03/07/2012

Doing Eternity Vault through the group finder

I wrote about my experiences using the group finder to run flashpoints about a week ago. I've been in a couple more runs since then and they've all been pleasant experiences, with no exceptions. However, I was still curious how well the new tool would work for operations.

A couple of guildies queued up for a random operation a couple of days ago, but got bored and went off to do something else after a while when a raid failed to materialise. To be fair, the group at the time consisted of four damage dealers and a healer, meaning that it lacked another healer and two tanks. Looking for the most sought-after roles only was never going to yield quick results.

On Sunday we tried again, this time with a full flashpoint group, so that the tool would only have to match us with another group like ours and we'd be golden. We got an ops group instantly!

The tl;dr version is that it was fun and not dissimilar to the EV pug that I participated in before the server transfers and introduction of the group finder. People asked to have the loot rules clarified in advance to avoid accidental ninja-ing and were no less courteous just because the group had been formed automatically. As an aside, I'm not sure why Bioware got rid of the old loot system for story mode; you'd think that would be perfect for group finder pugs now...

The group finder blessed us with four players of extremely varying experience: The second healer was a Sage who had clearly done it all before and was both competent and friendly. The dps Guardian we got had no experience with EV whatsoever, but he was very enthusiastic, chatty and followed instructions well. He also told us that he thought that my guildies and I were great people, unlike certain others who had apparently ridiculed him for his gear and called him a noob. Bless him.

The second damage dealer, a gunslinger, was slightly undergeared as he was mostly wearing greens, but he seemed to know which buttons to push. I took note of the fact that he deployed his damage reduction shield at appropriate times. He was also very quiet however (though he did respond to instructions and so on), and a bit slow when it came to things like target switching. The most curious thing about him was that he always responded to ready checks with "1". We couldn't figure out where that came from, but shrugged it off as a funny quirk.

The undisputed star of the show however was our pug tank, to whom I shall refer as "Checkers" in this post (not his actual character name). He was slightly undergeared, but more importantly totally clueless about operations and many other things. We knew that we were in for a ride when immediately upon group formation, he asked how to get to the operation and we had to actually tell him to press the "travel now" button.

When he died on the first boss, he released and somehow managed to get lost.

"How do I get back in?"
"Erm, there should be a purple portal right next to where you respawned, don't you see it?"
"Nope lol."

In the end I had to go back out and fetch him, as he had wandered off into the middle of the Gav Daragon somewhere.

On the second boss he showed us that he knew that tanking was about having aggro, as he insisted on taunting Gharj off the main tank over and over again, resulting in people having to dive for cover whenever the boss suddenly ran over to the ranged group. Checkers also tried to heroically tank all the adds on a sinking island, but a rescue managed to get him to safety before he could die this time.

As we approached the Ancient Pylons, multiple people demanded in chat that nobody should push any buttons, using ALL CAPS for emphasis. Can you guess what Checkers did as soon as he got the chance? If your answer was "push the button", you'd be correct. Fortunately we muddled though the fight successfully, even if our party got overwhelmed by ackleys at the end (after completing).

On the Council we immediately had people placing bets that Checkers wouldn't be able to kill his mob, but he surprised us all by pulling it off (repeatedly as it turned out) and surviving with just a sliver of health left. We did fail the fight however as our gunslinger couldn't kill his opponent - in fact he barely managed to shave off half the guy's health before the timer ran out, and no, he didn't have the debuff. After another failed attempt we had our overgeared guild tank swap targets with him and after that we managed to complete the encounter.

As we were starting to explain the Soa fight, Checkers suddenly left the group and went offline. We were sad. I admit that we had been having a bit of a laugh about his antics on Mumble, but we also thought that he was adorable in his own way and I had been happy to answer all his questions. He had also given no indication of being unhappy with the run; in fact he had said that he was loving it. A guildie quipped that maybe Checkers' mum had pulled the plug on him, but considering that he did come across as pretty young and disappeared at exactly ten o'clock, that joke might not have been too far off the truth.

Anyway, we requeued for another tank but there wasn't anyone in the queue. Our ops leader suggested that the dps Guardian should change his role to tank on the tool so that it would pull another dps in, seeing how Soa only really requires one tank anyway. Unfortunately the group finder wouldn't let us requeue for replacements at all after that however. I strongly suspect that something went screwy, considering that our gunslinger suddenly had a healer icon next to his name as well.

Since we couldn't get an eighth now as the group finder doesn't allow manual invites for automatically formed parties, we ended up seven-manning Soa - wiped a few times but got him down in the end and everyone was happy. We gave the remaining puggers the address of our guild website just in case they were interested - I don't expect any of them to pop in, but I do hope that we'll be able to use the group finder as a recruitment tool in the long run.

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