Today I entered Alphascape v1.0 Savage, also called O9S.
This is not normal content, so it's prudent to make preparations. I bought HQ Shakshouka and Grade 3 Str infusions, since the use of raid food is considered standard in Savage (even for learning, the vit from food helps survive mistakes). I also beat the SSS (Stone, Sea, Sky) dummy for O9S to confirm that I have the dps required.
I went through a video guide and a timeline to note down all mechanics that will happen, dividing them into groups of 4-5 mechanics, to help me memorize them.
Then it's off to PF to find a learning party!
O9S is almost the same fight as O9N, with the addition of enrage, and a few important differences. First, none of the mechanics have telegraphs, so there is less room for error. Here I am, stacked with the party to do the donut attack in Tsunami phase. You can see that the margin of safety on either side of me is probably only 1.5 yalms. 2 players standing incorrectly will wipe everyone except the tanks.
Secondly, there are additional debuffs that kill you or give damage down unless resolved by taking very specific actions, so the coordination requirement is tighter. You must move and stand very accurately, often have to preposition, and can't just react on the fly.
The only way I can describe playing Savage is, imagine you and 7 other people are playing DDR. However, if you make too many wrong steps, all the DDR machines explode and everyone dies. Failed mechanics snowball into wipes much easier than in EX. In a way, it's a mercy. You are not allowed to limp to the finish line, only to find out you can't beat enrage.
PF leader, a SCH, boldly declares "my goal tonight is to clear this boss and do my homework." #lifegoals! Lol. WAR reminds her to do homework, haha.
WAR can't stay for long himself as his wife is calling him. Two ninjas drop party with him. Someone in the group switches to DRK, and we open the PF for replacements. While waiting, I go over my recording of the fight to see what went wrong. I feel like a detective poring over CCTV footage, trying to crack a murder mystery. Who stood in the wrong spot? Who failed the mechanic?! OBJECTION! Actually, it's me, my bad. PF fills with a SAM and BRD and off we go.
MNK is my DPS partner, and says barely anything. His damage is monstrous. From his movements, it's clear he is experienced and knows the whole fight. In fact, upon zoning in, the game tells me that 3 people out of 8 have already cleared O9S for the week, and will receive no more loot for clearing. They offer to answer our questions. Why are these raiders with us newbies? What do they stand to gain? So many people have to be bribed with tomestones, gear and glamours to do content, like the game is a second job, but these veterans are here merely for fun.
DRK has to leave too, it's getting late in the U.S. But SMN is really excited and upbeat. Every time someone leaves, there he is, encouraging the rest of us to stay. "Guys, we can do this. Stay. Come on!" Another WAR joins and off we go.
SAM is having problems with certain mechanics. He asks questions in chat, and the WAR and SMN talk with him how to do them properly. Everyone is patient and civil. Surprisingly, I don't feel any frustration at his mistakes. After all, just an hour earlier I wiped the party with the Tsunami donut aoe and got hit by Big Bang 3 pulls in a row. I am not an angel, and I admit sometimes I feel annoyed with people who are playing very poorly in normal mode. It's human nature to think things like "this is easy, how can you not be able do this?" But when I go back to normal mode, I will always remember what it felt like to be humbled, to struggle again, and understand that maybe another player is going through this as well.
As casual players, we perceive Savage as an unforgiving place populated by toxic, elitist raiders who will call you all kinds of things if you fail a single mechanic and kick you if your fflogs are not good enough.
But I always wondered if this stereotype makes any sense. Raiding is by definition a cooperative activity. Won't toxic people struggle to find statics or fill their PF, or avoid being kicked from PF themselves?
Besides, doesn't raiding demand skills that directly counter the "toxic raider" stereotype? To raid you must have patience, to deal with wipe after wipe. You need cooperation and communication, to coordinate for mechanics, diagnose what went wrong after each wipe, and teach other players. You need leadership, to direct and motivate other players. And you need humility, to realize that often you are the one who caused the wipe, to learn from others and be open to advice. Maybe I'm wrong, but so far I saw nothing that suggested otherwise.
Casual players like us don't get to practise these skills much, because in normal mode you can do whatever you like and still clear. That's why you see DPS pulling for the tank, tanks not using cooldowns, DPS not using enmity management, healers letting people die out of spite, people ignoring advice, and all kinds of dumb arguments and unkindness. We also take it for granted that we will clear, and are not accustomed to dealing with failure, which is why wipes lead to so much salt. I won't be surprised if there is far more toxicity in casual content than there is in Savage. Difficult content forces us to work together.
I once did Alphascape v4.0 normal in DF, and a dragoon ran off with the stack marker and died alone. The guy did not even cause a wipe on an easy fight, yet immediately a healer said "stupid", and we cleared in chilly silence. The atmosphere was full of unfriendliness, and nobody wanted to talk. Compare this to what happened in the learning party when we wiped after failing a complex mechanic:
Me: MNK, did I hit you correctly with the donut?
MNK: You did it correctly. WAR donut hit me too somehow.
WAR: I wasn't knocked back, so I was out of position.
SAM: Yeah, I died and didn't get the debuff, so WAR wasn't knocked back.
Mystery solved, we continued without drama.
That's why I choose to challenge Savage. Not for gear, I can get level 400 stuff from much easier content. Not for pride, in a few months everyone can unsync this and get the titles/mount. Not for competition, I want to do good dps, but only as a way of contributing further to the group and to avoid enrage. Maybe it's for the challenge, but I cannot claim to be a good player.
No, I only want to rediscover the sense of teamwork, the whole reason I play this game.
After 3 hours, I make a dumb mistake and stand in the middle during Blaze phase, failing an easy mechanic I've done correctly every time until now, wiping the group. I've been in the same PF from start till now. I realize I'm tired and losing focus, so I apologize, wish the team luck, and leave. Teammates are very understanding. I didn't clear today, but I learned all the mechanics except the soft enrage, and was able to perform them correctly until the end, including the Dark Crystal add phase. After a few hours, Savage no longer seems so scary.
Make sure to do your homework and study hard SCH!
Don't get bitter, just get better! Let's clear together next time!