I broke down and purchased the Cannith Challenges update to DDO about a week ago. This did a number of things for me:
1- I could toss all those ridiculous single tokens for missions and clear up almost an entire tab of inventory.
2- Opened up the challenges for me to explore on a whim.
3- Gave me a new goal in life: The level 16 version of The Cloak of Flames. Daddy has want.
To earn the Cloak of Flames I need 600 jade scorpions, 600 mephit wings, and 600 Arcanaloth Scrolls. To translate that further, to earn the cloak of flames I need to beat the Lava Caves: Colossal Crystals, Extraplaner Mining: Buying Time, and Extraplaner Mining: Labor Shortage Challenges a bunch of times.
Basically when I'm not playing with the Team Spode static group, I'm soloing. I'm not one to hang with the guildies or PUG a lot. Personally I'd rather solo unless I have a bunch of friends online that I know and trust (yeah, that's saying a lot for my guild isn't it--Hey! They supply me with guild ship buffs and I supply them with Favor . . . it's a relationship built on practicality more than love).
I'm happy to say that I've been perfecting my solo skillz with Lava Caves: Colossal Crystals since the last time I posted about it. I've got it down now where I don't need to purchase extra hirelings. I just simply park my cleric at the teleporter spot and run off to kill stuff on my own. I've almost got it to the point where I can get two progenitor crystals, but man is that tough. I haven't quite made that mental breakthrough yet. When I do though, you'll hear about it here.
The next challenge I've been soloing is Extraplaner Mining: Buying Time. I'm going to say this challenge is about 10 times easier than Colossal Crystals . . . and about 10 times more profitable. I usually leave this instance with two supply chests in my inventory and about 5,000 exp richer for my efforts, and this is playing on the level 12 and 13 difficulty when I'm level 17!
Here's how I do it:
1- zone into the instance and summon my level 17 cleric. I immediately buff myself and my cleric as much as I can.
2- I begin gathering up all the torches except for the one in the middle and the one leading off to the left.
3- I purchase extra time from the foreman and as many torches as are available from the crystals my kobolds have already farmed.
4- kill the first "incoming" wave. (doesn't take long)
5- begin by laying down my torch path to the left. Eventually my path looks a little like this:
6- I lay down the first five torches in building my eventual pathway and then run back to the entrance.
7- Kill the next incoming wave. After this, I usually buy additional time and more torches, extra kobolds, and kobold barrels.
8- I run back and lay down the next five torches in building my eventual pathway (laying down extra barrels if I have them and killing all the baddies in my pathway as well) and then run back to the entrance.
9- Kill the next incoming wave. (If I can, I buy even more additional time even though this kills one of the star objectives I'm going for).
10- At this point, you should have made your quota, and I just stay put for the next incoming wave because it's usually a horrible named that will just tear the kobolds apart . . . and surprise surprise, she looks like an old familiar foe of Team Spode!
11- For my final HOORAH I drag my cleric along with me and finish up my path. About 33% percent of the time, there will be a spirit dragon in the room I went toward. I summon up my efreeti buddy and we all lay the smack down on the dragon.
12- By this point my mana is usually at empty and I'm relying on Echoes of power for damage. Kobolds will start to die back at the entrance and time will tick down to 0:00 and the challenge will complete. Congratulations, time to profit and do it all over again.
I really like this challenge. I've heard some negativity about them, but this particular challenge isn't one I'd gripe about. It rocks in fact.
Let me know if you have any extra hints or tips on this instance, and I'll update this post with them.