Storming the Ballistae

 Posted by at 7:34 am  DDO, Game Play
Jul 232014
 

Pirate maps!
We stormed the beaches but all we found were these treasure maps

Last week I wrote about the awesome awesomeness of the ballistae in Three-Barrel Cove. Not convinced, apparently, readers in the comments urged me to run the new-ly epified and be-ballista’d quest Storm the Beaches and see what I thought about the new ballistae then.

And so I did. Epic Elite with my Gamer Girl. We are levels 27 and 28 while the quest is only level 22; I expect little difficulty, other than maybe the apparently much-feared ballista.

We choose the sneaky back route. Clearing wildmen and wolves, we soon find ourselves looking down at the pirate fortress. I open fire on the nearest ballista; I mean, it can’t shoot straight up, right? It’s on a primitive wooden gimble. The maximum arc of fire can’t be more than 50, maybe 60 degrees. At most.

I see the ballista pulling back to draw, but it is flat, pointing straight ahead rather than up. As I expected. I keep firing.

The ballista fires. I can see the missile, a long flaming spear. It is somehow defying physics to shoot straight up even though the launcher never aimed upwards. Straight at me. Time to go!

[DING] Your party member, Sparksy has died.

I was too late. I exploded.

But my Gamer Girl was safely back from the precipice and did not explode, and soon I am back on my feet and recalculating the best angle of attack.

I come up with a jumping/shooting/moving approach that is having some effect. I fire some bolts, watch the ballista, move away when it is close to firing, wait for the explosion, move back, repeat. Total precision is required, if I move back a shade to slow, or return to firing position a shade too soon I am done for.

It is slow progress, but it is progress, and the ballista’s hit points are going down. Suddenly:

[DING][DING][DING][DING] All of the hirelings have suddenly died. My Gamer Girl is yelling something about re-spawn? WTF? I turn to see what is what but my ballista rhythm is broken and …

[DING] Your party member, Sparksy has died.

The stupid ballista got me when I was looking around for respawn.

[DING] It got my Gamer Girl too. It’s a wipe.

When we reconvene and regroup, we also re-strategize. The back way in was the right approach, but we can’t stay on the cliffs. We need to clear the top of the pirate fort right away and then use that as a stable base of operations, free from respawn, with stout stone parapets to keep us well back from any exploding missile launchers.

And that turns out to be the key to victory. We take out the pirates first – a surprisingly difficult task, they hit much harder than one would expect in a level 22 quest, must be the epic elite thing – but one we know well. The pirates are soon cleared.

I again address the ballistae, but this time my rhythm is simpler: jump up, shoot, repeat. No running about. Half of the flaming missiles shoot harmlessly over my head, and the walls of the fortress are enough to protect me from those that are on target. Unlike archers with bows, the ballista isn’t fast enough to hit me while I am still in the air from my jump.

Storming the Ballista
Jump. Shoot. Repeat.

And then we figure out the best tactic of all. I draw fire and run to safety, while my Gamer Girl calmly walks up to the thing and puts a couple of her Freezer Burn-powered damage-over-time spells on it. The ballistae really do not have many hit points; glass cannons indeed if not fact.

Very quickly they are all gone and we are inside the fortress heading towards the end game. Here our over-level power is overwhelming and soon we are looting; quest over.

All in all, fun! The ballista are as cranky and touchy as advertised. They add a nice, epic feel to the whole thing. One addresses a ballista with caution and precision; focus is required. Mistakes when fighting a ballista are terminal, there is no undo.

Even after we figured them out. Even still. Beating them became straightforward but never routine: you have to respect the power. There is no undo.

So there you have it, skeptical readers, now I’ve been on both sides of the newly revamped ballistae. Targetter and targettee.

And you know what? Still awesome.

:) :D :)

  5 Responses to “Storming the Ballistae”

Comments (5)
  1. I don’t know how many people know this, but the ballista are manned by operators, and if you take out the operators, there’s a pause until the next enemy heads over there and takes over, giving you a moderate amount of time to take them out, either through ranged, or even melee. Just a tip!

    • Yes, a number of folks noted the manning of the ballistae in the larger thread on this quest, and the DDO Wiki warned not to use charms on those guys or it could cause the quest to become uncompletable (the ballistae can’t be targeted, I presume).

      I find that (as with similar guards that could activate alarms, like the kobolds in “Blockade Barrier”) that even my best ranged character can’t dispatch those guards fast enough before they reach one, leaving me to the merciless response by a ballista(e). It seemed better to do what Geoff did: (1) Establish a stable spot and (2) stick and move. Even with this, if you’re out of place atop the fortress, too close to the edge, the AoE of those tree-trunk bombs was wide and fatal.

  2. Gratz to the both of you! I love the humbling nature of this quest, forcing people to stop going HULK SMASH and think. Hate to be in a PUG that doesn’t think that way.

  3. If you have a surly group of savy savages, have one team take the back way to handle the top and bali and send the other team underwater thru the back door to clear the innards (you enter at the shrine with the water ellies). Its neat when both objectives get completed around the same time.

  4. Exploding adventurers, that’s certainly a setback, glad to see you overcame it. :)

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