29/04/2014

Pugging Explosive Conflict

Oh, Explosive Conflict, you still make for the best stories.

I was logged in as my Operative when I saw a call go out in general chat that someone was looking for more to do EC hardmode. As I still had the story quest for it in my log and only see pugs for that particular operation form fairly rarely, I jumped at the opportunity to join in. Sure, EC's mechanics are still comparatively unforgiving, but personally I've done that content so many times now, on every possible difficulty, that I felt confident in my ability to maybe even carry a couple of inexperienced people.

As we approached Toth and Zorn, I asked whether anyone needed tactics explained to them or whether everyone had done the fights before. As so often on such occasions, the answer was silence. In hindsight, I think there was only one other person who truly knew the instance, a dps Mercenary who would show his expertise later. Everyone else may have had a vague idea of how the fights worked, possibly from pugging them once before, but they went on to reveal a clear lack of understanding when it came certain fight mechanics.

Anyway, on the first encounter the ops leader instructed people to quickly burn down one of the two Drouks and then kill the other one, never mind the enrage. That made my hair stand on end right there, but due to us being both overlevelled and ridiculously overgeared, we succeeded. From a healing perspective it was pretty annoying though, as the bosses were jumping around willy-nilly (while they were both alive), players and debuffs were all over the place, and we had more than one death. Still, I guess we won, so whatever.

The next fight was the one I was really worried about. I swear, I've got some sort of tank-induced trauma when it comes to that encounter. Just... too many wipes due to people destroying the shield generator on their side, and then everybody denying that it was them. /shudder. Surprisingly, that fight actually went down without a hitch and we one-shot it without any issues (even though the tank on my side got the Double Destruction debuff every time). I think on the other side (from where I was standing) they might have lost their shield generator at one point, as people got very low on health and one person died, but we made it anyway.

I thought that we were doing pretty well at that point and that Colonel Vorgath should be easy in comparison... yeah, right. As it turned out, neither tank knew how to do the part in the tower. Since I've never done it myself, I couldn't really give any advice on it either. Tanks in my guild have always been keen on calling shotgun on the tower, so I figured that it must be easy and certainly not rocket science.

We made a couple of attempts while one of the tanks flailed around up top, but he never seemed to get anything done in time and the rest of the group repeatedly got consumed by flames without even leaving the encounter's starter area. Eventually the dps Merc I mentioned before spoke up and offered to take care of the tower duties instead. He did a great job, and surprisingly the drones' overload ability got interrupted every time too. However, people allowed the explosive droids to wander into the group constantly, which we always survived with just a sliver of health left, and both the tanks decided to randomly wander into non-cleared areas of the minefield at some point, leaving us with nothing but dps and healers alive when we actually got to the boss. We somehow managed to wing it with no tanks, even though all the ranged classes but me insisted on standing right next to the turrets and getting nuked to hell instead of simply outranging them. It's truly marvellous what sufficient amounts of overgearing and overlevelling content can do.

I wasn't sure whether that was going to be good enough for Kephess though. Our first attempt started off alright, but during the Trandoshan add phase, people were AoEing things (including themselves) left and right, to the point that I considered it a miracle that "only" one of them managed to kill themselves. Thank god for dps that is high enough to kill the warrior add quickly I guess. We ended up killing the walker in only two phases, so that Kephess himself came down and roamed around during the droid phase, but somehow we survived that... except for the other healer, who insisted on standing at range and got himself nuked by the droids. We went into the last phase with two people down and a lot of flailing and soon it was a full wipe - but at that point it still seemed doable.

However, as we tried again and again, it turned out that neither of the tanks had any idea how to do the tank swap in the last phase, leading to instant death on their part over and over. We might have been able to wing it to the end if any of the dps other than the Merc had had a clue and dropped aggro at the right time - but that wasn't in the cards either. Eventually the Merc said that he had to go (/sadface).

People were still convinced that we could do it however, so a replacement dps was invited and we went at it again. This time however, we didn't even get the walker down, as the bomb debuff repeatedly went to people who didn't seem to notice it and didn't react to being called out in chat either, meaning that it went to waste. After that wipe, people finally said their goodbyes and left the group. I felt bad for the guy who had only just been called in to replace the Merc, especially since he had been one of the people who had let a bomb go to waste - clearly nobody had filled him in on anything.

Now, I actually don't want to call out anyone in that pug as being terrible players or anything like that. The atmosphere was quite pleasant and people seemed to be open to learning... it just wasn't good enough. If I had to criticise anything it would be the eyesore that was two female Sith warriors with the blonde Barbie haircut and wearing bikinis, looking like clones even though they were from different guilds. It was quite a sobering experience though in terms of how hard EC HM still is, even with five more levels and way better gear than anyone should ever need. I can definitely see why hardly anyone ever pugs this - you definitely need more than two competent people to succeed, and most pugs just won't have the patience to learn and understand all the different mechanics that can wipe your group if tackled the wrong way.

5 comments :

  1. I just did storymode EC a few days ago.
    I had heard how hard it's supposed to be mechanically compared to other level 50 ops and it's true. I LOVE that. I like a good challenge and I hate how so many ops people don't even really work the mechanics 'cause they're overgeared anyway and just in it for the Ultimate Comms. We managed the first two bosses although the tanks were a huge mess, both tanks died and we failed all mechanics but it was SM after all. Then came the puzzle and nobody knew how to do it :D. I had read guides/watched videos but I just forgot one key element and eventually we gave up. Next time will be better though.
    I look forward to HM and eventually NM, that should be a real treat!

    Tundarak

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    1. Hehe, I'm glad you had a good time despite of the wipes! A lot of the harder group content Bioware has created is definitely a love it or a hate it experience. Lost Island elicits similar reactions from most people I've noticed.

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  2. Ha, the joy of Lost Island!
    I remember failing Project Sav-Rak. Funny thing was that one player was accusing me of 1. being undergeared (I was, but that's not why we all failed the mechanics) and 2. being bad at the game (while he, the same as me, failed the knockback mechanic and got dumped in the lava). Anyway, I'll have to get back to that too! Lost Island really is a nice challenge.
    Also there's one Heroic on Voss were you really have to interrupt the boss a lot. This was one of my most exciting 4-men fights; later when I did it with just 1 random guy and our comps on another char we did it quiet easily and were both surprised. But then we really knew what to do.
    Can you recommend any other mechanically challenging OPs/FPs or maybe even Heroics?

    Tundarak

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    1. Are you an Imperial? Because I just soloed the Voss heroics on my level 55 Marauder last night and what you said sounds like the "Rock-eaters" one... the only one where I nearly died after missing an interrupt, hehe! I'm not as familiar with the Imperial heroics... but I remember the one called "Breakthrough" on Belsavis being very challenging at level if you're not a stealther.

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    2. Yeah, I'm Imp, but I keep mixing up the names of the Voss heroics. Is Rock-eaters in the east of the map in a cave? That should be the one.
      Anyway we managed storymode EC yesterday with just one wipe on the 2nd boss. After that one guy left but we still beat the rest pretty easily. After all it was SM and we were all (but one) 55 in mostly 162/168 gear or the likes so no real surprise there. Good thing there's Hard Mode and then Nightmare :). That should be a proper nightmare.

      T.

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