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  1. So me and my VGmates over the course of our Friday night play dates have been running the Shadow Shard TF's. Last night was the Justin Augustine Task Force, out of all the TF/SF I have ever ran that hands down is the worst. Now the two prior ones had there moments but JA was just a waste, players standing around while going to do clickies, fly 20 miles to click something else, over and over again, ugh time sink. Not at all impressed and such a let down, the story was ok, the difficulty on the final mission didn't set well, I had it cranked to +4×8 and the CoT were yellow and white. So overall it was very lackluster, only redeeming thing was the badge and the merits. Do not recommend. Or if you need the badge set for 0×1, set fly on autopilot, and go get a snack.
  2. I put together this list from the sticky post for the Weekly Strike Targets for Double Merits (List at the bottom of this post) I got tired of looking up how many merits were awarded for each Task Force/Strike Force/Trial. The one-off reward (Double Reward Merits + Notice of the Well or bonus XP) can only be earned once per character, per week, even if there’s more than one Strike Target. This list may have some errors, the information came from the Homecoming Wiki which is somewhat incomplete. Hopefully this helps others to make informed decisions about how they want to gain their double merits. The number of missions includes the street hunts. Task Force/Trial Merits x2 Missions Hero/Villain/Coop Week 1 - New Cycle Begins The Rule of Three (Positron, Level 8-15) 11 22 7 H Dam Hero (Positron, Level 11-16) 15 30 7 H Beast of the Mountain (Virgil Tarikoss, Level 15-20) 13 26 6 V Week 2 The Praetorian Offensive (Tin Mage Mark II, Level 50 + Alpha Slot) 40 80 3 C Alpha Strike (Apex, Level 50 + Alpha Slot) 40 80 2 C Explorers and Exploiters (Dr. Quaterfield, Level 40-45) 122 244 24 H Week 3 The Fall of the Clockwork King (Synapse, Level 15-20) 58 116 15 H The Legend of Ruladak (Sara Moore, Level 44-50) 63 126 15 H Pirates of the Skies (Silver Mantis, Level 20-25) 42 84 6 V Week 4 Time's Arrow (Imperious, Level 35-50) 28 56 5 H The Saga of Faathim (Justin Augustine, Level 44-50) 42 84 32 H Temple of the Waters (Operative Renault, Level 25-30) 24 48 14 V Week 5 A Clamor for the People (Penelope Yin, Level 20-25) 20 40 4 H The Saga of Lanaru (Faathim the Kind, Level 44-50) 73 146 12 H The Crystal of Seraphina (Ice Mistral, Level 35-40) 26 52 7 V Week 6 Ms. Liberty TF (Ms. Liberty, Level 45-50) 38 76 5 H Future of Freedom (Lord Recluse, Level 45-50) 25 50 7 V Abandoned Sewer Trial (Mairenn MacGregor, Level 38-50) 28 56 2 H Week 7 Citadel's Children (Citadel, Level 25-30) 40 80 11 H Beast of the Mountain (Virgil Tarikoss, Level 15-20) 13 26 6 V The Eden Trial (Woodsman, Level 39-41) 6 12 2 H Week 8 The Lady Grey TF (Lady Grey, Level 35-50) 39 78 5 C The MegaMech Cometh (Ernesto Hess, 25-30) 19 38 9 H Pirates of the Skies (Silver Mantis, Level 20-25) 42 84 6 V Week 9 Following Countess Crey (Manticore, Level 30-35) 32 64 10 H The Sky is Falling (Admiral Sutter, Level 20-40) 22 44 3 H The Fire and the Flames (Mortimer Kal, Level 20-40) 22 44 4 V Week 10 Market Crash (Ada Wellington, Level 40-50) 20 40 3 C Temple of the Waters (Operative Renault, Level 25-30) 24 48 14 V The Kheldian War (Moonfire, Level 23-28) 31 62 11 H Week 11 Soul of the Woodsman (Numina, Level 35-40) 36 72 23 H The Crystal of Seraphina (Ice Mistral, Level 35-40) 26 52 7 V A Tangled Plot (Katie Hannon, Level 30-34) 9 18 4 H Week 12 Return of the Reichsman (Dr. Kahn, Level 45-50) 20 40 5 H Thus Spoke the Reichsman (Barracuda, Level 45-50) 20 40 9 V Cavern of Transcendence (Karsis, Level 12-15) 7 14 1 H Week 13 Terra Volta Respec #1 (Jane Hallaway, Level 24-33) 27 54 3 H Tree of Thorns Respec #1 (Sparcetriel, Level 24-33) 14 28 3 V Terra Volta Respec #2 (James Harlan, Level 34-43) 20 40 3 H Tree of Thorns Respec #2 (Trepsarciel, Level 34-43) 14 28 3 V Terra Volta Respec #3 (Richard Flagg, Level 44-50) 20 40 5 H Tree of Thorns Respec #3 (Ractespriel, Level 44-50) 15 30 3 V
  3. Let me know if I've missed any events, or there are events you want to add to the Calendar. I'll update this calendar, as new events are announced. June Calendar SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT 1 2 3 4 Weekly MSR 5 Mastermind MSR 6 Runway Fashion 7 8 9 10 11 Weekly MSR 12 13 Ghosts CC 14 15 16 17 18 Weekly MSR 19 20 21 22 23 TNTF 24 25 Weekly MSR 26 27 TF Olympics Reverse CC 28 29 30 TNTF Daily Events: MSR - 3 P.M. ET/12 P.M. PT Hamidon raid - 10 P.M. ET/7 P.M. PT
  4. RUNNING THE BEHAVIORAL ADJUSTMENT FACILITY INCARNATE TRIAL or ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM PRAETORIAN ROBOTS! The Behavioral Adjustment Facility Trial, or BAF, is one of the dead simplest Incarnate Trials to do. For that reason, it's probably the single-most run Incarnate Trial in the game, simply because it's so easy. That being said, even the simplest Incarnate Trial can be hard to understand if nobody bothers explaining it to you. And the way many of these trials are run, most of the people doing them have long experience and know exactly where to be at any given time, so nobody really bothers to give clear orders—they just assume everyone already knows what to do. This can leave newcomers confused, with no idea at all about what is even going on. Reading the Homecoming Wiki article about it can help, but the wiki tends to be more informative than instructional. So, I'm writing this guide to let the newly-Incarnate know what to do, as well as go over my own advice for people running the trial for the first time. To note, this guide is informed by my own experience and opinions. Other experienced trial leaders will have their own way of doing things, so if you get on a trial with leaders who run it differently, don't assume they're doing it wrong. Learn from what they're doing, just as I learned from others before I got comfortable running the trial for myself. And if you're an experienced leader and disagree with any of my advice (or think I got something factually wrong), please comment below the guide. I hope you've already read my Comprehensive Guide to the Incarnate System, so you'll have a basic idea of how Incarnates work. If not, or if it's been a while, you might want to run through it to refresh your memory. MAP OF THE BEHAVIORAL ADJUSTMENT FACILITY In the rest of the guide, I'll be referring to this map, and the numbers I've marked on it. Keep it handy. PREPARATION STAGE FORMING UP THE BAF TRIAL If you're going to be leading the Trial, begin by deciding where you're going to meet up for it. There are two main spots people usually use: Pocket D and Ouroboros. Both of them are accessible to both heroes and villains; both can hold a lot of people. Ouroboros is a bit easier to get to, given that everyone almost certainly has an Ouroboros porter by the time they're an Incarnate, plus has Luna the Incarnate vendor to convert Astral Merits into Empyreans while people wait between Trials. Pocket D has a lot of nice amenities and can be reached by SG base porter or that teleport power from the P2W store. In the end, it's largely a matter of personal preference. Whichever zone you pick, once you're there you should broadcast periodically on the LFG channel and be ready to invite people to the League as they zone in. Note that you can't invite "enemies" into the league unless they're within the same zone as you. If you're a blue-sider (Hero or Vigilante), then any red-sider (Villain or Rogue) must be in the same zone with you before you can invite them on the league—and vice versa. So if you get the message that you can't add an enemy to the league, ask them to let you know when they're in the zone so you can add them. At this stage, don't worry too much about balancing out the composition of the teams—due to the way the LFG teleport works, your teams will probably look completely different when you zone into the trial, and you'll just have to do it all over again. For now, just worry about getting 24 people. (If you like. You can start with as few as 12, but the more, the merrier!) In Homecoming, all that is necessary to be eligible for the BAF Trial is to have trained up to level 50. You don't even need your Alpha Slot unlocked yet; it's enough that you be 50 and earning Incarnate XP. CHOOSE YOUR LEAGUE: OPEN OR CLOSED? When you're forming a league for this or any other Trial, you have the choice of leaving the league Open or setting it Closed. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Open Leagues will allow anyone to join the league uninvited through the LFG panel if the league has room available. Running the Trial from an Open League will grant an additional Astral Merit on completing the Trial, as well as apply the "Warmth of Prometheus," a 7.5% buff to damage, healing, and recharge rate for all participants. It will also allow league members to vote to kick members, but will prevent you as league leader from kicking anyone from the Trial yourself. Also, if your league is not completely full with 24 members at the time you queue up, you may have to wait a few minutes before the game will allow it to start. To launch a Closed League, you would make sure that the "Lock the event for your group" option at the lower right of the LFG screen is checked before you queue. This will prevent outsiders from joining without an invitation from you, and will allow you to kick troublemakers yourself without need of a vote. Of course, you won't get the extra Astral Merit or the "Warmth of Prometheus" buff from running Closed. Also, there is a bug inherent in Closed Leagues that will make zoning into the Trial a bit of a trial itself, which I'll explain in a future section. PREPPING FOR LAUNCH: THE THREE REQUESTS Once you've filled to 24 people, issue the Three Requests. (I'd say "Three Commandments," but really, that sounds a bit too bossy, even for leading a Trial. And you don't have the power to comply obedience anyway, so might as well try to catch more flies with honey.) Once we zone into the trial, please stand perfectly still, so you don't move and trigger the cut scene. The very start of the trial can be a bit confusing, due to a nasty bug with Closed Leagues that I'll go over in the next section, and there's an obnoxiously long cut scene that triggers just from someone walking a few yards forward from where you zone in, right in the middle of it. If you can get people to hold off on triggering that cut scene, you'll have time to repair the teams from the issues caused by that bug. Once we zone into the trial, please check to see if you have the league star. If you do, please pass it back to me immediately. One of the more annoying things about the LFG teleporter is that it will invariably assign the league star to the first person who zones into the trial zone—which is nearly never the person actually running the trial. If you don't say anything about that now, when people zone in their minds will be on charging headlong into the trial, and they may not even pay any attention to their chat or messages if you ask them to give the star back. So prompt them now so they'll be thinking about it when they zone in. If you get dropped from the league, send me a /tell so I can invite you back in. Due to the bug I'll explain in the next section, a handful of people will probably be booted from the league if you launch Closed. However, you can invite them back in again just by issuing the command /li [name]. So ask that they tell you who they are, so you can get that taken care of. Once you've made those things clear to everyone go ahead and hit LFG, choose the BAF trial from the Incarnate Trials tab, lock the event to your group, and queue up. Note that if you're taking part in the trial and get disconnected at any time other than when you first zone in, you should always check your LFG window for a "rejoin" button that will let you hop right back into the trial. For whatever reason, getting a /li reinvitation when you have a "rejoin" button available will actually lock you out of the trial. PART ONE: RUNNING THE TRIAL For the first part of this guide, I'm going to go over the Trial the way it is usually run—just the basic tasks required to beat the Trial and get your Incarnate materials. Afterward, I'll discuss the badges and what you need to do differently if you want to get them. Then I'll discuss each badge in turn. Note that, as with all Incarnate Trials, the hospital is within the trial map—but the hospital's exit doors will only open for ten seconds out of every thirty. So, be quick about getting to the exit door; if you miss the 10-second window, you'll have to wait 20 more seconds for another one. ZONING IN You'll appear on a small platform with stairs to a door at one end (which you can barely see at the very southwest part of the map, above). Moving forward toward the stairs will trigger a two-minute cut scene as Mother Mayhem gets an update on the current situation from Siege and Nightstar. Hopefully, everyone is well-behaved and doesn't move for at least a minute or two. Now, that bug I was talking about. For whatever reason, when you zone into an Incarnate Trial on a Closed League, the game likes to fill two teams, then split the third team into four people scattered across the other four possible league teams, and drop the rest. So, those people will need to send you a /tell so you can invite them back in with /li [name], and you'll need to consolidate those scattered people onto just one team. Of course, a complicating factor is that you probably won't even have the league star until whoever has it now notices and gives it back to you, and you can't consolidate the team or reinvite the dropped players until that happens. And if someone doesn't heed your advice and goes ahead and charges forward, you'll be into that cut scene for two minutes before you can do anything further about fixing things. (Note that if you do happen to have the star as you're zoning in, you can try immediately moving people from teams 1 and 2 over to team 3 as they zone in one by one. This could prevent those people who are last to zone in from getting booted by this bug.) In any case, you should try not to keep the players waiting too long. It may take a couple of minutes before everyone is able to send you a /tell. Once you've merged the remains of team 3 back into one team, you should go ahead and move forward, through the cut scene, and get started on things. BALANCING THE TEAMS After the cut scene, and while peforming the first couple tasks of the Trial, you should check the composition of the teams and try to balance them as best you can by shuffling people from one team to another. Ideally, you should have at least one Tanker or Brute and at least one Controller or Dominator on every team. Try to split support and damage types evenly across the teams, because there may come times each team needs to act on its own. Ideally, you should have teams well balanced by the time Siege is defeated. PHASE ONE: DEFEAT FOES As soon as the cut scene ends, and you enter the door at the top of the stairs, you'll be inside the Behavioral Adjustment Facility—and so will a bunch of Warworks. You need to take out 40 of them in order to move on to the next phase. That shouldn't take you long. When you finish, the turret guns positioned around the walls will start firing, and they have nasty auto-hit attacks that will quickly clobber anyone still standing in the open. To get out of their line of fire, make for the point marked 1 on the map, above. Due to the way the north building is positioned, it's a blind spot from the nearest turrets, and out of the range of the turrets farther away. By the way, do not click on any of the glowy consoles by the outer wall beneath the turrets. I'll explain why later. PHASE TWO: DEFEAT NIGHTSTAR When the Warworks are cleared out and the turrets open up, Nightstar will appear at the point marked 2, between the two smaller buildings to the east. Some Tanker or Brute needs to go taunt her back to point 1. (The best candidate would be a Resistance-based type, like Fire, Dark, or Stone, because the turrets are auto-hit so Defense won't do any good; someone Defense-based like Super Reflexes won't have the capped Resistances of a Resistance Tanker and will go down a lot quicker.) Try to get her as close to 1 as you possibly can—dead-center of the building. It may be necessary to ask the league to hold off on attacking her until the taunter has her properly positioned. Once she's there, take her down. She's generally easy to defeat, save for one special trick that both she and Siege have for this trial, which is sequestration. As you gain her attention, you will receive two warnings, and with each warning you'll have a glowing ring that appears around you. If you disregard the warnings, what happens next is that you get sequestered—irresistibly held for thirty seconds. What's more, it's an AoE hold—so anyone within those rings around you will be held as well. Pay close attention to these warnings. If you notice the second warning message, or see you have a second ring, back away from everyone else, and either attack the AV from range or fight their adds (that is, the additional enemies that spawn with them) until the rings fade away. If you lose track of Nightstar amid all her adds and the other players, you can instantly target her by clicking on her health bar in the pop-up trial window that displays it. Once Nightstar goes down, you'll have about a minute to prepare for the next part: the running of the prisoners. PHASE THREE: PRISONERS ESCAPING When the countdown timer hits 5:00, the doors on the four large buildings and the two smaller ones will open, and mindwashed Resistance prisoners will start running for freedom. For whatever reason, they will run up and down the walkways toward the exit doors at the opposite side of the complex from where they start. (You would think that if they really wanted to get loose, they'd head for the doors closest to them, but who can say what goes through the minds of the mindwashed?) To stop the Praetorians' evil plans, you have to stop the prisoners. Position your teams, and be sure to summon Lore Pets and set them to "Aggressive" when the timer reaches 5:05, so they'll be effective all the way through the prisoner run. There are two kinds of prisoners: Commandos and Fighters. Commandos are the tougher ones, and they're immune to pretty much every form of mez or taunt; the only way to stop them at all is to drop them. Fighters can be mezzed, however. Classes with high single-target damage should probably concentrate their fire on Commandos, since they're the toughest ones to stop. The macro /macro Cmdo targetcustomnear Commando could come in handy for quickly targeting them. Prisoners won't attack you, so you can generally drop defensive toggles for this phase if you could better use the End for other things. However, they can cast Confuse on characters and their pets. Kinetics should be careful when and how they cast Speed Boost, lest they accidentally grant a group of prisoners super speed and send them zipping quickly away. DOORS VS. CHOKES There are two possible ways to distribute your forces here. The way I saw most leaders run it for the first few months of Homecoming was that they'd assign two or three people to each set of doors, and clobber the prisoners from each door before they could get loose, with a couple people held in reserve to go after runners. There is some argument that this might still be the way to go if your league has a lot of AoE damage but not so many buffers. However, I feel the other method is a vast improvement in almost every possible circumstance. More recent teams have largely switched over to the "chokepoint" strategy, or "chokes" for short. In this strategy, you will position one of your teams at the point marked 1, and the other two teams at the point marked 3. Due to the way their pathing system works, all prisoners will pass through either point 1 (about 1/3 of the prisoners) or point 3 (about 2/3 of the prisoners) on their way to freedom. Setting up a pair of gauntlets at these chokepoints will let you clobber each of them with all your might as they pass. Group your teams up fairly closely together, with the center of the group about where the red number is; this lets AoE buffs hit more people, and allows you to concentrate AoE damage. It also doesn't leave room for prisoners to slip between buildings and escape, which is the most likely cause of leaks in this strategy. (Prisoners exiting the middle south building will try to head south between it and the building immediately to its left, to make for an exit at the lower left corner of the left building, which is why point 3 is positioned right there.) If anyone tries to spread out, or take up position at one of the doors, ask them to get back with the rest of the group. People at each end of the choke should be facing outward, because enemies will run in from both directions. Clobber the enemies coming toward you—but if you see any enemies running past you from behind, definitely clobber them before they get far, because if they get past you they'll be able to escape to freedom. Try not to let any prisoners at all get away. The chokepoint system is remarkably efficient; with a league that knows what they're doing, chances are good that not a single prisoner will get past you. Even if a few do, it's not likely that all 30 will. PHASE FOUR: DEFEAT SIEGE This phase is essentially a repeat of Phase Two. Gather everyone back at 1, where Nightstar is still lying. Siege will appear at point 4 on the map, and that tough taunter needs to grab him and bring him back. You should position him as close as possible to Nightstar, because it will be important for Phase Five that those two be as close together as possible. This is also why it's a good idea to get Nightstar to the middle of the building before dropping her during Phase Two, so you won't have as far to drag Siege. It may be necessary to ask the rest of the league to hold off attacking until Siege is where you want him. As with Nightstar, Siege will warn and then sequester people who attack him. Again, pay attention to the warnings, move away from other people when you get the second ring, and don't get your leaguemates mezzed. And as with Nightstar, you can instantly select him at any time by clicking on his health bar in the trial goal display. Once Siege drops, Phase Five will begin immediately. PHASE FIVE: DEFEAT SIEGE AND NIGHTSTAR (AGAIN) The instant Siege falls, both he and Nightstar will self-rez, and you have to clobber them both again—with the addition that the two archvillains must be defeated within 10 seconds of each other. You need to take them down at more or less exactly the same time. Positioning them close together during the earlier phases helps with this, since you'll be able to hit both of them with the same AoE attacks, making it easier to balance the damage. Everyone should keep a close eye on the health bars, and try to keep the two within 5% health of each other at all times. If one goes down faster than the other, switch your target over and pound on the other until they're more even. Again, you can quickly select either one by clicking on their health bar in the trial goal display. As with Phases Two and Four, mind your warnings and beware sequestration. And that's that. When the two go down, you win the trial, and will get a pop-up window offering your choice of Incarnate component. Make your pick, then exit the trial, and get ready to run another one! PART TWO: BAF BADGES There are four possible badges you can earn from the Behavioral Adjustment Facility Trial. Earning each badge brings with it a random Uncommon Incarnate Thread salvage material, which means that earning badges is a good way for beginning Incarnates to get some of the pieces they need to let them build up powers quickly. Earning all four badges confers the Master of the B.A.F. badge, and a random Rare salvage. If you already have a badge, qualifying for it again awards an extra Astral Merit. The first two of these badges are really simple, but the other two are considerably more complicated. ALARM RAISER This is the very easiest badge to get. All you have to do is not click on any of the glowing consoles around the wall beneath the turrets. Clicking the console deactivates the turret—but the way most trials are run, you're almost never going to be exposed to turret fire anyway, so why bother? That means you'll automatically get the badge the first time you do the BAF on a character, and get an extra Astral Merit each time you run the trial thereafter. NOT ON MY WATCH This is another very easy one to get, if you're any good at Phase Three. Simply don't let any prisoners escape, and you'll get that badge the first time and an extra Astral every time afterward. In my experience, a properly executed chokepoint strategy will do this nearly every time. GOTTA KEEP 'EM SEPARATED This one can be trickier. To earn this badge, you have to defeat Siege and Nightstar where they spawn, rather than pulling them away to point 1. To do this, follow these steps. For Phase Two, the entire league heads to point 2 and engages Nightstar where she spawns. If you move between the two small buildings, you can avoid most of the turret fire. During Phase Three, after the teams have arranged themselves at chokes, divide one of the teams of 8 into two teams of 4 each, so you now have four teams of 8, 8, 4, and 4 people each. In Phase Four, the whole league heads to defeat Siege at point 4. Moving under the awning behind where he spawns will shield you from fire from the turrets. When Siege is down to about 25% health, direct one of the teams of 8 and one of the teams of 4 to head over to point 2 and get ready. During Phase Five, keep a sharp eye on the AVs' relative healths. Remember that you can't switch targets from one AV to the other, so the only way to control defeat speed is to ask the people fighting one AV or the other to hold their attacks for a few moments. You may need to remind them ahead of time to watch the chat so they will see those instructions when you give them. When you defeat the AVs at the same time, you should get the badge. STRONG AND PRETTY For this badge, during Phase Five, you have to make sure that no reinforcement adds are alive when you defeat Nightstar and Siege. This can be a little tricky, and may take more than one try to get right. During Phase Five, assign from 4 to 8 people to an "Adds Team" to move to where the adds spawn during this phase—the set of doors at point 5 on the map. Meanwhile, work on getting the AVs' health down to about 5%. Make sure that everyone understands the importance of watching their health and stopping their attacks at that point, so as not to kill the AVs prematurely. Hold the AVs at 5% health until the next bunch of adds spawn. At that point, the adds team defeats them as quickly as possible with Judgement and other huge AoE attacks, and gives the go signal—at which point the AV teams clobber the AVs as fast as they can and hope they can do it before another wave of reinforcements comes out. Note that it is possible to try for both Gotta Keep 'em Separated and Strong and Pretty at the same time—simply arrange your teams so that you have a 4-to-6 person Adds Team in addition to four other teams to split evenly between the two AVs, send the Adds Team to do their job at the same time you send the Nightstar teams on their way, and follow the same hold-at-5% strategy. But my own preference is just to go for one badge at a time, because there are fewer things that could go wrong that way. And it's not as if you're not going to want to run this trial again. CONCLUSION I hope this guide has given new Incarnates a better idea of what goes on during the BAF trial, as well as given players thinking about leading it some insight into how the thing should be run. If I left anything out or made any mistakes, I'm open to suggestions and corrections, and will happily edit the guide to fix any errors. For other suggestions on how to run the Trial, you might also want to have a look at the several guides on offer linked from the BAF Trial Homecoming Wiki page. In particular, the Visual Guide has a very nice diagram of the facility with the prisoner pathing and all exits marked out, which demonstrates exactly why those two particular chokepoints are so effective (and where to watch for leaks).
  5. RUNNING THE ABANDONED SEWER TRIAL or HOW TO GET A HEAD IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING Newcomers to the game who run the Death From Below trial may not be aware that this trial is essentially based on a much older trial, the Abandoned Sewer Trial (titled “Descent to the Hydra” in the LFG menu but almost no one ever calls it that) that was at one point considered one of the hardest things to do in the entire game. That older trial is still around, but I don’t often see it run anymore. This is a real pity, because the Abandoned Sewer Trial still offers a unique challenge, and is a great test of team leadership abilities. It has a 29-merit reward that can be scooped in less than an hour by a prepared and experienced team, as well as a badge for completion and an exploration badge for those badgers out there. (And, really, any handsome or attractive character really ought to have access to that completion badge, "Charmer.") On the theory that few people run it anymore because few people who might have the interest know or remember how, I’m going to show you how a successful run works for me. Hopefully this will lead to me seeing more calls on the LFG channel, “I’m putting together an Abandoned Sewer Trial, anyone wanna come?” ABANDONED SEWER TRIAL PREREQUISITES Under the old live version of the game, the Abandoned Sewer Trial was for level ranges 38 to 40, with an exemplar down to 40 if you were higher level. However, on Homecoming, the Abandoned Sewer Trial runs at level 50, offering full access to Incarnate powers should you have such available. I highly recommend bringing at least a few Incarnates along, because they’ll make the trial that much easier. (I don't know if other new versions of CoH have had the level cap lifted, too, but if you play there and they haven't, you can just ignore the parts where I talk about about Incarnates.) This is a blue (hero) side trial, so any alignment except Villain can participate. INGREDIENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRIAL Here are the things you should have before you start the Trial, if at all possible. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re a requirement, except possibly the first one, but they’ll all make certain aspects of it go a little more smoothly. Before starting, try to have: At least one character with a taunt and a good ability to stand up to ranged psychic damage (be that via defense, damage resistance, or just good healing), to tank the hydra head and distract it from the rest of the team. For the rest of this guide I’ll refer to this character as your Tanker, though it can also be a Brute, Scrapper, or any other character who meets the requirements. At least one Incarnate character with Incandescence Destiny. You might be able to get by with Assemble the Team once or twice, but if you are Incarnate, given that you’re not going to need an Incarnate level shift for this, you might want to go ahead and craft the 60-Thread level 1 version for use during this trial. It’s a lifesaver for fixing team splits, or rescuing someone quickly if they fall off a catwalk. Recall Friend is nice to have, too, but being able to summon the entire team instantaneously every two minutes is incredibly useful. The ability to rez. Doesn’t have to be a Defender/Corrupter or Controller—their rez powers are the best available, but the ally rez powers you can get from P2W, Day Jobs, or Super Packs will be sufficient. (And a tray of Awakens can help, too.) You may want to suggest all team members without their own innate rez powers buy at least a few charges of Resuscitator at the P2W. Even on a well-run Abandoned Sewer Trial, there can be a number of faceplants—and the nearest hospital is very far away. Jet packs for anyone who doesn’t have inherent flight. This trial takes place in a vertical map with narrow catwalks that it’s easy to fall (or be knocked) off, and a jet pack could let people catch themselves before they fall too far, or else avoid falling in the first place if they use them rather than walking. They’re also useful for letting buffers and ranged attackers hover out of the way while the melee fighters do their thing. Jet packs are cheap enough at the P2W store that anyone high level enough to run this trial should be able to afford an hour or so. Mission Teleport or Team Transporter for everyone on the team. This trial pre-dates the habit of putting in-zone hospitals in hard-to-reach trials. Hence, if someone intentionally or accidentally goes to the hospital or their supergroup base, they’ll end up all the way outside the Abandoned Sewers. Having one or both of these powers will give them a speedy way back to the mission if that happens (once every half-hour for each power, at least); otherwise, they’ll have to spend several minutes making it back on their own, or someone in the mission with teleport will have to fly all the way up to the exit to go out and fetch them once they hit the zone. FORMING UP THE TRIAL I strongly recommend forming up Abandoned Sewer Trial sorties in Pocket D and using the LFG teleporter to get to the contact, for a couple of good reasons. First, this will provide handy access to a P2W store, which players can use for purchasing some of the handy items I mentioned in the last section, as well as ensuring that their 2XP is topped off if applicable. Of course, there’s also a P2W in Atlas Park, where the trial starts—but the other big reason is that this also provides access to Null the Gull, who participants may want to visit first for a number of reasons: Making sure their alignment isn’t pure-Villain. Disabling Speed Boost’s run-speed effect if there’s a Kinetic buffer on the team. This trial involves lots of narrow catwalks, and even people who don’t ordinarily have a problem with getting superspeed conferred upon them might want to keep the best possible control over their maneuverability for this. They can always turn it back on again afterward. Disabling the run speed boost doesn’t affect the recharge rate and endurance recovery effects of Speed Boost. Disabling Group Flight’s effect on themselves, if they haven’t done it already and the team includes a Mastermind who uses it to make their pets fly. People should depend on their own jet packs to keep from falling, given that it’s easy to leave Group Flight’s area of effect. If you’re the team leader, you may want to suggest these things while you’re getting everyone together. Consider the relative levels of everyone on the team when setting Notoriety. If there are few level-shifted Incarnates and a lot of lower players, or you’re not very experienced with the trial yet, stick with +1 or +2 at most. If you’re mostly level shifts, you can go higher if you want. Going +4 makes the enemies tougher, which can make an already hard challenge even harder—but it also makes the generators at the bottom tougher, and less vulnerable to accidental damage. So it is a trade-off. For at least your first few runs you’ll probably want to go with low difficulty regardless. Before you queue up the trial, remind everyone that you will need to talk to the contact, Mairenn MacGregor, just outside the Atlas Park Sewer Entrance, and you need everyone to be in the same zone for that, so please do not run off into the sewer immediately. If you don’t make that clear before you queue up, then sure as shooting at least half your team will run off into the sewer from pure Pavlovian reflex before you can even tell them not to, and it’ll be that much longer before you can actually get the trial started. INTO THE SEWERS Once you’ve spoken to the contact to start the trial, the first mission will be to defeat 100 Rikti in the Abandoned Sewers. The first thing you should do is lead the team into the Atlas Park sewer entrance, and direct them to the door set into the right wall. It’s possible some of your team members might not be experienced enough with the sewers to recognize they need to go through a second door, so you might want to make sure they all get through it before you go in yourself. (And you may also want to spare a smirk for all the lowbies gathered to form Death From Below teams. They don’t know what real “death from below” even looks like!) While most of your team works on the 100 Rikti hunt, one member of the team with Assemble the Team, Incandescence, or Recall Friend should make their way through the Abandoned Sewers toward the mission door. It’s at the same location as Hades Aspirant. Vidiotmaps marks the shortest path to the center, then north to the badge location. I don’t know whether it was by accident or design, but the next mission on the trial after the hunt is not the door mission, but clicking a glowie located next to the mission door. So, Mission Teleport and Team Transport won’t work to get anyone there until someone visits the site in person to click the glowie. (They will work to get people to the door after that happens, though.) The person heading there should arrive at about the same time the hunt finishes, so they can then port all the others to that location. Clicking the glowie will also start a 90-minute timer, so if you plan to give the rest of the team a briefing or pep talk before you start, you might want to request ahead of time that no one click it until you’re ready. You shouldn’t need anywhere near 90 minutes, of course, but it could make some people too nervous to listen to you if they see that timer start ticking, plus not having the door unlocked yet will prevent people from rushing into it before you finish briefing them. Once you’re all ready to enter, click the glowie, and in you go. DESCENT TO THE HYDRA As with the Eden Trial and Terra Volta Respec Trials, there’s no map for the interior of this instanced mission. Close your map window, get it out of the way, and do your best to keep track of where the rest of your team is without it. That’s about to become a challenge. Beyond the door is a circular antechamber, and once you move around the circle, you’ll see the entryway to the trial zone itself—with a spawn of Rikti in it waiting for you. At this point, I like to ask any Incarnates in the team to go ahead and summon their Lore pets now, but don't summon them again after that until I call for them. This lets them get some good out of those pets early on, gives you an extra boost dealing with the first few Rikti and Hatched Kraken, and makes sure that they'll probably not be out later on, when pets can become a liability. (More on that a couple sections from now.) Once you’ve cleared the Rikti, you can move forward into what awaits you: a vertical well laced with catwalks and platforms, which wind gradually down to the hydra at the bottom. Those catwalks are full of Rikti and a couple of Hatched Kraken monsters, and they also hold the chests that contain temp powers you need to defeat the hydra at the end so you can’t just skip it and go right to the bottom. (Be sure you advise your team of this, because team members in the habit of stealthing missions might otherwise be inclined to try it.) This part of the Task Force will consist of making your way gradually down the catwalks, collecting chests and defeating Rikti and the Hatched Kraken along the way. Your best strategy is to move slowly as a group, using flight or jet packs as much as possible to avoid falling off (and mez protection to keep from getting mezzed out of the sky by Rikti). Masterminds who don’t have Group Flight abilities for their pets may want to dismiss them and play Defender during this phase, just because it’s so easy for pets to get knocked back or fall off the catwalks. If they don’t die after they hit bottom, they may make their way back up the ramps, bringing a bunch of new “friends” along with them. People who fall off and die should be ported back up and rezzed. Don’t try to go down to them; bring them back to you. (If nobody has a teleport power, well, they’re on their own until you make your way down there.) Also remind them that if they hit hospital and don’t have Mission Teleport, they’re going to have a long walk back to the mission. Along the way down, you’ll encounter two Hatched Krakens on platforms at the center. (There are four more waiting at the bottom, but I’ll get to those later.) These monsters are similar to the one that shows up in Perez Park from time to time—weak vs. fire, and with a toxic damage spit attack. Back in the early days of live, these monsters gave a decent, AV-scaled chunk of XP each—but that made it attractive to powerlevelers to farm the Abandoned Sewer Trial just to kill those six Kraken and then reset the mission. The developers didn’t like that, so the Krakens’ XP was nerfed to where they don’t even give as much XP as the Rikti bosses they spawn alongside now. Which is annoying, especially since the new sewer trial for lowbies has five full-fledged AVs in it that they can kill over and over again as much as they like. (If you’d like to see that nerf undone now that there are much easier ways of powerleveling available, drop a supporting comment on this thread in the Suggestions forum.) Also along the way, you’ll run into a series of chests, colored either bright green or mustard yellow. The contents of these chests are key to completing the trial. THE WEAPON CHESTS Four of these chests should contain particle cannons, and the rest should contain thermite cannons. It’s supposed to be that the mustard yellow chests have particle cannons and the bright green ones have thermite cannons, but at least one of the chests is mis-colored. If you select the chest from a distance, you should see a notice in your target window calling it either a "Rikti Thermite Crate" or "Rikti Particle Crate." That should be accurate regardless of what color it is. The particle cannons are crucial when you get to the bottom of the map, because they do heavy damage to the hydra head. You want to be sure you have all four of them. Ask that when someone gets one they let you know, or else every so often ask for everyone with one to sound off. Once everyone gets a particle cannon, they should be sure that it's available for them to fire at need. It should be in their system tray (the temp power tray that appears above your normal trays), but some people don't like that tray and have Null the Gull disable it. Ask them all to make sure the temp power is accessible, because they are going to need it in a hurry. The thermite cannons are just cone attacks that do fire damage, and they’re good but not crucial for attacking the Hatched Kraken or the tentacles at the bottom. The most important things are that no one should get more than one particle cannon, and your Tanker should not get a particle cannon. Each person can only fire one particle cannon at a time, so to do the most damage at once to the hydra, those four particle cannon temp powers should go to four different people. You might ask that no one get more than one chest until you’re sure all four particle cannons are in separate hands. (The game will let people grab more than one, so make sure that the members of your team know not to do that!) Someone firing a particle cannon can’t do anything else while that cannon is going off, and your Tanker will need to be taunting that hydra head continuously. It would be fine for them to have a thermite cannon, but you don’t want to risk them getting a particle cannon by mistake because they can’t taunt while they’re firing it. (For that matter, if there’s anyone who plans on healing that Tanker while they taunt the hydra, they should probably forego a particle cannon as well for that very same reason.) So if you’re not sure which chests are which cannons, have the Tanker hold off on getting any until you’re sure the four particle cannons have found good homes. If someone makes a mistake and gets two cannons, it's not necessarily the end of the world. It's actually very easy to restart the trial from within the trial, and it'll only take a couple minutes to get back to to the mission again. The leader just needs to activate the LFG port to Mairen MacGregor like they did to get there from Pocket D. That will cancel out the trial and put everyone back at Mairen again—but anyone who already got a particle beam temp power or thermite temp power will still have it until the timer on it runs out. In fact, if you want to take the hydra down extra quick, you could intentionally restart after four people have the cannon, and let the other four people get it so all eight of you have a gun. Theoretically, with all eight people firing, you might be able to take the Hydra down without having to reset the generators again. HITTING BOTTOM Once four people have particle cannons, you’re free to proceed to the bottom. The simplest way to get there safely might be to have someone who can teleport other people go ahead to a safe spot and teleport the rest of the team to them. The bottom of the well is a circular area, with the force-field-enclosed hydra head in the center, a few dozen tentacles surrounding it, and four alcoves with force field generators and a spawn of Rikti located at the cardinal compass points. There will also be a Hatched Kraken in the vicinity of each generator alcove. There will be a number of rocks and ledges between the alcoves, providing safe spaces out of line of sight of the hydra where someone can port the team without aggroing anything onto them. Once the team is assembled and ready, you can move on to next steps. CLEARING THE AREA There are two critically important pieces of advice to keep in mind while clearing out the space around the hydra. First of all, the hydra has a nasty psi tornado attack that it will cast at anyone who strays too near. Stay out of line of sight of it as much as possible; when taking out the Hatched Kraken, lure them behind one of the ledges blocking you from the Hydra’s view. The other thing is that the force field generators should not be damaged prematurely. When clearing the Rikti, taunt them away from the generators before engaging (and make sure Controllers know not to hold or immobilize while they’re still next to the generator). Masterminds and Incarnates should set their pets to Passive and direct them to attack any individual targets manually. Classes who can’t control their pets should dismiss them. It is crucial that the force field generators not be destroyed yet, and if there’s only one fact you can get across to your players, that should be it. (It may actually not matter so much this first time, because by the time you're done clearing the tentacles and Hatched Kraken, any generators that were accidentally destroyed now should have respawned—though they'll bring spawns of Rikti back with them, which will take some extra time to deal with. But it's best to form the habit of leaving the generators alone regardless.) Keeping those facts in mind, your next step here is to clear out the Rikti surrounding the generators (without damaging the generators), the Hatched Kraken, and the tentacles. The Rikti and Kraken will be relatively simple; just pull them to somewhere away from the generators and out of line of sight of the hydra and clobber them. Some of the safe areas have passages on the ends to let you through to the next area where the next generator alcove is; others do not and you’ll have to make your way across in the open. Try to minimize your exposure to the hydra as much as possible while you’re clearing the generators. If you get faceplanted, hopefully someone else will be able to port and rez you. But once the generators are clear comes one of the more “fun” parts of the trial—you’ll have to clear out the tentacles around the hydra, in plain view of it. And while it’s under its force field, the hydra can’t be directly taunted. About all you can really do is have your Tanker run out first to try to draw its fire, and stay as close to the hydra as possible in the hopes that it will like them more. Otherwise, station someone with teleport in one of the safe spots, and have them port and rez anyone who needs it. Try to kill the tentacles as quickly as possible to minimize your exposure. The thermite cannons do decent damage to them, but so does any other fire-based attack or regular attacks in general. Once the area around the hydra is clear, you can retreat to a safe spot to plan the next move. DROPPING THE FORCE FIELD This is the part that often gives teams the most trouble. The Abandoned Sewer Trial is one of very few pre-Incarnate trials left anymore that requires team members to complete multiple goals simultaneously, and coordinating that can sometimes be a little tricky. To drop the force field covering the hydra so that you can damage it with the particle beams, you have to take out the generators. Once taken down, the generators will respawn in a couple of minutes, along with the Rikti that were guarding them. The force field will only stay down until the first generator to be destroyed respawns, so it is vital that all four generators be taken down at as close to the same time as possible for the field to stay down as long as possible. You could try to take down each generator to a sliver of health so everyone could then kill theirs at exactly the same time, but there’s a lot of potential for that to go wrong if someone damages just a little too much and takes their generator down early. The generators don't have all that much HP anyway, so it shouldn't take any damaging class much time to deal with. The most efficient course is probably just to try to balance the amount of damage capability available at each generator and have people start attacking simultaneously. They may not all go down at exactly the same time, but it'll probably be close enough. When it comes to balancing that damage, you could assign specific team members to each alcove—but in practice, it’ll probably take about the same amount of time if you just let people find their own preferred spot, then do spot-checks on all alcoves to make sure there’s a good balance of damaging capabilities at each one. Once everyone's arranged everywhere, call out a countdown, and then on zero unleash hell. (It’s okay for people to summon their pets at this time, as long as they remember to dismiss them before the next time they need to clear the Rikti from the generators. Indeed, this would also be a good time for Incarnates to summon any available Lore pets and set them to Aggressive.) Good communication is vital at this point, because if someone misunderstands your order to get ready to attack as the order to attack, they could have their generator down before anyone else even starts attacking theirs, cutting down the amount of time you’ll have to attack the hydra considerably. But if you’re all on the ball and kill the generators more or less simultaneously and start firing immediately, you’ll have plenty of time to make sweet, sweet love to that half-a-melon with your particle beam cannons. KILLING THE HYDRA The instant that force field drops, your particle cannon holders should point them at the hydra head and fire it, while your Tanker moves to taunt the hydra and keep its psi attacks focused on them. (Ideally, your Tanker should be some ways around the hydra from any cannoneers, because the hydra’s attack is an AoE.) Healers should be ready to keep him standing up. Kinetics casting their heal from the hydra head itself can be particularly effective. The particle cannon will go off for about twenty seconds, at which point it can be fired again. If you were on the ball with the generators, you should be able to get off four or even five blasts before the force field comes back up again. (If it comes up in the middle of firing a blast, the blast will still do its damage until the cannon stops shooting.) After that, it’s simply a matter of lather, rinse, repeat—dismiss any uncontrollable pets and set controllable ones to Passive, taunt the Rikti away from the generators and take them out, synchronize destroying the generators, Tanker taunt, and cannons blast. Incidentally, here's another area where communication matters. When the field comes back up, some players' first impulse will be to run right back and take out the generators again, ignoring the Rikti that spawned around them. If some do that and some don't, it could cut down on the amount of time you'll have to beam the hydra, delaying the end of the trial. Make sure everyone knows that you will again be pulling Rikti away from the generators without harming the generators, and to dismiss or set pets to passive before approaching so the pets don't mistakenly go after them. (Or, conversely, if you do want to try to just bull through it and kill the generators as quickly as possible while leaving the Rikti adds alone, make sure everyone knows that, too.) When the hydra’s health reaches 50% and 25%, large groups of Rikti will spawn in. If you were really on the ball with the generators and cannons, you will probably reach that point just before the force field comes back up for the first time. (Which is another good reason to summon pets and Lore pets when you take those generators down.) When the mass spawn happens, your Tanker should switch to taunting the Rikti, and you should clean them out after the force field comes back up, and before you go back to pulling the Rikti away from the generators. If you got to the first mass spawn after your first generator takedown, it should only take one more like that to take down the hydra head completely. Make sure to advise the particle beamers to keep shooting the head while everyone else deals with the Rikti. Kill off any remaining Rikti from the second mass spawn and you’ll get the mission completion notice. Otherwise, keep on lathering, rinsing, and repeating until you do. Who says it’s hard to get a head these days? WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU GET A HEAD After you kill the head, remind everyone on the team to go to the center of the room and stomp around in the hydra guts to make sure they get the "Head of the Hydra" exploration badge. (Your Tanker may have gotten it already just from being right up against the hydra.) Anyone who didn't do the trial before should check their recent badges listing to see if they got it and didn't notice. When the reward panel comes up, I would recommend taking the 29 reward merits rather than the special enhancement. It’s just a multi-purpose enhancement like the one you get at the end of the Eden Trial. Those Enhancements aren't really desirable anymore now that Invention sets offer considerably better bonuses, and even if you did the trial at +4, it’ll only be level 48 anyway. You might be able to sell it for something on the AH, especially if it buckets with Hami-Os as I’ve been told it might, but you’d probably rather have the merits. And that’s that. Thank your team for coming, and if you can manage it before they start summoning Ouroboros portals, LFGport them all back out to the contact again to get them out of the sewers. I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide, and that it might make you inclined to try a run at this trial yourself. If you have an eligible character on or could transfer one to Torchbearer, I’ll be happy to give you a practical demonstration on an evening or weekend. Just global @RobotechMaster and see if I’d be up for it!
  6. There is a bug with LFG Trials it will not let you queue from that tab to start Cavern of Transcendence the only way is to go to the contact to start the trial it keeps giving errors about team member's saying they are queue when they are not hope it helps
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