The Journey into Savage 38A casual scrub's raiding misadventures
As I approached E11S, a fearsome number began to be heard throughout raiding circles: 125,000
. The amount of firepower required to clear the boss.
If you are the average casual player who doesn't use DPS meter, it's hard to describe to you how big an obstacle this is, especially for a casual like me. On week 1, some parties only cleared with everyone drinking Grade 4 tinctures. It's obvious that strenuous measures will be needed for success. Before my first practice, I prepared grade 4 tinctures of strength, the best raid food, pentamelded everything, Emerald sword and 2 pieces of tomestone gear to improve my chances.
To top it all off, E11S is a very punishing fight, one with strict timing and positioning requirements. Just look how tiny the safe spot is, for this particular attack (Turn of the Heavens 1). I even changed my character's clothes, so that I could see the safe spots clearly.
The boss's main mechanic imbues himself with an element, changing the effect of his attacks, similar to Seat of Sacrifice EX. Unlike normal mode, he has three different attacks (Burning Strike, Elemental Break and Bound by Faith), and three different elements (fire, lightning and holy), for no less than 9 different combinations
that require players to stack, dodge and bait attacks in different positions. By contrast, most mechanics in FFXIV only have 2-4 possible combinations. Even the feared Light Rampant of E8S, for all its unforgiving timing and positioning requirements, had only 2 patterns to memorize. There is no easy way around this obstacle - the only thing to do is practice, practice and practice until you can react without even thinking.
These mechanics may be simple to execute individually, but to do them fluently and confidently without hesitation and with a high degree of consistency is a different matter. Early on in my Savage days I was very DPS-focused, because you need firepower to clear, and there was a time when I would eagerly wait for people in the party to upload the log so I could analyze it. But the long battles against Titan and Shiva changed my mind. If you ask me, I think the more fundamental skill is to be consistent - that is, to be able to always perform the mechanic correctly after you have learned it. Be consistent, and the firepower will come. Without consistency, many of your promising runs will be ended early by careless mistakes.
The main progression obstacle is the phase called "Sundered Sky". Unusually, during this phase the boss can't be attacked, and all you have to do is dodge. The party must precisely bait and avoid several attacks that occur in rapid succession, and at first glance, it's a confusing barrage of aoe's from every direction. However, cunning raiders observed that the Thancred clones that fire Break Strikes from the sides are always perpendicular to each other. Based on that, several groups independently came up with a strategy that only requires you to stand still, or rotate 45 degrees. In NA, this is called "Braindead strat". I heard this is also called "lala strat" in Japan datacenters (why lala, I got no clue, lol!)
You know, it may require fewer brain cells to execute, but training yourself to stand still while huge explosions are going off everywhere takes real discipline. If someone runs around randomly, or moves too soon, they'll kill the whole party!
Oh, and there's this phase! If you've done the normal mode, you've seen the mechanic where clones of the boss appear around the edge and fire attacks, but due to the mist, they are only visible at close range. In Savage there are no less than 8 clones, one at every cardinal and intercardinal direction. 3 of the clones will raise their arms (as in the image below) to indicate that they will attack; the safe spots are in front of the 2 clones directly opposite each other that do not raise their arms. This requires all 8 players to stand at the edge of a clone, and communicate to the party whether their side is safe. Initially, I wondered how the developers expect PF to do this without voice comms, and I had all kinds of wacky ideas on how to do this, including using fireworks, or every player hotkey a macro to yell to the party if their position is safe. It turns out that the solution is actually very simple. Assign each player to stand at the arena edge in front of a clone. If the clone raises its arm, you move forward, and if you see the player opposite you move forward, then you move forward as well. The safe spots are at the 2 players who didn't move. Thank goodness, I'm not responsible for coming up with anyone's strats.
By the end of Week 2, I had learned everything up till the final phase. I made some half-hearted attempts to push for the clear on my own in PF after my static raid hours were over. However, I was burnt out after all the time I spent playing in the first week (I spent over 10 hours alone on E9S to clear it in PF, abnormally long for a first fight) and couldn't focus, so my performance was poor. In the end, I took most of Christmas week off the game and only returned to challenge the last phase late in week 3.
In the final phase, Cycles of Faith, the boss rapidly does a Elemental Break - Burning Strike - Bound by Faith combo, with a random element! Not only is fast and precise movement needed, but incoming damage is extremely heavy. If you cleared E2S, you may remember the punishing and very similar Quietus phase. Even Ryne lampshades the reused mechanic:
Unusually for a phase with such heavy damage, most mechanics force the healers to move or the party to scatter, making it difficult for the healers to easily heal up the party. The healers and tanks must coordinate mitigation and shielding, or you won't survive. And it's recommended to save the strongest defenses for the lightning cycle, which deals massive damage.
Since there is no tankbuster this late in the fight, I decided to use my PLD privilege again: use Hallowed Ground, stand in the middle and ignore everything. Muahahahaha! You can ignore 1 of the 3 cycles with this. I was advised to do this for the electric cycles, which has the biggest uptime loss for melee.
This is the classic Savage raid experience: the boss at less than 1% with the enrage bar half full. Can we do it?OH YEAH BABY!
On December 28, I cleared E11S. At this point in Eden's Verse, I had also cleared E7S, so I was able to maintain my previous rate of progression.
Advancing to the final battle! Let's clear together next time!