The Rogues had finally returned to Act 2 for the third time, and it was not an experience that I was particuarly looking forward to. This act was full of Fire Immune enemies that would take forever for the Rogues to kill, and Greater Mummies all over the place in the Tombs. Slog city, in other words. For that matter, Act Two is also the largest act in terms of size by a fairly wide margin, at least for a group full-clearing like the Rogues. This could take a while. Of course, little did we know at the time that the most difficult battle wouldn't involve Fire Immune enemies at all...
First goal, as always was to head down into the Sewers. There were plenty of nasty bosses down there waiting for the Rogues:
This was one Sand Raider boss we came across, whose Teleportation was actually the most dangerous ability. Spine Horn tele-killed several Rogues in the course of this battle, which dragged out forever due to his Fire Immunity. The most dangerous monsters in the Sewers, however, were our old friends the Burning Dead Archers. I have hardly any pictures of them though because I was too busy dodging arrows to stay alive.
Another Sand Raider boss, with this picture being a good illustration of solid Rogue teamwork. Once we got a boss into this position, they weren't going anywhere. The other noteworthy event on this evening was that Jaffa did a blind teleport into where we could see the stairs on the minimap - and found himself inside a double boss pack. We had a good chuckle over that one, and it explains the naked Rogue above.
We were missing Jaffa and Erick for the next session, so instead of going down to kill Radament, we headed out into the desert to clear some more areas. Rogues cleared the first two desert areas without too many problems, aside from a massive clump of multiple boss packs just outside the Lut Gholein entrance (no pictures of that mess!) The Stony Tomb was packed with bosses and took quite some time to clear out, but the Halls of the Dead were much worse, full of Hollow One bosses:
This picture might not look spectacular, but this was at the tail end of a battle after we had killed all of the undead skeletons (through freezing them), then killed all of the Hollow One minions, then all of the Hollow One CHAMPS that were in the area, then finally the boss himself. All told, it was about seven Greater Mummies all clumped in the small hall you can see here. Took a good 15-20 minutes to advance two dozen steps.
It took the Rogues over an hour to clear Halls of the Dead Level One (and it was NOT a very large level). Then we headed down to the second level, which was even worse. Virtually every single enemy was a boss or minion of some kind, highlighted most spectacularly by an Extra Fast/Lightning Enchanted mummy boss who was killing Rogues before they could even see him on the screen. We cleared up to the waypoint and stopped there with fully half the level still left to go, as we were already 30 minutes over time for the session.
The next session the Rogues had a much more favorable drawn in the Halls of the Dead, not nearly so many bosses. Having Erick on hand for additional freezing was another big help. Down on level 3, there were some more bosses:
One of many different bosses to be faced on this night; dangerous due to being Cursed, but really nothing special for Hell. One thing that I will mention from this shot is the presence of a fire burning in the middle of the room underneath some of Jaffa's Hydras. Here's a clearer shot of that fire from one of Sirian's pictures:
So what's the deal with this fire? Well, there were a lot of mummies on this level, who have a rather nasty poison attack that drained Rogue health from full to zero almost instantly. Svava got hit by one of these attacks, and I pulled her back to safety away from our front line, but kept on firing away at the enemies. What I didn't realize was that Svava was standing in the fire. Umm, whoops.
Needless to say, this was not my proudest Diablo II moment. There was much laughter and good-natured taunting over the TeamSpeak server that night. Is this worse than Cy getting killed by a Stygian Watcher in the original Elemental Strike Team? If so, I may have inadvertently set a new benchmark in the Realms Beyond annals. Yes boys and girls, with practice you too can be this talented.
Anyway, getting back to the story... On this particular night, we finished clearing the Halls of the Dead, then cleared the Far Oasis up to the waypoint. Since everyone was present, it was then back to the Sewers to take care of Radament. Sewers 3 was loaded with bosses. Absolutely packed with them, easily seven or eight bosses just on that level. I've pulled out a couple of the best pictures to display here:
I pasted the boss' stats into that picture just so I could keep the original with that great comment. Needless to say, our fights frequently turned into long slogging through endless waves of enemies. The only way to make sure these mummies would stay dead was to freeze them, and so that's pretty much all Erick and I were doing. Increasingly, we also found we had to freeze anything that wasn't Cold Immune just to help keep the team alive.
As just mentioned, Sewers 3 had tons of bosses but fortunately we found a loop in the level that allowed the Rogues to make endless circles and keep on the move. Death count was fairly high, but progress was relatively fast (for the Rogues, it was almost speedy). Radament's minions were lured out and frozen one by one, then we went back for the boss himself:
It was anti-climactic to say the least. Radament put up almost no fight at all and the Rogues were soon walking away with their own Books of Skill (and could finally tell Atma to shut up, hehe). Next session, we returned to the Far Oasis and cleared out the rest of it, then descended into the cramped spaces of the Maggot Hole. The Rogues all use bows and have the Teleport ability, but the narrow tunnels still provide plenty of problems for them. Having beetles all over the place certainly didn't make things any easier.
OK, there's a boss at the end of that hall, and the rest of the Rogues are back at a safe distance firing away at him (we'll have to try something else when 4-dotting!). I think it's Erick up there next to the beetle, but not certain on that. Well, old Devil Jade got it in his mind to snack on some Rogues, and he went through the line of sisters like they weren't even there. Killed four Rogues right down the tunnel before the rest of them could Teleport to safety. Here's the aftermath:
"There be Rogues bodies here." We did take him out shortly thereafter, but I hadn't seen anything walk down a tunnel almost casually killing everything in its path before. Wow. Level Two wasn't so bad, but Level Three had several more beetle boss packs, the worst of which consisted of two beetles parked together.
Less than 30 seconds later, we've already lost two Rogues and here comes the other boss!
We ended up scattering in several directions to save our own skins, but then were able to regroup and take this boss down. Knockback bows were a lifesaver, as always. Prevent Monster Heal was even more of a necessity; the Rogues had been making liberal usage of PMH weapons throughout Hell, and it was essentially impossible to kill anything without tagging it first. Freezing the beetles prevents them from sparking, so Erick and I were doing a lot of that too. Overall the team was playing very well, even in these difficult circumstances.
There was no way that the Rogues could keep up with Coldworm's breeding, so we simply sat back outside of her room and fired endlessly at the gigantic fatso. Dathon's Meteors were also extremely helpful here. Although this could have been a nightmarish battle, Coldworm's weakness to fire made it manageable. With the Maggot Hole cleared, we were able to finish with a full clear of the Lost City, where the huge hordes of zombies inspired "Night of the Living Dead" comments. Good teamwork throughout the night.
The next session did not get off to an inauspicious start, with server problems kicking us out of the game and delaying the start of a second one by almost 30 minutes. From there, we went on to the Ancient Tunnels, which were packed with no fewer than nine boss packs. NINE! And the Ancient Tunnels are not a particularly large area either. Needless to say, we ran into some problems. Here was the minimap showing some of those issues:
We had bosses running around everywhere, bodies all over the place, and it looked like we had totally lost the level. Then someone realized that all that dying had cleared the original stairs, so we regrouped there and slowly managed to start clearing the level. Once we had some room to work with, the fighting became much easier. Here was probably the nastiest boss:
Lightning Enchanted with a Fanaticism aura to boot definitely spelled trouble, and Night Ripper was also Immune to Fire. This was a tough boss, putting many Rogues on the floor. With much difficulty, the level was cleared after roughly an hour and a half of effort. From there, the Rogues headed into the Claw Viper Temple to try and clear at least the first level in the remaining time in the session. Unfortunately, the draw was simply unplayable, tons of enemies right by the door, and worst of all, full of Immune to Cold skeletons who couldn't be frozen that the Great Mummies kept reviving. All of the Rogues were killed in short order, and despite valiant efforts to reset on some safe ground, the effort simply proved to be impossible. We ended up stopping early for the night, with many bodies still on the ground. Millions of experience points lost by the team on this night.
Well, things can't get any worse from there, right? Little did we know what the Claw Viper Temple had in store for us in our next session...