On the release day of Module 11: The Cloaked Ascendancy we wrap up our preview coverage with the Illusionist’s Gambit skirmish. We will bring Spellplague Caverns impressions to you guys later in the module as well, but since it’s not going to be available at launch let’s focus on the stuff that you can actually do!
The setup of the new skirmish is pretty simple. Teams that enter have to fight through groups of randomized mobs or bosses in a randomized environment and face randomized additional challenges. No run will be like another, visually and gameplay-wise. It’s a setup that focuses on variety and fun and not so much on challenge (there’s already a video of a GWF soloing). But it’s a skirmish anyway, it’s not supposed to be super hard. Our advise would still be to do the first runs with a premade team.
As you can see in the video of northside, there’s tons of different stuff going on. Fire and ice on the floor, Orcus’ spheres and much more! It’s really fun to go through all the different mechanics, but the effect probably will wear off over time. The devs didn’t limit the innovative design to the arena though. If players die, they have to work their way back through a Protobello-ish course. Prepare to get pushed off the ramp!
For three reasons the skirmish is directly related to Underdark content. As you might remember the devs tried something in Underdark called “replayability”. The feature that entertained more variety in group content was a failure and ended up being just two variants of the skirmishes. Cryptic later confirmed that it it never worked. Additionally they implemented reward tiers that would allow underpowered players to still run the content, just with fewer rewards.
Both aspects are getting picked up in Illusionist’s Gambit in a slightly more favorable way. First of all the randomness offers more replayability than the Underdark skirmishes. I don’t think it’s the holy grail, but definitely progress. Additionally groups have to go through three phases with increasing difficulty. After each phase, all members can vote to leave the skirmish, but they will also only get a fraction of the possible rewards. In my eyes that’s way better than the Bronze, Silver and Gold brackets, because reward sizes are consistent with run length. One of the things in Underdark that was mightily annoying was the fact that you couldn’t abandon “broken” runs that had no chance to get the best finish. In Illusionist’s Gambit that’s no longer the case. If the group feels they won’t make it to the end, they can leave the run for at least some rewards.
New Companion Gear
The third reason is the new Companion Gear that is going to drop in the skirmish. It comes with different stats and for all available slots. Just like Underdark you will have to grind out qualities from +1 (rare) to +5 (legendary). At the same time Underdark Rings will no longer proc their effects on Companions, which means most players that specifically chose Ring Slots on their Companions to make use of all those Sudden Rings, might find themselves grinding Illusionist’s Gambit for replacements. Double slotted equipment starts at +4 by the way.
For the endgame the impact will not be huge, but on lower levels Underdark Rings and Companions like the Con Artist definitely were a convenient way to get a viable Bonding pet. On the other hand Ring Slots do no longer hold a clear advantage over others, so the amount of Companions to choose from will definitely grow.
We hope you’ll have fun with the mad wizard and his tricks! In case you have any questions or additions, make sure to post them in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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