The undead halls of the Ascalonian catacombs are steeped in rich human history, and are the first dungeon encounter for most players in Guild Wars 2. Success in this dark collection of long hallways and dangerous rooms requires a product of two main components. This guide will allow all players to understand the strategies requires and the skills needed to overcome the Graveling horrors awaiting in the explorable version of the catacombs.
Firstly, the basics of any team is to have 5 equipment ready, level 35+ players. Once partied, elements like third party voice and assigning a leader will greatly raise success rates. Voice contact allows quick updates between all players in an ever changing environment, and a leader can command players to focus and motivation through the challenges. Note that there is no formal leader function applicable in game.
With the team ready for combat, simply have your leader step through the portal for an Ascalon Explorable challenge, and let the other members accept an invitation into the dungeon. This should be done from the entrance within the Plains of Ashford.
Key skills required for the entirety of the challenge will be an ability to watch enemy animations and dodge accordingly, teamwork at all stages, always having an eye on dangers other than the enemy targeted and a patience to reduce panicked play. Other required elements will be a variety of unlocked utility skills for the purposes of supporting a teams survival, interrupting enemy charge attacks, removing conditions from self and others, and all out damage. A combination of these throughout a team is necessary for each area.
The initial room is a simple learning step. There are basic traps to be avoided and a Graveling Breeder. Killing it is no hard task if allies are aware of the traps. Don’t let the hatchlings that the enemy breeds overwhelm anyone, but focus the majority of damage on the breeder. Hatchlings will fall to AoE effects, and this is a common theme presented throughout the dungeon. At all times revive teammates if the possible.
After this encounter, teams are faced with a vote for which route to take. Some bosses are common to multiple routes, whilst most are unique per character assisted. Each path requires teamwork and skill, and this guide will allow players to get through any challenge.
No matter the vote, a graveling burrow is created just outside the durmand priory safe camp, at the bottom of the stairs. This should be rushed at by all team members when it has spawned, and brought down as quickly as possible. The hatchlings that unearth are of little consequence, again, and priority is given to the vulnerable burrow. Once defeated, a small room with traps must be traversed carefully.
The Spider Queen
After the traps, you are faced with a tomb filled with spiders and flame-head traps. Awaiting above is a spider queen, ready to descend upon unsuspecting heroes. With proper strategy, no team will struggle here. Here are the priorities to note:
1. Survival in this room is hindered by two main components. The spider hatchlings are fragile, but extremely powerful. Bring them down as a group immediately. A guardians wall of reflection is superb at clearing a room full of these, and should be saved for a large drop of hatchlings that a team is not ready for. With all spiders ended, clear each flame head from the walls 1 by 1. These are a minor threat, but force players to use endurance at times when it is in high demand.
2. The second great danger is the spider queens poison clouds. Key counters are dodging away from the visual red rings and removing the long lasting poison stack if dodging is late. With this in check, damage is completely minimised, and teams can concentrate on slaying the queen.
The Kill Zone
The next corridor has two main parts. A group of powerful gravelings, and loads of deadly traps. They should be overcome separately. To manage this simply, you should pull the enemy group down away from the traps and use the entranceway to trap them in a chokepoint. AoE attacks are vital, as well as movement snares. With that in mind, proper target priority is given in this order:
1. Graveling scavengers must be killed first. There are two and each one will perform a chargable leap attack, that knocks players down and proceeds to rend them apart. Interupting and dodging is the safest way of dealing with this.
2. With the scavengers dead, you are free to target the breeder. No surprises here, as players will ignore hatchlings and proceed to destroy the breeder quickly. Having interrupts available upon his spawning channel ability throughout the fight will simplify the hatchling problem.
3. The howler is very tough in terms of survivability, but extremely low on killing power. He is saved for last and should prove no threat against a ready team of 5 players alone.
A Wild Troll Appears
At any point from now a champion troll may appear as a bonus. Simply avoid the huge point blank area of effect smash he performs, by watching for his charging animation, and he will be brought down through attrition. Keep distance from him to maximise safety.
The traps in the corrider are simple enough to overcome: stack up all 5 players together, wait for the opening provided, and rush the top as a unit. Each player will run to the top, some taking near fatal damage, but at least one will make it to the deactivation chains just outside the corridor on the left side. Leave a few paces between each player if possible to guarantuee each trap hits only one player. With the traps now down, teammates will revive and clear the flame-heads with no problems.
This enemy is the bane of unorganised groups. Attempt to pull him away from his lackies by bringing the fight to the lower area, near the chain that deactivates the traps. His grab attack will destroy an entire team and must be dodged at all costs. Take note of the large charge up time involved before he throws each hook; its vital that you see this and dodge at the appropriate time (not too early). To ease this, abilities that block are extremely useful, especially party wide ones like “Retreat” or Virtue of Courage. It also requires line of sight, and so columns can be used as a natural defence. If your team is to be prepared for this attack, then next you must be ready to deal with his leaping melee attacks. This is most easily countered by spammable immobilises at key times. Simply be consistent in avoiding death, and victory is assured eventually. Clear the 2 lackies afterwards; this should pose very little problem.
Additionally, if a cave troll is spawned, teams can use him to fight against the Lieutenant. The cave troll will win even a 3v1, and then teams can clear the troll afterwards to save on difficulty.
The first task of Hodgins’ route is his most challenging. Note that Leiutenant Kohler can be avoided for this route, but it is recommended that teams clear him anyway. The initial flame trapped stairs are a minor inconvenience; but the bottom of these stairs will prove useful almost immediately. For inexperienced groups it is recommended that you enter the room with Hodgins, let him begin his event alone, and retreat to the bottom of the stairs. Here you must survive for 20 seconds, whilst watching the event unfold to its failure. This is a quick learning experience, but also allows you to explore the challenge area unhindered. Simply avoid resurrecting hodgins til the team is ready.
The objective here is to kill 6 graveling burrows. They spawn in 2 chains of 3, so that when you kill 1, another will spawn; when you kill that another will spawn. After killing that one you have executed one chain completely, leaving only one chain of three burrows left. This strategy takes advantage of that fact. Firstly we split the team into two parts: defence and offence. 2 players comprise a defensive squad, that should be able to debilitate entire areas frequently, apply healing to allies, and have strong area of effect damage. The other 3 are designed for destroying burrows, as an attack team, and will have extremely high damage abilities like Hundred Blades or Meteor Shower. With these two squads pre-ordained, the strategy is such, with respect to the diagram:
1. All 5 members group at burrow 1, ready to nuke it as quickly as possible. With enough speed, it can be destroyed before anything significant appears. The task is to beat the Breeder to its spawn. If your team is not quick enough to kill the burrow before the Breeder spawns, then as 5 again you must kill the breeder. 1 of the defence team must be ready to remove hatchling agro from Hodgins if he starts to take heavy damage. For this we are ignoring the burrow numbered 4; it spawns weak enemies consistently throughout, and is simple to ignore for the first phase.
2. At this point there should be the central burrow number 4, and a back burrow in a cave number 2. The attack team rushes this burrow , solely intent on killing it and nothing else. The defence team is at hodgins, reducing his damage taken, and clearing the area of hatchlings. It is imperitave they survive, but clearly hodgins life is more important in the grand scheme. When the second burrow is killed, the attack team rushes through the centre to burrow 3, killing it. Speed buffs are advised throughout this section to keep the attack team mobile.
3. Kill burrow 3, defend hodgins and you are left with the minor issue of only one burrow. Clear the hatchlings and any of the rarer gravelings, then kill the burrow number 4. Be ready to chase number 5, and be wary of the 2 scavengers that spawn. Their leap attacks are extremely dangerous and pose a serious threat to the group. Kill the burrow as a group of 5 if appropriate, and after its death let the defence team clear hodgins still, and have attack team kill burrow 5. Defence team must adapt and assist at all times if hodgins is clear; they must not wait for enemies to come to hodgins when damage can be used on newly spawned enemies and burrows.
4. Finally and obviously, the event is succeeded as soon as burrow 6 reaches 0 hp, no matter any other situation. This assumes hodgins has survived. Congratulations on beating the most difficult part of this route.
Once the room is cleared, take chest rewards and dungeon objectives, then ascend back through the stairs of fire, past the trap-chain, and into the side area in the west. Here be wary of any spawns, and deal with them by letting 1 player go ahead at all times, falling back to the team when anything spawns around him. Using this simple strategy should work against any group. Pull graveling enemies as far as you can, about 15 metres or so, so that they trickle in bit by bit, and separated. Prioritise less elite enemies first, leaving golden enemies for last as always.
This next section is remarkably easy if done using this strategy. Initially there are 2 groups of 2 scavengers that must be dealt with. They spawn from invisibility, so you must pull them to the bottom of the stairs to separate them. Nuke each one, one by one only. Enter the next room.
The challenge here is to grab items off the ground, 5 in total. Enemy patrols hinder progress, but are not essential to be killed. Again we take advantage, as we plan on ninja-grabbing each item without performing any more combat. By waiting for scavengers to pass, and using dodges and defensive utility spells, teams can run into a group, grab the artifact, and retreat to de-agro enemies. Using this method you can make progress bit by bit, clearing the room of items within 5 minutes. The priority is to take the item, and then escape with your life. Guardian staff 5 can be used from distance to keep enemies off teammates, and mist form and stealth can be used for survival. Follow hodgins route to the underground complex.
Labrynth to the patriarch
This section is completed through slow and steady pushing. Pull a group away, nuke it all down, and continue on bit by bit till your team is into the main chamber. Careful of traps, and choose to kill silver enemies before golden ones. Remember to beware of scavenger leaps. In the final chamber, pull individual breeders one by one to your team, killing them safely. Eventually you will be left with a single breeder at the far side of the room. This can be ignored; pulling this one safely from the patriarch can be too tricky, and can instead be avoided during all combat.
The Howling King
The howling king has 3 main abilities. He can burrow, to dodge all attacks. When emerging, he damages all teammates, so steps must be taken to avoid his proximity when underground. His second main ability is to channel a spawn spew similar to any breeder. The subtle difference is he may spawn large enemies rather than just hatchlings: these must be killed before continueing to damage the boss.
His final ability is extremely dangerous. It is a conal attack known as spirit scream, that must be dodged at all costs. Its highly damaging, and if you survive you will suffer confusion condition. Try to watch for its distinct animation, and avoid being in front of him at all times. If your team can stay spread out, then you reduce the risk of multiple party members being downed by a single scream. If anyone goes down, resurrect them immediately.
Avoiding damage and killing his additional spawns, eventually you will give enough damage to end him, and the rewards are yours.
The charr woman has awful voice acting, but her route is not so challenging if dealt with properly. The route becomes unique after killing the Lieutenant, where you must take the eastern wing corridor southwards. In this location spiders spawn, and must be grouped and dealt with quickly to avoid deaths. There are minor traps on the way so be patient. Be wary of graveling patrols.
Room of Pits
This next challenge is easy if done properly, and is extremely quick. Simply spread your team into 2, a tanking team of 2 players, and 3 players who will each take a group of trap chains for themselves. The idea is that the tanking team will stand in the trapped area, holding the attention of the enemies that swarm in, whilst their teammates behind them will pull the traps up, killing everything that approaches. 20 successful seconds of this awards you victory. The 3 players who are taking the chains should split appropriately: 1 takes top left, 1 top right, and the final will take the central chains. The side chains come in pairs; the central chain is alone. Tanking team should bring wards, blocks, and any other survivability. Careful when the event ends, as enemies take time to despawn, and the traps no longer work. Stick together and stay alive until the area is clear.
Waypoint back to the centre. Finish the enemies in the corridors up to the final room Hall of Champions. Patience and pulling will be necessary here. Don’t agro too many enemies at a time.
This area is difficult and you may incur deaths without good teamwork. For this task you must defend Detha whilst she fixes cannons for the boss fight. Every time detha fixes the cannons by about 30%, new ghosts spawn and charge her. Prioritise the monks and rangers most highly, then necromancers. Finally elementalists must be killed along with mesmers. Warriors lastly, making sure that any that spawn are kept away from squishy casters using snares. Solid teamwork and targeting will allow a team to neutralise enemies one by one, till victory. If anyone is downed, decide whether to kill a low enemy for the rally, or revive in the normal way. Necromancer area denials should be avoided at all costs. This challenge will be overcome eventually, using basic attrition.
This boss is the easiest of the final 3. He spawns oozes irregularly, that are mostly benign. Concentrate damage on the boss, take out oozes when necessary, dodge his burrow attacks and the fight will be won within minutes.
This route requires teams to have high DPS. Without strong damage output, areas will be impossible to progress through. This guide picks up after killing the Lieutenant.
Beware of traps in the eastern corridor, and watch out for spider spawns. Neither of these should be too dangerous. Be wary of graveling patrols. Players should wait before the corridor entrance to the crypt, and have one player pull a set of ghost spawns. If done properly, they can be defeated one by one. No attempt should be made to kill all 4 at the same time, unless the team is extremely confident. As a note, any troll spawn at this time can be used to attack the ghosts as well as players, so leaving him to finish enemy ghosts can be safest. Careful when entering, as the event will start almost immediately.
The Lovers Spawns
In this section you are faced with the task of defending two asuran beacons. Here we use the old mantra “offense is the best defence”. Key skills to use are pure damage abilities like hundred blades and meteor shower. Utilities should provide might, fury, swiftness and quickness. Fire fields and blast combinations will give all teammates stacks of might, which can be vital. When the event begins, simply nuke each burrow as quickly as possible. A new one spawns every 10 seconds, and so teams must be able to kill a burrow within 8. This is extremely possible with the right setup, and can be accomplished in as low as 2 seconds. Killing a burrow, and continuing to the next when available allows highly damaging teams to keep up with every burrow spawn, and clear the entire area of enemies for several seconds even during the event. Spare time should be used against larger spawns like breeders and gravelings. A single player needs to be elected to agro spare enemies away from the beacons if any are left by the team. This player will draw its attention, and bring it back to the groups damage.
If you succeed proceed to the hall of champions through basic spider enemies. Exit the lovers crypt through the north exit. Teams that fail may simply try again at the cost of armour repairs.
Hall of Champions’ Burrows
This area is simple with the right strategy. Again teams are required to provide high damage to burrows. The strategy is to stack all 5 players near the burrow (but not too close to enemies), provide might and swiftness buffs synchronisically, and storm the burrow. Here teams will destroy the burrow, not attempting to hurt any enemies, and retreat out away. With the burrow dead, teams are free to retreat, and de agro. With this method all 4 burrows can be killed using as little time as possible. The key is to kill the burrow safely and quickly and get out before players start dieing.
This boss and even the area he is in requires similar tactics to the howling king. Refer to that for how to clear the area around him.
The strongest distinction is that his sonic scream is extraordinarily more wide, and will hit a cone of players larger than 180 degrees in front of him. To avoid this, attempt to dodge through him, to his back, when he screams. His second ability will cause the ceiling to collapse on you. If hit you are stunned for 3-5 seconds. A stun break is recommended. Lastly the graveling boss can burrow, and unburrow for aoe damage around him. Do everything you can to avoid the scream, and maintain damage. He will be defeated eventually if players are not defeated. Any players that are must waypoint nearby and continue on.
Guide is finished, let me know about mistakes and constructive criticism. Let me know if this guide helped you.