Last month’s searches included someone looking for Lady Grey porn. This struck me as odd. I have never had fantasies about the head of CoX’s Vanguard. Maybe folks are going for the schoolmarm/librarian, “take your hair out of that bun and let loose” thing, or maybe it is because she can summon tentacles.
I developed a different sort of fondness for her running her task force recently. I decided that I sold it short in my previous discussion of Issue 10, so I want to discuss the awesome fun. The task force uses interesting new concepts to make otherwise standard content interesting and rewarding. Spoilers abound below the fold.
First, this is the only joint task force/strike force. You can take both heroes and villains. This allows interesting power set combinations, and all your friends can bring all their favorite toys. Downside one: if you have both sides, you cannot leave the zone without leaving the task force. Downside two: you cannot give items and inspirations between sides, so no trading and bring your own Awakens. It can hurt being the only hero or villain on a LGTF.
Because of this, it is a one-zone task force. You will not be running across all creation. That makes things far more convenient.
It is also the only task force for which you can sidekick up to the minimum level. Bring four 50s and any four other people who can get into the zone. Obviously, higher levels are good things.
The task force has five missions, each with something of interest. They are, however, long missions, so this is still more than an hour’s venture, more like two to three. You cannot just zip to the end of each mission, because of (1) objectives that prevent it or (2) Advanced Drones that see through stealth.
I will repeat the “something of interest,” because otherwise the missions are just more Rikti. Each of these is a “take on the Rikti” mission, so the task force needs something to keep that from becoming Citadel’s “run the same Council mission seven times” task force. LGTF delivers.
The story is all about the Rikti trying to re-open the portal to their dimension. We learn in a story arc that the Rikti have no mu-descendants on their Earth, so they have no mages. When the Omega Team shut down the Rikti portal from the other side, they sent magic heroes through to keep it locked. Someone must have failed that story arc at some point, because Issue 10 brought us bigger and badder Rikti magi, who you will see if you do the ship raid. Now the Rikti are making serious efforts to re-open that portal from our side.
Their first trick is kidnapping Penelope Yin, who you may remember from Faultline. She is an adolescent girl and the most powerful psychic in the world. The Rikti like psionics, so she is a good power source for opening their portals. Fight your way through the Rikti to save her. Are you ready for the twist? The Clockwork King had the same idea. As I mentioned earlier, he somehow powerleveled his way to level 50, and now you need to take him down before he wipes out all organic life on the planet. But hey, he had the best of intentions.
The other new thing you will see by now is the Rikti tile set, although that is not new if you have done the Issue 10 story arcs. It will appear in most of the task force, and it integrates well with other tile sets. You will see the extent of the Rikti infiltration with the way that tile sets bleed into one another. You fight in the sewers, go through a break in the wall, and climb into a Rikti base. One map might use four tile sets all linked together.
Head into those sewers (and then a Rikti base) for the second mission, against the Riders of the Apocalypse. Fight one, then two, then three, then all four: this can be a bit surprising for teammates who ask, “Didn’t we just beat War?” Good practice, let’s do it again. These use the new Rikti elite boss model, with special bonus powers on each rider. Always take out Famine first, because he is the super-Sapper with a fear aura. These are interesting new bosses to fight, and they are collectively more difficult than most archvillains.
The Riders are not part of re-opening the portal. They are the first big bads to sneak through the cracks in the opening. Keeping these things out is a good idea.
The third mission is the least interesting. Off we go to rescue psychics who are scattered about a large map. Are you ready for this twist? There are also two survivors from the Omega team. You need to rescue them and escort them out. You will first meet Infernia, a Fire Blaster, who is almost universally known as “that chatty bitch.” She has eighteen lines to get through before she will start moving. Your team is two groups of enemies down, chewing through them, and she is wondering how her old apartment is. Then she leaps into the attack, as Blasters do, but you can eventually drag her to the doorway. Her sister, Glacia, is a much less chatty Ice Corruptor. Hey, heroes and villains, together again!
Many people free the sisters and have them suicide on the enemy. You fail the mission but not the task force. Frankly, that can be difficult and time consuming, what with the (1) getting to them past Drones and (2) clearing the enemies around them without your full team. If you save everyone, you get to fight Dra’Gon, a new Rikti archvillain. In a less shocking turn of events, he has fire powers.
This “psychic” thing is not working out for anyone, is it? Okay, new plan for the Rikti: let’s use the Hamidon as a power source. Heck, why aren’t we using that instead of the Terra Volta reactor in Paragon City? Anyway, the Rikti have pylons set up to weaken and contain the meanest thing in the game. You can chew through the Rikti as easily as usual, and now you just have the Hamidon. Which normally takes 50 people several hours with multiple team wipes.
Wait, this is the Weakened Hamidon. You can take him out with one group. Hami and all his Mitos are toned down, and he will not resummon them. Proceed as if this were a very small Hamidon raid: hit the yellows (melee), then the blues (range), then the greens (hold then anything). The attacks suppress healing, so be prepared to get out. And then Hami, who is still fairly mean as an elite boss with an AE blast/stun/knockdown. And you win.
Bonus fun: have an ambitious/suicidal Tanker taunt the Rikti through Hami. The two groups will fight each other if you let them. Expect the Hamidon to win pretty easily, but at least the Pylons will be clear.
On to the final mission! As is always the case in these games, your attempts to stop the enemy have done jack. The Rikti are about to open the portal anyway. Crap, why didn’t we just assault the main base to begin with? Oh, you did accomplish something, as this is just one portal for a little while, rather than unleashing Hell on Earth. They are forcing it open just enough to slip their most powerful warrior through. Whew, good thing we rescued all those psychics, or we might not have seen that coming. We must stop them from bringing in The Honoree!
Step in, and … why does the mission bar say to stop The Honoree? Ruh roh, we may be a bit late. We also need to take out the portal generators and Hro’Dtohz, the leader of the Rikti war effort on Earth.
The first floor of the last mission is great. There are bodies everywhere. One fellow is doing the standard action movie, “Tell Lady Grey we made her proud” speech as he bleeds to death. If you looked around the Weakened Hamidon’s waterfall, you might have noticed a similar spray of bodies from the Devouring Earth giant monsters.
Take the elevators, and the map is huge. This is why they need so many tile sets: it keeps going and going. And then it changes tiles sets again and goes some more. This thing is huge. If you have someone with teleport who can survive the run, you could save a half-hour by sending him to the end. Phase Shift, several stacked invisibilities, or massive hit points are your friends.
Ah, there is Hro’Dtohz, twenty feet tall and surrounded by minions. Pull him, beat him down: he is a pretty standard archvillain. When he is almost dead, however, they breach the portal. In comes the final plot twist! Are you ready? Can you stand it? The anticipation is killing me! It’s Hero One! (Anagram it.) The Rikti-fied Hero One has come back to conquer Earth for his new puppetmasters. Ouch. Psychic energy melee tank with a nasty tier nine defensive ability.
This is why you pulled Hro’Dtohz instead of fighting him there. You do not want all that at once. Pull the Honoree too, since he stands in the midst of several spawns. Except for the difficulty of dealing damage when he is mostly-phased (the team leader gets a power to cut through that from mini-Hami), he is another mostly standard archvillain. Of course, if he gets Excalibur back from Ms. Liberty, you are all going to die, so stop him here.
Now you take out the portal generators. Do not get them first: they spawn ambushes. Lots of ambushes. Basically, you regroup after the AVs then try to take out all four before massive waves of Rikti take out all the sidekicks.
I will now reveal to you the secret stash in the Lady Grey Task Force. Consider it your reward for reading all the way to the end. Deal at least one point of damage to the giant portals in the first and last missions before taking out the portal generators. If you do so, you get full credit for defeating them, each worth about 2.5 times the mission-complete bonus the last time I checked. They are not targetable enemies, however, so you will need a PBAE attack or something that targets the ground. I like to use Caltrops, but a damage aura works very nicely.
The entire task force is great experience. The last time I ran it, I started at 47.8 (SK to 49) and ended at 48.9. More than a full level is not bad for one task force, especially since these are the last levels. The portals that Communications Officers summon are a great source of experience throughout the missions. Let them summon, take out the portals, and harvest experience. I use “/bind v targetname portal” to spot them in large groups of enemies.
Other benefits: the Zookeeper badge for 1000 Rikti Monkeys (you can get 100+ as you carve through) and Vanguard Merits for defeating Rikti and completing Vanguard missions. With level 50+ enemies, you also get valuable recipes, the occasional interesting rare one, and a chance at the purple ultra-rares. Sadly, all the salvage is tech rather than magic, but it can’t hurt.
As a bonus, this is what spawns the zone invasions that are needed for the Watchman accolade (which unlocks Rikti weapon customizations). A zone somewhere will get hit when you complete the last mission. Go quickly if you need bombs.
For five missions worth of “fight the Rikti,” there is a great variety of things to see and do. See the Witty Librarian’s write-up with pictures here. Lady Grey: your source for fun, experience, and tentacle porn.
The tentacle porn is not in-game (yet), but there must be fan fiction. I’m not going to Google for it.