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5.10.1 PTS Refresh #3 (24th of January, 2019)

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Public Test Server
5.10.1 PTS Refresh #3 (24th of January, 2019)
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MattPucevich's Avatar

01.24.2019 , 01:56 PM | #1 This is the last staff post in this thread.  

Hooray for sneaking in one extra refresh to play with some tweaks! Unfortunately a couple last second tweaks missed the boat, so you'll just have to see them on live.

Note that even though we won't be able to put up another refresh, we'll still be able to make minor tweaks based on feedback for another couple of days, even though we won't be able to put up another refresh, so please continue to provide feedback =)

Hive of the Mountain Queen:

  • A weekly quest to defeat the Veteran mode of Hive of the Mountain Queen is now available from the Ossus mission board (this grants the monumental data crystal). Note that completion of the Ossus story missions is a prereq for all board missions.
  • The Hive of the Mountain Queen area now has its final loading screen of star-warsy explorers making their way through the hive.
  • It is no longer possible to mount within the Hive of the Mountain Queen area.
  • Hive Goo now actually applies the 33% snare described in its tooltip.

Elite/Royal Guards:
  • Elite and Royal Guards now have Alertness (sleep immunity).
  • Staggering Strike no longer grants the Determined buff (taunt immunity) to its caster.
  • Increased cast time of Concentration from 0.5s to 1.0s.
  • Added a placeholder impact FX to Staggering Strike to make it more noticeable when the player is hit by the ability (the final version of this did not make the PTS refresh). The Queen's Overhead Skewer has been updated to use the same FX.
  • Royal Guards (NOT Elite Guards) have a new "Guardian's Resolve" mechanic. Whenever a Royal Guard dies, all other living Royal Guards within 70m receive the Guardian's Resolve buff and become CC immune.

Mutated Geonosian Queen:

All Modes:
  • The Queen's first use of Pheromonic Multi-Blast will now only hit two targets (subsequent uses will hit the usual 3).

  • Bantling Lacerator health reduced by about 1/7.
  • The Queen's health has been increased to compensate a bit for the reduced Lacerator HP (It's ballpark +5% or so).
  • Guillotine now actually uses Guillotine's ability appearance (instead of trying to play the Royal Guards' Execute visuals). The net effect is that the Queen will actually animate during the attack, as opposed to menacingly staring down her target until it explodes.
  • Overhead Skewer's stun can no longer be stun broken.

Some things that missed the refresh train:
  • In Veteran Mode, the Queen, Elite Guards, and Royal Guards will show an "Executioner" flavor buff that explains that these enemies powermurder stunned targets.
  • The final versions of the updated FX for executioner stuns (Staggering Strike / Overhead Skewer) will use the same golden core flare impact, while the execute abilities (Execute / Guillotine) will use the same golden "X" scratch impact. This will let players clearly see when each has happened, and visually link the similar mechanic across all the enemies that use it.
  • The Queen's Overhead Skewer stun debuff (Skewer Stun) will have an updated tooltip that specifically mentions that it cannot be broken.
  • Staggering Strike's tooltip will be slighly funnier.
Matt Pucevich | Designer
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RikuvonDrake's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 01:12 AM | #2
On PTS, both this iteration and the prior one, Tanks are able to min/max their gear and stats a lot more using item modifications such as Superior Lethal Mod 56B, Superior Warding Mod 56B, Superior Steadfast Enhancement 56 and Superior Vigilant Enhancement 56. Could you give us some hints regarding the developer's plan for how these items will be introduced to the game and how players will be able to acquire them and their schematic?

Are these item modifications (and other alternative item modifications not found on the live server) a PTS exclusive, and if so, what is the point of testing content with such gear that is not accessible to players on live servers?

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Darittha's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 01:25 AM | #3
regarding previous post: in the past we were forced to use lower rating if we wanted to use endurance mods in our gear. like when maximum rating was 248, the best endurance mods were only 246 rating and they could only be obtained via crafting, never from some piece of gear. im hoping this time youll finally make them 258 rating as they should be imo. (and yes i am aware that you did put 248 endurance mods into the game BUT - and this is a huge but, they only drop from command crates. and after some 800 opened crates i only got two 248 mods one of which was useless to me anyway so i feel pretty safe saying that this method isnt viable, not even enough to gear up 1 character, let alone for gearing up alt chars.)

this time it would be nice if, after u implement the queen into the game, you also put mods and enhancements into the masterwork gear vendors inventory. u already made crystals for 252+258 gear to be pretty hard to get and slow to farm so its not like ppl would get full gear instantly.

ceryxp's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 11:01 AM | #4
So Matt (or Eric), since this will be the last PTS refresh does that mean we can expect 5.10.1 to go live Soon(TM)*? Like maybe 5th or 12th February.

* No mention of any date is set in stone, immutable, unchangeable, guaranteed, warrantied, or definitely going to happen and can change at any time, for pretty much any reason, including, among other possibilities: total protonic reversal, detonation of the Cron Cluster, the hamsters going on strike until they get a higher grade grease for their wheels, being eaten by rakghoul's, or being replaced by gizka that breed out of control preventing the techs from getting into the building to press the power button, Charles forgetting to bring donuts, Keith eating the last donut, the donut bearer becoming infected with the rakghoul plague after purchasing donuts from that new donut shop that just opened that is actually run by the Sith and the entire office turning into rakghouls, the arrival of the Gray Secant to digitize the Earth to find out if the answer really is 42, or Eric having a bad hair day. We understand things happen .
Click the link. You know you wanna. You'll get free stuff. -

Rion_Starkiller's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 12:03 PM | #5
I'd like to know how soon™ too. Can't wait for this boss
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Jerba's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 05:47 PM | #6
Unfortunately, with the latest changes the boss is now tuned too difficult for its intended target, 252 gear. Specifically, the following two changes have buffed the boss to the point where it can now be considered a MM boss requiring 258 gear:
  • Tanks can no longer use stun break on Overhead Skewer.
  • Boss HP was increased by 6.7%.
These changes must be reverted before 5.10.1, or the boss must be nerfed in another way. Otherwise, we will get another HardMare boss that MM raid groups can easily kill but that will be too difficult for VM raid groups, those will kill the boss in SM and ignore VM.

Today, we tried the boss in full 258 gear, all our DPS players had 9k-10k DPS, and we had considerable difficulty on the boss. During most tries, we had players dying to Overhead Skewer/Staggering Strike, and while we sometimes could get them back up with battle/stealth rezzes, we would then lack DPS on the boss, hitting the PMB phase with 30-35% HP even though we should be at 20%.

The change to Overhead Skewer had a huge impact. Previously, we had one tank on the boss while the other tank would handle adds and destroy red eggs. This allowed us to deal with most of the harder mechanics, like preventing Berserker spawns and increasing DPS' uptime on the boss. Our main tank would use his stun break so there'd be no need to do a tank swap. Occasionally, the tank would forget to use stun break and die, but we'd get him back up with a battle rezz and could still kill the boss.

When I first read your post, I thought that disabling stun break is a great change; in a VM fight tanks should be forced to tank swap and not solo tank the boss.
However, when we were actually testing the boss today, our tanks were not prepared for the change. We adjusted our strategy of course, but were then overwhelmed by all the other boss mechanics that we could previously ignore, and that would suddenly cause a wipe. For example, we had too many red eggs and too much incoming raid-wide damage.
In addition, our tanks had trouble doing the tank swap correctly. Even with both tanks assigned to watching the boss, the 1.5s window before Guillotine is too short for tanks to react.

Case in point:
  • 1st Overhead Skewer (~40s): Right before the first Overhead Skewer, the boss often (but not always) does a Kick Out. This results in the main tank losing aggro and being knocked away, and frequently a DPS player would now get aggro.
    Because of this, our tanks panicked and would taunt the boss. If they are not fast enough, Overhead Skewer will hit a DPS and instantly kill him. If the taunt is successful, one tank would be hit by Overhead Skewer but the other tank has to quickly taunt back the boss or else Guillotine kills the first tank.
    In essence, the combination of Kick Out and Overhead Skewer results in two quick tank swaps in a row, which is too overwhelming for a VM boss. This is even more challenging when one tank is too far away to taunt due to Kick Out.
  • 2nd Overhead Skewer (~2m20s): Two Caustic Drones spawn shortly before the second Overhead Skewer. Last week, our strategy was to kill one Caustic Drone and have the tank grab aggro from the other Caustic Drone and destroy red eggs.
    This is no longer possible since tanks now need to focus on the tank swap. Our DPS can't kill both Caustic Drones, especially if there are some Berserkers running around, and we need to use the Caustic Acid spit or else there'll be too many red eggs in the burn phase.
    Our solution was to have one healer grab aggro from the Caustic Drone and destroy some eggs. Then once the tank swap is over, the tank can get the aggro again.
    Unfortunately, this did not work in practice. As a healer, I would quickly get to 4-5 stacks of Caustic Acid which is no longer healable, and the other healer was too busy healing the group to Force Lift the Caustic Drone. Also, after the tank swap, two Guards would spawn, which meant the tanks had no time to handle the Caustic Drones.
    With more time invested, we might have found a better strategy but I feel that this situation is too complex for a VM boss fight; this amount of detailed strategy planning should be reserved for MM, not for VM.
  • 3rd Overhead Skewer (~4m10s): We only had very few tries where we saw the third Overhead Skewer but when it occurred, we were already burning the boss below 5% HP, at which point it doesn't matter if the tank is dead or alive.
You mentioned that the GFX on Overhead Skewer will be improved but I don't expect this to make a huge difference. Tanks die because there is too much RNG (±5 seconds) of when Overhead Skewer is used, and there's only a 1.5s reaction window; no visual effect can help here.

To allow tanks to handle Overhead Skewer without stun breaks, you'd have to:
  1. Increase the GCD after Overhead Skewer from 1.5s to 2.5s so that tanks have more time to do a tank swap before Guillotine is used.
  2. Ensure that the boss cannot use Overhead Skewer right after a Kick Out, so that there is at least 5-10 seconds of time between both abilities.
But these are just guesses, and we'd still be left with the problem of how to handle adds and red eggs. Because with these changes, you'd still have both tanks watching the boss and not paying attention to the other mechanics.

If you want to force players to do a tank swap, there has to be much more testing and rebalancing of the other mechanics. But considering that this is the last PTS patch and my group is losing motivation to do more PTS testing, I advocate to revert the change, and allow tanks to once again use their stun break on Overhead Skewer.
While this allows groups to solo tank the boss, there are more than enough mechanics for an offtank to deal with.

The other problem we had was the 6.7% increase of boss HP. You gave two reasons for increasing the HP: 1. The first PMB now only hits two players, down from three. 2. Bantling Lacerators had their HP reduced by 1/7th.
Originally, the boss had 7.69m HP @ 248 tuning, it was then increased to 7.97m HP (+3.7%) @ 252 tuning. Now it was further increased to 8.51m HP (+6.7%). I don't see how the boss is still tuned for 252:
  • When PMB starts, groups must already be burning the boss. With the first PMB nerfed, groups now get 10 instead of 15 Bantling Lacerators. But that makes little difference because in the burn phase, tanks and healers can just kite the adds so they deal zero damage.
    What's wiping us are the adds from the 2nd and 3rd PMB, as well as the Caustic Drones spawning at the same time. This results in too much raid damage and lags/low FPS, causing a wipe if we can't kill the boss in time.
  • The Bantling Lacerators cause nearly zero downtime on the boss, they die automatically in AoE and DoT spread. We did not even notice that they had reduced HP.
I agree that a nerf to PMB must be counterbalanced by the boss HP being buffed but the 6.7% increase is too much for a VM boss. If you need to increase the HP, only increase it by 2-3%, to around 8.1m HP.

Previously, I mentioned that the Caustic Drones should receive a sleep immunity. However, with the change to Overhead Skewer, tanks can no longer use them to destroy red eggs. And I also think that the boss is already too difficult and should not receive further buffs. Therefore, I withdraw my previous feedback and recommend to leave the Caustic Drones as they are.

Ironically, this patch added a sleep immunity but it was put on the Guards. This does not make much sense; the Guards put a shield on the boss, so players must kill them quickly. In addition, tanks can use them to destroy red eggs.
During the first patch, we would sleep/stun one Guard while killing the other Guard but we realized that this is not a good strategy, and with the new mechanic where players have to kill both Guards at the same time, there's no need for a sleep immunity. But it does no harm, so you can just leave it as is.

To sum it up, please nerf the boss to how it was last week. Don't experiment with new mechanics to force players to tank swap; there is no more time to test it and PTS participation is too low to get statistically significant feedback.
The boss is currently tuned like a MM boss requiring 258 gear, even though it's supposed to require 252 gear. In fact, the average VM raid group still has 248 gear because they play casually and don't have time to farm Ossus dalies with 10 alts like MM raiders do, with around 6k-8k DPS per DPS player.
VM raid groups deserve to finally get a new VM boss; it's been 5 years since DF/DP, everything after that was tuned to HardMare levels. Please read the following two blog posts from the perspective of a VM raider on how frustrating Rav/ToS and GftM were for their group. While I'm not a VM raider myself, I saw the same thing happening on my server, with many VM raid groups dissolving shortly after those HardMare operations launched, and resulting in the sorry state of an endgame community that SWTOR now has.
From a designer's perspective, it may be funny to add complicated boss mechanics, or trash groups that cause more wipes than the actual boss fights (Scyva? Izax?). But it is not funny for raid leaders who have to keep their group motivated in the face of wiping to overtuned bosses for weeks on end.

I'll have another post on the weekly quest and some graphical bugs.
Scoundrel healer. Raid leader. Guild officer @ Tulak Hord

Jerba's Avatar

01.25.2019 , 06:20 PM | #7
Here is a video of us killing the boss in VM, we were equipped in BiS 258 gear:
Afterwards, we tried the boss again in 258 gear, this was our best try: We wiped because we started the burn phase too early and were overwhelmed by adds; we should have killed the adds from Rallying Call before burning the boss.

As you mentioned, there is a new weekly quest "Monumental Data Crystal" available from the quest terminal on Ossus. However, there are some bugs with it:
  • If a player already has the previous weekly ("Masterwork Data Crystal") in his quest log, the new weekly is missing from the terminal.
  • If a player already completed the previous weekly during the current week, the new weekly is missing from the terminal.
  • The new weekly cannot be shared with other players; the button to share is grayed out. This will be very annoying if one players forgets to pick up the weekly; we'll have to interrupt the raid of 8 or 16 players and wait for that one player to leave the instance, pick up the weekly and run back in.
Unfortunately, we forgot to accept the weekly quest before our VM kill, so we could not test if the weekly quest can be completed or not. But I assume that you have tested that the weekly actually works.

In the third PTS patch, you changed the GFX on cracked eggs so that they'd be more visible, and that was a great change. Unfortunately, with this fourth patch, the eggs are once again difficult to see. Before, the light rays exiting the cracks were very bright and steadily visible. Now, they are less bright and flashing in brightness.
While I understand that the new GFX is more immersive, it is now very difficult to see the state of eggs that are far away. Here is a screenshot on Ultra quality: You can guess that the eggs in the front are cracked but any eggs further away are too small to see, especially in a hectic boss fight.
On low quality, the cracks are slightly easier to see but still not noticeable enough on eggs that are far away:

Last week, I mentioned that I really like the bubbles on eggs that were hit by Caustic Acid and I continue to find them oddly satisfying. However, I noticed one bug with them: They always stay the same size, no matter how far away they are (
Usually, an object should appear larger if it is close to the camera, and get smaller as you move further away. However, these bubbles stay the same size on your screen. This results in bubbles on far away eggs being very large and easily noticeable, while bubbles on closer eggs are too small.
Please ensure that the bubbles scale correctly, and double their size so that they are more noticeable.
Scoundrel healer. Raid leader. Guild officer @ Tulak Hord

AllisonLightning's Avatar

02.01.2019 , 06:49 AM | #8
Disclaimer: Not on the PTS- my thoughts.

I don't mind the idea of a new hardmare boss, mechanics in point rather than the gear part personally because like a lot of people, I'll be doing it on the same pace as them and the required times to get what I need and learning it inside and out. Keep the mechanics intact- I'd actually like it if you put all mechanics back into VM operations.

As for the 252 gear- this is a VM boss and should be tuned to the same gear as VM Gods. If you want to gate 258 mainhand/offhands, make a MM version of this raid tuned to 252 gear but sometimes I think the devs forget the most important part. You can't even raid in story mode without a subscription so the only explanation I have is they think that it'll slow the returning NiM raiders down and they'll stick around longer. Most of the players I know on the PTS are the NiM raiders, many of whom can do all kinds of things undergeared so tuning a fight around the numbers it would take to give them more of a challenge isn't tuning a VM encounter. It's tuning a MM encounter.

The only reason you'll lose them again is if you intend to have another raid drought and by that stage, you'll already have lost the VM raiders (of whom there's already a much diminished population) who I have to say are right- I want to do NiM but I know there are people happy at that level. Some VM raiders go onto MM after cycling through VM content and by shrinking the percentage of VM players through a lack of content, you shrink down the population of MM players who naturally cycle out and those who leave because there's no one to raid with. It's not their job to sit there after paying their subs and teach a dozen VM raiders in the hopes that one will do MM content so they can do the content they enjoy and pay for, after a few have progressed. A healthy middle ground in the raiding community sustains SWTOR's raiding at large for the spaces between content release and no, that's not an excuse for another content drought.

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