2013 Mabar Endless Night Guide (or: How to Farm w/out Kill-Stealing) NOW WITH DATA!
This guide has been updated for 2013! There are a lot of new changes. I've highlighted the important changes and new mechanics in YELLOW text below.
The Mabar special event has returned revamped for 2013, and again, there are a lot of changes. This is personally my favorite event in DDO and therefore I have updated this guide every year since 2010. Since then I have been dedicated to making sure it is the most thorough and complete guide on the Mabar Endless Night Festival available! Originally, I wrote this guide in the wake of 2010 concerns about piking and kill-stealing. Those concerns have been put to rest for the most part with fixes to the mechanics, and the festival has improved significantly throughout the years. While many players still call it Lagbar or other names less appropriate for dinner conversation, that doesn't mean that Mabar is not worth running. Much to the contrary, Mabar has some great items available which you just can't find anywhere else. And this year the devs have introduced the wondrous Signets of Endless Night, a daily Spectral Dragon bonus reward which can grant new and awesome rewards (more below). With this guide I hope to show you how to participate in the Mabar festival quickly and efficiently.
I've experimented extensively with the Mabar event over the last three years and found a lot more than what was posted in the official guide here. Release notes for the Endless Night Festival for 2013 in particular can be found scattered here and here. I am sharing my observations, strategies, and tactics with you now so that you can participate in the event and craft all kinds of awesome stuff and do so without making a bad name for your toon. The conclusions below have been derived from countless hours of experimentally determined values and probabilities as well as surveys and tips from other Mabar fans. They might not be exact, but they are based on experience and should be very helpful.
I will start with the basics then move on to more advanced concepts. So you need not read the entire guide to understand the festival. The following sections are broken into three large parts, one for Delara's Graveyard, one for Crafting, and another for the Spectral Dragon (under construction, but I have posted a link to a very good guide by another player in the meantime).
This deserves to be first on the list because Mabar Endless Night is a shared experience, where, even if you are not in a party, you are participating in a group effort. There are other players moving about and it is always best to be mindful of other players and how to behave properly to avoid getting black-listed (I know it has happened to others before). As I mentioned above, kill-stealing is no longer as much of an issue due to Shared Credit (see below), but it is still bad form and not polite to run up to a monster at 10% for the killing blow. While changes have been made in previous years to try to reduce the negative impact of this behavior, it is still possible to ruin someone else's effort, and that is simply not cool.
There are other things that might not be so obvious though. For example, it might seem like you are competing with others for relics which give you motes. But the REAL currency everyone is working for is Spectral Dragon Scales, which are required for most high-level items, and NEW! Signets of the Endless Night. Every time you turn in relics for motes, you are speeding along the opening of the door to the Spectral Dragon. So is EVERYONE ELSE! So it is actually in your best interest to help other players you see in the area even if they are not in your party. Now, I'm not saying you should walk around and baby-sit other players. But when you are casting buff spells, it is best to try and include as many players as possible in the area of those spells. When you cast an area heal, it is best to try to include other players. You don't have to go out of your way to protect others, but you ought to be willing to take a few steps to the side to make sure your mass effects are helping as many people as possible. Ultimately, it is going to speed along the turn-in rate for relics and make the dragon door open more often. And other players will often thank you for it. Fighters and barbarians fight better with buffs. Everyone is better protected with death ward. And haste helps everyone move about more quickly and kill more efficiently. It just makes sense. So try to remember this is not the same thing as soloing a quest. It is a group effort on the part of everyone participating in the festival to gather and turn-in relics.
Delara's Graveyard is filled with undead, Shadar-Kai and other monsters of many types. For each monster destroyed there is approximately a 1 in 4 chance of a ritual item dropping (which is placed into your Collectibles Bag as long as you have checked "Gather All"). For each ritual item you turn in to the Night Trader (found in the far east side of Delara's Graveyard), you receive Motes of Night, which can be used to craft all sorts of fun and powerful items. Note that some ritual items grant more Motes of Night than others. Burnt-out black opals grant the least. Chipped skulls grant a moderate amount. Cursed fingerbones grant the most. All three ritual items can be stored in collectibles bags.
(Special thanks to Angelus_Dead.)
You will need 2 of these to upgrade items to level 16 (level 7 and 11 wands also require them). It was previously possible to earn vampire fangs by killing vampires. But this year (2013), this item must be purchased from the Night Trader for 100 Motes of Night (note you will need TWO vampire fangs for each upgrade). However, it is worth noting that in previous years these used to drop fairly often and many players still have stashes. If you really need a pair, you might want to try asking in the trade channel if anyone has any to part with. Sometimes players will simply give them away. Vampire fangs can be stored in collectibles bags.
You will need 1 of these to upgrade items to level 20 and 24 (level 9 and 11 wands also require it). It was previously possible to earn lich dust by killing liches. But this year (2013), this item must be purchased from the Night Trader for Motes of Night. Unlike vampire fangs, lich dust drops in previous years were fairly rare, and they would often sell for 100k platinum. However, thankfully, the Mote of Night cost for these has been greatly reduced to 200. Lich dust can be stored in collectibles bags.
After extensive trials, these appear to have a drop rate of 1/100. That might sound low, but if you develop a good method for farming, you can easily get one or two with an hour of farming (I usually get more). So don't buy one unless you desperately need it. At a cost of 1000 motes, they are expensive! Whether an etheral key drops is independent of whether a ritual item drops. You may actually get both at once. When this happens, you will usually only see an announcement on your screen of one or the other. But check your chat log. Ethereal keys also go into collectibles bags.
Monster Types and Mechanics
Unlike previous years, there is more than just undead prowling about the graveyard! You will now have to contend with deadly Shadar-Kai and the charming succubi as well (and perhaps others)! Most are detailed in the official guide exhaustively, but note that skeletal giants of all types have been replaced with various types of vampires and Shadar-Kai. You can only earn ritual items from those who are within your level range, generally monsters between 1-4 CRs below your character's level and above. You will not earn rewards by killing monsters below your level range, and you will receive a message on your screen every time you kill such a monster. Furthermore, if you kill too many weak monsters (about 3-5 within a short period of time; roughly 30 seconds), you will catch the notice of the lords of Mabar and your drop rates will be significantly reduced for one minute. However, you WILL receive rewards by killing monsters ABOVE your level range. So feel free to tackle monsters in any level range you feel comfortable with, but don't bite off more than you can chew because death is a bit of an annoyance. You won't have to pay a repair bill just for dying (though you may have a repair bill anyway if you are hitting mobs with weapons or getting hit), but you will need to release to your bind point, thus losing time and therefore losing efficiency.
Monsters will not attack you unless you attack them first, so for the most part, you can choose your own battles. There is also another mechanic which I have noticed: monsters are invulnerable for a few seconds after they spawn. I assume this is meant to prevent players who just want to run quests in Delara's graveyard from accidentally getting aggro. So if you are swinging or spell-slinging and not hitting anything, wait for a second, then try again.
Beware the Shadar-Kai! If you haven't played any of the new quests in Wheloon, then you might be in for an unfortunate surprise. Shadar-Kai have a spiked chain attack that can be devastating. Each time the spiked chain hits you it applies a debuff that weakens your attacks and slows you down. If you see them whirling up to swing, get the hell out! Just two or three of these deadly foes can trounce you quicker than you might imagine. While they are whirling their chain, move back and use spells or ranged weapons until their spiked chain animation is over (and it can take a while). Either that, or kill them quickly. Thankfully, the debuff will go away in 10 seconds, but each time it hits you, the timer renews. So engage at your own peril.
In general, the tougher the monster, the better the chance of receiving a better ritual item. Note this is distinct from the simple chance of receiving a ritual item, which appears to be the same 1 in 4 chance whether you kill a skeleton, a vampire, or a lich. For example, a wight (CR 8) is more likely to drop a better ritual item, like a chipped skull or cursed fingerbone, than a skeleton (CR 4).
(Special thanks to ccoleman.)
Throughout the graveyard there are monster spawn points. You will notice they are typically among groups of head stones or in the front of crypts. With a little bit of practice, you can learn where these spawn points are and use that knowledge to your benefit. There are dozens if not hundreds of spawn points, but they all share a few things in common.
-The number of monsters is directly related to how many characters are in the vicinity. Characters must be close, i.e. within targeting range of most spells, not just in the same instance.
-NEW!The CR or level of monsters is directly related to the level range of the instance (this is a departure from previous years when the level of monsters depended the level of nearby players).
-Monsters will not spawn at any given point if there are no players nearby.
-Inactive spawn points (those without any players nearby) will begin spawning new monsters almost as soon as a new player enters the area.
-Each spawn point will produce between 1-2 monsters for each player nearby.The implications here should be obvious, but I will spell them out anyway. First, the more players nearby, the more monsters you can expect to see at various spawn points. Second, if you are in an instance designed for levels far below your own level, the monsters that spawn near you are not worth killing at all. But tackling monsters in a higher level range than your own might give you too much of a challenge. Finally, you improve your chances of causing more undead to spawn near you by moving around in a broad pattern. Camping a group of spawn points is not as effective as moving around. So move around a bit and trigger as many spawn points as possible.
Level-Specific Instances (NEW CHANGES IN 2013!)
Last year the devs introduced level-specific instances for Delara's Graveyard; but the concept was partially flawed, as the spawns were still based on player level. This is no longer true. The devs took my advice from last year and now monsters spawn according to the level range of the instance only, making choosing a level range within which your character falls virtually guaranteed to allow you to avoid the "too weak" warning. (Yeah, I'm not being too humble here. I wasn't the only one who requested this feature, but either way, it's here and we can all be thankful.) The level bands are 1-5, 4-9, 8-13, 12-17, 16-20, 20-25, and NEW! 26-30.
The more people participate in the event, the more instances will be created by the game servers to reduce lag client-side and spread out server load. The first time you enter the graveyard, you will need to choose the level range you wish to be placed in, but the game will automatically assign you to the least-populated instance in that range. But this changes quickly. So don't feel the need to switch instances manually unless it begins to lag too much for you. You are also less likely to run into other players if your instance is less populated, and thus more likely to be able to earn your own kills. It has also been noted that from time to time the monsters you kill will be bugged; i.e. even though they ought to be in your level range, they display the "too weak" message. I have heard rumors this can be fixed by switching instances, but I have been unable to replicate this rumor in my own experience. But it might be worth trying.
Scoring the killing blow on a monster is not enough to guarantee that you will receive a ritual item (if indeed the kill grants a ritual item). Rather, any player who damages the undead might earn a ritual item (except see Grouping below). Because of this, "kill-stealing" is neither an effective way of increasing your potential returns on ritual items collected, nor is it a good way to make friends. So don't try this tactic; it is not necessarily a waste of your time, but you will be better off if you try to stick to solo kills. Solo kills will ensure that you and only you have a chance for a ritual item. Bottom line: It won't help you in the long run (I know of people who have made guild black lists for it) and it won't really help you in the short run either.
(Special thanks to Delt.)
If you decide to group, there are a few mechanics you need to bear in mind. These will help you decide whether to group, and if you do, how to do so most effectively.
-Grouping offers the advantage of sharing buffs with fellow group members and also allow voice chat with your group while fighting the Spectral Dragon. However, in my experience, you will farm fewer motes/hour.
-Every time someone in the group scores a kill against a monster, everyone has a chance to claim a ritual item from the kill. And I do mean everyone. Just like when two ungrouped players cooperate in a kill, it is possible that anyone in the group will receive a ritual item, whether they participated or not. One kill = one drop. Although this had been the case in previous years, it is not possible for one kill to potentially score multiple drops. It is even possible to claim a ritual item from a monster below your level range if it is killed by a player in your group who is within that monster's level range.
-Ritual item drop rates are distributed randomly for all players in the group. I suspect, based on experience, that the player who scores the kill in a group is slightly more likely to receive a ritual item. I believe this was done to lessen the negative impact of piking. Nevertheless piking a group does offer your group a tangible benefit in that you increase the number of spawns nearby. But if there are too many pikers, it may be too much for the rest of the group to handle.When you take these rules together with what we know from before, a few points are important to note. First of all, if you are going to group, do it with other players of similar levels! While you could theoretically send all your high level players to one instance, the mid level players to another instance, and the low level players to yet another instance, this is difficult to manage. If you do find yourself in a group of disparate levels, I recommend going to the highest-level instance possible for that group so that everyone's kills will count. If you put up an LFM, use the level ranges designed for the event as your level range to ensure everyone can participate equally and receive rewards equally. Similarly, avoid joining groups that have broad level ranges allowed, such as 1-28. Such groups are unlikely to be worth your time.
Second, you need to be aware of pikers. It is completely possible to join a group, enter the graveyard, and go AFK for a whole hour and still collect ritual items while simultaneously lowering every one else's drop rate. Thus, if you create a group, ensure that everyone is contributing with some form of regular check in or at the very least pay close attention to who is fighting and who is standing around. Do not hesitate to dismiss inactive players. Otherwise they are just dead, piking weight. I would even go so far as to say that if someone is going to be AFK for more than a minute or two, ask them to drop group and rejoin when they are ready to fight again. They are lowering everyone else's drop rate while they are in the group. There is one possible benefit to pikers though. They do help spawn more undead near their location. The downside to this is that they are not moving, and thus they are still spawning fewer monsters than a mobile, active group member. Again, I recommend dropping pikers unless they are friends/guildies and you do not mind.
Finally, standing altogether in one big group around the pond waiting for spawns is all well and good, but it isn't efficient. What is better is 2-3 groups running around the graveyard working collectively. This is especially true if each group includes at least one AoE caster. Not only do you tap more spawn points at once, you also make sure everyone has something to do (it is also less monotonous). You can assign certain areas to each group to ensure less overlap. One group to Delara's Tomb, one to the pond area (where a lot of spawn points are located) and a third near the entrance or the Mote Collector works well.
Melee Vs. Caster
Perhaps unfortunately (depending on your point of view), this event grants big benefits to casters with AoEs. It is very efficient to kill big groups of monsters with one AoE and move quickly to check the next spawn point. But both types have advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion a mid to high level arcane caster is the optimal character for this event, but others can be effective too. (I have heard a rumor that a single AoE that results in the death of all undead within its effect will only grant one drop maximum, regardless of the number of kills, however, I have been unable to reproduce this effect, so I cannot prove or disprove it at the moment.)
For a melee, finding self-sufficiency is key. Light monks do incredibly well, which is good news for those monks who want the Wraps of Endless Night (link is for level 4 version). Your only resource to manage is your HP and your clickies. If you have any form of self-healing at all, you can save yourself countless trips to the tavern to regenerate your health. Just as important, therefore, is damage control. Making certain you reduce the amount of damage you take as much as possible reduces your overall downtime and increases your rate of relic collection. Use guild energy resistance buffs if you have access to them or buy pots. If you are low level, stay away from high level instances. Even though they won't aggro on you, once aggro'd by other players they use AoEs that can hurt or even kill you if you stray too close. If you only need HP, find a cleric with a healing aura up and just stand nearby. There are usually plenty of these clerics around. Only venture back to the tavern when you absolutely need to renew clickies. And BRING DEATHWARD or at the very least DEATHBLOCK. The Visor of the Flesh Render Guards is handy item to have. You could also politely ask a nearby divine caster to cast death ward on you. This is more important for the higher level bands, but all the enemy casters like negative energy, energy drain, and death effects.
For a caster, you are pretty self-sufficient whether you are arcane or divine. However you have the added resource management of SP, and this can run out fast if you aren't careful. First rule is to use buffs sparingly. Stoneskin and blur are probably the best choices for an arcane. Energy resistance is useful to a lesser extent but you can easily obtain this from guild ships, House J or House P favor buffs or items. Shield/nightshield is helpful for blocking the occasional magic missile as well. Regardless of which type of caster you play, your main strategy is likely going to boil down to using your most powerful AoEs to take out as many monsters at a time as possible. If you are in a group, let the melees pick off any that survive the AoE while you move on to the next spawn point. For arcanes, your SLAs are your weapon of choice, especially AoEs. Because there are a lot of undead, pale masters may not be optimal due to their relatively high sp consumption for AoEs, the fact that their aura heals undead monsters, and their reliance upon negative energy to deal damage. If you plan to do a lot farming with an arcane who is currently specced as a palemaster, it just might be worth it to respec as an archmage until November 11 or to farm with another toon. While SLAs are your bread and butter whether arcane or divine, acid spray, shocking grasp, magic missile, electric loop, acid blast, chain missiles, lightning bolt, force missiles, ball lightning, chain lightning, and disintegrate are your weapons of choice (note many fire spells are ineffective against certain monsters, such as blackbones). For divines, positive energy burst, nimbus of light, deific vengeance, searing light, holy smite, flamestrike, sun bolt, sunbeam, sunburst, cometfall, firestorm, mass cure, and mass heal are best. Also note divines have access to implosion as well as undeath to death. Arcanes have access to undeath to death. These are the only insta-kills which work on undead. Use them! NEW! Now that the festival includes non-undead monsters, spells like finger of death, destruction, slaying living, and wail of the banshee are now useful as well!
As a special note for groups, it is extremely inefficient to have a bunch of melees standing around while a single arcane or divine caster calls down AoEs. By the time the melees get up to the action most of the work is already done. Is is best that everyone keep moving, in teams preferably, that have at least one AoE user.
It is worth noting that a quick way to recharge your health, spell points, and clickies is to step inside Delara's Tomb, run up to Delara, then exit (note you will have to drop group to do this if you are in a raid group; let the leader know). But this requires you to have completed the Delara's Tomb series. Other methods include binding to the Open Palm Inn which is just outside Delara's Graveyard and using /death to teleport when you need to refresh. Simply teleporting to a place like the Portable Hole works too, since the House Jorasco teleport destination puts you near the entrance to Delara's Graveyard as well.
The pendant of time which you receive as a reward for reaching the second tier of favor with House Phiarlan works inside Delara's Graveyard. Thus it can help you get around quickly. Don't forget to use it if you have it.
(Special thanks to ArgentMage and Killage.)
For the supreme festival aficionado, respeccing your character can prove to be one of the ultimate tools available to you. If you plan to devote some serious time to the festival, then you might want to look into temporarily respeccing your character(s) either through action points or even feats.
For a melee, you should focus on raw damage output (DPS). Of course that is the focus of many melee characters, but recent changes to the game have made tanks viable in certain raids and quests. Tanks are practically useless here, even when fighting the spectral dragon, so bench them when running the festival. Many of the monsters are relatively easy to kill even at your level, especially considering that you can pick them off one or two at a time if you are careful. If you are below level 9 or even 13 then even a feat respec might be called for if you lack a critical damage feat like Power Attack. Beyond that it can get prohibitively expensive to respec feats so only do so if you have more time than plat and siberys shards. If you have enough platinum and astral shards you can just buy your motes through the Auction House, Shard Exchange, or Delara's Graveyard trade channel and skip the festival altogether. Secondary attention should be placed on hit points (racial or class toughness) and energy resistance. Anything else like skill boosting action points are wasted if you plan to spend all your time over the next few days on the festival. Swap these for damage and spellpower boosting boosts.
If you are an arcane, it is also best to focus on damage output, preferably with two of the following: acid, electricity, or force (many of the undead are immune to fire and cold and the succubi are resistant). Max these abilities out and spend any remaining points on reducing metamagic costs, increasing spell point pools, and increasing HP. Invest in corrosion, magnetism and impulse items since they deal more damage than a similarly powered potency item (but potency works if you are pressed for item slots). You will likely be retreating back to a tavern/Delara's Tomb to recharge your SP from time to time.
For a divine, similar rules apply, but you won't have elemental or energy damage enhancements. However you do have light spellpower and positive energy spellpower (and for divine disciples force and fire to a lesser degree). So focus on improving the damage from your healing spells first and foremost and light, alignment, force, and fire second. If a cleric, I highly recommend you spec for the Divine Disciple tree, grab the SLAs, spell-power, and spell point bonuses, then put leftover points into Radiant Servant. Just having the occasional healing burst will be a great boost to your undead-killing efficiency. For a favored soul, I both the Warpriest and Angel of Vengeance will serve you equally well, depending on which spells your character has chosen (e.g. if you picked fire spells like flame strike and fire storm, Warpriest would be best).
Rather than Respeccing, if you have an open character slot and access to iconics, there are two iconics that work very well for this event: the Morninglord and the Bladeforged. For the Morninglord I recommend either a Divine Disciple-focused light damage caster, a Radiant Servant turning specialist, or a Clr1/Wiz14 necromancy specialist. At level 15, the light damage from Divine Disciple SLAs with full metamagics is very effective and SP-efficient. The Morninglord also has a racial enhancement line that improves your turning abilities to an obscene degree, making Radiant Servant that much more powerful. A Clr1/Wiz14 is incredibly effective as well when focused on necromancy. You can achieve a high finger of death, circle of death, and undeath to death DC with your racial +2 Int bonus and the right feats, and you will be self-sufficient with a pale master shroud and death aura to heal yourself; simply be aware of my previous cautions about palemasters in this event.
The Bladeforged offers you a quick route to one of the most tried-and-true types of characters in DDO since the addition of the warforged race, a Pal2/Sor13. Not only will your saving throws be incredible, but you will have a huge SP pool, and with the advent of the Elemental Savant changes in Update 19, a large number of SLAs to choose from. I recommend focusing on as many metamagics as possible for feats (particularly Maximize, Empower, and Quicken) and specializing in Earth, as acid damage will work on virtually all the monsters in the festival. Make sure to take at least one repair spell, or choose the reconstruct enhancement from the Bladeforged racial enhancement tree, so that you are self-sufficient.
NEW! Pet Piking
Surprisingly effective at low-levels, "pet piking" is something you can do when you can't pay a lot of attention to the game but still want to earn a few motes on the side. A 4th or 5th-level wizard pale master, a druid, or an artificer can do this rather well in the low level ranges as the monsters are relatively easy to kill and your pet can be buffed and set to Aggressive mode to attack nearby monsters while you attend to the infant, cook dinner, or entertain family and friends! Now, there are definitely limits to this approach. First, you need to check in on your pet every few minutes to make sure it is alive and earning you relics, but glancing at the screen from time to time is usually enough. Second, your pet isn't going to be as active about seeking out monsters. It will only attack monsters that have been aggro'd by other players, which means you are sharing in the chance to get a relic from the kill. This might irritate other players, but at the low-level range, few will mind, and your pet is hardy enough to survive on its own for the most part.
Do not try this at high levels though. It really doesn't matter how many buffs you have on your pet or how many Epic Destiny twists you have to make your pets more powerful. They are bound to run into a Shadar-Kai chain attack within a few minutes and get killed because they don't have the good sense to run away.
2012 Drop Rate Data
In 2012 I compiled data on drop rates. This is specifically an attempt to measure how often items drop. To summarize, my hypothesis is that a solo kill has a drop rate of 1/4. This means over a long period of time, you should expect to get 1 collectible to turn in for every 4 mobs you kill. A more detailed explanation of the data is below. I have compiled preliminary data so far on the drop rates in 2013 and thus far have no reason to doubt these drop rates have changed.
Originally Posted by DROP RATE DATA