we got to the Beast of Vodal Kresh. There, we wiped repeatedly on that boss because a) people weren't using the healing stations (twice), b) people (including myself once) got knocked off into the level below and the trash below aggroed****, and c) nobody could hold aggro well enough against Ye Olde Beast.

Sometime after the fourth wipe the other Jedi Sentinel who'd been acting as the tank --all the while spewing invective in group chat-- ragequit. I took that as my cue to leave as well, since it had become obvious that this particular group simply wasn't going to get past the Beast of Vodal Kresh.

I then decided to hang around my starship for a while and relax, letting some 30 minutes pass by reading the codex and checking on college basketball scores.# I figured that 1/2 hour was time enough for me to not run into any of those three players again, and queued up for Athiss once more.

And I got an all DPS group. Again.

This time, however, the run went without incident. I'd not call it smooth, as Prophet of Vodal Kresh took a lot longer to kill off than I prefer,## but nobody died and nobody complained in group chat. It had been a long time since an instance ending in silence


After those instances, I decided that I'm not going to venture into any of the post-Vanilla instances for a while. First, I need to get up to speed on a rotation for my Shadow, as I constantly felt a bit slow compared to everybody else##, and second, I think I'd need to study the instances before simply being dropped into them. The instance running crowd is as I remembered it: with few exceptions, people are of the GO-GO-GO variety. One scolded me for not skipping the dialogue sections, but I wanted to tell that person that SWTOR is great because of the dialog, not in spite of it. If people do that to me on a new (to me) instance, there's likely to be some pissed off group members. In my WoW days, delays were frequently given as a reason for a votekick --which I'd often reject unless it was someone who went AFK for no good reason-- and I don't feel like reliving those days again.

*This included house chores such as laundry or dishes or cooking. I'm still not sure how I managed to get this free time this week, but hey, I'll take it.

**That ought to take old WoW players back to the good old days of Wrath of the Lich King. By the time Wrath came to an end, a random pug could pull off an A-Z run in about 10-12 minutes flat. Sure, being overgeared for the instance helped, but once you knew the fights it was a rare occasion to see a wipe in A-Z. Even Utgarde Keep couldn't match that one.

***Of all DPS, naturally.

****In my defense I knew about the knockback quite well, but I was speeding to a healing station that was still open when I got knocked down.

#My alma mater won, so I was happy.

##One player decided to start hitting the balls of fire rather than the Prophet, which meant one less DPS on the Prophet.

###I'm sure lag has something to do with it, as I was playing on a European server.

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