Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Binding Coil I-IV

While levelling my Botanist one day - and too busy watching Game of Thrones instead of paying attention to where I was logging - a bunch of Yarzons started attacking me! I tried to fight back with my little axe, but alas, their HP wouldn't budge. That is, until another little Lalafell Botanist turned up! We soon hacked those long-legged bastards down and decided to call it a day with a bunch of emotes and fireworks.

After a little chat, we got to know each other. She was a Japanese player from down south that played with her husband and a bunch of old Final Fantasy XI friends! Already being in separate Free Companies, we decided to keep in touch over /tell and occasionally take on the odd dungeon or two. We would chat about XI a lot, and other things like anime, manga, and how we got into XIV.

After about a month, the little Lalafell Botanist's husband wanted to tackle something a bit more challenging than Tonberries and Demon Walls. So, he asked me if I would like to adventure to the deepest and darkest parts of Eorzea, and join their Free Company's Binding Coil of Bahamut group.

Strawberry never backs down from a challenge, and with my Monk's help the final roster would be complete! We created a Linkshell since a few of the members were from other Free Companies, and named it Eyes of Bahamut.

The group is entirely Japanese, so I was a bit worried when we first started. It took all of my Japanese skill to translate their tactics into English and fully understand them. Then, about half a month later, we had warmed up, kept to a fixed schedule, and had a whole bunch of experience in the bag. Here's a little overview of the first five sections in this extremely challenging raid!

The Binding Coil of Bahamut is currently a once-per-week raid consisting of five "turns". Every time a turn is completed, the server logs your progress and you are unable to backtrack or take part in it until the weekly server reset. Completing the fifth and final turn rewards players with an shiny ilvl95 weapon - currently the most powerful in the game! But you can bet something that shiny won't come easy...

The first turn starts with a nasty boss that measures the group's ability to work together. If you can defeat it before the countdown, or before a wipe, you are rewarded with access to the rest of the turn! After some trash mobs, the second boss is a giant cobra that can split up into two copies of itself that must be defeated at the same time! It hits extremely hard, and has a buff that makes it stronger over time but, well, with all bosses in this blog entry, it's best to experience them first hand! What are you doing still reading? Go take it down yourself!

The next turn is quite unique in appearance. Unlike turn 1, which had a couple of bosses and some simple trash mobs like any other dungeon in the game, turn 2 consists of one boss in the centre of a maze-like room, and players are given a time limit before it enrages, obliterating anyone who gives it a nasty look. Of course, some groups have already found a way around this (by bringing a ton of healers) but our group likes to do it the normal, legit way! Y'know, using our brains and skills!

Depending on which path players take through the maze and which of the five smaller boss "nodes" are defeated, determines what abilities the final boss can use, and what damage resistances he is suspectable of. Each group has their own way of tackling turn 2, and like I mentioned before, some just flat-out ignore the nasty abilities the boss throws at them by overhealing past the enrage timer. Whichever method you use, with a bit of practice and luck, turn 2 can become the shortest boss ever because of the strict enrage time limit!

When we first started as a group, turn 2 took us weeks to clear, we died countless times before figuring out how our group worked and which paths we should take to boost our DPS. Each week we would come back with stronger gear from Crystal Tower or bought with Allagan Tomestones, and now we haven't failed in months! It feels great. All those deaths really brought us together!

All the pressure from turn 2 dissipates quite quickly once the boss is defeated. Turn 3 has no bosses, no cutscenes, and no treasure. In short, it's a jumpy action platformer with a bunch of trash mobs thrown in to spice stuff up!

Basically, turn 3 is a giant, vertical elevator shaft with platforms that - when lit - propel players through hoops as they descend safely into the abyss. It's great fun and incredibly stress-free, making it a nice little breather before what is next...

Turn 4 takes place on the broken elevator that was meant to be waiting for us at the top of turn 3. However, as it starts to delve even further downwards, the group must face five waves of new and formidable enemies with an incredibly tight time limit, and absolutely nowhere to run. The only way is down.

Much like turn 2, each group has a different way of tackling this dungeon. Gathering enemies together and taking them out with AOE skills and spells, defeating them down one by one, holding certain enemies until other, dangerous ones are defeated first, etc. Whichever way you cut it, the waves never stop coming! As soon as the switch is flipped to start the dungeon, everyone has to stay focused on do their best until every last enemy hits the floor before the elevator does!

During the dungeon, the lights around the arena change colour from blue to green to yellow, then finally red, as if you are being tunnelled down to hell itself! Oh, and speaking of which...

Welcome to hell! While our little group still hasn't cleared turn 5 of Coil, we have managed to get that little bit closer every week we attempt it. It's like we get to see new stages of the final boss every week the more experienced we get!

Behold, Twintania! As of patch 2.1, still the hardest boss in the game! Each phase of this epic battle drastically changes the difficulty curve of FFXIV as it introduces all-new, incredibly unforgiving mechanics, and one tiny personal slip up could cost the entire run! We've managed to get to phase 4 out of 5, soon we'll have Twintania's head, so as always, wish us luck!!

This entry wouldn't be complete without some goodies! Each boss from turn 1, 2 and 4 drops 2 treasure chests, and our group has a lotting system similar to the good old FFXI days which we were brought up with. 

Each player picks one job and gets to greed or need on that job's specific gear until other stuff they want goes freelot. So far, I have a bunch of Monk accessories and clothing, and despite Monk's Striking set's accessories being marginally weaker than the Dragoon's Maiming set, I still went with it because secondary stats currently have very little impact on the game, and yellow is a very pretty colour!

Lastly, my Monk hit ilvl90 last week thanks to Eyes of Bahamut! I am still missing a few bits and bobs, but for now, I am as strong as I can get - not that it'll stop me from getting stronger! Thanks for reading! Onwards, to turn 5!

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