20/11/2019

Stuck in Hammer Station

At the end of the Esseles, Nautalie the Shadow was level 14, but handing in the introduction to group finder quest ticked her over to 15, which was just as well since I didn't really want to do the Esseles a second time. (Ironic, considering what was to come.) At that point, the Esseles disappeared from her available group finder selection, to be replaced with... Hammer Station and Kuat Drive Yards. I picked up the KDY story quest and queued up for both, hoping to get KDY, just to get...

Hammer Station
I levelled: 15-17


So I should probably mention that my relationship with Hammer Station has really soured over the last few years. I used to think that it was a nice little instance, and to be honest it still is, but it's also somehow turned into the lowest common denominator of flashpoints, in the sense that it's usually the easiest and most popular way to gain whatever rewards are being given out for flashpoint running at any particular point in time.

This led to people targeting it specifically instead of opting to queue for a random, and many have run it over and over again so many times that it's been given the nickname "Spammer Station". While I don't particularly care if other players want to do that, it becomes a problem if those people put themselves in the shared group finder queue, as it means that many others who are queuing for the full variety of flashpoints also get funnelled into Hammer Station over and over.

If low-level characters are now additionally limited in their queuing options, with Hammer Station being one of only a few, I suspect that this problem will only get worse.

Anyway, with all that in mind, I wasn't surprised to be put into a Hammer Station run that was very business-like and quick. With three of us having stealth we ended up skipping even more than usual, only killing the occasional mob that the Guardian in the group couldn't bypass otherwise. As two of our dps were level 75 and one of them in full 306 gear to boot, things also melted pretty quickly. I was very surprised when I somehow managed to pull aggro on one of the trash pulls and died, though others suffered deaths throughout the run as well.

This was mostly because despite of the raw power at our hands, the group seemed terribly inefficient in some ways. The Scoundrel never seemed to bother to throw a heal on anyone but themselves, no matter how low they got, and nobody ever seemed to bother with any sort of survival cooldown before keeling over dead. I had an excuse because I was too low to have any, but they didn't!

Hammer Station
I levelled: 17-19

Level 17 added Athiss to my list of available flashpoints, so with three options to choose from, the randomiser of course threw me into Hammer Station again, this time with another Nautolan one level below me (a Guardian tank), a Sage healer in his fourties and a badly geared level 70 gunslinger.

Fun fact: I remember how that one pull with the two gold droids near the start used to be considered the instance's one real stumbling block, until I saw someone handle it via corner-pulling one day, and over time this knowledge has spread so far and wide that most groups deal with it quite easily these days. Our Nautolan tank didn't know though, so he jumped at the mobs right where they were and it was a mess.

Also, despite of having both a tank and a level 70 damage dealer, it was my lowly level 17 Shadow who ended up pulling aggro a lot of the time, and I didn't seem to be getting a lot of heals either (the healer's choice of spells seemed somewhat erratic to me), leading to me tanking the Tunneler for most of the first boss fight, until I failed to click a kolto station in time and died from lack of healing.


I always love it when that message pops up while I'm still alive on my screen (though I was falling over by the time I managed to hit my screenshot key).

Lest you think that I'm making myself out to be some kind of elite player being dragged down by flailing baddies, I did quite a bit of derping of my own in this run, such as getting knocked to my death on Battlelord Kreshan, something that literally hadn't happened to me in years.

As I respawned in Vorgan the Volcano's room, I did my best to run back quickly. To make matters worse, I then managed to pull one of the Boarder Suppression Droids that we had missed, but instead of attacking me even once it instantly made a beeline for where the rest of the group was fighting. It fell off the bridge in the asteroid tunnel but unfortunately climbed right back out again.


And I was so hopeful when I saw this...

I felt a bit bad bringing an additional gold mob with me but figured it shouldn't cause too much of an issue... easy fight, right? Then I rounded the corner into the final room, just to find the area absolutely swamped with adds and two of my three group mates about to die. I rushed in and started AoEing down the adds, and while the tank and healer died soon after, the boss and all his adds did too. Too bad the gold droid was still there and killed me right after. Unfortunately the level 75 gunslinger had little interest in helping to kill it and ran over to loot and click the console instead. This resulted in the droid killing her too once I was gone, but hey, at least she got that loot, right?

For me, things weren't over yet though, since releasing put us all back at the very start of the instance and I still wanted my tech fragments, so I started running back towards the boss room. So did the tank, who was running a bit behind me. Unfortunately I then managed to aggro another droid we had skipped. The tank caught up and tried to help, but couldn't keep aggro off me yet again, so that I died just before the droid did. "Oh well," I thought, "at least he can revive me and we can move on!" Nope, he ran right past my body and I had to release and go back to the start a second time. At least the boss's corpse and my loot were still there when I finally reached him.

Athiss
I levelled: 19-21

Yes, something other than Hammer Station! Unfortunately it was another weird run. This time I got teamed with a level 75 Guardian, a level 75 Gunslinger, and a level 73 Commando (all dps), so I thought it should be smooth sailing. However, the Commando shot off like a bat out of hell and kept pulling things so fast that nobody had a chance to regain health between combat encounters. In fact, he himself was often at less than half health when he pulled, but he kept rotating cooldowns and somehow managed to stay alive.

One of the other dps asked him to slow down please but this request was ignored, and things came to a head in Professor Ley'arsha's room, where he climbed up the ledge on the side for the shortcut that I've occasionally seen people use but that isn't particularly popular from my experience since it takes most people longer to get up there than it would take to simply kill the two trash groups that it allows you to skip.


Stuck on the wrong side of those droids... (I'm only posting this cause you can't make out the Commando's name in it).

Worse though, he jumped right down at the end without even checking whether anyone was following him and pulled the boss all on his own. Despite of my long history of failing at jumping shortcuts, I somehow managed to scramble up the ledge to follow him, but the other two dps decided to start pulling the remaining trash instead while the Commando was trying to solo the boss, and unsurprisingly we wiped soon after.

The Commando actually had the gall to start WTF-ing at people and asked why they were pulling unnecessary trash, which resulted in one of the other dps initiating a vote to kick the Commando with the reason "he's being a dick". I can't say I disagreed with the sentiment, but since I loathe kicking I abstained and instead told the Commando that most people can't even make the jump on that ledge. He didn't seem to think much of that, but the vote to kick didn't go through and we suffered no more deaths throughout the rest of the run, though he kept pulling more or less just as recklessly.

Hammer Station
I levelled: 21-23

When I saw the pop for this group I noted that aside from a level 75 tank it also included two other lowbies that were level 22 and 24 respectively. Still, they were all higher than me and Mandalorian Raiders had just been added to my selection, so maybe I'd finally get to do something other than Hammer Station? Nah, that would be silly.

The level 22 charged into the first pull all on his own and while I made it in time to help him kill things, the level 75 tank quit instantly. Then again, I'm not sure if his quitting was actually related to anything we were doing; for all I know he just might've been as thoroughly sick of Hammer Station as I was. Anyway, he was instantly replaced by another level 75 Guardian. In fact, this happened so quickly that the Commando later expressed surprise at our lack of a tank, presumably because he remembered seeing the tank icon on the pop-up window but hadn't noticed the switcheroo.

The level 22 dps Guardian kept running ahead and making more pulls on his own and died a few more times from this. We also wiped on "that pull" even though the corner pull was done correctly, but I think the Commando was lagging behind and with only the three of us we died.

On the Tunneler droid the level 75 Guardian tanked at first, died to the first laser and then complained about other people not clicking the kolto stations to heal him. I took over tanking and lived for longer (taking care of my own health as much as possible), however eventually I died as well since someone else had clicked the third kolto station when it wasn't needed, which meant that it wasn't available when I needed it. The boss died with the Commando being the last man standing.

After that things seemed to get better until we wiped on the two champion turrets before the bridge. I don't know if the Commando couldn't find his CC or if someone had broken it, but we just took too much damage and couldn't do enough ourselves. On the second round I did what little I could with Force stun and lift to keep the second turret off our backs at least for a little while, and to be fair the others also did what they could, with the Guardians swapping aggro and the Commando throwing out some heals.

Finally we suffered two more deaths on the last boss (this time it was someone else who got thrown off the edge) but we got him down on the first try at least.

I have to admit that this is turning out to be less fun than I expected so far. At this stage in my "experiment" four years ago I had already run four different flashpoints and was six levels higher. Being limited to four flashpoints is no fun, and even less so when Hammer Station is the only one of them that actually pops.

Also, no offense to anyone in particular that was in those runs, but I kind of feel like I'm stuck in the absolute dregs of the group finder right now, with people playing incredibly badly at times, failing to use any of their abilities and/or showing zero regard for the rest of the group because blind zerging is all they know and care about. I can only hope that it gets better soon or this diary is going to be very boring (and unhappy).

9 comments :

  1. I have a feeling that Hammer Station be the primary FP for a long time. :/ I almost wish they would split those that just want Hammer Station into their own group and let the rest of us see more flashpoints. I suspect, though, that we'd be waiting a lot longer for a flashpoint to pop. Ah, well.

    It was always funny, to me, in the beginning that Swtor tanks would setup big CC chains for pulls, but would never LoS pull mobs. I mean, I enjoyed seeing people use CC instead of the rush, rush, rush mentality, but there's a place for using multiple methods. It is nice to see more folks using different methods now.

    I still see people not understanding how the Kolto stations work. I know I didn't realize for awhile that you shouldn't click on it unless you were really hurting. I thought the station healed everyone equally. I suspect many still do, or just don't care about wasting the big heal part of it.

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    1. I guess I'm just shocked by how bad it's gotten. When I did this back in 2015, queuing for nothing but randoms, I got Hammer Station only three times while levelling up, which was on par with other flashpoints. When I levelled Pugette in 2017 I got three Hammer Stations in my first six runs before I started unticking some boxes, but I thought that was just bad luck at the time. Now I'm up to six runs and five of them have been Hammers...

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    2. Hmm. I wonder what the queue time would be if Hammer Station was unchecked in the selection window? I may have to try that. I know I wouldn't get the random FP daily rewards, but I could always include Hammer Station for those and then unselect it to save my sanity. :)

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    3. I don't think unticking just Hammer Station would have a significant effect on queue times (and I may soon decide to go down that route myself if this keeps up). I refuse to believe that it's actually a majority that only wants to run Hammer Station - after all it only takes one of them to throw three random queuers into HS too.

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  2. I don't even know most of these flashpoints but I enjoyed reading this a lot. I also enjoyed your pugging videos, you have a very entertaining way of narrating these otherwise mundane runs. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you like these stories! There'll definitely be more to come.

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  3. Be careful what you wish for. Mandalorian Raiders with lowbies will be a long evening. Also I think the good players at this stage have 306 and are done with Hammer Station, so you're getting the remainder.

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    1. Considering the level spread I've seen so far, I think the odds of getting a full lowbie group are pretty low. But yeah, I know everybody loves those dogs. :P I'd still rather spend time on that than deal with the tedium of endless Hammer Stations.

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  4. Ohhhh I agree with you. We really do get the people who are new or just not skilled running HS. I enjoy HS, I always have but as you say over and over with lower level players who do not know the nuances of the FP and just pull everything is tiresome. I also enjoy helping and teaching them but there is only so many times in a day you can do that without it becoming a chore. I don't check it after a while and it pops with 1 of the others soon enough. Just when we get nathema I drop out as it really needs to be done with guildies. All in all 1 or 2 HS a day with new players is fine, any more that is not.

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