They say that first impressions can have a lasting impact on a person's experience, whatever that experience may be. There was certainly some truth there for me, as I entered the depths of Thanquol's Incursion for the first time. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting, but what I was met with definitely fit the bill. The layout and design for the encounter had all the elements one would imagine in the Underempire: the greenish, warpstone haze, the twisting, cavernous maze of rat-dug tunnels, the screaming bells above and thatched nests below -- all of these things came together to create an atmosphere of oppressive, agoraphobic confusion. And the scale of it all quickly became overwhelming as I skittered through those warrens, all so seamlessly similar, yet never finding the exact same path twice. The Incursion had begun, and my warband, like a horde of rats, scurried deeper into the tunnels until there, in the darkest depth of the nest, we found our enemies. Both of them. All of them.
Destruction met Order with a clash that I'm sure would have been heard in the streets of Praag overhead. Blood began to spill like toxic, crimson-tinted pools of warpstone run-off while Skeetk -- the Warlock Engineer, in his place at center stage -- watched on with maniacal glee. The intensity of this three-way conflict can only be described as epic and exhausting. There was no ramp-up or momentum gain. It was simply and immediately white-knuckled, edge-of-the-seat RvR at a break-neck pace -- zero to 100 at the speed of a charging Slayer. There was no sign of reprieve as the battle wore on, and the few times I glanced at Skeetk's health bar, I felt daunted. I was genuinely concerned that I might not have the stamina needed to carry out the entire battle, which seemed, at times, to drag on. These moments of doubt didn't last long, however, as each time my mind would wander off, wondering how much health Skeetk actually had, I would be pulled right back into the fight. And then, almost as suddenly as it began, it was over. Skeetk was dead. The dice were being rolled for loot and all of our Destruction enemies had morphed into extremely fast-running chickens. I honestly didn't know how much time had passed. It felt like both an eternity and a brief instant.
About two minutes was all the break we were given, while the public quest reset, to grab our loot, re-organize our ranks (which we didn't do), and take a breath before the Destruction forces were returned to normal and the chaos of battle resumed -- this time with Throt the Unclean and his Rat Ogres as the centerpiece. It was at this point that the effects of having three random spawn points for both factions really started to become noticeable. Both of the fighting forces had gradually become fragmented to the point that the entire zone had turned into a frenzied team death-match with fights and chases breaking out throughout the twisting burrows and labyrinthine tunnels. On more than one occasion I found myself to be the object of Rat Ogre obsession and I was relieved to discover that they could be snared, knocked-down and otherwise crowd-controlled. This gave me ample opportunity to escape most times. One particularly crafty Chosen found a practical use for the Rat Ogres though, using his Quake ability to stun those Order players that would find themselves suddenly targeted by one of Throt's thralls. Sadly, for him, his laughter was short-lived, as the Rat Ogre turned on him after cleaning up its silver-plated meal of Order players. Unfortunately, by the time Throt had died, many of the Order players had quit the instance, leaving but a handful of die-hard testers to finish out the ordeal.
There was another short pause in the action as Destruction collected their loot and the remaining Order players ran for their flightless, clucking lives before the battle was rejoined and Thanquol made his appearance with Boneripper in tow. Boneripper immediately began to dispense his own brand of mindless justice on whatever random victims he could find haplessly crossing his path. Meanwhile, in the back-alleys, players on both sides were being mercilessly killed by Thanquol's insidious and cleverly hidden Mantraps. These traps had a few different flavors, and in the hectic pace of constant fighting, it was difficult to really get a sense of their variety, but two of them stood out as the most memorable: the instagib traps and the mind-numbing traps. The former seemed to be proximity traps that were quite unforgiving in terms of their sensitive range and the damage they would deal (i.e., 99999 damage, enough to one-shot anyone). The effects of the latter were somewhat more subtle, though it was easy enough to tell when I had triggered one. Through all this, the trick to the Clouds of Corruption was gradually discovered and Thanquol was put to his miserable rest.
The event started at 3pm and I logged off at 7:30pm. Through those 4.5 hours, I had a chance to experience two instances. In the first instance, I enjoyed the entirety of the Skeetk encounter and the better half of the Throt fight. In the second instance, I saw the second half of the Skeetk fight again, and the full Throt and Thanquol battles. I estimate the full instance would take just about 1.5 to 2.5 hours of a warbands time, pretty much on-par with what many warbands invest in City pushes today (usually two instances from start to safe for nearly the full 2 hours). Personally, I had a great time, and although the instances seemed long, and sometimes a little drawn-out, I was able to keep in mind the fact that in the future, these instances will be run by fully geared RR100 players where the TTK (time to kill) of the bosses won't feel nearly as long as they do now.
I can't wait for more testing opportunities in the future. Thanks for reading, and until next week, you can leave comments and questions below.