31/01/2020

Flashpoint Levelling: Light at the end of the tunnel?

My Nautolan Shadow who's solely levelling through the group finder is getting close to level 60. Here's how her last five runs went.

Maelstrom Prison
I levelled: 52-54

Braving the full selection of flashpoints available to me once again for the sake of the weekly quest, I was pleasantly surprised to not get put into Hammer Station but Maelstrom Prison, which Nautalie had only done once before and for which she also had the story quest this time around. Once again the group consisted of nothing but damage dealers of a variety of levels.

The lowest among them, a level 40 Scoundrel, immediately expressed a dislike of the flashpoint, to which I felt the need to reply that I quite liked it. She responded that the "dude with laser eyes is one of the most tedious in the game IMO". I didn't actually say it, but all I could think on reading that was: "You've clearly never been to Copero, dear woman!"

At this point I felt the need to inspect her achievements and she had indeed never set foot into any of the Traitor flashpoints. I quietly amused myself trying to imagine what she was going to think of bosses like Syndic Zenta if she already hated Colonel Daksh.

Lest I give a negative impression of this person, she also suggested that we do the bonus, which instantly raised my opinion of her. We would have done both of them too if we hadn't missed one of the consoles somewhere, and by the time we realised that, even I couldn't be bothered to go back to search for it.

Just before we got to the first boss, one person who hadn't said a single word left the group seemingly at random. I queued us for a replacement and got a Scoundrel whose name was the term for the edges of a woman's underwear showing through her clothes, because why wouldn't you want to name your character something like that?

Colonel Daksh lived up to his reputation by the way and wiped us on the first attempt, with pretty much everyone in the group except me trying to face-tank him when they really shouldn't have. (I just died from all the other damage, clearly having overestimated my survivability at level 52.) During the run back I made sure everyone was now aware that they should hide if they got aggro during the laser phase, and on the next try we were victorious - though not without more deaths. Fortunately the Sage in the group knew where her combat revive was and with the reduced cooldown of thirty seconds she must have used it at least three times during that one fight. Beginner's Luck indeed.


Athiss
I levelled: 54-55

Queuing late at night and with Hammer Station deselected again, my wait time lasted several whole minutes! Then I got a group which included a tank for a change, which was nice as it at least established who should be making the pulls.

On the first boss someone did that weird ledge jump again and I had a moment of unpleasant memories, but at least this person actually waited for everyone to follow (except me, who preferred to just stealth past the mobs on the ground).

A guy whose name was the name of an Italian city written three times in a row revealed himself as new to the place by running off into a random direction at one point and pulling some completely out-of-the-way mobs, and he also tried to fight the Prophet of Vodal's flames for a bit - fortunately for him, neither event led to his death.

Hammer Station
I levelled: 55-56

Another weekly reset, another shot at the full selection of flashpoints (up to 19 at this point), and I got taken to Hammer Station once again. With a level 75 tank and two damage dealers of levels 75 and 65, I figured it should be fast and painless, just to have the tank stop the whole group dead after literally the first pull because she was annoyed with the Gunslinger not regenerating their health.

Now, to be clear, people not using their regen abilities can be annoying, especially when you're struggling to stay alive from pull to pull, but this was veteran mode Hammer Station after literally the first pull and nobody other than the Gunslinger had lost any health at all. It just seemed like a very bizarre thing to get upset about, though it was equally weird that the Gunslinger kept standing there acting confused instead of simply hitting their regen ability for five seconds. We did continue eventually regardless of the Gunslinger's health.

On the Tunneler the Vanguard tank and the 'slinger kept trading aggro, which seemed to annoy the tank even more. After that I was unsure for a bit whether she had decided to troll us out of annoyance, since she started pulling extra trash that wasn't needed and ran Vorgan the Volcano in constant circles, which made it very hard to dps him as a melee.

At the bridge someone actually asked whether we should fight the turrets or run, to which I replied that I preferred to kill them. This prompted the Vanguard to burst out with something in all caps which Google Translate rendered for me as Spanish for "it's the same for me" - I wasn't sure whether that was meant to signal agreement or indifference.

Anyway, we killed the turrets and the last boss just fine. Once again I just found someone's (in this case the tank's) behaviour quite weird at times.

Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 56-57

After taking another look at the 19 available flashpoints on my group finder list, I realised that I hadn't done 12 of them even once yet and made the executive decision that in the future I will untick all seven flashpoints below level 40 whenever I'm not aiming to get credit for the weekly quest to do a random. As it stands I've done all the lower-level flashpoints at least once and most of them multiple times.

I braced myself for a potentially longer wait... but got an instant pop for Battle of Ilum instead, with three people who were all in the same guild, no less! Some people might find that sort of setup uncomfortable, maybe for fear of being ganged up on, but I'm always happy to group with a partial premade as it ensures a minimum amount of co-operation and greatly reduces the risk of in-fighting or rage-quitting. Based on the guild name they were Polish, but they did speak English in chat and acted perfectly friendly towards me.

And the best thing? We watched the cut scenes, did all the bosses and both bonuses. I don't think I've ever gotten all of that done in my first run of BoI on a new character while pugging. I seriously felt like it was my lucky day.

As an additional bonus it was a pretty fun run in terms of gameplay too. The three guildies were all level 75, though not all of them were well-geared, and nobody played a class that could heal, so there were some pulls where things got a bit tight and got the adrenaline pumping, but in the end we always succeeded.


Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 57-58

Queuing for the same 12 level 40+ flashpoints again, I was surprised to end up in Battle of Ilum again. This run was closer to my usual experiences with the place, involving lots of trash skipping, but considering that I'd just had the run of my life literally the day before, I didn't mind. We did kill all the bosses, even the optional ones, and the extent to which we skipped the trash was actually kind of amusing because our group consisted of a Vanguard tank and three Shadows, so we essentially had one person running around with a stealth escort that was mezzing everything around them as they went.

By the end of the flashpoint we'd killed less than forty mobs, and it would have been even fewer if not for a couple of accidental/lazy body pulls. I don't think I would have levelled up if flashpoint completion hadn't also granted me the Socialite I Conquest objective, which resulted in a bit of bonus XP.

I fear I'm going to jinx it by even saying this, but I can't help but wonder if unticking all the easy low-level flashpoints that people like to farm is going to make things more fun for me going forward. At least the first two runs using this new strategy were very successful, and I don't find it hard to imagine that players who are happy to queue for these are more interested in actually doing the content and having a good time than those who just want to run Hammer Station a hundred times in as short a time as possible to maximise their rewards.

I'll find out I guess.

1 comment :

  1. You know what? It's very likely that this is the sort of issue that relates to the server. I probably do HS once a week -- sometimes by choice for a quick fp rally before it resets -- but I hardly ever get it for gf! Of course, when a specific flashpoint is in cq, it seems that it's all that pops (Czeka Week I did Meltdown a literal dozen times), and while some seem to never pop (I haven't seen Nathema this year; or Manaan or Blood Hunt), most of them do, some quite frequently (Mando raiders, taral V and Cademimu are frequent in my experience). I don't know if that's because, in playing in a server outside my natural timezone, I end up missing primetime and play with people that are more okay with everything? Then again, even on the one or two days I stayed up far too late (and far into SF's prime time), I didn't get any accidental Hammer Stations (Athiss, yes, but as my favourite, I don't freaking care to get it every day hahaha)

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