Vanguard Ancient Port Warehouse Guide



Vanguard Ancient Port Warehouse Guide by Cennyan

Soon the gates will open to Vanguard’s premier raiding zone, Ancient Port Warehouse. A flurry of excitement surrounds the community as preparations are being made for the release. Many hours of design and testing have gone into the zone to ensure that it will provide months of entertainment for even the most hardcore of guilds. The lead developer on the Ancient Port Warehouse project is Andrew “Avarem” Krausnick.

The purpose of this guide will be to give players an idea of what to expect upon entering APW as well as provide methods of preparation for your excursion. First, we’ll take a look at some of the new concepts introduced with APW. We will review the mob AI and discuss some common tactics employed throughout the dungeon. Moving on, we will discuss ways in which an individual can prepare themselves for raiding in Vanguard including a short equipment guide. We will then discuss ways in which leadership can prepare their guilds (and themselves) for the challenges that lay ahead. Finally, we will end by discussing the typical aspects of an APW raid.

This guide is intended to be a basic conceptual raid guide and will benefit primarily those individuals who are casual or new to raiding. Experienced raiders will find much of this information to be second nature and at best this guide will serve as a review. Regardless of your experience with raiding, you will be able to find some specific information regarding APW that everyone will be able to use.

Ancient Port Warehouse Concepts, Features and Released Information

All of this information has been posteed on vgplayers by either Avarem or another dev. No information within this first portion is spoiler in nature and should be considered only a preview. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT THE DUNGEON IS CONSIDERED SPOILER INFORMATION THAN YOU SHOULD NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT!
18-Man Raids

Ancient Port Warehouse is a raid zone designed for an 18-man raid group. Any individuals beyond the 18-man limit will be unable to engage the mob or assist players engaged on the mob in any way. During non-combat periods, players may interact without regard for the 18-man limit and buff or rezz one another. As such, there is no limit on the number of people who can accompany a raid, but only the first 18 on the raid will be able to engage and interact with the mob.

Quested Access

Once In an effort to slow the initial rush (and the many trains which would accompany said rush) will first have to complete an access quest to gain entrance to APW.  The quest is reported as being relatively straight forward and culminates in an encounter which will require a raid force to defeat.  Once the mob has been defeated you will be able to redeem the quest for key access and possibly other rewards as well.  The mob which will need to be killed will be available in three seperate zones allowing three raid groups to obtain their access each respawn cycle.   The quest on test is not currently available to characters under level 48.  All Raid members will be required to have the key to access APW.

Lockout Timers

Once a boss has been defeated, the 18 players that engaged will be flagged with a Lockout Timer for that specific encounter. Mobs in APW are currently expected to have a one hour re-spawn however, raids will only be able to engage locked-out mobs once every 72 hours (all times are subject to change). While flagged with the Lockout Timer, the player will be unable to engage or be engaged by that particular boss mob.

Mob Uniqueness
One of the more promising features of APW will center on the difficulty of tackling encounters. Every mob in the dungeon will have specific strategies to defeat them. Avarem’s goal has always been to provide content that was unique not only among MMO’s, but even when compared to itself. The result is a zone in which every step forward will be fought for and earned. The design team has available to it many new tools which give the AI abilities which are unique to Vanguard.

  • Strikethrough – Mobs in APW will be using a new special attack type called Strikethrough. Using Strikethrough a mob will adjust its maximum damage range based on the mitigation of the opponent while maintaining its minimum damage range to ensure a challenging encounter. The primary goal of this attack is to prevent light cloth or medium armor classes from getting a one or two shot death while still providing sufficient damage to tanks engaged and maintaining agro. The result is that higher mitigation classes will see a much higher damage range on attacks than other classes. BEWARE! Not all attacks by mobs or bosses use strikethrough and some attacks are still capable of one-shot kills.
  • Reactionary Abilities – One of the more interesting features of APW are mob reactionary abilities. From what I have seen, reactionary abilities are triggered functions of a mob. Each function has its own triggering event such as: specific attacks being used against the mob, health timers (at 60% health mob does this), timed timers (at 2 minutes mob does this), scripted events such as spell casting, player death or agro-shifting and many others. Triggered event’s could come in various forms such as: certain damage types causing the mob to heal instead of taking damage, agro memory wipes, spawning of additional mobs and in some cases, instant death to the entire raid. In all, the addition of Reactionary Abilities will ensure that every mob in the dungeon will be a unique and interesting challenge. So far, all the mobs that we have been testing required a new and independent strategy of any other mob we had previously encountered.
  • Tactics – I was delighted in discovering the broadness of abilities and tactics that can be used to defeat mobs in APW. Mobs are being tuned, returned and then reevaluated to ensure that there are no “boring fights” and to be certain that they can be defeated by various methods. As a result, there are no “required” classes for APW and every encounter can be beaten by several different group combinations once a strategy has been developed. Of course, some ways are much more efficient than others are.

Movement in APW

Movement in APW will be facilitated by the usage of a rift-way system. Once your raid has moved to a certain portion of the dungeon you will be able to activate that particular rift-way and then return to that point on future raids. You will be able to summon / CoH at the entrance, between rift-way points and at the outpost area located within the dungeon.

Loot

What will loot be like in APW? That’s the question on everyone’s mind. To be truthful, we don’t know for certain. Recently, Avarem has begun a total re-examination of the itemization in APW. Many items will likely be changed based on player input that was recently solicited. In general, loot will come in three forms.

  • Non-lockout Boss mob Loot These mobs will not be lockout based, but on random and sometimes rare individual spawn timers. They have independent loot tables that will contain mostly rare and heroic drops.
  • Lockout Boss Mob Loot – Thus far we have seen mostly heroic and fabled loot dropping, all of which is better than current T5 crafted and quest items on live. As stated above, Avarem is re-itemizing many items so specific comments can’t be made in regards to these matters.
  • Crafted Loot – It appears as though crafting will be a heavy part of APW and it’s whispered that items obtained through crafting will often exceed those dropped by bosses. Many components have dropped for us and the rule of thumb is…keep everything. I’m sure that more information will be released in the next few weeks.  There are going to be craftng / harvesting tools which will drop in APW however, they will not be required to produce the recipes from the zone.
  • Avarem wrote:

    In the interest of putting any rumors and misinformation to bed, here’s how crafting in APW works:Recipes are very rare drops off of bosses.
    Recipes are tradable.
    There are recipes for fabled as well as legendary gear.
    The items required to craft this gear is all tradable.
    In order to get the items required to craft this gear you must kill the hardest bosses within APW and both loot their corpses as well as harvest their remains.
    Once the items are created, they are either hexed (if fabled) or cursed (if legendary) – this means that their effectiveness is such that they are not worth using.
    The hex can only be removed by a semi-rare drop off the very bosses that drop the components, this drop is soulbound.
    The curse can only be removed by dragon’s eyes, also soulbound, that drop rarely off the dragon.
    Once combined, the tradable crafted item gains stats appropriate to the difficulty of obtaining it as well as becoming soulbound.

Multiple Dungeon Copies 

On Nov 27th, 2007 the following information was released regarding multiple instances / copies of APW being utilized in an attempt to help offset the lag of 90+ players.

Avarem wrote:

Hey all,
As many of you have correctly pointed out, it’s very likely that during prime time – given the number of high level players in our game, that APW could potentially be rendered unplayable due to volume of traffic. As a result, we have implemented a solution to this problem that we wanted to outline for you here before it goes to test and then live in order to give us time to make sure it is fully understood before you guys start interacting with it on the test server.

Our first step was actually to move the dungeon itself to its own separate chunk. This is why you’ll notice an empty dungeon behind the current doorway, and soon the doors will be made immobile and this version of the dungeon removed completely. By moving the dungeon this allows the server supporting the dungeon to dedicate its resources entirely to those hunting within the dungeon itself, wasting no server resources on anyone who might be spending time doing the overland content.

The second step was actually to create multiple copies of this separate dungeon. Opening day we will only have one APW ‘shard’ (and yes, this could even potentially be called an ‘instance’) open. However, we will be able to, if it is deemed necessary and on a per server basis, open additional overflow copies of APW.

The way it will work is as follows:

  • These will be accessed by using the APW key on the overland door, where a choice will be presented between all currently available overflow shards.
  • All overflow shards share a single regional chat.
  • If you have guild mates in the wrong shard it is possible to use healer summoning spells to transfer players between overflow shards.
  • Boss lockouts are shared between all overflow shards, so each boss can still only be slain once per 6 days despite any additional shards being available.
  • The shard is not limited to only one group or raid. Our current tests have shown that APW can accommodate in excess of 90 players and our goal number is around twice that. This number is something we hope to evaluate once we open APW on the test server.

As usual, if you have any comments about this please feel free to post here and I will respond to any questions or concerns.

Armor Sets and Quested Items – Currently there are quested armor sets for each class being designed. While APW tester’s have had the opportunity to review the initial armor, it is being changed to more adequately reflect the play styles of common players. There is little information in regards to armor sets at this time and this section will be updated as more information is released.

Preparing yourself (and your guild) for APW.

First let me make it clear that this is in no way a spoiler. You will not find strategies for defeating the various mobs within APW or even hints as to how to defeat them. What you will find here are some general tips and suggestions on preparing yourself, your gear and your guild for the challenges that await you in Ancient Port Warehouse. This guide is by no means a “You must do this In order to succeed” but instead a “This may help you to succeed more quickly” type of publication.

With that said, first I want to point out that the encounters we’ve faced in testing have all been challenging and uniquely entertaining. Even clearing yard trash yielded challenges that stretched our playing abilities to the extreme. Yet, of all the suggestions made in this guide, the one which will stand out the most is simply this: While you’re in APW, keep your eyes and ears open, focus and follow the leader.

Raid Member Responsibilities

As a member of a raid you are responsible for two things…yourself and doing your job. The following are general guidelines of what to expect in a typical APW raid and suggestions on how to better prepare including a brief equipment guide. By focusing on these points and successfully applying them to your play-style, you will in general become a better player and an asset to any raid. Keep in mind that different leaders have different ways of leading and that not all of these suggestions may apply to a specific circumstance.

Be Prepared

It’s the Boy Scout’s marching song. Be prepared for APW. If the raid leader and the other 16 people are ready to go, but they’re waiting on a tank because he forgot to repair his gear, then the tank has failed to be prepared and cost his guild valuable raid time.

  • An old army saying goes, “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late.” Arrive to raids at least 5-15 minutes prior to the raid starting. Your raid leader shouldn’t have to wait on you for any reason. If you’re going to be late to the raid, make sure you inform an officer / leader prior to the raid so they are aware. At the beginning of every raid do a quick self-ready check, “Am I in all the channels I should be in?” “Do I have all the gear I need and is it g2g?” “Are all my hotkeys and macro’s set properly?” Etc.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. There is no room for egos in APW. If you have a weakness the first person you need to admit it to will be yourself. By attempting to perform with your weaknesses you risk wasting your entire raids effort. When you discover a deficiency work to correct the issue as quickly as possible and don’t be afraid to ask an officer for help, that’s what they’re there for.
  • Repair before coming. Seems like common sense and yet people still show up with gear at 0%. When you’re gear is useless, you are useless. Make sure you’re gear is at 100% as well as any spare gear you may be carrying.
  • Create assist macros, heal macros and agro macros (“I HAVE AGRO GET IT OFF!!!” ,), before beginning the raid. In future raids it will simply be a matter of changing out the names. You should have an assist macro for every tank that may end up tanking and ALWAYS USE ASSIST! One of the worst things you can do in APW is break mez or pull agro from the tanks.
  • Bring any necessary accessories. This includes potions, food / water, instruments for bards, poison for rogues, extra gear, symbiotes, clicky items with effects, etc…and make sure they’re repaired and ready to go.
  • Ensure that you have read any posted strategies or raid requirements and thoroughly understand prior to the raid. Also make sure you understand the raid’s loot policy so that there isn’t confusion when something drops that you may desire.
  • Be aware of your role during corpse recoveries, pulling and during fights. During buffing / corpse recoveries, understand and cast only the necessary buffs (for instance don’t waste time or energy casting arcane resist’s if the mob doesn’t have arcane attacks). Also don’t assume that everyone want’s your buffs, especially if they have any negative impacts. Just because you don’t think Sorc’s use Endurance doesn’t mean they don’t. Research the game and learn what all the different buffs do, which stack / won’t and when they are needed.
  • Follow the leader. Make sure you clearly understand your part in the plan at all times. Never be afraid to ask questions; just make sure to respect your leader’s wishes in regards to contacting them during raids. If there is a “Chain-of-Command” in order to get suggestions to the raid leader, then use it appropriately.
  • Meet (or try your very best to meet) any standards that your leaders have set. If they require X amount of hit points unbuffed, then make sure you have it and if you’re supposed to be on time, then be on time. If you are asked to meet a standard that you believe is beyond your ability or gear inform your leadership immediately. Not being able to perform a task is far worse than admitting you can’t do it before hand.
  • Prepare your UI prior to raiding. Many players that have been testing APW do not use the default UI. If you intend to use a UI for raiding make sure you have the latest updates and that all macro’s and buttons are functioning correctly prior to raiding. Nothing is worse than going to cast a heal only to find out that your hotkeys somehow reset.
  • Try and foresee issues before they occur and plan ahead. Again…Be Prepared.

Focus

The most challenging skill that will need to be learned (or re-learned by many) will be that of listening; eyes open, ears open, mouth shut…words to live by in APW. Pay attention and stay focused at all times. It’s very easy to get caught in the moment and not realize roaming mobs are nearby or that your guild is moving. If you’re not focused, you will die and quite likely cost your raid their lives as well. Don’t watch TV, don’t surf web-sites and don’t get involved in guild chat / tells. If you have to go afk then let the appropriate people know.

Control and Discipline
You will find that most guilds in some way moderate discussion during raids. There is simply too much going on for 18 people to have an opinion. Forums are for opinions…raids are for following. Raid Leaders will ask for input if they feel it is needed otherwise, let them do their job and leave them alone. If you have something you feel is important then pass it on to your group leader, raid assistant or otherwise appointed individual or wait to discuss it till a later time. When things are getting especially stressful, you will need to be in control of your emotions and actions.

Be Proficient
Know your class and all of its capabilities. It is strongly encouraged for all raid members to participate on the forums of their particular affiliate sites. You will be able to learn and share information that may have otherwise seemed unimportant. If you see a way in which your class might be used in APW, then bring forth the idea (on the forums or in tells) and see how it works. Keep in practice with your character. If you play an alt 6 days of the week, then log in your L50 only for Saturday night’s raid you’re not going to be as efficient had you played your L50 a few times during the week. Keep up with the latest changes to your class and always be aware of how to maximize you’re DPS when required.

Be Patient
Your first few trips to APW may be lengthy and slow endeavors as your raid leaders begin to develop their initial strategies. Be aware that you will not be a stranger to death, more than likely you will die a lot so, have patience! The more time you spend in APW the more that it will become second nature and the less time you will spend singing Kum Ba Ya around the bindstone. Officers especially are going to have a rough time of it as they not only have to focus on basic raid tasks, but learning entirely new concepts and encounters. Treat your officers with respect and always be understanding that their job is often the most difficult.

General APW Tips

  • Don’t use AE attacks or AE weapon / armor procs unless the raid leader has specifically asked for such. If you’re not absolutely sure what an item effect does, find out before coming to APW and make sure it’s not an AE.
  • Don’t break mez…the first person to die will be the one that was mezzing it, the second will be the healers taking care of the tank.
  • IF YOU ARE NOT ONE OF THE 18 PEOPLE WHO ARE DESIGNATED TO ENGAGE A MOB THEN DO NOT ENGAGE! Even though the raid limit is 18 people, other people can be brought along to swap out during the raid so, if you’re not supposed to engage, don’t engage.
  • Control your agro at all times. Use your de-agro abilities and make sure you have all of the hate reduction buffs available from other classes. Once you gain agro on a mob, a chain reaction occurs in which the entire hate list is reorganized. Tanks will no longer be at the top; so after the mob kills you it will go for your healers and other DPS classes. One agro slip can literally wipe a raid. If you gain agro, immediately use you’re “I have agro Help” button you made so that healers and tanks will be aware. (This tip may prove obsolete once mobs show their targets).
  • Don’t train mobs. If you get agro stand where you are and die / let tanks rescue. If you are a caster / ranged class standing at ranged and get agro, run back to the spot where the tanks had the mob, don’t make them come to you (you’ll likely be dead anyway). Above all else, if you attain agro, do not train it onto the healers.
  • If you are uncertain as to your duties during any point of a raid, ask for clarification. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, only with not asking. If you feel you are unable to perform the task, discuss it with your leaders as they may have insights that will allow you to accomplish the duty.
  • ALWAYS USE /ASSIST! Learn it, Live it, Love it. Anyone not using assist should be booted from the raid. Nuff~ said.
  • Do not hail any NPCs in APW until told to do so. Many events are triggered and you may accidentally begin them. The same holds true for clickable objects. If you see one, let your group / raid leaders know about it but don’t click it.
  • PROVIDE TIMELY DEBUFFING!!! – This is absolutely imperative. Get your debuffs on mobs ASAP (allowing the tank time to get agro). This is especially true of -damage, -str, – mitigation, – dex and -attack speed. Once you have a mob debuffed, keep him debuffed. You may not think that -50 pts of Str will make a big difference but you will find that it decreases the mob damage significantly. Bard’s and Paly strength debuffs where both nerfed for this very reason. Debuffs are crucial to prevent spike damage and keeping your tank alive. If they fall off the mob, the tank’s survival chances decrease greatly.

Equipment Preparation for APW

It’s a safe bet that a guild decked out in full heroic and legendary gear is going to have a much easier time than a raid geared with blue and yellow armor and weapons. As well, individuals not geared in at least swamp / quested / T5 heroic gear will have an extremely frustrating challenge awaiting them. Now is the time to prepare to your gear. This section will be dedicated to discussing some of the various equipment types available and the usefulness of each.

When you enter APW you will want do so with very best armor you have available while meeting the guidelines below. Tanks and healers especially can not skimp on gear. A tank with 8k hit points buffed and 50% mitigation will simply not survive and healers without the bonus afforded from +500 healing will have difficulty keeping people alive. I really can’t stress this enough. If you’re still wearing blues and yellows, now is the time to raise the standard. You still have time to work on this, but the countdown on APW has begun and it is in the final stages of testing.

Hit Points and Constitution

These two should have a heavy impact everyone’s gear. The typical AE boss-mob will have an AE doing approximately 1k-5k damage. They will auto-attack (using strikethrough) for 1-9k with an attack speed of approximately 2-3 seconds. This means that if you are under-geared, the tank will only have about 2.5 seconds to pull agro from you before you take 6k damage and exceed the hit points of many common gear builds. Therefore, it is imperative that you have at least 4500 un-buffed hit points. After buffs this will put you at approximately 6-7k hp…just enough to survive 5 seconds of agro or one big AE. My personal recommendation is at least 7k+ hp buffed in case you get agro as an AE goes off. It is important to note that any class in the game, with the right combination of gear and buffs, can exceed 10k hit points so it’s simply a matter of reorganizing your gear and changing some priorities. DPS gear is essential, but being alive to use it is much more important. At a minimum, you will want your tanks to have at least 10k HP when fully buffed and 12k is not impossible.

Mitigation
For tanks this will also play a critical role in your gear selection. In general you will want to achieve and maintain the mitigation cap (65% mitigation) at all times. Using strikethrough, you will see even trash mobs auto-attack for between 2-12k damage and specials hitting for as much as 19k. It is imperative to ensure that damage is reduced as much as possible by the usage of mitigation.

Evasion
Evasion is an added-effect for tanks but may cause more trouble than it is worth. The issue involving evasion is that a mob will miss, hit, miss, hit, hit, miss…it wont be consistent damage. This will often lull healers into a false sense of control and they will begin to back off of healing slightly as a method of compensation. Then as soon as the next big damage spike occurs or a de-buff fades, the tank will be dead.

In general, for tanks at least, it is more advisable to spend these slots improving hit points or mitigation. For non-melee classes this gear should not be needed either. The simple fact is, if you get agro in APW and you’re not a tank, you’re doing something wrong (or your tank is). There are a few mobs that have random agro / mem wipes, but these are the exceptions, not the norm. For offensive classes, Instead of using evasion gear, go with DPS gear but work very hard at controlling your agro. For tanks, use mitigation.

Endurance Regen
Endurance regen gear has recently been adjusted to a six-second pulse to better match the energy / health regeneration which is currently in game. In it’s current state it is no longer as useful as it was before and is currently undergoing testing. Once a “balance” has been found then I will re-evaluate the usefulness of the gear.

Energy Regen
In theory, you will have a psi or a bird sham on your raid and energy regen should not pose any major issue for the majority of fights. A few fights you come to will involve energy drains / spell cost increases / etc. On these fights a typical strategy is to keep healers out of AE range and energy regen may prove useful, albeit only in large chunks (+6 energy regen = 6 / 6 seconds which isn’t much). For bards, in order to play the strongest songs, you will need approximately 50-60 energy regen in addition to psi / sham buffs or +90 energy regen without buffs. My general theory is that if you run below 40-50% energy on a consistent basis outside of APW, you won’t be able to maintain your energy pool inside APW.

Health Regen
This really isn’t very useful. The amount of damage caused by AE’s will not be offset by gear unless the entirety of your gear is specifically focused for that task. In general, health regen follows the same rule as energy regen in that it’s only useful in large chunks. So while + 60 health regen will prove useful, +6 will not.

Crit / +Damage / +accuracy
Critical hit, accuracy and damage bonuses are the bread and butter of any DPS class and includes all crit and damage whether it be for casters, ranged or melee. One extremely important note, the higher the crit % you maintain the greater the likelihood of wresting agro from a tank will be. This is not to say that you should forgo these very important bonuses, only that when wearing them on high end gear, take great care to ensure you stay low on the agro list. Pay particular attention to legendary hits as 20k+ damage can quickly boost your hate well beyond the tanks. If you do not have methods of de-taunt or de-agro, then you may want to re-evaluate these items as part of your gear kit. For those meant and able to maintain high levels of DPS through the use of de-agro abilities, this type of gear will be your primary focus. On mobs that are known to have AE damage, some crit / damage gear may need to be swapped out for hit point / constitution gear.

Haste
There are three kinds of haste in Vanguard: melee haste, spell haste and refresh haste. The effects of melee haste are arguable but ultimately those slots on armor would be better filled with DPS or HP. Regardless, make sure you get the haste buff as every little bit does help. In regards to spell haste, the effects will be noticeable depending on your particular class; I recommend discussing this on the various affiliate class sites to determine the exact impact it may have on your class. Caps on both haste and spell haste are currently 20% haste from gear, 30% haste from spells / songs for a cap of 50%. Refresh haste reduces the cool down timers on abilities with longer refresh timers. A skill with the refresh of 120 seconds (2 minutes) will become a 96-second refresh. At this time, bard-song refresh haste and psi refresh haste are stacking for 40% refresh haste. Previously, they did not stack and limited players to 20% refresh haste. I have not received clarification regarding this matter. NOTE: With the recent adjustments to endurance regen gear, haste may yet play a very critical role in damage. More testing will be required to determine the effects of haste on combat at a raid level.

Resist Gear
The impact resists can have on an individual are often significant. In testing, by raising the groups fire resist by 399 pts, we offset almost 2k damage from a 10k nuke and about 400 damage from a 3.5k AE. With this said the only classes that may find resist gear useful (though it’s unlikely) might be tanks and disciples. More than likely it would be better if tanks focus on Hit Points and Con (which also gives resist bonus) and use buffs and bardsong when resists become an issue. Thus far, I have not seen any mobs that have an AE so horrible it required resist gear; this is not to say that they don’t exist. Most AE’s will occur every 15-30 seconds giving healers more than sufficient time to heal a properly equipped raid (hence the reason you need 5-7k hp buffed).

Gear Overview

Personally, I would recommend carrying additional gear that will allow you to customize your gear kit to a specific mob. Some mobs will require more HP; some will require burst DPS while some others may require ranged combat. Being able to swap out gear depending on your situation will aid in min-maxing your raids overall DPS. Still, I can’t stress enough the importance of having enough hit points to be able to survive AE’s. Focus mostly on T5 Crafted, Swamp Armor and overland single-target boss mobs that drop heroic items for your gear.

Leadership Responsibilities

While many of the responsibilities can be shared between guild leaders and regular members, the tasks required to achieve those goals should not be. Since all guilds are led differently it would be impossible for the suggestions in this guide to relate to every type of leadership style and leader. So, instead, I will offer general leadership advice that will apply regardless the individual.

Be Prepared

You also need to be a Boy Scout. This guide will help you in some ways, but the responsibility will ultimately fall upon you and your officers. Before your first trip into the dungeon you should already have determined the policies to be used while raiding and have discussed them at length with your membership to ensure understanding.

  • Have a loot policy established and well known to the members. Discuss it if needed but ensure that all members understand the concepts before they attend the raid.
  • Bring more than 18. Raid targets are designed for 18 people however, more people may accompany you as you maneuver about the dungeon. A typical strategy will be to have an additional 1 or 2 tanks, DPS classes and healers along to supplement the raid as the encounter dictates. At a minimum, you will need a class with the capability of rezzing along with you for complete wipes. Note that the person will not be able to rez anyone in the raid until the mob has completely lost agro and as such will not be able to perform in-combat rezzing. (I don’t think they can loot either if not part of the 18-man)
  • Know your members’ strengths and weaknesses. If you know a Paladin doesn’t have a good shield or the hit points to tank, then that person is a liability on a raid. It is your job as a leader to ensure that your members have the gear that they will need to perform the duties that you will be assigning them. Also, grouping with members allows you to get a feel for how competent they may be as players. Make an effort to “spend time with the troops” so to speak. Many opportunities exist on live server that will allow you to accomplish both. If the person doesn’t meet the requirement’s to perform a function then you, as a leader, should not set them up for failure by forcing them to perform said function.
  • Establish a set of raid rules and ensure that all raid members are aware of them. Also organize any and all channels which will be used to include healing channels, crowd control or pulling channels, as well as a vent / TS server.
  • Have a contingency plan for total wipes. Make sure you bring an extra rezzer along and ensure your raid knows what buffs are needed. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give a guild is to accept the fact you’re going to die and be prepared for it. The quicker you learn to recover from wipes the more successful you will become. Be aware that mobs in certain areas will have very quick respawn times and you will be unable to linger in those areas for any length of time. From the time the first rez begins, a raid should be completely recovered within 5-10 minutes. Practice this and focus on it and it will reward you with large amounts of time cut off of your raiding evening.
  • Be Patient, especially when something is new. It may seem like buffing and movement is taking forever you’re first few times in APW but, with practice, it will get better. Know when to push your raid to quicken the pace and know when to give them extra time to get things in order. A rushed raid is often an unprepared raid and will generally end up a dead raid. Once you’re raid becomes experienced then pushing them hard will be the norm.
  • Try and foresee issues before they occur and plan ahead. Again…Be Prepared.

Be professional

As a leader, you likely have more influence on your members and their behavior than anyone else in the guild does. It is crucial to ensure that you act and think professionally at all times. A raid leader who is upstanding on raids, then goes out and exploits mobs in RI is not a good leader. The good leader is one who holds ethical values in the highest regard. Set the example…be the example. Above all else, you should be what you expect those who follow you to become.

Communication
If you do not give adequate direction, your members will be confused and not function. Likewise, giving too much information may also lead to confusion and disorganization. Say what needs to be said and leave it at that. Keep the chat to a minimum and discussions for the forums. The fewer people giving directions the better…the adage “Too many chiefs, not enough indians” always applies. Once strategies have been developed make them available to all members of the guild (I recommend a separate forum on your guild site). All guild members should strive to understand not only their role within the strategies, but also the role of everyone else. It is important for leaders to ensure that the lines of communication are open in both directions. Listen and act on suggestions but be able to distinguish actual concerns with whining. This doesn’t necessarily have to occur on raids, but instead outside of raids and on forums. Most importantly, keep your members informed at all times, don’t let them be surprised by details. As a note, if people are constantly talking in Vent / raid chat during raids, then communication is not flowing correctly.

Develop Pride (Motivation and Attitude)
As a leader especially, you should be proud of your guild. Build up your team when you have success and focus on small achievements during the times you have failures (“Yea, we wiped, but killed both adds for the first time!” ).  Understand that you are going to die in APW…A LOT. That’s ok, we all will be dying along with you. It’s not important that you died, what’s important is that you get up, buff and re-engage. With pride comes cohesion and with cohesion comes loyalty. As a leader, you must never complain or lay blame, fix problems, yes, but avoid accusations. You should never let your raid members hear you sounding defeated or beaten in Vent, even if you feel that way. You are the leader, the source of motivation and determination for the raid. If you do not have enough pride in your guild to rise above those feelings then you should end the raid until you are better capable of leading. You alone are responsible for your attitude and you should never allow a negative attitude to influence those individuals that you are leading.

Set Standards
Set achievable standards for your guild and hold them to it. Clearly explain to your guild what your expectations are for them. Be prepared to support and discuss why you are setting standards at their implemented levels. If required, conduct special training with guild members that have weaknesses and provide feedback to help facilitate their growth. In cases where a single player constantly fails to meet standards then the player may need disciplinary actions (see below). In cases where several players are having difficulties meeting standards then perhaps the standard should be re-evaluated. Always be flexible. Just because you want your guild to accomplish a standard doesn’t mean that they will.

Individual / Group Competency and Personal Development
The most successful raiding guilds are those that can think for themselves and still follow orders. As leaders, it will be your responsibility to ensure your guild maintains individual and group competency capable of working together in a raid environment. This doesn’t sound difficult but consider that your first trip to APW will be filled with a great deal of confusion. Players currently have always performed in a standard group environment, not one which requires healing or rescuing outside of ones group. There will be many new experiences to be had. The best way to get your guild through it…you guessed it…be prepared. An excellent “practice” spot for multi-group content are the temples in Tehatamani Harbor and you receive the extra bonus of gearing up your guild with some very good jewelry. (See Raid Testing below)

Leave the Ego At Home
Nothing is worse than an egotistical “I’m right, your wrong hahaha” raid leader. As a leader, you have no room for ego in your leadership style. Every person’s opinion and input is important. This doesn’t mean you should stop a raid in order to hear one person’s suggestion, that would be rude to the other 16 people but it does mean that when you have an appropriate time you should strongly listen to and discuss all pressing issues. Ultimately you will have to make certain decisions but let ethics be your guide when making them, not ego.

Control and Discipline
In cases where a player is constantly violating rules then they may require discipline. Back to the “Be prepared” comment…as officers you should discuss and prepare policies for such occurrences on raids. Will the first warning be verbal or should he just get booted from the raid? These are questions that should already have answers prior to engaging mobs in APW. There are bad and immature players in Vanguard. By weeding out the bad players you will encourage the good players to stay in your guild. Hold people responsible for their actions.

Learn to Delegate
First, understand that delegation doesn’t mean handing off the crappy jobs; delegation is the spreading of duties equally amongst participants. Let’s face it, many leaders, especially those without experience, will have difficulty handling every task associated with an APW raid. Doing so ends up stressing that person and often causes them to miss important details. By delegating certain responsibilities you are focusing your own attention on the task itself instead of the many details surrounding it. Find out who in your guild has leadership qualities and then give them the opportunity to shine. Raid leaders, if you don’t want people sending you tells directly then you must assign a person that duty and inform the raid. As well, you will probably want an officer / trusted member doing the corpse checking and looting. Other duties that you may wish to delegate to officers (or members) are: Loot Distribution, Healing Coordinator, Pull Team Leader, Crowd Control Supervisor, Group Formation, Strategy and anything else which can allow the leader to focus on leading.

Raid Testing
With all the information you now have regarding APW there is yet one thing left to discuss, raid testing. Prior to release on live servers, APW will be opened for server-copy characters to test. Simply have your live character copied over, form a guild (or not) and go test APW. I strongly encourage any guild preparing for APW to have their guild copied over, re-form and test APW. This will allow you a few days in which to get basic concepts and logistics under your feet so that when the zone is released you can begin killing instead of fumbling around with buffs and the raid UI.

Leadership End Notes

Leading raids in APW will be challenging your first few trips so be prepared for downtime. Use it to your advantage and allow members to take breaks or buff. Use your officers for advice and to discuss strategies on the fly. Remember that raid members aren’t a tool, they are people who willingly follow you so be fair and respectful when offering advice, rewards and punishment.

Try and find the positive aspects from every experience and use it to build on future endeavors. You are going to die in APW so use those deaths to build your team. While recovering use the time to reiterate any important details and to relay any strategy changes. Use every moment of time you have available to you productively because when you waste time, you’re wasting the time of at least 17 other people. Trust your members to have the competence to buff and listen simultaneously as this will save you a huge amount of time.

Remember that at the end of the day, you are only a servant to those that follow you and always be respectful of those you lead. Be appreciative of them and they will be respectful of you.

A Typical Night in APW

This section is designed to give you a better idea of what will be occurring during a typical night in APW. As stated above, this isn’t a walkthrough, but instead a logistics guide. We will start with some basic planning / preparation and then discuss the various stages you will move through as you progress your raid. Finally, we will touch on boss mob preparation and execution. I won’t repeat many of the notes listed above, so assume that they apply here and during all stages of this last section. In general, these tips will apply to clearing trash mobs as well as fighting boss mobs.

Planning Stage

During this phase you will inform your members that you will be “going to APW at 8 PM EST on July 10th“. You should have player’s form approximately 10-30 minutes before you intend to start the raid so that the raid leader can get things organized. Give out any information on the purpose and goals of the raid as well as a list of the classes that will be needed and in what numbers. Alternatively, some guilds will ask for individuals to sign up prior to an event to “reserve” their slots. I won’t spend much time on this section as it will vary greatly guild to guild but as a final note, I will say this: The more time spent planning and preparing, the more enjoyment you will find your first few nights in APW.

Forming and Group Preparation (On your marks….)

Raid Formation
Getting everyone together on time will be your first challenge. Have a set time and location where the raid will form. Start inviting before hand and even consider setting a form time prior to your start to give group’s plenty of time to get organized. Your first few nights you will probably form either in the foyer or just outside of APW. After subsequent trips to APW (and further progression) you will be able to form at rift-ways.

Group Organization
Group setup will vary depending on the current function of the raid…ie…you wouldn’t have the same group set up for an AE mob as you would for clearing yard trash. You have three groups that are generally organized as Tank Group, Melee DPS / Utility Group, Caster DPS / Utility group. In general, you will want to group the DPS together as much as possible with DPS enhancement classes. This means Clerics, Bards, DK’s, etc…any class which can give large, group-only, combat bonuses. Be flexible with your group make up, understand how the different classes work and use them accordingly. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as there are many synergies amongst the classes in Vanguard and finding the right one for your raid group will be crucial to success.

Buffing
Once group setup is done, the raid leader will generally call for buffs to begin. It’s important that you not begin buffing until the raid leader’s call so that all buffs will degrade at approximately the same time and rebuffing can occur en masse. In cases where multiple individuals of the same class are present, they should determine which of them will be buffing what buffs and what groups. Raid Leaders, take care to ensure that you are not shuffling people’s groups around while buffing. If someone is moved they may miss a necessary buff. Except in a few cases, buffing should not take longer than 5-10 minutes.

Assign Duties
The buffing phase is an excellent time to assign additional duties such as Main Tank, Main Assist, etc… Ensure that all raid members are aware of who is doing what and adjust their hotkeys. Goals and expectations should be explained during this time as well.

  • Main Tank or MT- This will be the tank assigned to build and maintain agro on the targeted mob. All three tank classes are sufficiently capable of filling this role provided they are adequately geared.
  • Secondary Tank or Off Tank – Tanks assigned as secondary will be responsible for A) Taking agro on the primary mob target should the Main Tank die. B) Tanking any additional mobs pulled at the time of the primary mob target. C) Gaining agro and tanking any respawn or roaming patrol mobs during combat.
  • Main Assist or MA – During single pulled encounters, the Main Tank will also generally act as the Main Assist. In those event’s which contain multiple mobs, it may be more efficient to kill the mobs that the Main Tank is not currently engaged with. In these circumstances a separate Main Assist will be assigned to determine which targets should be attacked next. A tank class is not necessarily required for this duty.
  • Puller – Make sure to give him a hug…he’s going to die more than anyone else on the raid and have the highest repair bills. It is the puller who will agro the mob and bring it back for the Main Tank to position. In some cases, the Puller will be required to split mobs.
  • Crowd-Control – Many classes have some form of crowd control capabilities and mobs in APW will respond differently depending on the type used. As such, the crowd control team will often fluctuate between different encounters. Use what works best when you can and make due with what you have when you have to.

Placement and Preparation (Get set….)

Ready Check

There is a raid tool called “Ready Check”. When used by a raid leader, a small window will appear on each raid member’s screen asking if they are ready and to check Yes or No. It’s there…use it. In my time playing MMO’s, I’ve seen countless groups and raids wipe from pulling a mob only to find out a primary healer or tank is afk. It should be the standard that once a ready check is completed, no one should go AFK, if it’s unavoidable, notify the leadership at once.

Encounter Explanation
After the ready check to ensure everyone is there and listening, the raid leader will be delivering an explanation of the upcoming encounter. It may be as simple as “OK everyone, this mob has a knockback, use lev buffs” to something quite intricate and detailed. Take notes if need be. Raid Leaders may also “mark” key players with the above-head-icons activated by right-clicking on a player’s name. While some guilds prefer to use Vent / TS for this function, my personal recommendation is for the raid leader to create macro’s with the instructions written out in /raid. Vent isn’t always heard or remembered…in game text can be referenced again for review.

Raid Positioning and Placement
Many encounters, especially boss mobs, will require special positioning considerations. If it has AE, then healers will want to remain at the outskirts or if the AE is frontal based, then everyone will need to be behind the mob. In some cases the geometry can be used to help shield players. Be aware of the surroundings and use them to your advantage (but not to exploit). During pulls you will want to ensure that the raid is far enough that the puller can die without the raid acquiring agro. I recommend you keep your healers grouped together in one area (not in the same group necessarily) and out of AE range when possible (except Disc’s, [Removed for Content] it up boys). You should also keep your ranged DPS separate from your healer classes in the event they pull agro. On some AE mobs, you can fight through the AE in melee range using Disc’s and BM’s AE heals, on others everyone will be at range…that doesn’t mean they should stand in one group. Agro slips can and will wipe a raid.

Raid Combat (Go…)

Raid Warnings
An additional raid tool is that of Raid Warnings. Using a Raid Alert will flash a red message across the screen of all raid members as well as make an audible alarm sound. . Any member of a raid that has been promoted to raid assistant has the ability to use this feature. This should be used as much as necessary during raids, starting from the go. Broadcast “Pulling in 15 seconds” (or 30, or 60, whatever). Tank’s use Raid Alert’s when another tank dies and you assume agro.

Pulling
Pulling in Vanguard can be accomplished in two ways. First, you could have a designated puller (generally a monk) bring a mob / group of mobs to a certain point then die / feign death / run by the tank at which point the main tank attempts to gain agro. The second method involves the main tank simply pulling the mob in question and bringing it back to the group. Both have their advantages and place so bring a monk or two along, you’ll be glad you did. Either way, make sure that the pull occurs far enough from the raid that a bad pull will only kill the puller.

Often a raid will employ a pull team. The pull team should have a separate channel and include the main tank, off-tanks, the puller, crowd control and a healer or two. Many guilds will use the pull channel as the crowd control channel as well. Once the mob has been pulled the main tank will usually engage the target and build agro.

Building Agro
Upon pulling a mob, the main tank will need to tank it solo for a short period of time in order to build agro. During this stage, no one should attack the mob. This period of time will generally range from 10-30 seconds depending on the mob. In some cases, other tanks will join shortly after the main tank so that they may also build agro prior to DPS engaging. At some point, the tank will feel comfortable with the agro he has generated and will give the signal for the raid to attack (see Engagement and Combat section below.) It’s extremely important to afford the tank the time he needs so that he may build up his agro. Without it, agro will be unstable and the mob will have a tendency to “ping-pong” between different DPS / Healing classes.

Crowd Control / Off Tanking
On some pulls and encounters, you will be unable to get a single mob. It is at these times that you will be required to employ some form of crowd control or off tanking. There are various types of crowd control and all will be used at one point or another. Just because something doesn’t work on one mob doesn’t mean that it won’t be absolutely required on another. Mez, charm, root, stun, kiting and fear are all valid forms of crowd control in some circumstances, including some named mobs. Make sure to try different things during encounters to find out what does and does not work.

In regards to off tanking, there is no specific “off tank” class. All tanks are capable of both primary and secondary tanking. It will be up to the raid leadership to determine who will do what during an encounter. One important note however, in many cases you will not beat the respawn. There should always be at least one or two tanks assigned to act as sentries and pick up agro on any adds. Beware the respawn…find out the timers and make sure you beat them. EVERYONE should know which mobs are able to be CC’d and which require off tanking.

Raid Engagement, De-buffing and Combat
After a tank has had sufficient time to build agro and all additional mobs are contained, the Main Assist will call for the raid to engage the mob. I’ll say this again…Use /assist It’s the most important button on your hotbar. At this point you are able to begin your barrage of damage on the mob. Let’s look at a typical fight point by point

  1. Debuff’s which reduce mob damage, mitigation, accuracy or attack speed should be applied immediately and maintained for the entire duration of the fight. Every debuff is significant when combined the others, so -30 Str from a debuff might not seem like much but, when 6 different classes are each doing the same thing, then the results are significant. Apply them fast and be vigilant in maintain their presence.
  2. Apply DoT’s (Damage Over Time), light nuking and melee and all other debuffs. Begin to pace your damage if it is a long fight. Bursting for everything you have at this point will pull agro from the tank and cause nothing but chaos. This also mean’s that you shouldn’t chain finishing moves and if you crit excessively you should back off just a bit. Agro is stable at this point, but the disparity between the tank and DPS is at it’s smallest margin during the fight.
  3. As the fight progresses and agro has been stable, you may up your DPS output. Take care to use all de-agro abilities often so that you can continue beating on the mob.
  4. Be aware of the exploit system in Vanguard and use it. With 18 people on a mob, it’s extremely important to keep exploits on the target as much as possible.
  5. Be flexible and responsive. Anything can and will happen on a raid. If the raid leader issues an on-the-spot order, be swift to adjust your tactics accordingly.
  6. Some mobs require that you engage them with as much DPS as possible and burn them down. In these cases, the above guidelines will not necessarily apply.

Death, Raid Wipes and Rezzing
Death will be a part of every excursion to APW. The important thing isn’t that you die, it’s what you do after you die that makes the difference. Depending on who dies, different actions will need to be taken.

In-Combat Rezzing
Not every class is worthy of the In-Combat Rez. Having a 10 minute timer, it should be used on critical classes…tanks and primary healers. During long fights, you may be able to use the rez more than once.

    • Main Tank DyingIf the main tank dies everyone needs to immediately stop DPSing. All tanks should be jumping on the mob with their taunts and attempting to regain agro before the mob eats the healers. Ideally, a secondary tank will hold enough agro that should the main tank die, agro will immediately revert to the second tank. Regardless, all DPS on the mob must stop until agro has been secured.

 

  • Healers DyingIf a healer dies, that healer must notify the raid so that other healers may attempt till fill the void. Healers will want to plan out their contingencies for death prior to a fight so that everyone is aware of what to do.
  • DPS Dying Don’t go afk when you die….who knows, maybe you’ll get a rez J

 

Defeat
You will have more cases of defeat than victory for the first few trips. Eventually your ratio will change and the victories will become more prevalent. Keep a good attitude. You’ve been warned about death in APW…it’s going to happen and often. Go into the dungeon with a good attitude and you will come out with a very rewarding experience.

Wipe Recovery
Also see buffing. With death comes the inevitable recovery stage. When you are certain that you are going to wipe, the raid leader should call the fight. At this point everyone still alive pretty much gives up and dies. There is no point of wasting 2-3 minutes running around the room with a mob chasing you when you could be re-buffing and preparing for an additional attempt. Die and recover and do it again until you get it right. You will want to have contingency plans for wipes and be prepared to start from the last rift-way should things go very bad.
Victory
Congrats! A victory well earned. Be proud of your accomplishments and fair with the loot. Everyone has worked hard to get this far and everyone should be offered the same chances. (whether it be DKP, god loot or random).

Ending the Raid and After Actions
After each raid, a successful guild will often evaluate what happened during the raid on the following day. This is the time to relay any input, feedback, suggestions and opinions on how the raid leader did the night before. Report anything that worked well / didn’t work at all and offer any suggestions that you may have regarding the encounter. Above all, keep it respectful. Everyone is part of the same team and should all be working for the same goal.

Conclusion

Ancient Port Warehouse holds the promise of exceptional encounters, decent rewards and a sense of accomplishment. This guide will hopefully better prepare you for your first few trips to the zone. As always, if there is anything anyone feels I have left out or could perhaps better word please let me know. I hope you have enjoyed your read and wish you the best of luck in your raiding endeavors.

Other Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Articles

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