The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

The static Monday night group spent its time in the Fil Gashan instance of LotRO last night.

It was our second run through, this time with a full fellowship, and we had returned to take revenge on the end boss, one Mr Sir Lord General Talug MBE, who had eluded our best attempts to convince him to lie down and stop moving through the persuasive art of weapons and words. Words of power y’know, because we’re not allowed to call it magic.

A lot of fun was had over-pulling groups of orcs and trying to win through against seemingly impossible odds; I think it was probably a draw on group wipes, sometimes we got them, sometimes they got us, either way it was usually a close fought match, although mobs don’t have repair bills at the end of the night, so perhaps they go through to the next round of the Aggro Cup on technical merit.

There’re very few things that I’ve experienced in the game thus far that illicit childlike glee of the level we experienced when pulling the entire kitchen area of orcs all in one go and seeing if we could AoE them down before they overwhelmed the group. Actually the primary challenge was picking out the hobbit tank from the Katamari Damacy ball of greenskins. In fact, the King of All Cosmos would have crapped himself to see the size of that ball, and we’re talking about a being who is accustomed to seeing katamari which include mountains. And stars.

Then we had a few attempts at defeating the boss. We tried our own strategy. Failed. We tried the strategies on the LotRO wiki. Failed. We tried praying to Gods of various religions. Failed. We feigned utter disinterest in defeating the boss at all in the hope that he would spontaneously combust just to spite us. Failed. We climbed up into the rafters and flung ourselves down on him all at once. Failed. We walked nonchalantly past while whistling and then pounced when we thought he wouldn’t be expecting it. Failed. We set up a complex Heath Robinson device constructed from curious components dug out of boxes marked Acme and Explosive and Danger. Failed. We delivered a petition, signed by half a million people on the Internet, politely requesting that he just up and die already. Failed.

It was at this point, with hands resting on bent knees, panting at a floor that was slowly collecting a pool of sweat dripping from our collective brows, that we decided that enough was enough and left, defeated and a little despondent.

The frustrating part is not knowing whether it is our failing or the game’s: some forums seem to indicate that the instance is broken, others that it has been fixed, others still that it was broken, then fixed, and is now broken again; or fixed, they don’t seem entirely sure about it themselves. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere that you can get solid information as to the status of it. We’ve failed other dungeons of this level – the mere mention of Dark Delvings will make some members of our group arch their backs and hiss wildly before clawing their way up a nearby curtain – and so we can’t be entirely confident that the primary reason for our difficulties is that we’re just a bit crap. We’re fairly certain that’s not the case in this instance because in one fight, which lasted what seemed like half an hour, we tried every combination of ‘cute’ mechanic available to us in order to get the boss’s invulnerability shield to drop in order that we could do some damage, or if we couldn’t do the damage ourselves, to apply a damage debuff to him which was alleged to be achievable through said same mechanics. The fight became quite surreal at one point, where before we’d had trouble even surviving into this troublesome second phase of combat, we had now been in the second phase for so long that some of us were taking time-outs to go and read the wiki, or make a list of possible combinations of doing X, Y and Z to see which ones we’d missed out on, a bit like a tag team in American wrestling, only with no chairs and folding tables being slammed into people. Hoom, maybe we should have tried the chairs. Damn.

And, as fickle Fate often chooses to write the epilogue for such adventures, it was, of course, right at the end of that lengthy fight, when the Minstrel was out of power, the Captain was lying dead on the floor, and the whole party teetered on the brink of a wipe, that we activated the mechanic we’d been attempting for an age of man, and the boss quickly moved into the third phase, a relatively simple tank’n’spank routine. At which point he tanked and spanked our exhausted group.

And we have no real idea how we triggered it.

The moral of the story is possibly this: if you’re going to have instances which involve mechanics that require the group to coordinate and dance a merry jig around a boss, you cannot afford to have a history that tells a tale of broken mechanics and impossible-to-beat dungeons, because then players will not know whether it’s the game that is defeating them or a software bug; often with these sorts of mechanics it’s very difficult to tell one from the other, because many boss encounters in dungeons enforce mechanics that break the standard rules (that players learn in the levelling PvE game) in order to make a boss appear more powerful, to make the encounter more memorable, or to create a new and unique challenge for the players to overcome. It’s a fine line to tread, to make things difficult enough that players are challenged by it, but not so difficult that they feel the encounter must be broken; an issue which is magnified a hundred fold if your dungeons are well known for being broken, as evidenced by the shelves of forum threads one can reference in the library of the Internet.

4 thoughts on “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

  1. Docholiday

    FG has always been one of my favorite 6mans due to the possibilities for rediculous pulls which just delight my Warden :) I’ve got a mini friend who’s determined to try and kill me – he hasn’t succeeded yet…

    As for the mechanic, I haven’t tried this dungeon in a long time but do see a number of LFF’s for it but that doesn’t really mean anything like you said. Even when working properly it can be a bit chaotic although it becomes much simpler if you have a fire based RK whose DoTs get through his armor shield.

  2. janderz990

    Just ran FG on my 59 warden last night, so the mechanic is fresh in my mind. Your group needs to have someone tank/interrupt the archer; he’ll root and do a nasty fire DoT. Try to keep him on the central platform so that you don’t have to run far to get the General in a trap. Also stay out of the traps as they will both stun you and keep you from putting the General there.

    In phase 1, when you see a trap have the tank drag the General into it and he will become vulnerable. In phase 2, keep the firefist @ around 3-5K morale until you see a trap put down. Then kill the firefist super-fast (if he’s standing next to the general), dousing everyone in oil. Then drag the General into the trap where he will become vulnerable. Phase 3 is easy (as you know).

    So to recap: keep the archer on the platform, keep the firefist low on morale (but not too low), and coordinate when traps are up/when the fist needs to be killed. Once you learn the timing/parts of this fight, it will be a lot easier and a lot more fun!

    -Jodryt, 65 CAP, Nimrodel

  3. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    FG is a really interesting and frustrating for the reasons you mention: it breaks a lot of rules. This is interesting if you can figure out the rules, or it’s just really frustrating if you don’t know or can’t quite get the “trick” to work right.

    Back before SoM, the “hard mode” wasn’t spelled out for you in a daily quest. It must have been tough for the first people to figure out. And, sometimes, it maybe seemed like luck to figure out what you needed to do.

    Dark Delvings is also frustrating, but mostly because it’s so hard to get through. I’ve only been around to kill the last boss in DD once, and that was mostly due to maybe something that could possibly be seen as an exploit. (*whistle innocently*) Still, my GF’s Warden needs to do her class quest there, and it’s hard to get people excited about doing it….

    Docholiday wrote:
    …although it becomes much simpler if you have a fire based RK whose DoTs get through his armor shield.

    I believe that has changed. It used to be fire damage would go through his shield (including fire oils for Hunters and Wardens), but this is not the case anymore. You definitely do have to lead him into the various traps and effects from his mooks, unfortunately.

  4. Melmoth Post author

    @Docholiday: We did indeed have a fire-based Runekeeper, but alas their attacks didn’t seem to have any effect, either with the shield, or when the boss was covered in oil. Other than the end boss, though, it is a seriously fun instance of insane over-pulling, as you say. A lot of fun!

    @janderz990: It was phase two that we had trouble with, we got the oil on the boss and had him walk into a trap several times, and it seemed that the debuff just didn’t take effect. Perhaps the timing on it is so stringent that we weren’t getting it done quickly enough, but the oil debuff seemed to be on him for a good five seconds from what we could see, and we were sure on more than one occasion that we’d got him into the trap in time. It’s hard to tell though, obviously, hence our not knowing if it was us, or the game. Especially as there seems to be so many mixed views on what you need to do. Thanks very much for your input though, it’s much appreciated, and we may well head back and have another try knowing that the trap method should be used in phase two.

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green: Oh lordy, we haven’t even thought about trying hard mode yet, although to be honest that’s mainly because we went there with the aim of pulling as much of the instance as possible in one go, and sneaking around avoiding sentries sort of worked against this.

    I think we could manage Dark Delvings but it would probably take us a while; I certainly feel sorry for Wardens who have to get past the second and, by all accounts, most difficult boss. Thankfully we just have a Guardian, so only needed to get past the first boss, which was plenty difficult enough at the time.

    Oh the glowing worms! So many glowing worms!

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