The Journey into Savage 12A casual scrub's raiding misadventures
In ancient times, cartographers drew sea monsters and dragons in unexplored areas on their maps to represent the dangers of the unknown. It's fitting that, as I go further into Savage than I have ever gone, I am greeted by Leviathan.
I go alone, with no static to accompany me, but I feel excited, carefree, like an explorer setting sail for the shores of a mysterious new continent in search of treasure.
The 4 levels of a Savage tier are of increasing difficulty, and the 3rd level is often considered significantly more difficult than the first two. However, many NA raiders commented that Leviathan was easy. Indeed, following barely 45 minutes of practice, the first learning party I joined on Sunday, the 25th of August, stumbled all the way to Tsunami 2 - the second-last major mechanic (and then we promptly got completely destroyed. Lol!)
The dps check for Leviathan is even more difficult than that of E2S, and it is a fight with less predictable movement, which I traditionally do not perform well on. But I had hope. Tuesday was the 7th week of Eden Normal's release, and the level 460 Deepshadow weapon became available. By using the new weapon and improving my gameplay, I increased my dps on my Voidwalker reclear by almost 400 and won a pair of gloves.
* * *Saturday morning, Aug 31
. I had a day off, so I decided to wake up early and play. It was NA prime time, and PF was full of parties recruiting for various stages of the fight. At one point, there were over a dozen parties for E3S alone. I joined various "2nd Tsunami prog" parties, but not every party went smoothly. Once, the party owner wanted a spot called by another player, and the player refused to let him have it. They both stood in uncooperative silence for 5 minutes until I grew annoyed, said "thanks for the party" and left. We didn't even get to do a single pull. Guys, you are not kids fighting for the window seat on the airplane! Come on!
Another party got off to a shaky start. After several failures to reach past the halfway point of the fight, our BLM said "This party isn't making it to Tsunami 2," before leaving. We returned to PF in silence to look for replacements. Ironically, we saw Tsunami 2 on the next pull, but I could also understand why the BLM left: progress was extremely shaky, and many pulls were ended early by mistakes on the early mechanics. I thought I was performing well, but then I died to Maelstrom twice in a row!
I was frustrated with myself, so I said "Sorry, I think I'm losing focus," thanked the party and left.
If I die during Maelstrom, I will not be raised in time to handle the tankbuster that comes after it. So the MT will die, too, and without enough people to do the next mechanic, the party will collapse. It is impossible to clear unless I can do this mechanic correctly 100% of the time. Our ship has run aground...
As I drove back from work on Sunday evening, I realized I could not handle the mechanic in an ad-hoc manner.
When Leviathan does Maelstrom, it dives across the arena 3 times. The first attack always comes from the north. The second will be from the east or west side, at random. The third will be from the south, and it will cover the half of the arena that was not hit by the first attack. To prevent players dodging by making small adjustments around the center, puddles appear which inflict heavy damage and uncleansable Heavy debuff.
But, there is no need to dodge 3 times in a row. In fact, I realized that all I need to pay attention to is the first 2 dives. Move to the safe quadrant for the first 2 attacks. Then stand at the edge of the first attack and move into it once it goes off.
Thinking about how to handle it in a logical way worked, and I was never hit by Maelstrom again. Hoist the sails! Full speed ahead!
* * *Sunday night, Sep 1.
I felt confident enough to go for the clear. I had not seen enrage yet, but by now I could do Tsunami 2 confidently and I had seen Black Smokers, the last major mechanic.
I joined the clear party that was closest to full. A WHM who was in my expert roulette earlier joined, then immediately left (I guess he didn't want to heal the Hell Tank in Savage. Lol!). Another player mistook which boss our party is for, and apologized when we got into the instance. But eventually we fill the party and set off.
Our first pull went so well! But there was miscommunication on how to handle Black Smokers, and we wiped at the very end.
(By the way, Black Smokers are undersea vents where mineral-rich hot water escapes into the ocean. In the E3S mechanic, a tethered player will drop puddles that another player has to step into and absorb, or the puddles explode for massive raidwide damage. I guess we're plugging the vents so they don't erupt?)
The SCH in our party played with extremely high skill and aggression, dropping damage puddles in unconventional spots to maximize uptime. Usually, players who can play like this without dying or wiping the party are among the most capable ones. (Later, when I checked fflogs, she turned out to be a 99th percentile SCH, the elite of the elite.) My cotank is also very skilled, and his dps is so high that even with tank stance on I keep losing enmity. Eventually I decide to hand the boss back to him after every tankbuster. After several false starts and wipes to early mechanics, we see enrage.
2% enrage. The first enrage I had ever seen on Leviathan.
The % of HP left when you hit enrage is critical. In my experience, if it is 1%~2%, there is a good chance to clear, especially if you hit enrage with several deaths or failed mechanics. Some people will only drink dps potions and eat raid food when they see enrage, so that provides a boost, and the deaths and mistakes can be avoided on the next run.
We prepare ourselves for another pull. This time, the battle goes smoothly until the very end where we have a death and I take a hit from a mechanic.
The enrage begins...
Can we do it? Or will it be a 0.2% wipe instead of 2%?
* * *
In those seconds, watching the castbar fill up, I felt an odd sense of peace. I thought to myself, "Yes. Yes we can."
Even if we wipe here, we can clear on the next pull. Or the next party, the next day, the next week. I realize that unlike on Voidwalker, I never once doubted that I would clear. I have come so far from that day, almost 8 months ago, when I beat Seiryu EX for the first time.
I remember one of Annabel's comments on my blog. "And you find this fun?!" she said. She does have a very good point. Savage involves a lot of dying and wiping, and people with low tolerance for deaths or wipes are not going to enjoy it, regardless of their skill at the game.
But there is also something else. I remember back when I first learned Seiryu in January, I kept thinking "this is too hard, this is so stressful, let's take a break." I was so tense that I could not press my ogcd's on cooldown like I was supposed to.
Was it fun? NO!
I felt miserable. I hated every second of it.
Would I do it again? YES!
If I had given up, maybe I would not be here today. I would not have slain Chaos, Titania and Innocence, journeyed through the Baldesion Arsenal, faced Eden Prime and Voidwalker, and shared in all those disasters and triumphs.
And in the process I learned to enjoy it, to have fun, like a sailor who learns to love the sea for all its dangers and hardships. It is the bitterness of those experiences that brings out the sweetness of victory, giving it depth and complexity, making it a memory worth remembering.
So as the enrage approached completion I was able to stare Leviathan in the eye and say: I am not afraid of you!
Seiryu EX had 2 dragon heads too, and he was more like Seiryu EZ. Even if we wipe here, on the next pull I will surely spank you 7 ways to Sunday (I don't even know what this trash talk means).Victory! Fetch the champagne!
No, wait! I was super happy until I checked fflogs and saw just how poor my performance
was! I played too conservatively, sacrificing too much dps to ensure mechanics were done safely. It was a shameful performance.
I was devastated. This rollercoaster life... it's is too much for me, lol.
I have sailed past stormy horizons to the clear skies beyond. But the journey into Savage takes me through stranger and more dangerous lands than ever before. Every onze of strength will be needed in order to not be a burden on the party.
First mate! Get me the bottle of "Gud" from the ship's hold instead. Review the ship's log to discover how to do more dps. Then, I will land on distant shores, and join those assembled for the attack on Titan.
Hell Tank, advancing to the final battle! Let's clear together next time!