Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, II

by northernbeholder

We’ve met the team, now let’s meet the dungeon.  The Ascalonian Catacombs’ explorable mode offers three paths, each of which involves assisting an NPC on their harebrained scheme to keep the gravelings at bay while they work on excavating ancient relics.  Each path is fairly short, and can be completed much faster than the story mode dungeon – but then, that’s why there’s three of them. Today we’ll be covering the path of Detha, the Charr.

First, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way. Don’t forget to click on an image to get the big version if you want to see something more clearly.

Hey, you aren’t covering all the minor encounters!

I’m not! This guide covers boss fights and setpieces. I’ll also point out some of the trickier traps.  When it comes to spawns and patrols outside those, I trust you to handle yourself – they aren’t much harder than what you get in story mode, most of the time, and tend to be very similar to each other.  But, since you insist, here’s what they’ll consist of:

Graveling Hatchlings: Small and fast to die thanks to being the only non-elite, but they come in large numbers. Their attacks cause bleeding, so don’t get swarmed – block or dodge if you have to.

Gravelings: Elites, but no special moves worth noting.

Graveling Scavengers: Scavengers have a nasty pounce attack that knocks down the target for a good mauling. This can hurt a lot, so keep an eye on them and be ready to dodge if they start charging an attack.

Graveling Breeders: Large gravelings that spawn clutches of Hatchlings, these aren’t really a concern unless your group has trouble wiping out the little guys.

Graveling Howlers:These ones will buff the others and have a howl that causes knockdown. They should be your main target priority, because a buffed enemy is a more dangerous enemy.

But how will we-

You’ll be fine!  Just stick together and don’t rush into anything.  Really, do stick together – occasionally there will be an ambush, either oozes from the floor or spiders from the ceiling. It’s not a problem for the group as a whole, but they can murder you if you’re on your own. The ambushes don’t coincide with regular patrols, so be on guard when moving through seemingly empty areas.

I’m following your guide, but I keep dying/failing events!

It happens to me too!  This isn’t like WoW, where every facet of an encounter can be tracked, measured and precisely controlled for the optimal outcome. Dungeons in WoW are a science; in GW2, they are an art.  GW2 is much more chaotic, and I love that it is, but it does mean this guide is more a series of hints and suggestions than a path to assured victory.  Without the ability to control every aspect of the battle, no fight will every play out the same way twice, and the outcome is going to depend a lot on your personal skill at the controls and knowledge of your class abilities – and your party’s skill at the same. Just remember to repair before equipment starts breaking, or you’ll impair your own effectiveness (I have read about people that choose to keep fighting naked rather than repair their stuff) and as a result that of the group.  If the repair costs get so high they cause you to recoil in horror, you might want to get some more practice in the story dungeons first, whether it’s for yourself or to improve your team’s coordination.

Above all else, when it comes to boss fights, remember your ABCs – Always Be (applying) Conditions.

Okay, so we’ve picked Detha’s path. Now what?

Now you follow the map markers.  The first graveling mound introduces you to a mechanic that’s going to repeat several times in all branches.  It may look like a lot of enemies, but most of them are the small, non-elite Hatchlings, which die quickly.  Don’t let them swarm you, though; they all cause bleed, and there are a lot of them, so it stacks up very quickly. Note that hit detection on burrows is a bit buggy in melee; if you stand still you’ll get a lot of misses. Strafe left and right over top of it and you’ll land every attack.

Watch out for traps! They’re scattered throughout the dungeon, and will advertise themselves as red circles before you step in them, just like in story mode. Typically, if you see them you can avoid them, either by jumping over them or finding a way around, like Freyja is doing here.

Past the mound is a mossy room filled with floor traps and indestructible flame-spewing gargoyle heads.  The heads shoot flame at regular intervals, so watch for an opening and leap over the spike traps. On far side there are stairs (lined with more fire traps) down into a large open area with a statue.  Don’t go down just yet!  That area is lined with more fire-breathing gargoyles and will spawn several waves of spider hatchlings.  These gargoyles are destructible, so split up the team into head-smashers and spider-squishers.  Since condition damage doesn’t affect objects, it’s best to put classes that cause a lot of conditions on spider duty and the others on taking out the heads.

You can jump from the mossy room to the top of the ruined wall next to the stairs rather than heading straight into the pit. From here, you can destroy two of the gargoyle heads with ranged weapons in relative safety. This also lets you bypass the flame traps on the stairs.

Waugh! A giant spider is trying to eat me!

Hooray, the boss has spawned! If your gargoyle team hasn’t finished taking out the heads, make sure they do so; not having to dodge the fire makes this fight a lot easier. Clean up any remaining spider hatchlings as well; the less you have to concentrate on, the better.  The giant spider has three attacks to worry about:  It can immobilize you with webbing, give you a poisonous bite, or  spray poison over an area.  She’ll also occasionally spawn spider hatchlings, but they’re non-elite and die quickly. The poison spray is the most dangerous attack, and takes the form of several overlapping AoE circles.  Watch the ground for the forming rings and dodge out of them as quickly as possible.  I prefer to kill this boss in melee (higher damage output), but if you do, make sure you have either a way to break immobilization or some manner of block, in case she webs and starts biting you and your health starts to suffer.  Don’t forget conditions – weakness and vulnerability are especially recommended for this and every boss, and if you’re fighting from range cripples or freezes makes it a lot easier to keep your distance.

With the spider queen dead, the doors to move on are now open.  The hallway is patrolled by a champion graveling accompanied by several elites. Don’t enter the hallway to fight them, as it’s full of traps. Instead, use a ranged attack to entice them into entering the same arena where you just fought the spider.  Kill the elites first and then focus down the champion.

This hallway is densely packed with traps. Have someone with a good jumping skill, such as mesmer’s “blink” or a warrior’s longsword leap, carefully make their way up to the top, where there is a switch to disable them. The spike traps won’t trigger if you’re teleporting or airborne when you go over them – just be careful where you land.

Once you’re through the trap hallway and have knocked out the gargoyle heads on the walkway, you can approach the central area of the dungeon – the same place where you defeated King Adelbern’s ghost.  He’s not there, of course, but another ghost has-

No, shut up! A huge troll is trying to kill me! Why is there a troll?!

Oh hey, you got the troll event!  This has a chance of triggering when you go through this area – he was in story mode too, although he’s been working out recently and has become much tougher.  In addition to some pretty hefty melee swipes, he’s fond of stomping and causing a big AoE knockback around himself, so I recommend fighting him from a distance.

If you’re feeling daring, try to use ranged attacks to kite him and the ghostly boss into each other. You will need to kite them both; neither one is willing to enter the home turf of the other, so they must meet in the middle. If one hits the other, they’ll start fighting, and you can take a break while they pound each other into the ground.  Don’t forget to take a swipe or two before they die so you can get credit, and be sure to keep your distance so you don’t get hit.

That’s all well and good for the other disembodied voice, but I didn’t encounter a troll. How do I fight Lieutenant Kholer?

This guy is a jerk, and so are his friends. Kill his allies first so they’re not harassing you throughout the battle.

Lieutenant Kholer is a melee boss, accompanied by two Ascalonian ghosts, the same ones you fought in story mode. Kholer himself likes to lunge and dodge, and has an AoE spinning-blades attack. His attacks will inflict poison, bleeding and sometimes cripple on you, and they’re all fairly high damage.  I recommend fighting him at range; keep him crippled to slow his movement and kite him around the arena.  As much as possible, try to hang around the ruined pillars at the edge.  Kholer has one really dangerous attack that yanks in everybody from very long range and knocks them down at his feet, which he then combos with his spinning-blade AoE for massive damage.  Watch for him raising his right hand with the “charge-up” animation; at that point, dodge behind a pillar to break line of sight and wait a few seconds to be sure.   You can also try dodge-rolling in the open, but it’s tricky to get the timing down right.  As always, conditions are your friend; a weakened, vulnerable, crippled and bleeding boss is easier to fight than a healthy one!

Okay, so now we’re in this flooded temple… thing, and Detha said something about using traps?

Right, this part is tricky. Check out the lower ledges running along both sides next to your objective marker – each side should have two pillars with switches on them. Each switch activates a spike trap. The traps will hurt gravelings, but not party members.  There’s also another pillar-switch next to where Detha stands.  You’ll want one party member on each ledge running between their two pillars and a third at the center.  The remaining two, who should be the ones best at staying alive, get to stand in the murky water and act as bait.

Look for this piece of iron fencing along the south wall. This marks roughly the midpoint of all the traps, and your bait will want to hang around this area for maximum effect.

Waves of gravelings will spawn at the western end and rush forward to attack.  There are too many to fight normally, but the traps do a ton of damage.  The bait needs to run around in the trap area, dodging, blocking and evading as best they can, while everyone else spams the traps as fast as possible.  If you’re the bait and you get knocked down, you’re probably going to be swarmed by hatchlings and die – respawn and run back as fast as possible.  That said, you should be sure you take the occasional swipe at the enemies – if you’re downed and the traps kill one that you hit previously, you’ll rally. It’s possible to do this without dying once if you’re extremely skilled or, like me, occasionally get lucky.

If the enemies start to break through and reach Detha, she’ll set off a bomb. She only has three of these, after which point she’s defenseless.  If Detha dies, you fail the event and have to revive her to try again. It may take a bit of practice to get it right, but you’ll succeed – I believe in you!  The hardest part is for the bait to stay alive and keep the gravelings in the trap area – if necessary, leave the central trap pillar unmanned and use three bait characters, but I’ve found it works best with two and full trap coverage.  After several waves, a champion graveling breeder will appear – the bait may need to lure her into the killzone as she doesn’t always charge forwards blindly like the other gravelings. Killing her ends the waves and the event, successfully.

The next event takes place in the northern part of the dungeon. While it’s possible to reach it by travelling around the outer chambers, I recommend going back to the center and clearing out the gravelings on the northern bridge, so that if anyone dies they have a clear run back from the central waypoint.

Well that’s over with.  Now Detha’s led us to a room with broken mortars, and another ghostly Ascalonian is getting all paranoid at her.

You’re in the home stretch!  Now you need to guard Detha as she assembles her mortars. Each time she starts working on a mortar, she will spawn two waves of 4-5 Ascalonian Ghosts each, identical to the ones you fought in the story mode of the dungeon.  I recommend the following target priority, from highest to lowest:

Rangers > Necromancers > Elementalists > Mesmers > Monks > Warriors

It’s a good idea to bring some Potions of Undead Slaying for this part, as it can be a tough fight. They go for cheap on the trading post, with the most powerful version costing a mere 27 copper when I bought them.  Remember to focus fire on one enemy at a time to bring them down quickly.

The guns are fixed and the ghosts are dead. Now what?

Now it’s time for the final boss fight!  The mortars are a fun gimmick for this fight, but aren’t strictly necessary.  Each one inflicts a different condition on the boss, and will continue stacking that condition so long as he stays in the impact area.  This can make things easier, but again, if you don’t want to fool around with them you can just stab him to death.  If you do use them, the two people left without a mortar should do their best to keep the boss away from the guns, as they have a minimum range.

These mortars will make things easier, but aren’t necessary if you don’t want to mess around with them. Each one will inflict a different condition on the Ghost Eater.

The Ghost Eater himself is nothing special; he can burrow to evade attacks, he has knockdown, he’ll chew on you, and he’ll sometimes summon a pack of oozes. The oozes aren’t elites, so they’ll die quickly, but beware being immobilized.  He will, in all honestly, be a far easier fight than the ghosts were.  Once he dies, you’ll get some money, 60 Ascalonian Tears (the tokens for this dungeon) and a chunk of experience.  Congratulations – you’ve just beaten your first explorable mode branch!