The story and fight directly starts where players left off in Module 12. On entering the trial, groups find themselves on the Ras Nsi boss platform in the Tomb of the Nine Gods. Starting the fight will send them further down the Tomb in an elevator.
After defeating two initial waves of mobs, the first real phase starts. At a random side of the elevator an Acererak projection appears and a skull occasionally gets attached to, and slowly moves towards, a random player. Players with the skull have to position themselves at the platform ledge right in front of the projection. DPS then have to kill the skull from the opposite side to kind of “punt” it towards the projection. The final hit determines the punt direction.
The overall approach is relatively simple. The players that have the skull attached to them just have to move to the side of the projection, the DPS wait until the skull is in position, and then kill it. After three successful hits the phase is done.
Unfortunately there’s other stuff going on. In the “Mob Spawn Area” the group has to deal with some mobs and survive AoE attacks with undodgeable damage and CC. While the AoE is merely annoying, you actually have to watch out that your attacks do not kill the skull too early. It certainly helps to have strong healers and tanks around that can kite and outheal the mobs so the DPS can concentrate on the skull. Additionally players get occasionally grabbed by a hand known from Valindra and Tomb fights and have to be freed.
Usually well organized groups have no issue dealing with this phase. In case you have really trigger happy DPS around, it might help to move the full group to on of the four corners. Whoever gets the skull then moves with one or two DPS in position and handles the mechanic, while the rest of the group fights or kite the mobs away from the punting action.
After phase I, the group has to defeat additional waves of mobs before Acererak sends the elevator into a free fall. This phase is actually pretty similar to the skull punting one. This time however players do not get attached to a skull, but a Gelatinous Cube. The cubes have to be used to glue the eight gears, and stop the fall. One Cube in the right position is able to hit two gears, meaning that you ideally only need four to succeed. The phase is timed, and if you’re not fast enough, the trial will fail.
The issues and approach matches the one of phase I. If you have the Cube, move into position, wait until the Cube is there, and then kill with the group. In a potent team the cubes do not deal too much damage, so it should be possible to just stay in position. Some players tend to overreact and dodge all over the place when they have the Cube. This only leads to it being killed out of position. The cubes also die even faster than the skulls, and spawn with other mobs. DPS really have to be careful not to kill them too early. Last but not least, communicate whether you pull cubes to the corners or the platform openings. As shown in the picture you can hit two gears at once in both positions, but have to be on the same page to not waste any cubes.
If you have trouble pulling this phase off, once again moving to a corner makes tons of sense. This has multiple benefits. First of all, it prevents that your DPS just accidentally kill cubes in the “Mob Spawn Area”. Second, the player that stands closest to the middle of the platform always gets the Cube. While the group stands in the corner, someone can be the designated Cube puller, pick it up in the middle, and bring it in position. What you can also do is always move as full group to the next glue position. Start bottom left or wherever, wait until the first Cube spawns and is in position, kill it, and then continue clockwise.
The first two phases in the elevator are all about smart DPS. If you fail here, it’s because some button masher didn’t pay attention. Remember that these phases are not about gunning down mobs, but bringing the skull and cubes into position. So trust your tanks and healers, and don’t overkill. Not solely going for the paingiver is also important since someone has to kill the skull and cubes once in position. I’ve often seen DPS that mindlessly slay mobs in the middle while some buffers try to deal with the actual mechanics. In case you have a new or somewhat stupid group, try to assign roles before the fight. This usually shouldn’t be necessary if everyone knows the mechanics, but can’t hurt.
After beating the elevator phases the group finds themselves in the boss arena where they have to cut eight cords to advance. You should move as a full group from cord to cord and kill them together. Strong teams can even ignore the adds that spawn, but be aware that the ogres can push you off the platform. Since the phase immediately ends when all eight cords are killed, it’s not mandatory to deal with the adds. But if you get overwhelmed you might want to take a safe approach and kill them in between.
Depending on your DPS you may also need to kill the Souls that spawn. It’s a mechanic similar to the Ras Nsi one. Occasionally the group takes unavoidable damage that’s based on the number of Souls that are alive. Most groups I’m in simply ignore this mechanic however, because we kill the cords before the “annihilation” triggers for the first time.
Make sure to watch our for grabbing hands in this phase as well. While rushing from cord to cord it’s insanely annoying if you leave members behind that get grabbed. Your DPS have to be smart once again and pay attention, not just mindlessly sprint to the cords. Always stay together as a group unless you have a really experienced team that knows what its doing.
The last phase starts with a lengthy cut-scene that cannot be skipped. This not only gets annoying after a few runs, but also actually becomes even more of a pain when somebody died right before completing the cord phase. As stated above, the phase immediately ends on cutting the last cord. If players are down at that point, nobody will be able to revive them because of the cut-scene. So it makes sense to at least check your own party before killing the last cord.
Then the group finally faces the main boss. The Atropal spawns in the middle of a round platform and throws a plethora of mechanics and attacks towards players. Instead of giving step by step advise, let’s just go through all of them and see how you should deal with every single one.
Occasionally the Atropal will swipe at the full group with his hand. It’s a lengthy build-up where he smashes his hand on the platform first and then takes the swipe. It knocks you over and in case you stand at the edge of the platform actually can push you off, but that’s rare. The damage is manageable.
Sometimes the outer or inner rim of the platform will be covered in red and after a few seconds dish out moderate damage. In a potent team this can be ignored. I’ve not seen groups yet that really try to move back and forth, but I guess that’s what you should do if necessary.
There are generally two types of telegraphed round AoEs happening during the fight. The first one usually affects three to five members of the group and has a smaller radius. After a few seconds the Atropal “spits” at the targeted area and deals high damage. Good groups can just pull through here, but it’s safe to dodge them just in case.
The second type of AoEs is much more dangerous. It has a larger radius and looks like the “ice spike” ones of Svardborg. After a few seconds, the AoE pops and leaves behind sort of a blue curly area that debuffs everything in it. So these AoEs should be brought away from the group just like the ones in Svardborg.
At about 25% health of the Atropal, Acererak spawns at a random location on the platform and has to be killed as fast as possible. If you fail to kill him before his “Soulmonger Charge” is full, you’re dead. Otherwise a yellow bubble appears and the group has to huddle under it. This is similar to what happens before the last phase in Svardborg after you’ve killed the two Manticores. Just stay in the marked area and you’ll live.
I’m not sure how it’s called in this one to be honest, but it works just like Hypthermia did in Module 10. A random member of the group is targeted and after a few seconds gets hit with a flurry of lethal damage. Nearby teammates however take a share of the damage as well, so all you need to do is group up. Since you technically shouldn’t be scattered around, this shouldn’t be as much of a deal.
Another well known mechanic from earlier dungeons and earlier phases in the Cradle is the grabbing hand. Random members are grabbed and have to be freed. If your group fights nearby, this usually happens as side effect of the AoEs that the group dishes out, but make sure to announce the hand in queue chat and pay attention to your surroundings.
Here comes the fun! During several times of the fight, the Atropal sinks into its hole and initiates a pull/push skill test. For roughly four seconds, you first get pulled towards the Atropal. Then there’s a tiny pause before the boss pushes you into the other direction. It’s hard to graph how to deal with this mechanic to be honest. The overall approach is to position yourself at the outside edge of the platform and move against the pull. Count to four, do a 180 and in the tiny pause you have to get as close to the inner edge of the platform as possible to not get blown off by the push. The devs already nerfed the severity of the pull and push and it’s very manageable now. You still need some training and this is where teams struggle the most.
Also there’s a random chance that a team member is getting grabbed by the hand right before the pull/push. That’s basically game over for the unlucky one unless someone is in range to one-hit the hand. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s just bad luck.