Wake up! No one sleeps through Epic Elite
Leveling Sparksy back up into Epic levels has been pretty easy. A couple of quests were difficult at level, but not that many. Most of the quests that weren’t cakewalks were simply long, and duration does not all by itself equal challenge.
We are running everything on Elite, when we are two levels above the quest CR. Quests on Elite are also two levels higher, so that makes a match; this is what we mean by saying that we are running them “at level”.
It wasn’t all flowers and cotton candy. In the Demons Den kicked our asses the first time. Acute Delirium, Stealer of Souls, and What Goes Up were all quite difficult too. But we have a powerful combination of characters, my Gamer Girl and I, and in particular she is quite good at the game. I don’t suck, except sometimes, and I can approach a competent skill level when I am playing the same character for awhile. But my Gamer Girl is in fact quite good, by any measure, and often pulls us out of near failure by sheer buttoneering ability and her uncanny expertise at staying alive.
We power through. Usually, smoothly, with elan even. But then came Epics.
Epic Elite is a real test. I don’t think there are enough hit points in the world to keep Sparksy alive through most of these quests. Her dog either, although it is approaching 1000 hit points.
In spite of this, we still do pretty well, especially in quests we know, and especially when we are able to pick out the bad guys one or two at a time. Getting swarmed though, no real way to deal with swarms in Epic Elite. Opponent saving throws are so good on EE that even when crowd control works – which isn’t all that often – even then, it doesn’t last very long; they aren’t going to continue failing their saving throws.
We have to use terrain better, and agro management, and be smarter about activating the bad guys. Which is simply not always possible. So we run away a lot.
I think that is my favorite thing about Epic Elites: it brings back running away. We used to have to run away in tabletop D&D all the time. But almost never in DDO. Fight or die, but rarely run away.
In EE though, my Gamer Girl and I run away all the time. All the time. And it often helps, stringing out the bad guys and letting us go back to picking them out in ones and twos.
We have to be even more vigilant about keeping our character capabilities maxed out too. Normally I am pretty lazy about swapping up equipment, maybe once every four levels or so I will update my gear. Maybe not. But in EE that is no longer an option. Keeping your DCs and hit points and mana as high as you can is much more important.
For instance, consider Sparksy’s armor. I’d been wearing level 14 armor since … level 14. No more. Now it is level 22, +4 Fearsome of Superior Stability (with a Heavy Fort augment); the highest level armor I can craft. Next up will have to be something named, probably dragon scale.
So it goes with her other gear. As suggested by my clever readers, I epified her Doublecross Bow and her Silver Slinger. I upgraded most of her stat boosters to +8. And so on. In Epic Elite, there is no more “good enough”. It either is good, or it is not, and when it is not you are going to die more often.
I haven’t found any epic Rune Arms yet. I am making do with Animus for things that can be Banished, Hand of the Tombs for things that can be Disrupted, Tira’s Splendor for situational defense and Lucid Dreams for general use. I have to do a lot of swapping.
Now Sparksy is level 23. We made it through the level 21 Epics on Elite pretty smoothly, although we got our asses handed to us in the Battle for Eveningstar – masses of bad guys that can’t be controlled are just so deadly. Many deaths. We learned to have our fights right by the shrines. We won, but barely, and with massive damage to our equipment and egos.
But it was so rewarding. It’s like the game is fresh again. No more nodding off at the keyboard, we are going to have to play to the very edge of our abilities to win.
I like that.
🙂 😀 🙂
p.s. I wrote this yesterday. Then last night we ran Sschindylryn. All of it, four quests, on EE. I was level 23, my Gamer Girl was 24, and we rocked it. All of it. I died, but I always do, no difference there. When we logged off, it felt like we had really accomplished something!