09/02/2020

Finding My Fun

I won't lie: For a while there, I wasn't having the best of times with this whole flashpoint levelling thing. I'm not someone to keep engaging in in-game activities that I don't enjoy, but after my initial enthusiasm had worn off, I only really kept going because of my interest in the project as a whole, with the moment-to-moment experience of being put into Hammer Station over and over again not being the height of fun to me.

This has changed dramatically since I unlocked more flashpoints and decided to take charge of my little Shadow's fate by simply unticking all the ones that I didn't want to deal with anymore.


Korriban Incursion
I levelled: 58-58

While I was pleased to see this flashpoint pop, especially as I also had the Forged Alliances story quest that required me to run it, this was the first run Nautalie completed that didn't level her up even once, and it wasn't a close thing either. I suppose it didn't help that I'd run out of restedness for the first time in a while, but still. I suspect those last 17 levels are going to feel quite long.

Funnily enough the group composition was the exact same one as in the Battle of Ilum from the day before: a Vanguard tank and three Shadows. Why is it that everyone always complains when Mandos/Mercs are even a little bit "flavour of the month" but one of the Jedi or Sith classes filling 75% of all group finder slots barely raises an eyebrow? People are hugely biased in favour of Force users I say.

Anyway, with three stealthers we did a whole bunch of trash skipping again, though Korriban Incursion doesn't really have that much optional trash to begin with. On the bit with the four overseers, I figured that since we were doing well we could split up to get things done faster, but was then surprised to find - after soloing two of them - that the rest of the group had stuck together and only just killed the third one with the three of them. (Gosh, I'm so awesome etc.)

On the last boss I saw Nautalie's first ever shared endgame drop, a tactical item for Vanguard tanks. One of my eyes may have twitched a little when I saw one of the other Shadows roll need on it, but fortunately the Vanguard won the roll anyway.

Battle of Ilum
I levelled: 58-59

This was my third Battle of Ilum in four runs... could this be the level 50+ version of Hammer Station? Though as commenter Diana pointed out in a comment on my last post in this series, pops can also be driven by Conquest events, and it was Relics of the Gree that week, which included running BoI as one of its objectives.

Our group composition consisted once again of three Jedi damage dealers and a Vanguard tank, though one of the dps was a Sentinel this time. Also, I recognised the Vanguard's name from my last run... yay for same-server group finders!

At the very beginning, one of the dps tried to climb out of the trench instead of taking the speeder and died. I asked if it was their first time and they said no, they'd only confused the flashpoint for False Emperor. I'm not sure how that explained anything...

We did a moderate amount of trash skipping again (though also again, not as much as we could have done with two stealthers) and killed all the bosses. Also, someone put a star marker over my head for some reason.

Completing the flashpoint also completed Nautalie's very first Conquest, what with BoI having been an objective that week.


Red Reaper
I levelled: 59-60

Another one Nautalie hadn't done before! Red Reaper is one of those flashpoints that can be super smooth and fast, especially if you have a stealther, but there is also lots of potential for things to go wrong.

There was no better demonstration of this duality than this all-dps pug, where a clearly experienced level 75 Gunslinger took the lead and tried to coax us past trash we could skip and made sure to round up otherwise annoying pulls in the most efficient manner, while our level 75 Guardian was the very incarnation of a bumbling oaf, stumbling right into every mob the rest of the group had carefully avoided.

To her credit, the Gunslinger didn't have a go at him beyond a single "oh, come on!" in party chat, but at some point she seemed to make the decision to simply not care about our clumsy laggard anymore, so when the Guardian got so confused that he got himself stuck behind some crates she and the third group member, a level 40 Commando, simply moved on.

I felt bad for the guy though, and after he'd died by aggroing yet another bunch of mobs, I revived him and slowly tried to guide him back to the others. I thought we were back in business once we reached the Eradicator droid, but once again the Guardian managed to run off and pull the nearby turrets instead. We ended up fighting them with the two of us while the other two actually killed the boss. At that point the Gunslinger decided that she'd had enough and left.

We queued for a replacement and got another, slightly lower-level Gunslinger with whom we finished the rest of the flashpoint just fine, even if the last boss took a while as several people didn't seem to know the mechanics, meaning that it took some time to get Darth Ikoral to zap his chosen Sith.

Depths of Manaan
I levelled: 60-61

At the start of a new (in-game) week, I re-ticked everything for that random bonus, braced myself for Hammer Station... and got another flashpoint I hadn't done yet, Depths of Manaan - yay! I was grouped with three level 75s, two of them dps, one a tank. All of us were melee Jedi.

They were quiet except for a brief "hi" at the start of the run, but everything went very smoothly, with people executing tactics correctly, clicking kolto stations when needed and so on. Happy days!

False Emperor
I levelled: 61-62

Not wanting to push my luck, I limited my selection for this evening to only seven of the higher level flashpoints that I actually felt like doing that night. My queue time wasn't affected and I got into a False Emperor run almost immediately.

The group composition was similar to the run I had before that, with three other saber-swinging Jedi, one of whom was a tank and the others dps. One of them was also a female Nautolan Shadow who was only two levels below me, which tickled my fancy.

And it was another beautiful run! The only small stain marring the perfection was that I was the only one who cared about the minor bonus and since I missed a console at the start we failed to complete it. We did do the bonus boss however, and the group was generally rolling along in a highly fun way. Even Jindo Krey with his perpetually bugged turrets posed no challenge to us as we managed to interrupt nearly every one of his casts so that he barely had a chance to do any damage.


Blood Hunt
I levelled: 62-63

Encouraged by my last run, I took False Emperor off the list too so that I was only queuing for the six highest level flashpoints that I hadn't done yet. Again I didn't have to wait long and got into Blood Hunt! I never thought that I'd feel delighted to end up there, but I genuinely was. The rest of the group seemed in surprisingly good spirits as well, with one guy leading with: "Hoping for a nice and quick run!"

For the first time in a while (for me), we even had a healer too. I'd almost forgotten how nice it was to have someone watching your health and not having to worry about dying all the time. Since we didn't have a proper tank, I did my best to taunt things off her whenever she got aggro on anything.

Once again, everything went smoothly, even Jos and Valk (mostly thanks to the healer). After having done this flashpoint a few times since 6.0, I have to say that I'm not sure they're the hardest fight in there anymore - it feels to me like Torch actually hurts more now.

Anyway...

We'll see if it holds up, but I'm definitely getting the impression that with the rewards for queuing for the full random selection being pretty meaningless these days, there's a certain self-selection going on inside the group finder population. There definitely seems to be a number of people who don't necessarily care much for flashpoints and just want to do the easiest ones as quickly and with as little fuss as possible to maximise their gear drops per hour or however these things are measured these days.

However, this doesn't match my own approach to flashpoints at all. Sure, every now and then a quick and easy Hammer Station can feel like a treat, but repeating the same flashpoint multiple times gets boring to me really quickly. I'd rather face more of a challenge, be slowed down and maybe wipe a couple of times for the sake of variety, as well as killing extra mobs for bonuses and such.

Ironically though, queuing with a preference for the longer/harder flashpoints has only resulted in increased enjoyment and smoother runs for me so far, maybe because people with similar preferences are more likely to know their stuff and also queue for the higher-level flashpoints with confidence. It'll be interesting to tally up the numbers for comparison once Nautalie hits 75.

3 comments :

  1. I started a new Merc last night just because I was bored, and did my first ever queue for Veteran Black Talon. It took a while to pop, and the first time someone actually declined... But it was pretty interesting. It's been ages since I did BT with a group, and since we were all such low levels the bosses were actually quite tough. I ended up face-tanking a couple of them as our group was 2 mercs, a healing operative, and a sorc. I didn't win a single roll for the isotope stabilizer things (blue crafting mats). Not one. I hate that they're required for just about every Onslaught recipe and are so RNG.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, Esseles and Black Talon VM are harder now than they've been in years, due to 6.0 scaling them up to 70 when previously they scaled you down to 15. Personally I've been finding the difficulty quite fun though.

      I used to think that the blue isotope things were plentiful... then I actually started crafting some things and went through my stack of over 1000 within days.

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  2. I used to think that the blue isotope things were plentiful... then I actually started crafting some things and went through my stack of over 1000 within days.

    Yep, I think it's absurd that they're required for ALL Onslaught schematics. I just found out that you can actually get them from doing solo flashpoints now, sot it isn't quite as egregious, but that's still a bit over-demanding for basic crafting IMO.

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