Friday, July 4, 2014

Soloing the Sand Squid in Atlantea

This was my first test for using my heightened resistance gear. It still took effort. Let me explain. Once I realized I could tailor my gear toward extremely high resistance scores, I realized I could possibly solo bosses that I shouldn't really be able to. However, though it is possible to get a resistance score over a 100 against a certain school of magic, it would be both extremely difficult to achieve that score, and also leave you vulnerable to any other schools used during a fight.

The Sand Squid fight, luckily, is all Myth. The downside is that it features two of Myths big specialties - Blade removal and Stun. My first recommendation is that if you're going to try and solo this, you will want your resistance to be above 90%, and get it to 100% if you possibly can. Unfortunately, the only way that I know of to get your resistance to 100% or greater is to develop a pet that has at least some sort of Myth resistance. Even if you got Spell-Proof and Spell-Defy to give 14% resistance, that will be unlikely to get you to 100%. My Myth resistance with my clothes (Thirteen Death Mask, Secret Surcoat, Woodwarden's Shoes) along with the extra 5 resistance from Heartsteel only brought me to 82% Myth resistance. I've been trying to farm for pets to get the Spell-Proof and Spell-Defy abilities, but have been so far unsuccessful. What I had forgotten was that I had a Minotaur pet I had given to my Conjurer. It's currently at epic and has a Myth-Proof score of 10! I switched over the pet, and now here I am at 92 Myth resistance. You would think at 92 resistance the fight would be easy, right? Take my word for it - if you can get to 100 resistance before fighting the Sand Squid, do it! Then load up your side board with Conviction if you can get the treasure cards of it, and go fight the Sand Squid with little worry.

This guide is for the rest of you. I'll break it down into sections.
1. Make sure you have enough resistance.
2. Be prepared for stuns.
3. Don't bother with Shields or Vaporize.
4. Don't equip your deck with Blades.
5. Fit Conviction into your deck if you can.
6. Use Scarecrow if you can.
7. If you're going to use a healing spell, heal big.
8. Use lots of traps.
9. Put at least two if not more Reshuffles into your deck.
10. Work on the large tentacles first, one at a time.

What is enough Resistance?
Don't fight this boss without at least getting the three pieces of clothing I listed above (or ones that match your particular school). Heartsteel is only 5 universal resistance, but in this case, I decided every little bit counts. You can get Heartsteel by farming Prince Gobblestone in Colossus Boulevard, or if you are like me and not patient enough, you can buy it from the Crown Ship for 263 (I think) crowns. I NEVER buy things with crowns other than unlocking new zones, so this was quite a choice for me. But the price is so small compared to the utility I would get from the piece, I went ahead and did it. I'd rather spend my time farming bigger things that Gobblestone... as fast as he is to kill, the loot fills your inventory quickly, and it doesn't vend for much. Personally, I don't think 82 resistance is enough to win this fight as a Pyromancer, unless you use Death as a secondary school (or at least have the Death Mastery Amulet). You're going to need a pet that offers you at least some resistance to universal or Myth to hope to have a chance. Why do I say this? At 92 Myth resistance, I was typically taking about 50 damage a hit, sometimes as high as 100 or up to 300 from a failed critical block. But all that damage adds up. If you use a standard heal, each enemy gets a free zero pip earthquake on you. At my resistance, that meant I was still taking over 200 damage back per heal I gave myself. If you decide to use Death drains, you don't risk the free earthquakes, but it costs a lot of pips to get those off. If you have less resistance, you will be using all your pips to heal yourself instead of being able to mount an offense.

Stuns. Get used to it.
I did this fight several times last night. Each fight took about 90 minutes to complete. 90 minutes is normally a dungeon. This was one fight. Because stuns. Here are some of the spells that each of the four tentacles can fire off: Blinding Light (stuns all enemies), Legendary Treant (damage and stun for 1 round), Basilisk (damage, damage over time, stun for 1 round), and Medusa (damage and stun for 2 rounds). Now if you have a Conviction aura cast, you are stun immune for 4 turns. But unless you are a regular PvP player, you're not going to have access to it as a spell and will need to use it as a treasure card. You could load up your Sideboard with Scarecrow and Conviction I suppose... You can buy the Conviction TC from Kiliman Copperleaf in the library in Zafaria. You can also garden it from Couch Potatoes, and Sour Fickle Pickles. For me, I had one Conviction item card, so I spent at least every other turn stunned.

Myth Shield and Vaporize
There will be too many Myth spells cast upon you in this battle. You will just waste space you could have been using for traps and possible heals. Your resistance gear is your shield. The amount of damage you block with a shield while you have high resistance is so small as to be a waste of a card.

I said don't equip them, but you can. The tentacles don't earthquake very often (and even less if you don't heal); but there is nothing more frustrating than having 5 stacked blades on you, Colossal Efreet queued to cast, and one of the tentacles casts Earthquake before you can cast. You will save yourself time and heartache by not even equipping them. It does mean you will need to make sure your traps are effective and you lay enough of them down before your big hits.

See section on Stuns.

Death drain spells, including Scarecrow
These drain spells do not trigger the earthquake cheat that other kinds of heals do (including Link and Power Link). Congratulations, Necromancers! The Sand Squid fight was tailor-made for you to solo! I don't mind ripping out a page from their book in this case and loading my sideboard with Scarecrow. The upside is that the tentacles appear to be fairly vulnerable to death magic. I was getting a small boost per hit. Each Scarecrow hit did 600 damage per tentacle. That's 1200 life back if you hit all four. The downside is the number of pips you have to save up to do this. Without a Death Mastery Amulet, this was time consuming. You of course should be utilizing that time by placing traps on your target while generating pips, but in the end, it is worth it. It also stretches the time it takes to finish the battle even more. Believe me, unless you have a Myth Resistance of 98 or higher, you will be needing at least one good heal in your deck. Might as well make it a Scarecrow. The only other heal that would compare to this would be a full pip Dryad. You'd be inviting Earthquakes, but I can see that spell being a good alternative to the Scarecrow. If your Myth Resistance is less than 90, I'd stick with Scarecrow.

Other Healing
See above. All heals a player casts spark the Cheat of the zero-cost out-of-turn Earthquake swarms. Pet heals do not spark this. Pet heals are fantastic for this fight. Unfortunately, I have terrible luck with pet heals, and the Minotaur pet with Myth-Proof doesn't have any healing anyway. If you have a pet with great resistance and healing, you are quite ahead of the game. If you're going to cast heals, they need to be worth it. You don't want to have blades on you when you do it, and the healing you get back needs to be much larger than the damage you're going to receive from each remaining tentacle.

The good thing about Pyromancers is that we have lots of traps. Backdraft in particular is going to make a huge difference. The downside to it is that it's going to use up pips and stretch out the game. I haven't mentioned it above, but one great way to speed up your game is to load your deck with Empowerment. You're pip generation will be good, although with all of the stuns in this battle, you're going to wind up sitting on a lot of pips anyways. The only drawback to Empowerment is that for things like Backdraft and high level damage spells, you're going to have mostly white pips. I think it's worth the trade-off, and if you really need more power pips, just regulate when you decide to cast your Empowerment. You will need to remain patient and disciplined while casting traps. The large tentacles have 28000 life. That's a lot of traps in order to get the big numbers. If you don't lay enough traps on before doing a damage spell, it's going to require a lot of damage spells to take down one boss tentacle. There are two to deal with here. The smaller tentacles can be killed in one or two hits with properly augmented spells, but those big ones take nearly an hour a piece to kill. With all of the traps you are casting, you may want to keep note paper handy to write down what you're casting, so you don't waste traps you've already cast! This is especially true if you've learned Potent Trap.

Potent Trap
This spell is enough to warrant it's own discussion. This allows you to stack the same kind of spell, if one of them is affected by Potent Trap. Example: I cast Fire Trap on a tentacle (+25% to fire damage). If I convert a Fire Trap from my hand with the Potent Trap spell, and then cast this augmented Fire trap on the same tentacle (+35% to fire damage), those two spells will stack for an attack! With Potent Trap spells in your deck, you have effectively doubled the number of traps you can cast on enemies. Everyone (and rightfully so) extols the virtues of Sharpened Blades. But this fight renders Sharpened Blades nearly meaningless. Earthquakes don't care. If you learned Death up to Feint, then you now have two Feints to stack. You can stack two Backdrafts (though that will take a lot of time to make effective). Potent trap is awesome. Of course to learn it, you need to have beaten the fire monkey boss I described in an earlier post.

I had only one Reshuffle in my deck the first time I fought this encounter (well the first time I fought it and hoped to live). I was able to kill both boss tentacles and one of the minion tentacles before I simply ran out of cards. I made a fundamental mistake that probably most of you would not have made - I didn't know that once you use a Reshuffle, that card doesn't reshuffle into your deck. One Reshuffle in your deck means you only get one Reshuffle. I probably would have been able to finish the fight had I loaded more Scarecrows in my deck, but I only had four in my Sideboard. So let that be a triple lesson. Fully equip your Sideboard (with Scarecrow or whatever you did decide to put in there), be patient with your traps so you are maximizing the damage you do per hit, and put more than one Reshuffle in your deck for this fight. Two will likely be enough, but put 3 in if you're paranoid.

Order of Kills
This also dictates the kind of damage you are putting into your deck. I experimented with several battles using different kinds of spells. Attack All spells will get rid of the small tentacles somewhat quickly. And that's when you'll learn of the other cheat in this battle: if there's a boss tentacle still up, after a couple of turns, minion tentacles regenerate. When they fully return to battle, they will have lots of pips, most of them power pips. It is pretty pointless to spend any time worrying about the minion tentacles. I suppose if you are able to rapidly do epic amounts of damage to all enemies at once, that would be way to fight this battle. I didn't find I was doing very much damage to enemies without a lot of traps down, even if my attacks were Colossal. The trade-off to having high resistance is your other stats are going to suffer. Your accuracy, your power pip generation, your critical chance, and your power are all going to be a good bit lower than you're used to. Pick a tentacle. Trap it. Trap it a lot. Make sure you've stacked nearly every kind of trap you can before launching as strong an attack as you can on it. Damage over time spells aren't much effective in this battle. Dragons, elves, scalds, and volcanoes just aren't going to maximize the traps. Which is why you should consider sticking to attacks with single big hits. Pay attention to your health. In the beginning of the battle, you will feel like a boss with all your resistance. But when you drop down to a thousand health, just as you are considering casting a Scarecrow, you just might find yourself locked down by five turns of stuns; and then to make matters worse, you fail a couple of blocks against critical attacks on you. Suddenly you're coasting under 100 life hoping you don't fizzle that Scarecrow. Consider using a Scarecrow as early as the 2000 health mark. Try to maximize your opportunities though. If you have a lot of power pips and a Backdraft in hand, the smart call is going to be using the Backdraft, unless your hovering around 400 life. If you have a lot of white pips, however, just use them up with a Scarecrow. The nice thing about the Scarecrow is it won't be using up your Fire school traps. Also, consider having a couple of Wyldfires in your deck, not just one. They do occasionally cast Time of Legend. Being able to dampen their damage while augmenting your own is a nice thing.

Special Note
If you manage to kill a boss tentacle, but are forced to flee or are killed, when you use the Dungeon Recall, that tentacle will be dead UNLESS there were no remaining boss tentacles left in the battle. In that case, there will be one boss tentacle and at least one minion tentacle (the other minion will respawn in the course of the fight). You should try to get one boss tentacle destroyed if you don't think you will manage to kill both in a single fight. You will still need to be able to down one boss and two minion tentacles in a single encounter though.

So let's recap.
My gear:
Thirteen Death Mask
Secret Surcoat
Woodwarden's Shoes
Dawnfrost Blade (52 universal block)
Jewel of the Feint
Minotaur Pet with Mythproof
Toasty Band of the Fire Elves (nothing toward resistance or block, but gives me otherwise good stats. Kakenya's Broken Band would be a good alternative. It gives boost to Death power, as well as 30 block against Myth, plus otherwise good boost to health, mana, and power pip generation).

My deck (Codex of the Lost Fire):
Fire Trap x2
Fuel x2
Backdraft x2
Elemental Trap x2
Potent Trap x4
Empowerment x4
Colossal x4
Efreet x4
Reshuffle x2

Scarecrow x alot

Other useful card types: Feint, Furnace, Conviction, Infallible (for your Scarecrow), Sun Serpent, King Artorius. I haven't learned most of these spells.

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