Expert rifts are a funny sort of content, particularly for those of us on pvp servers. Nominally they're tuned for 5 man groups in T1 gear. That may be true of some of the easier ones (for example Death), but other rifts, expecially Fire, seemed way too hard to do it with such a group.
There's also the factor that other people can interfere with you. Same side interference doesn't matter too much although it's certainly undesireable. Mobs can drop epics so I guess if someone tagged it you could kill it for them to take the epic. The drop rate is low though - we had one random epic drop in 7 expert rifts. Mostly it's people just tagging along sending you tells "inv" and so on.
Much more potentially dangerous is rival faction interference, pvp. There are two ways to handle Defiant players as a Guardian, be meek and hope they don't pick on you or be ultra-aggressive and murder any red name seen anywhere near your spot. We choose the latter, partly because it's more fun, partly because it's probably more effective. This makes for a strange but rather exciting form of pve - where you have tanks and healers and dps and a well organised pve group but at the drop of a hat you rush off and murder a couple of tourists who have stopped to see what you're doing. It's really important to defend the zone aggressively as some threats will approach in a disorganised way. There might be 20 of them but if 5 turn up while some others are still emptying their bags in Meridian you can cope. You don't want to give them time to group up, buff up and pick targets.
Your best defence against interference is to pick some out of the way spot. We started with one right in the south west corner of Stillmoor and apart from a passing Guardian who tagged along with us we weren't bothered.
Expert rifts are summoned from a minor or major tear using a lure (bought from the vendors in the room below the artifact collector in Sanctum Palace). You also pick up daily quests in this room and each of the 5 different expert rift quests stay in your quest log - it's possible to have all 5 dailies saved up. In addition to the lure you need 5 malformed souls which are gained from running T1 dungeons. The lures are soulbound but the malformed souls can be traded. The dailies give you a currencies called Crystal Sourcestone which can be used to purchase lesser planar essences from the vendors in the room where you picked up the daily.
We started with the Expert Death rift. It uses Husk: Redemption of Perdeen and completes daily quest Redeeming Their Names.
It spawns a tiny burnt out village of 4 ruined buildings. Mobs will spawn in each room as part of a Protect quest - for example Protect the Smithy, Protect the Bakery. We had 8 at this stage plus an outside Guardian player "helping". It was reasonably easy with 8 of us, I think we could have done it with 5.
We got a random epic off one of the mobs, a chest halfway through which gave us a blue, a chest at the end which gave us a blue lesser planar essence and a corrupted soul (the ones needed for the next tier of rifts, the raid rifts). That was pretty much standard for all the expert rifts we did.
The epics are t1 standard which most of us outgear now, some found a delighted home. The lesser planar essences are very useful as they don't drop in the standard dungeons, doing these expert rifts and the raid rifts is the best way to upgrade these at our level of progression. (Don't forget completion of the dailies also allows us to buy lesser planar essences).
You also get a lot of faction for doing these rifts, faction is needed to buy certain things from the vendors in Sanctum Palace.
Here's details of PLANE: zone: lure: daily quest: faction
DEATH: Stillmoor: Husk Redemption of Perdeen: Redeeming their names: The Grim Disciples
LIFE: Stillmoor: Husk Primal Evolution: End of Evolution: Order of Life Serene
WATER: Iron Pine Peaks: Husk Revenge of the Icewatch: Kapora the Frostbane: Order of Purity
AIR: Iron Pine Peaks: Husk Winds of Chaos: Storm Powered: The Storm Inquisition
FIRE: Shimmersand: Husk Explosive Tendencies: Raexanis Defused: Order of the Flame
We were fairly comfortable, largely due to our flexibility. We have a lot of people who can do more than one job which helped us as we varied from 2 healers to 5 healers for the fire rift (selective pulling recommended if you don't have 5 healers - we wiped with 13 of us when we tried to zerg it).
Open world raiding was delightful. Not only did we have our expert rifts to do but we also needed to clear off existing minor and major rifts to force a tear to spawn in a good place, we needed to ruthlessly gank defiants, we had 3 planar invasions happen during our raid too which we completed (and for the first time in Rift I got a purple shard, an Ancient Sourcestone).
It was very nice to have no upper limit on the raid size, I was able to invite everyone who logged on to join in the fun. I even added a level 41 to the group and he picked up a nice epic that no one else wanted that he'll enjoy when he turns 50. I understand why raids are capped but I'd really like to see MMOs explore the idea of non-capped raids again. All the elitist min-maxing is a result of capped raids - if I only have 4 dps spots I need you to be cookiecutter or as effective as a cookiecutter, we can't kill the bosses if you bring some airy-fairy fun spec. However when I can invite as many people as I like I can tell people to play whatever they like, if we need more damage I'll add more people.
As I understand it that's pretty much what raiding was like in EQ, it was certainly to some extent true in 40 man vanilla WoW but pressure on individual performance has increased as raid sizes have shrunk. And that's less fun for many players. If games want a casual raid scene then I'm convinced that the way to do it is remove raid caps.
Our raid lasted 4 hours, cleared 7 expert rifts, 3 zone invasions, ganked a fair number of Defiants and incorporated some rather humorous moments. At one point I ordered a Charge of the Light Brigade into a large group of Defiants. It was actually a lot larger than I realised. One of our warriors said he was being focused, so I told him "you're not being focused, we've got 5 each!."
Another memorable moment was when yours truly misjudged a slope in Shimmersand and plummeted to my death. Ever loyal, most of the guild followed me. We would have wiped had some people not rolled Dwarf. So here's a picture of our new official guild animal:
|Loyalty over Sense.|