Content of the article: "Definitive Ashen Winds Speedrun Guide"
Ashen Lords are the newest world event that you'll find on the Sea of Thieves. These flame-throwing monstrosities can be daunting for any new crew, and even more experienced crews seem to have trouble fighting them. While they can be frustrating to defeat and very durable, there are strategies to employ when fighting them that can allow you to take them out in well under 15 minutes. Starting with pre-fight preparations:
Let's begin with food setup. I'd recommend going into the fight with full health and a full regen bar, as well as any food at animal meat quality or above that replenishes your regeneration bar taking up ALL of your food slots. This includes cooked pork, chicken, snake, and shark, any cooked trophy fish, and cooked megalodon or kraken meat. Regeneration has 2x healing efficiency, meaning that a full bar can refill your entire health bar while taking up only 50% of the regen bar itself. It's a very powerful tool to have, especially since Ashen Lords will give you some breathing room in-between their attacks.
The weapon loadout should be cutlass and an Eye of Reach. A cutlass is your most reliable form of damage against the Ashen Lords, as it needn't be reloaded and does around 75 damage per second. The Eye of Reach is a devastating tool for consistently dealing damage at range to the Ashen Lords, which will come in handy later in the fight when they have attacks that force you and your crew to keep away.
Your ship should almost always be positioned a bit far away from the island, outside of the range that the Ashen Lord will be enraged by it and with a clear view to the battlefield should anyone die and need to cannon back. If you're REALLY interested in min-maxing and need to recover quickly, you could prime a cannon to aim right at the battlefield with a storage crate full of food next to it, eliminating the need to make the run down to the food barrel.
Now, onto the fight itself. The fight will begin with the Ashen Lord kneeling down, then they'll play an animation where they pump their chest out and let out a roar as their ashen heart rings. Don't treat this as just a cinematic, this is free damage. Take an Eye of Reach shot at them and rush in with your sword. You won't need to reload it until the next phase, it's purely extra damage in the first as nothing they do can force you to put away your sword.
In the first phase, your entire crew should always be positioned in front of the Ashen Lord with a few exceptions. This is because the one attack that isn't telegraphed, the backhand version of their melee attack, will have them swing around behind them. Staying in front guarantees that if they melee, it'll be the version of it that's telegraphed in a fairly obvious way. Let's talk about responses to various attacks in the first phase, starting from easiest to hardest:
- Summoning. If the Ashen Lord summons, do NOT abandon your position stacked in front of the boss to kill the skeletons that they summon. The skeleton's AI works so that the melee ones are one-track and just pathfind to get in melee range, and you can keep damaging the Ashen Lord while letting your crew's combined sword cleave/piercing effect get in the two swings on the skellies, killing them without sacrificing any damage output on the Ashen Lord. The blunderbuss ones get their shots blocked by the Ashen Lord itself, so just wait for them to come into melee range or send one person to kill them if they don't.
- Ash Cloud. This attack is pure free damage in this phase. You're gonna be swording down the Ashen Lord anyways, which eliminates the need for aiming at them. Just ignore this attack entirely. The biggest danger here is that an enemy ship or crew could make a move when they see that you're inside of the cloud, to be honest, which rarely ever happens anyways.
- Melee. If you see this attack come out, which is telegraphed from the front by their fist flaming and them taking a swing, just jump back for a second or to the side and go right back in the second the attack ends.
- Fire Rock. This attack has a similar effect to a blunderbomb, so it CAN be dangerous. However, there's a minimum distance they can throw it, meaning they'll rarely throw it directly at their feet. Just get behind them and start jumping rapidly to try and take as little splash damage as possible without sacrificing any damage. Your regen will be helpful here.
- Fire Boulder. This is the closest the Ashen Lord can come to zoning you out in the first phase. Listen for the sound cue of the boulder falling, and take the time to reload here. Back up for a second when the boulder's about to land and then when the boulder hits the ground, go back in.
- Lunge. Also a fairly dangerous attack that can knock you out of melee range or force you to back up. Jump through the Ashen Lord and behind it before the attack activates, as they have a limited rotation speed. Then, start sprinting where they're going to lunge and try to get back into range as quickly as possible. If they do the 'body slam' variant of this, where they raise their arm and sink their weight down to travel a shorter distance, just sidestep it and keep attacking.
- Fire Breath. This attack isn't nearly as dangerous as it seems. When they pump their chest out, have whoever's giving the calls tell your crew to jump to the left and get behind the Ashen Lord. Jumping to the left if you're positioned in front of the Ashen Lord is important, as there's a spot in cutlass range where they can't set you alight if you melee them down, and it's easiest to reach from their back right and can be easily found by nudging your way to it. This sweet spot can allow you to get at least two free combos off on the Ashen Lord.
You should hit the first vulnerability phase in roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds if you employ all these tactics semi-consistently, and keep your crew swording down the Ashen Lord at a good rate. Once you hit the vulnerability phase, reload your Eye of Reach if you haven't had the chance to during a fire boulder attack and immediately join your crew in swinging at the Ashen Lord as much as you can get away with. Keep hitting them until they attack, and stay in the same position as you did in the previous phase. Keep in mind that Ashen Lords will often use their melee attack out of a phase transition, so be careful.
PHASE 2 – Fiery Slam. This knockback attack will deal serious damage and set players alight if they're close. This attack can seem threatening, but the key to countering it while still maintaining a respectable and fast time is knowing how much to back up before the fire effect is gone. Your regen will top you off as long as you follow the tips listed here, so it's fine to take a little bit of damage if it'll let you get back into the fight quicker. Use the time they're revving up the attack to take a quick shot with your Eye of Reach at them. Remember to have your crew stick close together at all times, so you can move out and in quickly without any sacrifices to DPS.
Again, you should hit the vulnerability phase fairly quickly. Reload any weapons you haven't yet, refill your regen bar if it needs it, and start swinging at the Ashen Lord. Keep in mind that you'll want to keep them at the edge of your melee range for this phase and only 'hug' their hitbox if they summon skellies and you need maximum range to hit them. There are two attacks now that you'll appreciate having quick getaways for.
PHASE 3 – World's End. This devastating and inconsistent attack will kill many a speedrun if the Ashen Lord uses it continuously. Getting out of the radius and not taking damage is the easy part–the only hard part is getting damage off on the Ashen Lord while they perform it. The hitboxes on this attack are weird and while you can deal damage to the Ashen Lord through it, it's extremely inconsistent and difficult to do so. Try shooting directly at center mass and if that doesn't work, you can try moving into the radius of the attack and stare at the sky, moving around as needed to avoid the falling rocks so that you can rush straight into melee range as they end the attack. Either way, you won't be getting consistent damage here. At all. Just hope that you get a good phase 3 that involves them using World's End only once or twice.
While my personal record as of right now is 12 minutes and 32 seconds, on a brig crew with only me employing all of these strategies, I think that Ashen Lords could be defeated much quicker if all of these strategies were widely used. I believe that all of this knowledge may come in use for some crews looking to beat Ashen Lords before other pirates can interrupt them, as well as crews looking to farm for commendations. My guess is that the time could be pushed down to as little as 9 minutes with a full galleon crew implementing the most optimal strategies and not needing to heal at all/having favorable World's End timings in phase 3.
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