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Winter Rune Forge

 Winter Rune Forge

New 10-player Trial

The Winter Rune Forge is a big part of the Season of the Guardian content and even though we’ll only get the good reward cache twice per week, everyone is going to want to make sure we can do it.

Note: this guide will contain spoilers, so if you want to experience the Trial without any clues, stop reading now.

The Basics

The Winter Rune Forge is located near the border between Great Cleave and Edengrove. The closest shrines are the Gnostic Crux shrine to the south-west and the Crescent Window shrine to the north-east. You can click on the icon on the map to enter with your group and it is not available on the Activity finder menu.

The Trial requires a minimum of 6 and maximum of 10 people in a Raid group. You’ll need to have the Rise of the Angry Earth expansion in order to experience it.

Mechanics

To begin the trial, you need to pick ice up from the floor and throw it at the runes on the wall until they match.

The encounter then starts with groups of Ancients, similar to the Varangian waves at the start of the Hatchery. These are pretty straightforward and lull us into a false sense of security. Once you’ve cleared three of these waves, the fun starts.

From here, we have two main fights. The first fight is on the entry level where you’ll meet an Ancient Ophidian Construct. Once you have won that round, the ice floor will break and drop the group into the cavern below, where you’ll find the Ancient Ice Guardian. When you finish this fight, you’ll receive your rewards.

Ancient Ophidian Construct

Weaknesses: 20% Strike 30% Fire

This guy looks like a big, cold dog, but has a neat trick when he gets to half life – he splits in two. Once this happens, the two dogs can heal one another if they are in close proximity. So what you will need to do is have a tank take one of the dogs off to the side, while the rest of the team beats down the other one, much like the dog fight from Dynasty Shipyard.

But, surprise! When these dogs get to half-health, they also split. So you need to repeat the tactic, with one player peeling a dog away from the pack while the rest murder his twin. 

It is best to have an off-tank in the raid group to manage this fight without incident.

Note: if you are having trouble with these, you might want to switch to Beast Ward and Coating. It makes the encounter more expensive in consumables but if it’s the difference between getting past this fight or not, it’s worth it.

Speed Run Version

If you have an optimised group, you can do this with one tank and lots of damage. DPS need to wait for the Tank to stack the dogs, then use disease to slow down the healing and apply maximum damage. Rends will help increase the damage, as will using all possible damage consumables and bonuses. Check out the speedrunners for more information on this tactic and don’t expect a PUG group to be able to do it.

Ancient Ice Guardian

Weaknesses: 20% Fire

You may remember this fellow from the Season 4 solo trial. A lot of players had trouble with him. The important thing to remember is that you want the Fire buff. When the Guardian is spinning, there will be ice chunks that you can pick up from the ground. You need to throw these at the runes on the wall. When all the runes are matched, you will be able to pick up a fire buff from the base of the rune wall, and bring it into the Guardian. This will create a Fire circle on the ground that provides protection against ice damage as well as increasing your damage. It’s a good idea to run the fire circle over everyone to remove their debuffs. Be careful of the spin, as getting caught in it can kill you. You need to rotate around with it, like Ifrit’s flamethrower from Empyrean Forge.

You’ll also see ice showers, which fall from the sky. You can tell when they are coming by a circle appearing on the ground – make sure to dodge out of it. There will also be adds that stay in one place and use ranged attacks. To prevent these from bothering your healers, it’s good to clear them when you can.

When the Ice Guardian gets to around 40% health, he will spawn a Guardian’s Root in the middle of the room and start moving around to different locations. The tank should follow the Ice Guardian and keep his cone of ice attack aimed away from the centre. The DPS should all stack on the Root and kill it as fast as possible. If the Root survives, it will introduce another spinning move that takes up 3/4 of the room, so it’s best to kill it before that happens.

As the Ice Guardian moves around the room, buffs will appear on the walls. Make sure you keep picking these up and placing them where the most players are to prevent Hypothermia. Each time the Root appears, the DPS need to focus on killing it and then go back to fighting the Ice Guardian.

Gearing up

This looks like a basic Fire and Ice scenario. Having a tank and a healer in each of the two groups in the raid should help with the dog fights and for keeping everyone alive, which leaves 6 slots of DPS. Fire is going to be strong throughout, but don’t forget your basic debuffs like Weaken and Rend, as well as maximising your Empower and crit chance. A good mix of weapons means that bonuses won’t be cancelling one another out as well.

There is an opportunity to change gear sets between the two main fights, so the off-tank from the dog fight can become a DPS for the Ancient Ice Guardian.

Protection

Damage

  • Fire Staff
  • Flame Attunement
  • Runeglass of Igniting (be aware that having multiple of these in the raid group means only one will proc at a time, so don’t stress too much if you don’t already have it.)
  • Rubies in weapons (optional as usual, feel free to use the non-elemental gem that best suits your playstyle instead)
  • War Hammer or Flail for dogs
  • Ancient Weapon Coating
  • Beast Weapon Coating for dogs (optional)
  • Ancient and Wildlife trophies x3 (1 in each house)

Rewards

Every time you run the Winter Rune Forge, you will get a random weapon or armour piece from the Frostforged set. These are random loot pieces with one fixed perk – all the weapons have Refreshing Move and all the armour has Refreshing. They can drop up to 700GS and are not upgradeable.

You will also get a Sapphire gypsum, as long as you haven’t reached your daily limit. Depending on how long the Trial takes, this might be a good option for gypsum hunters.

Weekly Rewards

You can also get the Winter Rune Forge Spoils bonus cache twice per week. This will contain the following:

  • 10% chance – Tempest Fury artifact
  • 50% chance – 5,000 Faction Tokens
  • 1 piece of upgradable Named Gear (see below)
  • 150 Dark Matter
  • 4 pieces of Frostforged gear (see above)

Tempest Fury

This is one of the most anticipated artifacts this Season and many players are disappointed to see it locked behind a 10% chance twice per week.

Regardless of the actual damage potential of the Tempest Fury Axe, it promises to be a lot of fun, making Whirlwind spin up to 12 times.

It also gives you up to 30% movement speed for 3 seconds, from successful hits. I’m planning to use this one on chest runs, for spinning fun and speed!

Named Weapons

There are six Named weapons to collect that have some pretty cool transmog appearances too:

Named Armour

There are three “sets” of armour, one in each weight category, but aside from the name, you couldn’t really consider them sets. Each piece is targetted toward a different weapon build, so there is no scenario that you would wear them together. Except for a dress-up event, so I guess they are Transmog sets.

Frostforged - Light Armour

With three Healer pieces and one each for Ice Mage and Rapier, this set sports a hideous helmet and some fairly mediocre other skins.

Freezeframe - Medium Armour

Something has happened with the names of this gear, gloves and pants names as Shoes and boots named as Gloves! Let’s hope this is fixed on Live, but if not, at least it’s funny. A couple of Great Sword pieces here, and the rest split between Bow, Spear, and War Hammer.

Ice Guardian - Heavy Armour

This is a full Con set, with two Flail weapon ability perks, one for Sword & Shield, one for Hatchet and a surprise perk for Void Gauntlet.

Walkthrough

There’s a great walkthrough video from the PTR that you might want to watch to get some visuals on how the fights actually work.

Speed Run

This video shows how fast you can do the trial with an optimised team. Please don’t expect a PUG group to be able to use these tactics – it’s not just a face tank smash but a group using specific gear, weapon loadouts, and consumables.

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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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