Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Anvil of Crom: Storming the Warmonk Monastery

by Jef Reahard Sep 12th 2010 at 4:00PM

Filed under: Fantasy, Age of Conan, PvE, Opinion, The Anvil of Crom, Guides

The Anvil of Crom bannerWoo! After a few weeks of toodling around Rise of the Godslayer's new Khitai zones, I finally managed to get in on the 6-man instance action that serves as some of Age of Conan's new endgame content. Life as an assassin in a small guild isn't all it's cracked up to be, so I bit the bullet and joined a PUG or two (when they'd have me). Pro tip for players thinking of taking a sin to endgame: be really good at your class, train up Tainted Weapons and Finely Honed, or join a big guild that doesn't mind taking along the most disposable of the game's DPS classes.

As I haven't yet partaken of the extensive raiding content in Age of Conan's old world, the Khitai 6-mans were my first taste of what Funcom offers for endgame folks. Read along after the cut for some impressions and advice.
The Warmonk Monastery approachThe Warmonk Monastery, situated in the extreme southwest of the Northern Grasslands map, is a foreboding temple perched precariously along a snowy cliff face that overlooks a green, bamboo-forested valley. The visuals, as per usual, are jaw-droppingly gorgeous both inside and out, and the approach to the place reminds me a bit of Ra's al Ghul's Nepalese dojo in Batman Begins (only with a lot more vertical development).

Once inside, you're presented with four doors, each leading to a separate 6-man dungeon instance. My baptism consisted of four runs: unsuccessful initial attempts at the Reliquary of Flame and the Vortex of Storms, followed by one successful run of each.

Zhu-la Warmonk bossConventional player wisdom holds that the Warmonk instances are the easiest of the new Khitai 6-mans and therefore make a great training ground for newbs and/or under-geared players like myself. For a point of reference, I'm currently running in a full set of the crafted assassin culture armor and crafted blue daggers. These aren't bad, but they certainly don't hold a candle to epic purples from the old world raids. Ideally, you'll probably want to raid a bit in the original game and outfit yourself with some decent looted equipment before heading to Hyboria's far east. The Khitai content is much harder than anything you may be used to from vanilla Age of Conan, and you may not have the patience to wait on the new dungeons before you obtain your first piece of the spiffy Khitai faction gear (which is gated behind a considerable grind).

Both of my groups went through the Warmonk instances on normal mode. Hard mode is available and will up your reward as well as the difficulty level.

The Reliquary of Flame

The reliquary is broken into two sections, the first of which involves your party's tank(s) running down a set of stairs and breaking a couple of scroll stands to get at the three scrolls contained therein. After each stand is destroyed, two very pissed-off monks will attempt to exact vengeance, and your best course of action involves dragging them up onto the stairs, generating enough aggro to keep them off your squishy DPS types, and unloading until they all fall down.

After you've collected your six scrolls, your party will need to make its way into a large chamber with a fire/sand pit in the middle and four stone statues staggered around it. Place your scrolls in the small fire pit and light it with the piece of flint your group leader should have picked up from the NPC at the beginning of the instance. What's that, you say? You don't have the flint? Well, not to worry; go back and grab it, as you can't trigger the encounter without it. Once the fire is blazing, a wave of minions -- as well as some more angry elite monks -- will enter through the same doors your party just used, and the objective is to burn them down as fast as possible before they douse your fire. Once this is done, the big kahuna (otherwise known as Zhu-la) finally makes an appearance.

Air and Water Warmonk bossKilling him is pretty straight-forward, provided you have tanks with decent gear (and the ability to trade aggro if you've got more than one). If not, it could present a challenge, especially since squishies like your humble assassin tend to survive two, maybe three of his hits. The key here is to keep the group close in, almost on top of him while attacking. If you stray too far, he counters with a nasty damage-over-time spell that can decimate your group. Once his health bar reaches 75%, he'll set the floor of the chamber on fire, and your party will need to high-tail it to the aforementioned pillars and climb as far up their ramps as you possibly can to avoid the flames.

After the flames die down, the next bit of business involves grabbing the sand bags placed along the chamber's walls and running to the center pit to douse the fire that is feeding Zhu-la's buff (while avoiding the instant-aggro that happens when you pick up the bags). After the three bags are emptied, his aura will be gone, and you can get back to hacking away at him. The fight continues until he reaches 50% health, whereupon you'll need to do the climb-the-pillar-and-avoid-the-BBQ dance, followed by the same routine at 25% health. Aside from that, it's a matter of DPSing him as quickly as possible and collecting your phat lewt.

The Vortex of Storms

After the Reliquary of Flame, the Vortex seemed anything but. There's not as much running around, and the fight happens in a much smaller section of another cavernous room. Basically, the baddie hangs out at the bottom of a tiered set of steps (think the concrete bleachers at an old-fashioned football stadium, albeit smaller). As you fight him, water will rise out of the lowest level of the tier, and you'll want to avoid it at all costs. There are also some rather annoying tornados (or cyclones, as an Aussie group mate was quick to point out) that spin around and do quite a bit of damage on contact. The trick here is to burn him down quickly while advancing up the steps and dodging the rising water as well as the cyclones. Oh, and don't step on the topmost row of the bleachers unless you fancy instant death.

Double-tapping and side-stepping are your friends in this fight, as they help you avoid the numerous vortices as well as the knock-backs used by the main boss. After you've defeated the Air and Water monk, you'll have to fight a chest (yes, a magically animated chest, like the ones that contain loot). It's a pushover compared to the boss, so send it packing and collect your rewards.

That wraps up The Anvil of Crom's first look at Khitai 6-man dungeons. The Warmonk Monastery is a lot of fun with the right group, and offers a decent challenge for those new to Khitai. I'll be examining the rest of Warmonk, as well as the numerous other 6-man Grasslands instances, in a future column. Until then, I leave you with the greatest concept art ever.

The greatest concept art everJef Reahard is an Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran, as well as the creator of Massively's weekly Anvil of Crom column, which chronicles one man's journey through Funcom's Hyboria while examining PvE, PvP, roleplay, and beyond. Feel free to suggest a column topic, propose a guide, or perform a verbal fatality via Tags: 6-man-dungeons, 6-man-instances, 6-mans, age-of-conan, aoc, featured, funcom, khitai, opinion, reliquary-of-flame, rise-of-the-godslayer, the-anvil-of-crom, vortex-of-storms, warmonk, warmonk-monastery

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