Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 53-54
This was another of those rare flashpoints that started with a tank, though he didn't seem particularly competent and eventually suffered a mysterious DC, which seems to be a common issue with tanks for some reason... We also had a level 43 dps who randomly ported back to Hoth after a few pulls and left the group without a word.
The thing that really ticked me off about this run was that we had started off killing extra trash for both bonuses and then randomly started skipping things once we were at five out of six laser batteries destroyed. Argh! I have a long history of getting annoyed with people not wanting to do the bonus in Battle of Ilum, but I do understand their reasons for doing so... what ticked me off in this case was that it was such a random bait and switch, especially with just one more pull needed to at least complete one of the bonuses...
On a positive note, people were very good at clicking the healing consoles on the last boss and pretty much saved my life when I got stunned by him while on very low health. After this run I was also high enough level to pick up the Forged Alliances story arc.
You can tell it's Life Day season when two minutes on the fleet are enough to get you doused in snowflakes.
I levelled: 54-54
This was another group of super lowbies, three dps of level 15, 19 and 26 respectively. Just before the first boss the level 15 (by now 16) disconnected and was replaced by a 65 who instantly quit as well. The next replacement asked if this was the boss that's bugged and I replied that I didn't know anything about any bugs. Of course then Jindo Krey's ship had to act funny just to make a point, but we got the boss down just fine anyway.
As it turned out it was the second boss encounter, the two prototype droids, who were truly bugged, as they kept one-shotting us with 75k hits. (For reference, bolstered players usually have a bit above 50k health.) Two people left immediately while me and one other guy gave it another try with companions out, but the results were the same. People on the forums say that it's fine if everyone stands in the blue circle, including the tank, but this has never been a requirement before and even if it was supposed to be, a one-shot if you take one wrong step strikes me as excessive. Bugged, basically. Group disband.
I levelled: 54-55
This group reminded me that at three years old, my PC is apparently quite dated already by gamer standards, as they had killed the first pull before I'd even loaded in. They were a very rushy group, but I couldn't really complain as they all seemed to be pretty competent and our dps was actually relatively high for a change. One guy was max level already and both of the lowbies in the group had the legendary tag. I know that by itself, legendary status doesn't really guarantee competence since it's theoretically possible to play through all the class stories without ever talking to another person, but it seems to me that on average, people who have bothered to do so also know their group content. On a side note, this was also the first run in which I noticed another character having bioanalysis and competing with me for harvesting the hounds' bodies.
After this run I went to pick up the Czerka storyline and was stoked to find that it "remembered" that I'd already done Corporate Labs back at level 35 and immediately updated to the step where you have to complete Core Meltdown. I really wish they made all the flashpoint quests smart enough to recognise if you've already done any of the required flashpoints. Sadly the only other story of which I know that it currently does this is the Rise of the Rakghouls storyline (Kaon Under Siege/Lost Island).
Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 55-56 (this included completion of my first tactical flashpoint weekly and earned my Merc her first glowing and radiant crystals)
Battle of Ilum again. After how annoyed I got last time, I decided to ask straight away whether people were up for doing the bonus so that I could manage my expectations. Result? People said yes and then skipped everything. Arrrgh! The two higher-level players weaved around a lot of the trash to progress as quickly as possible, while the lowest character, a level 28, got left behind immediately. He didn't seem to know where to go, pulled something, died, and then left the group. I felt bad for him and like I should have stayed closer to him. If he was a new player, he must have felt completely lost.
One of the other guys summoned a companion and just kept going. After a few pulls I asked why we weren't requeuing for a replacement and was told that companions are better than people. I moaned a bit about XP and social points and eventually the group leader did requeue us for a fourth.
Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 56-57 (this included the random flashpoint weekly)
I felt a little cursed at this point. Why do you keep putting me into this flashpoint where you know people's behaviour will upset me, Bioware? I decided to ask about the bonus at the start again and got an evasive reply that it takes too long but we could do it, whatever. Of course we didn't.
On the last encounter I decided to keep a close eye on the boss for once and interrupted his Force Explosion myself, which made me realise that the reason he'd done so much damage during my previous runs was that people obviously hadn't interrupted it consistently.
Assault on Tython
I levelled: 57-58
Another run with a group of lowbie dps, this time two level 20s and one 26. As was to be expected, things were slow and we suffered quite a few deaths, but we progressed relatively smoothly anyway. For example we suffered three deaths on the first boss (one guy died once, ran all the way back in and then died again almost immediately) but we did get him down on the first attempt. Master Liam already got bored of his droid summoning when he was still at 60 percent health.
On the plus side, this group was chattier than most of my pugs, everyone said hello and we talked a bit about this and that. Hilariously, one of the guys who died on the first boss made a snarky comment about how I clearly hadn't perfected my healing yet (my first "blame the healer" moment, yay), to which I replied that it was fine as long as people didn't stand in giant orbital strikes - somewhat to my surprise he actually apologised after that.
At level 58 I also got Progressive Scan, which finally completed my arsenal of healing abilities.
Assault on Tython
I levelled: 58-58
This was my first full run that didn't even cause me to level up once, which made me very sad. The instance itself was smooth enough, though after two Tythons in a row I was starting to wonder whether they made some sort of change to the way the artillery works as I kept having to dodge strikes throughout trash pulls all the way to the first boss, while I'm pretty sure that they only used to bother you in the wide open area in the middle... but maybe I'm misremembering.
We had a level 20 Juggernaught who was officially queued as dps but switched to tanking stance early on - I couldn't help but wonder whether he was a "real" tank or had just decided to play one for the duration of this run.
Next time: Double XP arrives!