After a peaceful lunch with some friends in that alternate world that we call "real life", I logged in to find a number of my friends in King Ranperre's Tomb. All of these friends also happens to be in BBQ. Put two and two together, and that equals just one thing.
BBQ was going to go after Vrtra today.
So down I went to King Ranperre's Tomb to try and help out with what is easily the hardest of the three CoP dragons.
Vrtra's "lair", or so to speak, is this big square-ish room in the depths of King Ranperre's Tomb. Our initial strategy involved kiting Vrtra around this room in one big circle. At some point in the loop, the Summoner party is waiting for Vrtra to come around, Leviathans at the ready, whereby a few BLMs Stun Vrtra, halting Vrtra for long enough so that the Summoners can get their Spinning Dives off, before kiting Vrtra around once again.
Vrtra is especially painful to deal with because unlike Tiamat who is Fire based and Jormungand who is Ice based, Vrtra is based on Darkness, which means he cannot be slept should the teams need time to stop and recover. Not only that, similar to the other two dragons, Vrtra also has a near-instant cast -ga spell, only that since Darkness doesn't have an AoE damage spell ala Firaga III, Vrtra casts Sleepga II instead. >_< He also has this Wing attack that is massive AoE damage, and Sleepga II at the same time, too. >_<
Needless to say, the ability to recover quickly with Curagas is very important.
However, that's not all. Like the other two wyrms, Vrtra is surrounded by aggro mobs, in this case, Lemures, Spartoi Sorcerers and Spartoi Warriors. Such pops can easily be handled by the adds party, we actually used a team of Monks to bash at all the bone mobs that pop, thanks to the ridicuous rate Monks punch through those things. However, as if 5-minute repops weren't enough, Vrtra also summons additional, NM Skeletons and Ghosts, namely Peys, Irucis, and Airis. Not only are these NM mobs naturally tougher than their regular counterparts (obviously), Vrtra summons one roughly every thirty seconds, and their hate is linked with Vrtra, meaning that instead of nicely co-operating and being kited to the Black Mage team, if not enough hate is established, they turn and head for the main alliance's tanks instead! >_<
Fortunately, Vrtra herself isn't all that difficult. She seems to have lower defense compared to both Tiamat and Jormungand, so theoretically, she will go down faster. The problem is whether the adds parties can keep things under control with all the additional mobs and Sleepgas running around.
Well, long story short,
Yeah...we lost on that one. >_<
To put it simply, the adds simply overwhelmed us. Because we were kiting Vrtra around the room, and because Vrtra's summons are connected with her, it was difficult to keep the add in one place long enough for the BLM team to nuke it to death with enough Thunder IVs and Fire IVs. Our original plan involved sleeping it with Lullaby, until we found that we had trouble getting Lullaby to stick, and sleeping the mob isn't very useful if, once we Call for Help on the mob, all the melee run in and engage, waking it up. -_-
All this movement made things incredibly laggy, to the point where I would target a mob and start casting, but by the time the command was sent through and my casting began, the mob was already on the other end of the room. ; ; Not only that, but as the summons built up, there were multiple mobs all in orange, and simply put, the BLMs just did not know which one to nuke. It is pointless to yell out "Nuke the Airi!" when there are three Airis, all chasing after the tank. Sure, I could tab around and find the one with the lowest HP, but that's losing precious time before the next summon pops.
By the time we lost, we had something like eight or ten summons running around the room, all in general chaos with every single one in orange (CFH), and four or so running after the tank who really couldn't handle all this added pressure to having Vrtra chase after him as well.
To be honest, unlike our first attempt at Tiamat nd Jormungand, I'm not sure how to beat Vrtra. I have this feeling that kiting might be a bad idea, since there're just too many complications that arise from kiting, and with all the summons and everything, things are complicated enough to keep everybody busy. The problem with engaging Vrtra straight up is his Wing move, the one that deals massive damage and Sleepga. His own, normal Sleepga II can (hopefully) be stunned with a BLM team, keeping things somewhat in order. The good thing about keeping him stationary though, is that his summons are now a lot easier to deal with since we know where they pop (which was another problem with kiting), and they are immediately within range of all the BLMs.
What might work is having the main alliance engage Vrtra straight up, with each component party having a White Mage (or someone who can Curaga) out of range to wake up the party in the event of Sleepga, something like:
Tank party: NIN, NIN, NIN, PLD, BRD, WHM (or replace some tanks with Trick Attackers)
Damage party: SMN, SMN, SMN, SMN, BRD, WHM
BLM party: BLM, BLM, BLM, BLM, BRD, RDM/WHM
In addition to that, you'll need multiple add parties to handle all the summons and pops. However, I think it is important that, in order to keep things simple, the add parties each act independently of one another, that is to say that they are not allianced up. That way, one add party cannot engage another add party's mob, clearing up any confusion that might arise. One or two add parties of MNKs can take out the regular Spartoi that pop, while two more BLM add parties take out the summons due to their frequency. Because of the nature of the adds they are dealing with, the MNK parties would be on the outer rim, taking the regular mobs, while the BLMs stay closer in to deal with the pops.
MNK party: MNK, MNK, MNK, MNK, WHM, BRD
BLM #1: BLM, BLM, BLM, BLM, RDM/WHM, BRD
BLM #2: BLM, BLM, BLM, BLM, RDM/WHM, BRD
I'm reluctant to have the MNK party CFH on their mobs so the other melee can help out, since you really don't want too many people around the MNK party because of Blood Saber. I guess all the remaining members can help out on mobs that the other teams aren't dealing with (say, two summons get out, and the BLM parties are occupied). Unfortunately, because they will be in another alliance, once the add is engaged, they cannot get outside help from the rest of the main teams.
The problem with this idea of a strategy is that it is quite BLM and BRD intensive. As I have it outlined, I would need twelve BLMs, four MNKs, six BRDs, 3 RDM/WHMs, 3 WHMs and four SMNs. BBQ probably has the manpower to meet those job requirements, except maybe for a lack of Bards. Poison Potions are another thing to keep in mind when fighting Vrtra as a counter to Sleepga, but just how impractical is it to bring enough Poison Potions to Vrtra to last the entire fight? One potion lasts two minutes or so. If the fight goes on for just two hours, that's already five stacks of Poison Potions down. Per person. Not good. -_-