Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Yo! Bum Rush The Show

Lateish yesterday evening, just when I was just thinking of calling it for the day, I tabbed out from Valheim to find Wilhelm had posted the first part of the story of his team's attempt to kill the second boss, The Elder. That got me thinking about my own couple of run-ins with the titanic treant. 

Those hadn't gone too well and I'd kind of drifted away from the plot a little. I'd spent most of yesterday building a huge stockade that stretches all the way around both my stone tower and my log cabin. I had some other large-scale building projects in mind. It didn't seem likely I'd run out of things to do for a good while, so why bash heads with a boss just because some raven flapped up and told me I should?

Wilhelm's post had re-ignited my curiosity, though. A few days had passed since my second attempt to cut The Elder down. I wondered if he was still crashing around in the forest or whether perhaps he'd gone back to wherever he came from, awaiting a re-summoning. 

At this point I should probably have made a plan instead of jumping straight through a portal. This is the downside of instant travel. It allows you to make snap decisions. Also from here on there are spoilers about the boss and the fight, just in case anyone's behind me and still trying to keep it fresh.

Last time I'd made a run at The Elder I'd done a fair amount of set-up work, including placing a portal in a hut on the edge of the forest where his altar stands. As it would transpire, this was crucial to my eventual success. Also my immediate defeat.

Part of the problem was, as always, over-confidence. I was dressed head to toe in grade three bronze armor, with a fine wood bow, several hundred fire and flinthead arrows and a grade three bronze axe for close-up chopping. I'd made some sausages out of draugr entrails (best not to think about it) and some bluebery/raspberry jam, all of which had bumped both my hitpoints and health regeneration to previously unheard of heights.

I wasn't figuring I could beat The Elder but I was pretty sure I could get in, give him a go and get out in one piece if things didn't go my way. There was just one thing I'd forgotten. It was the middle of the night.

When I jumped down from the portal (I'd built it on the roof to keep the local wildlife from destroying it while I was away) I realized I could barely see ten yards. I should have called the mission off right then but you feel silly having come all that way, don't you? And anyway he might not even be up any more. I at least had to check that out.

As I ran through the forest with no yellow fog or big red name across the screen I thought he must have despawned but when I finally got close to his altar, there he was. He'd wandered back to his calling place. And he spotted me from a very long way away.

All the guides I'd read about the fight agreed the way to solo The Elder is to bow-kite him around his altar, hiding behind the four stone pillars which block his massive ranged attack and popping out to pepper him with arrows. I tried that. It went disastrously wrong. 

In the darkness and chaos I got pinned down by his roots and stuck up against some immovable object I couldn't make out in the dark. The Elder closed in and stomped on me a couple of times and that was the end of that.

I was cross. It was a stupid death, entirely my fault. I'd been unprepared and I'd panicked and now I'd lost a load of skill points and my corpse, with all my best stuff, was right in the middle of the boss's home base. 


In other games I've played this would be the time to back off, take stock, think about how to deal with a difficult situation. Valheim doesn't work that way. When you die in Valheim you get a temporary immunity to skill loss, the only real penalty there is in dying (and a harsh one it is). That immunity lasts ten or fifteen minutes and each new death while it's up refreshes the timer.

It took me a while to see it but this effectively turns you into a superhero. You can be killed, sure, but death no longer has a sting. Therefore, the key thing to do when you die and leave a corpse with stuff you want to recover isn't to take time to prepare for a difficult corpse run. It's to get the hell back as fast as you can so you can do it before that immunity fades.

This is where portals become so very potent. I hadn't even thought to rebind to the nearby hut. I woke up in my bed back at the log cabin. From there it would take longer to get to my corpse than the immunity buff would last so a skill loss death loop would be all too possible. Only I had portals. It took me a few seconds to get back to the hut on the edge of the woods and less than a minute to get from there to my corpse.

Naturally, since it was still dark, I couldn't find it at first. I got killed looking for it and then killed again the next time but that didn't matter. The second time I spotted where my original corpse was and the third time I was able to grab it. 

There might have been another death in there somewhere. I wasn't keeping count. The important thing was, in no more than five minutes or so I had all my stuff back. What's more, I was back in my log cabin scarfing down sausages and buffing up for another run. 


It was daylight when I got back. As I was doing the corpse runs I'd spotted a stone crypt in the woods. In fact I'd had to duck inside it to escape. That hadn't been quite as safe as I'd expected. The Elder's roots go right inside the crypt when he attacks, which is very weird. I'd been thinking of the crypts as instances separate from the outside world. You do zone into them after all. Apparently it's not that simple.

While I was skulking in there it had occured to me I could use something Wilhelm had mentioned in a comment. Instead of hiding behind the pillars at the altar I could pull The Elder to the crypt and run him around the outside. I fancied my chances of that better than lurking behind a pillar.

So that's what I did. And it went surprisingly well. The crypt did indeed block the ranged attacks and also most of the roots. I was able to get plenty of shots on target. I could tell I was hitting him because The Elder was on fire. 

The problem was his health wasn't dropping. He didn't seem to mind being set alight and clearly my bow skill wasn't high enough to do him enough damage. Well, sod it. My highest two skills are Axe and Wood Cutting. He's a fricken' tree, ffs!

I abandoned all subtlety and rushed him. I began manically hacking at his legs and his health began to drop fast. Unfortunately, so did mine. He was stamping and his roots were grabbing and eventually I had to back off. 


But I had my belly full of sausages and jam. And cooked meat. I had almost twice the hit points I'd had last time I tried him and they regenerated faster. I took out my bow and put some more flaming arrows into him to keep him interested and when my health was back in three figures I charged him again.

That way I managed to take him under half health. And then a spear whanged past my head and into the ground. We'd managed to dance close to the edge of the plains and a fuling had spotted me. 

Remarkably, I had managed to kill one earlier, when the same thing had happened but I hadn't been in combat with a giant tree at the time. They're tough, fulings. I couldn't afford to have one pranging spears at me while I was concentrating on the boss. 

I ran, trying to get clear and got killed instead. It would have been a disaster except for that immunity buff and my portals. And the helpful way that mobs regenerate health slowly over time rather than snapping back to full when out of combat.

In a minute or two I was back. I found my corpse (it was close to the hut), grabbed my stuff, ate some more sausages and went looking for The Elder. He'd rgained a little health but he was still only around fifty percent. I had my immunity buff so I had no fear. I charged in and started hacking.

And that's how it went for a few minutes. I danced around his giant feet, chopping at his toes. When my health went worryingly low I sprinted away and amused myself by firing arrows at him from maximum range. He looked spectacular, his vast chest a mass of withing flames, his huge arms flailing, knocking down trees left and right. I'd have loved to take some pictures but I didn't dare - it was a full time job keeping just in range and not getting stomped.

Finally he was down to a sliver of health. I was down to about a third of mine. I'd been backing off at this point until then but I gambled I could down him before he got me and I was right! Boss down!

So much for the recommended strategy. Right back at the start, when I first summoned him, before I'd watched any videos or read any guides on the fight, my instinct had been to melee him. Even in leathers with my flint axe and just some berries to sustain me I'd taken him to 85% before I died. 

It confirms something I've been thinking for a while now. Other people may do better with the bow but my viking seems to be a berserker. She does best on the charge, axe whirling, a warcry on her lips. Forget subtle tactics, just get in close and hack.

And that death penalty can be turned to your advantage. Yes, the skill loss on the first death is vicious, but eat that and you become invincible. Provided you have a portal close by. It's going to change my strategy going forward, that's for sure.

Of course, when I went to pick up the loot my bags were full. Aren't they always. I had to throw out some greydwarf eyes and a couple of rocks to make space for the mysterious Swamp Key and the Elder Trophy. I'm guessing the former is what you need to get inside the crypts in the swamp biome, which is where you find iron, or so I've heard. It also explains how the next step of the crafting tree is gated by the second boss.

As for the trophy, I went back and hung it on its hook at the stone circle. Thanks to my portal network the trip took me no more than a couple of minutes. 

Next up, the swamp boss. I believe it's a blob. And it's supposed to be harder than The Elder. 

Might wait a while before I go see for myself.


  1. I've been going in with melee for the coup de grace on trolls lately, rather than kiting them forever. Timed right, you can get in close after he does his attack and get 4-6 dagger thrusts into him before he can wind up once more. That we're starting to make better food for higher hit points helps. I still can't go toe to toe with a troll... maybe in iron armor... but we're getting there.

    1. I tried meleeing a troll today. As usual the problem was the immense amount of visual clutter - shrubs, trees, rocks, fallen logs and so on. I couldn't see what he was doing well enough to dodge successfully. On the plus side, I could take a few hits from his club, which I couldn't a few days ago. I can easily take on whole bunches of draugr and skeletons and the blobs are manageable but trolls are still a royal pain. They really are the hill giants of Valheim.

  2. Good job! Just getting a new farm base established and its seems frequented by draugr raids. Entrails delivered fresh to your door. Looking forward to some sausage making...

    1. Yeah, I really don't want to think too hard about what I'm eating when I click on those sausages...

  3. Its like you found a hard mode version and plowed through. Hah, great read.


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