02/01/2020

Hammer Station No More

Let's ring in the new year with an update on my Nautolan Shadow's progress levelling through flashpoints.

Hammer Sta... Kuat Drive Yards!
I levelled: 38-40

As it was the start of a new week I queued for the full selection of available flashpoints once again, expecting to be thrown into Hammer Station for this transgression (when the queue popped I could see that we had a level 17 in the group so it couldn't have been anything other than that, Kuat or Athiss), but I got Kuat again! Yay!

In this one I was actually the highest level, grouped with two Sentinels and another Shadow below me. The Shadow was the lowest level and admitted that it was her first time in a flashpoint of any kind. Poor thing got lost at the very beginning as she couldn't even find the elevator but I showed her the way.

We got the Starship Assembly first and things went well enough, except for one or two deaths, which I consider fairly normal in a low-level group with no healer. But one of the Sentinels clearly wasn't happy, as (from what I could tell) he started swearing in Polish after dying once. Then he jumped into another big pull all on his own while the rest of the group was still low on health from the previous fight, died shortly thereafter and finally quit the group.

I re-queued us for a replacement unfazed and tried to actually do the puzzle properly since neither of the two lowbies seemed to know what to do and were therefore unlikely to interfere, but I messed it up and picked the wrong options anyway. D'oh! A level 75 Shadow joined the group just as we finished the section.

The second part was the hangar, and I'm happy to say that for once we completed all the bonuses in that one!

The final boss was Lieutenant Krupp again. I explained what to do and everyone executed things perfectly so that we got him down on the first try. Afterwards I stayed grouped with the newbie Shadow for a bit longer and she told me that she played other MMOs but had only just got started on SWTOR. She also said that she'd had fun in the flashpoint and added me as a friend. Warm fuzzies all around!

Hammer Sta... Taral V!
I levelled: 40-42

My initial enthusiasm for these runs diminished a lot after the first week, which made me log in to work on this project more infrequently, but being ill for a few days caused me to take a break for a full week, so that I soon found myself with the weekly quest yet again. Again I braved the full random selection and did not get Hammer Station - instead I found myself getting sent to Taral V, which was handy as I had the story quest for it too.


Taral V is one of those places where I always struggle with the majority's desire to skip as much as possible, but this time around I decided to take it easy and go with the flow. The other dps was a Nautolan Sage, and we had a level 75 tank and healer, so I let the tank lead us past most trash and bonus objectives, just doing their thing. The only skip that stung a bit was Doctor Zharan, whom I consider a very fun boss and I always expect him to drop loot (though I later verified that he doesn't), but I didn't say anything either way. At least with full restedness I still gained two levels despite all the skips.

Ha... Mandalorian Raiders
I levelled: 42-43

Third time in a row that I queued for everything and didn't get Hammer Station! Is the madness finally over? Even better, I got another flashpoint that Nautalie hadn't done yet.

This was another all-dps group, consisting of me, a level 75 Guardian and Commando, and a level 41 Sage. Contrary to expectations, the 75s didn't seem entirely sure what to do and were initially very hesitant to make the pulls, despite of it being the most sensible thing for them to do considering our level distribution. The Commando also ran off into completely the wrong direction (which is to say backwards) after we took the shortcut involving the elevator. Meanwhile the Sage seemed to be the one person who knew what they were doing... never judge your pugs by their level!

The first boss was the usual crazy mess (though nobody died) and it was once again mostly down to me to click kolto stations. I'm coming to appreciate that it really is an art, knowing when to click these, in particular that you need to start thinking about doing it before you're almost dead.


The Boarding Party was interesting in so far as I swear that I've killed its members in the same order pretty much since the dawn of time (warrior, inquisitor, then agent and bounty hunter more or less simultaneously), but as usual pugs are great at providing new experiences. I didn't actually know what would happen if you changed the order... as it was, the group actually left Rotham for last and he promptly one-shot the Sage with a Force choke from hell the moment all his friends were dead. Good thing I had been hitting him at least, so he didn't have that much health left.

Considering how it had been going I made sure to highlight the rule not to attack the final boss while turrets are up, and fortunately everyone was compliant in that regard so that we downed Mavrix Varad himself with no problems.

Ha... Cademimu
I levelled: 43-45

This was a run with three level 75s, two Sentinels and a healing Sage. Considering that, it was still harder than expected. The Sage was one of those odd healers where I'm never quite sure what they are doing, because he was obviously healing specced and I could see him cast healing spells, but somehow we were still all on half health even on the most mundane of pulls. On two of the bosses I had to click a kolto station because I was about to die from a complete lack of any incoming heals, just to get yanked away from it right afterwards by the very same Sage as if I he as annoyed at me daring to keep myself alive. Very odd.

I learned two new trash-skipping tricks, both of which failed and generally (as these things so often are) seemed way more hassle than simple killing the mobs we were trying to bypass. But I guess it's still interesting to know to what lengths people will go to in places to avoid killing one more mob.

Finally, on the last boss the healer died to rocket fire and then tried to tell us what to do while lying dead on the floor. One of the Sentinels died as well, but me and the other Sent finished the boss off just fine with just the two of us. It was just one of those groups that kind of grated on me despite of nothing going terribly wrong - I just didn't really like the juxtaposition of the dps being in a hurry and wanting to skip everything with a healer who came across as having a pretty high opinion of himself while doing very little healing.

Ha... Kuat Drive Yards again
I levelled: 45-46

And fifth time in a row that I didn't get Hammer Station! Though it was Kuat again, but then I'm not really tired of that one yet. This run was already in progress and halfway through the Starship Assembly when I joined. It didn't look to me like they were going for any of the bonuses, but when I saw the elite defender just sitting in a corner I asked whether we should kill it, and while I got no verbal reply someone else immediately charged it, so yay for communication I guess? As there was some dithering about the actual starship assembly I started to wonder whether they were actually trying to solve it, but the prototype turned out to be a failure as usual.

The second half was the prison wing, which we also blasted through in short order. This time the elite defender just kind of sat in the way of one of our objectives anyway, so I didn't even ask before charging it. I was happy to get all three bonus missions done for once!

We finished up with Lord Modo and I defaulted to clicking the kolto stations again, but this time it was more out of habit than due to a feeling that we were all going to die if I wasn't looking after our health. I haven't mentioned it yet, but this party also consisted of three level 75 damage dealers (two geared, one not) but for once the effect was actually as expected, which is to say that everything melted in short order.

I'm up to having nine flashpoints unlocked and not far off unlocking more at this point, so hopefully I'll be able to keep queuing for a random without being put into Hammer Station all the time anymore. It's certainly more fun to see some variety.

5 comments :

  1. Hammer Station: still a better love story than Twilight. ;-)

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  2. Other than the experiment itself, what are the rewards like for queuing like this? It makes me think of FFXIV's many ways of pushing people into re-doing earlier dungeons, do you have any idea if dungeon pugging is very popular in SWTOR (from community chat or otherwise)?

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    1. It doesn't require pugging in specific (you can go in with friends too) but in general running flashpoints is very popular right now as it's one of the most rewarding activities at endgame when it comes to getting gear. You get some of the endgame currency doing them as a leveller too. Plus it tends to be good for gaining Conquest points.

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  3. You know, these days I got a pug group in Mando raiders. I was the highest level, past 70 and we had other 3 one being a 45 vanguard tank... And two fresh pugs who had never been there before. So we get to the last boss and he insists we should keep hitting the boss until he jumped to the next plataform and only then kill the turrets and I'm like NO TERRIBLE IDEA but it seems they believed him and I just kept on smashing through the turrets and clicking kolto until the end.
    I just wonder where he got that idea from. He had been super friendly and helpful to them up to then, so I don't think it was trolling... But, really, it made it all unnecessarily painful.

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately you helping them muddle through by taking responsibility for the turrets and the kolto stations may well have confirmed in that Vanguard's mind that his strategy clearly works!

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