Pack Leader (Red)
Enrage Timer: 7:00 minutes
Red is the first operation boss encounter in the Dxun operation, Nature of Progress. Red is a fairly straight-forward encounter in both Story and Hard Mode and the overall mechanics and strategy are essentially the same with just a few nuances and a mandatory tank swap in Veteran Mode. The main mechanic involves a raid-wide stacking DoT that must be cleansed using spore "flowers" located throughout the area.
The encounter serves as the DPS and heal check for the operation, similar to the first boss in many operations. With strong DPS and healing and good execution of mechanics, this fight is fairly easy if the mechanics are followed.
Nature of Progress - Red - Story Mode Video Guide
Exterior Jungle (West)
(Enter Operation @ player cursors, follow jungle path to objective indicator in upper central area to locate Red.)
Red Battle Area
This zoomed in map shows the location of Red at the beginning and the "flower" locations (note the locations are semi-random).
Red Venom Cloud
Radiating a deadly cloud of venom that afflicts all enemies within a 1 kilometer radius every 5 seconds.
Red has this buff throughout the encounter. It causes any players to periodically gain stacks of the Red Venom DoT that deal increasing damage as stacks increase over time.
Causes internal damage every 2 seconds. Red's neurotoxin afflicts the pain centers within the brain which gradually pushes them into a state of shock.
DoT applied by Red's Red Venom Cloud buff. An additional stack is applied every 5 seconds and ticks damage per stack every 2 seconds. Per the strategy discussion below, this must be cleansed periodically during the fight.
Shy Blossoms (HARD MODE)
Synthium Derpidric is slow to react in the presence of Red's venomous cloud.
Debuff applied to every player during the Red encounter in Hard Mode. It changes the activation time of an unknown ability or effect to 3.0 seconds. It is unclear how it impacts the encounter as it does not have an easily identifiable effect, as player cast times, cooldowns, etc., are not impacted.
Halts application of Red Venom and clears charges. The Synthium Drepidric Spores prevent Red's deadly venom from binding to your cells.
Buff applied by standing inside the area of effect of the Synthium Drepidric Spores (blue "flower" AoE) that cleanses existing stacks of Red Venom and prevents any further stacks of Red Venom from being applied for until the buff expires. The buff does not begin its duration until either the AoE effect expires or the player leaves the AoE effect of the spores. The buff is accompanied by a glowing blue orb above the player's head, getting smaller and smaller as the duration continues until it disappears when the buff expires.
The buff is applied / refreshed multiple times over the duration of the spore's AoE effect. Its effects by level of difficulty are as follows:
Story Mode: Buff cleanses all stacks of Red Venom, lasts for 30 seconds.
Hard Mode: Each buff application / refresh halves the stacks of Red Venom, lasts for 45 seconds.
Cast ability by Red that applies a pink AoE ground effect with a radius of approximately 10 meters. Applies Ruinous Corruption debuff to anyone standing inside pool.
A periodic cast ability by Red, the pool is placed directly under Red when the cast is completed. This makes it difficult to kite Red during the short cast time. Players must move out of the pool to avoid the Ruinous Corruption debuff.
Reduces outgoing damage, healing done, and defense. A pungent odor of oxidizing durasteel overwhelms your senses...
Debuff applied by players standing in Hydrochloric Pool. The debuff is removed as soon as you move out of the pools AoE. The debuff reduces the following stats by the following amounts:
Healing Done: 20% Story Mode / 50% Hard Mode / 95% Nightmare Mode
Damage Done: 20% Story Mode / 50% Hard Mode / 95% Nightmare Mode
Force/Tech Resistance: 20% Story Mode / 30% Hard Mode / 95% Nightmare Mode
Melee/Ranged Defense: 20% Story Mode / 30% Hard Mode / 95% Nightmare Mode
Periodically dealing elemental damage to all targets in a forward cone. The caustic digestive juices of the beast begins to melt your flesh.
A conal channeled ability by Red. It ticks for damage every 0.5s during its 6.0s channel (i.e., 12 ticks of damage) and has a cooldown of 30s. It deals very high damage in all difficulties and should be moved out of immediately. The ability can be interrupted by players via a hard interrupt ability.
Single target damage attack by Red to target with aggro.
Red's basic single target attack that is used every 2 seconds. In HARD MODE it applies the Festering Wound debuff.
Festering Wound (HARD MODE)
Reduces incoming healing by 1% per charge. When this effect expires the pustules will explode dealing damage for each stack. The Pack Leader's bite is accompanied by a cloud of miasma born from the remains of countless victims.
Debuff applied to the target with aggro via the Eviscerate attack. Lasts for 30 seconds before expiring and cannot be cleansed. The debuff reduces incoming healing and generally requires a tank swap to manage successfully.
Moderately increases damage dealt. Red's feasting upon the remains of Stampeding Bulls slain by her Acidic Jet!
Buff applied to Red when another creature is killed by its Acidic Jet that increases Red's damage dealt. Red's damage is increased by 8% per stack (per target killed by Acidic Jet).
Massively increases damage dealt by physical attacks!
Buff applied to Red when another creature is killed by its Acidic Jet that increases Red's damage dealt by 50%. Is applied after 3 targets are killed by Acidic Jet.
All outgoing damage increased by 300%! The Pack Leader has become enraged!
Boss enrage mechanic. As discussed below in strategy, in practice the enrage is rarely a concern on this boss fight using a conventional strategy.
Red is a straight-forward boss that only has a few mechanics to follow. The optimal strategy will vary somewhat by group and primarily based on the DPS and AoE healing capability of the team. Those capabilities will govern how many stacks of Red Venom the group can handle before using a spore flower to cleanse. If the group can handle 8 or more stacks and has good DPS, then it can follow the ideal strategy of only using 2 spore flowers and killing Red before needing to pull the boss further into the jungle and pulling other adds.
In Story Mode, group composition should consist of 1-2 tanks, 4-5 DPS and 2 healers. A second tank is not required in Story Mode so having them respec to a DPS discipline or at least equip DPS gear may be helpful. In Hard Mode, a traditional composition of 2 tanks, 4 DPS, and 2 healers is essential.
Assuming the group has sufficient DPS and AoE healing to follow an 8+ Red Venom stack strategy, the goals in Story Mode should be as follows:
Tank should face Red away from the group and at least 20m from the first spore flower location.
When Red casts Hydrochloric Pool, the Tank and Melee DPS should move out of it immediately and reposition Red.
When Red channels Acidic Jet, the Tank should move out of the conal area of effect. The team can interrupt if necessary to ensure the Tank does not take damage or die, though ideally if the team can let the channel complete and rely on the Tank to move it will receive 6 seconds to DPS the boss without any additional damage from direct boss attacks.
When the group reaches 8-10 stacks of Red Venom, the group should activate the spore flower and the entire team should stack in its blue AoE circle. The tank should move into the AoE unless a Hydrochloric Pool is expected soon, in which case they should wait to drop the puddle outside the group then run into the blue AoE circle to cleanse.
After the spore flower blue AoE expires, the group should move steadily towards the second spore flower, making sure to drop Hydrochloric Pools away from the flower so the group can avoid standing in the debuffing AoE.
When the group reaches 8-10 stacks of Red Venom again, repeat the same cycle of activating the spore flower.
After the second spore flower AoE expires, the group should keep Red in place as often as possible, only moving out of Hydrochloric Pools, until Red is killed. If the group reaches the third spore flower, adds will be pulled into the fight that will become much more difficult to manage.
For groups unable to heal through damage at 8-10 stacks of Red Venom, there are a few tweaks to consider. The first and easiest (particularly for 16 person groups) is to interrupt Red's casts and keep Red near the group. This will make healing more effective and provide more uptime for DPS. Just interrupt Hydrochloric Pool and Acidic Jet to avoid the group being affected. Note that Red may cast Hydrochloric Pool 1-2 additional times after interrupts so be prepared for multiple interrupts.
If the group has insufficient DPS/healing to get Red killed with only 2 flowers, then the group may need to consider add management. In this case, make sure you have a second tank. When adds spawn, make sure the off-tank grabs adds immediately and have all DPS swap to killing adds and prioritize the Charger and face it away from the group. Only when adds are dead should DPS return to Red.
Keep Red positioned away from the spore flowers so that Hydrochloric Pool is not dropped in the blue AoE. Letting that happen significantly increases the difficulty for healers as it forces the group to leave the blue AoE early, which could mean some stacks of Red Venom are not cleansed and/or that Red Venom stacks will resume earlier than normal.
Face Red away from the group to ensure they are not clipped by Acidic Jet. Be on the lookout for Acidic Jet and move out of it immediately. Shadows/Assassins can cheese its conal damage using Resilience/Force Shroud. That said, it is easy to step out of if you watch for the conal and/or cast bar. It can be interrupted if necessary, though I recommend letting the channel complete to get extra DPS uptime while the boss is not doing anything else.
Coordinate with the ops lead about when to hit the spore flowers to cleanse stacks of Red Venom:
In Story Mode, this should be done around 8-10 stacks. If so, the tank should run into the circle to get an immediate cleanse of all stacks of Red Venom, then run out of the group to pull Red away to drop Hydrochloric Pool, then run back into the circle to get a refresh of the Phosphilapse Corona buff before the blue AoE expires.
In Hard Mode, it is ideal to wait until 10-11 stacks and hit the flower shortly after the second Acidic Jet. This lets the tank stand outside the group until the second Hydrochloric Pool goes out, then they can run into the group to get nearly all stacks of Red Venom cleansed.
Be very careful of Acidic Jet when standing in the spore flower's blue AoE circle. If it cleaves the group while everyone is grouped up, it will likely wipe the group. Try to position yourself and Red on one side of the blue circle with everyone else on the other side, so the Acidic Jet conal is facing away from the group.
After the first spore flower is used, move Red steadily towards the next spore flower. Make sure to keep Red facing one wall as you move and allow time for DPS and healers to get ahead of you and stay that way. Make sure to keep Red away from the spore flower until it is time to use it again and a Hydrochloric Pool has gone out recently (so one will not be dropped on the group while in the blue AoE spore circle).
In Hard Mode, a tank swap is required due to the stacks of Festering Wound applied to the tank with aggro that reduce incoming healing. Swap at 15-18 stacks. The debuff lasts 30 seconds while the other tank gets a stack every 2 seconds, so this pattern should enable the tanks to swap shortly after the stacks expire on the off-tank.
The Red encounter has the highest sustained AoE healing requirements of any fight in the game due to the group-wide DoT damage by the increasing stacks of Red Venom. Be prepared for this and tailor your selection of Tactical item, rotation use and possibly even set bonus (if available and applicable) to focus on AoE healing.
Given that the strategy for the fight is highly dependent on how many stacks of Red Venom the healers can safely handle, be vocal with the group about your comfort level and err on the side of caution. Up to 5 stacks should be doable for any healer composition in Story Mode, but nearing and especially exceeding 10 stacks will become very difficult.
Tanks should take relatively low damage from Red so long as they move out of the Acidic Jet conal quickly. If you see the tank consistently taking major damage, speak up in voice chat to ask the tank and/or DPS to interrupt the cast instead of letting it channel.
As AoE healing is the name of the game, do not hesitate to speak up in voice comms if you see DPS (particularly ranged DPS) avoiding being grouped up for easy AoE healing. Ideally, the healers and ranged DPS should stay within 10 meters of so of the boss to enable healers to clip the entire party with their AoE healing effects.
Little to no damage should be hitting the group while inside the blue AoE circle, so use that time to top everyone off quickly then regen energy.
Assuming the group has healers that can handle 8-10 stacks of Red Venom, the difficulty of the Red encounter entirely depends on DPS being able to kill Red before a third spore flower needs to be used to cleanse Red Venom stacks.
Melee DPS need to be very careful to stand behind Red to avoid being clipped by the Acidic Jet conal as it will kill them in 1-2 ticks. They should also move out of the Hydrochloric Pool as quickly as possible to minimize the time they are affected by the Ruinous Corruption debuff that reduces their DPS.
Ranged DPS should stand with the healers at all times to enable easy AoE healing.
All DPS need to make sure they stand within the spore flower blue AoE circles for their full duration if at all possible to make the healers' job easier.
Veteran Mode Strategy
The only notable mechanic added for Veteran Mode is Festering Wound. This debuff is applied to the Tank with aggro and reduces incoming healing. As such, a tank swap should be performed around 15-18 stacks. Swapping at this level should ensure that the debuffs have dropped off the off-tank when it is time to swap again.
In terms of existing mechanics, everything hits harder and notably the cleansing effect applied by the blue AoE spore flower buff Phosphilapse Corona does not immediately cleanse all stacks of Red Venom. Instead, each time the buff is applied/refreshed the stacks of Red Venom are reduced by half. This effect rounds down, thus standing in the circle for the entire time while @ 12 stacks of Red Venom should be reduced from 12->6->3->1->0 with 4 applications of Phosphilapse Corona.
In terms of Veteran Mode strategy, the goal of killing Red using only two spore flowers is critical. If any adds spawn during the encounter it will significantly increase the level of difficulty, and adds will begin to spawn just as the group reaches the third flower. This imposes a very high AoE healing and a fairly high DPS requirement for the fight, but it should be achievable with BIS set bonus and tactical items and decent Hard Mode skills. Put simply, if the group does not have enough healing and DPS to clear Red using only two flowers then it is unlikely later encounters can be cleared in any case.
So, the strategy in Veteran Mode is to wait to utilize the spore flowers until the group reaches 10-11 stacks of Red Venom. Since the Phosphilapse Corona buff applied by the spores does not provide a full cleanse, it is more important that the entire group stay within the circle its entire duration to maximize the time without Red Venom stacks going out.
This also makes it vitally important that the Tank avoid dropping the Hydrochloric Pool inside the spore's blue AoE circle. In practice, the second flower is not usually an issue but the timing of the first flower can be tricky. Below is the approximate timing of Red's mechanics after pulling the encounter.
15 seconds - Hydrochloric Pool (3 stacks of Red Venom) Tank needs to drop at least 20m away from flower, after pool is dropped move Red to another location near but still 20m away from the flower.
20 seconds - Acidic Jet (4 stacks of Red Venom, 5 by end of channel) Tank should move out of conal but otherwise keep Red from moving after the channel ends.
50 seconds - Acidic Jet (10 stacks of Red Venom, 11 by end of channel) Tank should move out of conal but otherwise not move Red. Group be prepared to hit spore flower as channel ends, though if group's health allows the longer they can wait the better. Tank should remain OUTSIDE the circle.
1:00 minute - Hydrochloric Pool (12 stacks of Red Venom if not cleansed yet) As soon as cast bar begins, Tank should run into the blue AoE circle to begin cleansing Red Venom stacks while making sure to keep Red facing away from the group inside the circle.
1:20 minutes - Acidic Jet (should be in spore AoE @ nearly 0 stacks of Red Venom) Should usually happen inside blue AoE circle or just as it expires, Tank should move out of the way as usual. Tank swap should happen at this point.
Hydrochloric Pool continues every 45 seconds.
Acidic Jet continues every 30 seconds.