rukenshin (rukenshin) wrote,
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Pandemonium Warden: The Fight, Strategy, and Experience

I have a feeling I'm going to hit the LJ limit on post length for this, but there is literally so much to be said and so many details I don't think I can really make it shorter. *OK, I really did run out of space. This will be two updates!

This entire post is going to be about every detail I can come up with in regards to the recent PW attempt by BtL this past weekend. There is so much information about this that it took me nearly half an hour just to figure out how to structure this post.

Here is how it will be organized:


Addressing the Publicity
: This will be mostly about our specific experience with this fight, as with how wide this story has grown it has become distorted. Includes comments in regard to the attention this has received, details on dispelling rumors, the intentions of sharing the story, why we fought 18 hours, the strength of our shell, what other linkshells have done, and why this fight as it is now is currently not possible in less time.


General Strategy
: What we did to prepare and plan for the event, as well as what to expect (including gil spent, exp lost, etc). Also includes general strategy for what to expect from most PW forms, general strategy for PW's lamps, and the fight as a whole itself.

Specific Strategy: I'll go through each PW form and lamps and discuss details in regards to their specific difficulty. Each form is unique in its own way outside of what you would expect, so it's important to know all of these details as well. (this section moved to second update)

Conclusion
: Self-explanatory.

I honestly am not sure why I'm writing so much about strategy, when I doubt anyone would really want to try this fight again now... But I suppose it also helps people understand how much difficulty we dealt with.

But here it goes. Oh, and sadly I don't have many pictures, so this is mostly words. :( Next update will have a few more pictures.


Just before it depopped.

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Addressing the Publicity

Much to everyone's original surprise, this has probably become one of the most wide-spread events in FFXI. It may have bad or good repercussions, as while this does give many people a negative impression of FF, it may actually provoke some action out of SE in regards to not just PW but also Absolute Virtue (another un-killable NM, that SE has came out and said may take 18+ hours to kill).

As of right now, news articles/videos/forum posts/comics concerning this experience are all over the place. These are just a few of the places we currently know of:
http://petfoodalpha.com/?p=1055
http://kotaku.com/5036371/final-fantasy-xi-boss-takes-at-least-18-hours-to-beat
http://petfoodalpha.com/?p=1105
http://gucomics.com/
http://www.gucomics.com/comic/?cdate=20080814
http://www.petfoodalpha.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=97&t=1354
http://www.destructoid.com/final-fantasy-xi-boss-causes-vomiting-takes-18-hours-to-beat-99391.phtml
http://www.g4tv.com/e32008/blog/post/688158/Final_Fantasy_XI_18_Hour_Boss_Fight.html
http://www.joystiq.com/2008/08/14/new-final-fantasy-xi-boss-could-take-24-hours-to-kill/
http://www.the-nextlevel.com/blog/a-boss-so-hard-youll-puke/
http://www.ripten.com/2008/08/14/final-fantasy-xi-guild-spends-18-hours-fighting-boss-suffers-physical-torment/#comment-50840
http://overlypositive.com/?p=96
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/85639-18-Hour-Final-Fantasy-XI-Boss-Induces-Puking
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&scoring=d&partner=wordpress&q=link:http://petfoodalpha.com/

And many other sites that I don't feel like looking for. However it's worth noting that it all started at BG, in this post:

http://www.bluegartrls.com/forum/showthread.php?t=60265&page=19

There now are two posts on BG about this topic. Only a few (4-5?) BtL members have posted in public about this attempt, and it has only been posted on BG, and only one responded to a reporter concerning this topic. Outside of that, the growth of this event has been mostly caused by others outside of BtL spreading the news of this like wildfire. At some points a few people blamed BtL for the spread of this, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

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Dispelling Rumors

Quickly I'm just going to list a bunch of hard facts of the fight that have been taken out of context/stretched:

Concerning our LS:
  • We are not hardcore in the sense that we're a linkshell/guild/group that does anything like this, ever, on any kind of a regular basis. We don't participate in most of what the FF community defines as hardcore (by that I mean, camping land HNMs every day all the time... we don't do that at all anymore for the most part). We stay away from most of the major time sinks.
  • We are hardcore in the sense of having many extremely skilled/well-geared/OCD/benchmark players that work together great to accomplish just about everything this game has in ways that set a standard among some others. We are known as one of the strongest linkshells server-wide, but just don't use as much time doing hardcore FF stuff.
  • We did not expect to be fighting for more than 7-10 hours total, nor did we plan to. But we were ready to expect anything.
  • We have not beaten AV since it has been adjusted. We only defeated it before then.
Concerning the fight:
  • 18 hours is not the length of the fight, it is the length of our attempt. There is no doubt in my or anyone else's mind that to beat it, you would need another 2-5 hours. Making this closer to a 20-24 hour fight.
  • Most members took no breaks at all outside of waiting for weakness to wear if they died. Personally, I never even went to piss (adrenaline covered up everything for me).
  • We did not take shifts or rotate, and did not expect an 18h fight.
  • Only reason we never just gave up was because most of us were fueled by a really high amount of motivation and adrenaline, not truly 'feeling' how long the fight really was. We kept thinking we were almost there, and we thought we were (then low and behold, a new form pops). That combined with not wanting our previous efforts and weeks of work building the PW set to be for nothing, as well as how far we came in the fight..
Concerning the sickness:
  • No one was playing through sickness, nor really feeling any kind of severe effects of the fight until the end. Adrenaline covered everything up for everyone, up until the realization hit us in the face that we'd lose.
  • The sickness was a combination of the ultimate failure with what the last 18 hours has done, and the physical/mental effects of playing that long hitting us after the adrenaline and motivation wore. It wasn't just simply a cause of 18 hours of play, nor was it just the cause of failure.
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Why fight for 18 hours!? What were you thinking!?

As I said, none of us planned for a fight that long. When we hit the 8-9 hour mark and thought we reached the end, only to see a whole new set of mobs that PW would replicate, we thought of giving up. But we didn't want to have it all be for nothing, and instead pushed further.

Despite how long we had been fighting, we were still having a level of fun before we saw the last set of HNMs pop. After that it was more for the sake of beating it than anything.

It's hard to just give up on something after spending so much time though. When you've been going for 10 hours, another few doesn't look so bad... And it just kept happening.

And as I said, we're normally not dedicating huge amounts of time to anything in this game. We don't camp land HNMs at all, while many other linkshells spend 3 to 9 or more hours a day camping various land HNMs... We used to but for the most part we're far from sinking huge amounts of time into the game anywhere close to many other shells.

It also takes weeks and weeks of work to build one PW set, and it's hard to just let it go after coming so far.

So the fact we participated in an 18 hour fight is very misleading to the nature of the linkshell. The way I look at it is, the willingness and determination of our members to push so hard for so long just demonstrates how much more of a family shell we are.

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Why is it not possible to beat in less time? It can't really be that long for everyone.


As the NM is right now, and without any shortcuts, it is impossible to beat this NM in under 15-20 hours with the limits of FFXI characters. BtL would not be able to do it in under 20-24 by itself, and by my experiences I feel that neither would any other single linkshell.

Despite this being our first attempt, for the most part it was very clean and well-executed. There aren't really many things we can change to save time outside of adding more people, but adding more people has hugely diminishing returns on how much it effects this fight's speed. In addition, there isn't much room to kill faster either.

PW lamps are always running out of range, so the speed of damage is limited on them. Combined with the fact that the lamps often spam hard-hitting AoE attacks that slow down any number of people, no matter what numbers you have you'll be countered by the higher TP spam and more damage taken by your members. PW himself can only be attacked by 18 at a time as well.

And well, I don't mean to sound cocky at all, but we're a really damn good shell. Other very skilled and powerful linkshells that tried this fight averaged 45 to over 60 minutes to down each form of PW, suggesting that their pace would put them at a 30-35 hour long fight. Our average was 30-35 minutes for most of the fight until getting to the tougher forms.
We were dealing a ridiculous 500-600 thousand damage per hour, and the fight was still as long as it was.

That said, none of this post is an attempt to brag on any level. This is all to illustrate the genuine difficulty of this particular NM and what SE expects of us.

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General Strategy & Experience

I'll go into each specific form in the following section, but this is what you need to know from a general standpoint of what this fight entails.
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Preparing for the Fight


Due to our LS being rather small overall, we had to plan this weeks in advanced to ensure we could get as many people as possible. And we still only had 21 people at the start of the NM fight! Regardless, I recommend the same planning for anyone that wants to give this a real attempt.

Part of planning for this fight also involves capping exp on the jobs you are most useful on, as well as preparing 2-3 RR hairpins, 3-4 stacks of food for DDs, and 2-3 stacks of echo drops and poison pots for mages. Although in hindsight, this fight needs a lot more than that... I would recommend 4-6 RR hairpins and 8-10 stacks of food for melees.

It is essential to cap exp before this event. Every member of the shell now is close to deleveling, if not already de-leveled, as a result of this fight. Even though there were many R2s and R3s given out, a few of our members came close to hitting 73 (poor Hank and Zoot). We had people coming extremely close to de-leveling out of relics as well... I am 1k away from 74, for the first time ever in FF (I never de-leveled from 75 before).

So, with all that in mind capping buffers and having enough RR2 are extremely important for this. Food also runs out quick, so DDs need to think ahead.

Personally, I went through 4 stacks of coeurl subs, 1 stack of carb+1, 1 stack of mithkabobs, 1 red curry, 4 rabbit pies, 2 tacos, and 36 RR charges.

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Pandemonium Warden


Each form of PW shares a few things in common, although for the most part each form is rather different from the other. Most forms appear to have about 100k HP on the dot. However a few seem to have more, and one seemed to have less (Mithra WHM had 50k, but ends up being nearly 100k after Benediction). ToA HNMs and the final boss seemed to have slightly more, possibly 120k+.

Each PW form has some kind of massive AoE attack that really hurts those with low defense and HP. Each form also has it's own kind of 'signature move' that hits extremely hard. This attack is rather infrequent for most of the fight, but once it gets below 25% and it starts to spam TP attacks, you'll see it often.

None of them appear to have any kind of regen, with the exception of Hydra and probably the WHM besieged general.

Also, significant evidence points to the fact that if PW himself is ever called for help on, your fight is over. Whether you kill it while it is CFH, or reset it back to normal, it has never respawned after being CFH.

Only some of them have access to 2-hours. All of the besieged generals, ToA beastmen kings, the Vampyr and Dverger have 2-hours.

When a form of PW is defeated hate is reset, but it will have target on the last person to be his target.

Gravity, Bind, and Sleep were never successfully landed on a PW form the entire attempt. Most enfeebles didn't work either. Shadowbind did work though.
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Pandemonium Lamps


8 of these pop with every form of PW, and almost all of them have some kind of annoying AoE damage attacks. All of them also seem to have about 25k HP, but none of them appeared to have any kind of regen. These lamps have a level of shared hate with PW, but you can also get their attention away from the tanks. However it never sticks.

The most important thing to know about these lamps is that they have extremely odd behavior to hate. The best way to describe how they behave, which is also what I think makes them behave that way, is the following:

I believe that Pandemonium lamps have a lower hate cap than other mobs in the game, creating the illusion that they have randomized hate. If I had to say I would guess that it was capped at about 2-5k total enmity, and so it is easy for multiple people to cap hate on them, causing them to bounce around between targets. But I also believe that the hate they share with PW doesn't dissipate at the same rate if at all. This is because while PW may change targets, the lamps will sometimes follow the last target. This theory on enmity for the lamps is based off of the testing and information provided by kanican  on enmity in FF (in case you don't play FF, or live under a rock).

Of course that's just theory. I was the DD that everyone was assisting for most of the fight, and as a SAM with +40 enmity using Provoke and spamming high damage WS in between them running around... I couldn't ever get hate for more than a few seconds on most lamps. So I had a lot of experience with their behavior.

The following are other notable facts about experience with the lamps:
- When PW is first pulled, it is very easy to get hate on a lamp and keep it on you until it dies/is almost dead.
- A few minutes into the pull, you'll have incredible difficulty getting a lamp to stop for more than 1-4 seconds.
- A few minutes into the fight, it is also very difficult to claim a lamp. It often takes a provoke or two (+40 enmity was worn) along with a few swings or more to get a gear to turn red to me.
- All lamps took rather consistent damage. I wouldn't call them squishy but I wouldn't call them damage resistant either. They take about the same damage as IT Mamools would in an exp PT. Some were a little more resistant, and some weren't, it varied.
- Different lamps had different offensive strengths (of course).
- Gravity, bind, and sleep never worked (even with ES). Enfeebles often worked fine though (Slow II, Paralyze, etc).
- Their behavior is very similar to Jailer of Fortitude's pets.

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The Overall Fight


Setup

The best way to do this fight is to have a tank PT consisting of at least 3 tanks along with one RDM/WHM as an eraser/refresher. This tank PT will be out of the main alliance for everything except the PW fight (which is the easiest part). The main alliance will be full of DDs, and one DD PT will drop to ally with tanks for the PW kills.

We started the PW fight with 21 total people, along with a few mules. The absolute highest amount of people we had during the fight was a little over half-way through, hitting 38 total including 7 mules and people who were passed out. On average I would say that we had 25-27 real people for the majority of the fight, after the first 4 hours.

This is what our alliance setup was planned to look like for the fight, and it followed it for the most part:

Tank PT
Blackice PLD/NIN
Danerys PLD/NIN
Soloo PLD/NIN
Zoot RDM/WHM
Moochie WHM/SCH
Acorn WHM/SCH

* We later decided that keeping so many mages in the tank PT was a bad idea, due to issues I'll describe later.

DD Alliance
== Melee DD Party ==
Rukenshin SAM/WAR (relic)
Citlin DRK/SAM (relic)
Releena WAR/NIN
Coralie BRD/WHM
Iorika RDM/WHM
Kwinn SCH/RDM

== BLM Party #1 ==
Lhexh BLM/WHM
Kefk BLM/WHM
Abaddonn BLM/WHM
Hank BLM/WHM
Keichan RDM/WHM
Sylphet BRD/WHM (relic)

== BLM Party #2 ==
Rhalina BLM/WHM
Shinote BLM/WHM
Elite BLM/WHM
Acorn BLM/WHM
Jebus RDM/WHM
Ormus BRD/WHM (relic)

DD Alliance #2
Muteki SAM/WAR (relicx2)
Shadida RNG/SAM
Mikichan RNG/WAR (relic)
Jinirin RDM/WHM
Kalendra WHM/SMN

Tenbatsu BLM/WHM
Rave BLM/WHM
Fill BLM/WHM
Miggy BLM/WHM
Rhiaelle WHM/SCH
Thrunce RDM/WHM
Madou BLM/WHM

The second DD alliance was full of people that wouldn't be able to attend the entire fight (if at all), and so were thrown there. People were also rotated between alliances depending on which damage was best for some fights. In total we had up to 8-9 relic weapons present for this attempt, including 2 horns, 1 aegis, 2 amanomurakumos, 1 apocalypse, 2 yoichi, 1 mandau, and I think another.


Tanking and Dealing with Lamps

On pull, the tank PT will claim PW and disband from main ally. Their job is to constantly kite PW + all the lamps until the lamps are dead. It sounds hard, but is a lot easier than it seems do to the weird draw-in system this NM has.

PW will draw in the target's entire alliance to the very center of the room if you run out of his happy area (anywhere about 10-15 'feet' outside of the main room), and every time he does this PW will disappear and reappear next to you in the center of the room. But lamps have to run back. It doesn't matter who has claim, if anyone in an alliance moves out of his happy range while it attempts to target that person, PW will draw that entire group in.

Because of this, it is important for any mages that want to cure tanks to not be in an alliance. Getting drawn into the center of the room often makes it hard to continue kiting, makes everyone susceptible to hard-hitting AoE, MPKs people, and is annoying! This is why the tank PT doesn't have any mages other than the eraser, which is needed if tanks get nailed by gravity.

This is what the map looks like for this area, and where tanks should be running to while kiting:



My MS paint skills suck but yeah, that's the general idea of it. PW draws you into the center of the room, and tanks should run in the opposite direction they were previously drawn in from (because all the lamps will be in the direction they just came from). Also I think we originally planned to use the middle path, but ended up deciding that you get better distance doing the path that goes further away. Doing this you can keep distance from the lamps rather easily and almost never get touched by them. Or well, at least for the lamps that move at normal speed.

Dealing Damage

DDs should try to stay away from the very center of the room, because crowding it will make it difficult for tanks to run through when they're drawn in. It will also result in many of them getting hit by AoE when they're in the area, which is baaaad.

To an extent it's impossible to keep DDs from having to chase lamps around the room, and for the most part that's what we had to do. But most DDs/mages/support ended up hanging out in the NW side of the room that I labeled. When weakened, it is often best to hang out where the markers are on the map, or along the NW wall in some cases. Varies with the specific NM you're fighting.

To kill the lamps we have one DD in the main alliance that will call target, and they are the only person allowed to ever CFH at any time to prevent any mistakes. I was the person doing this for our attempt. Even if I died, I would still be the one that CFH'd by using some action on the mob after getting up. We also had one other person (Releena, WAR/NIN) to substitute calling if I was unable to. After it is CFH, it is free game for everyone to attack, and we repeat this one by one.

This is always the most lengthy and difficult part of any form of PW. Due to the hate nature of the lamps, and how spread out they get, there isn't much way to speed it up or do it differently.

Killing PW

Once the lamps are dead, the tanks usually stop kiting PW out of the room to avoid the ever-so-annoying draw-in of the entire PT. Most PW forms can just be casually kited around the room, and while this is going on the other alliances rest up.

When we're ready to fight, one of the BLM PTs drops from the main ally and we join the tank PT. Any remaining spots are filled with DDs or support. The PW fight itself is usually easy from here on.

The outside ally will either rotate members in to replace anyone that dies, or take care of the adds.

Dealing with Adds

Adds aren't much of a problem at all. There are about 4-5 slimes and occasionally elementals, all of which are DC.

A BST mule or /BST can take care of a few of them, as they do get annoying. Otherwise one of the alliances can take care of one rather quickly, or at least hold it until it can be taken care of.

If a slime or elemental agros the tank PT while they're kiting, simply leave it alone. It will lose hate on the tanks due to PW warping them around constantly.

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Specific Strategy & Experience


There were 20 forms that we encountered in this fight, and one thing that is known is that the order you encounter them isn't always the same. But that's the only real difference we have found out, and it seems to just be completely random and rather irrelevant. Each form also comes with its own set of 8 lamps.

These are the mobs that we encountered in order, and listed as the Warden type + Lamp type:

- Dverger + Skulls (repops in between every single form)

- Armored Chariot + 8x Archaic Gears
- Long-Bowed Chariot + 8x Archaic Gears
- Battleclad Chariot + 8x Archaic Gears
- Long-Armed Chariot + 8x Archaic Gears

- Besieged hammer-wielding Trolls  (lamps and PW were the same mob type) x9
- Besieged Mamools mounted on Wivres (lamps and PW were the same mob type) x9
- Besieged Acrolyths (lamps and PW were same mob type) x9

- Besieged Galka General + 8x MNK NPCs
- Besieged Elvaan General + 8x DRK NPCs
- Besieged Mithra General + 8x WHM NPCs
- Besieged Hume General + 8x BLM NPCs
- Besieged Hume General + 8x RNG NPCs

- Troll Beastmen King + 8x Trolls (DRKs, RNGs, MNKs, PLDs, WARs)
- Lamia Beastmen King (Medusa) + 8x Lamia (RNGs, BLMs,  ???, ???, ???)
- Mamool Beastmen King + 8x Mamool (NINs, THFs, RDMs, WHMs, BLMs)

- Vampyr HNM + 8x Imps
- Hydra HNM + 8x Red Dragons
- Khimera HNM + 8x Puks
- Cerberus HNM + 8x Growing Bombs, non-casting

- Dverger HNM + 8x Dverger


I'll post some specifics about each form in the following update, within the next day or two.

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Conclusion


This fight was nothing like what anyone expected, both in BtL and to the FFXI community. It takes literally weeks of work and effort to build a single pop set for one attempt at this NM, and that's only if you're lucky. It takes 9 NM fights to make a T4 NM set, and each T4 NM has about a 10-20% chance of dropping a PW item... And you need three of those PW items.

The absolute minimum requirement before getting a PW set is 30 fights, but that assumes that you got the 1/50 to 1/100 chance of getting first drop on all T4s. In practical sense, you can expect as many as 300 fights (or more) before getting a single pop set to fight PW.

Needless to say, it is incredibly difficult to get just one chance at popping this NM. As if that isn't enough though, the fight itself is as you can see, a load of more bullshit.

To BtL

In the end despite everything, a lot of our members were proud of how persistent and determined we were. None of us ever imagined we'd be capable of something like that, and we're not happy or proud of it, but we are proud over how long we held out and how hard we pushed to bring it to an end. While in the end it was all for nothing, we at least know just about all there is to expect from this NM.

With that said I'd like to sincerely thank and applaud all of the other members of the shell for the sacrifices, devotion, and persistence that was demonstrated in this fight. It may all just be a video game in the end, but everything about what was shown in that fight is real. Much love to all you bastards. <3

To SE

I strongly hope that SE reconsiders the time sink of this NM. I find it incredibly ironic that SE is constantly reminding members to not forget their friends, family, and work when they log on... But still puts NMs like AV and PW into the game. SE has even came out and stated that AV is expected to be an 18-hour fight.

This fight would be 100% more reasonable and practicle if it was simply a random choice of 1 type of chariot, 1 type of besieged beastmen, 1 type of general, 1 type of beastmen king, 1 type of HNM, and then the final form. It would still take a good 5-8+ hours and be challenging, but much more within the limits of human capability and reason.

Hopefully in the end, some good will come of all of this!


Note:  Specific Strategy will be covered in another post, due to limited LJ length per update.
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