Underneath my yellow skin

Elden Ring redux

I feel like talking about my second Elden Ring playthrough. Fair warningthat there will be spoilers as I want to talk about mid-to-late game events. I’ve mentioned before that there is an NPC questline that I would pay $30 for on its own. This is Ranni’s questline, which also encompasses War Counselor Iji, Blaidd, the half-human/half-wolf, and Preceptor Seluvis–the  ultimate asshole. In my first playthrough, it took me between thirty and fifty hours to do her questline in full. Well, mostly in full. I did not do a few steps, but I got there in the end.

The questline takes you underground to a gorgeous, star-speckled universe that is stunning. That’s saying something because the game in general is one amazing environment after another. It’s purple and ethereal and has a magical quality to it. I’ve described it before so I won’t get go into details again.

I finished the questline today in about 10 hours rather than the 30 or so it took me previously. The last boss you need to kill before you can do the very end of the quest is one I had so much trouble with in the first playthrough. I was not confident at all  going into the fight this time around. I walked through the golden mist and got the boss on the first–no, that’s not how it happened. At all. It smacked me around and I was deaded over and over again.

Here’s the thing. I was still skimping on my health because I wanted to boost my Int as fast as possible. And there were other stats I needed to boost as well. I had my at 20 for a bit, which is more than I had in the first playthrough at 100+ hours. In that playthrough, I had 18 Vigor at that point. Which meant every boss could one-hit me. With 23 or so health, I can usually take one hit, but with this boss, there is one move it does that will inta-kill me. And it plays into my spatial issues, too, which makes me so very not happy. The move is that it’ll disappear and then reappear somewhere. Oh, and the arena is the abyss (the name of the boss is Astel Naturalborn of the Void) which doesn’t help with my spatial issues. Now, the tip is to look to your left because if Astel respawns next to you, it’ll be to your left. That doesn’t seem to be the case for me and even if it is, I can’t see him in time to avoid his grab.

Side Note: There is very little more dispiriting than dying to a one-hit attack, especially after fighting a boss for a long time. This boss is grueling and one time, I got it down to three or four hits before it killed me. This happened the first time I fought it as well. That time, I think it took me forty or fifty real attempts to beat it, and that was with a human summon.

By the way, I hate when I summon someone and then they go back to their own world halfway through the fight. It’s very disheartening. I suppose it could be that they needed to stop playing for whatever reason, but there is a thing where a summon will do that to be a dick. It adds to the boss’s health, resistances, and damage output. It’s deflating when it happens, for sure.

I was not able to get a human summon with any consistency, probably because this is not a main storyline boss. I find  that it’s harder to get human summons for field bosses and some optional bosses.

Anyway, I now have the Mimic Tear Spirit Summon and ] use it with prejudice. I know there is a debate raging in the community as to whether the Spirit Ashes are cricket or not, but it’s so boring to me. If you think they’re OP, don’t use them. It really is that simple. People complaining that it’s so easy to use them, but it’s just as easy to–not. And, as I’ve said before, I believe the game was made in such a way to accommodate the Spirit Ashes.

Back to Astel, Naturalborn of the Void. It’s a big buglike/spiderlike skeletal creature with big pincers and a tail of colored anal beads. Oh come on. That’s exactly what it looks like. It’s just me, then? Alrighty. The problem is that there is no sense of perspective in this fight. I cannot tell how close I am to Astel or where it is in the arena.

I could not get a human summons so I just used my Mimic Tear (you cannot summon a Spirit Ash in the boss fight if you use the Furlcalling Finger Remedy (I thought it was Furling Finger Remedy until just now!) to try to summon humans. Yesterday, I was so frustrated with this that I stopped fighting the boss. It was really disheartening to throw everything I had at it only to die at around a quarter health left. I was much later in the game when I fought it the first time, but I still had difficulty with it.

Today, I tried a different field boss first. I don’t want to talk about that boss because it just whipped my ass several times as well. The ramp up is real and everything is just hard right now. I’m not enjoying–well, anything. And I know it’s on me for spreading my points around yet again. I do it every time, even though I KNOW that the best thing to do is focus on a few stats.

The next logical step is to go into Leyndell Royal Capital–what I thought was the last area of the game for the longest time during my first playthrough. Oh, how little I knew at that point. It’s definitely in the late game, but it’s not nearly the last area. And it’s my most-hated area. Well, in the main storyline, that is. There’s an optional area in the late game that is its own special hell, but let us not speak of it. Leyndell is just grim. Mobs that come out of nowhere. Regular soldier types who can one-hit me. Erdtree bosses as regular enemies. I really think this area is not balanced well.

I just did not want to go there. I knew I had to do it soon, but I was not feeling up to it. So, I decided to try Astel again. No human summons so I decided to just die and give it a go with my Spirit Ash–my beloved Mimic Tear. She is only +5 or +6 at this point because I don’t have the material to–I just checked. I had the mats to fully upgrade her. She is now at +10. Woot!

I went into Astel with my half-strength Mimic Tear, took a deep breath and reverted to my old trick: Swarm of Flies. It’s an incantation that is as its name suggests. It unleashes a swarm of flies that constantly bites the enemy, building up bleed. When it hits critical mass, it takes a chunk out of the health. It takes relatively low Faith (11) and more Arcane (16) than I had at that time. So I boosted up my Arcane stat by the cheesiest of strats.

Side Note: There is an area called Mohgwn Palace with a Site of Grace, Palace Approach Ledge-Road. You can get fairly early in the game by following a certain NPC’s questline. In this area, there is a ledge overlooking a giant chicken. If you shoot this chicken, you get roughly 11,000 Runes. If you have the Golden Scarab talisman, it boosts your Rune acquisition by 20%. You can see how this would be easy farming early in the game. Right now, leveling up takes roughly 55,000 Runes. I can get that in five chicken. Oh, you have to shoot it with a bow and arrow to make it run off the ledge (towards you). It doesn’t always work, but 4 out of 5 times it does.

Swarm of Flies is in this area. I didn’t get it until later in the game last time. It’s the incantation that allowed me to beat Malenia with just the Mimic Tear and this incantation. It’s also helped me kill other bosses as well. They nerfed it just after I beat Malenia, but it’s still really good. They also nerfed Mimic Tear after I got it.

Astel killed the Mimic Tear about halfway into the fight. I thought I was going to die, quite frankly. I kept fighting, using the Swarm of Flies, and then I ran out of  Flasks of Cerulean Tears. I had one, maybe two hits left on Astel, but it could get me in one swipe as well. I took a deep breath and cautiously went in. Swipe swipe with my Moonveil (katana), and it was dead. I could not believe it. I had beaten Astel, mostly by myself, and it felt good.




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