The Dark vs. Light event had me running a lot of tactical flashpoints while levelling, and I'm happy to report that on the whole, it's been a pretty smooth experience. When I performed my flashpoint levelling experiment shortly after 4.0, I found that being a healer seemed to help a lot with ensuring any given pug's success, but these past couple of months I've done pretty well even while queuing as tank or dps. That's not to say that there were never any wipes, but those tended to be random screw-ups rather than hard road blocks or any sort of inherent incompetence on part of the player base.
In fact, I got the impression that overall, players have learned to handle tacticals a lot better than they did even a few months ago. Presumably more people have had a chance to get used to how they work and can help their less experienced brethren by making the average run more likely to be successful.
One subject that's been on my mind a lot though is the use of kolto stations on bosses. Again, in most cases there are no issues, but I remember actually getting into an argument with someone in Kuat about how to best utilise them, and since I have a blog (and he presumably doesn't) I get to spread my point of view more widely. Hah!
Basically, there are three core facts to consider about the kolto stations available for boss fights in tacticals:
- Clicking on one casts a big heal on the person doing the clicking and puts an also pretty sizeable heal over time on everyone in the party (assuming they are in the same room, the range is pretty large but not infinite).
- After it's been clicked, the kolto station goes on cooldown for about thirty seconds.
- There is a limited amount of kolto stations available.
From these, three basic consequences arise:
- Since the heal over time gets put on everyone, everyone in the group can use the kolto stations to heal other people.
- However, since the one actually clicking also gets that big heal on top of it, you get the most bang for your buck if the person with the heaviest injuries (which is usually the one with the aggro, whether they are a tank or not) does the clicking.
- Since the kolto stations have a cooldown and there are a limited number of them, it is possible to "mis-use" them by clicking at the wrong time and end up with no option to heal when it's actually needed.
This in turn means that there are basically two things that can go wrong:
From my experience, most deaths and wipes on bosses occur because nobody bothered to click a kolto station at all. Sometimes you'll get people complaining "why didn't you click", but fact of the matter is that nobody is "the healer" (this whole post is working on the assumption that you don't have one, or you wouldn't have to rely on the kolto stations to begin with), so you can't blame any one person for not doing the clicking. If you notice that you have the boss on you and are taking heavy damage, it's best to run for your nearest kolto station at about fifty percent health. For the reasons mentioned above, it's best if you do the clicking yourself.
However, sometimes things can prevent the de facto tank from reaching a station in time, such as when the boss decides to stun or knock them down at a bad moment. If you see that happening and it looks like the injured person won't make it to the console in time, it's OK to click on it even if you're not the one who's the most hurt. Some big bosses also make it really hard to click the kolto stations through their sheer bulk. I remember that on the desert boss in Czerka Core Meltdown I actually had to ask someone else to click for me before, because even though I always had the aggro, the boss's bulk in my face made it impossible for me to actually target the kolto stations even when they were right next to me.
Now, deaths from people being overeager to click are a lot rarer - but they do happen, especially on bosses that have very few kolto stations. Station Guardian One in KDY is a good example, since he's only surrounded by two, which are located on opposite sides of the room. A low-level damage dealer will take quite a lot of damage from him if they have aggro, and personally I found that the only way to survive this was basically to run back and forth between the two kolto stations non-stop. However, this was all ruined if someone else decided to click on one in-between, as the heal over time alone wasn't enough to keep me up until the next cooldown, forcing me to either die or drop aggro and let someone else get killed. It's particularly annoying when I'm almost at the kolto station, nothing is holding me back, and yet someone else clicks on it right in front of me - you're not helping!
Bosses with three kolto stations aren't quite as tricky but can still be close calls depending on how squishy you are - examples where I've had groups struggle include the droid boss in Taral V and HK-47 in False Emperor.
All that said, it's worth reiterating again that your reliance on kolto stations can vary a lot depending on what kind of group you get. If you've got a well-geared max-level character in the group you might find yourself breezing through fights even without a tank or healer and it really doesn't matter who clicks on the kolto stations or when, as they merely serve to get people topped off every now and then. However, if you do find yourself struggling with an encounter for some reason, I've found that making sure that your group optimises their use of the available kolto stations is usually the first step towards success.