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Denova/EC Stormcaller & Firebrand Overtuned 16m Hard?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Flashpoints, Operations, and Heroic Missions
Denova/EC Stormcaller & Firebrand Overtuned 16m Hard?

GuardianDW's Avatar


GuardianDW
05.07.2012 , 12:06 PM | #1
So the new Operation, Denova aka Explosive Conflict. Second boss (Twin Tanks, aka Stormcaller / Firebrand), in 16 man Hard Mode.

My concern is whether or not this fight is overtuned. And, if it's not, what gearing is expected to be able to defeat it?

My guild has clocked somewhere around 15 hours of attempts on this boss. It took us about 3 hours to figure out and down Toth and Zorn, and ever since we've effectively had that first boss on farm. After we figured out strategy on the first boss, we hit enrage, made a few minor adjustments to DPS uptime during the various phases in the fight, and it's been like clockwork ever since.

But the second boss is causing intense frustration. We've had a handful of good attempts, all of which hit enrage with over 10% boss hp remaining. Due to the enrage apparently being so tight, we've called (wiped) most attempts after even a single death. There are numerous problems we've identified, only some of which seem to be strategy issues. Specifically:

* Double Destruction soakers - if phase one (the DD phase) lasts long enough for a second DD to hit, it leaves the DDers still taking DD damage during phase two (shield phase), which can overstress the healers trying to keep themselves, the DDers, their shield group, and the kiting tank healed. We most often lose people to this.

* Yellow Circle Soakers - this is the yellow circle that will select two raid members not in melee range of a boss, and must be cleansed to drop a Blue Damage Pole. The damage the circle leaves is high in 16m Hard, as is the damage the Pole generates if the Circle Soaker is even a little slow in getting clear of it. Combined with the need for these folks to get into a shield for phase two, and it is also causing losses.

* Incinerate - this is a source of strategy debate among our officers, one of which is our raid tank. Most strategies I've seen online are using tank swapping to deal with Incinerate. Our raid tank *FLATLY REFUSES* to tank swap on this fight. Period. He insists on using a DPS Powertech or Juggernaut as a taunter about three seconds into DD's cast to pull Firebrand onto the Taunter when Incinerate begins casting as DD finishes, then taunting Firebrand back onto himself. If a damage spike comes in on the taunter (perhaps due to an early taunt), or if the taunt is late, it effectively wipes that attempt.

So my general question is what do people think about this fight? Is it overtuned? Adding even 30sec to the enrage timer might be enough. *SLIGHTLY* lowering the DD and Blue Damage Pole damage might help somewhat. Or not doing either of those things (more time on enrage or lower damage) but instead adding 5 to 10 seconds on the timer that clicks off when a Double Destruction occurs might be enough.

Assuming folks feel the 16m Hard is fine as is (and having taken some peeks at some World Raid Lists for SWTOR, it seems we're talking around twenty guilds total have ever dropped Stormcaller/Firebrand in 16m Hard, so that perhaps might argue in some minor tweaking for this fight to ease it slightly), I've been pounding myself silly trying to figure any strategy or gearing tweaks to get us past it.

Denova Storymode mostly drops Rakatta gear. Excepting two or three people with ONE slot each, our raid is in full Rakatta or better, with an average of six augments per person. We've added about, oh I don't know, twelve or fifteen pieces of Campaign gear to the raid from 16m Toth/Zorn kills and the first chest (before it was nerfed to not drop anything useful). If the expected gear level for Stormcaller/Firebrand assumes heavy Campaign Gear on the raid . . . that seems to indicate you're looking at MANY weeks of farming Story mode to have any hope in 16m Hard. I would be more than disappointed to find the Devs expect that level of time investment in Story farming just to have any chance at all in 16m hard.

Strategy wise, we've tweaked everything we can think of on this fight. Our people have assigned shield bubbles for phase two, and barring the inevitable attempts where someone screws up, get to their bubbles without problem. Phase 2 issues seem to be in each bubble group killing their add group quickly enough to be able to then return to the tanks WITHOUT delay when phase 1 resumes (i.e., max or near max up-time on bosses); some of the bubble groups leave one add on the ground when phase 2 ends; these adds tend to fire up the healers, stressing them as they try to keep themselves, tanks, and the raid up. We've already adjusted our DD soakers to be in different bubble groups, to spread that healing load during phase 2.

The lack of tank swapping concerns me. The occasional issues with cleanse soakers (dealing with yellow circles) concerns me. But I'm at wit's end and have hit a brick wall in trying to figure out what else could be tweaked in our strategy. It is causing a LOT of morale issues in our guild.

As pre 1.2 background, we were the first guild on our server to clear 16m Hard in EV and KP, the first to clear 16m Nightmare EV/KP (actually, the only guild on our server to clear 16m Nightmare). We had learning curves and strategy tweaks, but NONE of the pre 1.2 raids cost us so much time bashing our heads against the boss without any apparent progress.

Looking for any and all comments of a constructive nature. Is it overtuned? Is there a strat failure? Thanks in advance.
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Kihra's Avatar


Kihra
05.07.2012 , 12:38 PM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
So the new Operation, Denova aka Explosive Conflict. Second boss (Twin Tanks, aka Stormcaller / Firebrand), in 16 man Hard Mode.

My concern is whether or not this fight is overtuned. And, if it's not, what gearing is expected to be able to defeat it?
This fight isn't too bad with the right strategy. Here are some tips that might help. First of all a link to a clean kill of the boss (from my healing perspective... I also eat Double Destruction so you can see how that works):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev5Ww7ErAQs


Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
* Double Destruction soakers - if phase one (the DD phase) lasts long enough for a second DD to hit, it leaves the DDers still taking DD damage during phase two (shield phase), which can overstress the healers trying to keep themselves, the DDers, their shield group, and the kiting tank healed. We most often lose people to this.
Ideally you beat the second DD. You can use Inspiration from Sentinels in order to help beat the 2nd DD cast. On-use trinkets should also be preferred, since you can then time that damage increase to apply it when it matters to help beat the 2nd DD.

Make sure Sentinels pop Transcendence for a speed boost to help everyone get into shields much more quickly.

You should use people with very strong cooldowns or consider having healers themselves eat the DD. Scoundrel healers are extremely good at eating DD. You can Defensive Screen as a Scoundrel to absorb the first tick and you also have a nice self-healing bonus both from the screen and from other skills that boost healing received, and that makes it pretty easy to survive.

We used a Sentinel and a Scoundrel healer to eat the DDs, but anyone with good cooldowns should work. The key to surviving a 2nd DD is to get to your shields quickly. We had a Sage healer with the DD-eating-Sentinel in the front or back shield (depending on where it spawned), since they both had great mobility and could get to the shield fast to resume DD healing.

Above all you need to either beat the 2nd DD or to have extremely good soaking and/or mobility to get to the shields quickly so that the healing can continue on the DD targets inside the shield.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
* Yellow Circle Soakers - this is the yellow circle that will select two raid members not in melee range of a boss, and must be cleansed to drop a Blue Damage Pole. The damage the circle leaves is high in 16m Hard, as is the damage the Pole generates if the Circle Soaker is even a little slow in getting clear of it. Combined with the need for these folks to get into a shield for phase two, and it is also causing losses.
You only need two people on the ground. Pick people who can self-cleanse. That way they control when they remove the Targeted effect and should not have any issue getting hit by it. Pick people who don't have any graphical bugs that prevent them from seeing all of the various ground effects.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
* Incinerate - this is a source of strategy debate among our officers, one of which is our raid tank. Most strategies I've seen online are using tank swapping to deal with Incinerate. Our raid tank *FLATLY REFUSES* to tank swap on this fight. Period. He insists on using a DPS Powertech or Juggernaut as a taunter about three seconds into DD's cast to pull Firebrand onto the Taunter when Incinerate begins casting as DD finishes, then taunting Firebrand back onto himself. If a damage spike comes in on the taunter (perhaps due to an early taunt), or if the taunt is late, it effectively wipes that attempt.
The best way to simplify 16-man HM is to just use three tanks. You put two tanks on Firebrand and one on Stormcaller. On Firebrand your two tanks swap on the Incinerate Armor cast. That way the tank with the debuff never eats a Missile Barrage with no armor.

Note that Stormcaller's attacks are all Tech-based and do Elemental damage. This means that they cannot be avoided, cannot be shielded, and are not mitigated by armor. You can actually have a DPS tank Stormcaller just fine (wear a shield generator though) as long as he has a high health pool and does good threat. We've successfully tanked Stormcaller with a Jedi Knight in DPS gear for example (wearing a shield generator and going into tank stance during the kite phase simply because you can avoid/absorb Mortar Volley hits).

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
So my general question is what do people think about this fight? Is it overtuned? Adding even 30sec to the enrage timer might be enough. *SLIGHTLY* lowering the DD and Blue Damage Pole damage might help somewhat.
I do not believe it is overtuned in terms of the enrage timer. We easily met the enrage timer on 16-man using three full tanks. There's plenty of wiggle room regarding DPS. I suspect perhaps you have too many people standing on the ground, and that's causing you to lose DPS. Even on 16-man, you literally only need two people standing on the ground. Your other DPS can all stand on the tanks, and they'll do much better DPS when they aren't having to constantly move.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
Strategy wise, we've tweaked everything we can think of on this fight. Our people have assigned shield bubbles for phase two, and barring the inevitable attempts where someone screws up, get to their bubbles without problem. Phase 2 issues seem to be in each bubble group killing their add group quickly enough to be able to then return to the tanks WITHOUT delay when phase 1 resumes (i.e., max or near max up-time on bosses); some of the bubble groups leave one add on the ground when phase 2 ends; these adds tend to fire up the healers, stressing them as they try to keep themselves, tanks, and the raid up. We've already adjusted our DD soakers to be in different bubble groups, to spread that healing load during phase 2.
Regarding shields, note that the side shield on Stormcaller side is always fixed, and it always has fewer adds than all the other shields. Therefore the design intent is that you split your raid into four groups, and the group that has the Stormcaller tank in it should be the one that always goes to the side shield. Make sure you are sending that group of three (since the tank has to stay out) to the side shield and not to a front or back shield, since that may result in them struggling to get their adds down in time.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW
The lack of tank swapping concerns me. The occasional issues with cleanse soakers (dealing with yellow circles) concerns me. But I'm at wit's end and have hit a brick wall in trying to figure out what else could be tweaked in our strategy. It is causing a LOT of morale issues in our guild.
Just to re-iterate, use 3 real tanks. Only have two people on the ground and make sure they can cleanse themselves.

Hope this helps. Our kill video should help show how to do things on the Stormcaller side at least. The Firebrand side is much simpler if you just use two real tanks on it.
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pure_laced's Avatar


pure_laced
05.07.2012 , 02:48 PM | #3
The problem if they use 3 real tanks is already prevalent in not pushing the bosses fast enough to only get 1 DD before phase switch. While the enrage timer is not anywhere close while using 3 tanks (we had a min left when we did it this week with 7 trials in the raid), if you cannot push 1 DD per phase, this will be a waste of time and you will never beat enrage.

A DPS taunting is perfectly fine, there is no damage going out at that time from Firebrand. DD is casting, taunt, Incin casts, taunt back. It is simple, effective, and a tank swap is not needed at all.

Two dps should be soaking the DD, leaving your healers to focus more on healing effectively.
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Kihra's Avatar


Kihra
05.07.2012 , 04:23 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by pure_laced View Post
The problem if they use 3 real tanks is already prevalent in not pushing the bosses fast enough to only get 1 DD before phase switch.
You push to Defensive Systems based off the lowest health of either tank, so having two tanks on Firebrand isn't a big deal. For us at least, it's always been the DPS on Stormcaller side that pushed fast enough to beat the 2nd DD (gogo Sentinels). Even if you don't beat the 2nd DD, you can still beat the enrage timer just fine.

Anyway, not really disagreeing with you. You have lots of tanking flexibility here. If they're struggling with enrage timers, though, I suspect other issues unrelated to tanking setup, e.g., leaving too many people on the ground.

Quote:
Two dps should be soaking the DD, leaving your healers to focus more on healing effectively.
You have many options regarding DD handling. Saying that it compromises a healer is false though. It doesn't harm a Scoundrel's ability to heal at all, and it's pretty simple to heal yourself. Either option works. The key is just to pick someone who can survive the DD effectively.
A home for busy adults seeking high level PvE in a respectful, mature atmosphere.
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xenofire's Avatar


xenofire
05.08.2012 , 03:51 AM | #5
It sound like by not tank swapping you're massively over complicating this fight.

How many healers are you using? I'll be honest with you, this week we had 4 of our DPS die halfway through the fight, and we still made enrage by over 30 seconds.

You should have your ranged DPS sitting on the tank opposite the one they're DPSing so threat isn't an issue. The tanks swap when incin happens. Use two marauders/sentinels to eat DD, they can UDR it every time because you should only get once per phase.

You need 4 healers. One for each tank, one for the two people eating DD, even if you don't have maras do it, it's still healable by one person as long as it's like two mercs eating it and using energy shield. The fourth healer should be healing the people on the ground.

You should have 3 people on the ground, everyone else stationary on the tank. Your firebrand healer can be on the ground, since the firebrand tank will take very little damage, and then your other two people on the ground will be the on-the-ground healer and a ranged dps. The on the ground healer is responsible for himself, the other ranged dps, and helping heal the stormcaller battletanks primary tank target (since there's little to no damage on the ground this is doable, and the other healer on the ground who is healing firebrand tank can heal himself since firebrand damage is almost nonexistent.)

Overall, it just really sounds like your dps are really poor. Have you downloaded mox? Our bottom dpser is around 1300 dps, with our tanks around 1100 on that fight. Our sorc DPS and our marauder DPS do over 1600 dps tho.
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Squishei's Avatar


Squishei
05.08.2012 , 06:51 AM | #6
The first time we killed it, it was about 10-15 seconds into enrage, and boy was it a satisfying kill. Make sure your dos are squeezing out every bit of dps, including using the knockback to the shields instead of running; just make sure you position yourself correctly. You should ideally beat the second DD as that is about the pace of the enrage. If you're really having trouble, skew one of the sides with dps to push the phase faster, then just make up for it later.

Good luck.

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Emlaeh
05.09.2012 , 04:53 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW View Post
* Double Destruction soakers - if phase one (the DD phase) lasts long enough for a second DD to hit, it leaves the DDers still taking DD damage during phase two (shield phase), which can overstress the healers trying to keep themselves, the DDers, their shield group, and the kiting tank healed. We most often lose people to this.
Don't get a second DD.


Quote:
* Incinerate - this is a source of strategy debate among our officers, one of which is our raid tank. Most strategies I've seen online are using tank swapping to deal with Incinerate. Our raid tank *FLATLY REFUSES* to tank swap on this fight. Period. He insists on using a DPS Powertech or Juggernaut as a taunter about three seconds into DD's cast to pull Firebrand onto the Taunter when Incinerate begins casting as DD finishes, then taunting Firebrand back onto himself. If a damage spike comes in on the taunter (perhaps due to an early taunt), or if the taunt is late, it effectively wipes that attempt.
This works perfectly fine as long as you execute properly like calling out DDs. There isn't a single fight that requires three tanks.

Everything else you posted doesn't require a tactic change, but slight positioning, organization, and player skill adjustments. The fight isn't overtuned, and having a good comp makes it easier but isn't required. Plus it gets infinitely easier as your guild gears up. The fight is fully doable with mostly Rakata geared players.

Don't call a wipe for enrage. If you do it correctly, then there is a perfectly viable tactic to win even through an enrage. Look around at the kill videos the top ranked guilds posted.
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Semitote's Avatar


Semitote
05.09.2012 , 07:49 AM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW View Post
* Double Destruction soakers - if phase one (the DD phase) lasts long enough for a second DD to hit, it leaves the DDers still taking DD damage during phase two (shield phase), which can overstress the healers trying to keep themselves, the DDers, their shield group, and the kiting tank healed. We most often lose people to this.
We remedied this issue by having two operative healers soaking the DD's. They get the beast self-heal when they're low and 9% increased healing received from their spec. Also, if possible.. The tank dropping lightning spires should probably try to be in range of healers on Firebrand side as the healers on Stormcaller side have to deal with DD sometimes.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW View Post
* Yellow Circle Soakers - this is the yellow circle that will select two raid members not in melee range of a boss, and must be cleansed to drop a Blue Damage Pole. The damage the circle leaves is high in 16m Hard, as is the damage the Pole generates if the Circle Soaker is even a little slow in getting clear of it. Combined with the need for these folks to get into a shield for phase two, and it is also causing losses.
I think our solution to this issue was simply - do not dispel or have the people taking the yellow circles dispel themselves. That way the healers don't have to worry about it. Also if they dispel themselves, they know when to expect the lightning rod.

Quote: Originally Posted by GuardianDW View Post
* Incinerate - this is a source of strategy debate among our officers, one of which is our raid tank. Most strategies I've seen online are using tank swapping to deal with Incinerate. Our raid tank *FLATLY REFUSES* to tank swap on this fight. Period. He insists on using a DPS Powertech or Juggernaut as a taunter about three seconds into DD's cast to pull Firebrand onto the Taunter when Incinerate begins casting as DD finishes, then taunting Firebrand back onto himself. If a damage spike comes in on the taunter (perhaps due to an early taunt), or if the taunt is late, it effectively wipes that attempt.
I'd say get rid of the tank that refuses to tank swap. Tank swapping isn't so bad if you know how to do it. What I do is focus Firebrand and assist off a melee to target Stormcaller. Since I'm focusing Firebrand I can see Incinerate Armor cast and easily target him, force charge, and taunt. If I'm tanking Firebrand, as soon as I see the Incinerate start casting I target a melee in the raid frames, hit Alt+T (to grab his target), force charge, and taunt. The other tank is an assassin and for him it's not as easy to switch, but with sprint and timing/positioning his jump where he doesn't get caught on the tanks, he got it down and has had no issues with the tank swaps either.

I've seen guilds do it with a DPS temporarily taunting, but I just don't see that as more effective than simply having your tanks switch positions. Risks way too much. It may be tough if you have two assassin tanks though.

Here's a video of our first kill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7GRN_hsD18
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pure_laced's Avatar


pure_laced
05.09.2012 , 08:39 AM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Semitote View Post
I've seen guilds do it with a DPS temporarily taunting, but I just don't see that as more effective than simply having your tanks switch positions. Risks way too much. It may be tough if you have two assassin tanks though.
We have done both ways, and there is less risk from having a DPS/3rd Tank taunt for Incinerate Armor. Firebrand does no damage between Double Destruction cast, and Incinerate Armor cast. Just need to be quick on the ball and not fail. Focus Stormcaller, watch for thew DD cast, move in front of Firebrand, Taunt, wait for Incin cast, tank taunts, move back. You get Incin and keep up with the dps while taking no damage.

Powertech, Jugg, Sin and repub equivs work fine.

There is a slight risk with swaps. Due to the timing of Incin cast, you have to watch your positioning because right after Incin starts casting, Stormcaller will do his frontal AOE. If you leap early and taunt before moving into position, you will kill your DD soakers. It requires better execution than the DPS taunt for Incineration.

Either way works fine for competent people.
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Semitote's Avatar


Semitote
05.09.2012 , 08:53 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by pure_laced View Post
We have done both ways, and there is less risk from having a DPS/3rd Tank taunt for Incinerate Armor. Firebrand does no damage between Double Destruction cast, and Incinerate Armor cast. Just need to be quick on the ball and not fail. Focus Stormcaller, watch for thew DD cast, move in front of Firebrand, Taunt, wait for Incin cast, tank taunts, move back. You get Incin and keep up with the dps while taking no damage.

Powertech, Jugg, Sin and repub equivs work fine.

There is a slight risk with swaps. Due to the timing of Incin cast, you have to watch your positioning because right after Incin starts casting, Stormcaller will do his frontal AOE. If you leap early and taunt before moving into position, you will kill your DD soakers. It requires better execution than the DPS taunt for Incineration.

Either way works fine for competent people.
Okay, so you're taunting before incinerate, I was thinking a DPS would be trying to hold it for the entire duration of the debuff on a tank... Makes a little bit more sense now..

I don't know why DD soakers would be standing between Stormcaller and Firebrand though.. Always leap when I see Incinerate Armor, I don't understand how I could ever leap early.. I don't even target the other tank until I see Incinerate start casting.

But yeah I can see how it would work the other way just fine as well. So it really doesn't matter which way you do it unless you're hitting the enrage because you have a third tank - but with a DPS taunting it, you don't have to worry about losing DPS. Our guild has 0 DPS with a taunt button though. All of our DPS are sorcs, mercs, marauders, snipers, and the occasional operative. So I guess we have to do the tank swap no matter what.
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The Fatman Nerf Dialogue World #1 8M Empire
"Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense."