So, you've killed Golden Eye Mantutu at the end of the middle deck and all you can think to yourself is, "Could this place be ANY longer?!" The answer to that riddle is yes, yes it is quite longer. Enter: The Middle and Lower Levels. The entrance to these last two levels is located in the first room of the instance at an elevator switch. Because you can't access Steel Rake until 40 and because middle deck is around level 41, you will definitely spend more time farming the end of Steel Rake than you do the beginning. Though it may not be by choice since the advanced stigma quest will keep you coming back for a while to complete it-an issue that isn't as bad as it sounds, since the pacing of this part of the instance helps keep it from dragging on.
The lower deck begins unspectacularly enough; once you've clicked the elevator switch you find yourself teleported somewhere below deck in a hole. Graphically, the entire boat looks the same. All decks are basically just one rodent/gopher/thing after another. That's really just nitpicking though, MMOs are about redundancy really, I wouldn't expect any instance to keep it new and fresh for a six hour clear and if it did, it would probably deserve the Nobel Prize. Ultimately though, in any MMO as everyone knows you end up doing the same endgame (or near endgame) instances plenty of times and I'm sure Steel Rake, in all its wooden glory, is no exception.
You won't have to wait long for your first chance at a rare spawn. In the center of one of the first rooms is a Genie's Cauldron where a Freed Genie can be floating around in circles. I've only seen this come up once in quite a few runs. I either have terrible luck or he has a pretty low spawn chance. According to my PUG, which had killed him before, the genie had a mean AoE attack, so we used line of sight with the hallways in order to minimize the amount of damage dealt to the rest of the group. Our group's preparations may have been overkill, as the genie's phenomenal cosmic powers didn't seem so phenomenal, and if you can find one out of its itty bitty living space, you can probably zerg the genie down with little trouble.
Beyond that, this level of Steel Rake doesn't provide much excitement for a while with the exception of a few key mobs, which are little more than trash mobs. After a pretty hefty chunk of trash clearing, you'll finally come to the prison area, a large room with a lot of happenings. If you take the time to investigate each of the cells in the area you will find quest mobs, captured prisoners worth decent AP, treasure chests and a beautiful damsel in distress. There are three mobs of interest in this area, the first being the Warden. He's basically just a tank 'n spank with a couple of Tog adds that are of little consequence. The other is Timid Alakin, a simple key keeper. He's important though because he holds the key to the big brig cell in the center. The brig contains a random spawn, it can range between a worthless normal monster to a hero.
Once you clear the brig, the next stop is Engineer Lahulahu, who sits, after a fair bit of trash, at the end of this leg of the instance. This battle, though long, is all about positioning; it takes place in a large room with many valves that spout noxious gasses--they may want to be avoided. If you're not careful you'll find yourself obliterated by the gas, since they stack and if you're standing too close to too many spouts, you'll be vaporized. The best way to counteract this pain and suffering is for the tank to position itself in the corner, between the wall and the glowing broiler. The rest of the group positions themselves across from the engineer and tank at the next closest broiler. Because of the AoE damage from both the room and the boss, melee DPS has to be very careful with the engineer or they will meet a most untimely demise only to be resurrected multiple times and meet that untimely demise again and again. We normally just have them stay out and use their bows. Occasionally Lahulahu will run out into the room but if you just stand still he'll eventually grow bored of this and return to the tank.
Once you've vanquished your foe, the nearby door can be opened which leads to a large anchor that can be clicked on in order to port up. If you look around you'll notice just how open this area is and how there are mobs covering the entire thing. Your primarily goal going into this part of the instance is to track down a pair of pirates that can spawn in two different locations, the first of which being just off to the left of where you emerged from. The second is across the deck on the far side; this one is obviously the longer of the two to clear to. Regardless of where they end up spawning, a decent chunk of the mobs on the main deck need to be killed in order to secure the area. Once you've figured out where the two named pirates are (I don't recall their names, but you should be able to track them down by systematically hovering over dots), you can mosey on over and pull them together, while keeping one of them controlled. They die easily enough and you can loot a flint off them.
As expected, this flint is used to light something; and that something just happens to be the nearby cannon. Just as expected, the cannon is used to obliterate the large cluster of mobs that have been looming ominously at the base of the large stairs. Be on your toes though, the obliteration of said mobs triggers a small little boss, Chief Mate Menekiki to spawn. His threat radius is ginormous, so if you're anywhere near the stairs he'll probably already be headed in your direction, little monkey pal in tow. Fret not, though, he poses little threat, so just whack him, grab his key, and continue on.
Up the stars and next to the entrance to this area is the door that leads into the next room. Once you've opened it and peered down the stairs, be on the lookout for raiders that are lying in stealth waiting to pounce you like a cougar. In the center of this room is a ramp that leads down into yet another room. This entire small section takes only a small amount of time and you should be able to weave through many of the mobs without aggravating them. Before long, you will find yourself at a doorway leading to the next boss, Chief Gunner Koakoa.
This is a fairly easy fight, but if you don't have any idea of what's to come, chances are you will die pretty quickly when the time comes. Firstly though, upon entering the room--don't move, there are spawns to the left and right and since you are temporarily invisible after teleporting, they aren't much of an issue... unless you move. As for the boss, occasionally he will spawn dozens of bombs all around the room, colossal ones and tiny ones. As their names imply, the colossal ones will cause more damage than a few missing toes. The tiny ones still hurt, but won't blow your face off like the others, but if you do happen to be caught by two tiny bombs--it's lights out as they hit for 3500 damage I believe. The bombs can be targeted and attacked and the tiny ones drop fast. The strategy I've always used for this fight is for the group to stand at the entrance of the room and when Koakoa does his bomb thing one person chooses a tiny bomb for everyone to stand on and destroy while avoiding all other bombs. This chosen bomb is normally one just to the left or the right of the boss, who is invulnerable to attacks during this time. Because of the nature of the fight, it can be a little on the longer side as Koakoa is invulnerable for much of the battle. Assuming that none of your group members are bomb-huggers, the fight should go off without a hitch, though.
Once Koakoa has been dealt with, you can exit this room and proceed further. There is a second clickable cannon up the hallway to the right. You now have two options on how to go about getting to this cannon. The first and safest of which is to clear the area, which is simple enough. The second and more haphazard but ultimately more fun method is to make a mad rush for the cannon and to click it, launching you and your friends across the deck to the next area before any of the mobs can figure out what the hell just happened. This method has its risks.
Once everyone has flown their way across the deck and after clearing a marginal amount of trash, the final boss of the instance awaits, Brass-Eye Grogget. I don't think there are many people who've killed this guy as he is in desperate need of a nerf. It is believed by many that Grogget is practically impossible to kill in his current state for anyone other than a group of decently geared 50s. And at 50, I don't see many people, present company included, who would be interested in Steel Rake. Basically though, this is an add fight and an AoE damage fight. Grogget will frequently spawn groups of elite adds with increasing difficulty. Right now, those adds will overwhelm you rather quickly. But I assume once his difficulty has been scaled back the fight will be tough but nothing insurmountable as it is now. For now though, most groups just end a run after Koakoa has been killed.
Steel Rake is easily the most visually impressive instance in the game, but its length will probably cause that to grow old after only a few runs. The advanced stigma quest will keep you returning for a while to attain a semi-rare quest drop from a few of the later bosses. Ultimately, though, Steel Rake is an epic and long instance that if done from beginning to end would take the better part of a day; but is divided in a way that that's hardly necessary.
You can read about the middle deck of Steel Rake, here.