Mechanics: Beyond Memorization

May 21, 2021 16:00 · 3752 words · 18 minute read

Mechanics. They are for cars and you. You are a car now as you must do mechanics if you want to survive a fight. In A Realm Reborn it didn’t feel like mechanics had any sort of pattern to them. A marker to signify damage on one player can next be used to signify a stack mechanic. But once we get into Heavensward things start to be more consistent. Mechanics start to actually share markers and indicators. As a result there are a lot of markers in the game still.

But if you make an effort to memorize as many of them as you can you can know how to do a mechanic. There’s a lot of tells but it is doable. Some people have gone out of the way to explain all the different markers and such and linked in the description is an image compilation from one such person. I’ve seen this one linked for a very long time and i do not know who is the originator but thank you to that person. If you want a comprehensive list of all the mechanics look at this gallery.

Meanwhile I want to go and talk about some of these mechanics. Some of the common mistakes players tend to make with them or such. I want to focus on the most common mechanics mostly then go in to give more general tips and knowledge on how to deal with a new boss and any new mechanics you haven’t seen. Also, scrolling by on the screen has been a list of all the duties involved in this video. I try my best to avoid major spoilers but I do need to show mechanics to talk about them.

I’ll use the least spoiler versions I can get but sometimes i need to show specific fights just to get a point across. Again avoiding major spoilers but there is a limit. Starting off we have the ever infamous stack marker. This also comes in a line stack form but it looks almost exactly the same as the traditional circle stack; arrows pointing together to indicate that you want to move into the indicated area. I’m starting here because the issue people have with this mechanic is the issue people have with all mechanics.

People tend to see this on them and run away. The solution is to get closer to the boss not super far away. The vast majority of mechanics moving away from the boss is not an answer. I will be going into much more detail about that later. Whenever you get a stack mark closer to the boss is the ideal solution for multiple reasons. We have melee DPS and tanks as possible allies. The boss is also typically near the center of the arena, meaning it’s the closest point to anywhere else an ally might be.

Plus even if you’re a mage you should be there anyway, closer is better. Next we have tethers. They come in many many many flavors. There are two specific ones that are more common though. The first is the chain/bramble mechanic. The bramble version of this is extremely rare so i will focus on the chain version. But if you ever see the bramble tether it’s the same as this. Now chains, distance breaks them but often it’s an additive distance not a flat distance amount.

So let’s say you need 10 yalms between you both to break the tether. This is on top of the base starting distance. If you and the ally that are chained together begin 20 yalms apart, you won’t break the tethers until 30 yalms apart. As a result the solution of this mechanic is the same as with a stack marker. Be close to the boss, together, then when you become tethered to an ally just run apart. You’re also usually given time to react to this mechanic - usually, looking at you Vault - with the spinning chain icon over your head.

When you see the icon try and get close together. Worry about spreading afterwards. The other extremely common type of tether is the spiky red tether. This has several uses in itself but almost always means one or two things. Distance will reduce damage and everyone between you and the boss and sometimes even behind you will be cleaved with the hit as well. And you don’t need to run out as soon as the tether appears. You can wait until the later half of the cast bar to start moving out in a distance.

Just be sure to run in a straight line. A common mistake many people have made is that they start running around like every other mechanic. Move in a straight line away from the boss don’t continually rotate around the boss or you’re going to hit an ally who was out of the way until you put them in the way. You also don’t need to run all~~ the way out, depending on the fight at least. Distance reduces damage but it’s a lot like proximity damage markers.

There’s a maximum distance where you actually take damage. Get away but don’t panic and run three states away. There’s also the glowy eye mechanic. This one is very simple. When the enemy cast bar is about to finish look, away. Not your camera, but your character. Turn 180 degrees from the enemy. Sometimes you have to also wait for the full animation of the attack to play out before you can turn back. Looking at you eyeball man. No wait I’m supposed to look away from you dang it.

And finally I want to talk about towers. These come in many forms as well. Orbs with circles under them, the actual tower item, and meteor circles. The important part is that unless the media marker explicitly marks needing multiple players in some way, you only need one person in the tower. There are often situations where someone will already be in a tower and then another person will just go into the same tower even though there are multiple towers to cover.

Spread out. The traditional tower only ever needs one person in it but you can’t just look at it to know someone is in there. Meanwhile most of the meteor marker types will begin to glow when someone is inside of it. You can safely move on to the next one if you see it glowing. Also ranged players should take meteors and towers further away from the boss. Let melees have the closer towers. And as I said there are some towers that require multiple people.

These also are almost exclusively marked with this in some way. My favorite is enumeration from Alexander. The tower is based on the player and you need a specific number of people in the tower or it fails. But now it’s about time to get into the point of my video. The more general advice on how to handle mechanics. There’s - much like there are many mechanics I didn’t go over - a lot more potential advice to give with dealing with mechanics. I’m just going to give my layers of advice and perhaps even down below comments will give further pieces of advice they come up with.

I spent little time on common mechanics because this info is far more important than knowing what every marker looks like. This game is always evolving. The spinning marker mechanic that is often common now did not appear until patch 4. 4 in a savage fight. And then in 4. 5 it appeared in The Ghimlyt Dark. The end of an expansion and a brand new type of marker shows up. And other times a marker will only be used in one fight and only ever that fight. Knowing a mechanic icon is not even one-tenth of the issue I would argue.

The main, most important bit to mechanics, is knowing how to react to a new one. When coming up to a new mechanic you’ve not seen you need to remember the following; every mechanic has a solution. People tend to panic when they see even mechanics they’ve seen a thousand times. The number of times I’ve seen a melee player be targeted with a basic AoE and run super far away from the boss is extremely high. But I digress. Don’t panic. Focus and think. What elements are on the battlefield? Any puddles? Is there an edge to the arena? And what element is the boss using? Yes that actually matters.

For example let’s take fire and ice. Opposing elements and typically opposing mechanical solutions. Of course there’s always the usual basic AoE attacks that do damage but then there’s an actual mechanic involved. You can count on very specific mechanics. Gire when used as a raid wide attack, very often will include a mechanic called pyretic. The earliest form of this I know of - that a normal player will experience at least - is in World of Darkness.

The Hydra will use Heatwave and apply pyretic to everyone. Any movement; attacking a camera whatever, during this will, cause minor damage. 500 per tick but these can add up fast. And it will do major damage in some later fight situations. Later pyretic is seen as a fire wave over the screen. This can be considered the standardized pyretic tell. But always, when you see a boss is fire element or doing raid wides of fire, you may be able to predict pyretic and be ready to stop moving if the screen effect occurs.

Don’t assume every fire attack has pyretic though, then you’re just losing damage. Be ready for the fire effect and then be ready to stop when you see it. On a related note, similar to pyretic is Acceleration Bomb and Extreme Caution. These can show up in basically any situation they want to show up but only care about the movement at the end of the debuff timer. Not the entire timer. On the other hand we have ice which instead of a pyretic is a freeze effect.

Raid wide ice moves typically expect the whole raid to keep moving to prevent them from being frozen. You only have to be moving the moment the cast ends typically but sometimes you need to be moving for the entire duration of the ice effect. And the effect is similar to that of the fire effect of pyretic. So it’s the opposite of fire and of acceleration bomb. But also consider Shiva and her ice floor. This slidy ice floor is a very rare occurrence but you can know the floor is ice and you need to stop moving instead of keep moving when the floor looks all misty.

You can expect similar for every element too. Earth is typically cascading AoEs. Water some form of knockback or draw-in effect Lightning very often an AoE centered around the boss, target, or arena. And wind a donut around a target or arena or a knockback. Okay wind is the one element I have trouble picking out one thing out of the bunch to say it does. So I went with that. This is because well you have a very high success rate for knowing a mechanic’s effect going into a fight just by the element, there are always exceptions to the rule.

I can’t show it because of super major spoilers. And even if there was a spoiler warning I do care about keeping them to a minimum. But in the final savage raid for Shadowbringers, the boss uses many of the elements. Water is a stack marker. Fire is a large AoE centered on a target. Ice is a large donut centered around a target. And wind is a large knockback AoE centered on a target. When dealing with mechanics you also need to be ready to just throw away all preconceived notions.

You need to be willing to say, “I was wrong. ” Even with standardized markers, things aren’t always standard. Which is why you also want to try and look for tells. Specific sides of the arena glowing. Where the boss aiming a limb in one direction. Glowing orbs in front of bosses signifying a large laser directly in the middle. Other such tells that the boss is in fact doing no matter how small a tell it is. You can figure out many many many mechanics purely blind using the hints given by the game.

And your allies too. The actions of your allies are also a tell. If everyone is running at you because you need to stack don’t start running super far away. Your allies chasing you does not mean get away. If your allies are running super far away you may need to too. But of course your allies may just not know what I call the “overlap rule” which I will go into later. Another part of this looking for tells and being inconsistent is cast versus animation.

I mentioned this a little with the eyeball icon. Mangya’s eyeball attack is more based on the animation than it is the cast bar. There are many many many places where cast bar vs animation can and will potentially get you killed. How can you tell if an attack is based on the animation or the cast bar? Assume it’s the cast bar and get killed when it’s actually animation that’s how. Really. There’s really no other way to tell what is based on cast bar and animation.

If I had to make a general rule, physical based attacks tend to be more animation based. But that’s not always true. This is a place where memorization truly is the only solution to mechanical safety. And it involves risking death at least once. For now though let me talk about the exceptions to the idea that the mechanics have tells. There will come a time - many a time - where you absolutely cannot guess what the mechanic will be. But in those cases the mechanic is designed not to kill you.

If a mechanic just outright murders you there probably was a tell you were supposed to figure out. If it hurts but doesn’t just outright destroy you the devs probably explicitly expected it to be difficult to handle. The specific case I am thinking of is E12. There is an attack for every element and each attack is based on previous fights in the raid series. But which attack its based on, you don’t know until it happens. You’ll take a hit, take a vuln, but you won’t die.

And you’ll be able to continue on with the fight knowing what the attack is from now on. And in the situation where you do die to something, spend the time until you raise just watching the fight. Learn while you are dead. Pay attention to everything of the fight. You don’t have to do a rotation anymore so you have plenty of time to just focus on what mechanics the fight is doing. Use death as a learning tool not time to pout about what your party did or did not do.

And then when you raise, don’t attack. Please don’t attack. Let your healers heal you up first. You get 5 seconds of invulnerability. You will still need to dodge mechanics though as some mechanics will go through this 5 second invulnerability. Usually tank busters of some kind. Move but don’t attack. Once you are healed or the invuln runs out, then you can get back to fighting. Now let’s talk about the overlap rule i mentioned. There are mechanics that you must spread out because if the AoEs touch they explode.

These situations are extremely rare and should be dealt with when they come up specifically. The rest of the time you can overlap AoEs. Let’s take Shiva for example. Early in the fight she can use her staff mechanic which gives players an AoE around them. You can overlap these. You can always overlap these. Just don’t overlap each other. Here is a very artistic diagram of this in action. Every player has an AoE they will be hit by. Every player is overlapping.

Everyone survives taking only one hit. The circles are overlapping but not the players. I can understand the noble idea of trying to spread out more to prevent hitting others. But moving randomly in a random direction and panicking is only going to get people killed more than it is ever going to help. Minimize your movements where you can. This is also true for people who do not have an AoE on top of them. Usually after a mechanic like this the healers will AoE heal because at least half the party is hurt.

Let’s say only four people get an AoE. The quickest and easiest way to heal them for the next mechanic is an AoE heal. People without an AoE will still attempt to dodge the people with AoEs. This is part of why it often gets people killed. Two AoEs run in the same direction, venn diagram someone without one and each other, and all die. So here’s a solution where everyone gets damaged but will survive and be healed just like if only four people got hit.

Of course this isn’t always a solution. The is rarely times where these come with elemental vulnerabilities that make it that you can’t participate in an oncoming mechanic. The point is being hit by avoidable damage isn’t the end of the world. Especially when the entire rest of the party is going to be hurt too. Avoidable damage is not the end of the world unless you’re the only one taking it. And often that’s just because you failed a mechanic anyway. And also one more graph.

Because I want to get through to you how important it is to think of bosses as a front, back, and sides. Here’s three players having AoE circles on them and the fourth is a stack marker. Everyone can be in melee range, one hundred percent safely, with no overlap of mechanics. Hell, let’s assume the stack marker doesn’t even exist. In 24 mans, especially the NieR, ones bosses will target all three tanks with tank busters. You can fit all three tank busters around the boss and leave the back of the boss free for the other 21 players.

Unless a mechanic is specifically forcing you to split up, dodge far or such, you can all fit. You can minimize movement. Small, deliberate movements are far more useful to you than wide random ones. Again, I get why people do this way of handling mechanics, but it’s just not safe. For you, for your allies, and for your learning process. Most importantly, these wild movements leading to deaths, you probably weren’t paying attention to the actual solution.

Make a small, deliberate, focused movement and fail the mechanic and you can at least see what you were supposed to do instead. A wide, random movement, you’re too panicked to tell what you were actually supposed to do when you die. Do your best to pay attention to tells the mechanic itself gives. What the boss says, does, animations and such. Again, what matters more is less of knowing every single mechanic and more of how you react to mechanics. Even to the pro-est of players, a brand new never-before-seen mechanic is brand new.

What separates them from everyone else is how they solve the mechanic on the fly. Reacting to what is happening rather than running around blindly. Speaking of blindly though think about why the eyeball mechanic is an eye. It’s a mechanic based on sight. And what does the eye do? See. You see with them. So the moment that looking at the big, scary, danger looking eye causes you problems, it becomes pretty obvious. Look away from the glowing eye of evil.

That’s why paying attention to context and shape matters more than the memorization. Then take a boss like Argath who has reversal on top of his symbols. His voice lines and the giant mask covering the screen are context clues. The lies upon which you sup. Your symbol is lying to you! You want to do the opposite. If you obey you’re going to get hurt. And the fact that it’s a demon mask further emphasizes this. You’re taking orders from some sort of evil being.

Don’t listen to the evil being. Did you know that’s why this mechanic makes sense? Or did you just get told about the demon mask and do the opposite without understanding why? But see the difference that following context clues makes? Consider the elements and fight based on that. Often you can turn any mechanic into a 5050 shot at success. There’s only two solutions it can be and no matter which one you pick, you know what the right answer is after only one attempt at the mechanic.

And just like learning a job in the game this is a skill anyone can learn and master. A skill that some will find easier than others but you still can learn it. You just have to try and change your thinking about how mechanics work Thank you for watching this uniquely Wesk talk on mechanics and markers. There’s always been this huge focus on knowing specific icons and not much talk on general mechanic reactions. Mot to say nobody ever has, but I’ve never seen anyone mention specific elements all being pretty consistent within themselves.

It’s all well and good to know common mechanic markers and memorize them, but what about the uncommon ones? Just because a single marker is uncommon doesn’t mean it’s uncommon to see uncommon markers. Then there’s the stuff that doesn’t even have markers. That’s the difference between memorization and learning. But anyway take care, and may the power of An a Nidhoggs lay waste to your enemies. And of course the usual extra special thanks to all my patrons over on Patreon.

And an extra extra special thanks to Ayadeva. Ayman Al-Khateeb, Benjamin Han, Bodyclock, Ethan, Ethan Olson, Evan, Jamie Cottrell, Kyle Steinhauser, meowfy, Scott Stanley, VALOR LLC, and YvonneTheMoose. If you would like to become one of my patrons the link is down below, as is my discord and other links. Take care and have a good day. .