“Excelsior Ward Dungeon” – The Tomb of the Vulture Lord
Hazah! Last dungeon analysis post, ye need read no more of stuff you know after today! So for today I write about ToVL, and I put the wards in quotes because the truth is that you do not get any wards from Tyrant gear and in fact the dungeon requires Greater Wards (the same as Lost Vale). However, I personally do not believe that a six man of people wearing Conqueror/Sentinel gear could beat this dungeon – I really believe its ward requirements should be upped to Superior required, and the gear offers Excelsior wards. Why is the gear unwarded you ask? Well back in olden days when the King instance actually required wards (sorta…) Mythic did not want players to potentially PvE their way to Sovereign gear, meaning you could do Bastion Stairs to ToVL and get the wards required for the King instance, meaning you would never have to RvR. This was to force people to participate in the city siege and therefore RvR in order to acquire the wards for the King instance. Oddly enough the Warlord fights were… PvE anyway, so technically someone could just sit outside the city until it hit stage 2 and then go PvE the Warlord instances. Now that the cities are changed and a warband of RR0 players could probably kill the King (assuming there is no opposition) I see no reason for Tyrant gear to not be given the wards it is due. And if you’re wondering why I arbitrarily give it Excelsior wards, its due to the stat similarities with Warlord gear; Darkpromise is to Invader as Tyrant is to Warlord. Make sense? Ok!
Before I jump into my post on ToVL I would like to ‘briefly’ throw around some sites for you to clicky on.
- First off we have the changes being made to tanks and the new armor sets thread. Several points here – first off I like the changes being made to guard requiring a shield, this is a good step for tanks and will truly force players to choose between tanking and dpsing. Secondly we have the fortitude stat which I am none too fond of. I know Mythic is trying to up the TTK, but on tanks? Really? They’re hard enough to kill as is, why make them harder? Last off we have the two new armor sets Doomflayer and Warpforged, presumably the former is RR81-90 and the latter RR91-100. My only beef with this is why is practically every armor set in the game Destruction themed? Redeye – Goblin tribe; Bloodlord – Khorne, Chaos God of Blood; Darkpromise – Slaanesh, also Chaos God; Carnage, Havoc, Mayhem, Ruin are all just synonyms of Destruction; Decimator, Obliterator, Devastator, Annihilator are all just forms of Destruction; and arguably considering that all the campaigns take place predominately on Order territory ergo they are defensive campaigns then one can assume that Conqueror, Invader, and Warlord are Destruction conquering and invading Ulthuan/The Empire/The Dwarf lands. I guess Order has the Keeper set, we are Keepers of peace -shrugs-. Its clear that Mythic has a fascination with Destruction.
- Next up we have the PTS feedback thread. Now I did not attend because it was not in my time-frame, but from what I heard from people attending and what I have read thus far it seems that the zerg will prevail once again. I heard of nothing but being camped in keeps, making it impossible to protect resource carries to upgrade keeps. On the forum it would seem predominantly Destruction loved the changes (since they were the ones on the offense) and Order which was outnumbered and on the defensive disliked the changes. Personally I find respawning in the keeps a plain stupid idea. You want people to go to the keeps instantly? Then put a quest giver in the warcamp that teleports people to the keep so long as the doors are up (like the mirror in the LoTD warcamps). At least when you were spawn-camped in warcamps you had multiple avenues of entering the RvR lake, now you’re just stuck in a keep with 5x wounds debuffs.
- Finally Waaagh.de has some screenies of new mounts. Interestingly enough the concept art for these mounts existed in like 2007 so I am guessing Mythic is starting to dig up old stuff that was never implemented instead of actually crankin’ the brain machines and making up new stuff.
Ok onto the Turkey-fight!
Tomb of the Vulture Lord (ToVL)
ToVL was released during the Rise of the Tomb Kings live event in June of 2009 along with the Land of the Dead new PvPvE zone, making it among the newest content in Warhammer (the only thing newer is Hunter’s Vale). It is clear that a lot of thought and innovation went into designing this dungeon; however, clearly it was never fully thought out as it is littered with bugs, and I’m not talking about the scarabs. Once again apologies for the lack of screenies.
Time Commitment – Ah the trickiest of issues. One of the main griefs from the community is time regarding ToVL because this aspect takes on two forms. First off we have the time of accessing the dungeon. Unlike all other dungeons in Warhammer which are available at all times and can be regularly scheduled, access to ToVL is dependent on which zone has access to Land of the Dead (its locked at all times by one faction or the other). So you can’t just say ‘lets start at 7pm EST Wednesday because you have no way of knowing if you will have LoTD at your scheduled time. The only way to get around this issue is to ‘park’ your toon in LoTD days/hours before and play an alt in the mean time. This limited access of the dungeon is a big issue and can easily stretch the time commitment. Within the dungeon itself the time commitment is dependent on your luck of the roll on the bugs. I have cleared bosses 1-7 in two hours, I have cleared bosses 1-7 in eight hours. On a bugless run when you can one-shot every boss then the dungeon isn’t too time consuming, but unfortunately the dungeon has an abundance of bugs which increase its duration.
Layout – ToVL is the first linear dungeon in Warhammer (even though Hunter’s Vale, the first dungeon I wrote about, is also one, it was released after ToVL). I am unsure what Mythic was thinking with this design but I am a huge opponent of it. From the Sewers of Altdorf to Lost Vale, all the dungeons had wings, allowing you to do the content you wanted if you only needed one piece. However, in ToVL if your whole group only needs the chest/cape then you still have to beat the boots/shoulders/helm bosses. For me nothing says time-sink more than doing content you have no need to do.
Design – ToVL is a six man instance requiring Greater Wards. It has a quest line attached to it (Dark Heart of Zandri) which awards additional Cartouches and a Funerary Mask, but it is not mandatory. As I have mentioned before access to the dungeon requires you to have access to Land of the Dead. Additionally this is the first dungeon which has a PvP mechanic – you can be ‘purged’ by the opposing realm if they have control of the zone and they can kick you out. Each boss is designed around a Public Quest (its hardly Public) which upon completion will give you access to the boss; justly so killing the boss will give you a PQ loot roll for bags – the golden one containing a golden cartouche. There are also three traps before each of the first three bosses for you to master.
Boss Mechanics –
- The Regiment of Khsar & The Hand of Ualapt – The first boss we encounter is an Ushabti with four phases, the first of which is always the same and the remaining three are random. He changes phases every 25% of his health. His first phase is the Scorpion phase. During this phase he will hit very hard and has a large hitting cleave; however the cleave is divided amongst the people that take it. He will also remove guard during this phase so your dps has to be careful not to pull aggro if a tank loses guard and doesn’t reapply it fast enough. The remaining three phases are Asp, Scarab, and Carrion. During the Asp phase any range dps attacks will cause the attacker to immediately take around 6000 unmitigated damage, so you have to get within melee range (fortunately with the removal of minimum range this stage is no longer an issue). During the Scarab phase he does a channeled damage to everyone, you simply heal through it. The hardest phase is the Carrion phase during which he will spin and deal around 2-3k damage per second while he is spinning to anyone within about 20 feet of him. To counter this you have to knock him down, after which he will stand up and need to be knocked down again.
- Boss 2: Usirian’s Vault & Usirian’s Keeper – Our second boss has no aggro table in the normal sense. The room he is in is full of gold dust which debuffs everyone’s effective range to 5 feet (mainly affecting rdps and single target heals). His mechanic is that he will aggro on whoever is the farthest away from him and rush them swiping twice for 50% health (irregardless of if you have 1k health of 10k health). This boss is designed around a location memory mechanic so what he will do is memorize where the person who is farthest away is standing and rush that point and kneel there, during which time this person runs like hell away from that location or they will be swiped. If you are a crappy kiter and move too slowly he will hit you twice and kill you, if you are good then he will only hit you once, if you are excellent then you can get away unscathed. The only time to damage him is while he is kneeling for 10 seconds. After these 10 seconds he will stand up and rush the person farthest away again and the remaining 5 people chase after him to dps him, and be careful to not get caught in between the boss and the kiter or you will be swiped and killed! His final mechanic is he summons weapons on a timer. After about a minute he will summon swords which circle the floor of the room and do 1k damage to anyone they hit. About two minutes after that he summons bows which shoot anyone. His third round of weapons is more swords and bows, and his forth round is maces which do an aoe-cleave. If you see maces… you’ve taken too long.
- The Sepulcher of Swords & High Priest Herakh – Here we have our first encounter with Herakh, who you will learn to love to hate. Upon starting the fight he will randomly teleport to one of four alcoves in the room and begin to cast a channeled ability that deals 500 damage every half second to all party members and can only be broken by a melee attack (and you better hope whoever hits him first can take the initial beating). His next trick is he will cast this golden bubble around him every 30 seconds which upon explosion will pretty much one shot anyone that isn’t a tank. This explosion is followed by more golden tentacles of channeled doom to be broken by a melee attack. Additionally he will cast a debuff on all players which reduces armor, healing, and dps, and yes it stacks – naturally this debuff has to be cleansed by your healers. Every 20% of his health he will disappear and teleport to a new alcove making you run like a monkey to stop his golden tentacles of channeled doom and jump out of golden bubbles of doom. Get him down to 5% and he runs away like a pansy to live and fight another day.
- The Ossuary of Annointed & High Priest Herakh – Again we have our friend Herakh. This time his tricks are pretty much the same with a few variations. He will still do his golden bubble of doom and debuffs but he no loner does the tentacles of channeled doom. Instead he picks up the new trick of throwing people into coffins for 30 seconds, you have to release your friend from their grim fate by standing on a glyph in front of the coffin. If someone gets thrown in twice then he gets three absorb buffs which have to be shattered by a tank (or WH/WE). So get thrown in coffins, jump out, run out of bubbles of doom, cleanse, stand on glyphs, yay! Get him down to 5% and he runs away again
- The Hall of Awakening & High Priest Herakh – Guess who…. Herakh! Don’t worry this is the last time and certainly the most enjoyable encounter with him. To start with I have to briefly discuss the PQ before hand to describe his fight. Upon entering the room you see give coffins in an arc. Herakh is hidden behind a golden glyph (of doom) and after his monologue he summons the two left most (facing him) mobs on the coffins. Upon killing one the third comes to life, upon killing another the fourth, and upon killing another the 5th. Briefly the champions are a Champion – tank who has guard on other champion, a Curate: aoe cleave super hard hitting, and a Occultist – magical rdps caster. Once you have killed all give of the champions on the coffins then he finally comes out of his golden glyph (of doom) and resurrects the first fallen champion. The trick is to kill the champion and then focus on Herakh. During this first encounter with him he will still do his golden bubble and debuff which needs cleansing (but only during this time, I am unsure if it is bugged that he no longer does this afterwards). After you ‘kill’ him, the golden glyphs on his platform go away and you can attack this tiny jar on top of the platform (it contains his tarnished soul) and you only have about 30 seconds to get the jar down 25%. After this time has elapsed you get knocked back from the jar, the glyphs go back up preventing you from attacking it, and Herakh comes back to full life and brings the second champ. Kill second champ, kill Herakh again, glyph goes down, get jar to 50% (or more) and punt. Rinse and repeat with Herakh and 3rd champ and jar to 25%. Rise and repeat with Herakh and forth champ and by now the jar must die or else you pretty much wiped. After the forth encounter with the jar Herakh comes to life the last time with the fifth champ and you kill the champ and Herakh. If you got the jar down he stays dead and you win! If you didn’t manage to get the jar down he comes back to life and kicks your ass.
- Sepulcher of Eternity & The Scorpion Brothers – These guys are a pain in the ass, simply put. You’re looking at three lords which have to be tanked and killed (each with a 6 minute enrage timer – if you kill one the timer should reset on all three but in its recent ‘fix’ Mythic broke it so it doesn’t and the other two still enrage). Each scorpion is surrounded by six pillars, at any time 9 pillars should be up (should as in that’s how it should work, but sometimes you get bonus free pillars! Yay harder fight!) Each pillar adds 10% harder-to-killiness to its respective scorpion (Tumaini, Akil, Jahi are their names, apparently they came from Harry Potter), by that I mean they take 10% less damage and do 10% more damage; 6 pillars means they’re going to one shot your ass irregardless of who you are, so you want to try to balance the pillars between the three scorpions so you can kill them. Unfortunately after you kill the first you’ve still got nine pillars to distribute amongst the two remaining scorpions, yay. Should you kill the second scorpion then you have six pillars on the last. Now the way to knock down the buffs is to attack the pillar and knock it down by jumping on it, after a while it will pop back up and your camera will do wonderful things as you bop up and down in the room standing on a pillar.
- Sepulcher of Dominion & Hierophant Eutra’ta – This boss use to be loads harder but has since been toned down to a more manageable level. First thing she will do is block the exits to the room with a sandstorm of death and throw four colored circles of three colors (red green blue) on four players. You have 15 seconds to merge the circles and get a golden aura, but if two of the same color touch each other, those people die. During the first phase she will throw colors on you and summon the Cousins of the King who walk around the room on a set path surrounded by a whirlwind of sand which does several thousand damage per second to anyone that they touch. To get rid of the sandstorm you reduce their movement speed (snares, knockdowns, roots). This whole time she will randomly shoot lightning out at anyone within line of sight – fortunately there are lots of things in the room to break line of sight. Once you kill these two the person with the golden bubble penetrates her golden bubble to break it (keep the dirty thoughts to yourself) and then you have 20 seconds to dps her (hopefully 25%), at either rate if you get her down 25% before the timer is up she will knock you off her platform and put up her golden bubble again. After you are knocked out she will reapply the four colored circles which you have 15 seconds to get rid of and she will call forth the brothers of the king who are archers. Once again line of sight lightning applies. Kill the Brothers and break her golden bubble and knock her down another 25%. Get knocked out again and she does the colors again and calls for the Uncles of the King who are sorta like sorcs or the augers from the first PQ. They throw down red puddles which do a lot of damage so you have to move out of the puddle and move out of line of sight from her or she will lightning you. Kill the Uncles, break her bubble, get her down to 25% and knocked out again. Last round of colors, this time you get a Cousin of the King and Uncle of the King (so sandstorm man and sorc man). Generally after people get their golden bubble they ignore the two heroes and just burst her bubble and kill her, after which they despawn. All this in 10 minutes.
- Chamber of the Vulture Lord & King Amenemhetum, The Vulture Lord – Last boss, whew! He is by no means easy and indeed a dps race. First off all throughout the fight skeletons will summon from the side alcoves and make their way to him, should they reach him you get golden lazers of doom from your eyes and explode. Wipe. Secondly he will throw a curse on players which is a hefty DoT that needs cleansing. Thirdly he will buff himself and it has to be shattered or he will one-shot the main tank and…. wipe. That all happens throughout the whole fight. In terms of phases he has three. When you get him down to 79% he will run to his Casket of Souls and open it releasing a golden light (of doom) which will vaporize anyone it touches, to avoid it you hide behind a pillar. He then closes his casket and destroys the pillar the main tank is hiding behind. After this the roof becomes unstable so you can’t stand on the floor marked with skulls, you have to fight him on an elevated platform or the roof will collapse on your ass and kill you (like it has me). Get him down to 60% and he goes into his third phase which is sucking everyone into the Casket of Souls. You have 30 seconds for someone to get out or you’re in there for eternity and…. wipe. Also there are ghosts in the casket which will snare you if you touch them so stay away from the cooties and run towards the light for salvation. You get your tank to pop out first and get aggro, then everyone gets out. After this he will randomly throw one person back into the casket, on even times someone is in the casket (so the 2nd time, 4th, etc) nothing happens, but on the odd times he does his light display. That’s ‘all’ there is too him… briefly put.
Loot Mechanics – ToVL was the first dungeon to introduce repairable gear based on archtype. This change was huge for the world of Warhammer PvE. Over were the days of endless grinding of dungeons only to see pieces drop for classes not present. The only catch is that the drop rate of the repairable Tyrant gear is rather low, so low in fact that I have done a few ToVL runs with not a single Tyrant piece dropping from all 8 bosses. The first boss (The Hand of Ualapt) drops Tyrant Boots for dps classes. The second boss (Usirian’s Keeper) drops Tyrant Boots for tanks and healers. The third, fourth and fifth bosses (High Preist Herakh) drop Dwarf/Greenskin, Empire/Chaos, High Elf/Dark Elf Tyrant Shoulders respectively. The sixth boss (The Scorpion brothers) drops the Tyrant Helm for tanks and healers. The seventh boss (Heirophant Eutra’ta) drops the Tyrant Helm for dps classes. The eighth and final boss (The Vulture Lord) drops the Tyrant Chest and the PQ loot roll from him gives Funerary Masks of which you need 6 to buy your Tyrant Belt and Gloves. The dungeon also has a cape/jewelery set attatched to it. The first piece of this set has to be bought with 12 golden cartouches from the vendor in the LoTD warcamp. As an easy rule of thumb the second piece of this set comes from bosses 1 & 2, the third piece from bosses 3-5, and the fourth jewelry piece from bosses 6 & 7. The cape for this set drops off of the eighth boss.
Lockout – 2 days 20 hours
Lore – So the lore for ToVL is really the lore of the Tomb Kings which I will not attempt to describe in full. Short version of it is Amenemhetum was a Tomb King, ruler of Zandri (part of the Kingdom of Nehekara whose capital was at Khemri). His main achievement in ‘life’ was constructing a massive navy and conquering the coasts in the name of Ualapt, the Vulture god. So generally speaking the lore for ToVL exists and is pretty accurate, sadly the realm and its associated army are confined to this one city. Fortunately there is tons of room if Mythic ever so choose to expand the Tomb Kings further south into the deserts of the Southlands for a true Rise of the Tomb Kings.
Overall Rating – I’m going to have to be stern here and give ToVL 3/5 stars. The boss fights are clearly well thought out and unique, artistically it is amazing, the traps are an awesome innovation; however, the dungeon is surrounded by a thick fog of downfalls. Its access is dependent on your realm owning Land of the Dead (which personally I feel is stupid considering Zandri is just west of the Marshes of Madness. If you look at my earlier post about Dwarf v Greenskin geography and consider the distances traveled in this paring it is absolutely dumb that you couldn’t just walk over the mountains from the Marshes of Madness to Zandri and instead had to take an airship from Altdorf/the IC which are thousands of miles to the north.) Secondly the instance has so many bugs that it is a heart ache – it took Mythic over a year to fix the seemingly simple issue of the gates at the entrance not opening when your party wiped on a boss. Thirdly the dungeon is linear forcing you to do bosses you no longer need to do and creating a large time sink. Lastly, although the loot is repairable and therefore guaranteeing its utility to any class present should it drop, its drop rate is deceivingly low making for a rather iffy ‘should it drop’ – I would almost rather have one piece of that archtype drop and take my chances than hope that a ‘x’ piece will drop and get sad droopy ears only to see the boss dropped a glyph and a stupid flower.
R.I.P Indiana Jones. You couldn’t beat the Vulture Lord.