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Ascalon Catacombs Explorable Guide - "Hodgins' Route"

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January 8, 2013 - 5:26pm -- Xerin
Ascalon Catacombs

Ascalon Catacombs (AC) is a level 35 dungeon that is the first players can undertake in Guild Wars 2.  Like the other dungeons in Tyria, there are 3 paths with several bosses overlapping between them all. I would consider that is one of the quickest to run with large portions and entire bosses easily avoided.  Some of the bosses can be tricky with most requiring your team to deal high damage due to timed encounters.  In this first guide, we take a look at route one: “Hodgins”.

The Basics

Graveling Burrows

I’ve placed this here, under “The Basics” because Burrows (which spawn Gravelings) make up a huge portion of Ascalon Catacombs.  You can identify Burrows because they erupt from the ground as muddied tunnel with a gaping entrance.  As soon as you see one beginning to appear (there is a clear rumbling animation on the ground) head straight to the location and use area of effect skills.  If the Burrow surfaces, have your melee places strafe round it while attacking to ensure they hit it (it is sometimes bugged) while your spell casters continue to AOE.


Gravelings are small lizard like creatures that follow the larger variants.  They are relatively easy to kill but can overwhelm in large numbers.  Using Area of Effect skills is the best course of action for dealing with these. 


These are large Gravelings that have the ability to spawn their smaller counterparts.  If left unchecked they can quickly spew out dozens, making your parties life incredibly difficult.  If you can keep the Breeder in one place, using AOE attacks on it will quickly kill any Gravelings that come out its mouth.

Pro-Tip: If you have a mesmer in your party, tell them to equip Feedback Bubble.  If they cast this over a Breeder, any Gravelings they spawn will be under YOUR parties control. How cool is that?


Howlers are similar in size to Breeders and let out Area of Effect conal “shouts” that can cause considerable damage.  The best thing you can do in this situation is watch for their animation (their arms spread out and their mouth opens) before dodging out the way.  Alternatively, attack the Howlers from behind to avoid it all together.


The equivalent of a hammer warrior with their knockdowns, it can be difficult to escape a Scavenger if you’re repeatedly knocked to the ground.  Attacking these from behind similarly to Howlers is effective, alternatively keeping them at range works just as well.  I would add that killing Scavengers first should be your top priority as they really can hurt.


Small and poisonous these tend to arrive in large numbers with some being silver elite versions. If you don’t have a conditional removal skill it’s highly likely you’ll suffer considerable health loss in a very short space of time.  Like Gravelings, using area of effect skills here is incredibly effective while saving your condition removal just for the right moment.

Cave Troll

I’ve placed these here, as opposed to under the “Bosses” section because the Cave Troll might not always appear.  You’ll know when it does because it’s large, bursts through a random wall and will run straight towards you.  What I will add is that they’re incredibly easy to fight against, simply keep them at range and burst them down.

Ascalonian Ghosts

Not all paths in Ascalon will see you encounter Ghosts however, you definitely should be aware of them as they are the hardest enemies in the dungeon.  All of the Ghosts replicate one of Guild Wars 2’s eight professions and have a set of skills from said profession.  For example, the ranger has a knockback, the elementalist a Firestorm and necromancers life drains.  In terms of kill priority, always ensure you kill the rangers and elementalists as these hit hard and fast and are more than capable of wiping out your entire group. Where the melee Ghosts are concerned, leave those until last as they can be easily kited.

Bosses – “Hodgins' Route”

Spider Queen

Spider Queen

All paths in Ascalon Catacombs lead through the Spider Queen and although experienced groups can avoid her with a little skill, it’s necessary to know what to do as she provides coin and tokens.  In reality, she is little more than a “tank and spank” encounter but tricky based on her being very heavy on poison.  Before the encounter, ensure everyone in the party has condition removal, in addition when you enter her room (either leaping over the fencing from the stairs above or through the entrance) move straight to the back of the room away from the exit.  This will attract the smaller spiders which also poison.  After killing them, target and kill the gargoyles on the walls to the right to prevent them from spewing fire.  Once these are killed and the spiders are dead, the Queen will descend from the ceiling.  The only thing you need to watch out for is her area of effect poison blasts which she spews out onto the floor.  If you dodge these you should remain poison free. Other than that, ensure that melee players stand behind her to avoid any of her direct attacks.


  • Ensure your party has condition removal skills before entering the room.
  • I’d recommend attacking the smaller spiders, using Area of Effect skills, from the top of the stairs.  After they are dead you can leap over the fence to the room below.
  • Target the Gargoyles after the spiders as their flame blasts are easily avoided.
  • When the Spider Queen descends, have melee players position themselves behind her as they can then easily avoid her poison spray.
  • As a ranged player, prepare to dodge her Area of Effect poison attack to remain condition free.  It can be difficult however as the AOE overlaps and has a very large radius.

Kill Zone

Kill Zone

I’ve included this under bosses based on the fact it can be as difficult as one.  After killing the Spider Queen you have to exit the room up a ramp.  The tunnel however is littered with spike traps and patrolling is a pack of 4 Gravelings (2 Scavengers, 1 Howler and 1 Breeder).  The easiest method here is to have all but one of your party stay in the Spider Queen room, with one individual tasked to pull the pack.  Once pulled, simply focus the Gravelings in the following order: Scavengers, Breeder, Howler.  After killing the Gravelings, have one member of your party who can gain swiftness run up the tunnel after the traps disappear.  Once at the top of the tunnel on your left is a chain which will disable the traps.  An elementalist is exceptional here due to their speed and ability to leap distances with skills such as ride the lightening.  After the traps have been disabled the rest of your party can join you.


  • Pull the pack of Gravelings into the Spider Queens room.
  • Focus on the Scavengers first, then the Breeder and lastly the Howler.
  • Task one of your party with running through the tunnel once the spike traps have rescinded. Using swiftness and movement abilities is key here.
  • Once at the top of the tunnel, pull the chain on the left-hand side of the exit to disable the traps.

Lieutenant Kohler

Lieutenant Kholer

I will stress now that Kohler can be avoided completely. If you want to keep your run time to a minimum simply climb the stairs and jump onto the edge and move around him.  If however you’re a completionist and are seeking an extra chest of goodies, as well as bag of coin, you’ll have to fight him.

First and foremost, for unorganised groups it’s highly likely you will wipe a few times.  Although for the most part he is a tank and spank, his Area of Effect scorpion wire can kill a party in seconds.  First and foremost and contrary to many guides, killing his two ghosts makes life so much easier, as it gives you less to worry about and more space to move.  Focus on either of his two ghosts and quickly kill them before returning your attention to Kohler.

The main thing you need to be aware of, as just mentioned, is his scorpion wire.  When he draws his arm back and inwards he will unleash the hooks, pulling all players towards him and 99% of the time killing anyone effected. If you dodge just prior to him releasing you can avoid the pull or if you dodge just after being pulled you’ll avoid his subsequent damage.  As a third method of defence you can utilise the pillars surrounding Kohler as a blocking object or skills such as Wall of Reflection.

Kohler’s second attack is a melee leap though this is easily identified (it has an extravagant animation) and easily avoided by just dodging out the way.  If you can perfect the avoidance of his Area of Effect pull, you will easily kill him just don’t expect to have a perfect run on your first time.


  • Kill the ghosts flanking Kohler as quickly as possible.  This frees up space to move and leaves you with less to worry about.
  • Pay attention to Kohlers animations.  If he pulls his arm back and inwards, he is about to pull you all to him.
  • Time your dodges at this point to avoid the pull or stand behind nearby pillars.
  • If you get pulled, dodge at the point of impact and you should avoid most of the damage.
  • Using skills such as Wall of Reflection will also save you from the pull.
  • Be aware of his second leap attack.  This has a clear animation similar to a rangers sword skill (viper striker).  Just dodge out of the way when he does it.

Graveling Burrows

Graveling Burrow

The most difficult part of the dungeon is the Graveling Burrows encounter, where you have to protect Hodgins as he generally stands at a table doing very little. The objective is to kill the 6 spawning burrows, while keeping Hodgins alive. If he dies, the encounter will reset and you’ll have to revive Hodgins and start again.

The easiest method here is to simply task one (or two) members of your party to stand in the entrance. When you begin the event, a burrow will spawn there. If you don’t kill it, the hardest burrow will not appear until last, making the encounter much easier.  In the very beginning of the encounter, two burrows spawn (one in the entrance, and one to the right of the table if facing Hodgins). You simply need to work your way around the remaining 5 burrows, killing them as quickly as possible you are then free to destroy the burrow in the entrance. The picture below highlights in white the burrows you need to kill first. The burrow highlighted in red, should be saved until you've killed the 4 leading up to it.

Graveling Burrows


  • Don’t kill the burrow that spawns in the entrance. Kill this last or very late on.
  • Task one or two members of your party with babysitting the burrow in the entrance. Having high toughness and health is a benefit for this individual.
  • Don’t let Hodgins die, if he does the encounter will reset.
  • Make use of haste based skills as these allow you to quickly burn down burrows. High damage builds are a must here.
  • AOE skills can be very useful for damaging Graveling’s that spawn from the burrows.
  • Beware of Breeders appearing as these can make the encounter very difficult if left to their own devices.

Artifact Recovery

Scepter Fragment

This “boss” requires very little tactics and simply involves your party having to collect 5 sceptre pieces scattered randomly in a large circular room.  The difficulty here is that the room is littered with Gravelings.  Thankfully you don’t need to attack or kill any of them to collect the pieces. All you and your party need to do is run into the room (swiftness is a must) pick up the pieces and then exit the way you came.  It isn’t even necessary for your entire party to do this as a single person with swiftness can do it in a matter of moments and because the Gravelings are leashed to the area, the moment you pickup the sceptre pieces and exit, they return to their original location.


  • Task one or have all of your party use swiftness skills to run into the room.
  • The sceptre pieces are scattered randomly so simply run around (avoiding the Gravelings) to pick them up.
  • Use cripple/chilled skills to slow Gravelings who get a little too close for comfort.
  • Don’t fight any Gravelings, there is no need!
  • Once you’ve collected all 5 pieces as a party, exit the room from the way you came in.
  • After exiting the room, the aggravated Gravelings will return to their original starting positions.  

The Howling King

The Howling King

The Howling King is a giant Graveling that patrols an oval area deep within the catacombs. Although a little tricky at first (he hits hard) it’s actually an incredibly easy encounter. Like many bosses in Guild Wars 2, it is often better to keep him at range to avoid his shout. Accompanying the Howling King are series of Breeders so before you pull the main boss, it’s wise to pull these individually to make the encounter much easier. The Howling King has 3 main abilities you need to be aware of:


This skill allows him to dive underground and avoid all your attacks. It also allows him to travel to you unharmed before leaping out of the ground, that will kill almost anyone if hit. Watch out for his tunnelling and move away as quickly as possible.

Breeder Spawn

This skill allows him to summon small and large Graveling’s and you should ensure these are killed as a priority or you will be quickly overwhelmed. Once they are, you can once again concentrate on the boss.

Spirit Scream

This conal attack will kill you instantly while it also has a huge range. Annoyingly, its animation also regularly bugs so you might find yourself dying for no reason. The best method of avoiding this is to not stand in front of him, though I’ve been killed by it countless times even when behind him. Stay at range and dodge, dodge, dodge!

If you do die, fortunately the Waypoint is only seconds away so you can quickly run back. However, if you perfect avoiding the above 3 skills you’ll kill the boss in minutes without a single loss of life.


  • Pull the Breeders that surround the Howling King one at a time.
  • Ensure you have a ranged weapon equipped as it can be a difficult for melee players to survive.
  • Learn and avoid his three key skills either by staying at range or dodging the attacks. 
  • Ensure you kill any Graveling’s as they spawn as these can overwhelm a party. 



Wedge7's picture
Submitted by Wedge7 on

Nice write up, thank you. You seem to do things a little differently to me in parts, so here's some extra hints I've found. 

I always target breeders first, to stop the small gravelings overwhelming the party. 

Before choosing a path, it's possible to destroy a couple of gargoyles and spiders in the spider queen room. Have 1 person hang back at the start ready to talk to the charr to choose the path, and the other 4 rush ahead and destroy the gargoyles. 

The first burrow that spawns at the bottom of the stairs can just be ran past. 

You can get the cave troll and kohler to fight each other. When they're both low on health, join in and get some easy loot. 

With the 5 burrows and defending Hodgins, my kill order is 1-2-3- 5 - 4 -6. I thought 4 only spawned once 5 had been destroyed? 

I'm pretty sure the scepter fragments are always in the same place in the large room. Hardest thing to deal with is the scavengers' KD, so timing dodges or having stability is a must. 

I agree 100% with you on the boss though. Spirit Scream sometimes seems to have a 270 degree arc to it!