GW2: …Join Them (First Thoughts on The Aetherblade Retreat Dungeon)

I give up.

I will bow to the pressure of the cruel design and tell you right now that I cannot be inclusive in the Aetherblade Retreat.

It you are not level 80, you can join (if you’re the only one. Or two. Maybe.) I won’t stop you, but if you’re dying every now and then, I will not stop to rez you. It will just get me killed.

If I get into a group of three or more low levels (as I did on my very first broadcast LFG,) I will quit your team without a word. Good luck recruiting some other guy to be your level 80 patsy.

If you cannot dodge or move around with at least middling competency, you are a detriment to the party. You can still come, because I try not to be a jerk, but be aware that it is nigh impossible to rez at certain sequences in both boss fights. You will have to lie there dead and weighing down the team until we can get to you – which is extra time spent not damaging anything, and increases the likelihood that one of the survivors will slip up and die and the whole team fail as a result.

If your build is specced to have not much group support whatsoever, I will get a little grumpy with you inside. How will I know this? The collective damage I take when in a spawn with the Aetherblade Strikers. That lightning channeled attack is hellish. I am a knight/berserker guardian, I can’t help but soak up a good amount of collective aggro – and I only have so many heals and blocks and dodges and one invulnerable.

Your responsibility, if you don’t want to soak that attention or help to split it up (say with a friendly ranger pet or clone), is to either damage the mobs fast enough that they die before I fall over, or interrupt them when they do that lightning thing – daze them, pull them or whatever, or offer me enough support that I can stay upright through that.

Speaking of rangers and their pets, from my first successful unbugged run... An Anet ranger person's personal opinion. Feedback for the dungeon team, guys!
Speaking of rangers and their pets, from my first successful unbugged run… An Anet ranger person’s personal opinion. Feedback for the dungeon team, guys! (He was great controlling one of the Striker’s lightning damage with his pet too, btw. Saved the team from quite a bit of pain there.)

In some groups, I only drop to half health from the Strikers, in some groups, shit dies so fast I don’t even have to fire renewed focus. In others, I routinely go down before the mobs die – the only gratifying thing is to see how fast people scramble to pick me up, possibly because they don’t want to be the ones soaking that – and I know there will be tough times ahead.

Groups like that make me want to play some other profession or build and see how other people are handling that kind of focused aggro. I may have to figure out a decent warrior damage/support build and gear for dungeons instead.

The good news is that I’ve earned what appears to be 6 gold in a day with four successful runs – with no exotics dropping, just yellow rares and the bags of gold at the end. (Because I have the crappiest luck ever. Some other guy in one of my groups got Magmatron off a random trash mob. 6 gold right there, easy.) So I may be able to get dungeon appropriate gear for my warrior faster than I thought.

I’ve also had two runs where Kiel bugged out. (One of which I was very thankful for because it was a disaster pug – entered when they were stuck at mid boss, thinking to be benevolent and work on my laser dodging practice, had to duo the golems down and one guy quit right after because he had earned his achievement by virtue of dying right before the laser walls came up or something similar – Kiel bugging was a graceful way to bow out before final boss pain.)

And one run full of new people who, credit to them, didn’t give up at the first sign of difficulty, but were doomed to eventually fail as the mesmer claimed they were on a lagging laptop and habitually died at the start of every cannon aoe phase, the other guardian followed right after and the elementalist was iffy. It ended up being a long ass revival attempt between me and the thief after every cannon phase, and eventually ended up with one of us slipping up and going down, followed by the other shortly after.

(I don’t know if we could have duo’ed her down, but to me, it seemed pointless to try and “carry” the majority of the team through like that. Succeed or fail together, y’know? If three or more carry one or two, that’s possibly fine. One or two carrying the rest just makes me grumpy as all get out.)

One good thing about this dungeon is that with the possibility of earning a gold at the end, I am a lot calmer about the prospect of an occasional failed run or multiple wipes.

How much can repairs cost? The worst party cost me 6+ silver before we called it – because other people died a lot more, some of it not their fault because a bug kept spawning them back in the boss room after a failed attempt.

I even tried to gung ho “solo” the final boss fight after the rest left and only figured out that doing it alone was going to be… if not impossible (because nothing ever is), pretty damn difficult because of her propensity to keep pointing and doing the teleport attack on you as the only target, and it only took 5-6 deaths to figure that out, to the tune of maybe 10 silver repairs or so.

One successful run will make back that combined loss with additional profit.

As I said, it helps to be absolutely uninvested and uninterested in the monocle, so there is no overriding obsession to try and do it as quickly and as many times as possible. Something I’m very thankful for this time around. For those who are, well, good luck…

One of the earlier learning attempts. You only have time for typing or hidden interface screenshots when yer dead.
One of the earlier learning attempts. You only have time for typing long sentences or hidden interface screenshots when yer dead.

Some of the achievements are going to be a bit of a challenge. I’m having some worry regarding the laser achievement, though others find it easy enough. I can’t help but wonder how many of those professing it to be easy:

a) have great ping

b) are not the ones attracting the majority of the golem’s aggro, thus slowing them down and running the risk of geting pulled right into a laser

c) are of a profession and specced to do good damage at range

I’m personally finding the low lasers undodgeable. Every time I attempt to dodge through them, I get stunned then hit by the lasers. So I have to jump the crates. And jumping up the crates with two golems on your hiney doing their best to pull you, well, it’s not great chances that you won’t get yanked off then zapped by a laser.

I can generally heal through the low laser damage, but the achievement may be a problem unless I swap characters or figure out some way to drop that crazy toughness induced aggro. All three sets of armor that my asura owns all have toughness on them, dammit. I may simply have to arrange one with the guild where I simply don’t hit a darned thing and just focus on jumping up the crates and running, perhaps. 🙂

The AoE avoidance one, well, that may be a mite tricky as melee. I’m surprisingly calmer about that one though – the repeated death not-great PUG let me experiment with a sceptre/focus and staff combination on some of the later runs and kiting Mai Trin seemed a lot easier that way. I’m going to be testing that out a lot more.

Even if dps drops (and I’m not sure it does, considering how much time I actually get to hit her with a hammer before she squirms off or does so much bleed or damage or a Horrik AoE lands that one has to back off regardless), it might eventually be possible to earn it at least once. AoE avoidance is all about practice, anyway. And one just has to do it once for the achievement.

As for Unfriendly Skies, mwahahahahaha, already got it. My second guild run was utterly gruesome, in a very good way. Two warriors, a mesmer, an engineer and me. The damage output was mind blowing. Fury was nearly always on, and the engineer threw up so much might stacks, that even my mighty blow hammer was hitting for 4k crits. If anything, I was probably the weakest link. I just did my best to hold attention, apply protection, use shouts for condition removal and stability, wall of reflect stuff, and self heal like crazy long enough for the others to unleash hell.

So I can confirm that if you do manage to kill the final bosses within 15 minutes, what will happen is that a Dynamic Event will pop up with about 1:45 minutes on the timer telling you to go get the Aetherblade Cannon that Horrik drops, and you’ll have sufficient time to run across the bridge and interact with the cannon spot on the airship. A little cutscene sequence will appear showing the cannon firing.

cannon1

cannon2

cannon3
Sorry for the not great graphical quality screenshots, but regular readers know how badly my computer sucks. I lower everything to minimal in group situations to avoid being THAT GUY who keeps crashing out.

The interesting thing is,  one of the warriors from that crazy good run had previously had a horrible and unsuccessful pug experience before. So, this dungeon is a bit of a crapshoot. If your group happens to have fantastic group synergy, and can dodge at least decently well (I’m not -that- elitist) it’s a wild ride. If one or two of your team members are below average, it’s going to make things a lot harder.

I don’t know what to say about that. I think eventually selection pressure is going to weed out all those who can’t hack it. Or find it too tough or exhausting or uninteresting to keep learning/practising/improving, having spent most of their time on the ground or dying repeatedly.

I do not know how far the elitism is going to go, and whether it’ll eventually rise to the point where -I- can’t hack it any longer either and start getting kicked out of groups for being fail. (Or having people mysteriously vanish without a word from my groups.)

In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep trying to earn that one gold every dungeon complete until the elitist speedrun fellows take over. Six days last time, wasn’t it?