Alchemical Shenanigans, Part One

or, How to Not Screw Up Raids, Sort Of

I’ve recently become obsessed with gathering ingredients to complete a pair of Alchemical Handwraps.  Luckily for me, after taking a peek at what’s available, Socks got hooked on it, too.  The only bad news is that the major ingredients to complete them only come from the two raids in the Cannith Manufactury, The Master Artificer and The Lord of Blades.

While the Wiki is a vast and invaluable resource of knowledge for DDO, there are some things which it doesn’t quite go into too much detail on, such as the finer points of not getting manhandled in Servants of the Overlords or ensuring Chief Engineer Derp-wad doesn’t get himself killed in The Rescue.   In that, the best repository of information lies in personal experience, and short of that, other players’ well-documented pain.

So, here you go, the results of our blood, sweat, and tears, presented in 1080p wall-o-text format:

Uncle Tubbs about to get he-bitch man-smacked by twenty-four feet of razor sharp pain

Uncle Tubbs about to get he-bitch man-smacked by twenty-four feet of razor sharp pain

The Incomplete Lunatic Newbie’s Guide to Two-Manning The Lord of Blades

Before you even begin, buy Scrolls of Heal.  Hundreds of them.  If you can’t resurrect players directly, make sure you have a sufficient number of Raise Dead or Resurrect scrolls, and don’t get cocky, five probably won’t cut it.  Plus, some will get destroyed in AOE effects.

Before you ever get to the raid itself, there is a pre-raid wilderness area.  This is not merely an extension of the Manufactury, and the jump in difficulty can be quite dramatic if you’re not prepared for it.  However, this difficulty spike serves its purpose well as a “test” session – if you get scrambled en-route to the raid, odds aren’t looking very good that you’ll survive the onslaught of the Lord of Blades.

One thing remains vividly clear that you’ve probably already learned while getting flagged for the two raids:  eliminate artificers with extreme prejudice.  In spite of what the spell’s official description says, there is no functioning saving throw for Lightning Spheres.  While this is great for artificer players, especially multi-classed ones who would otherwise have meh DC’s, this is absolute murder when the players are on the receiving end of the spheres.  (I tend to just call them flash-bangs, because let’s be honest, it’s what they do.)  One or two of the artificers chucking grenades can very rapidly put even capped characters in a bind if left to their own devices.  The artis must go, they must go fast, and preferably, hit with an Enlarged Finger of Death from half a mile away before they ever activate.

Sadly, that doesn’t apply on the pre-raid, as there is a red-named arti guarding the elevator down to Eldritch Site Prime.  He comes with a trash mob, which is no surprise at this point, and they go down quite easily.  Once the trash is down, the arti is more of an annoyance than anything else, albeit with a sack of HP.  There are other red-names on the route to the raid, but they’re largely un-noteworthy.

The raid itself is actually shockingly short, from a map’s point of view.  It is, essentially, a single route through a handful of trash mobs that fall apart like a popsicle in the oven once the artis are dealt with.  I won’t waste any more time discussing that, since this will already be long enough.

One shrine later, and BAM!  Boss time!

Key point #1:  Don’t rush in – once the party approaches the Lord of Blades and starts the dialogue, a force barrier comes up and prevents entry into the Chamber of the Creation Forge until the fight is over.  This also means you can’t use Dimension Door to escape, regroup, and reenter.  This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to veteran raiders, as similar mechanics are used on many raids.  Keep your summons and pets on a short leash, or better yet, at home;  if they charge in far enough ahead of you, the barrier can come up and screw the whole thing over for everyone.

Key point #2:  Avoid the “blue goo” like the plague if you don’t have the Power of the Forge.  Imagine a vast lake of deep lava that instead deals heavy amounts of unblockable force damage and you’ve got the idea.  It’s a deep lake, too, and will eat a good chunk of your time swimming to the surface if you should happen to die in it.

Once the Lord of Blades finishes his Villainous Monologue, the fight will actually begin.  Before he finishes jabbering, circle around behind him.  Standing directly to the Lord of Blades’ rear is an artificer who will make your life during the first wave a lot harder than it has to be;  erase him from existence the second he becomes active to keep things smoother.  Once the arti is down, wipe out the trash mob in whatever method you feel most comfortable, until it’s just you, your teammate(s?), the Lord of Blades, and his two Hounds of Blades.

The Hounds… oh, what is there to say about the Hounds, aside from “Again??”  At several points throughout the fight, the Lord of Blades will resurrect his Hounds to harry you and provide debuffs and DOTs.  You don’t want this to happen.  Smash the Hounds down so that it’s just you and Bladesy-Wadesy.

From here, there are two major tactics regarding the Power of the Forge, which I haven’t really decided if I prefer one over the other:

  •         Option #1:  Each of you two take turns grabbing the Power of the Forge as soon as it becomes available.  The tank does so to crank his damage through the roof, and the arcane/healer does so just to prevent Bladesy from getting it.  You do not want Bladesy to get the Power of the Forge;  once is bad, but manageable with a little running and/or blocking, but if he gets it a second time before the first runs out, prepare to flee.  If you get lucky enough to snag the Power while he’s still buffed, whomever has his aggro can float out over the Blue Goo until either Bladesy’s buffs run out, or it’s too risky to hang out any more (the Power of the Forge lasts around 50-65 seconds, by my counts, for players;  there’s no visible timer and it is random;  any more than 45 seconds is playing Russian Roulette).  Players must alternate taking the Power of the Forge, for when you do, a 120-second hidden counter starts ticking down;  get greedy and grab it early, and you’ll be stuck, shocked, and helpless.  This is not a good position to be in. While it sounds risky, it has its rewards;  pounding on the Lord of Blades with Power of the Forge active on the melee shoots the DPS sky-high and greatly speeds up his demise.
  •         Option #2:  Not as fast, but also not as risky.  Keeping the Power Links (the pillars that circle the room) destroyed will prevent the Power of the Forge from charging up, thereby rendering the potential buff useless.  Recommended for the arcane cannon/healer on the sidelines play double duty of both healing the tank as necessary and destroying the Power Links when they show up.  Simpler, yes, but not nearly as swift.

Whichever route you choose to go – and, if you’re anything like Socks and I, it may flow from one to the other several times during the course of the fight – the main objective is simple:  one person keeps Bladesy’s aggro and deals primary melee damage, while the other applies DOTs and throws heals.  As mentioned before, bring scrolls, lots and lots of them;  do not attempt to blue-bar heal the entire bout, especially not on your first time through.  This is a looooooooonnngggggg fight, exacerbated not so much by the Lord of Blades’ wicked pool of Hit Points, but also by his rather chicken-poop tactics that will remind you of a six year old boy going home and taking his ball with him.

The first chunk of the fight is no frills, just beat down.  Once you get Bladesy down to about 75%, he’ll raise his Hounds (again) and start pulling out some of his tricks.  The first thing you will likely notice is that this fool is fast.  For his imposing size, he can haul that frame at speeds which would make a Veritech jealous.  (Come to think of it… Bladesy does have wings, of sorts… Hmm.)  Trying to run away to catch your breath won’t work, here, unless you can do so while running.  The second thing you will notice is “ow,” right about the first time his spear connects with the side of your face.  Make sure you’ve squeezed every point of AC, dodge, incorporeality, and concealment out of your gear set before setpping in, too;  he has many different effects which leave you stunned, and those passive defenses will be the difference between surviving and having your head lopped off.

Also of note, at this point, is at below 75% HP he begins using his whirlwind attack – avoid this at all costs.  Unbuffed, it does a pantload of damage;  buffed, it can tear a player to shreds;  double-buffed, it can very rapidly result in those delightful words “total party wipe.”  The good news is he telegraphs this move more obviously than Daniel-san introduced his Crane Kick – he’ll very slowly swing his spear around and around two or three times before prancing about in a high-speed charging circle with his spear held out in an unending Great Cleave From Mournland Hell.  But, honestly, you shouldn’t ever see more than the first swing around because you should be running for your bloody life.  Envision, if you will, an underage frat kegger when the cops show up:  wherever you were just now, don’t be there.  It doesn’t really matter where you go as long as it’s away from Bladesy.  If you have the Power of the Forge, you can float on the Blue Goo for as long as you feel safe.

In addition to his stunning attacks, Bladesy is also very fond of walks on the beach… I mean, um, Binding Chains.  If you’ve spent any time in Epic Devil Assault, Shavarath, or the Shroud, you’re very likely already familiar with this mega-irritating low blow.  If you aren’t already familiar, it slows your movement speed to “hahahahaha NO,” makes your attacks comically worthless, and effectively turns your toon into an un-stuck corn dog.  As always, the best tactic is to just complain and shield block until it wears off.

Also, make sure you’ve filled up your Patience Meter.  It is not uncommon, at all, for Bladesy to chain-link his various specials together, resulting in sentences such as “Stunned… helpless… chained… helpless.. free, but, whirlwind.. chained.. aaannnd he’s run off again.”  These underhanded tactics might bring back flashbacks of Mortal Kombat in the arcade where folks would do nothing but sweep kicks.. except you can’t “accidentally” elbow Bladesy IRL, here.   Moreso than anything, this is what makes the fight take forever.

When you finally get him down to a chunk below half (the wiki says 40%.  –Ed.), Bladesy will resurrect his Hounds – again! – and the fight resumes, but with a new hailstorm of blades shot from his back.  With good Reflex saves and Evasion, ignore it.  Otherwise, hide in the exact center of the platform;  be careful, though, if you’re keeping the Power of the Forge around, whomever is in the center will get politely killed by electrical damage while it charges up.   He sure likes to fight fair, doesn’t he?

Once you’ve knocked him down to almost dead, the final phase begins.  And, guess, what?  He raises his hounds yet again (!!!) to harass you.  Luckily, once you ice the mecha-mutts this time, they’re permanent scrap metal and will no longer be a threat.  Of course, that can’t be the only trick in the book, because clearly just Lord of Blades Plus Robo-Doggies hasn’t worked thus far, has it?  Plan on several waves of trash mobs spawning alongside him – and, as was the case when the fight first started – target the artis with extremely extreme prejudice.  (Did I mention extreme?)  There is nothing worse than getting Bladesy down to a mere ten thousand hit points only to have a lightning sphere from out of nowhere collide with your temple and the mob overrun you.  In this phase, firing off a raise is difficult at best, simply due to the volume of enemies.  Just like the beginning, shred the trash-cheese, dice the hound-ham, and go back to work on the Lord of Tomatoes himself.

Odds are very likely that you’ll drop him to “zero” during this point of the raid.  Don’t be surprised, however, when he gets right back up at full health.  There will be an optional that pops up, one of two, where you can earn extra chests for dropping the Lord of Blades twice more;  while this may seem suicidal, he has no more cards up his sleeve than the ones he’s already shown you, and his reinforcements are all-but tapped dry.  The first time Socks and I did it, we took him down a second time on accident while trying to figure out how to end the raid.  Once the Lord of Blades’ ritual completes (it always does automatically), a portal will open and a few waves of Dal Quor (think Dreaming Dark) enemies will pour out;  in a bit of anti-climax, they’re squishy as all get-out compared to what you’ve dealt with thus far.  Just watch out for Charisma damage from the Dream Stealers and Healing Curses from the Dream Reaver, neither of which have been much to worry about (barely noticeable, really) from our experiences, and treat them like baby seals before returning your attention to Bladesy.

Alternatively, once the portal opens, you can destroy all the Power Links and end the raid without tackling the Lord of Blades again.  The trick here is something the wiki doesn’t expressly tell you – the odds of having noticed the Power Link Bases is pretty high throughought the course of the raid, even if you haven’t been breaking them;  but to fully destroy a pillar, you have to also hit the top of the Power Link.  Luckily, the tops are easy-sauce compared to the bases.  It is of note, however, that if you have no ranged solution whatsoever, then you cannot complete this raid, and should be poked in the earlobe repeatedly with a paper clip in the first place.  Every toon should have at least a basic ranged attack, even if it’s just a level two +1 Returning Throwing Dagger or plain ol’ bow and regular arrows.  It doesn’t have to be spectacular, just something.

It should also be noted that, if you’re trying to be prepared, do not try and destroy “all but one pillar.”  Leave three (3) – three shall be the number of thy counting, and the number of thy counting shall be three.  Once the third-to-last pillar goes down, the final two collapse of their own accord, thereby ending the raid, possibly prematurely (and incurring the wrath of whomever is leading the raid, most likely, you).  Once the pillars fall, that’s it, and there are no further chances to take Bladesy down a second and/or third time for extra chests.

After yet another Villainous Monologue, the Lord of Blades runs away, leaving you to enjoy the fruits of your labor and a well-deserved rest shrine.  You’re not quite done yet, however, but the last little bit will seem like Korthos Casual compared to what you’ve just accomplished;  there are four elemental binding stations where you must go and “bind” (read:  kill) a ginormous elemental.  It’s just as un-scary as it sounds;  the only catch is that each station has a reducing number of people that can accompany you for the fight  – if you’re like me, take out Air first.  (I can hear your groans of dismay across time and space.)  Earth is a bloody joke, save it for last;  Fire and Water are nothing special, either, but moderately less of a pushover than Earth, who basically just stands there and lets you pummel it to death.  It might get off one (1) laughably avoidable Earthgrab attack before it crumbles into dust.

Once all four elementals are “bound” (read:  dead), the barrier protecting the Elemental Binding chest are lowered and the loot is yours.  If you’re here for Alchemical ingredients, this is the chest you actually came for;  the other two are neat and all, but here’s where the joy-sauce is stored.  Now all that is left is to get your heart rate back to normal, repair your thoroughly-thrashed equipment, and wait three days to do it all over again!

Next up:  The Master Artificer!


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