R-4 Hard Mode
Watchdog is the 2nd boss encounter in the R-4 operation and is generally thought to be the easiest of the 4. The encounter challenges a raid team with situational awareness and in point positioning, as the fight host similar mechanics to Master & Blaster. This guide assumes you have completed the fight on story mode and are generally familiar with those mechanics. They do not change much for Hard mode, rather they just now matter.
The Typical group composition:
1 tank - any spec
5 DPS - Generally, groups try to avoid more than 2 melee. Less is often best for groups. Folks newer to the fight will be a better fit on ranged.
2 healers - any spec. Note that the fight is completely solo healable by a veteran healer.
It is important for the tank/raid lead to designate a drop zone for the circles. We typically put the blue ones where the boss starts and orange in the orange box. It doesn't really matter as long as everyone's on the same page.
Watchdog progresses through a series of phases as the fight goes on, with no real downtime or transitions between phases. The fight keeps players very busy with both movement and situational awareness.
For a tank, pulling watchdog can be tricky. It can be very easy to lose threat and get a dps murdered in the opening few moments of the fight. Anytime as tank if we are at range from watchdog he will use "Pounce of pursuit" to catch us. He will leap to us and do a high damaging attack. At all times, we should stay in base contact with watchdog, moving him slowly to where we want him to go. If a dps were to rip threat from us, he would use pounce of pursuit, jump to them and rip them apart. I recommend a strong triple taunt opener, pull from range, immediately jump in before you are dog food, taunt, use a threat building opener and taunt again with your AoE taunt before your main taunt wears off. Retaunt with your main taunt as soon as it is back off cool down, and frequently taunt during the fight to stay way ahead of your dps.
I walk watch dog to the middle of the room during my pull routine. He will stop for a moment to fire missiles, watch this and be consistent with your movements. I am going to assume the group composition is 2 melee as I describe the flow of the fight below, as that is the most common raid team make up.
Missiles! will be the first channel that watchdog throws at us. Missiles will go out the entire fight, so knowing how to deal with them is important. When the channel finishes, wherever all 8 players were standing, a medium-sized red circle will be placed on the ground. It will fill up, when the small circle grows into the larger one it explodes and deals massive damage (around 150k to a dps/heal) and applies a DoT that will tick but can be cleansed. No one should be receiving damage from this. Moving out of the red circles has a very high priority.
We stack up as many of the ranged and healers in the middle of the room and bait the first red circles right in the middle to keep the area denial effect to a minimum while we can.
After the circle drops, everyone splits off and separates, move away from the approaching watchdog/melee team, they will need their room.
8 colored circles will be applied to your raid team next. This will be 4 blue and 4 orange. You have a few seconds of grace to move, once the circle fills up if you touch another player with your circle they will explode and deal massive raid wide damage and royally screw your mechanics to come. It is super important not to collide with another player. Slow, methodical movements are key here. Blitzing around the room like a wild nerf will wipe your team. It is super important for your melee not to have "PvP feet", or that tendency to jostle around acting all cool as you hack and slash your enemy. Stand still, save your team the headache of you blowing someone up.
Next after the colored circles will be another volley of missiles forcing movement. Ranged and healers should start moving toward their drop zones. Slow and steady. Move a bit, paying very close attention to your raid team. There often isn't enough time or coordination elements available for everyone to say which way they are going. I recommend making a tiny movement toward the direction you want to head so the player beside of you knows what to expect. Hauling butt in front of them, will cause a collision and raid wipe. Slow, steady movements, I cannot say it enough.
Talk to your melee ahead of time and make sure everyone agrees which way everyone is moving when red circles come out. I typically ask my team to do clockwise movements, with me stepping to my left for missiles. Your Melee MUST keep up DPS uptime and should not be stepping backward for the circle. Rotate gently, then flex back into your normal spot.
Coordination is KEY
A collision waiting to happen. Someone is either eating a missile or busting a blue/orange circle.
The Melee Swap
It is wise when running with 2 melee for them to swap sides if their colors are opposite of where they will need to go. One melee should run through the boss to the other side, the other should run around the backside, taking the "long way" around. This needs to be coordinated carefully. An example bait if all melee/tank get the same color. Tank always takes the middle corner.
Watchdog protocol is the next "phase" and will come right after the previous set of missiles. (Missiles, colors Missiles, Watchdog protocol). Players with circles MATCHING the color of the floor must freeze in place. If a player of a matching color takes 5 steps, watchdog will pounce on them, immediately killing them.
A set of missiles will go out during the first-floor color phase. Folks that have to stand still must eat this missile and should use a defensive ability to mitigate the impact. They can self-cleanse afterward (if applicable) to remove the missile dot. This is an option and can usually just be healed through. This is the only missile they should be "eating".
In this example, blue was first (either can go first). Blue players MUST freeze or DIE.
Orange players should take this time to start shuffling to their side. Next in this example it will be orange's turn to freeze. Blue players should take this time to move to their side. Again, missiles will go out and orange must mitigate/eat them. Moving is death. The tank will need to take the middle corner of whichever color they have. In this instance, the tank is blue, so we turn the boss and get ready to drop.
Right after the floor color finishes, there will be another missiles. After that, colors need to be stacked for the next phase.
Here we have finished our maneuvers during watchdog protocol and your team should be stacked like this. This will only last a second, and getting into this formation is critical. Time is not on your side. If anyone is slow it will often lead to collisions as folks race in trying their best or cause a circle to drop way outside the drop zone leading to complications down the road. Note there here, melee dps have to take a back seat to dpsing and focus on the mechanics. They should not be trying to get a "hit" in or do damage of any kind. Focus on the mechanics, it'll be over soon. Players trying to damage the boss and get this right will wipe the team. Focus on getting the flow of this down, then encourage ranged to keep dpsing.
It is imperative for healers not to get out of range of the tank. Healers should always prioritize themselves to the sides and not the back corner. This is just an example of a bait/color pattern. It is 100% possible for all melee to get the same color, ect.
The collapse in part is usually where bad things happen. DO NOT USE FORCE SPEED! Slowly and gently move in. If you are afraid, you will pop the player beside of you, stand still. The basics are; get away from the walls and come toward the middle. It doesn't have to be perfect, and you do not have to exit the red missile. It is far better to take the hit and eat the missile, vs blow up the entire raid from a color circle collision. Slow and steady. The team has to be quick, but smart. Desync is a thing too. Moving too fast, too quickly, will cause the player next to you not to actually see what you just did. Many a times folks have just appeared on top of me and blown me up. If you know you have connection problems, be even more careful, this part is really all about pinpoint precision.
Everyone should clear out of the drop zones immediately after degauss has cast and the circles are off of the players and on the floor. We are once again safe to stack up.
The tank MUST push (not rotate) the boss backwards away from the colors and toward the center of the room. Failure to do so will lead to a wipe.
Stalker phase is coming next. Missiles in this phase are 100% deadly. You cannot mitigate them, and being inside a blast will end you.
The boss will stay still while it channels stalker protocol, the tank needs to run away quickly.
Watchdog will pick a color (it is random). The tank must "walk the dog" through the MATCHING colors, chomping them up like "pac-man". If the tank is caught in base contact with the boss, the tank is dead. Going through the wrong color (orange in this example), the entire raid is dead. Getting hit by a red missile blast here, dead.
This should be called the do-or-die phase. The tank must be quick here. Do not push the boss so far back that you cannot eat the circles, but do not have him so close that he will catch you. Middle of the room is usually fine as a starting point. You do not want him starting on top of one color, your luck will always have it that he starts as the opposite color and wipes your group, and this puts him too close to you so that he will catch you.
The flow will go: Stalker Protocol > Tank turns him toward the color he needs to eat > he begins chomping the color you want > Missiles go out > he chomps the rest > He stops and changes colors (Invert cast) > Tank RUNS! to the other side and chomps those colors (missiles should again go out as he begins chomping the other color). He only has a second or two before his color swaps after missiles, and likewise before it ends all together. You very much want him to eat all 8 circles.
First death missiles, melee and range can try to stack to ease the area denial effect.
Missiles round two as he starts chomping the other color.
A very brief transition. The tank and team have 3–4 seconds to get watchdog back where they want him. The tank needs to pick a corner, or wall etc. and stick to it. The team needs to spread back out and get ready for new colors to be applied to them.
Polarity Beam Phase
Watchdog's next trick is the polarity beam. With this mechanic, the tank (or raid lead) will be calling players in to intercept the beam. This takes some practice. Watch dog should have 8 stacks of a debuff on him at this point that is causing him to take more damage. Your team should be seeing its dps begin to ramp up. He will go to a maximum of 10 stacks. Correctly doing the polarity beam will increase the stacks, or refresh them if already at max. Messing up the polarity beam will cause the stacks to drop off and your team's dps to plummet, likely leading to a wipe.
The polarity beam phase opens with new color applications, then right into polarity beam.
The tank must step back and allow the color opposite the tank's color to intercept the beam. The beam will match the color that needs to intercept it. The tank should call the order of the 4 players coming in, when it is their turn, as well as when they are out and the next one up. Players called should be getting ready for their turn and being very focused on what is going on.
We typically let melee go first if they have a color needed. This gets them cleared off and out of the way of future collisions.
I am Orange, so I am calling blue players in. I call yellow melee first to clear them off. Yellow melee steps in and takes the hit. They must stand right under watchdog's head, right where the ball of energy is charging. Standing too far back will not count/refresh the "stack" and standing too close will miss the intercept and have the beam hitting the tank, causing all sorts of new problems.
Resetting - We have to do these 3 more times. As the tank, as soon as I hear the sizzle, I gap close to keep the boss from moving/ pounce of pursuing me. The DPS that just took the hit will be knocked back and now free of their color (note that you will still put red missiles on the floor, be smart about this. Try to stay toward the rear of the boss now).
Calling colors. Note that on the raid frames we can see who has what color. What I do is I put the melee in row two and which side of the boss they are on. North in this example is on my left, coward is on my right. I start with them then just go top-down calling players.
An example here:
"Coward first, then venus." Polarity beam charges and I move back, "Coward go in", Sizzle, I jump back in.
"Venus Next, then Anta" (thanks dead bug, I can barely read it). Polarity beam charges, "Venus go in", Sizzle, I jump back in.
Anta Next, then Cy'ani. Polarity beam charges, "Anta go in", Sizzle, I jump back in. "Cy'ani Last", blue, get ready to get to a wall.
"Cy'ani go in" Sizzle, I stay at the wall, "Degauss and reset!"
After the first polarity beam, 2-4 will be preceded by a missile cast. Positioning is critical here.
The timing will be missiles, tank moves back with polarity beam, missile circle disappears, beam fires. The player going in to intercept the beam has about 2 seconds before the beam fires after the red circle disappears. This means they have to be close.
ALWAYS stay perpendicular to the beam. Do not attempt to approach from behind the tank. You will be in the tank's blind spot, they are moving back, you are moving up. A collision will happen. Popping the tank's circle will lead to random colors and death and a wipe.
Leave yourself a little space to stand between your missile and the tanks when it comes in. The missile is the same size as your circle, so you can judge the space needed. Stand back a bit, plant your missile, scoot toward the beam and out of your missile blast circle, wait for the tanks to vanish then move into the beam.
Using a defensive cool down is a must for intercepting the beam. Taking the full impact can easily hit a player for 500k damage.
Solid Safe Approach
A good way to fry.
A great way to kill your tank off.
The polarity beam phase will repeat twice. Repeat the same process as before. I like to switch directions and go to the opposite way I had the boss facing the last time. It is easier to spin him around and move him quickly after the first polarity beam phas's degauss. As the tank, we will be on the wall cleaning our circle off.
Polarity Beam reset positioning.
New colors and repeat the process, same as before.
Stalker Protocol - Repeat
By this time, your group should have the boss at 25% or lower. It is very possible to push this fight very rapidly with 5 exceptional DPS. 40k dps is commonplace by this point in the game. 35k is somewhat average, anything below 30k indicates under performance. You should still have your 10 stack debuff on the boss and should still be burning it like mad. The final degauss has gone off, so colored circles are all along the perimeter of the room. As in the previous stalker phase, we do not want the boss to catch us, and we do not want him going through the opposite colors. We often play it safe and just walk him in a circle away from any colors as we burn. Final burn phase kicks in at 13.4% HP. We like to stop DPS during stalker phase if we are in danger of pushing him. It can be dangerous to push during stalker phase, but as with anything, timing is key. Push as soon as stalker ends for best results. Keep in mind the tank will need to be right on top of the boss or suffer massive damage/be one shot in burn by pounce of pursuit. This is the main reason we wait. It is easy for a tank to get globaled by watchdog if they get too close during stalker. The timing is important.
Targeted Watchdog Protocol
Getting this phase is a sign of low DPS. This phase sucks. It is a deadly mix of watchdog protocol (freeze colors) and polarity beam phase. The tank's color will always be the floor color, so they cannot move back to allow the opposite color in to match the beam and take the hit. The beam comes out twice in quick succession.
Should your team manage to wing their way through Targeted Watchdog Protocol, Multibeam Array is next. A droid will spawn in the center and paint 3 colored beams on 3 players. It must be interrupted 3 times in a row. Failure to do so causes 1 shot hits to the targeted players. I have not seen an enrage to this fight, but mechanics just seem to keep getting harder to deal with until the room kills your team.
Hair Trigger Protocol
This starts immediately as the boss hits 13.4%. It will freeze/CC all raid members and the boss. Note that this happening can be particularly deadly if the boss was in stalker protocol. If those red circles are out when this happens and freezes everyone in the red circles, it's a wipe. In this phase, the boss needs to be faced into a corner or side of the room. The tank cannot move and cannot TAUNT. Doing so is instant death for them. Everyone else should stay behind the red line and continue to DPS/Heal. Only the tank should be healed. If DPS are taking damage, that's on them. The tank will need cleansed after each missile. Healers should alternate and agree who is going first. Melee should stack on watchdogs left leg, moving over to the right for the first missile, then back to the left on the next. If colors went out, they are FAKE. Stack up. Missile blast are not instant death here, but your healers are busy tunneling the tank. This phase is pretty simple. Keep the tank alive and win. Ranged should make sure they are not blocking the healers. Healers need to speak up here and get close. They MUST be able to tunnel the tank.
Anyone in front of the red line cannot move or taunt the boss. Doing so is instant death.
Congratulations, Watchdog is dead! Your team has just earned 2 watchdog purple tokens. These can be cashed in for Relics, Pants or bracers. I recommend going with the pants first. Watchdog is a ton of fun, but also requires an insane amount of coordination. It is an easy, quick boss when executed correctly. It just takes one player to mess the entire fight up, making it very frustrating at times. It is very farmable and good for 4 pcs of purple gear.