19/07/2018

Terror From Beyond Master Mode Musings

This past Sunday was a big day for my guild ops team (we are back to having two separate progression teams and I'm still getting used to everything we do not automatically equalling "the guild" anymore): We defeated the Terror From Beyond on master mode for the first time.

Now, strictly speaking I got the achievement for doing this more than three years ago already, back when you could out-level the older operations to a certain degree and overpower them that way, before they were all level-synced. In fact, I remember a TFB run with some people who were taking such delight in how overpowered they were that they decided to ignore all the Terror's mechanics in the second phase of the fight and just plinked away at it despite of its large damage resistance until it entered the final phase of the encounter... and somehow, it worked.

Sort of an achievement, dated February 2015, with us overpowering the Terror by five levels.

However, this Sunday was our first time actually beating it at level, and boy, did it take us a long time. I didn't make a note of the exact date when we first started attempting the fight, but I do have some video footage that goes back as far as October. Now, we didn't literally spend nine months wiping on the boss - there were many weeks when we didn't even attempt it at all for one reason or another, such as not having enough people online, or not having a good team composition, or just plain old tiredness. However, we never seriously switched to a different progression target in all that time, so even without constant wiping on the same boss, nine months are a very long time to feel like you've basically hit a progression brick wall.

In hindsight I think the biggest challenges for us were simply the fight's length (this fight was the reason I changed my video recording software from allowing me to save the last ten minutes of gameplay to saving the last fifteen minutes - because I realised ten minutes wouldn't be enough to capture the whole fight), and how many opportunities it gives you to die. It's not that there are any mechanics that are super tricky to execute correctly, but your mind wandering at a bad time during the fifteen minute duration of the fight could be enough to wipe the group already. We actually suffered far more deaths early in the fight than in the later phases, I think at least partially because people started to zone out from all the repetition, which just led to even more mistakes.

So the final kill was super exciting to me, and as I often do I made a video out of it. Even at nearly twice the original speed it's still over seven minutes long, because that's just the kind of fight it is.



I actually really appreciated the way it ended up challenging me. While I've always liked TFB as an operation, the final fight was never really one of my favourites because as a healer the second phase in particular is actually pretty boring. There is all this exciting stuff going on with people jumping around between platforms, but as a healer you simply don't have to.

While working on this encounter however, we soon realised that the dps check was extremely high and even with all of our damage dealers trying their hardest, we were still a little off, which led to one of our members concocting a plan to get the second tank and one of the healers involved in adding more damage to make up the difference. As my usual co-healer is a Sage and it's a bit easier to add dps as a Commando due to the way the class manages its resources, I was soon instructed to run with the dps and hit tentacles in phase two as well (which you can see in the video).

This was actually quite confusing to me initially as despite of all my years of playing this game I've very rarely done anything but heal in operations, and certainly not on the harder difficulties. On our first tries involving this new strategy I made pretty much all the newbie mistakes I'd seen damage dealers make over the years, such as getting slammed to death by a tentacle, accidentally jumping on a tank platform, or simply falling to my death at random after running off a platform at a bad angle. To my credit though, at least I didn't do any of those things more than once. In the final attempt I was playing it quite cautiously, opting out of dpsing a few times when I felt that a bit of extra healing was more important at the time, but in the end my contribution still made enough of a difference for us to get the kill.

The whole thing did make me a bit philosophical as well though, because again: nine months. I'm actually kind of surprised we didn't end up losing more people during that time simply because they gave up hope / ran out of motivation. In a way this record-length expansion cycle is both a blessing and a curse: On the one hand it gives us extra time to work on bosses we never had a chance to down while they were current because there was always another level cap increase coming that changed up the game again. On the other hand... we spend ridiculous amounts of time banging our heads against the same bosses without going anywhere. Raiding is often considered a bit of a wacky pastime by many, but right now it feels even more insane to me than usual (even if I still enjoy it).

2 comments :

  1. Congratulations! I must say, I'm quite envious of your achievement, as my ops team is still stuck in SM Machine Gods. We've been working on it off and on for about 5 months, so I can feel some of your pain.

    I can tell a lot of the members of the team are getting burnt out from raiding, but I still really enjoy it, even it has meant that we've been doing the same operation over and over each week.

    Good luck on your team's continued progression! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      All the fights in Gods are pretty cool; at least working on story mode means that you get to see entirely new bosses on your way through instead of just "the same thing only with a few new mechanics and hits harder". :)

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