Monday, July 18, 2011

Ask Fatal - Dragon's Tomb Edition (Archer)

Finally, the wait is over, the Archer installment of this guide is complete!  It took me THAT long to get a party!  Haha just kidding, but you Archers out there can feel my pain.  (Screenshots to come, ran out of time today)

First off, I wanted to thank angel61636 for helping me start a party and sticking by me when the party started falling apart.  She could have left for other parties that required a Tank, but she stayed by me.  I never revealed to her who I was, so that makes what she did for me even more heartfelt.  Thanks again.

So let's get started!  First question!

Q: Fatal, why should I party an Archer when just about any other class would make a better choice?
A: This really depends on the make up of your current team.  An Archer can never take the place of an elite Mage, no matter what, but as a secondary Damage Dealer, an Archer can be an excellent choice.

Q: I'm still not convinced, why not use another Mage?
A: This is where it gets a bit tricky and subjective.  A superior/elite Archer can really set the pace in Dragon's Tomb.  An Archer of lesser skill should not.  The Archer needs to know what to pull, how many to pull, and understand aggro in relation to the backline.  While the Tank is pefectly fine as a pace-setter (see my DT: Tank guide), if the Archer is of high enough skill, the overall pace of a complete Dragon's Tomb run will be faster.

Q: Okay, so what should an Archer do to set the pace?
A: Just because an Archer is primarily a backline player doesn't excuse them from scrolling up and doing work.  In my case, this includes the use of speed scrolls.  If the Archer is intent on setting the pace, she needs to go out ahead of the party and start luring back to the main party via kiting.  However, the Archer needs to get a feel of what the Tank and the rest of the party is capable of handling.  For me, I take the first half of the first DT run to kind of sit back and evaluate the rest of my party.  I see how the Tank pulls, what the Tank misses aggro on (oftentimes the ranged mobs), and to get an idea of how active the Mage is.  Keeping an eye on the Cleric's positioning is also important.

Q: Once you have that, you're good to go?
A: For me yeah, I'm extremely comfortable giving myself an honest assessment of my skill and limits.  Having now observed the rest of the party I can start getting more aggressive.  After dispatching the second "boots" miniboss (Magmaton/BigMudMan), I take off for the next area ahead of my party, immediately start luring the Gargoyles, Flame Spirits along the way and then grabbing the Krugers and Caravans in the next area heading towards the "pants" minibosses.

Q: Hmm, okay I get it, you kite them then what?
A: I'll pull them all back to the party as they make their way to the "pants" path.  I immediately pull into the Fighter.  You have to be careful here though, oftentimes a single Mock isn't enough for the Fighter to establish aggro control over your mobs since you've build up a lot through kiting.  Once the Mage drops AOEs, you need to, just like a Mage does, start running tight circles around that AOE area.

Q: Wait, I'm used to straight-line kiting, I need to run circles like a Mage?
A: Yes.

Q: And the reasoning for this is?
A: You need to optimize damage and aggro recovery for your party.  Pulling your kited mobs down the hall does nobody any good.  You're pulling away from the party, the Fighter has to chase and is unable to effectively regain aggro, especially if you're booking it away from him on a speed scroll.  Running tight circles allows you, along with the Mage, to inflict as much damage on to those mobs as possible.  It also increases the Fighter's chance of regaining aggro and landing an effective Devastate to stun all those mobs.

Q: Hmm interesting. So what about ranged mobs?
A: Ranged mobs are a bit tricky.  Again, this goes back to your Tank.  If your Tank doesn't properly establish aggro on the ranged mobs, it's up to you, the Archer to do so before the Cleric starts getting hammered.  Ideally, you establish aggro early and pull those ranged mobs back into the pile of melee mobs that the Fighter is controlling.  The Fighter can attempt to establish aggro on the ranged mobs, but is more likely to just stun them with Devastate.  By then the Mage AOEs will have probably wiped them out.  Just like a Mage, an Archer is excellent at outrunning Nerpa's Slow Arrows when a speed scroll is active.

Q: Any other thoughts on setting the pace?
A: Yes.  While we, as Archers, can be extremely helpful at setting a fast pace through Dragon's Tomb, you may run into players that just don't see it that way.  The Tank, or oftentimes the Cleric, may tell you to slow it down or just, "cut it out you freakin' noob!", but don't get discouraged.  Again, this goes back to a little bit of ignorance as far as what an Archer can actually do for a party in DT.  I would relent, have the Tank set the pace and you can work within those boundaries.  It makes your life a lot easier honestly.  Players often fear the unknown, they fear change, so something like an aggressive, capable Archer throws them out of their comfort zone, but understandably so.  As your party gets more familiar, keep pushing the boundary that your party has set, but not so much that you get kicked out! 

Q: What are some other roles or tasks an Archer should be used for?
A: Archers are great at pulling the mobs that inhabit a miniboss room also.  With the targeting reticle for their AOEs, it's easy to safely pull those suckers out without activating the miniboss.  Once pulled, just simply lure those mobs into the path of the Tank so he can Mock and the party can finish them off.

Q: Okay, so Cornelius... now what?
A:  As far as positioning goes, the Archer should have the same thought process as the Mage.  Do not stand next to the Cleric.  Stand off to the side, within healing distance of the Cleric, but not so close that Corny's charge attack wipes you both out.  Archers, and Mages, should ALWAYS immediately target the summoned mobs once they appear.  Let the Tank continue to pound away at Cornelius while you take out the Shellas and Nerpas.  If you have aggro on all of the Shellas, go ahead and kite them away or preferably run them back into Cornelius where the Mage can drop an AOE on them.

Q: Help! My Tank got feared and I have aggro! I'm outta here!
A: NO NO NO! Just like the Mage, running for the exit is NOT an option.  You need to do one of several things depending on the situation.  If the Tank is dead, then you need to kite Corny away from the Cleric and the dead Tank so that the Cleric can revive the Tank.  Once the Tank is back up and ready, head back to the Tank, allow him to Mock and Kick him then cast a Nature's Protection to aid him in re-establishment of aggro.  If the Tank was simply Feared and you ended up with aggro, head back to the Fighter, stay within Kicking/Mock range and slow down your attacks.  You don't want to completely stop as Cornelius may target the Cleric, but you want to slow down your attacks enough so that the Fighter isn't struggling battling you for aggro either.

It is difficult for an Archer to pull sufficient aggro once Cornelius has targeted the party's Cleric.  The Cleric is typically in panic-mode, spamming all manner of healing skills amplifying their aggro.  Your damage simply can't keep up with that, best thing to do is just keep at it and hope the Tank recovers in time.

Q: That gives me a better idea of what to expect out of an Archer for DT, thanks!  Any last pearls of wisdom?
A: You're welcome, and yes.  As with any class or role you play, you need to take a serious, honest look at how well you handle your responsibilites in any given situation.  While it's easy for us to think we're of an elite skill level, sometimes we just aren't.  The sooner you come to grips with that, the better off you'll be.  When you lower your pride, the learning process begins.  Your eyes will open and you'll start to observe things more clearly.  Other people are counting on you to handle your role effectively in instance dungeons, when you can't the whole party suffers.  In the case of Archers, we already have a tough time finding a party, when others experience an unskilled Archer just breezing through DT on other people's hard work, that really puts a sour taste in their mouth and they won't give another Archer a chance, but the opposite is also true.  Be the example, not the excuse.

One last thought:  As you guys know, I've taken every class now, including Tricksters (guide forthcoming) through Dragon's Tomb, so I've seen all sides.  This gives me the best perspective on how to do things the right way here.  If you're a first-time DT'er, take it slow.  Reading through my guides can help you, but they don't replace actually experiencing the dungeon first-hand.


  1. hey fatal x]
    dropping by to say hello.. i love ur posts <3

  2. Omg archers are actually useful? keke I'd never consider partying one til now. :I Very solid and in-depth advice.

  3. Hello FatalLace, a question to consider following up after this:

    "It is difficult for an Archer to pull sufficient aggro once Cornelius has targeted the party's Cleric. The Cleric is typically in panic-mode, spamming all manner of healing skills amplifying their aggro. Your damage simply can't keep up with that, best thing to do is just keep at it and hope the Tank recovers in time."

    Lets put ourselves in the shoes of Clerics for this question; what would an appropriate response or line of action be from the cleric if Cornelius targets them? Your message implies that spamming heal skills will worsen the situation, so what would, and should, a capable and 'non-panicking' cleric do here? It's interesting question that could prove helpful for those playing clerics and don't want to be classified as that 'panicking cleric in DT that FatalLace warned about'.

    Thanks for the read.

  4. @Anonymous - That's actually a great question and it really depends on the overall quality of the Cleric, starting with armor. If the Cleric can withstand Cornelius' attacks, she can slow down her heal rate on herself, alternate using stones with heals as stones and potions generate zero aggro. The targeted Cleric should, like any other class, immediately locate the Tank and head towards him. Slowing down your Heals, Rejuv, etc will allow the Tank a better chance of regaining aggro.

    However, if you're in the boat of Clerics that get 2-hit by Cornelius, then you don't have too much choice but to spam and move towards the Tank. I know it's quite common for Clerics to not carry any potions, but at times like these, it helps. Yeah it's expensive, and Clerics are typically some of the poorer players around, but it can really save you and your party in a pinch.

    As most Clerics know, the Heal skill is typically reserved for the party while the Cleric relies on her own stones (along with AOE heals and HOTs) to top off her HP when under fire. If the situation becomes dire, only then should you target yourself for heals.

    When I ran my HK through DT, I did just what I mentioned at the top, slow it down, use my stones, find the tank.

    If other Clerics have some suggestions, feel free to add it into the comments.

  5. I used to go completely nutso in DT on my Archer. A few of the friends I made during my 8x levels were Mages who never hesitated to charm for DT parties (partially because of the lack of decent tanks).

    If you have a charmed mage, or two mages who know what they're doing, DT is actually a breeze on an archer. Usually I found myself pulling the entire corridor back to them for a single nova/inferno kaboom. In these cases, the tank or trickster or even the mages' job was to mess up the Nerpas so I wouldn't get a face full of arrows when I doubled back.

    This, of course, was before the DEX buff came about and back when mobs ran at normal speed (not sure if they became faster in DT after that horrible patch). But a fully t4ed Archer on
    Autorun with great DEX and some END +0 gear (no DEX in build) with just t1 speed is pretty much untoucheable in DT ._.

    IMO, an archer's roles are:
    1. Double the pace. People told me having an Archer around was great because while they'd do maybe 20 minute runs without me, we were pulling off 10 minute runs. 8 with a charmed mage.

    2. Back up damage. It's good to have a 70 +10 xbow for aggro purposes so Mages don't autosquish then they set up the first nova. Also, even a +0 BK bow did wonders against bosses with a fair amount of stacking, almost as much as an Axe fighter. The build I used was STR:SPR though.

    3. Back up tanking: The Cleric should be the last person to get aggro. The Mage should be the second last. Without an Archer in the party, if your tank loses aggro or gets stunned, then one or more of your party members is kinda screwed.



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