Newbies in the Lowbie Dungeons

I spent most of the holiday weekend queuing for lowbie dungeons with my new collection of lowbie Defiants.

I’ve realized that I don’t like tanking with a warrior … dealing with the builder/finisher mechanic interferes with focusing on the tanking. Maybe I just need to forget about finishers. Anyway I generally prefer the cleric tank, where you don’t have to really do anything but spam the AoE attack. (I say that knowing full well that you almost never see cleric tanks in raids or expert dungeons. I wouldn’t ever want to be a raid tank anyway.)

Having done RotF and IT now with four different characters in many different roles, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern with the people you see in these first dungeons: A lot of them don’t know what they’re doing. :) This is contrary to what I would have expected, which is that everyone knows these dungeons by heart and speed runs through them.

I assume this is because the game just went f2p and a lot of new people are seeing these places for the first time. These are the DPS mages rolling with their rock pet, the tank warriors rolling with two-handed swords and cat, the DPS warriors rolling with sword and board, and the DPS rogues stealthing around and sapping trash mobs. Worth a chuckle, but harmless. Mostly they just haven’t learned you can setup multiple roles.

But there is another class of people who are just dicking around without the slightest interest in learning to play. Usually it’s a group of them that queued together. They spend most of the dungeon quipping back and forth in all caps and trying to be funny (I guess?) instead of paying any attention to what’s going on. The rest of the party has to carry them through so that their mistakes don’t waste everyone’s time too much. But occasionally their antics ends up wiping the party even in someplace as easy as Realm of the Fae, and then they get all bent out of shape and someone ends up leaving or getting kicked, and I have to put a bunch of names on my ignore list.

Rift Is Too Easy

Since there are a lot of new people flooding into Rift, there have been complaints on the forums from the usual suspects about how easy it is to level. I can confirm that yes, it’s really easy to get from 1 to 50, and it’s now easier than ever. It used to be harder, but even back when it was hard, it was still pretty easy for a veteran gamer to get to 50. If the last MMO you played was EQ1 or vanilla WoW, you’re not going to be challenged. But if you’re coming from almost any other modern MMO, it’s about the same.

Unfortunately sales numbers don’t lie – the majority of people like leveling to be easy. MMOs – and in fact, most games in general – have grown in popularity because they are getting easier. Most MMO players seem to want immersion, costumes, collecting, and achievements. And houses, for some reason. (Raiders and PKs, the so-called elitist jerks of MMOs, don’t want any leveling process – they just want to go straight to the end game.) So the people who want leveling to be difficult like it was in the old days are out of luck. (Personally I think Rift compensates by providing a lot of different leveling paths, and a lot of different soul combinations to play with.)

You might think (and people certainly post about it) that a difficult MMO would be wildly popular if someone would just make one, but sadly, people do make hard MMOs, and they are not popular (Darkfall and Mortal Online are two). They only attract one kind of gamer – the hardcore kind, who don’t so much want to play a game as they want to dominate and destroy.

On the bright side, leveling from 50-60 in the Rift expansion areas is considerably more difficult, although it’s still not super difficult. The hardest part is probably from 50-52 when you are still collecting Storm Legion-appropriate gear. You might get facerolled when you make that initial jump from Ember Isle to Pelladane or Cape Jule. And god help you if you go directly from Stillmoor into Storm Legion. (I don’t know what that experience is like because all of my 50s were adequately geared before SL came out.) But after you get acclimated and setup with a good build it’s just a matter of cranking through the quests until you get to 60. (It took me perhaps two weeks of casual playing to get from 50 to 60 on my mage, using a very durable Harbinger/Chloro build.)

They say the Storm Legion normal dungeons are a lot harder than the old world normal dungeons, but I haven’t had a chance to observe that yet. I’ve only experienced the SL Expert dungeons, and in those I have definitely seen more wipes than I ever did in the old world experts. I would say 1/3 of all the groups I played in wiped and couldn’t finish the run. I personally didn’t find them excessively hard – after you learn the correct dance steps to succeed.

Newbie Guide to Dungeons

I am writing this newbie guide because there are a surprising number of people who go into the first couple of normal Rift dungeons without knowing these basics. Perhaps they have never played Rift before, or they have never played an MMO before, or they have never played in a group before.

– Do remember that playing in a group requires different skills than soloing.
– Do avoid using tank pets because they interfere with the actual tank.

– Do verify that the party is ready before tackling monsters and especially bosses.
– Do turn bosses away from the party, so that the big frontal attacks don’t hit them.
– Do be aware of any boss mechanics that might kill you.
– Do move bosses out of AoE effects, especially if there are melee DPS with you.
– Do Not let monsters kill the healer.

– Do heal the tank first, and then the rest of the party.
– Do ask the support player for extra healing if necessary.
– Do cleanse poisons, curses, etc. from the tank and the party.
– Do resurrect DPS who die in combat – highest DPS first. (If the tank dies, the group will probably wipe anyway.)
– Do be aware of any boss mechanics that might kill you.
– Do tank if the tank dies. :)

– Do wait for the tank to establish threat before attacking.
– Do run toward the tank if you accidentally get aggro.
– Do interrupt boss casting when possible.
– Do be aware of boss mechanics and avoid taking unnecessary damage so the healer can concentrate on the tank.
– Do Not use any pushback abilities.
– Do Not pull aggro from the tank by doing too much damage. (Usually this is only a problem if you out-level or out-gear the tank by a lot.)

– Do be prepared to go full DPS, especially in expert dungeons. (See above.)
– Do provide group healing if the healer asks, gets in trouble, or dies.
– Do cast buffs and debuffs as appropriate.
– Do resurrect if the healer can’t.
– Do DPS when you have nothing else to do.

Newbie Tanking Iron Tombs (Normal)

Again, it is hard to mess up Iron Tombs on Normal. My Bahmi warrior uses a Reaver/Paladin build, with more points into damage abilities than armor/endurance abilities for better threat. I also now have a Cleric that I tank with, for which I use the standard tank preset.

When you start, first determine if people need the quests. If they don’t, you can skip a lot of side stuff.

The trash mobs are straightforward all throughout. Run to the mobs and hit your AoE builders. That’s basically all there is to it. Occasionally a mob will run off toward the healer or a DPS, but not as often as in RotF. Use your lure abilities to grab them back. Pull casters to you with the Warlord Sergeant’s Order ability if you have it.

Caor Ashstone: Turn him away from the party. That’s it. He puts a curse on the tank, which the healer may or may not cleanse.

Three Kings: Turn each one away from the party. The last one, Laric, casts a heal called Unholy Mending which you should interrupt if you have that ability. After you kill each one individually, all three come back and attack at once. Use your AoE to grab them and turn them away from the party. The party should kill Laric first because of his heal (the one on the left as you come down the stairs). But it’s not a big deal if they don’t.

If you have the quest, after you kill the Three Kings, run around and grab Spectral Screamers with the Spectral Lure and drag them back to the platform. Then click on the lever to finish the quest.

If you have the quest, you’ll need to destroy the Death Shards. These are *by far* the hardest things in the dungeon. After you kill the floating ghosts protecting the shard, and you start on the shard itself, tons and tons of mobs will spawn and swarm you and the party. If you’re not careful, they will wipe you pretty easily. The safest way to deal with them is to stop attacking the shard and deal with each wave as they arrive. Otherwise you will have to tank them all at once. Hit your AoE builder, and if you have one, hit your AoE lure ability too. They will stun you often, so it will not be easy. Keep doing that and hopefully the rest of the party will kill them all before you die. (If nobody needs the quest, just skip them.)

You’ll get to a room with a bunch of orbs on pedastals. Run in and gather up as many shades as you can and run to one of the orbs. It will light up and do AoE damage to the shades so they die quickly. If you need the quests, you’ll have to clear the whole room so you can get to the corners of the room on the sides. Otherwise, you can just clear a path straight through.

Ragnoth: Turn him away from the party. When Elliam’s Ghost shows up, run to stand in the light, then run back to Ragnoth. But a lot of times the party will kill him before you need to run to the light. That’s the end of the dungeon. You can wait for Elliam to open the portal back or just use the Leave Dungeon menu.

Rift Mage Maxed Out

Hrm. Over the weekend I started to realize that Rift is actually not as much fun as I thought. My mage is 60 and has a bunch of expert dungeon gear, so the only way left to advance that character is raiding with the guild, but the thought of setting up ventrillo and signing up for schedules and all that crap is not very appealing. Even the expert dungeons are kind of painful. It takes so long to get into a dungeon queue as DPS that by the time it pops, I have no interest in playing anymore. I only got into two dungeons. One was Storm Breaker Protocol, and everyone left before the first boss because nobody likes that dungeon. The second was the Tower of something or another, which I’ve only done once before, and I was so irritated at having to navigate those stupid jump pads at the beginning that I just left. (They wouldn’t have had trouble getting another DPS.) While waiting for queues, the only meaningful thing to do is Zone Events, and those happen infrequently in the 60 zones. Other than that, all I can do is quest in the Dendrome, which provides no real rewards for my character. Most of the time, I get bored long before the queue pops and switch to another character.

So I spent most of my time leveling my dwarf warrior to level 53. I spent a little time playing my Bahmi tank, but tanking RotF is not very fun, and I didn’t feel like tackling Iron Tombs. I did a lot of Instant Adventures, but I don’t see why people like them more than questing. They get repetitive very quickly.

Stranger Guildies

It was a light, ordinary evening in Rift. I did a blissfully un-dramatic random expert SL dungeon (Archive of Flesh) with a good tank/healer duo and ended up with a nice purple mage dagger at the end, which is probably the best I will ever see until or unless I start raiding.

So I’m in this guild, right? But it’s one of those guilds that basically takes anyone, no-questions-asked, so it’s got thousands of random people in it, so I see a lot of fellow guildies out in the wild even though I don’t know any of them. It makes it somewhat awkward. Sometimes I’m grouped with a guildie in a dungeon but I don’t know if I’m supposed to say anything or not. Like, “Hey guildie who is a complete stranger that I’ve never seen before, what’s up?” Am I supposed to greet them? I usually opt for silence when in doubt.

I spent some time last night working on optimizing my Pyromancer rotation. I could read a guide – and I have – but it sticks in my head better if I work things out on my own. I added a separate key just for Fireballs when Extinguish procs so I don’t waste them (my spam macro throws Flamebolts before Fireballs). Then I did something I should have done long ago: Setup KaruulAlert.

I only use three Addons for Rift: One is a damage meter of course, and the second is the King Boss Mod which everyone used to expect you to have for raiding.

The third is this thing called KaruulAlert, which is a very complicated Addon to setup and use, but I’m starting to fall in love with it. It appeals to my programmer nature. It lets you setup “alerts” that trigger when your abilities are ready, buffs are expiring, or just about anything else you can think of. The “alert” is just a picture or text that shows up on the screen to notify you. The idea is get a reminder to tell you when to hit certain abilities so you can maximize your effectiveness.

No, it’s not cheating. Shut up.

For example, I setup one to alert me when my Charge is over 100, so I know when to trigger the Internalize Charge ability, which increases damage. Previously, I had to glance up at my charge meter periodically, and most of the time, I forgot to do that. I setup another alert to tell me when I have 5 stacks of Combust on the target, so I know when it’s safe to use Fusillade. And I setup alerts for when a bunch of abilities come off of cooldown.

(Incidentally, I just noticed last night that Heatwave resets all your cooldowns. Doh! Now I need to remember never to trigger Heatwave without hitting Fusillade first, because then I can throw two Fusillades almost back to back. Fusillade-Heatwave-Fusillade. Big damage there. Other than that nifty trick, it doesn’t look like Heatwave is nearly as effective as it used to be.) I tried out the Silverwood/Freemarch Invasion event thingy. I mentored my 60 down to 14 and went to Silverwood for a couple of invasions. It brought back memories of beta and launch. Ah, those were the good old days, when there were invasions all the time and nobody knew what they were doing. This event is clearly a ploy by Trion to populate lowbie areas and get us high-levels to interact more with F2P players, but it was still kind of fun. I don’t understand the gift boxes though. I can only assume there’s some kind of achievement to be gained by throwing gifts at NPCs.

I’m glad to see that they now nerf high-level people in low-level zones so they can’t one-shot the event bosses and ruin everyone’s fun like they used to. Still, I once saw a 50+ run in to tank an event boss that was scattering people left and right in Freemarch a while back. He may not have been doing any damage, but he was sure generating plenty of threat. (I know this because I was on my lowbie tank at the time and kept getting swatted like a fly because nobody was healing.)

Healer Meltdown

I did one random expert 60 last night with my mage and got into Golem Foundry, which is one I know fairly well now (thanks to many previous PUG wipes). Everything went fine until the tank accidentally needed on a green dimension item before the last boss (the aptly-named Manslaughter) and for some reason the healer had a complete meltdown about it. None of us even noticed (including the tank) but the healer took it as a personal insult or something and we had to kick him because he stopped healing the tank. (I should point out that the tank *said* it was an accident – maybe he was secretly plotting and maneuvering to get that green dimension item all along – though I highly doubt it, since he offered to give it to the healer – who refused.) So there’s another one for the ol’ ignore list.

It took a good ten minutes to get a replacement healer, and I think it ended up being a friend of the tank’s. Which just goes to show how few healers queue for random PUGs. I would guess that maybe one in fifty people in the queue are tanks or healers, if that. And I hate to say it, but it seems like a 50/50 shot as to whether you’ll get a helpful one or a complete tool.

Then I jumped on my Bahmi warrior for another tanking of RotF. This time the group was more impatient, and kept pulling crap left and right, because, again, it’s so easy it really doesn’t matter what you do. It’s not good if you actually want to learn though, because it does not encourage proper group tactics. If DPS tried to pull stuff willie nillie in, say, an expert dungeon, they would probably wipe the group and get kicked.

I replaced Tempest with Warlord and got the "yank" ability (Sergeant’s Order), which is pretty cool. Unfortunately I lost all ranged attacks. I still couldn’t compete with the threat of people’s tank pets (rogues always bring their stupid pigs) or even their DPS but I figure that’s normal at that level. Maybe I’ll re-jigger my build for more DPS.

After that it was after 8pm, so I just went back to crafting. I got my mage’s Artificer skill up over 300, so I can now start runebreaking my own rings and wands for the Grandmaster Runecrafting dailies. Unfortunately I don’t have a ready source of metals or gems to actually make things. My two mining gatherers are still 50/51. Since f2p, I could buy a slot for the mining profession on my mage, which I will probably do just to have it. I leveled butchering on my 50 cleric from 1-300 in only a few hours, so it shouldn’t take me long to get mining up to 300 either.

Newbie Tanking Realm of the Fae (Normal)

I now present my newbie tanking guide for Realm of the Fae (Normal). I am roughly two years late in writing this guide, but it’s actually hard to find a guide like this that isn’t written by a theorycrafter who is used to max level tanking.

You can queue for RotF at level 15, but it’s probably better to wait until level 16 so you can bring an AoE attack ability with you.

Don’t worry, you can’t mess it up, even with terrible gear and the wrong build, standing in all of the fire. If you should happen to die, it will probably be the healer’s fault for going completely AFK or not paying attention.

(UPDATE: Okay, you can mess it up, if you over-pull mobs. Don’t be a hero. Also, try not to use the Champion ability Mark of Inevitability, because it can unexpectedly get the attention of mobs from far away. This applies to melee DPS warriors, too.)

Your one and only real responsibility through the whole dungeon is to keep mobs from killing the healer. Pull them away with whatever “lure” abilities you have. If the healer dies, it’s your fault. (If DPS dies, it’s usually their fault for pulling too much aggro.) Use your AoE attack ability when you run to trash mobs and you should get their attention. But keep in mind that it is fairly normal at this level for one or more of the DPS – or even the healer – to pull threat away from you. If you get an impatient group, they may even run ahead and pull mobs before you. You can try to instruct them that it’s not cool to do that, but personally I wouldn’t bother in the first dungeon. Just don’t let anybody kill the healer.

If multiple mobs are attacking, try to lure them together into one place so the DPS can use AoE ground target spells. Pull ranged casters to you if possible (using the Warlod ability Sergeant’s Order), or drag melee attackers to the ranged guy.

Spring trash: Winged faes, satyrs, and wandering ents. A lot of casters. It’s probably good to start out slower, in case there are any first-time party members.

Maellow: Make sure the rest of the party kills the two side dudes first. Almost everyone knows this, but on the off chance you get a whole group that doesn’t, tell them you can’t kill Maellow until his sidekicks are dead.

Summer trash: Bogglings and little swarming turtles; more ranged casters.

Luggodhan: Back out of the slime puddle he drops. Avoid the purple circles he throws around. (As long as your healer is awake, it’s not a big deal if you don’t.)

Fall trash: Vespids and satyrs, mostly melee. People sometimes like to gather up tons of mobs together to get through it faster. If you don’t do it, someone else might. Regardless, get them into one place to burn them down with AoE.

Atrophinius: Turn him away from the party and position your back to something solid or you will get knocked back a lot. (It’s not a big deal if you don’t, though.) There’s a fair amount of dialog before he starts attacking, so somebody might trigger him before you’re done with the trash. Don’t worry about it.

Winter trash: Air elementals. They are kind of far apart which is annoying if you want to gather them.

Fae Lord Twyl: Kill all the stuff that comes out of the portals and all of the adds first. In the final fight when Twyl himself appears, move away from the spinning disk on the ground. (It’s not a big deal if you don’t, though.) (UPDATE: Also, don’t forget to turn Twyl away from the party – it is a big deal if you forget to do so, because Twyl throws a cone attack in front of him called Arc of Frost, which can easily wipe a party. Most people don’t even know he does this – I didn’t until I was playing DPS and observed the party dying inexplicably.)