Last week, I bared my soul and shared my first date with my favorite mid-level Aion instance, Kromede's Trial. OK, so maybe it is the only mid-level solo instance, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I enjoyed it immensely -- enough to return over and over and over again. Not even the lure of rifting changes could pull me away... although the second I hit level 45 and cannot enter the instance, I am off to Morheim! Until that moment, I am enjoying a combination of full-clears for armor and XP and quick runs just for the weapon.

So what about this instance hooked me enough to manage four different runs in one day during the reactivation celebration (while the lockout timer was reduced to four hours)? A steadily filled experience bar, a consistently filled cube, and the promise of a gold weapon after completing one repeatable quest 20 times, not to mention a growing collection of corrupt judge's armor pieces and a chance at Kaliga's key for a fabled weapon are why I simply can't say no. All this without having to deal with the inconvenience of forming a group, and all my other Aion goals can be met while the instance is on cool-down. What more could a girl want?

Peek past the cut to watch this love affair unfold as I continue to court Kromede's Trial. Enjoy a screenshot gallery as well!


Group date

Yes, I admit it -- I was smitten. I enjoyed our meeting, but you kept parts closed off to me, kept some things hidden. Maybe it was too early. It was our first time together, after all. I can respect that. But I want to know every bit of you, to experience all of you! I wanted to see you again, but waiting 22 hours seemed like torture. Curse those restrictions that keep us apart!

While waiting a day to re-enter the instance can seem like a long time, it was a welcome change from the two-day timer for Taloc's Hollow. Basically, at the rate you gather XP in the instance, a two-day wait wouldn't allow you enough time to complete the repeatable quests before leveling out of it! And I cherished that moment when I could venture in for my second run -- a true full-clear. This time, I would meet each of the side bosses, Hamam the Torturer, Lady Angerr, and Justicetaker Wyr.

Did the anticipation end in disappointment? Not at all. Again, my experience bar and cube continued to fill at an astonishing rate. However, although I had heard from others that it would happen, it was still surprising -- and a bit disappointing -- to see the named side-bosses disappear, depriving me of the killing blow. Of course, I was able to face them again at the end (thankfully in a weakened state!), but that initial shock of losing my target was still a small jolt. All was forgiven, however, since I was rewarded with some beautiful corrupt judge's armor pieces. I suppose you could say it is only by stripping these three that you obtain the armor. So maybe when you kill them, you should be careful to not damage the fabric!

The only one for me
I enter again, not for the first or even the fifth time, and again I am faced with that same dilemma: Do I come for you, and you alone Kaliga? Do I ignore all others for a chance at what only you can give me?

If you can tear yourself away from the seduction of the easy XP and a cube full of loot, you can easily avoid most of the regular mobs filling the instance as well as the three named side-bosses in your quest for a quick weapon run. I can understand why many Daevas race through due to time constraints or simply a desire for the weapon; I clocked my best run at 31 minutes. Personally, though, each time I enter, I struggle with whether or not I can pass up all of that juicy XP and the oodles of loot and kinah. Even when you get the key to unlock a weapon case, there is the possibility of getting the key again to acquire a back-up weapon.

Many times I start the instance thinking, "Sure, I can skip some mobs and get out quicker;" but then, most times I end up clearing. You never know -- that one maid may be holding onto your godstone! Can you take that chance? Before the loot drop increase of 2.1, it was hard enough to pass up the XP, but now I just can't! I literally leave with four to five rows of my cube filled with goodies galore (not counting what I deleted). Not to mention, pieces of the corrupt judges armor sets have dropped with each run, whereas Kaliga's key to unlock a fabled weapon is simply a chance. I have known people who've gotten the key in two runs, and those who never saw one at all before leveling out of the instance. So do you go with a more secure reward or take your chances? Sure, the fabled weapon is impressive, but is it worth it? Some say yes, some say no; that is something each Daeva must decide on his/her own. And not just once, but each time you enter.

Another thing to consider: If you already have a blue corrupt judge's weapon from your runs through the Fire Temple, you can upgrade this weapon to a gold (Kromede's) simply by completing the quest Dream Fragment for Elyos or A Blacksmith's Dream for Asmodians. After 20 repeats, you are awarded a necklace that can be traded-in along with the weapon for the upgrade. This might factor into your choice between a weapon and armor run.

The good news for those seduced by the XP and loot but who still want the weapon is that as long as you do not touch the other bosses, you can still clear the rest of the instance. Even if you do a quick run, you can turn around and immediately re-enter to clear if you find you have the time. If time is of the essence, however, you can avoid the maximum number possible by simply running around them; for instance, it is possible to get the key to Robstin by killing the manor guard captain without engaging any other mobs in the room.

Besides mob-dodging, another time-saving tip is skipping Lady Angerr's wing and the entire garden area. You will miss the sleep flower, but I find that I do not personally use the sapping pollen item often and need to put conscious effort into using it just once or twice. As a healing class, I also do not use maga's potion, but non-healing classes might be more dependent on this. However, I never skip getting the rotan or the explosive bead.

If you are on the weapon repeatable quest, you can also save time on subsequent runs by collecting extra dream fragments. You do this by not picking up the 15th one (thereby completing the quest), then killing as many guards as possible in a short time and looting them all afterwards. Doing this, I have succeeded in obtaining seven extra dream fragments for my next quest, allowing me to kill fewer guards when I was really pressed for time.

Breaking up is hard to do

I knew, deep down, that it had to end. But the end came too soon! I was still enjoying my time with you. I was not prepared for it all to end. Was there anything I could have done better? We grew apart much too quickly!

My biggest complaint is that, unlike Taloc's, which can be run indefinitely (until NCsoft raises the level cap, that is), Kromede's Trial has an expiration. No matter how much you enjoy the content or how much you want to have a place to just grind alone and fill your warehouse, you lose entrance rights once you level to 45. And trust me, that really is not too difficult. If you missed getting what you want, too bad. You either must send in a new alt, or pay another for the armor skins. Miss the weapon? Tough cookies! You will have to rely on something else, such as Xeno's. And good luck with that quest, since anyone over level 50 can no longer come and help you through the rift!

Have you enjoyed time cavorting about in the skin of Kromede? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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