23/02/2018

KotET Chapter 6 Master Mode

So, to start with, a fun little story: While playing through these higher difficulty chapters I've pretty much always only ever played one chapter at a time. I sometimes did several in a day, but always with at least a short break in-between, so that to get back into the story I would end up re-selecting the difficulty I wanted to play on and starting the selected chapter from the chapter launcher.

Except when my Scoundrel reached "The Dragon's Maw", I went "yay, my favourite chapter" and decided to play through it immediately after completing chapter five, without interruption. The first half of the chapter obviously stays the same regardless of difficulty, but once it came to combat I was surprised by how easy everything was. Then I completed the chapter and no achievement popped up. Bug?

It was only later and through some experimentation that I learned that if you have your "preferred difficulty" set to something other than what you are playing right now, transitioning from one chapter to the next will automatically change the difficulty to what you have set as preferred instead of continuing on the same setting you chose when launching. So since I had never bothered to change my preferred difficulty from story to master, I had just accidentally played through the whole thing in story mode without even realising it. D'oh!


I was kind of paranoid that replaying the chapter right away, before actually having completed the story, might lead to something getting messed up so I decided to get caught up on this missed master mode chapter on an alt.

First I tried on my Marauder, who's already completed the whole story. However, after going through the whole puzzle section yet again I immediately hit a dead end in the very first fight, the one in the rancor pit. I honestly have no idea how you're supposed to do this as a melee class. If I didn't start the fight with a strong damage reduction cooldown, I would literally get one-shot while leaping into the fight. I would die in mid-air before even hitting the ground at the rancor's feet; it was ridiculous. I made a few half-hearted attempts at kiting, but with a minimal number of ranged attacks I just did too little damage and couldn't keep aggro off my companion, by which point everything would always go pear-shaped pretty quickly. In the end I decided that it was probably a better use of my time to redo the puzzle a third time, but this time on a different character.

I ended up doing so on my Sorcerer, who I'm also taking through KotET right now so that she can see Andronikos' return, and soon to come Ashara's. As a ranged class, the encounter was relatively straightforward: You just stay as far away as possible the entire time, while kiting "Junior" around the edges of the pit and interrupting his attempts to "get snacks" as much as possible. Oh, and definitely do the Bergola bonus so you don't have to fight the doggies and they help you instead.



A guildie commented to me that he got stuck on this fight even as a ranged class because his interrupt cooldown is too long and the rancor kept eating Indo Zal. To this I have two solutions: First off, Junior is susceptible to stuns, so you should be able to replace at least one interrupt with a hard stun if required. Just as importantly though, as far as I could tell the rancor seems to like going for whichever prisoner is the closest "snack" and there is no punishment for letting a couple of them die, so just make sure while kiting him around to also keep him as far away from Indo as you can.

The other big fight of the chapter is Arcann, or as was the case for me here, the Horizon Guard Forces with a reformed Arcann by my side. This fight was interesting because there is actually a lot going on. For all I know most of the mechanics might exist in story mode as well, but I never really took the time to notice because on story mode my strategy basically consisted of pressing all of Arcann's special abilities once and watching the enemies fall over dead in seconds, before I could even realise what was going on. Master mode is not that easy.

In fact, my first realisation was that it really made me wish that SWTOR allowed you to have more than one focus target, because I found it very hard to keep an eye on what the Horizon Guard Captain and Arcann were doing at the same time, but you kind of have to. I actually had more wipes on this fight due to Arcann dying than to my own character going down.

In the end, what helped me to victory was understanding both Arcann's and the Captain's abilities, as well as a bit of luck I guess. After so many wipes with no visible progress I was in fact close to giving up for the night when I suddenly got the kill without being conscious of doing anything different compared to my previous attempts, though rewatching my own recording has given me a bit of an idea.



What you need to know about the Guard Captain is this: He starts the fight with a shield on that makes him immune to absolutely everything. The only way to get rid of this shield is to use the first of Arcann's abilities, called "Guard Break" on him, which will remove the shield and make him vulnerable to damage, stuns etc. However, he can recast this shield (though the cast can be interrupted), at which point you will have to use Guard Break again to be able to start damaging him again. In general, the Guard Captain casts way too much crap for you to be able to interrupt all of it, and to be honest I couldn't tell you for certain which casts are better or worse to interrupt. Suddenly being unable to damage him because he re-shielded is annoying, but so is being swarmed by hordes of summoned skytroopers or extra Horizon Guards. Seriously, everything this guy does just sucks!

Keeping Arcann alive can be tricky even as a healer (as I was) and even though he has a load of health, simply because there is so much damage going out. The key ability to watch out for is his third one, the Attuned Reflection Barrier. While this is up, he's not only immune to damage but also reflects all damage done to him! Awesome! That he can't move while this is up is such a minor drawback that it's hardly even worth mentioning. Issues you're more likely to have are that Arcann starts melting the moment the barrier goes down (as you can't have it up all the time) or that all the reflected damage in the world does you no good if the aggro is actually not on Arcann but instead on you or your companion.

Now, as I mentioned I was actually kind of surprised when I finally did beat the fight, so I don't have a perfect strategy to give you, but here are a few things I noticed and that seemed to help:

- Using Arcann's AoE taunt (Commanding Roar) followed by the reflective barrier is a good way to start, but they are on different cooldowns and things can get confusing after that. Try to resist hitting the taunt if reflective barrier is still on cooldown, even if you're being bugged by adds, as all of them going on an unshielded Arcann can lead to a quick and sudden death.

- Keep an eye on the Guard Captain, and if he does get his immunity shield back up, don't miss this! Immediately tell Arcann to use Guard Break on him again.

- Don't worry too much about the adds. Ideally they should burn themselves down on the reflective barrier, or you can deal with them after the Captain is dead. He is your primary target however; never forget that. Since I was relying on Theron to dps, I also had to tell him to re-focus on the Captain once his shield went down, otherwise our favourite former SIS agent has a habit of getting distracted by trying to shoot adds.

- You want to go for a quick burn here, as the more time passes, the more awkward casts the Captain will get off. I actually invested in about thirty levels of companion influence for Theron as well here to get his dps up a bit. My biggest surprise on rewatching my own successful attempt was that the Guard Captain went down in less than sixty seconds. It sure felt longer than that with how much was going on at the time, but if it had actually taken any longer, I probably wouldn't have succeeded.

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