Thankfully, we can all stop wondering when the expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic is releasing and get down to the business of preparing our characters for the new content. Part of preparing for Rise of the Hutt Cartel is knowing what you're getting into when it comes to the new operation. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to run Scum and Villainy with Memories of Xendor, one of the top guilds in the game. You might remember these guys from my Hyperspace Beacon about the tools of the raid. This group created the real-time combat parser that my own guild and I use regularly.
Last week, I reported that the first three bosses were just the calm before the storm. That storm begins right away with the Operations Chief, thunders mightily with Olok, gusts onward with the Warlords, then reaches its pinnacle with Dreadmaster Styrak.
The raid divides into four teams (four groups of two in an eight-man or four groups of four in a 16-man). Dispersed throughout a small town are four groups of defenders. Each of the defenders has slightly different mechanics. Bear in mind that once these NPCs are engaged in combat, no other members of the team can engage them or an alarm will sound. When your team has downed your group of enemies, then you sneak through the town while avoiding the patrolling champion droids (or CCing them) as you make your way to the Operations Chief.
The Chief can be defeated fairly easily as long as DPS is solid and the tank is well aware of his health. Swap if you get too low because a couple of the Chief's abilities can deplete your health quickly. DPS need to be aware of rail turrets that pop up every once in awhile. Kill the adds first, then return to DPSing the boss.
I'll give you the short, short version of the mechanics: Your team kills the shady customer who gives a random coin to a raid member. That member uses the coin to buy one of the droids using the control panel. When you purchase a droid, it will help you defeat future shady customers and bodyguards. You also want to purchase droids so that the total number of hit points per line is equal to two large droids. When all the coins are spent, you move down to the lower level and destroy any remaining droids line by line. This is a DPS race because you have only one minute to take down a line of droids. Just when you think it's over, Olok and his crew comes out to attack you. He spawns three adds with him. Kill the small add, crowd control the other two, and DPS Olok until he disappears. When he does, that's when you want to kill the CCed mobs.
I love this boss fight, but you have to have a coordinated raid group. Herding cats is not fun all the time, but when a plan comes together, it's magical.
During our visit with these lovely individuals, our kill order was Horic, Sundar, Vilas Garr, then Tu'chuk. Horic and Vilas Garr cannot be taunted. Vilas stealths, pulls, then bombs the raid group randomly. Horic stands in one place but randomly cone-attacks a member of the raid. Sundar fixates on the closest person to him and will likely one-shot a DPS if he is in range. And Tu'chuk has a stacking buff that increases the damage on the person he's hitting.
MoX believed that this group was not tuned high enough because the raid group has been able to one-shot this boss every time. I might agree if I were as awesome as MoX's members are. That said, fighting Sundar is very unfriendly to melee, again. The tank needs to kite the boss in order to avoid damage, which makes it difficult for melee DPS to not be the closest person to Sundar. I barely survived one hit of fixate and backed off for the rest of the fight.
The first part appears more intimidating than it really is. A large group of Dread Guards stands between you and the Dreadmaster, but fortunately, the group peels off four at a time, and none of them has much health. Styrak then summons the Kell Dragon, which spits acid and throws spines. Stay out of the splooge on the ground, and when he throws spines, stand directly behind the tank. Then you should be golden.
Against the Dreadmaster, we found that we couldn't output enough DPS to down the boss because of our gear, but we did see all the boss mechanics. Periodically, the boss will teleport a member of the raid into another room where said member will have to fight one of the Dreadmaster's companions. When that happens, the boss will teleport to the center of the area and grow to about three times his normal size. This manifestation needs to be taken down before the four other manifestations close in on the raid group. Then four lightning manifestations will appear. A melee class will have to close the gap quickly before they one-shot their targets. This basically repeats until the boss is near dead, then the Kell Dragon reappears, but with basic tank-and-spank mechanics.
We had a bit of trouble in our raid because I was getting one-shot by the lightning manifestation even when I was standing less than one meter from the NPC. Other than that, I couldn't ask for a more enjoyable encounter.
If this operation were the only content offered with Rise of the Hutt Cartel, I might be hard-pressed to spend money on it, but I don't think I could ask for better additional endgame content. So far, this operation is unmatched in SWTOR. Hopefully, the storymode difficulty level is tuned down low enough for everyone to enjoy it. If not, then try to hook up with a good raid group to run it one time; it will definitely be worth the couple of hours it takes to finish the content.
Rise of the Hutt Cartel releases on April 14th, so stay tuned for more indepth coverage of the first SWTOR expansion in future Hyperspace Beacons. Me jewz ku.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!