Feb 192013

PUGging Tempest's Spine

With Chelena Armstrong now safely back amongst the ranks of the Epic (and the reasonably-well-dressed), my attention returns to my long-term project, my eventual completionist, Mawry.

Poor Mawry. Working on her is almost always the second thing to do on my list, right as soon as I finish whatever interesting thing that I actually want to do. Playing the continuously TR-ing character feels more like something I should do, rather than something I want to do, and I am a procrastinator; I generally avoid all things that I should do.

But I do love Mawry, she is the original Halfling Commando, and my “main” character – if someone who has 15 characters on one server can be said to have a “main”.

When we last left our heroine, she had achieved level 12 on her sixth life, this time a DEX-based two-weapon-fighting Evasion Battlecleric. While a DEX-based battle-cleric seems a strange choice (and to be honest, it is a strange choice), her combination of dual Lightning II weapons and a steady stream of radiant healing blasts has been extremely effective. I know that her ability to DPS will begin to lag behind the monster hit point curve soon, but it hasn’t yet, and right now she is golden, her Elite streak continuing effortlessly.

But she is bumping up against rank 66 and is going to have to take level 13. Soon. Checking, there is only one level 10 quest left that I haven’t yet run and that has enough XP to ensure that I hit it before leveling.

Tempest’s Spine.

The original raid*, Tempest’s Spine is fun, but … note the use of the word “but” … but can be utterly painful depending on who else is in your group. The quest is huge in space and features several twists and turns including a lengthy underwater swim. It is very easy to get separated, and your fun adventure can quickly degrade to a continuing series of rescues, mis-guidings, and “where are you guys?”

* When the game first shipped it had a level cap of 10 and this was the only raid. Seriously. Tempest’s Spine was once the Endgame.

Worse, poor communications can just torpedo you entirely, either early (in the Fire and Ice section) or later, when you need three Runes/Sigils and are unable to find out who grabbed them.

Worse still, you just can’t duo this and there are no guild-mates online; Just my Gamer Girl and I. We are going to have to <gulp> PUG the rest of the group. I can’t remember the last time I PUGged anything. We’ve been duo-ing or guilding everything for months. But there’s nothing for it, just put up the LFM and hope for the best.

The group takes awhile to fill. I get invitation requests from some unusual builds, wizard/artificer mixes and worse, but I feel that I owe it to PUG kharma to accept; after all I have asked people to accept unusual builds myself, hundreds of times. It is only fair.

My Gamer Girl, playing a Druid, notes that she has more hitpoints than anyone in the group except for one of the barbarians. I note that my DEX-based battlecleric has more hitpoints than anyone in the group too, excepting my Gamer Girl and the afore-mentioned barbarian. But I out-hitpioint the other barbarian handily.

Not a great sign, but we knew what we were getting into when we decided to do this.

I am also worried about the healing. I am on a cleric but don’t heal except in the form of Radiant Bursts, although I have pumped my Charisma and have a lot of Bursts and can throw them freely. The other cleric in the group wanted us to wait while he “turned in collectibles”. Not that there is anything wrong with turning in collectibles, it is just not something that you hear veterans talking about very often. Nonetheless, that is our healing corps, a battlecleric and an (apparent) newbie.

I resolve to spend more time healing, even as I know that I will forget to do so until people start dying around me. I ask my Gamer Girl to remind me to focus on healing, and she does, immediately, which is funny but not as helpful as I would have wanted.

Eventually we get tired of waiting and start out with only ten in the group. Time for the initial run: I have seen groups disintegrate right here, stragglers getting lost, confusion about the various paths to the first cave entrance. But no, everyone arrives without incident. We are all standing in a tight little knot. There is even buffing! Whoa, nice! The last two spots fill and both of the new party members know the way! Whoa, nicer!

The first fight is a cakewalk, our unusual artificer build is able to handle the first traps with aplomb, and soon we face the first real test: Fire and Ice.

I set out after Ice and quickly have him and a coterie of Mephits and Giants and … oops, I am a soulstone? What? I have to go to the combat log to see the 392-point Disintegrate that did me in.

But the group picks it up and quickly puts Ice down. I am able to make it to the nearby shrine. We are all alive again (well I am the only one who had died) and the chase is on for Fire. We manage to get Fire in time too – clearly Turbine has increased the time we are allowed between killing Ice and Fire – and are through the first real test with no real trouble.

And that is how the entire run goes. No one runs way ahead, no one lags way behind, no one gets lost, no one (else) dies. The other cleric has his Radiant Aura up and both of us spam the Radiant Bursts and that seems to be enough; no one takes all that much damage. I even throw cures out, a couple of times! Yay me!

Everyone leaves the Runes alone so that I can collect them, everyone stays close together, it is a thing of beauty. I’ve had guild runs that were more chaotic (although to be fair, I am in a chaotic guild).

The only issue in the entire run happens at the very end: Sorjek makes his final stand atop a critical piece of the floor puzzle and someone keeps flipping the puzzle piece by accident. Even this issue is overcome; extra Radiant Bursts keep everyone up while we get the puzzle back together. Three times.

And then it is over: commence looting. A nice, fast, fun Tempest’s Spine run.

The quality of PUGs has improved!

🙂 😀 🙂

  5 Responses to “The PUG of DOOM! Or is it?”

Comments (5)
  1. I have mostly soloed TS at level or 1 above level, back on one of Java’s early TRs. But i ran out of time to finish on the way to the last stone. But i am sorry i missed this run. My arty leveled to 11 last night and has xp to take 12 but i held back incase i wanted to run this raid.

  2. I wish PUG’s were as pleasant for me… My spellsinger bard, Hawklilly Suresong, has hit a point where I can’t seem to effectively solo elite quests any more (I’m lvl 8, trying to solo lvl 5 elite quests). I have the feeling I am either doing something wrong or I have a major problem with my build. Every PUG I get into though is full of expert zergers who laugh at the poor bard trying to keep up.


  3. Last time I ran TS, like a week or so ago, I also noticed the increased timer to finish Fire & Ice. I was like “Meh, we failed it… oh, wait… we succeeded?”

    Regarding PUG quality improvement, I remember one of my last Shroud, like two months ago, where the average HP in the party was a but less than 400 and apparently few vets, party managed to reach the end fight with little trouble on Hard. Many party members were not expecting to even reach part 4.

  4. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but its pretty rare I’ve ever been in a truly bad pug.. some will have their hairy moments admittedly & others we’ve crashed & burned hard, but a lot of the time we’ve managed to laugh it off & just try again. Pretty nice when you get groups like that, completing smoothly is nice but sometimes a heroic (but failed) attempt can be a lot of fun.

  5. I have done this twice now with two of us at lvl 12. So it is possible to duo it. It can take a while if you get knocked off the platform though.

What do you think?

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