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In this multi-part series we are going to talk about mastering the newest dungeon addition: Castle Never. Although it is being stomped by well-geared teams, it can present a challenge to everyone else and there is stuff to pay attention to, especially if you are not running with an almighty Paladin. In this first post we’ll be dealing with the trash mobs in between bosses.

The devs made a concerted effort to deny the type of speed running that was so popular during the 60s era and caused many problems. Given a certain group power, players would just rush through an intersection and kill all the mobs at the end (big pulls). Or simply run to the next campfire, where they could die, respawn and entirely skip big chunks of dungeons.

Castle Never is now designed in a way that you can only advance to the next room if you’ve completed the mini tasks in the current one. That’s why players jokingly describe CN as a sequence of Heroic Encounters, which is not really wrong but also not quite right. None of the mini-encounters is particularly challenging, but at least not mindlessly slaying one mob after another adds to the variety and keeps players engaged.

Player Fighting Inside Rift
Player fighting inside rift

Entering the queue you’ll meet the first mob outside the Castle followed by a cutscene. Glabrezus hit really hard and will one-shot any DPS class or a DC. Make sure if you are in melee range to dodge all their attacks but otherwise try to stay out of their range. Inside the castle you instantly have to gather and fight Cthylarr‘s minions on a bridge. The only tough part of the fight is dodging the AoEs that the boss throws at the group, which can be a line or a fireball AoE.

The next room of the Foyer features five tears that have to be closed. Players that interact with a tear are pulled inside it and have to fight easy mobs. You have to clear all five tears to advance. The last room in front of the first boss is a little tricky, because at the end of the hallway a major purple tear will spawn a Nalfeshnee and two Zythars. The encounter is tough and it is generally advised to take out the two minor adds first while the tanks is on the Nalfeshnee. Otherwise the AoE attacks make the whole thing a lot harder.

After the first boss there’s the zombie massacre waiting in the Hall of Mirrors that was already present in the original design. Strong groups can just push through and AoE the Undead Adventurers down at the end, otherwise you need to pull them gradually. The Balor at the end, like any major mob, has to be tanked and can kill DPS instantly with some attacks.

Party Fighting Servitor
Party fighting a servitor

Pushing forward will lead you through four Servitor Witches inside the Lower Court State Rooms. The encounters are not particularly hard, but whenever they are close to dying and shouting that Orcus requires your soul, they use the same bonding mechanic as the first boss. Two random players are slowly dragged towards each other and if they touch, they get CC’d and the occurring damage most likely kills as well. Try to space out sufficiently to be able to counter the chains.

The light version of the death sphere is next. The party has to gather again and will enter a platform. You need to kill 20 adventurers before they are able to charge the sphere and release substantial damage. The whole thing is trivial though, but if you think you can’t solely DPS the adventurers make sure to slot some CC stuff.

After the second boss navigating the darkness through the Upper Court State Rooms is not as hard, because you still have the sparkels to follow on the ground and the Undead Adventurers you might run into are not a big issue.

Poison Ball Map
Poison Ball Map

At the end of it though, the most challenging and fun part begins. Pictured by josephskyrim you are going to face a labyrinth with moving poison balls that instantly kill on contact. There are safe zones in every room though and getting used to the moving pattern just takes time. Still one error means death and doing the whole thing again. It’s getting additionally complicated due to some Glabrezus you meet along the way. You can either fight them on the spot, there are safe zones nearby to do so, or pull them to the end and deal with them there.

 

Castle Never Strategy Guide: Tal’Gath & Cthylarr

In this multi-part series we are going to talk about mastering the newest dungeon addition: Castle Never. Although it is being stomped by well-geared teams, it can present a challenge to everyone else and there is stuff to pay attention to, especially if you are not running with an almighty Paladin. We look into the first two bosses in this piece.

Tal’Gath the Undying

Tal'Gath
Tal’Gath

The big head known from the original version of Castle Never is the first and most basic boss of the dungeon. It’s pretty much only a big AoE dodge party in which you need to pay attention to three attacks. The first one is a hard-hitting AoE line that splits the room from east to west and needs to be avoided. The other two are from the boss, who can disable players with a roar and kill everyone but a tank with his AoE circles. These circles also apply a debuff to anyone standing in it even if the target does not take an damage. Because of this you should avoid dodging into the area as DPS. The debuff plays a role in the boss’ third attack, which is a laser that does ~20k damage sporadically, but several 100k if debuffed.

Overall I like that the devs continued their approach to train certain mechanics of the last boss in easier content. In Underdark they have done it with the skirmishes, which included the mechanics used in Demogorgon, and in Castle Never you’ll meet most of the boss mechanics of Orcus along the way as well. The one introduced in the Tal’Gath fight is linking/bonding two players that are slowly dragged towards each other for several seconds. If they touch they get thrown in the air and take a significant amount of damage. Affected players should move into opposite direction and avoid contact. The party should also spread properly to be able to react fast enough.

Cthylarr the Illithilich

Cthylarr
Cthylarr

The second boss mainly requires the correct moving pattern from the group. In the cutscene the camera pans to the ceiling and reveals spikes. The room inverts every so often and in case players were standing beneath the spikes, they fall into them. They hit hard and disable characters, making you an easy target for the otherwise not very challenging adds. Those spawn directly next to the player holding the aggro though whenever the room flips, so be prepared to block or dodge.

The spike pattern changes with every room change, so make sure to check the ceiling and position yourself correctly.

 

Castle Never Strategy Guide: Orcus

By now and Orcus uses some of the mechanics that we experienced throughout the dungeon.

Orcus Cutscene Banner

Entering the fight the first thing you need to know is that the cutscene can be canceled. We generally learned to hate the unnecessary wait before bosses if you’re doing them for the gazllionth time, but enforcing them at least guarantees that the group will start the fight together. At Orcus it can happen that the DPS start to rush into the boss without their healer or tank, which are still looking at the cutscene. So it’s generally recommended to wait at the spawn point until everybody is ready.

Basic Attacks

Orcus has three major attacks and all of them are deadly to anyone not the tank. His wand crush and sweep attack hit for 800k and as a ranged class there is no need to go near him, especially because the attacks are AoE ones. Melee classes position themselves on the opposite side of the tank as usual. The boss also has a Finger of Death ranged attack that hits similarly hard, but can be dodged. So everyone but the Scourge Warlock has an easy way of avoiding it.

The one thing making the boss predictable is the fact that he always prioritizes melee over ranged attacks and the aggro table. If he can hit something in front of him, he’ll always do it instead of using Finger of Death on a ranged target. So as long as the tank is alive, hugging the boss and out-aggroing any melee DPS, no one else will get hit. This is also why having melee pets can be rather convenient. In the solo videos of Castle Never you can see Blink Dogs or Young Yetis fully tanking the boss. That’s because as long as the target is in melee range, he never switches to the actual player, who has all the freedom in the world to do damage.

Special Attacks

Every so often, the boss will raise his arms and roar, initiating a randomly picked special mechanic. These include:

  1. Sphere of Annihilation interlude: A sphere you should already know from the run spawns, and the group again has to prevent Undead Adventurers to reach it. It’s a bit more difficult than the baby version before the second boss, but it should be no biggie. If the sphere gets charged, it’ll take away 80% of the HP of each group member.
  2. Rifts: Three rifts appear on the battlefield and can be entered and cleared just like those in the Foyer. As long as the rifts are open, Orcus gets an additional 80% damage resistance that can’t be mitigated. Most groups decide to pull through and live with the low damage, but it’s probably faster to let the DPS just close the rifts. The phase lasts 90 seconds.
  3. Two players are bonded, pulled towards each other and take significant damage on impact. This is the mechanic from the first boss and Servitors and can be countered by moving/dodging away from each other.
  4. Moving death spheres / poison balls: This is probably the only really challenging mechanic of the fight. Orcus can spawn up to three death spheres / poison balls that you already needed to avoid in the last section of the run. They are randomly bouncing around and kill on impact. Since this is the worst that can happen, you should always prepare for them to appear and start dodging and blocking whenever Orcus starts his animation.
  5. Nothing. No matter which outcome, you always take 80% of your HP as damage, but sometimes no extra mechanic is started.

Conclusion

There is no reason to die in the fight other than to the moving death spheres. Those can be annoying though, because they spawn at random locations and if they happen to surprise multiple players at once, the wipe is inevitable. Even after the nerf you probably still want to think about using Divine Protector as Paladin against the poison balls, because it’s exactly the type of “oh shit” situation the power was originally designed for.

If the tank loses aggro or dies, the group is dead most of the time, because the boss will soon switch targets and melt everything. Ranged DPS with dodges might be able to stall just enough time for the tank to resurrect and continue, but especially Scourges and Great Weapon Fighter are just fodder. GWFs can technically dodge attacks by using Mighty Leap, but that’s not a standard power for DPS and if you don’t use a third-party switcher, it takes to much time to slot it.

So as long as you have a potent tank or tank/DC combo, every group should be doing ok. Generally all powers that give immunity to the tank or suck up hits are helpful, because the boss is a hard, not a fast hitter. Steel Defense, Fox’s Cunning or Anointed Army are good examples. You can also use Break the Spirit or Ray of Enfeeblement to debuff Orcus’ damage and Astral Shield should be mandatory as well. Decent groups should be able to kill Orcus after his second special attack, he doesn’t have particularly much HP.

 

First Castle Never Solo Runs Further Question Dungeon Difficulty

Generally I have to say I quite like the new design. It has mechanics that can both be fun and challenging and we will have a full strategy guide up at some point next week. The issue is that the mechanics do not scale well with item level, meaning they get rather irrelevant for well geared teams. In the end all you need is a potent tank, and no it does not have to be a Pally although that’s the most convenient way. Beyond that the more power you have, the less other stuff you need to do.

All bosses can be burned down so quick that you don’t have to deal with all those chains, spikes, death spheres, portals and poison balls. And that’s both bad and unnecessary, because there is literally no reason why fights can’t stop at a set percentage of HP and require the group to run through additional mechanics and challenges that work independently of item level, DPS and health pools.

This is most definitely obvious when looking at the first solo runs, which took players merely three days into the Module to accomplish. Granted, these are probably some of the better players the server has and the CW is a class suited best for the type of fights CN offers.

It’s one thing that a companion (the players used Blink Dog) is probably able to tank Ocrus better than an actual player, because attacks are slow enough for the companion to revive and take the next hit without the boss switching targets. That opens up the possibility for full DPS runs with the right pets and I’m sure players will look into it after seeing what the Dog was able to do.

But then there’s also so little to do besides DPS. There’s a bit of luck involved with those poison balls, but the CW doesn’t need to close the portals that empower Orcus and could even fail the death sphere phase without dying. That’s a no-go. How can you not care about mechanics and still prevail? The chaining mechanic used throughout the dungeon even doesn’t work because of the lack of another player, although that’s not as important for the whole point. Still a funny and fitting tidbit to actually loose challenge in a certain area when doing a dungeon solo.

Castle Never shows that mechanics should require more roles than just a the tank, because in that case the rest besides “do not die to stupid shit” becomes obsolete and enables players to make these solo runs. Ideally in a group every member should have a task to perform or a role to fill at some point during a run or a fight.

Sharpedge CN Solo Screen
Sharpedge CN Solo Screen

It’s probably too late for Orcus and his minions, but the devs might want to watch the footage and draw the right conclusions for their next designs. It’s not even that more challenge has to equal more item level. That’s only the case if adjusting difficulty with mob damage and hit points. Clever mechanics work beyond that and challenge players of all tiers equally, because the most important requirement becomes skill. Power should make runs more convenient and less time consuming, but not enable skipping phases altogether.

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