Raider.IO Riddle Solution: Freehold
Yesterday on Raider.IO Riddles, we featured one of the most beloved Mythic+ dungeons of BFA: Freehold!
Read on for our comprehensive solution to this puzzle!
Oh, Freehold. We miss you.
Freehold was a Mythic+ dungeon that felt almost limitless. With its capacity for big pulls, skips, quirky strategies, and nonlinear routes, we always looked forward to engineering new approaches each week.
Freehold’s first boss, Skycap'n Cragg, gave rise to some of the more humorous strategies we’ve seen in any Mythic+ dungeon to date. Fed up with getting one-shot by Skycap’n Cragg’s Azerite Powder Shot or thwarted by Sharkbait’s Charrrrrges and pools of Vile Bombardment from above, players soon discovered loopholes. Essentially, people would position Skycap’n in various “safe spots” where they could avoid the charges and bait the Vile Bombardment pools onto a designated ranged player. This way, the melee players could DPS Skycap’n to their heart’s content. While the location of this trick changed slightly over time due to various hotfixes, players always found a way…like the rotten scoundrels that they are.
In the final iteration of this strat, tanks pulled Skycap’n to a very specific spot once Sharkbait took flight. In the video below of the World First +29 Freehold of BFA Season 4, watch Himelody bait Vile Bombardments as the rest of his team sits on Skycap’n:
In this strat, the tank would stand on the rocks and wedge the boss into a tiny corner of the arena, allowing melee players to DPS on the other side of the fence…on one condition: They had to shrink their character’s size using toys such as Burgy Blackheart’s Handsome Hat or the Darkmoon Seesaw.
Player transformed into a pirate Gnome with Burgy Blackheart’s Handsome Hat
As absurd as it was, these toys became nothing short of a requirement for melee players in high Freehold keys. This was so that their character models would be too small for the deadly Azerite Powder Shot to clip their heads over the fence. Havoc Demon Hunters had a rather unfortunate situation in that their Metamorphosis cooldown increased their size, forcing them to try and line-of-sight some of the shots. However, successfully lining Azerite Powder Shots was tricky and a bit inconsistent, which made these toys extra important if melee players wanted to avoid playing Russian Roulette with the boss.
An interesting feature of Freehold was the tri-weekly rotation of the event leading to the Council O’ Captains encounter. Each week, players would have to deactivate one of the captains to remove the Under One Banner buff by performing one of three different tasks. These tasks would also deactivate certain trash mobs throughout the remainder of the dungeon depending on which “week” it was in the rotation. In this way, players could build creative routes to manage their enemy forces count and decide when to fight the Council O’ Captains. On Tyrannical weeks where Captain Eudora was present, you were sure to see ranged players lining her formidable Powder Shots behind a pillar or even standing on a nearby rooftop.
Another oddity of this dungeon took place during the infamous “shark” boss, Trothak. Partly due to this encounter, players often felt that entering Freehold would just be one big roll-of-the-dice. Periodically, Trothak would throw a deadly Shark at players that followed them around. This forced players to kite the sharks into puddles of slippery meat thrown into the Ring of Booty by enthusiastic NPC spectators. Either a healer or ranged player would have to pick up the Shark by becoming its closest target and then steer it away from the melee players and tank.
Unfortunately, this ability was prone to frequent bugs that kept players scratching their heads from season to season. When the Shark would “bug out”, it could do one of two things: If you were lucky, the shark would become bugged and frozen in place. If you were unlucky (as most of us were), a buggy shark would race towards a player at lightspeed and be unaffected by the slows offered by the meat puddles.
It doesn’t even end there. In September 2018, one Reddit user, TwitchSwitchTV, encountered a particularly unusual version of this bug:
“Trothak did his Shark Toss ability and the shark kept following us even after we killed him. The shark followed us all the way to the end of the dungeon, keeping us in combat. Healer was not able to drink and it took us much longer to complete the dungeon as well as multiple wipes.”
Players believed these bugs to be due to certain class abilities and pets, so just try to imagine a Hunter being told by their teammates not to use their pet for the duration of the boss fight. All in all, these buggy sharks caused players a lot of grief and, quite frankly, some comedic deaths. I’m almost wondering if Blizzard reached into my vivid childhood nightmares of being hunted by a shark in my bedroom after “accidentally” watching the movie Jaws.
As if Freehold wasn’t ridiculous enough already, there are two more honorable mentions. Firstly, it was discovered during the Season 2 MDI that the Cannonball Barrage of Harlan Sweete also did damage to his own friends. Players began using this to their advantage to pull the last pack of trash into the boss fight for a hefty chunk of enemy forces count. Was this intentional on Blizzard’s part? Who even knows at this point.
Now, we move onto the juiciest bit. During the Season 4 MDI of BFA, Harlan Sweete was also where the wildest innovation for handling the seasonal affix, Awakened, was born. Since there was no invisible wall to lock players into this final encounter, Ashine of team Perplexed came up with the idea of skipping all four obelisks throughout the dungeon and have their healer, Zmok, gain aggro on the mini bosses during Harlan and kite them on a perilous journey. In the absence of a healer, it was a DPS race to the death. However, this strategy was not without its quirks, as it required significant finesse from Zmok to avoid being killed or accidentally “snapping” the obelisk mobs to his location. If the healer were to die, this blunder would result in a wipe of epic proportions. Check out Perplexed’s Big Brain Strat below:
In perfect gambling, swashbuckler fashion, the obelisk kiting strategy was characterized by an extremely high risk for an equally high reward. What better way to fight a swindler like Harlan and obtain his Loaded Dice than to execute such an insane strategy? Perplexed certainly put all their cards on the table.
“Fortune may fool those of misguided creed, and venturing here may still end in greed. Heroes embark on a grim execution as irony lies in this strange resolution.”
This week’s riddle was littered with clues. First and foremost, Freehold is an ironic dungeon through and through. The name Free-Hold itself is an oxymoron, and the mission of Freehold is to essentially…free a pirate town of the control of other, objectively worse pirates. What stranger resolution is there than liberating pirates from pirates? Does that make us pirates too?
Additionally, the irony is a play on words, as Freehold contains many Irontide trash mobs such as the Irontide Oarsmans, Irontide Corsairs, Irontide Ravagers, and more. Furthermore, the Irontide Ravagers do a cast called Painful Motivation, which, if left un-kicked, will actually put a massive debuff on the surrounding enemy mobs themselves, allowing players to kill them in a heartbeat. What fools, those Irontide Ravagers!
While fortune, tomfoolery, and creed all hint towards the pirates of Freehold, don’t forget that these terms could also implicate the notorious Venture Company goblin cartel of The MOTHERLODE!!. The Venture Co. is famous for its ruthless plundering of Azeroth’s natural resources and selling to the highest bidder. Historically, they have had dealings with various harmful and shady organizations such as the Defias Brotherhood, the Iron Horde, and the Burning Legion. Therefore, we tossed in the word venturing to hopefully throw a few of you off course.
So who could be greedier than the Venture Co. goblins? Their insatiable creed is certainly difficult to rival, so the remaining clue resides in grim execution. The execution references our mission to kill Harlan Sweete since he is described in the dungeon journal as being a most unscrupulous leader:
Ultimately, Freehold represents a pinnacle of oddities and knuckleheaded strategies. There is no dungeon more ironic than Freehold whether it’s due to its oxymoronic name, its ridiculous pirate vs. pirate call-to-action, or down to the fact that the most popular strategy to deal with Sharkbait’s Vile Bombardments was to…bait. We rest our case.
Don’t forget to tune in next week on our Twitter to crack another Raider.IO Riddle!
Congratulations again to @Jello_Meek, @agent_ziro, @GLOCKWORK4, @bigbadbeardo, and @BaeOfTheDead for guessing the correct answer!
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About the Author
VitaminP (VP) is the Lead Editor & Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and has worked for the organization since the formation of the News Section in November 2018. Although VP is currently focused on pursuing her Masters of Business Administration, she specializes in tanking classes and has loved doing competitive Mythic+ on and off since early Legion.