As requested by Pornpote in the last post, here is my take on the Forbidden courtyard (or ‘Courtyard/Court’ in short). Honestly, I never thought I would be doing this stronghold as it was rather average since its inception in the very first Xinkashi update. It never stood out even after SHv2.0 was released, going so far as to boost a consistent 100% to all nature minion stats at max tier
Recently, this room started to gain more traction after the Kringle ‘surge’ in the last christmas update. Because of this, a very specific setup of minions now dominates the current ‘meta’ of nature rooms available in the higher leagues.
Like in all stronghold posts, this entry will detail a general overview of the physical features of this room, strategies as to how to raid it, and tactics of building it.
Fun Fact: This was my first ever Stronghold (from the Minions chest) back when the first version of SH was around. It popped out as a T5 😉
This Xinkashi-themed stronghold features a medium-sized triangular-shaped room filled with three flowers arranged in a similar triangular arrangement. The flowers are similar to the Guardhouse turrets, each with its own radial field of effect (or zone). These ‘active obstacles‘ deal ongoing damage once you are within their zones and damage is applied similarly to Damage over 3 seconds (DOT) but will not persist after you leave the area.
The damage is exclusively nature based and is subject to elemental advantage/disadvantage (ie. dark will receive double damage and fire will receive half). Just a gauge, a raider with 20k global armor will receive about 100 damage per tick from a flower zone in a T6 courtyard.
While the damage does not sound a lot, being within the zone also results in instant slow and get a chance (not 100%) to be eventually stunned if you stay there for longer than 5-6 seconds. This is useful, or dangerous, depending on which side you stand on, as the minions within the room deal a whopping 50% more damage when the raider is slowed.
However, unlike the turrets from the Guardhouse, these flowers do not have a HP bar and cannot be destroyed during the battle itself. These will only vanish once the raid is won, allowing you to collect your chest unharmed.
Other notable physical features of the room include the signature Xinkashi naga statue in the room’s center which obstructs movement and blocks projectile-based attacks from one end of the room to another. This is a undoubtedly useful obstacle for raiders to prevent ranged attacks from hitting you across the room and allowing you to recover your skill cooldowns.
With the (long-time) release of the SHv2.0 upgrade, this room did not undergo a change in its overall shape or size of the room. Thus, this makes the Courtyard a moderately large room, comparable in size to the Ashkardian Crypt. The T6 room also boosts a standardised 100% across all the nature minion stats (Attack, Armour and HP bonuses). With no stat in particular standing out, this provides a greater flexibility to customise your SH with a strong stat of your liking (or simply based on the minions you managed to obtain).
Notice: At the time of writing this post, the skill/action delay (and strangely the skill cooldown numbers too) is finally out of the way for all platforms, returning the pace of raiding back to normal.
In the introduction, I mentioned a very specific setup of minions dominate the current trend of Courtyards. This comprises of Kringles/ Mezzogians, Rangers and an occasional druid or assassin in an alternating staggered formation (see below). Since this one of the more challenging and popular configurations available for Courtyard, this section will be written mostly in reference to this setup.
Assuming that all these minions are at full mastery, this combination is especially deadly since Kringles keep the advantaged Fire users at bay while Rangers dish out a lot of un-dodgeable DOT damage to non-fire users. The Druid in the middle (behind the statue) helps to keep any minions from dying off too quickly and the Assassin deals a nasty bind and armor shred which cuts your armor by 20%.
Additionally, this combination works well in a larger room since Kringles teleport rather frequently. Thus, you’ll be spending more time chasing them down instead of actually dealing damage. This increases the chances of you being bombarded by snowballs, getting stuck in the snowmen traps or flower zones or showered with the poison projectiles from the rangers.
Preparing for the Battle
From experience, I’ve not been able to clear this stronghold with 2 or more (M7) mastered Kringles with Fire gear (without Bloodrage activating) since their attacks will get to you faster than the Ranger’s DOT. Fortunately, I find that it is very much possible and easier to clear this combination using Light and/or Water (as shared by some of my Guildmates).
For this entry, I found that raiding in Light was more optimal for myself. The armor used was Justicar for HP/Hit and armed with Sunsearer crossbow to snipe while keeping your distance from Kringles/ Assassins since their heavy-hitting projectiles are avoid-able from a distance. The secondary weapon would be a Fire melee (Searing Edge) to kill the lower HP Rangers/Druids off quickly at close-range.
Cheaper alternatives would be mastered Dust Fangs or Twin Rogueblades which can both be found from missions. These provide HP/Hit and Attack speed which are beneficial in removing both Kringles and Rangers quickly.
One thing to note about Ranged raiders in Courtyard – Although the flower zones cut out quite a bit of walk-able space for the raider, Ranged raiders are more at an advantage since they don’t need to approach the minions directly and potentially get caught in the flower zones. This works well against projectile-heavy minions (Kringles, Assassins). You can also use the big statue as cover from the Kringles‘ snowball(s) on the other side of the room.
Magical properties/traits to consider would include Run speed and Dodge as priority as you’ll want to evade attacks by physically running aside or by passively dodging them. HP/Hit is also of great necessity to improve survive-ability….just in case, you get accidentally hit by a Kringle’s large snowball or the poison bolts from Rangers.
Moreover, you might also want to select skills which emulate the above properties while granting periods of invulnerability or aiding in defence. Such skills include:
- Bat Shield – HP shield, HP/Hit
- Lightning Shield – Stun, HP shield
- Smoke Veil – Active + Passive Dodge increase
- Fire Cone – High active DOT and Good damage against nature units
- Flame Eruption – Good DOT and fast cooldown to enable quick bursts of invulnerability
- Draconian Outburst – High raw damage + Attack Spd increase
- Malevolent Rush – Good mobility + increase critical, knockdown
- Snowball – High passive + active DOT
- Mist of Death – Short invulnerability, Persistent zone + Bind, Easy to use
- Ice Stalagmites – Persistent zone + freeze, Easy to use
- Immortal Justice – High raw damage (but challenging to use well)
- Haste – Increase Atk Spd/Run Spd
TL;DR: Light/Water as recommended base elemental gears if there are plenty of Water champions around; priority on HPH, Dodge, Run speed; Recommend skills that deal damage while granting invulnerability
Tactics in Raiding
Regardless of which element you select, I personally find that the optimal order of minions to take down would be:
- Rangers – Low HP but source of high damage
- Druids – AoE healing
- Kringles/Mezzos – annoying damage dealers + slow & freeze
- Assassins – to avoid having them to revive again
In the case of high stat Courtyards, the critical period in raiding this room is within the first few seconds of entering. Kringles will almost instantly cast their snowman traps, making it almost impossible to move to the right, where the closest ranger will most likely be.
Warning: If your global stats aren’t high enough (>20k def in a non-dark element), you might not be able to overcome this first step. There’s also an element of luck involved since the projectiles might miss, allowing you to move away from the entrance unscathed. Also, practice…practice…practice! 🙂
If you don’t succeed in avoiding the traps in the first few seconds, try to move towards your 11 o’clock (ie. diagonally left to the top left corner), which is likely to be where the second ranger or assassin is standing at. Don’t engage but instead move in an anti-clockwise manner around the periphery of the room. This helps you to roll out of the Snowmen trap since it turns your character to face left by default. Since you are already moving left, you’ll tend to get caught in the left most trap first, allowing you to roll out into free space and not into another snowman.
Despite their high DOT (up to ~600 dmg per tick for a ~20k global elemental-neutral armor), Rangers fall very easily and can be subjected to fear /stun /bind /freeze /knockdown. As covered in my Guardhouse post, the rule of thumb would be to keep a very far distance if you’re not engaging with them and close in when you’re ready to attack. This stops the rangers from performing their painful triple bolt DOT attack as it is done only when you’re slightly out of Melee range.
Thanks to the large size of the room, you can easily run away from the rangers, while keeping a watch on the Kringles. This allows you to wait for your cooldown of your shields/damaging skills to be completed from a safe distance. After which, you can close in the gap and finish them off with your Fire melee weapon or skill (eg. Fire Cone, Flame Eruption, Draconiod Outburst).
If there is a Druid in the room, the time duration/window of which you need to kill the Ranger becomes much smaller. However, I personally find that it is still well-worth to attack the ranger first due to its lower HP and to eliminate other sources of damage. Thus, additional Attack Speed helps to finish off the rangers before they can get healed, or at least right after the first heal.
Should you find that you are taking too much damage or get frozen/bind midway, don’t be afraid to run off and wait for your cooldowns to recharge before returning to engage the rangers again.
After clearing the Ranger(s), go after the Druid to stop further healing from occurring on the other higher HP minions. Kringles or Mezzogians (and then finally Assassin) should be shortly after to get rid of the main damage dealers in the room.
For additional information about dealing with multiple Kringles, do give my previous Seashore post a read as I covered some general strategies inside.
One less commonly encountered combination would be Gelid voror paired with a Druid usually at the top near the statue. This setup can get quite annoying since there is a chance where the Voror shields the Druid when it burrows underground, which grants the Druid immensely high defence. Thus, you’ll need to wait for the shield to wear off before the Druid can be killed off efficiently.
The explanation for this is similar to the Voror’s shield buff when affecting units under the influence of a guardhouse invulnerability turret, which you can read here. The druid’s defence is set to a high figure when underground to activate its ‘invulnerability’ status. As the voror’s buff stacks upon the existing defence of the affected unit, this results in a high boosted armour of the Druid.
A simple trick of overcoming this would be to avoid rushing in too quickly to damage the Druid, as this will cause it to instantly burrow and match the time of the Voror’s casting. While the Druid will still be buffed, the defence increment is much less and it can still be subjected to decent damage (1-2k+) to be taken down relatively quickly. Alternatively, use Fire Cone or have passive DOT since it ignores armor completely. 🙂
TL;DR: Rangers go first, followed by Druids, then Kringles/Mezzogians and Assassins. Keep running to avoid getting swarmed by the enemies or getting stunned/frozen locked in place.
For those who lack the minions or means for the ever-popular Kringles, Rangers, Druid/Assassin option, don’t fret as there are other minions which function well in this room.
The relatively large size of this room makes this a double-edge sword with certain minions functioning better than others here. One group of minions would be the Chaser-type such as Wicker Beast, Dominators, Monkeys to keep raiders moving or to ‘push‘ them into the flower zones. These make Ranged units especially difficult to attack since it does not give them breathing space to fire from a distance.
Another type of minions would be those that keep their distance but linger close to the raider while pelting him/her with projectiles. Usually, these come with flying or teleportation abilities, inclusive of Mezzogian, Corvus, Candy Cane Corvus, Assassins, Wolves.
Other minions which are viable are Mossbacks and Nagas. Having multiple (mastered T7) mossbacks will pose a threat to both fire and non-fire raiders with their damaging and healing breath. This effectively makes the battles much longer, which is beneficial in GW. Nagas on the other hand, have high incremental Dodge, homing projectiles and a hefty whirlpool attack that slows the raider to a near un-moveable state.
While Colossi (and perhaps Warlords) can be considered, I find that they are unfortunately too slow to be useful in this room and function more as another (artillery) attack which the raider has to watch out. They do, however, serve to lengthen the time raiders spend in the SH, a much cheaper option compared to 2 or more mossbacks.
- Kringle – High Water damage, Freeze Trap, Teleportation, Slowing
- Assassin – Teleportation, Armour Shred, Bind, Slowing, DOT, High Crit
- Mezzogian – Teleportation, Rapid fire, Slowing, Freeze
- Mossback – Flying, Healing + Damaging Breath, Damage mitigation
- Corvus – Haste buff, DOT, High dodge, Fast
- Candy Cane Corvus – Flying, Knockdown, DOT
- Wicker Beast – Fast, DOT field, Knockdown
- Dominator – AoE Crit + Damage boost, Damage Reflection, High Crit
- Ranger – High DOT, Slowing (Low HP)
- Druid – Large healing range, Burrowing/Invulnerability
- Monkey – High Critical, High dodge, Long invulnerability periods
- Wolf – Teleportation, Stun (Low HP)
- Gelid Voror – AoE shield buff, Slowing, goes well with Druids and Assassins
Prioritise Nature/Water/Dark minions to counter Fire/Light raiders who are entering your SH blind in GW, which are emerging elements in this period of the game to counter the once-popular Nettles, or more common Seashore Retreat.
In response, the following stats can be considered to be boosted:
Nature HP/Def – As you’ll be relying on DOT from Rangers and Assassins and additional damage from Slow, these stats will be more appropriate for keeping Rangers, Assassins and Druids alive for a longer duration. This can also be beneficial for Mossbacks since their healing is based on percentage of their total HP.
Water Atk/Def/HP – This helps to quickly take out any potential Fire raiders quickly while keeping your water minions alive throughout the battle. Be warned though, as non-mastered Kringles don’t have a lot of HP and defence, especially in a Nature room, so they’ll need some durability through permanent minion bonuses.
TL;DR: Equip Nature/Water/Dark minions to counter Fire/Light raiders and boost Nature HP/Def and all Water stats respectively. If you don’t have the means to obtain the Kringle/Ranger/Druid combination, try going for Chaser type minions or Range-projectile based or slowing units.
And that concludes this long post on Courtyard!
I’ll be doing a quick coverage of the Chinese New Year event once it drops, so do stay tuned for that 🙂