Underneath the Cutlass Keys, an undead crew make their home and hides their treasures. It is said that even deeper secrets hide further in their caves, but one would first need to face Admiral Blackpowder, and that is a very difficult thing to do indeed. Barnacles and Black Powder is a level 65 expedition, putting it firmly in endgame territory. In addition to being the newest and highest level end game 4-player expedition, Barnacles and Black Powder is in the mutation rotation, leading to even more difficult battles against these Lost foes.
All of the enemies in this expedition fall under the Lost category. This means that they suffer a weakness to Strike, Ice, and Nature damage. Conversely, the Lost have resistance to Thrust and Void damage. Another thing your party will find throughout the expedition is a cursed treasure. This cursed treasure grabs at you and your attention, letting it slowly drain your life away as they are in contact. You will be slowed and take damage over time whenever you are in contact with this cursed treasure. The caves of Black Powder are also trapped, with swinging axes installed in many choke points, which can lead to large swaths of health being cut away. The final expedition-wide mechanic is the gates. These gates can only be opened by switches, and these switches can only be used by shooting them with a ranged attack, meaning there is an unwritten requirement to have at least 1 expedition member armed with a ranged weapon.
Starting the Expedition proper, your party will need to walk the path, opening gates, dodging axes, and fighting two mini-bosses, Third Officer Gibbs and Gunner Jett. Once the two have fallen, your party will come across the first encounter of the expedition. Three waves of enemies, each worse than the last. The first wave is just Lost, and the second is Lost and Chompers, whose lunge attack hits twice for a large chunk of damage. The final and most deadly round brings with it the Master at Arms, as once they fall, several explosive enemies will charge into the room. After slaying them as well, the party will need to head north to Fire Agent Jones, kill them, and take their fuse. The fuse is then used with the explosives in the previous room to blow a hole in the wall, allowing your party to continue onwards.
In the Black Flag Cove, your party will fight 2nd Officer Bartham. To continue from there, a switch will need to be hit to lower a bridge, much like the gates. After fighting First Officer Wells, the expedition introduces the party to the cannon mechanic that will be used in the upcoming boss fight. Loading a cannon with a cannonball allows the cannon to be fired, revealing a new switch that opens the way to Admiral Blackpowder.
Once you engage the Admiral in battle, he’ll use 3 of his attacks. A melee AOE attack, a knockdown attack, and throwing a barrel of black powder. These barrels can be destroyed, and if they are not, they’ll explode. When a quarter of his health is gone, the DPS phase will end, and Admiral Blackpowder will jump up to the second floor. Lookouts will rush into the arena to fight the party, and the Admiral will start a new attack, a column of bombs will move across the arena, line by line. The attack covers the entire board, so players will either need to dodge through the bombs or tank the damage. In order to knock the Admiral back down, the party will need to load the cannons around the map with cannonballs that spawn on the ground, and then aim them at the Admiral. Once the Admiral is hit enough, they’ll come back down to fight. This second DPS phase comes with a new attack, which targets each party member with a fire AOE that lingers on the field. After half their health is gone, they will once again retreat upwards, and the previous phase repeats, with a twist. Instead of 1 column of bombs, it is two perpendicular lines of bombs working their way through the map. Rinse and repeat cannon fire and fighting until the Admiral is finally brought to rest.
Passing through corridors of cursed treasure, traps, and geists, the party will find and defeat Sergeant Morris, allowing you all to discover Tye, an NPC. Talking to Tye will allow the party to unlock the final Boss fight, by moving Nereid’s Offering from one statue to another three times. Each time generates a small lightning storm around the carrier, slowing them and doing damage over time. Once each offering is at the new statue, the path to Nereid opens, and the final boss awaits.
Nereid is a difficult boss, with a lot of mechanics to keep track of. By the end of the fight, it can be difficult to find a safe place to stand. But the rewards are more than worth the fight. When said fight begins, she will have access to 5 attacks. A whirlwind attack where she moves across the map damaging all she touches, a knockdown attack, a lightning AOE centered on her thrown spear, a wave of water with significant damage, and a temporary hurricane that functions similarly to the whirlwind attack. Once Nereid has been chipped away to half health, she will become Enraged. When this happens, she will spawn two permanent hurricanes, her normal hurricanes will spawn in groups instead of alone, and her water wave attacks drastically increase in frequency. Keep slowly chipping away at her health until she falls, and then your party will walk away from this expedition positively overladen with wealth.