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Celebrating Vardi Gras (Bonus Boss Strategies)


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So, I finally got around to beating the game, including various optional content. Vardegras was by far and away the hardest; he took me somewhere on the order of fifteen tries on torment, whereas I managed to beat Krymhylas, Valera, and You-know-who the final boss on the first try. So I thought I'd put up a page about beating him. (Subject to modification as people add or correct various information.)

 

The Basics:

 

-Vardegras goes through several phases in battle. At ~90% HP he begins summoning constructs. At ~50% HP he gains spine shield and reflection for several turns. At ~25% HP he gains battle frenzy (not sure if temporary; by the time it would reasonably expire either I'm dead or he is) and summons 6 horrors. All of these events take place on his turn, and he can take a turn as normal after the event triggers.

-The constructs are the most notable mechanic in this battle. He summons two at a time, and will respawn them automatically at the start of each of his turns. In addition to their own fighting abilities, they power him up every turn one is within about four tiles of him, and each time a construct gets destroyed. This effect seems to increase his damage by about 10% per stack; I am uncertain whether there is a maximum number of stacks, and whether this bonus can expire. The constructs vanish as soon as Vardegras dies. The horrors appear much later in the fight. They don't interact with V, they're just there as extra firepower. They remain until killed, whether or not V is alive.

-Offensive capabilities: Vardegras gets three turns for each turn that your party gets. In addition to the triggered effects mentioned above, he has three attacks. He can shoot fire at a single target, or in a cone or ring. The shot and cone do 80-100 on a well-equipped endgame character (70-80% defense), the ring more like 60-90. Those numbers are before any bonuses from the constructs. He attacks once per turn unless he has battle frenzy, in which case he can attack twice if he doesn't move more than a few spaces. The constructs get one turn per party turn. They have one attack, a physical melee, which deals 60-90 damage, knocks the target back, and has a high chance of stunning. The horrors get one turn per party turn. They have one attack, ranged magic that deals 30-40 damage and causes fatigue (increases the cooldown of all the target's abilities by 1 turn).

-Defensive capabilities: Vardegras is immune to fire and mental debuffs. Surprisingly, he's not immune to stun, though he is highly resistant. Other debuffs have a good chance of affecting him, but they don't last long because of the frequency of his turns. The constructs are immune to energy, poison, and mental effects, and highly resistant to stun. The horrors have no immunities that I'm aware of, and are appealingly vulnerable to stun.

 

Party Suggestions:

 

-First and foremost, do everything else before you try Vardegras. He is much more powerful than the other two bonus bosses, and nearly everything else for that matter. The better your equipment, the better your chances. Being level 30 is pretty much de rigueur on any difficulty but casual. Prioritize equipment with bonuses to fire resistance, since the main source of damage in this fight is V's fire breath.

-It's important to have at least one character with strong (non-magical) missile attacks. Of the three main attack types, this is the only one that won't result in the attacker taking damage during the damage reflection portion of the fight.

-Having a cure for stun (recuperation crystals or the group cure scarab; *not* the group mental cure scarab) is very important. Losing access to a character for multiple turns is really not something you want in a fight this hard. Also, the more ways you can recover health, the better. V and his minions do a lot of damage.

-Area of effect attacks aren't very helpful in this fight. It's useful to have a few that will affect both Vardegras and his constructs (meaning ice or physical), but it's much more important to have strong non-fire single target attacks like dark bolt, shattering blow, and savage blow, as well as basic attacks from a character with high dexterity or strength.

-Because of the importance of positioning in this fight, attacks that move enemies around are very helpful. The best for separating V from his constructs are single target attacks, like yankshot, shattering blow, berserker leap, and call the winds.

-Having a summon or two to restrict enemy movement and contribute additional damage is very useful. Shaman summons do very little damage (especially since the higher level ones have fire-based special attacks), but are good for distracting and locking down constructs and horrors. The tinkermage's freezing turret and razor flinger are very good for contributing damage, and can occasionally draw Vardegras' fire if positioned properly.

-Because of their focus on AoE damage, relatively short-ranged rod/staff attack that doesn't affect V, and lack of knockback abilities, sorcerers are a dubious choice for this battle. If you bring one, be sure to invest a lot of points in focus mastery to reduce fire damage. Shamans are a so-so choice: they can't damage V very well, and they're unlikely to have both knockback and good healing abilities, but group heal and summons are very helpful for this fight. One also has to be careful to keep the constructs' attention away from them because of their very low physical defense. Blademasters and Shadowwalkers are both solid options. Tinkermages are very good for this fight, particularly if specialized for ranged attacks; their turrets provide both damage and distraction, while they can deliver consistent damage through all phases of the battle without worrying about reflected damage. If your tinkermage has inferno turret, it's worthwhile to take out a few points to get yankshot, since inferno turrets can't damage V.

 

Battle Order:

 

-As should be standard practice, summon allies and cast long-term buffs before challenging the reptile. Make sure to spread out healing and buffing items across your party, as a lucky crit from Vardegras can fell even well-defended characters. This is a very fast-paced fight, and time wasted means more massively damaging fire breath directed at you.

-V will likely get the first shot (tested up to 37 dexterity), and this will likely be a cone of fire. Immediately fan your characters out so that he can hit as few as possible with the cone. Position melee fighters immediately to his left and right, and ranged fighters below, preferably 10-12 tiles away so as to be outside the range of his ring and cone attacks while still able to shoot/throw at him.

-You can safely ignore the constructs for about a turn. Concentrate on keeping your party healed up and doing damage to Vardegras. This is one of the easiest parts of the battle in which to damage him, so take advantage of that. If you can ensnare or immobilize the constructs without wasting too much time (e.g. by summoning a snare turret beforehand), do so, but it's not as important as damaging V.

-When the constructs start up, chances are they'll hit one or more of your characters. Get rid of any stun effects they might have caused and continue. They'll also probably be in range of V. If they're already damaged, it can be worthwhile to kill them with AoE attacks like razor/sharpshooter spray, ice storm, shrapnel grenade, or the ice cone scarab. They'll come back almost immediately, but it'll keep them from attacking you for a little while. Otherwise, hit V with a single-target knockback attack to knock him out of range of their power-up.

-When his reflective shield comes up, be more careful about hitting him; reflected damage is unlikely to kill you, but the strength of his attacks leaves little room for error. It can still be worthwhile to do so with a high-health character to keep the damage flowing, but it's also worthwhile to switch even melee characters over to missile attacks for a couple turns.

-When the horrors come out things get really hairy. At this point it may be best to just go for broke. This is also the point at which AoE knockback attacks really shine. A well-placed earthshatter can knock most of the enemies on the battlefield away from each other, buying you time as well as potentially stunning the horrors. Between the horrors' attacks and V's increased aggression, enemy damage output has increased drastically, far beyond the capacity of a well-prepared party to keep up. On top of that, if the horrors start attacking you, you'll have to either waste AP chugging recovery potions or forego using your abilities. Fortunately, V has very little health left. Head in the opposite direction of the horrors while spamming your strongest attacks on V, and hopefully he'll fall before you do.

-When Vardegras finally dies, the rest is mop-up. Just be careful: the horrors aren't much against a party at full strength, but they can still take down a lone character. If you don't mind being a little cheesy (and after taking down this monster you really don't have much left to prove), make a mad dash for the door to V's lair. You can heal and recover cooldowns inside, then stomp the horrors at your leisure.

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Yep, Vardegras is tough -- I had to have my last surviving character flee the horrors and regroup outside too. There's a reason the achievement for killing him only requires you to be on Normal difficulty. I'd say killing Redbeard and saving Fort Foresight in the same playthrough (which requires you to take on Redbeard with only two allies and send the other three up to defend the fort) is harder, but it's a close thing.

 

I agree about him being the toughest of the three bonus bosses, for sure. Khrymhylas is about on par with Avadon 1's Beloch -- practically impossible at the first point when you're technically allowed to fight him, but pretty easy if you come back at level 30. Valera's a bit tougher, but she doesn't do an unmanageable amount of damage as long as you have good cold resistance, and neither of her gimmicks are all that dangerous: the death gaze is easily avoidable by running back down the nearest hallway, and the repulsion field is a non-issue unless you have multiple melee characters and just plain doesn't hurt very much even if you do. Overall I'd rate her as slightly easier than the fight with Miranda in the Corruption Core.

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The Miranda Corruption Core fight is harder the first time until you figure out the script because it requires certain things to happen in the fight. But Vardegras is plain hard because of the damage everything does and the fatigue near the end.

 

The final fight at Fort Foresight is possible on torment for the best ending with only 2 Hands helping you if you play with two tinkermages. You also need to have certain consumable items to help deal with the special effects.

 

They are still easier than the Redbeard fight in Avadon 1 which required lots of consumable items.

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The final fight at Fort Foresight is possible on torment for the best ending with only 2 Hands helping you if you play with two tinkermages. You also need to have certain consumable items to help deal with the special effects.

 

Yeah, I did it with my standard party of two tinkermages and a melee blademaster. Position everyone near the middle of the room before the fight and summon two healing pylons and two inferno turrets. You could use temporal pylons instead of healing pylons if you prefer: Redbeard has a group haste skill, so the slowing effect isn't normally much use beyond the first couple of rounds, but they still do a little much-needed extra damage.

 

Battle Frenzy everyone at the start of the fight (either with Call of the Frenzy or a Speed Burst scroll), and use a Battle Crystal to bless and shield the party. As soon as Redbeard summons his constructs, start going to town with Circle of Fire scrolls, plus Group Heal scrolls for healing as needed and more Speed Burst scrolls if Battle Frenzy is about to wear off. Redbeard's actually not all that resistant to stun, so the blademaster's Stunning Bash usually takes him out for at least one action, giving you half a round of breathing room -- have one of your tinkermages use a Shard of the Phoenix every round to recharge Stunning Bash, and have them use Group Heal scrolls as necessary for healing. Both tinkermages should basically be spamming items nonstop once their turrets are set up and Redbeard's constructs are summoned.

 

If you've been hoarding Circle of Fire scrolls throughout the game, there are enough to wipe out the first group of constructs on Torment with a few spare to make up for misses. After you kill them he'll summon more, so ideally you want to finish the battle before the second group wakes up. Once they run out of Circle of Fire scrolls, have your tinkermages attack Redbeard normally, although they should still use support items as needed. Keep attacking him even once he puts a spine shield up, unless attacking will kill you: you can heal through the damage. I think Dheless gives you an item that negates his shield, if you're on his side. Redbeard also has one more trick in the final stage of the fight, but Heart Protus can give you an item to negate that as long as you're critical of Redbeard to him throughout the game.

 

There's technically a time limit for fighting him, but if you actually have to worry about it at any point during the battle, you're doing something terribly, terribly wrong. The inferno turrets alone should do enough damage if you keep them frenzied. I killed him just after the warning that one quarter of the time had elapsed.

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Also recuperation crystals will remove the occasional mental effect. Assault crystal for reflection will destroy active constructs that use area effect attacks. That will deal with any surviving constructs and their attacks.

 

The earthshatter scarab for the last attack after circle of fire scrolls is also nice when you are using shard of phoenix to recharge abilities.

 

I used two tinkermages with freezing turrets and razorflingers plus a sorcerer using icy rain and earthshatter scarab. It took to the halfway point in the portal.

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Regarding Valera: I didn't even realize she had a death gaze attack, I killed her so quickly. She doesn't have all that many HP, and unlike Vardegras you don't have to spend a large amount of time healing. I actually thought she was the easiest of the three bonus bosses, and apparently Jeff agrees, given that you only get a medal for killing her on torment, as compared to hard for Krymhylas and normal for Vardegras.

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Regarding Valera: I didn't even realize she had a death gaze attack, I killed her so quickly. She doesn't have all that many HP, and unlike Vardegras you don't have to spend a large amount of time healing. I actually thought she was the easiest of the three bonus bosses, and apparently Jeff agrees, given that you only get a medal for killing her on torment, as compared to hard for Krymhylas and normal for Vardegras.

 

Yeah, she'll focus on one character and do rapidly increasing amounts of damage as long as that character is in her line of sight. You have about two or three turns to get them away from her, which shouldn't be difficult.

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Yeah, she'll focus on one character and do rapidly increasing amounts of damage as long as that character is in her line of sight. You have about two or three turns to get them away from her, which shouldn't be difficult.

 

Ah. I think she started doing that to me, but didn't last long enough for me to figure out what would happen if she continued to.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Juuuuuuust curious. If you tank Vardegras with a Shammy Salamander, does he change his attack or will he keep spamming his fire attacks?

 

Edit: Just tested it, Vardy doesnt change attacks. He WILL still spam his fire attacks on the Salamander. Could this change the encounter a bit? Juggling aggro when the summon goes away could be a pain, could be mitigated with a Major Summon or something. I'll probably have a Blademaster taking the heat from the golems and the horrors. Utility specc'd Blademaster could be useful.

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Vardy can die on the first encounter. His attacks never change from the single, cone, circle AoE fire ones but he does this roar attack that stuns you for around 1-2 rounds. As long as he focuses on your newt, you can probably survive the last one and with patience, completely felling him on the first meeting is attainable.

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