Flameseeker Chronicles: Getting to grips with Guild Wars 2’s Bastion of the Penitent

ArenaNet launched a new standalone raid tier, dubbed Bastion of the Penitent, alongside The Head of the Snake Living World chapter, but I’ve not had a moment to discuss it since the launch last month until now. I realise that raiding doesn’t have the broad appeal of the Living World content, and that affects how I prioritise coverage of new Guild Wars 2 developments, but I always come back to raiding content since I personally get so much enjoyment out of it. This raid wing has been no exception: The encounters start off at an achievable level of difficulty and ramp up to pose more of a challenge fairly quickly, and even the easier encounters have clever mechanics that keep things fun.

In the first part of my Bastion of the Penitent coverage for Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll talk you through the rough mechanics of each boss fight, ignoring for now the lore you’ll find locked behind the raid wing’s door until the next part and also refraining from giving very specific meta or group composition advice. I’ve decided to leave that for any requested in-depth boss encounter guides you require so that I don’t bore you with more raid coverage than you want to see! This edition is more of a what-to-expect rundown than a definitive guide to the encounters. As ever, let me know your thoughts on the raid in the comments and feel free to request detailed, phase-by-phase encounter breakdowns if a particular boss is giving you trouble. I haven’t yet attempted the bosses on challenge mode, but if you’d like me to do so and provide you with any successful strategies I employ, then I will – all in the name of gamer science!

Encounter one: Cairn the Indomitable

A special action key ability called Celestial Dash is important here for manoeuvrability during the encounter, but taking down Cairn this is otherwise a fairly straightforward fight. The Celestial Dash skill is a perfect “save ’em!” mechanic: Cairn builds up debuff stacks called Unseen Burden that slow you down as the fight goes on, making quick movement mechanics highly important. This plays very nicely along with Cairn’s knockback and teleport attacks that make stacking on the boss crucial to prevent burning through those movement tools to get back into the fight when you’re hit with knockback. One player will stay out of this melee stack, however, in order to deal with Cairn’s abilities that focus on the farthest player, including Meteor Swarm.

Corruption mechanics similar to those from the Matthias fight are found here too, where the affected player must get out of the party stack fairly quickly, which in turn risks taking those knockbacks and prevents quick heals being laid on the affected player. You certainly don’t want this to spread too much because the related damage will soon cripple your raiding party. Finally, a platform-wide Cosmic Aura attack that will add 30 stacks of that petrifying slow to debuff happens periodically, and to avoid taking this alongside some hefty damage raiders must run to a safe space. Be careful that your corrupted members don’t stack in the same rings as the healthy ones, however, lest the pestilence spread and cause massive damage anyway! To make it even trickier, you need to match the number of players inside each ring to the number of dots that dance above it, so this stacking can be fairly chaotic and panic inducing. As is typical of ArenaNet boss encounters, the circular platform you fight on is not that safe: Cairn’s arm attack sweeps across the whole platform and can knock you right off as well as dealing massive damage if you fail to dodge in a timely manner.

Encounter two: Mursaat Overseer

This is a super unique encounter that is a fantastic change of pace from what you expect from raiding, though it does edge on the wrong side of easy for the more seasoned raiding groups. Think of this as more of a fun puzzle fight: The boss is a passive figure that is dragged around a spike-filled checkered floor that resembles a game board, and Scout and Solider “pieces” interfere throughout the encounter and claim tiles by filling them with painful fire. Solid pre-encounter choices and great communication will make this fight successful for most organised parties with a little perseverance. Before the fight begins, there are three pickups available that give special ability hotkeys to three players. The Claim ability allows one player to drag the chess piece boss and also reclaim a fiery board segment for the player team, removing the danger from the zone. This is the most important person in the raid group, so ensure that he or she really understands the role and the nature of the board mechanics. Protect allows a little bit of an “oh shoot!” moment to happen in the raid: Every three minutes, this will save you from board damage, so use it wisely whenever you accidentally get yourself stuck between fire and spike tiles. Lastly, Dispel removes invulnerability from Scouts and Soldiers, making them attackable.

This chess pawn Mursaat character has no attacks of his own, but his four allies sure do! The Jade Scouts begin at the far side of the board and aim to move to the opposite end where they power up into Soldiers, but they cannot be stopped from moving across the board for very long. “Killing” these Scouts will only delay their journey, so although killing them might help cohesive groups to time when those Scouts power-up into Soldiers so that each one can be dealt with individually, it won’t eliminate the Scout indefinitely. Soldiers can be killed properly, but they explode on death and so must be handled carefully, and a new Scout will respawn at the far end of the board. The aim of this twisted game of chess is to keep solid damage on the Overseer while managing these Scouts and Soldiers so you don’t have to deal with four at once while also avoiding the deadly spikes and fire on the floor segments. There’s plenty of juggling to do, but approaching the encounter methodically helps dramatically.

Encounter three: Samarog

This is a much more challenging encounter than the previous two, so you should expect Samarog to put up more of a fight than the last two encounters if you’ve not reached him yet. Samarog is another fixation-based baddie that will target people based on mechanical jiggery-pokery rather than raw Toughness scores. The party stacks on his tail while the fixation target keeps the attention. The beast has a Tequatl-like shock wave ground-pound caused by his hulking limbs slamming the ground, which is easy to either dodge through or jump over. Shockwave has the potential to knock players back into the deadly spikes on the outer of the encounter zone, so be careful to position tightly.

An arcing swing swipes through anyone in range, and this is made more deadly by the fact that he turns around to the bulk of the party to do the swipe. Once you spot that telling movement, you had better tuck right into his hitbox to avoid the rangey attack. Samarog is quite a hungry big beastie: He chooses to eat a player, chosen by judging the farthest player away from him, and the party will need to smash through a breakbar to save that player. At 66% and 33% of Samarog’s health, he retreats and players need to kill a Jotun named Guldhem and a human called Rigom, who you’ll want to keep apart to prevent additional damage stacks adding up and overwhelming the party. Players must get Rigom into the orange orb around Samarog and kill him via Guldhem to ultimately damage the Jotun and eventually down the pair. Rigom takes damage for the Jotun and if he is killed he will respawn until you eventually damage Guldhem enough to down him.

Samarog throws two different spears that also need to be taken down during this phase to prevent unwanted player migration around the battle arena: The Spears of Aggression and Revulsion can make keeping your feet in the correct place very difficult, but you can DPS them down where needed. Finally, Samarog will choose a player to target with Inevitable Betrayal, and the only save from an instakill is if a designated player with a green marker under their feet runs to the targeted player and stacks on them. Both players must leave the party cluster to prevent group-wide damage from the occurring explosion too. This blends very interestingly with the other movement mechanics to make meeting up challenging.

Encounter four: Deimos

This encounter is wonderfully rich in terms of both mechanics and lore, and I definitely urge raiding parties to think about their group composition and tactics before beginning the challenge. This fight returns to toughness tanking, so designate a main and off-tank and reflect this in their toughness scores before starting. While fighting this beast, your team will also need to keep a shackled prisoner alive. At the beginning of the encounter, ghosts called Pride and Greed are drawn to the shackled prisoner and the party must prevent them from harming him as much as they can while breaking the chains that hold him. The Eye of Janthir will choose a party member to enter the otherworldly space in which the prisoner is replaced by a demon named Deimos: The demon is shackled with four chains that mirror the chains holding our prisoner that must be broken to stop the ghosts from swarming the prisoner by freeing him. Unfortunately, freeing our prisoner also frees the demon, so Deimos soon becomes free to reign terror on the raiding party in the real combat space. The player chosen by the Eye can take other players along to the underworld to help maximise damage there.

The prisoner is actually very helpful and aids us in taking down the demon: He can stun him, bolster our damage, and actively help in the battle. At each quarter of Deimos’ health, the Eye sends players back to the otherworld, where they’ll find a shadow version of the prisoner who also seeks to break out of the shadow world. Once he reaches 50% health, he comes back with the players who faced him and the raid group must tackle both the demon and shadow prisoner together. The first shadow version is a thief who has a very frequent breakbar that must be consistently broken to prevent boons from disappearing; the second is a gambler who splits into multiple different forms to mask the correct one; and the final form of the prisoner is the drunk, meaning we’ll have to smash more breakbars and avoid being teleported to random, potentially dangerous locations when this version of the prisoner breaks into the real world with Deimos.

There’s a black goo attack at around 60% that reminds me of my Defile woes from the Lich King encounter in World of Warcraft’s ICC raid: It expands underfoot and does a crippling amount of damage, so watch your feet! Many groups have opted to kite Deimos to the edge of the platform to prevent the goo from casting centrally and increasing the chance of it expanding through the party. The goo is cast by the second-farthest player away from the boss, so position wisely. Deimos casts a devastating attack called Mind Crush at regular intervals, so players must run to stand in a ward cast by the prisoner you’re there to save.

Greed and Pride ghosts spawn again at the end of the fight, so you’ll want to immobilise them while you deal with the hell that Deimos unleashes at this stage of the encounter. At 10%, the fight goes into the otherworld and the fight requires the party to burn through Deimos while avoiding the black goo and watching for his attack tells. The furthest away person gets hit with Soul Feast once more, so keep your kiter going: The hands do not despawn and so he or she must stand as far away as possible from the boss. Do not let Deimos near these because he will eat them and deal much more damage. Stand still for as many stacks as possible if you’re dealing with this to keep the platform as clean and free as possible so your Flack will not disrupt the movement of the party. Flack disappears only three times whenever the shadow prisoners come back with the party, so conserving space and being neat is crucial.

Over to you!

I have to admit that my main aim in covering the boss encounters in one post is to entice all you non-raiders into trying the content! If you haven’t tried raiding yet and enjoy fractals, world bosses, and challenges, then you are most definitely missing out on hours of fun. If you do raid, what do you think of this tier?

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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16 Comments on "Flameseeker Chronicles: Getting to grips with Guild Wars 2’s Bastion of the Penitent"

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Bryan Turner
sauldo
Reader
sauldo

I retrospectively realize how disheartening it must be for Tina to post about a type of content that she actually enjoys and see nothing but complaints about the format. So, here’s something that I hope will be a little more constructive. Beware: personal opinion incoming.

I would begin by saying that I enjoyed the wing, with some reservation though. As far as difficulty is concerned, I put my personal bar at Samarog level (normal). I think that the encounter hits the perfect spot between accessibility and difficulty, while staying engaging enough to be an encounter that I’ll happily redo multiple times. In contrast, Cairn and Overseer were probably a little too much on the easy side, no timer or even increasing stakes throughout the fight being the main cause for this, but also the reason why they may be good introductory fights to raids. Deimos, on the other hand, feels way too overtuned, not in terms of mechanics but in sheer numbers which makes said mechanics pretty unforgiving.

Overall, this wing is pretty enjoyable but, looking at the bigger scope, I’m not sure if this should be a design staple for the raid team. Hear me, the encounters are for the most part enjoyable, some even clever, and the wing’s ambiance is stunning, but as a mechanical challenge it lacks consistency. It oscillates between being relatively easy and (too?) difficult but does feel seldom right. While this is obviously a very personal opinion, I’m attributing that feeling to the bastardized difficulty setting of this raid, trying to be as much as an introduction to raids than a challenge for established groups, and ultimately failing at being either one. This schizophrenic design plays imo against the intrinsic qualities of the wing and, by being still too hard for the casuals who want nothing more than a LFR version of this raid, and not challenging enough for the groups who want to get beaten hard by the content (the fact that the CM doesn’t give additional rewards beyond the first clear is an issue), it ends up alienating both groups.

It is my guess that Anet should have to take a clear stance about what they want with their raids or start compromising and give the casual crowd what they’re asking for because I doubt that such a middle ground will cut it in the long run.t

gelfred
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gelfred

I think the problem is far worsened by how uninteresting the non raid content story is, though it is getting better with this season. I am happier with the direction it is going and the characters it has given more time in or out of the spotlight.

I would happily do these with a group of 5, but as they are now I will likely never do so.

Arenanet make a good game, but all their group content since launch has for me and my friends just pushed us away from the game.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I have to admit that my main aim in covering the boss encounters in one post is to entice all you non-raiders into trying the content!

Not gonna happen.

I spent a year raiding and in that time figured that I utterly despise the format despite my raid group at the time being the best, most enjoyable bunch I could ever hope for. After that I vowed to never, ever, set foot again in a raid. In fact, the addition of raids is why I never bothered to purchase HoT in the first place; I started playing GW2 in large part due to the devs promising there would be no raids in the traditional sense, after all.

kalamari_
Reader
kalamari_

*sigh* they never EVER “promised” anything in that direction…

dont project your own made up expectations onto anet and sell them as “facts”.

sauldo
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sauldo

Bullet points taken from the 2012/07/12 Twitch interview of Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson in regards to what they envisioned as GW2’s end game:

•They believe you should not be playing a whole different game once you hit max level than you did leveling up.
•Idea of increased group size (raiding) not appealing. Focusing on doing things you enjoyed doing while leveling up to 80, at level 80.
•They talked about Orr, and how it is distinct. Orr focuses on events, and has no renown hearts at all. Stories focus on larger meta events that are focused around taking key locations.
•There are 8 story dungeons; over 25 different explorable dungeon paths through those dungeons, most intended for level 80.
•Legendaries are not more powerful than top exotic weapons. They’re more about being aesthetically striking. Legendaries are player crafted, and require lots of components from different things around the game. A lot of the components are not items that can be purchased from players, meaning you have to go out and earn them yourself.
•Anything you do in the game to get experience is contributing to the end game to get skillpoints.

These were the initial designs of the game, and how what it was marketed. You can argue that MMOs are ever evolving and I wouldn’t contradict you, but you shouldn’t say that Anet didn’t change their mind drastically, design wise, since the game’s launch. And yes, as you can see, they stated that raiding wasn’t a part of their initial vision.

Line
Reader
Line

It’s a cool raid.
Haven’t played it, won’t play it.
Woodenpotatoes to the rescue, at least.
Unlike others, my classes are top tier, fully geared, and I’ve played my fair share of raids. Except I’m way past all that shit, I won’t wait for tanks for hours, and hope that people won’t do the same fuck ups again and again, while everyone is blowing up over DPS meters.

Maybe it’ll be something to do one day, with a solo mode.

Reader
Bryan Turner

I’m missing out because my god damn class isn’t part of the Meta,

kalamari_
Reader
kalamari_

start your own group then. plenty of non meta raiders out there.

Reader
Bryan Turner

I play a Necro so I might as well not exist. It’s times like these I wish there was a down vote button.

miol
Reader
miol

If you haven’t tried raiding yet and enjoy fractals, world bosses, and challenges, then you are most definitely missing out…

Of course we’re missing out! We’re missing out on juicy lore!!

As mentioned before (http://massivelyop.com/2017/03/02/guild-wars-2-peeks-behind-the-scenes-at-its-chess-raid/)

When even Narrative Lead Bobby Stein tried desperately to dodge the elefant in the room of how much lore is exclusive for only the raiding player segment (@~13min of concerned stream), there is not much hope for us non-raiders:

“The thing we were just trying to figure out is, what’s a good balance of story and gameplay, because raids by their definition supposed to be the hardest content in the game and it kind of serves a segment of our player base. right?

So we want to have a story in there, but we want to make sure it’s a good fit for what we’re doing and it’s not slowing you down from doing things…”

o.O

And no, visiting a cleared wing is not the same, as there are narration and dialogues included, that aren’t presented when cleared! And videos aren’t either, as any gamer of any other game knows!

kalamari_
Reader
kalamari_

when you really would be a gamer that cares about lore, you would have the drive to play raids to experience the story first hand. no matter what.

another point is, that without a raid this story (saul’s story) wouldnt have been told EVER in guild wars. so, instead to be happy that this story found an end, you are qq-ing.

when did gaming become “getting everything served on a silver platter”? this attitude nowadays is annoying as hell.

and just FYI: you can see all dialogue and vids in a cleared wing…

Reader
Bryan Turner

It’s times like these I wish there was a down vote button.

miol
Reader
miol

Nope, you’re wrong!

I don’t have much time so couldn’t find any better video with a not blocked chat window to see NPC/PC dialogues, as most raiders who upload videos don’t care and even disable speech bubbles, but where is the narrative of the liberation and the dialogues of freeing long fled prisoners in a cleared wing, for example??

I really doubt Anet would have ignored such a huge chunk of lore (what happend after the very ending of GW1!!!) without raids. And arguing less lore without raids, but no consideration for a solo mode without the same rewards and locking all that lore in an elitist way, is just very patronizing of you.

And no, I’m not a masochist/fanatic to indulge any sadistic methods that devs came up with, just to get to the beloved lore. I respect myself too much for that.

Line
Reader
Line

Not that I disagreee with you, but not playing is absolutely a staple of the videogame industry.
Streams and let’s plays are a thing because gamers hate playing games. They just want the fun bits. Which is the underlying problem with raids with that are 10 people only.

Reader
Thavie Hawke

Those who hate to play are not gamers in the first place. Never were, never will be, by definition.

wpDiscuz