How to win Thunderhead Keep v1.0
Guild: Clan Honor (CH)
My name is Garbad_the_Weak and I am the guild leader of Clan Honor, a PvP guild. Reading these forums, I see a lot of players are struggling with Thunderhead Keep. I am writing this guide to share some tips and strategies that have helped me win this difficult mission. This guide is not the only way, and maybe not even the best way, but it is a proven method that I hope you find helpful.
PICKING YOUR TEAM AND PLANNING YOUR STRATEGY
First, fill your team with as many guildmates or friends as possible. In particular, try to get guildmates to fill the 3 critical positions – both healers and the lead target caller. This mission requires communication and trust and people you know are more likely to listen and communicate.
Second, pick your team carefully. Do not simply take the first 7 people who come along. This is important for two reasons. First, you will want to screen out people who cannot or do not follow instructions from the start. You need a team that can communicate and respond and if they can’t do that, they are a weak link. Second, you need to know what the player can bring to the group. Not every monk is a healer and not every warrior is a tank (even if they think they are). You want to keep your group “lean” by avoiding unnecessary duplication of skills so you can maximize your killing power.
Thunderhead Keep is like a MULLET – business in front and party in back. Spend the time to get a solid, intelligent team that can work together and synergize and you will cruise through it. The time and hassle of organization and teamwork is what separates the successful teams from the rest. After the win, buy a pint of dwarven ale and go nuts.
Finally, select a balanced team. You will need a good mix of healers, tanks, and killers. Other support skills, such as AOE spells, traps, interrupts, and knockdowns round out your team. The key in picking your team is making sure you have adequate support (tanking, healing, disabling the bosses, and so forth) while maintaining killing power.
I find the best core is two monks and two warriors. Warriors are great on this stage because they are self sufficient and can take a beating. You will want at least two warriors so you can split up and have one warrior wall each choke. Furthermore, with the exception of the Jade Armors, the monsters on this stage are relatively soft and good warrior can cut right through them.
The monks will handle the bulk of your healing; however, I do not suggest having more than two. There are two reasons why I don’t recommend a third monk. First, the monsters in Thunderhead don’t spike, they wear you down. Because you don’t have to worry about spikes, a pair of monks with good energy management skills (and careful aggroing) should be more than sufficient to keep you and the king fully healed. Second, a third monk is a real loss of killing power. Instead of a third healer standing around waiting for the nonexistent spikes, you could have a killer cutting them down that much faster.
For your killers, go with variety. You will frequently be fighting tightly packed herds, so AOE spells really shine. DOT also works very well, especially on the high AC Jade armors. It isn’t all that important what your support chars are, just so they can do their job – kill quickly.
One word of caution. I do not recommend bringing a pet or summons to thunderhead. Because you will be sneaking around a good bit you don’t want to risk a pet aggroing a boss at a wrong moment. Furthermore, because summons are not infused they tend to die quickly vs mursatt - right when you need them most. They can be effective in the right hands, but make sure they know what they are doing.
Basics for Healers:
The healers should split up healing assignments at the beginning of the mission. One healer should take the bottom 3 plus the king while the other healer handles the top 5. Running mending/prot bond on the king wouldn’t hurt either if you can spare the regen. As needed, the monks should help each other’s assignments. As always, call out your energy if you start running low and rest as needed.
A healer should also be the person who talks to the king. You want the king as far away from battle as possible at all times, and your healer is the most likely to be safe.
Suggested Skills you don’t ordinarily use:
Well of Blood, Vigorous Spirit, and Dwayna’s Kiss -- the monsters in this stage are heavy on DOT so make sure you have low cost heals that can negate DOT hexes without burning all your energy. Wells work great because of the compact corpse heavy fighting. Vigorous spirit is a low cost way to let the warriors take care of themselves. A warrior running mending with a vigorous spirit should be self sufficient through most of the stage.
Basics for Tanks:
Your most experienced (and highest AC) warrior should be assigned as target caller. His role will be to lead the charge in (so he gets targeted), to focus the team’s fire on the appropriate target, and to pick where the team stops, pulls, or rests. No one should ever go ahead of your head warrior. When the warrior says form up or draws a line, stand on that wall – do not chase, do not rush in until your lead warrior gives the command.
Also, never run ahead and agro another pack. Even if it means just standing there while the killers clean up a pack, it is better than running up to kill them and aggroing another group. Follow your head warrior’s lead on this attack and keep your healer’s workload light. There is no better compliment to a tank than knowing your healer is bored out of his mind from not having to do anything -____-
Suggested Skills you don’t ordinarily use:
Balanced Stance or Dolyak Signet. Both prevent knockdown and help you hold the line. Sprint is also nice to quickly move between combat areas.
Basics for Killers:
First and foremost, keep your distance from the tank line when the warriors attack. This doesn’t mean stand 5 steps behind them, this means stand at least an agro bubble and a half away. Monsters will usually run past the warriors for a few steps before targeting the lowest AC target. If you are within too close the monsters will run right past the warriors and attack you, completely wasting your tank wall. This exposes the softer targets to fire and breaks up monster packs, making you take far more damage and deal far less damage.
On the other hand, if you let the warriors take the initial attack the monsters will run past, not see and nice soft casters and turn back to the tanks. Your warriors will be more than able to handle themselves for the two seconds while you wait out of range, and then not only will you have no fear of attack, the monsters will also be nicely clumped together ready for your AOE skills. You will kill faster and take less damage by completely staying away from the tanks for the first two seconds of the battle.
HERE is an example of good attack spacing. All of the casters are well outside of attack range.
Furthermore, “stomp” range is roughly the same as your agro bubble. If you are outside of agro range tossing spells at maximum range, you won’t get knocked down. Without the interrupts from the stomps, more of your nukes and heals will land, making the first 2/3 of the mission a breeze.
Lastly, there is no need for a killer to pull, ever. One of the warriors should bring a long bow to pull.
CLEARING THE CITY
The initial part of the stage is not particularly hard. The monsters packs are moderately diverse, but are small and manageable. Basic and traditional teamwork should handle it easily. Let me walk you through the hot spots.
The first is the bridge near the beginning, HERE. Groups often rush the initial pack and before they can finish it, a second pack arrives (often with a monk boss). Because they are low on energy, they often take casualties which handicap the team for the future. The solution is simple. Pull the first pack onto the bridge, do not engage them on the ice, like THIS. As you can see, the group completely avoided the patrol. Speaking of the patrol, I hope I’m not around when Paul Bunyan finds out we killed BABE.
The second area is inside the city itself. First, know your route. You want to travel clockwise from the door, as shown HERE. One you cut your way through a couple of packs, swing back down to hit the last patrols, as shown HERE. When you swing back to the far right, kill the boss and then let the casters nuke the three packs from below, as shown HERE. Be careful as you do this to make sure the healers are ready to support you and to make sure the king doesn’t agro. If the king rushes to the base of the stairs and you get pressured, you will not be able to retreat because the king will not move and will stand there and die. You need to be able to sweep the walls in one clear sweep or keep the king away.
Once you sweep the walls, the path to the fort shouldn’t be too hard. As you approach the fort, you will see a series of monster packs and a boss, as shown HERE. Kill the first couple of packs, then have one person hug the wall and run to the west catapults, as shown HERE. Stick close to the wall and avoid any fighting. Once you get there, nuke the monster packs outside the wall as shown HERE. Once you have destroyed those packs, return to the group and sneak outside the fort, as shown HERE. The door will look closed, but you can walk right through it. You call do all of this without aggroing any monster.
Once you are outside, look around and destroy the jades and such that are sitting around, as shown HERE. When you get back inside, hug the wall and pull the boss, and only the boss to you. Your warriors will need to be patient here. Be very careful, because a stupid agro can bring 4+ packs and a boss.
When the boss is dead (and he is a wimp), have one warrior carefully agro. This is done by hugging a wall and dragging them back to the group, as shown HERE. Finally, swing back to the other side and attack the last few packs from the south, as shown HERE.
Congratulations, the fort is clear! With careful agro and focus fire, you can do this with very little risk or effort.
DEFENDING THE FORT
After the movie, the group should run to your preassigned positions. One caster (healer or nuker works) should man each catapult, one warrior should run to each gate (from here out, the warriors should be known as east leader or west leader), and the remaining four should run to the middle. The leaders should always stay on the wall unless there is an emergency, while the killers and tanks should be at ground level all the time.
You do this to prevent a pack from slipping through while allowing you to quickly move your killing force between targets. One warrior and monk can hold the pack until backup can come. The bulk of your fighting force will move back and forth based on the reports of the monks. As needed, the 4 will split to cover pincer attacks. Think of it was the monk and warrior leader anchoring each side as the killers move between hot spots. You can see an example of us in position HERE.
The leaders should constantly scan the horizon (holding down control) to see how many monsters are approaching and from what direction. As you see them, call out things like “2 mursatt east.” Communication is key, constantly update each other with things like – “backup west, 3 coming, I see a jade and a ele” and so forth.
The monsters will come in waves. Generally they alternate between sides but towards the end they start coming from both sides at once. The west will get hit harder than the east. With intelligent and active use of the catapults, you can kill or cripple most packs. The first few packs will stand in the target area and wait for a few seconds, giving you time to fire and kill them. Later groups will run straight through. Still, if you time it well you can always get off one solid shot on the pack, which can take ¼ of their life or more. This is a huge boost to the party. Furthermore, because you will attack them at the gate, the monsters will not yet have begun to regen their life from the catapult attack. (If you fight at the king, they will often regenerate most of the catapult damage back before the get all the way to you).
Basic attack pattern – blast them with catapult as they approach, warrior aggros at the gate, caster on wall nukes down, killers in middle assist where the battle is fiercest.
When the monsters approach the gate, the leader of that side should make sure they meet right at the gate. This is important because you allow the monk to heal you from above without leaving the catapults (or wasting precious seconds running around and down a stairs) and also because this allows you to fight on high ground that is a natural choke. As you cut the monsters down, report to the team “east clear.” Make sure your teammates know what is coming and how much fighting power you need to destroy it.
You can also avoid splitting your party in two groups and simply clump around the king. This method has the advantage of keeping all your offensive and defensive power in one place, allowing you to focus easier. It also requires less communication and teamwork. Finally, this method allows you to use the natural chokes and distance of the castle to increase your damage.
On the negative side, the king is in much more direct risk and the catapults are much less useful (as the monsters will usually regen most, if not all). Furthermore, on occasion packs outside the fort will be aggroed by your group inside. If this happens, they will stop and begin firing through the wall. This can put you are a severe disadvantage, as your warriors and line of sight spells will be useless, yet you cannot disengage because the king will be under fire.
HERE is an example of clumping. Note the two people on the wings running the catas, ready to return back to the group to support.
You will need to defeat a steady stream of white mantle, jade armor, and mursatt. You will fight three bosses (one of which can be destroyed only by catapult). By the time you get to the third boss, the Confessor, you will have WON. (I had to get a shot of some of my guildmates in – and our official mascot itsy bitsy :D ).
I hope this guide was helpful and entertaining. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Garbadtheweak@juno.com If you try the suggestions in this guide and still can’t win, drop me a message and I will help you out.