The Order: Preparing your Guild for Operations.

Welcome again to The Order, where we talk about raiding and guilds on the oceanic horizon. If you’ve got a topic you’d like covered, drop Rick a line and we’ll work on it for a future column.

If you are an astute GM, you will have levelled/recruited a squad of at least 8 players to start attempting to clear the different raids, or as they are called in SWTOR, Operations.

Why Operations?

It’s a good question. What motivates players to educate, co-ordinate and then clear high-end Operations? Why not just focus on Flashpoints, space missions or even PvP? Why are Operations time and time again the core focus of so many guilds out there? The main reasons that come to mind are these:

Gear: The best gear in the game comes from the most challenging instances.
Renown: In many games and of course SWTOR, guilds are measured by their progression through end-game PvE content.
Challenge: Nothing beats the challenge of being in sync with a large group of players and beating the various different mechanics a boss will put you through.

However, not all guilds are successful in completing many of these Operations. Many guilds have been torn apart by failing at similar instances in other games and in SWTOR, the same pressure to succeed applies. Failure too many times usually results in your members leaving to join other more successful guilds – it’s a selfish MMO reality. However, when you achieve results as a team, the feeling is amazing – it bonds your members together and breeds loyalty and attracts new members.

Most people who play MMOs know all about end game raiding. So I am not going to harp on about what it is and why it is such a core focus for people. Instead, we are going to cover what the general requirements are for starting to raid in Operations in SWTOR.

So what are some of the basics requirements to begin SWTOR Operations with your guild?

Eternity Vault:

  1. For the most part, you want your DPS/Healers to have their main stats around 1150-1250 for their main stat. You do this by running Hard Mode Flashpoints to gear up to an adequate standard. Crafted implants and moddable gear can also be used to achieve this benchmark.
  2. You should only need 1 tank for this whole instance. This allows you to stack 5 DPS and 2 Healers into your group. Just make sure your tank has great survivability. High-end Flashpoints such as Kaon Under Siege and False Emperor are great test runs for your tank. Directive 7 is a great benchmark for your healers.
  3. Prepare your squad by hording Stims, Adrenals and Medpacks. Biochem is your friend! And research the boss fights. Make sure your squad is all watching the same source video or walkthrough so you all know what you are meant to be doing. For progression, we stopped for 5 minutes prior to each boss to enforce that all members had watched the video and re-watched it.
  4. Plan well – set realistic expectations. “The Order” is clearing EV Normal in about 40 minutes flat now that it is on farm. However, for your first run with freshly geared members, you will want to allow yourselves atleast 3 hours.

Karagga’s Palace:

  1. This is definitely a harder Operation. You will want your main stats to be around 1200-1300 – your secondary stats should be well on their way to maxxed out too, not including diminishing returns.
  2. You will need 2 tanks for this. A main tank and an offtank for the second, third and fourth bosses. Then 2 Healers and 4 DPS which are in minimum Tionese/Columi. Centurion PVP gear won’t usually cut it.
  3. Unlike EV, KP has a lot more trash and you will need to be on your toes on some of the trash pulls. Use Crowd Controlling skills and good communication as you WILL wipe if you lower your concentration.
  4. Allow around 3-4 hours on your first run of this. On farm, you should get this down to 80-100 mins.

Remember, in Normal Mode Operations, most gear loot is chosen and distrubuted to you by the game itself. We still use Master Looter, but this is merely for distributing other loot which the game deems non class-specific.

By running Normal Mode, your goal will be to completely gear your squad with Columi (Tier 2) PVE gear. However, you can accomplish this objective as well by running Hard Mode Flashpoints. Don’t ask me why Bioware created it this way – perhaps they wanted to go easy on the opening generation of players. Another thought is there is a bigger picture behind it. If how the gear looks is anything to go by, upcoming expansions and content will be something craved for quickly.

It was intended that the Normal Modes be easy enough for pick up group players or “PUGs”. This was so that everyone could at least experience the storyline without a guild. Also, for most guilds, the skill level of Normal Mode serves as a  “training” version of the actual Operation.

Our next article will be about moving past the Normal Modes and into the Hard Mode version of the Operations. Until then, good luck! If you have any Operation-specific questions focused around guild preparation or organisation, please feel free to drop me a line!

Unconfirmed Oceanic First: 4/5 cleared Eternity Vault Hard Mode

Those dynamos over at Remnants have continued their progress from a full normal mode Eternity Vault clear a few days back:

Remnants ventured into Eternity Vault Hard Mode last night for the first time, which is a significant step up from the Normal Mode. After coming off the high that they experienced from being Oceanic first by dropping 5/5 bosses in Normal Mode, they have now pushed through to carry out Oceanic first kills in the Hard Mode of Eternity Vault, downing 4/5 bosses!

All that is left is “Soa – The Infernal One”, who doesn’t stand a chance with this team beating down the door!

The team: Narboon, Korbainethor, Krelliath, Klinda, Chair, Elgordomedico, Cheewy, Skandus

Here’s one of the pics (click on it for the full goodness):

Sounds like the full clear is imminent. As always, we’re keen to hear from other guilds who are doing well in either early or end content to let us know and we’ll plug your progress!

First Oceanic clear of Eternity Vault? [Updated]

I had Insurgent from Oceanic guild Remnants drop me a line with an interesting tidbit:

Remnants have now cleared all 5 bosses in Normal 8 man Eternity Vault. Just letting you know, we believe it may be an Oceanic first, but this is not confirmed.

Even if it’s not an Oceanic guild first, it’s still quite an achievement. You can see our previous spotlight on Remnants here.

We’ve asked for some pics of the run, so watch this space. Any other guilds out there who’ve achieved the same, post your claim in comments!

UPDATE: You can view the announcement from Remnants on their website.

Here’s the key details:

The team plugged hard at it all night. With a wipe at 2012 HP left on Soa, lots might have decided to call it a night, but not this team. This team didn’t, and at midnight (that’s 12:00AM GMT +11, for those wanting to play the “what time is it there” game) Soa was finally killed.

The team: Narboon, Korbainethor, Krelliath, Skandus, Chair, Hannarr, Hairspray, Elgordomenico.

A special mention goes to Xaem for sitting out to allow for the progression.

Here’s a pic from the final kill of Soa – The Infernal One (click on image for the full size):

Over to you: are you surprised how quick some of these things are being achieved?

In-Depth with Eternity Vault

This week, from Star Wars: The Old Republic, we have a developer walkthrough the Eternity Vault, a high level Operation (raid) for both Imperial and Republic players.

The video that Bioware released today is the Imperials’ try at cracking the Eternity Vault, so better luck next time Republic players.

The walkthrough starts off with Dallas Dickinson, Director of Production for SWTOR, giving a short summary and intro for the Eternity Vault.

The walkthrough begins with four Imperial players being briefed by General Threnoldt, he warns them of the dangers of the Eternity Vault.  “We uncovered a new section of Belsavis prison during a bombing run; it’s been sealed for 20,000 years. The Rakata called it the Eternity Vault, it’s where they kept the prisoners and technology they could never afford to release.”

As General Thenoldt is warning the group of the prisons dangers,  its defense systems target the destroyer and cause the party to evacuate using escape pods. As the escape pods crash on the hostile frozen surface of Belsavis, it becomes clear that there is more than just four Imperial players crashed on the prison’s front door.  The Imperial players meet up and begin assaulting the prison. The main tank (a Sith juggernaut) and a Sith assassin, the off tank, rush into battle to draw attention off the rest of the group from the two large turrets and a swarm of droids. The raid group destroys the droids and takes out the two turrets with relative ease. Now the “Infernal One” kicks it up a notch with an Annihilation Droid. The Annihilation Droid is very large boasting a gnarly knock-back AoE and a brutal rocket firing arm. During the battle with this monstrous droid the party struggles a bit, first losing a Sith Marauder, who is quickly re-animated. Again towards the end of the fight the raid group sees that they have the droid’s health low so they rush him. About five out of the eight players go down, but the Annihilation Droid is demolished. Now keep in mind this entire battle takes place before the raid group ever enters then Eternity Vault – what lies in store within is the real challenge.

This is one of the first times we see a Sith Assassin tanking. He seems to be an avoidance/parry tank. Throughout the video it seems like the Assassin takes a little more damage than the Juggernaut, but could possibly be dealing more damage.  This video also shows off the Imperial Agent as a healer and he does a decent job. The main thing that healers should be excited about from this video is the customizable HUD which has a raid health bar that makes it MUCH easier to see your team’s health. (And possibly force/ammo/overheating.)

This is a level 50 Operation, and although Bioware has shown most of this info off before, there is a few things at the end of the video in a montage that look very new. Puzzles and a boss fight where in between the rocks you’re standing on lava is flowing freely. This could be environmental hazards. The montage also shows what could possibly bring the total of bosses for Eternity Vault up to five which isn’t a bad raid at all.

Be sure to check out the entire video:

[Read more…]

More Eternity Vault goodness at Gamescom

As you’re probably aware, the Bioware are at Gamescom in Germany giving the German public a taste of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  One of the videos I love best (with thanks to reader Chris) is this one. It shows the Eternity Vault Operation in more detail, played live by eight Sith players. There’s much more to see than previous reveals and like the previous info it looks rather impressive.

Have a gander for thyself:

So – do you like what you see? The highlight for me was seeing the 8 players unable to get past the first ‘boss’: it shows the challenge required and without that there’s nothing really.