Behind the Mask: A complete guide to angel-slaying, volume two

Last week on Behind the Mask, we covered the puzzles and trash mob fights of Therakiel's Temple. TT is the toughest lair in Champions Online, and it's not over yet. You've still got to handle the boss fights!

This week, we'll be covering the deadly boss battles of the temple, from the alluring Valerian Scarlet to the big bad Therakiel himself. Caliburn will provide commentary for your fights, but don't expect him to help out; your team is going to need to bring out the big guns.

Just as it did last week, this guide contains some spoilers!

Six pool is not a viable strategy

Each boss employs a lockout, so mindlessly charging in with no plan just won't work. The lockout mechanic is simple: Once the boss fight has started, no player can enter the boss room until either the boss dies or the team wipes. Clever players may try to exploit this using the buddy teleport or C-Store teleport devices. This does not work; none of these can be used inside the temple. This makes bringing resurrection powers (particularly Redemption, as it is vastly superior to other rez powers) very valuable. Key party members may also want to bring Triumphant Recovery C-Store devices or Zombie Powders in order to self-rez in an emergency.

Each boss also features an enrage timer. If the boss is not defeated in a certain amount of time, the boss will grow in size and deal increased damage. The enrage can make some boss attacks much more deadly. This means you'll want your DPS working hard all the time, but most of the fights are easily winnable inside the time window.

There are some basic strategies common to all boss fights (in TT and otherwise):
  • Healers should position themselves around 30-40 feet away from the boss in order to get maximum healing coverage while simultaneously avoiding any 25-foot PBAoE attacks.
  • Ranged DPS characters should take care to spread out somewhat but remain within 50 feet of a healer at all times.
  • Melee characters, including the tank, should be positioned so that knockback attacks will knock them toward a healer.
  • Shtick attacks require different reactions; allies should retreat from PBAoE shtick attacks (red circle) whenever possible. The tank should respond to cone and AoE attacks (purple wave, yellow and red star) by navigating the AoE away from other party members so they are not struck. All players should block if they think they may be struck by a shtick attack. Players with interrupt powers may also want to attempt to interrupt the attack.
Beautiful and deadly

Valerian is the first boss in TT and can be considered the "gear check" fight. However, instead of forcing people to be clad in SL blues to advance, she tests party composition and teamwork. If your team has no healer, you will almost certainly not defeat her, and if your healer isn't attentive, wipes will occur. Careful management of her aggro is required, and blocking is essential.

The reason Ms. Scarlet is so dangerous is simple: She does a ton of DPS. Her damage is just so high that she can rip through a blocking tank's HP in very little time. Because of this, the encounter with Valerian is a healer's fight. If you are a healer, you must be aware of who Valerian's target is and aggressively heal him or her.

If your team has a tank, this fight is actually somewhat harder if your tank can't DPS. The optimal strategy for Valerian is for everyone to fire on all cylinders, with her current target blocking and the healer healing. It's very hard to maintain aggro on her as a tank simply because you spend so much time blocking that she's hard to taunt. If allies have threat wipes or aggro-reducing powers, they can be used to help, but a tank is somewhat of a liability in this fight.

Once you manage to beat her, congratulate yourself. The normal fights and puzzles get harder after her, but the bosses are cake by comparison.

That isn't a blood moon, it's...

Black Fang is sort of a joke. He has several appearances in CO, and he's mostly harmless in all of them. He's at his strongest in TT, but even on Elite difficulty, he fails to impress.

The encounter with the werewolf leader starts out easy; he does reasonable melee DPS that isn't hard to tank. If you dealt with Valerian (and you had to in order to get this far), his damage is kind of laughable. A hybrid with a healer can tank his damage easily.

Once he starts taking damage, he gets slightly threatening. He leaps up in the air and comes down repeatedly, dealing a lot of AoE damage and knocking people around. If you're a ranged character, make sure you're out of this attack's range, as it is pretty dangerous. Melee DPS characters will need to rely on the healer here -- block if you take too much damage and get out of melee range. If you're an Invul or Regen tank, you may need to block some, but Defiance and LR tanks should barely see their health bars move at all in this fight.

He do voodoo

Baron Cimitiere is the first of the TT bosses to require actual strategy. Valerian was just hard because her magic is so deadly, and Black Fang is little more than a bag of hit points.

The first of the Baron's tricks is that he will continuously summon zombies throughout the fight. These zombies are almost a non-factor, as their damage is minimal and they die quickly. The problem is that they start to add up if they aren't killed. It's best to have a hybrid with a big AoE constantly mobbing them up and killing them. Gigabolt is great for this purpose, as is Lead Tempest, Ego Sprites, or any mobile cone maintain.

The Baron's attack damage is pretty non-threatening. If you've gotten this far, you shouldn't be too overwhelmed by him. His most deadly attack is a disable. This disable has a nasty surprise waiting at the end: Any allies near the victim when he or she breaks free gets hit for a huge amount of AoE damage. If you get disabled, announce it in team or voice chat and get away from your party before mashing out.

At least he doesn't sparkle

Vladic Dracul is the final obstacle before Therakiel, and like the Baron, he has tricks to overcome; namely, he is nigh-invulnerable. He regenerates so fast that no amount of DPS will scratch him.

Fortunately, prior to your meeting Vlad, there were some coffins with wooden stakes littered throughout Vlad's part of the temple. As you may recall, your party needed to use them to stake Immortals, making them temporarily mortal before delivering the finishing blows. Vlad has a huge casket near his spawn point where you can make a stake out of coffin wood. You can see where I'm going with this.

Even if you stake him, Vlad will still regenerate insanely fast if he's allowed to stand in the pool of blood on the floor of his room. The tank should kite him over to behind his spawn location, near where his huge coffin is. This way, everyone (except the tank) can grab wooden stakes from the coffin and stake him. The stake debuff lasts for only 20 seconds, so it's best if your team members alternate staking him. Your healer can also just double as stake duty in this fight if Vlad's damage is non-threatening to your tank.

Speaking of Vlad's damage, I can report that it's higher than the Baron's or Black Fang's, but a good tank can soak it without healer support.

What the heck is a fish fry

Caliburn gets pretty mouthy in the scenes leading up to Therakiel. He talks big in every boss fight and then proceeds to hang out while you beat down the boss. It's really only fitting that he was all a part of Therakiel's master plan. I threw together a video a while back of an almost picture-perfect run, so you can see what I'm describing in action.

Therakiel's attacks are melee cone attacks, so your tank will want to position herself away from other melee attackers. His sword swipes do a fair bit of damage to squishier superheroes.

After taking a bit of damage, Therakiel will turn himself to stone and summon a group of Hellementals -- they were Enforcers earlier in the dungeon. The Hellementals are exactly as tough as they were earlier on, meaning they deal far more damage than Therakiel does. When they die, they become either demon or angel statues, so you want to herd them away from Therakiel before killing them (or you will have to play the colored aura game).

The greatest threat in this fight is Therakiel's eyebeams, which disable their victim and kill him rather quickly. Fortunately, you've already dealt with eyebeams all throughout the dungeon. Get to one of the light pillars, select your disabled ally, and use your mirror on him. If your disabled friend uses his mirror, Therakiel's eyebeams will get bounced and he'll eat a taste of his own medicine.

Once his health has been worn down some, Therakiel goes into phase two. Enjoy the scene, but don't get distracted. He has a very powerful attack that he uses after spinning his sword around. If he does this, it hits everyone in the battle (except him) for a lot of damage. Unless you are a godly tank, you will need to block this attack. I've seen videos of other teams that nearly wiped to this attack on normal difficulty.

Therakiel will repeat these patterns throughout the fight. Sadly, his normal attack damage is kind of low, so his eye lasers and the sword spin are the only major threats. Once you've beaten him, enjoy the end cutscene and grab your loot!

When he's not touring the streets of Millennium City or rolling mooks in Vibora Bay, Patrick Mackey goes Behind the Mask to bring you the nitty-gritty of the superhero world every Thursday. Whether it's expert analysis of Champions Online's game mechanics or his chronicled hatred of roleplaying vampires, Patrick holds nothing back.
This article was originally published on Massively.