The Journey into Savage 30A casual scrub's raiding misadventures
March 23rd. It is the end of Week 5 of Savage release. I woke up early, determined to attack the add phase. This is a challenging phase for the tank, who must stun the Aqueous aethers to buy time, interrupt the Earthen aether's Stoneskin, and DPS down the electric aethers (DPS have trouble doing it, since they reflect damage). The ability to quickly switch targets and prioritize on the fly is important. Tanks should use cooldowns while attacking the electric aethers, because they reflect large amounts of damage.
Unlike most DPS checks in the game, this part stresses the ability to burst (quickly spend resources for a short period of high DPS) rather than good DPS overall. PLD has very little ability to burst, but it has a secret weapon - it is one of very few jobs that can stun whenever it likes with Shield Bash! This skill is widely considered useless, but in Savage we must deploy every weapon we have. I will cast Shield Bash, Clemency, even Avada Kedavra, if it'll get me the clear.
I was lucky and got a party that had 3 people who already cleared in it. They had already been playing together for a while when I joined, making them unusually coordinated and experienced for a learning party. Thanks to the party's strength, we cleared adds on the very first pull. Every final Savage boss has a unique form not seen in normal mode, a little exclusive treat for those who have made it this far, and for the first time, I saw with my own eyes the transition of Shiva into her final form.
I know it sounds silly, but as I watched, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I remember what it was like seeing Titan Maximum for the first time, after doubting that I would ever see it. Back then, I promised myself that I would see the rest to the end, and I felt that old resolve come back to me now.
A lot of people play this game mainly for the story, and it's great that they are able to enjoy one of the few story-focused MMO's. For me, I became more invested in my own story: the story of a casual scrub struggling to clear Savage. I already know how the MSQ will end: the good guys will win, and the bad guys will lose. But I don't know if I can clear, and somehow, that makes my story matter more to me. However difficult, I must find the strength to write a happy ending for myself...
I was able to quickly progress past the next major mechanic, Wyrm's Lament 1. However, I soon ran into new trouble. Shiva's main mechanic are her mirrors, which reflect her attacks after a short delay. In normal mode, there are only a handful of reflected patterns. In Savage, not only are there more mirrors and patterns, sometimes combined with stack or spread mechanics, there are 3 different kinds of mirrors that reflect after different delays. The mirrors reflect everything from Akh Morns to slippery ice!
One set of mirrors in particular is problematic. In this mechanic, Shiva will teleport to the edge and cast a knockback attack, that is reflected by two mirrors with different delays. The first mirror will knockback in 1 direction, dealing extra damage to the closest player, and give the 4 closest players vuln up. Then the other mirror will do the same in the opposite direction. The "intended" solution is the players form up into two light parties with the tanks closest to the respective mirrors, to prevent anyone receiving 2 stacks of vuln up (which is lethal) and be knocked back and forth.
However, someone found out that if you time Arms Length or Surecast just right, it lasts just long enough to negate both knockbacks, allowing you to stand at the edge of the platform and dps away. You guessed it, this is the strat that all of Aether wants to do! When I first heard of this strat, I was shocked. Do you really want me to press 1 button with split second accuracy almost 9 minutes into the fight, and if I fail, half the party or more dies? My immediate reaction was to think that there is only 1 way to describe such a risky plan:
However, after completing my weekly reclears on the 25th, I was able to approach the problem more calmly. Looking at the timeline, Shiva's mirrors act exactly 5 seconds apart, and the duration of Arms' Length is 6 seconds. Thus, the margin of error is 1 second. 1 second is not that bad; I have done mechanics such as Quietus in E2S and "fast bombs" in E4S which have comparable margins of error.
The mirrors appear as untargetable adds, and their reflected attacks have their own cast bars. Coincidentally, the cast time of the first reflected attack is also 5 seconds. This means we can use the length of the cast bar to determine when there is 1 second remaining. We must press Arm's Length so that it takes effect when the faster cast bar is within the last 20% of the length. Based on my measurements, this should be after the first "l" in "Hallowed":
This image is from my recordings. I found a run where 1 player did the mechanic correctly. I advanced the recording every 0.1s, until I saw Surecast appear on his status, and took a snapshot of the mirror's castbar at the exact moment. His usage of Surecast fell within the safe zone, confirming my theory. After more practice, I was able to put my plan into practice and do it correctly at last.
Second by second, step by step, towards a victory forged with our own two hands, the journey continues. It is the 27th of March, week 6 of Savage release, and I have mastered exactly 9 minutes of 14-minute battle.
Don't get bitter, just get better! Let's clear together next time!Next: A Dragonsong of Ice & Fire >>