If you thought that my little bounty hunter's first bunch of levelling flashpoints sounded like I was getting way too easy a ride, you should enjoy this entry.
I levelled: 29-29 (that already says it all)
The time had finally come: The group finder had randomly thrown me into a flashpoint that was originally designed for level 60. I had heard bad things about the new tactical version and remembered the hardmode being waaay overtuned. But well, you'll never know until you try, right?
On the first boss I was happily distracted by the fact that he was surrounded by "healing spores" instead of kolto stations... how did I never notice that before? We had one death on that fight but did OK otherwise. Likewise, the three challenges fell before us with no issues. But then came the moment of truth: facing Jos and Valk Beroya.
We actually had a pretty good first attempt, during which we made it into the second half of the fight, but then... I'm not entirely sure what happened. I remember seeing people take lots of damage, me trying to run to a kolto station, being yanked back before I could click it, and then people were dead.
We got up and tried again, but this time our first death actually occurred even earlier, due to the vicious knockback. The guy who died went into a rant about how that knockback was "BS" and rage-quit. We hadn't even finished wiping before everyone else dropped group as well.
I felt a mix of annoyance and relief: I was annoyed that people gave up so easily and relieved that I had an excuse to move on to something else.
Kuat Drive Yards
I levelled: 29-31 (this included the weekly quest, which didn't give a crazy amount of XP anymore. I don't know if they fixed it or if I'm just high enough level by now that it doesn't have as much of an impact anymore).
As soon as I saw where I had landed this time, I wanted to slap my foreheard for forgetting to pick up the story quest for this. After all, this is the one flashpoint quest that can already be picked up as early as level 15! I made a point of picking it up afterwards, just in case RNG brings me back to Kuat later on.
After the Blood Hunt debacle I was glad to be back on more forgiving ground, even if my group consisted of three twitchy Marauders. First we got the starship assembly and someone asked if anybody knew how to solve the puzzle. I wanted to give it a try, but someone else clicked on the consoles at random and our prototype blew up. Not that it really mattered.
Second we got the hangar defense scenario, which also went smoothly enough. The final boss turned out to be Major Benes and apparently nobody else had done him before, as I was the only one who ran to cleanse her grenade and we wiped. One guy immediately went into "blame the healer" mode, but I countered by calmly explaining that people needed to get rid of the grenades. We tried again, and while people still blew up a couple of times, we managed to muddle through and by the end of it everyone seemed to have understood the tactics. The guy who had got mad at first said with a smiley that he got it now... and we lived happily ever after.
I was just disappointed that there was no loot other than the little reputation commendations. Now that all flashpoints are tactical, Kuat looks kind of silly for giving lesser loot for basically no reason.
After this flashpoint I also upgraded my armour's mods for the first time in fifteen levels, but I couldn't really see it making much of a difference to how I was getting bolstered. I shall resist the urge to queue up naked though, just to see how powerful bolster really is...
I levelled: 31-33
My heart sank as soon as I saw where I was going. Blood Hunt again? Whelp, once more into the fray then...
Our start was very similar to my last run: one death at the first boss, then no further issues with the challenges. All the other group members were dps (as usual), of levels 27, 64 and 65 respectively.
Once again we wiped twice before the quitting started, but fortunately it wasn't a full disband this time. It was just the 65 who left, to be replaced by a level 34 Sniper. She really impressed me on the next try, doing an excellent job at staying alive, but unfortunately we wiped again anyway.
Another member of the original group left, just to be replaced by a level 50, who was coming in just as me and the Sniper were talking about how this flashpoint was really hard. "It's not so hard," crowed the level 50 the moment he entered. "You can save us then," the Sniper joked in response.
Alas, we still weren't quite there, and wiped again, though it definitely felt like we were doing better with each attempt. At this point the last dps from the original group dropped, to be replaced by a level 65 Merc. We all greeted her enthusiastically. Her response as she realised where she had ended up: "Oh -.-." What can I say, this flashpoint clearly has a reputation! However, with her help we were finally victorious. I actually felt the urge to take a victory screenshot at the end, because it had been such a challenge. Shout-out to Lhoola, Vi'kk and Yelisa of the Red Eclipse for being awesome!
Here are some tips that I felt helped to make the difference in the end:
It's counter-intuitive, but during the red circle phase... don't run. Just stand there and eat your circle, just make sure you're not standing on top of anyone else. I found that when I originally tried to run out of them, it pretty much always led to bad things, as I didn't have the abilities and more importantly the mobility talents yet to remain useful while running around. The damage isn't actually that high, so it's better to just stand there and to continue giving it your best.
The knockback is a huge pain, so try to stay near the centre as much as possible (unless there's fire there or something - that fire actually hurts). I somehow managed to get knocked down once or twice without dying - instead I simply got teleported back up again. I couldn't tell whether that was a feature or a glitch though, so I wouldn't rely on it.
Most importantly however, everyone needs to spam those healing consoles. At my level I just didn't have the AoE or burst healing to deal with the damage output, not to mention that sometimes I would simply get stunned - who's supposed to be healing then? Fortunately my final party members were all good at doing their part to survive and clicked consoles as much as they could (while minimising their stays near the edge of the platform).
Finally, if someone does die, use your combat res if you have one! I'm astounded by the amount of high level players I've already seen who do not seem to be aware that they even have this skill.
Oh, and Torch? She was easy mode after all this; we got her on the first try.
I levelled: 33-35
This was the first flashpoint I've done in a while where the group didn't want to do the bonus, but then two of the dps were max level and it was D7. They went for all the annoying trash skipping moves in the book, including that stupid tent jump - though at least it wasn't me who failed on that one and aggroed half the area this time.
They also weren't very good players, as they would do things like run to break the crowd control I had applied to a gold mob while multiple weak turrets were still up and shooting (... me, due to healing aggro). That made the whole exercise a bit tedious, but other than one grumbly comment about me and the other lowbie pulling too many things it was a decent run. At least there was no griping about cut scenes.