29/08/2013

Return to EC NiM

This is the kind of post that should really have a victory screenshot to accompany it, but I kind of forgot to take one at the crucial moment. Oops. You'll just have to take my word for it.

You may or may not remember my videos about my guild's progression (or lack thereof) in EC NiM earlier in the year. Last I wrote about the subject, I ended on a rather positive note and was optimistic that we were going to get Kephess down soon. Alas, that never happened. We kind of got stuck on the phase with all the Trandoshan adds, unable to kite them effectively or kill them in a timely manner, and eventually people just lost interest, what with the expansion coming out soon and all. I was a bit disappointed by that, as it would have been nice to be able to say that I had finished all the existing operations content for once, but oh well.

Still, I always wanted to go back and down him at some point, even if it was going to be at level fifty-five and by applying overwhelming force. We actually first tried to do this a couple of weeks ago, but it was just one of those nights. We were seven-manning it and kept wiping due to stupid mistakes on Firebrand and Stormcaller ("What, someone blew up a shield generator again?") so we eventually called it without having achieved much.

This Sunday however the suggestion to go and do EC NiM came up again when we were just one regular player short for progression and had the option of getting a tank from another guild to fill our eighth spot. And this time we rocked the place! We still had a couple of wipes as some people were unfamiliar with certain nightmare mechanics, but we completed the timed run and got lucky with a tank mount drop as well.

Here are my insights on what it's like to run this operation at level fifty-five:

On Toth and Zorn, you still need that medpack at the start, you still need to keep swapping between the bosses (though their jump mechanics can bug out due to dps being that much higher than what the fight was originally designed for), and dpsing Zorn while you have the fearful debuff will still result in some hilariously quick self-annihilation. Other than that, all other sources of damage hurt a lot less now than they used to - the tanks hardly take any damage from the bosses if they are positioned properly, and the stacking mental anguish debuff barely tickles. You should have no trouble with this fight as long as your group knows the basic hardmode tactics, as there is actually a decent margin for error now.

Firebrand and Stormcaller are similar in that you can treat the fight the same way as hardmode now, with no need to worry about having dps switch to the other tank towards the end like we used to do when we did this on NiM at fifty. I also learned from experience (/hangs head in shame) that the bigger health pools at the new level cap allow you to survive a dispel fail on the yellow beam if you are at full health to start with. However, you'll probably still want to switch tanks at incinerate and not blow up the shield generators during the ground phase. Also, do watch out for the exploding add and leave it til last.

Colonel Vorgath is pretty much a walk in the park now if you understand the basic minefield mechanics. After all, this fight was always mainly about keeping your back to the wall and just having the numbers (to kill things in time, to keep the tanks alive through the damage at the end etc.). So as long as you still remember to keep your back to the wall, everything else is fairly easy now.

And then... Kephess! This fight has actually retained a lot of its mechanical complexity, even if the bigger numbers at fifty-five help a lot. Nonetheless you still want to interrupt those droids at the start, get the baradium bombers down in time to blow up the walker, watch your positioning in the transition phases etc. Fortunately the add phase that used to give us so much trouble in the past can now largely be overpowered. You still need to pull the shield-carrying adds away from the trenchcutters, but the tank can now simply hold the trenchcutters in place and dps can AoE them down before the next batch even spawns, which helps a ton.

The droid phase was funny because there was clearly some mechanic that we missed there as stacking up on them as we were used to caused them to erupt into absolutely blinding flashes of white light which made it impossible to see anything and made my PC lag like crazy. They also did some damage which we just healed through, but it just felt like we were doing something wrong. Around this point during one of our earlier attempts we also learned that on nightmare mode, Kephess has a mechanic called "nightmare of the makers" that automatically wipes you if you lose more than one person during an attempt, as he pulls you towards him and starts radiating massive AoE damage that kills you in seconds. Fun! Kephess himself also still hits damn hard and just makes you wonder how anyone ever made it through this fight alive at fifty. I wouldn't say that it's hard to heal at this level, but basically, with tanks and healers in full Underworld gear, we still had to heal the tanks non-stop to make sure they didn't die... which is kind of scary considering he's a level fifty boss that was originally designed to be done by tanks with less than 30k hitpoints.

Anyway, I can heartily recommend going back to EC NiM as an activity for an off-night when you don't have all your best and most geared players at hand but would still like to do something that requires some focus and feels rewarding in a way that breezing through story mode TfB or Scum simply doesn't.

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