Considering the number of lives and toons I have, in addition to the number of Green Steel projects I’ve completed and/or have in process, it’s a rather embarrassing confession to say that I have never once completed The Shroud.
In fact, until this past week, I’ve never even set foot in The Shroud.
It’s become a problem. Confession #2 is I recognize that I’m now actively dodging runs, simply because I don’t want to look like a noob and/or admit I’ve never finished it in @#$%&@#$^ lives.
After reading several reports about people soloing The Shroud (shout-out to TeacherSyn for his multiple posts on the topic giving me the final “you can doo eeet“), I figured I’d take it on for a whirl. After all, it’s filled with Shavarathian enemies, and Knights of the Chalice eat Shavarathian devils for breakfast. So I logged on Aapex, my level 26 Bladeforged Knight of the Chalice paladin, and got him ready to take on… I didn’t know what, really.
Sure, I’ve read many reports, and scoured the wiki page multiple times over. But that doesn’t prepare you. So in I went. (On Normal, of course, I’m not completely suicidal.)
Attempt 1, Phase One
Welcome to The Shroud! Well, that’s what I told myself as I took my shiny, spiky toaster on a brief tour of the courtyard, figuring out where the ramps were and what I could jump over for shortcuts. (I told you, first time ever.) I intentionally left one of the scouting party alive for a minute while I ran around getting the feel of things. Then I popped him in the side of the head, and waited for all hell to break loose.
And waited a little bit longer. I’m mostly certain it was because I was on Normal, but there really wasn’t a whole lot to worry about in Phase One. A Tier Two Thunder-Forged Greatsword (with Purify Weapon added for holy damage) ripped through the devils and portals without anything to worry about whatsoever. I had read about the Portal Keepers and how quest failure could happen if they’re left alive long enough, but on this run they all just so happened to appear in the portal I was stabbing, and they fell over from splash damage without me even thinking about them. (Now I know that was pure luck. –Ed.)
And so Phase One fell, easy as breathin’. Frankly, I was ecstatic, since this now makes the easiest way for me to farm Small ingredients and Shards of Regular Power – since most of what drops in Epic Devil Assault is mediums and larges. I’ve got those in droves, but the smalls?? Best. Day. Ever. (I kinda sorta went on a green steel kick later that night because of those runs.) Alright, there was one tiny issue, and that was… I couldn’t find the altar right away. <#ashamed>
Attempt 1, Phase Two
Welcome to The Maze! I have no idea what I’m doing in here! Okay, that’s something of a lie, the posts and wiki were my guide. I’ve heard of solo runs having to be aborted because of the ‘wrong’ lieutenants being picked, but as far as I could find, nobody has ever constructed a list of the wrong ones. So I’m in here flying totally blind.
First pull was the fire elemental, the troll, the kobold, and the orthon. I got a little cocky, since Aapex had demonstrated that he was pretty much indestructible thus far, and stood squarely in front of the crystal and started hacking.
It was around the time I noticed the troll had -11,057 hit points that it registered “hey, maybe this isn’t working.” Mousing over the other lieutenants revealed similar figures. This is where I stared blankly at the screen for a few seconds, wondering what the heck was going on; I’d read where the lieutenants buffed each other, and I had to Pac-Man to the center to break the crystal (though I could ice them a few times to drop their HP, first), but… they weren’t dying? So, I parked Aapex on auto-attack and switched to the wiki.
Hmm. It turns out you can’t kill them unless they’re separated for more than six seconds. Okay, fine. I dragged them out through the maze, strung them out just enough to fall when I sneezed in their presence (hey, -22,000 hit points will do that to ya) and watched their ghosts slowly plod back towards the center, feeling pretty proud of myself – after all, this was going to be a first run, solo, and I made it to part three!
……that was until I saw this forty-foot tall blue-ish hologram that looked like the Devourer of Dreams streak past me in a blur, and got the notification that the fire elemental had been resurrected.
Um, wow. That was fast. I was totally not expecting that. I tried to ice them a few times more, then finally just watched the fire elemental ghost and tried to chase it. He left me in the dust. So it looks like the fire elemental is one of those “abort” bosses if you’re not fast enough. TeacherSyn pulled it off with his solo run, but he was also on a pure monk – and those guys break ALL the rules about move speed.
So, swallowing my pride, I hid in a corner and recalled.
Attempt 2, Phase One
I turned right around and went back in after resetting it. After all, Phase One went flawlessly last time, so of course I could pull it off again, right?
How’s that phrase go, “Pride Goeth Before The Fall?” Yeah. I got way too cocky. So when that message popped up saying there was a portal keeper present, I knew I had to go kill him, and fast. The first two went down without a hitch. It was the third one that was the problem – I couldn’t find him! As it turns out, I had forgotten the portal on the left-hand side (the one half-hidden by spikes) when I was frantically running around like a heavily caffienated hamster.
Oops. Shavarath has now become coterminous. Quest failed. Look at desk, insert forehead.
Attempt 3, Phase One
Once again, I turned right around and stepped right back inside. This time, I kept a closer eye on the portal locations and hunted those portal keepers with extreme prejudice – in a little bit of paranoia, I even ran around to check “active” portals every twenty seconds or so to ensure that a keeper hadn’t snuck in on me. After a few minutes, the portals were all destroyed, I was one Shard of Regular Power richer, and ready to go back into the maze. Without looking like an idiot trying to find the altar.
Attempt 3, Phase Two
Okay, the Powers That Be don’t want me to finish this run tonight, I can tell. Not only did I get the fire elemental again, but I got the bezekira, as well. Actually, I have no idea how fast that ghost is, though, since I just turned back around and went to recall.
Or, well, that was the idea. Between the elemental, the orthon, the bezekira, and…. uhh, to be honest, I don’t even know what the fourth lieutenant was, since I don’t think he/she got aggro-ed when I poked my totally subtle shiny-head-wreathed-in-bright-blue-flames around the corner. Recall interrupted.
Run around another corner, seems the coast is clear. Growl, swat, recall interrupted. Stab the bezekira repeatedly out of frustration. Recall.
Get shot by the orthon for one point of bloody damage. Recall interrupted.
Stab orthon repeatedly. Bezekira shows up. Elemental, as with last time, is occupying itself with throwing fireballs at a brick wall, so that’s a non-issue. Run elsewhere in the maze – aggro a mob of trash. Sigh.
Hit Escape, click Quit. Wait five minutes, log back on. Hey, it’s one way to recall from a dungeon that doesn’t want you to recall. ^_^
Final Results and Take-Aways
It helps to know where all the portals are, so you know where to check for them. I remember reading somewhere that the portals spawn in a specific order, but it sure didn’t seem that way on my three attempts – the first time through, the portal on the lower level to the right of center spawned first, the second time it was the one on the upper left, and a different one the third attempt. There may be more to this than I’m aware of, or it could be the portals simply appear randomly now. In any case, knowing where they can show up will minimize the time you spend running around aimlessly while the quest is getting ready to fail.
If you’re slow, the fire elemental is going to be a righteous pain in your kiester. Even with a 30% speed item on, Aapex was left sucking the fire ele’s ghost’s ethereal dust.
I’m going to ransack the HECK out of that Phase One chest for small ingredients and regular shards, though.