Suthran Divine Fortress Siege Interview
The Divine Fortress was conquered by the Elyos on Suthran (a French server) on Saturday April 24, 2010. After two hours of fierce battle, the Elyos army defeated the Balaur, and Suthran completed this achievement, becoming the first server in the West to do so. Arathaur, our French community manager, sat down with the main raid leaders to learn more about the strategy they used and their reactions when Ereshkigal's Claw was slain. Those interviewed here (and their respective Legions) are Forga (Origine), Falkynn (Origine), Ansea (Origine), Madacik (Millenium), Lolaa (Option), Nagora (BabyBoyZ), and Selket (Midgard).
The Aion Community Team
Some answers have been shortened for the English version given below. The full interview can be found in French.
Could you please introduce yourself? How long have you been playing Aion, what class do you play, and what is your Legion?
Forga: I am Forga. I started playing MMORPGs with Lineage II and began playing Aion with the Chinese beta. My character is a Cleric, and I am Legion co-leader of Origine, along side Stel.
Falkynn: Yes, of course! I am Falkynn. I've been a MMORPG player for a long time. I have played Aion since the first beta, and have been playing since September 20, 2009 on Suthran. My character is an Assassin, and I am a member of Origine.
Ansea: I'm Ansea, and I've been an MMORPG fan for a long time. I first drifted into Aion on Phase 6 of the Aion European beta. My character is a Templar, and I wear the colors of Origine, the Legion that was foolish enough to entrust me with the role of raid leader.
Madacik: I am Florian "Madacik" Virlouvet, and I turned 27 years old this past spring. I have been playing MMORPGs for 10 years. I started playing Aion with the Chinese release in April 2009 so that I could get a leg up on to the game and its classes early. I played the various European beta weekends and finally ventured into the French server Suthran at the prerelease as a Spiritmaster in the ranks of Millennium, the Legion in which I am an officer.
Lolaa: Hello, I'm Lolaa, Legion leader of Option and siege coordinator with that Legion on Suthran. I have been playing Aion since its release in Korea almost a year and a half ago. My main character is a Spiritmaster.
Nagora: Hello, I'm Nagora. My character is a Sorcerer that I have played since September 25, 2009. I am Legion leader of BabyBoyZ. The staff members of BabyBoyZ were very important in the siege effort, and I want to be sure to acknowledge our officers: Yuugi, Graendal, Poupx, and Shantra.
Selket: I'm Selket, and I am a long-time MMORPG fan. I have been playing Aion since September 25. I am a member of Midgard, play a Ranger, and was a raid leader during the fortress siege.
What did the Divine Fortress siege represent to you?
Forga: Winning this siege has been a collective Legion objective for Origine since very early after our Legion's inception. Some of our members did some tests on the Divine before they were even level 50 during the first weeks following the game's release. The green Eye of Reshanta has become a true symbol for our faction. The siege members rallied under that symbol for more than four weeks, enduring my instructions and commands, and coming back in larger numbers every try. This achievement is really one for our whole faction (the Elyos) on Suthran. Many Legions and players all gathered and pulled together to triumph over this Divine for Suthran.
The achievement really pushes me personally to continue to play as a faction. New challenges are on the horizon, and the Elyos from Suthran will always be ready to step up!
Lolaa: This was a truly enormous challenge. Winning this siege was a goal that unified all of the Elyos on Suthran, giving us a thirst for victory and the will to push our server into the international spotlight. Winning the siege first was a dream come true.
This win confirms that all our work was not in vain and shows everyone in the rest of the world that France is not dead yet in the gaming world of MMOs.
How many people were online on Saturday night? How did you share the tasks, and how much time did it take you overall?
Forga: More than 500 Elyos from all levels worked on this siege. (Special thanks to the low levels who understood how important they were in this faction challenge.) No fewer than 23 cohorts were present, and perhaps even more than that once you count those that were scouting in the Abyss to keep an eye out for Asmodians.
Task assignment and delegation gelled as time went on. We improved our organization and coordination during our attempts to optimize our strategy for the different phases of Ereshkigal's Claw, guardian of the Divine Fortress, when the fortress is under Balaur control.
To allow for communication across our whole faction, we used two audio servers: one for Legion raid leaders and one for all invited Elyos. On the raid leader audio server, Falkynn directed strategy and watched the attack timers. The leaders/officers then relayed information to their respective Legion audio servers. On the audio server with all invited Elyos, Ansea relayed the strategy live. During previous attempts, Shinae had Ansea's role and did a great job. I also relayed important information via the different chat channels until the whole faction exploded in joy as we succeeded!
The principles of primary importance about a Divine Fortress capture attempt are unifying the Legions to coordinate well, unifying your faction, and motivating the troops so that they don't give up after the first wipes. The Divine Fortress is currently the biggest endgame faction vs. faction challenge that Aion offers. If you don't organize it well, you won't see your faction's colors flying over the fortress tomorrow!
When did you start to plan your strategy? How did you adapt it through your different attempts?
Forga: As I mention before, taking over the Divine Fortress has been a goal for Origine since the first beta. It was the Holy Grail of Aion, and it still is. The first attempts took place during the second and third months after the game's release. Those attempts weren't serious, but taught us a lot about basic troop positioning. We also used those forays for assessing the power, targets, and frequency of the boss's attacks. Additional attempts took place the following months, but our Elyos drive to win began when the faction alliance was created. March 21 marks the day of the return of the Elyos faction into the Abyss, which was mainly Asmodian then. Around that time, we started thinking about seriously organizing to take down the Divine, and we became convinced that doing it was not an impossible mission.
We built the strategy by analyzing logs, listening to player feedback among the different classes and roles, and trying different positioning tactics. Many people gave a huge part of themselves and invested a lot of time. We all started to lose count of the sleepless nights in the effortwhat dedication! But today we admire the culmination of five weeks of effort: the return of the Elyos as a force of reckoning and a green Divine Fortress!
Falkynn: We started planning our strategy in earnest some months ago following our first assault with two cohorts on the fortress. We adapted our strategy after carefully analyzing the Balaur reactions to our actions and to the positioning of our troops. We've never made the same assault twice. During each try, we tweaked our strategy and tactics on the fly in real time to fit the battle circumstances. After each try, we analyzed what we did and adapted our strategy for the next try. Our goal was to craft the best strategy possible while taking into account that we would have many players to handle and direct all at once. It was hard work. I have lost track of the sleepless nights I spent analyzing logs, watching videos, and researching on the Korean and Chinese websites for the slightest scraps of information. I also got valuable data and direct feedback from many players. (Special thanks to all the Origine members who were present during the first tries.) Even though the analysis took a lot of time, figuring out how to implement a good strategy based on the data took twice as long! The slightest detail could change everything in terms of optimizing DPS while minimizing loss. Writing it all down took a long time, too.
When I look back, the most resource intensive aspect of the siege, though, was directing the assault live during each attempt. To coordinate so many players at once was a true challenge. To remember everything, to keep the details at my fingers, and to still adapt our strategy on the fly was exhausting, but still really enjoyable! Even though many players helped me, at the end of the day, I had to think on my feet and make tough calls. It was a big responsibility that I handled successfully, I think. I know I was not really alone, though. Forga and Lolaa were there to coordinate organizing the Legions into an alliance. (They are an awesome two-person team that is the envy of the entire world!)
The bottom-line goals were that all the Elyos should be able to take part in this, we'd build the best strategy and organization that we could, and characters would die as few times as possible.
Nagora: I will leave you with these words from Erinor and Camille, members of BabyBoyZ, who helped the faction wide siege effort a lot with the strategy:
"[T]his combat has been very interesting, and the Divine Guardian definitely lives up to the definition of a world boss. This faction-wide siege is the first time in Aion that we had to put in place such a complex strategy and organization. It was a true challenge. Because PvP was so prominent in this effort, our leaders were pushed to adapt constantly to the unknown and unforeseeable."
What was the biggest challenge in your opinion?
Forga: The biggest challenge was uniting the Elyos for the effort, and fortunately it was successful before our first big attempt! Harder to deal with was maintaining Elyos motivation after each failed attempt. The more we tried, the better we got at each effort. The only problem was that a Divine Fortress attempt involves a stiff financial character cost for consumables, kisks, and so on.
My personal biggest challenge was to announce to the faction that we were going back for the Divine Fortress each Saturday evening without being sure that it would unlock in time. It was always a bit of a gamble!
Falkynn: For me, it was to unite the faction and to hold back the Asmodians.
Ansea: I'd say to maintain our faction's motivation after the numerous attempts and the many difficulties we faced.
Madacik: To gather enough players on a Saturday evening at 10 p.m. to kill the boss in the allocated time while holding back the Asmodians. Beyond that, it was a well-oiled effortevery one of us knew what to do and when.
Lolaa: As siege faction coordinator, I focused on wearing down the Asmodians for weeks. I put a lot of weight on the psychological efforts that, for me, were key to our success. In fact, after the "Counterattack of the Elyos Army" (published in one of the Eye on Community articles), we always stayed on the offensive on the Asmodians during the siege to attract more players and to show off our organizational ability.
Nagora: Achieving this goal required unfailing factionwide coordination. Beyond the strategic challenge of sieging the Divine Fortress, pulling together this huge group collaborative effort was a huge step. The biggest challenge was to allow the Legion to become a driver within the project.
Selket: Maintaining high performance, sufficient manpower, and optimum placement to avoid a boss reset and to push back the Asmodian waves.
What lessons have you been taught by this experience?
Forga: A lot of Legions managed to put aside their rivalry (or bickering) in order to act in the faction's interest. Solidarity and cohesion took precedence over inter-Legion rivalry, and that sort of focus will always need to be the case.
Falkynn: United we stand, divided we fallof course! Old problems can be overcome. Overall, though, I learned that being an immortal Daeva is very handy!
Ansea: That it's good to have a comrade who has got your back.
Lolaa: We've learned that by uniting and putting petty disagreements behind us that we're able to take up the biggest challenges! All the players realized that everyone is important in this kind of event, from those playing low-level characters to those of the highest level. No one is useless.
Nagora: I'm not sure: "United we stand, divided we fall" or "What does not kill us makes us stronger!" Both of those sayings proved apt in the past months. A lot of Legions joined our alliance when the Asmodians were dominating in the Abyss. That competitive desire drove the Elyos to become stronger in number and skill. In addition, no Legion would have been able to achieve this on its own. We knew an alliance was necessary, and we proved it was effective.
Selket: The good thing to remember is that a united purpose makes you and your organization stronger!
What are the primary reasons why the Divine Fortress has been taken for the first time in the West on Suthran?
Forga: The main keys to success, in my opinion, have been determination and devotion, remaining motivated even after negative comments or failures, the will to keep trying to move forward, and listening to the players. Oh, and of course, a common goal: Take the divine fortress before v1.9!
Falkynn: There are many factors that let this happen first on Suthran. First, our server is the only one with a server time that allows people to avoid rush hour and therefore group up for massive raids and alliances. Second, we have an active server with a population starving for challenge that is able to unite. And last, we had Legions that put a lot into supporting their entire faction to get the Elyos to the top.
Lolaa: We tried, at a really early stage, to organize ourselves very seriously. Aside from attacking the actual Divine Fortress itself, we needed to unite our faction in order to face the Asmodians who, since the beginning on our server, were the most committed. From this need our project, Suthran-Elyos, was born, and it, as we had hoped, took on a lot of importance.
Selket: It all happened thanks to the tenacity and determination of our staff.
Any plans for the future involving a group effort among your different Legions?
Forga: Plans? We've got loads. I'm not sure how much of them I can share right now, though.
We're gathering information about the famous Dredgions that are releasing their troops on our fortresses. If possible, we'd like to destroy them and watch them fall under our weapons into the unknown of the Abyss. At the moment, though, our focus is on the 2.0 content, with its new Abyss levels and four new fortresses, and what the strategic importance of that new content has for the Elyos.
Falkynn: To fight the Asmodian faction, which is a never-ending tussle. We'll take the future challenges as they come, depending on what the new content offers.
Nagora: I can tell you that our leaders have spoken the word "Dredgion." In the longer term, today's announcement about the release of the 2.0 in Korea let us catch a glimpse of future challenges. By the way, BabyBoyz has already started translating the patch notes so that we're prepared for that expansion.