This took much longer than expected, but here it is: the Valenthian Guardhouse post revisited.
With minion mastery well established after several updates, Strongholds have gotten much stronger to the extent of (finally?) being able to defend. 30k stats strongholds are now more common and these pose a threat to even players in gear of the stronger element.
Thus, this will be part of an ongoing series of posts to update my older trap room posts to be more relevant in the current update’s context. While these might get eventually outdated in the long run, hopefully these will provide a basis as to how to formulate strategies to build or raid such trap rooms in the future.
(And yes, I realised my previous Guardhouse post was before SH v2.0, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.)
The new version of the guardhouse retains its signature turrets but with added HP and increased radius of the invulnerability effect upon reaching T6. The mechanics remain the same as before, where the turrets pulsate and provide the invulnerability buff within the indicated radius of effect. The invulnerability buff is refreshed every 4 seconds whenever the minion stands inside the circle, unless the turret is destroyed or the minion steps out of the circle after a good 3 secs or so. At T6, these turrets have about 10k+ HP each and recover in 12 seconds after being destroyed.
While the invulnerability turrets are still present, the old Valenthian Guardhouse (or Guardhouse in short) has undergone a size reduction since the previous stronghold version to accommodate the reduction of minion quantity. The current amount of move-able space being sliced into approximately half of its original size with debris now obstructing the stairways and leaving only 4 turrets left.
This makes moving within the stronghold challenging, especially if the stronghold has big sized units within it. What’s more tricky is reaching the two back row turrets since you have to climb the stairs to be either target them at a specific angle (ie base of the stairs), or be physically close enough to damage them.
The other notable feature in the room is its central divider (or table) which can either be viewed as an obstacle or as a boon for raiders. Optimistically, this can serve as a form of cover from melee type chaser minions, so ranged users can hit them without getting damaged themselves.
TL;DR: About half its original size with 4 turrets left. Just about everything else is still the same.
Guardhouse is a truly defensive SH which provides robust defence to its minions in the form of invulnerability. This provides an interesting opportunity to have minions that increase their defences further, or be all out damage dealers added with some crowd control effects. The stronghold also serves as another universally versatile stronghold as it allows any elemental minion to benefit from its effect.
Although the placing light minions in this SH will yield the highest stats, it is recommended to mix other elements inside your stronghold to withstand any strong pure dark raiders. Nature and water are the more common elements for minions to be prioritised since they keep out potential but weaker dark and fire raiders instantly.
Minion mastery also helps non-champion units to gain relevancy in this update as it is easier to obtain them from chests. This allows initially weaker minions but with good abilities to be considered.
The most prominent (and probably highly exploited) examples here would be the Ranger and the Gelid Voror. Rangers serve as the primary damage dealer against unsuspecting dark raiders as they deal significant amounts of nature damage from afar. Their triple bolt shot inflicts the annoying defence-ignoring DOT which can possibly reach up to a ridiculous 800+ dmg/sec at M6! (dependent on your ranger’s attack, which is a combination of nature minion bonus and SF points). Thus, they’re a wildcard in this trap room as they can quickly change the tide of the battle since no matter how high your HPH is, there isn’t a chance of recovering that much DOT in such a short time. Moreover, their low HP is protected by the invulnerability aura.
Another would be the Gelid voror whose defense aura buff and reflect shield work in unison with the invulnerability turrets. This gives a much stronger armor boost to nearby minions which works much more impressively than in any other stronghold (and will be explained/speculated) below.
Place both of these at the top left and right corners and these make the battle a whole lot more difficult for the raider. Doing so would require the raider to destroy the back turrets first before being able to reach these units, making it tricky to take them out. Never ever place them in the front row as they simply don’t have enough HP once they’re out from the invulnerability buffs.
Minions to be Considered:
- Ranger – High DOT, Slow
- Gelid Voror – Defence buff, Reflect shield
- Druid – Healing, Burrowing
- Wolf/ Stormwolf – Consecutive range shots, stun
- Monkey – High Critical, High dodge, periodic invulnerability, Stun
Placing a couple of champions improves your stronghold’s durability without saying. In this stronghold, we can consider Champions which either have large in size to obstruct the raider, or to have good stun/freeze/bind/slow abilities to keep the raider from moving around too much so the other minions can gang up on him/her. Notable mentions include the Assassin, for its revival, binding and DOT capabilities, and the Kringle, for its freezing and multi-shot snowball.
The downside is that Champions are not easily mastered as duplicates are not as easily obtainable compared to non-champions. This makes it challenging for getting spares to master them. Additionally, this is more so for Event minions, like Kringle, since these probably will only appear once a year.
Suggested Possible Champions:
- Assassin* – Revives if other minions are around, Bind, DOT, High critical
- Kringle – Freeze, Burst snowball, Big sized
- Lightning Colossus – Stun, Big sized, Artillery mode invulnerability
- Gatekeeper – Armor totem, Stun, Spin attack
- Ice Colossus – Freeze, Big sized, Artillery mode invulnerability
- Mezzogian – Freeze, Slow, Consecutive multi-shot
- Wicker Beast – Big sized, Fast chaser, DOT, Knockdown
- Mossback – Big sized, Flying, Damage-resist shield, Healing/Dmg breadth
- Dominator – Fast chaser, Damage reflect, Spin attack, High critical
- Corvus – Fast chaser, High dodge, Speed + Attack buff, Blind
* Assassins are glitchy as there is a possibility that they might start running around in circles when they are close to the side of the central table. The chance of this happening is random but not very high, and has been an ongoing bug since a few updates back.
Moreover, it would be imperative to evolve this stronghold to T6 as soon as possible because it helps for placement of minions. At T6, this enables the invulnerability circles of each row to overlap in the center. This enables instant invulnerability to the center minion and raiders need to destroy the front two turrets before they can damage it. Thus, larger minions that don’t move much (eg. kringle, colossus) could be placed upfront to block the already small passageways.
Lastly, a good thing about Guardhouse is that it can serve as an ‘anti-blitz‘ stronghold which can be (fairly) cheaply built, so long as you have minions such as Gelid voror, Ranger or Light Colossus with appropriate placements inside. Combined with the invulnerability provided by the trap room, it is difficult to players to clear your stronghold extremely quickly (ie <10 secs) and this negates it as a potential target in GW for quick and easy points from the other team.
Special Note: Personally, I’m not a big fan of imitating strong setups since I believe that it is possible to get used to the minion combination over time or build your strong sets accordingly to combat them. Popularity (of a certain setup) breeds familiarity and that’s how once-strong SHs can get taken down over time. Thus, it would be best to come up with your own unique combination of minions to throw incoming raiders off tangent. 🙂
TL;DR: Use Nature and Water minions mixed with Light. Rangers (for DOT) and Gelid vorors (for immense shielding) are the way to go and positioned at the back. Others can be big units which obstruct or have skills to lock the raider in place often.
Speculation: Why do Gelid vorors give such high defence boost in Strongholds?
If you’ve been a long time player and/or been observant during raids, you might have realised that the Gelid Voror’s shield aura is much more effective than in other strongholds. Damage dealt to shielded minions in the Guardhouse usually averages between 100-400, while other strongholds are typically >1,000 in value.
Aqve, a fellow player from iOS EU/NA, has theorised that this as ‘invulnerability’ being an addition of a monster’s armor by an extremely high preset number (eg. 99,999). This renders it immune to damage.
Since the Gelid raises the current defence value by a multiplier, a monster under the influence of the invulnerability circle will get their defence boosted even further. When the invulnerability effect gets lost, this high preset value gets deducted but higher-than-usual boosted defence still retains. This results in a much higher defence boost on the monsters until the defence buff expires.
There is another scenario with the druid being boosted by the voror which can be described by this. However, I’ll post this in the next Nettles revisited post. 🙂
TL;DR: Invulnerability is speculated to be of a high armor value; Gelid Voror buffs are multipliers that improve that boosted value; Removing invulnerability still keeps that high boosted armor value in place until buff wears off.
The tricky thing with raiding a Guardhouse is that all minions will be protected by the invulnerability aura in the first few seconds, making it difficult to take them out without having to attack the turrets first. Pay special attention to what is placed at the top row (esp. during a blind raid) as these are most likely going to be the above-mentioned Voror/Ranger combination or hard hitting but slow moving units (eg. Colossi).
While Dark might seem a first-choice for a light-based stronghold, do remember that it is extremely susceptible to nature units inside the stronghold, especially assassins and rangers which have high DOT. Nevertheless, I personally would opt to go in with a good Dark set, so long as you have decent stats with good skills. Additionally, I’ll be narrating a strategy from the approach of a Dark user and will cover the minions which pose most of a threat to you.
The ranger should be undoubtedly your first priority. Fortunately, there is a small window of taking her out within the first few seconds before the Gelid voror casts its shield. This involves Malevolent Rush followed by Mist of Death/ Ice Stalagmites. Getting in some DOT fire damage (via Fire Cone) also helps to get in some good damage without having to worry about the Voror’s buff.
Note that this move is possible if you don’t get blocked/frozen/bound by other minions. Also, stronger rangers (M6, 240 SF) will be likely to survive this attack, so don’t be afraid to back off instantly after since the Gelid Voror’s shield + defence buff will come in shortly.
Under such circumstances, be sure to keep your distance from the ranger by running away to the far corner of the room opposite of its direction until your skills have recharged. If you wish to approach her again, make sure you close the distance very quickly using Rush-based skills as she tends to use her spore trap skill instead of her triple shot ability when there isn’t much distance between you and her. This might take several tries and there is an element of luck involved, since there’s a chance of DOT projectiles missing its mark or being dodged.
In the meantime, be sure to watch out of the other minions and keep running within whatever free space is available. Smoke Veil would be a great option to fend off other minions. When triggered, smoke has a chance of it reflecting back incoming projectiles, which is a staple of most units (Rangers, Assassins, Gelids, Kringles, Wolves) in this room. It’s much easier to reflect since the size of the room is small, returning the much-needed armor-shred, DOT arrows, or stun bolts back to their source.
Following which, or lack of a ranger in the room, your next target would be Gelid Voror. These require a bit of patience to take out since their defence buffs tend to overlap with the Invulnerability aura provided by the turrets, making it difficult to catch them without their high defences. For this, you can opt for persistent zone skills like Mist of Death, Ice Stalagmites, or Entangling Vines, to wreck the turret and to determine when is a good time to strike the Voror. Once you see that it’s receiving 1.5k+ dmg per hit, then you can focus fire on it.
After these two are down, the battle will be much much easier. You can take out the other minions in ascending order of HP (ie. lowest to highest). Do remember to leave assassins to be your last target(s) since they will be able to ‘revive‘ themselves upon death if there are other minions around.
If you encounter Kringles, do pause for about a second before rolling out of their snowman trap. While it is a ‘panic‘ instinct to immediately roll out, doing so might immediately get you stuck in another snowman. Thus, always observe where the remaining snowmen are and use the directional pad to control your rolling after. This would definitely save on the amount of rolls and
Moreover, you can use Colossi as HP batteries. As unfortunate as it sounds to the owner of the SH, the currently boosted HPH enables you to take advantage of their artillery mode, where you can a persistent zone skill and run off, regaining a decent amount of HP per hit despite it dealing no damage.
Last of all, a nice tibbit is that all 4 turrets can be taken out instantly with a well-positioned Immortal Justice. Dropping the hammer at the front end of the table will destroy all of the turrets in the room, giving you a good 12 seconds to handle the other minions. Nonetheless, be warned that if any Colossi were to be in artillery mode or if any units are shielded by the Voror reflect buff, then the damage might just all get reflected back upon you…which is highly fatal.
While these strategies have been tested for Guardhouse traps between 14k-20k, I believe that much practice is required to get the timings on point. The real danger lies when Rangers hit above >650 per tick in DOT since that means you can only get hit 3-4 times the most. These will most likely appear for anything higher than overall 17k minion attack so do watch out for the minion stats before you enter the raid.
TL;DR: Priority would be Ranger -> Voror -> everything else -> Assassin.
Have Skills like Ice Stag/Mist of Death, Mal Rush, Fire Cone, Immortal Justice for offensive and Smoke Veil for defensive purposes.
Oh man…another lengthy post but hopefully it’ll be helpful in clearing all those up-and-coming Guardhouses around or building your own in the future.
In the meantime, other posts lined up include the requested Buff/Debuff post, an entry on DOT, as well as a Nettles revisited post. Stay tuned! 🙂