Mid-Deck Steel Rake Instance
There is an enormous gardening tool soaring around somewhere in the skies of Atreia, the Steel Rake. Okay, it's not really a rake in the usual sense; it's actually a pirate ship of swashbuckling shulacks that sail the seven skies. Once aboard the wooden behemoth, you will find an instance divided into three decks, with each one practically a full length dungeon in and of itself, making it one of the largest in the game.
Before you can board the ship, you must first do its atunement quest. Unlike the dreadfully annoying one for Fire Temple, the Steel Rake quest can easily be soloed. That's not to say it too isn't dreadfully annoying if you're down on your luck. After you accept the quest from Ebs in Beluslan Fortress, which is available at level 40, you must travel south and track down a wandering Shugo by the name Uikinerk. This slippery little guy travels across Beluslan so he'll take some effort to track down. Chances are you'll see him plenty of times leveling, but once you're 40 and need to find him for the quest, he'll be nowhere to be seen--which seems to be the MMO norm.
Once you have finally managed to pin down the little bugger, he'll send you to Pandemonium to turn in the final step of the quest, which is convenient, because you board Steel Rake from the Airship Dock within the capitol. There is also a breadth of quests for the instance that can be accepted from the same area.
Once all preparatory work has been taken care of, you can board Steel Rake. The ship is fairly linear, but each room and hallway offers something slightly different visually so Steel Rake keeps from being as redundant as a whole when compared to earlier instances like Fire Temple. It's also evident the dev team put a lot of time and effort into Steel Rake and it's easily the most visually impressive yet. There is some very nice attention to detail from room to room to keep it from simply feeling like a wooden box. It also seems impossible to leap from the ship to your death; I tried from a few different spots and couldn't quite make it over. If anyone has been able to kill themselves I'd love to know where!
Steel Rake isn't without its faults though. The middle deck only has a couple of bosses (and a rare spawn you'll probably never see) and the amount of trash between each one doesn't exactly make this deck worth doing more than a few times for quests. Also, there isn't much variety with the mobs within the ship; you'll see the same few types the entire time. But, personally, pirate rodents never really get old, especially with those mustaches they sport so finely.
The two main bosses you'll face aboard the middle level are a little more involved than any previous bosses you've probably run across in the game. The first of which being Madame Bovariki. This rotund beauty will be found hiding behind a bar in a large room with a catwalk circling above. The fight isn't too complicated, but there are a couple things to note. Firstly, she casts an area of effect daze that can either be ranged or line of sighted. This ability makes the fight troublesome for any melee classes you've brought along. Though ranged can easily avoid it. If you throw yourself at Bovariki ill prepared then the daze can really cause some issues. Since the tank can be dazed out of line of sight, healers should really be on their toes so they can slip in with any quick heals. The real fun begins at 50% though, when Madame Bovariki summons a level 50 cat to assist her. The beast of a kitty can't be crowd controlled or slowed and on top of that she hits like a truck. You can try to have someone offtank it or have the tank hold both, but in all likelihood the kitty will just run around and eat things.
Since the few things she drops aren't that great, normally I'd recommend skipping annoying bosses like this. But Steel Rake has another trick up its wooden sleeve. To progress through the instance you need to kill specific key bearing mobs, of which our rotund friend is one of. For almost every other key holder, this is of little consequence since they're little more than minibosses worth a little more experience. Madame Bovariki, however, is an exception to this rule. She's a road block in every sense.
Once you've overcome that hurdle, it's not far until the next one. This hurdle, however, is not in the form of a boss. As you make your way to the end of the catwalk above Bovariki, you will find a nice little platforming death trap. Calling it a death trap is probably a little hyperbolic, but you'd be surprised how many people miss a jump and tumble to their untimely demise at the hands of the mobs below.
There's one final challenge before the main boss. As you make your way further into the instance up and down some ramps you'll come to an area that triggers a short timer. When this timer begins, you must hurry into the next room where a chest can be found with a key inside of it that will open a treasure chest at the end of the instance once the main boss has been slain.
Now that your group has stumbled their way past the jumps (or cleared it with ease if you have half a brain and breathe through your nose rather than your mouth), there's only about 20 minutes of trash until you get to the last boss, which is a giant Manduri. This is also one of the first fights with a ridiculous gimmick that must be adhered to in order to succeed. Golden Eye Mantutu will frequently become either hungry or thirsty during the duration of the fight, you'll be able to tell from the debuff. When Mantutu gets one of the buffs, a corresponding lever must be clicked by three people in order to remove it. Normally lever clicking is performed by three of the DPS, and the levers rotate spawn positions between the back, middle, and front of the room. The fight can be annoying because the DPS will spend most of the fight hopping between levers in order to click them. When he's thirsty, all damage done to him will be reduced to one, which makes him nearly impossible to kill. The other buff, hungry, increases his attack power and crit. rating, which causes him to beat the crap out of the tank.
At around 30%, Mantutu will begin doing an AoE stun, this can make clicking any of the levers that spawn near him somewhat troublesome, as the stun will interrupt any lever clicking. The tank will have to move Mantutu accordingly to give the clickers the room necessary for clicking. Once Mantutu has been slain, you can use one of the keys you attained earlier to open the treasure chests in hopes of fabulous prizes. Choose wisely though, not all the chests have anything valuable inside.
The middle level of Steel Rake is really only the beginning, the second half of the instance is far superior to the first--there are more bosses and less trash between them. Chances are the lower and upper levels are the ones that will keep you coming back to Steel Rake if not just for your advanced stigma quest a level 45.