Flashpoints: Building An Awareness Toolkit

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting comment over my morning cup of mocha that said something to the effect of ‘storytelling doesn’t give you endgame skills’. I have long since forgotten the original post but the comment sparked a train of thought that had me recall my own introduction to raiding and “endgame skills”. My first experience learning to strafe and moving out of bad stuff was out of the blue. This was at level cap, when I was also trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had what seemed like a zillion healths to keep track of.

I’ve always thought that having such skills introduced during the levelling process would’ve been much more ideal than having them all upon the players at level cap. And this is how it seems to be done in The Old Republic. I thought to myself – “Well, guess what does give players endgame skills – flashpoints!” Interestingly enough, I found that the flashpoints throughout the level range make for some pretty good teachers of endgame skills!

Here’s a quick look at what the basic endgame PvE awareness toolkit looks like – and by this I mean skills we find that we need while raiding but can certainly do without while leveling. This isn’t meant to be one of those comprehensive lists for raid readiness, mind you – just the general basic skill set desired.

– Strafing

– Moving Out of Fire

– Dispelling/Watching Debuffs

– Council Fights

– Add Management

– Fights with Phases

So which fights exactly teach us those skills I listed up there? (I will be using specific examples for this – however, note that this doesn’t mean that’s the ONLY boss who requires these skills).

How to Strafe: Lord Hasper.

Lord Hasper is a bonus boss in the Flashpoint: Taral V.

Lord Hasper casts three Force Lightnings at the end of which he does a massive pull and tries to pull all members close to him. Staying close to him spells doom as he does insane damage to players. No one but the tank really should get pulled to him because noone can handle more than a second or two of damage from him then.

The key to this fight is for ranged players to stand outside his room near the doorway and use the walls to line of sight him when he does his pull of doom. In short, we strafe between the doorway and all the walls depending on the timing – and use the intervals of opportunity for burst damage and healing.

This fight took some getting used to since it wasn’t just the ability to strafe that was important here but also strafing at the right time. As someone who recently can’t use the mouse for movement as I have for the longest time, this fight turned out to be a good tutorial to get used to new keybindings.

Move Out of Fire: General Ortol.

General Ortol is the final boss in Flashpoint: Cademimu.

This is the classic kill-the-bad-guy fight with the added twist of keeping out of fire while doing it. The room is divided into four spaces, as shown by the grates. As the fight progresses, General Ortol will occasionally yell something about rockets. Three of four quadrants will be filled with steam clouds and quickly followed by a flood of fire. Getting caught in fire does heavy damage and will most likely result in an unfortunate death.

The key to this fight is to watch for the steam clouds and move out of fire into the safe area as quickly as possible. Its easy to get tunnel visioned while doing damage or healing, so this fight is a fantastic exercise in getting out of fire and keeping people on their toes.

Dispelling/Watching Debuffs: Prophet of Vodal.

Prophet of Vodal is the final boss in Flashpoint: Athiss.

This is an interesting fight because I’ve had to do it both before I could learn my dispel and after I could train it. In both cases, watching debuffs carefully was the key to this fight.

Prophet of Vodal does two things to be aware of: the first is casting a nasty damage-over-time called Crushing Affliction that can hurt its target as well as people close to them; the second is he disappears every so often and summons balls of fire that chase players and need to be avoided.

Watching Crushing Affliction’s target is key – if you don’t have a dispel, heavy heals are needed to get through it; and if you happen to be able to dispel, then a quick reaction time to minimising damage to the target. Crushing Affliction looks like Sith corruption on its target so its sometimes easier to spot visually on the player rather than beneath their portrait.

This fight is a great exercise in debuff watching and making your dispel is available when you need it.

Council Fights: Imperial (or Republic) Boarding Party.

The Imperial Boarding Party is the second fight in Flashpoint: Mandalorian Raiders

This one’s a tricky but very interesting fight. There is no single bad guy here – we have multiple enemies with varying abilities who will all engage us at the same time. The interesting part of this fight is that killing these one at a time will essentially be close to impossible and result in quick deaths – the reason being that every time one of them dies, the remaining members get a buff that increases their damage. At some point, keeping up with the increasing damage and their abilities becomes impossible to heal.

The general idea here is to make sure they all die at roughly the same time to minimise the damage taken when they do their damage increase. While the idea is simple, execution can get a little tricky with all of their abilities into play. Thankfully, their abilities are not completely alien to us since they do mirror classes we are already familiar with: Sith warrior, Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent. Note that the warrior, Rotham, has no threat table and changes targets at a whim. He also has a leap and a pushback that easily makes him the most annoying of all of them.

The key to this fight is to have the damage dealers planned out and co-ordinated to make sure they’re all going down roughly at the same time. On the healing side, it helps to stack up near players to avoid Rotham’s nasty leaps. Triage is the name of the game and don’t be afraid to help with the damage during healing downtime. All in all, this is a really fun fight and introduces the council type fight mechanic in an interesting way.

Add Management: Battle Lord Kreshan.

Battle Lord Kreshan is the final boss in Flashpoint: Hammer Station

There are many bosses which require add control but somehow Kreshan springs to mind over all of them. Battlelord Kreshan is quite the challenge even at early levels. He is a ranged shooter who does a fair bit of damage to the group. The little things to watch out for in this fight are: avoid the red circles on the ground which are bombs; move out of Kreshan’s barrage; and make sure Kreshan’s pushback doesn’t knock you off the ledge. After this, we have adds to deal with.

Every so often, Kreshan calls his buddies to help him out and these should be dealt with as quickly as possible. They usually gravitate towards the healer and are easy to kill but do quite a bit of damage when they’re alive. This is where our versatility as healers really comes in handy – even if one can’t really do much damage to the adds, little things like Force Wave to keep them down and buying the tank and damage dealers some time to kill them can go a long way. I think the adds are specially important in this fight since at early levels, healers don’t really have a whole lot of survivability options to sit around and take it from the adds.

Fights with Phases: Grand Moff Kilran.

Grand Moff Kilran is the final boss in Flashpoint: Maelstrom Prison.

This is an incredibly fun fight. Grand Moff Kilran, apart from being a bit pompous, also is a sniper at heart and the entire fight is centered around that. The fight is divided up into three waves or phases. Kilran marks the beginning of a new phase by knocking the group off their feet. Really, quite the charming guy. The Kilran fight is a fantastic introduction to the idea of fights with multiple phases because the mechanics don’t change too much between them, thus really being able to showcase how phases work without being overwhelming with crazy mechanics thrown in there.

The mantra for the entire fight is to kill Kilran’s buddies, stay out of Kilran’s line of sight, and slowly burn him down. Kilran, being a sniper, will try to get players from a range and its vital to use the surrounding boxes, crates and barrels to stay out of his sight. If he does manage to get a shot off onto you, it hits pretty hard so its important to keep those to a minimum. Phase 1 is very manageable with only two of his buddies to kill before focussing on Kilran. Phase 2 bumps it up a bit by more buddies coming to Kilran’s rescue. The key here is again to kill his buddies quickly, and keep out of Kilran’s sniping sight while throwing out some damage.

Eventually Kilran will move up the ramp and change the battlefield a bit – this is when Phase 3 kicks in. It’s the same deal with taking care of his buddies and its a little trickier keeping out of his line of sigh- this phase keeps people on their toes.

This is a challenging but incredibly fun fight and does a great job in introducing the idea of distinct phases. Even though most of the mechanics remain the same here, keeping track of the phases is still key since the environment plays such an important role in this fight.

Final Thoughts

When I first stepped into Flashpoints in Star Wars, I was somewhat surprised by the challenges and intricacy of the fights – not what I expected. Being introduced to a council type fight at level 25 (Imperial Boarding Party encounter in Mandalorian Raiders) simply blew my mind. I personally think it’s fantastic. I’ve never been a fan of having a huge gap between the levelling experience and the operations/raiding experience. Having Flashpoints as stepping stones to ops/raid awareness seems like a great idea – especially for people who have never stepped into certain roles or heck, a game like this before.

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6 thoughts on “Flashpoints: Building An Awareness Toolkit

  1. selly says:

    When I first waltzed into a SWTOR flashpoint I really expected everything to be a cakewalk. I mean Esseles and Black Talon were, but let’s not count them as the first. Let’s consider that preschool or something.

    Anyways, after doing leveling dungeons in WoW and doing those two starter dungeons in SWTOR, I was like, yeah, this is all gonna be a joke!

    Proceed to my group getting our butts handed to us on Hammer Station. Mind = blown. The last boss required… tactics?!

    Luckily I raided in WoW, so it was easy enough to pick up on, but it was a shock going from no effort to suddenly… having to think and plan. I’ve done quite a few of those bosses you mentioned: the guy from Athiss you gotta dispel on (though that’s a pain in the butt with how tiny debuffs are… oh how I miss my add ons sometimes!) to having to CC and plan out who to kill in Boarding Party or whatevs.

    And you know what? I’m glad they’re in like that. I feel like WoW never really prepared its playerbase for the crap they’d throw at you in things like heroics. Leveling dungeons were jokes. You could face roll through them. Half the time you didn’t even need a tank.

    It’s better to teach at lower levels than it is to suddenly toss you into the fray and expect you to understand what the heck is going on.

    At the same time, it also makes pugging painful. I imagine, anyways. I’ve not done it SWTOR, because I always play with friends. But if pugging flashpoints is anything like heroics… you know. Because god forbid pugs have any responsibility.

    But! Here’s to hoping it’ll help teach people something! I’m certainly enjoying the challenge!

    • Saya says:

      I agree – flashpoints are so much fun this way with having to plan and work together with your party members! WoW does indeed have a bit of a gap between how easy its dungeons are and how different the endgame landscape is. I feel like they tried to bridge that a little bit in Cataclysm, but it is still a far cry from having a Council type fight or a dispel heavy fight at level 20.

      My pugging experience in SWTOR thus far has been a bit of a pleasant surprise. I expected it to be painful with all the tactics flashpoints require but I’ve found that people are surprisingly patient. It feels like everyone is finally on the same page. People know that Flashpoints aren’t necessarily cake walks and they don’t hold those expectations when they walk into them.

      I haven’t yet stepped into heroics but in the normal flashpoints folks have yet to ragequit after even the fourth wipe. I’m not sure if I just got really lucky or if it has anything to do with rolling on an RP server. Either ways I’m glad people are being supportive and taking the challenge in a good way! =)

      • selly says:

        Ah, you play on an RP server! That’s neat; I played on one in WoW, and I do feel the communities there are generally at least a bit better. I’m on an RP-PVP server in SWTOR, because I like RP and I like world pvp. 🙂

        It’s good to know that pugs in SWTOR are at least more willing to soldier on through mistakes. God knows in WoW if someone so much as sneezed people would drop group. In a way I kind of miss pugging… what with the community on SWTOR being so insular still, I bet it would be a great way to make friends. I miss that about old school WoW… having to meet people and get to know them in order to make groups. But that’s a different thing entirely!

        I’ll have to try pugging just to see how it is. 🙂

  2. whalerid3r says:

    Thanks for the fantastic post! Not having played to the maximum level in World of Warcraft, it’s really helpful to see the mechanics laid out clearly in terms of what general pattern they follow.

    Lord Hasper was a really tough fight- my PUG group must have wiped 8-10 times between him and the final boss in Taral V General Edikar :-).

  3. […] also really enjoyed the gradual introduction to endgame skills throughout the entire level range rather than putting them off until level cap. I think it made for a much smoother experience […]

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