89 Shit Goes Down
| Earlier Today, at Breakfast |
(An Excerpt from: "How to Beat Blackguard Bog - A Foolproof Plan by Erebus")
"What do you mean, we have no choice but to face the Hidden Boss?!" Nightfury fumes.
"We're going to die," Nanuk sighs, sinking his face into hands.
"So dramatic." I steal one of his sausage links.
Nanuk hits the sausage with a Frost spell, so I bite into a meatcicle.
"Petty prick," I say, impressed. I drop the frozen link into Nightfury's tea.
"No one's ever beaten this Boss," Nanuk warns, like it matters. "The Lantern Man party-wipes every team to come across him. When I saw on the forums that a couple parties faced him the first day, I was shocked he was still part of the game."
"Same," Nightfury agrees, silently swapping his tea for Taliesin's. "I figured after all the complaints from the beta testers, the devs would have nerfed this broken mob or replaced him. Instead, it sounds like he's even stronger!"
I shake my head at their adorable concerns.
"Why would they get rid of such an awesome Boss?" I protest, eyes shining in excitement. "And of course they had to make him stronger; a beta player soloed the Lantern Man half a dozen times, after all."
Nanuk almost falls for it and asks.
"Who in the—" he starts, then cuts himself off and stares at me, jaw practically falling to the floor.
"For Danu's sake, are you even human, you battle-crazy bastard?!?!" Nightfury yells at me.
"No, I'm a D'Raven," I reply seriously.
"I still say getting to solo a Party Dungeon a jillion times is some real beater bs," Kara mutters, ignoring Nightfury trying to stab me with a spoon.
She sounds half-bitter that her beta testing was comparatively lame, and half-impressed I actually *could* solo a Party Dungeon without dying spectacularly.
"If it makes you feel better, my beta was definitely not always happy funtimes," I admit, shuddering.
The one-tittied women still haunt me.
Taliesin passes me a sympathy scone and takes a sip of his tea. If he notices it now has a meaty essence, it doesn't seem to slow him down.
Teenage boys, man. Iron stomachs.
"That does make me feel better," Kara replies brightly. "And now I'm intrigued. Looks like you've seen some real darkness."
"I'll never tell," I say flatly.
"Arachne will," Taliesin mumbles into his mug.
Now it's my turn to stab someone with a spoon.
In my frenzy to punish the Pu`ca traitor, I almost miss the brief pained expression on Kara's face.
Though I want to ask her about it, Nanuk pulls us back on track, reminding us of the time crunch, and I focus on the raid.
I explain the Lantern Man Boss fight is solo-able, but it's a right pain in the arse. Takes almost as long (or longer) to beat him solo than it does to run the rest of the entire Dungeon.
"I think the battle would work best with solid teamwork and a single point of leadership. Leader needs epic reflexes, as well as high Perception and Agility."
"So, obviously you," Taliesin says matter-of-factly. He's now using the spoon I stabbed him with to eat pudding.
Nightfury grumbles under his breath.
"Sorry, couldn't quite catch that, Mr. Slowest Party Member," I say cheerfully.
"I resent that. You know my base AGI is just as high as everyone else's, right?"
Kara and Nanuk look doubtfully at Nightfury.
"It's not funny, damnit!" Turning bright red, Nightfury pelts me with a half-eaten biscuit. "It's your fault! Tricking me into taking this godsforsaken Cursed Hat!"
"Ooh really? What's it do?" Taliesin asks, interested. Kara's expression is also back to normal, and she tugs the pink monstrosity down over Nightfury's eyes.
Flustered, Nightfury bats her away and groans that it's nothing to worry about.
I happen to know that it's actually a lot to worry about, but I don't out him. I'd have to reveal I can spy on people's stats, and I'd rather keep that a secret.
Throughout the morning, I've used Thread Reader II on everyone in the party so I can properly gauge abilities before giving instructions, so I've already seen that Nightfury's SP-based Main Attributes (Agility and Intelligence) are [Cursed] to be 15% lower than normal.
What makes that especially frustrating is that his Agility ended up knocked down to 19, so he lost all the +20 AGI bonuses in movement speed.
Taliesin's sitting pretty with +28 AGI, Nanuk is tied with Nightfury's base AGI of +23, and Kara's chilling at a respectable +20. Her STR beats them all by a mile, though, since she's already at +46. Since I'm focusing on raising AGI and INT, I expect it won't be long before she overtakes me in that stat, honestly.
It tickles me when I realize the battle for Strongest Player is going to come down to a face-off between a real-life ballerina (Vulcan) and a lavender-haired bombshell shorter than me. And they're both playing lean Valkyries.
I can't wait to see all the burly dudes whose avatars practically scream "STRENGTH-BUILD" when the in-game Rankings start being released.
Kara notices me chuckling quietly to myself, and raises an eyebrow in question.
I just shake my head and smile, then resume explaining the battle plan.
"I'll be the only person who will be able to see the overarching scope of the battle. Everyone else will have to blindly listen to directions that don't make sense at first, but if you can all pull it off, I think we should be able to beat the Boss in under ten minutes!"
"Huzzah!" Taliesin cheers.
| Present - Blackguard Bog Hidden Boss Battleground |
The familiar licorice scent and wooden chimes are, for once, welcome.
I'd been worried my Fickle Fortune might not trigger, since the Hidden Boss is already coded to appear in this location automatically, but now, that 100% loot drop is ours for the taking.
[You have triggered a HIDDEN BOSS!]
[LANTERN MAN - HinkyPunk Water Demon]
[Level 16 - HP 60,000/60,000]
The Lantern Man is a being of blue flame and smoke. His head is misshapen, like a balloon that's lost its shape days after a birthday party. His eyes are orbs of white light, his distorted mouth is a jagged slash. Two long, spindly smoke arms reach all the way to the Bog, and he uses his flat hands to run along the water's surface. His thin, skeletal torso tapers off into one single leg, much shorter than the arms, and his clawed foot grips a lantern.
I only see the Boss HinkyPunk for a split second before he screeches like nails on a chalkboard, and a mist rises from the water so thick it becomes impossible to even see my own hands.
The battle has begun.
It's the Moment of Truth now. Based on my directions from before the Dungeon ever started, the rest of Chaos Party *should* have already spread out into position before the mist blinded us.
Apprehensive, I slide up my Dungeon Map to be parallel with my normal vision so it's easier to see while running.
The four colored triangles of my teammates light up the map, standing in precisely the positions I'd suggested.
Would you look at that.
The bastards listened.
My hands are trembling when I turn on the Party Voice Chat.
"Set and ready, Erebus!" Taliesin immediately declares.
"Let's kick some HinkyPunk ass," Kara agrees.
"Awaiting your instructions," Nanuk adds. "Remember I won't be able to heal you, so don't be an idiot."
"Your warning's no use. Being an idiot is what the idiot's best at," Nightfury says drily. "Now then, Erebus, go sow some chaos, you deranged D'Raven. We're ready to back your play, insane as it is."
I open my mouth to respond, maybe say something leader-y, maybe snark at Nightfury.
Nothing comes out.
All I can think of is the last time I played with Team Digital Discord.
Though I was Team MVP every year after I joined, I was never made Team Captain. This royally pissed off Xiuying, but I didn't let it get to me. I was young, and reckless, and my strategies were always a bit insane. I figured I just wasn't cut out for a leadership role. It was fine.
Instead, I led by example.
I used what I knew of my teammates' skills to set up battles where they could dominate, and I covered everyone's asses, and I just generally did my own thing. I wasn't captain, but I also didn't have to listen to the captain. I made my own strategies, and sure, sometimes I thought they may be easier to carry out if everyone was aligned to my plan, but it was no big deal making solo strategies that fit within the paradigm of the team's strategies.
Xiuying always tried to tell me that this was not a normal skill, but I figured she was exaggerating. She thought this ability was actually the real secret to my success; it's essentially how I play all games. I figure out the game's strategies and plans, then I rework my own strategies within that framework and play the game exactly as I want.
Now that I think about it, this may be why people are always asking, "Is this guy even playing the same game we are?!"
The last match I ever played with Digital Discord was an official league match against our greatest rivals. A few minutes into the battle, I saw through the enemy's trap and gave out rapidfire instructions to all my teammates. Two listened and responded perfectly. One listened but didn't understand why I'd want him to move to a particular area, so he only partially-followed the instruction. And one ignored me completely because he thought I was underestimating his ability to take on the opponent's captain.
Three seconds later, the trap was sprung, and the two bad listeners were toast.
In the end, we only won the match because the two who listened perfectly were able to avoid the death trap and enact my counterstrike plan to kill off two enemies. Then I soloed the rest while those same two provided cover fire.
I'd worked with that team for years.
Chaos Party has only been together a few hours.
They don't even know who I really am. They have no idea Erebus/Dregs is Eric Lieu, Olympian and Three-Time World Champion.
Yet they're already following my lead.
ARGHHH whyyy is this such a big deal?! Whyyy am I having a fucking crisis in the middle of a damn Boss raid?!
Fuckin' hells. I AM an emotionally-stunted overgrown man-child.
I slap my cheeks like an anime character, and it is slightly more effective in-game than it is in the real world.
Might be a side effect of my Slap Skill.
I enable the LiveStream option "Eavesdrop" so our loyal viewers will also be able to hear what we say, even if we're on the Party Chat private comms.
"Let's fucking do this!" I roar, and the rest of Chaos Party cheers along with me.
The battle goes off so smoothly it's almost scary.
It's a maze-style Boss fight, and most teams die because they go at it altogether head-on.
Essentially, the Lantern Man uses will o' wisp flames to lure players into auto-death sinkholes in the Bog, plus there are pondweed mobs that reach out to grab you. They don't inflict much damage, but if you can't escape their grasp fast enough, you'll lose sight of the Lantern Man's wisps and lantern, and then you'll be forced to wander blind in the mist and eventually fall into a sinkhole and die.
The wisps and the lantern light look practically identical, and the lights only appear for one second at a time, so you only have time to make split-second decision and chase the lantern's path.
With my Perception, coupled with my innate knowledge of the Will o' Wisp skill, it's not too hard for me to discern which is which. But the Lantern Man also speeds up when he starts losing HP, so I also need my high Agility, or I'd lose track of him regardless.
The real trick to this battle is using only one player to follow the HinkyPunk Boss and issuing commands to the other players to do most of the actual damage.
See, he follows a set route pattern.
It's a bit tricky to memorize since it's impossible to actually see your surroundings and sound travels bizarrely in the Bog, and unfortunately, the particular pattern is randomized every time he appears. So you can't just fight him a bunch of times and learn the route. You have to memorize which pattern he's using during the actual battle.
And that's where the teammates come in.
Solo, you have to just keep flinging ranged attacks the few times the Lantern Man pauses on his route and slowly wear him down, which is a pain because he has Monster Regen.
With teammates placed at certain points on the map, I can refer to my trajectory in relation to them as I follow the lantern around the mist, and that way, I can learn the pattern!
Then, once I figure the pattern out, I can issue commands to my teammates, telling them where to move so they'll end up in the Lantern Man's path, along the outside of his battle range where there are no sinkholes.
Since attacks don't make the Boss stop, they have to start attacking before they can actually see him, then keep attacking when he creepily appears in their sight, and then try to land a few extra hits as he leaves.
This means they have to listen to me to know when to start attacking, and from what direction he'll be coming, etc. And they'll have to implicitly trust my directions when I tell them where to stand, and believe I won't send them to a watery grave.
Unfortunately, I can't join them in the safety of the outside track because if the maze-runner player stops chasing, you lose the aggro and the Lantern Man disappears back into the mist. The mist stays, though, so all the previous teams who tried to just give up still all died.
The three times the Boss pauses happen in the middle of the battle field as he crosses by the most sinkholes, so that's when I can attack. Luckily, I have a few more ranged attacks in my arsenal this time around, so my DPS isn't as awful as it was in the beta. But my damage is still nothing compared to the real damage my teammates in his actual path can inflict.
And the best part is, the Lantern Man doesn't actually have any physical attacks!
So they can get up all in his space with rapid attacks, and they don't have to worry about a counter!
The others dig it, since it means they're actually catching up to my Contribution levels. It's anybody's guess who will win Highest Contribution this time...though I have a few tricks up my sleeve for the Final Boss. These dudes best not get too excited.
Kara throws it in my face when she knocks the Lantern Man below 10% HP and gets the Red Zone Bonus. I'd managed to steal it during every single Boss fight up to this point.
I'm both frustrated because I love me my EXP Bonuses, and also exhilarated because THE BATTLE IS GOING EVEN BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE IMAGINED.
Everyone is listening to my directions.
Without question or concern.
And I can hear them laughing and cheering and roaring over the Party Chat, having the time of their lives even in the face of the deadliest Hidden Boss in Gael, and I honestly don't even know how to DEAL.
These last couple rounds, every time I race past one of them on my way to follow the Lantern Man on his path, they high five me and cheer before I disappear back into the mist.
Talk about a pretty Fucking Awesome Moment right here.
I decide to cement its awesomeness by powering up my Smite Skill while Sprinting, which is fucking stupid and difficult and if I die because I'm not paying enough attention I absolutely deserve it, but I DON'T DIE, I fucking WIN, because my Smite is all charged and ready the next time Lantern Boy pauses on his path, and I LET HIM FUCKING HAVE IT.
[Congratulations Erebus! Last Hit Bonus!]
"Damnit Erebus, you just HAD to steal the damn thunder!" Kara half-growls, half-laughs.
"I'ma be taking that Bonus on the Final Boss, you hear?" Nightfury promises.
"I bet it'll be Kara," Taliesin and Nanuk reply in unison.
The mist still hasn't dissipated, and I don't want to risk leaving the battlefield until I can definitely see the sinkholes, so I ignore the bickering and open my battle log to check out the Last Hit Bonus reward.
My eyes bug out of my head, and I choke on fog.
A mothafuckin Guild Creation Token!?!
This thing is worth a FORTUNE!
Most people's stats won't be high enough to beat this Boss until at least Realm 2, so if they want to get a jumpstart on a guild...
And holy shit, this LiveStream is going to go VIRAL once people realize they need to beat this Hidden Boss to get a Guild Creation Token! We need to hide this bad boy behind a paywall ASAP!
The delicious sound of clinking coins fills my brain. I try not to hyperventilate.
"Holy Smokes, dudes!" I shout into the Party Chat. "We just scored a—"
The entire mist field converges on me, and I go flying into the air. A sea of white blinds me completely, making it impossible to read the red alert I saw flash before I went blind.
It doesn't matter, though. The Lantern Man's nail-scratch voice fills the bog, and with his dying words, he announces the alert aloud for all to hear my doom: