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Ennead and Starstone, Ice and Void

 Ennead and Starstone, Ice and Void

So, after the promise of mixing up the mutations and the little hiccup last week with the mutation type changing on patch day, here we are with an Icebound Ennead and Eternal Starstone once again. At least we’re experienced in how these mutation types work in these particular expeditions!

Expedition specific

General buffs

Mutation specific

The Ennead has more bosses than any other organisation, with three major boss fights and two bosses in the final battle. This brings us to a total of four big bosses. And don’t forget, you have to defeat the last two twice. This expedition also starts out with Ancient enemies, but with a Brimstone flavour, so if you’re getting toasted, you can consider adding some Fire ward. 

The first boss you encounter is Godling Khepri Supernal, a giant scarab beetle. You need to use the architecture of the room to avoid his laser beam, by running around to the other side of the pillar once he starts casting. As long as the group works together, this is a pretty easy fight.

After getting through the twists and turns of the first maze-like section, you will use three Azoth staves to burst a Corruption bubble and encounter a series of Corrupted enemies. This culminates in the second boss fight, with General Crassus. He goes through three phases and summons a lot of adds, so it’s worth having dedicated DPS keeping them under control.

The final boss fight is a doozy. It starts with Anpu, aka Big Guy, who has some nasty elemental attacks, reaching out with ranged spikes and causing an AOE spin, as well as smacking down like a regular brute. The one attack you can control to some degree is his charge, which is usually targeted at the furthest player. If they keep a pillar between Anpu and themselves, he will bonk his head and stop his charge. Make sure you don’t stand in the trail he leaves when he charges, as it does major damage.

Once you knock Anpu over, his little buddy, Heru (aka Small Guy), turns up. He is infinitely more annoying, because he requires the whole team to work together. When he enters his levitation stage in the middle of the arena, four players need to be at each of the floating pillars and use their azoth staves, while suffering massive tick damage. It’s worth drinking a regen pot just before using your staff, to keep the ticks under control. He also stuns and creates damage zones, so be careful.

The real fun starts once Heru goes down, as at this point they both get up and the place becomes chaotic. If you don’t kill them both within 30 seconds of each other, the other one respawns, so one strategy is to get Small Guy down to almost dead, then focus on Big Guy, then when he is almost dead, take them both down. Just careful of Small Guy going into his levitation phase while you’re trying to fight Big Guy, it’s good to have a lot of DPS here to get this fight over and done with. 

Ice, Ice, Ennead Baby! Everything slows down in the cold and this mutation is no exception. At M1 level we start with Icebound, which means all enemies are resistant to Ice damage, so say goodbye to that Ice Gauntlet this week. Most annoying is Shiver, a zone of exclusion that bites anyone who is outside of it, which keeps the group huddled up together. Be careful of enemies with Glacial, as they will drop a crystal that can root you in place. To prevent this, you need to destroy or run away from the crystal, depending on where it is positioned. All enemies are dealing Ice Damage, so pull out your Aquamarines and Frozen Protection amulet.

Once we reach M3, we start seeing Mage Hunters, who drain mana when hit, so healers need to make sure their mana potions are slotted. Silence enemies cast a zone in which no abilities can be used, but at least it doesn’t have the explosion at the end.

The real trouble starts when things get Frenzied. At M6, players begin being penalised for dodging, by acquiring a stack of Unstable that does 1.5% of max health as ice damage per second for 10 seconds and cannot be cleansed. You can get up to three of these stacks. When we get to M9, 3 stacks of Unstable drops a 3m radius zone that does 10% of max health per second for 15 seconds – ouch, that’s 150% of your health if you just stand there! If you enter this zone with stacks of Unstable, it will consume them and do 30% of max HP. So, it’s really important to manage your stacks and move away from the group if you can’t avoid dropping a puddle. Don’t poop on the group.

Expedition specific

General buffs

Mutation specific

The Starstone Barrows is an exotic mashup of our first dungeon experiences, with the expedition taking adventurers through both Starstone and Amrine. We start in Starstone and then instead of ascending the stairs to the central pillar, a breakage appears to our left and we sneak into Amrine to face Simon Grey. Then we work backwards through Amrine until we return to Starstone on the other side of the central pillar. This means we get a fun split of Ancient and Lost enemies, and need to carry double the gear. For the lower level mutations, it’s fine to stick with your Ancient gear, but as you progress through the levels it’s best to change into your Lost set before facing Simon, who becomes increasingly difficult.

Just like at the end of Amrine, Simon is a heavy hitter with a periodic minion spawn, but now he’s completely buffed. If you don’t manage to dodge his smash-down attack, there’s a good chance of light-armoured players being wiped. On top of that, if you can’t kill his minions, he eats them up for a little heal, prolonging the fight.

Time is tight in this dungeon and there are a few tough fights where the mobs are grouped up or skipped. Keep that Ancient Ward potion handy and make sure you have a good healer.

The final boss, Greundgul the Regent, whose voice taunts us all the way through, has a fairly predictable mechanic and isn’t too bad as far as dungeon bosses go. The most important thing here is that everyone sticks together, literally stacking on one another during the jumping phase to help co-ordinate the dodges. Also during the bone throwing phase, it’s good to keep those bones close and take advantage of our AOE damage. If you can get a ranged attack on her face when she lands her jump, it makes everything easier as it stuns her and stops her jumping phase early.

It’s all purple in Starstone this week, with the Eternal mutation transforming the enemies to Void damage, so go with the theme and protect yourself with AmethystsParanoia is particularly annoying, with stacks building up as you hit the enemy. When you reach 4 stacks, a purple pool appears at your feet, dealing 40-70% damage. This is easily dodged as an individual, but when the melee are crowded together, you can end up with some big spikes of pain. It might be an opportunity to try a ranged DPS team for a change, with the tank holding aggro and 3 bow users shooting from afar.

Creeping enemies Empower their friends when they die and Oblivion enemies use a life leech that heals them when they hit you. While we can still use our own Oblivion for Empower and Weaken, it won’t do much damage with enemies having 50-75% Void Resist.

When you get to M3, Festering enemies start to appear, dealing disease against you so your incoming healing will be reduced. Remember, debuffs can be Purified in a number of ways. Slicer enemies also turn up, adding 30% base Void damage, which works well with your protective gems in this mutation.

The Curse of the Eternal Barrows is Desiccated, which is your basic dip and nae-nae. When a player gets a void ring around them, they need to dip all team members in order to remove their Shrivel. But make sure they nae-nae away before the timer ends to avoid spiking others with a chain Void for 50% of their max health. If you’re unlucky enough to be left shrivelled, damage and healing will be reduced by 50% until the debuff wears off.

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Landi

Landi is an avid furniture collector and regular DPS for Don't Die Alone. She contributes to the Mutation Rotation and Faction Control series of articles.

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