TankCoB: A Tenacious Challenge
What happens when eight tanks take on the biggest challenge they can conceive?
The Unending Coil of Bahamut (UCoB) is widely regarded by the playerbase of Final Fantasy XIV to be the most difficult party encounter currently in the game. Its unmatched fight duration, intricate mechanic puzzles, tight DPS requirements, and extreme endurance test have challenged players to their limits since its release nearly three years ago. For most, UCoB means attempting these challenges in a standard party composition of two tanks, two healers, and four DPS.
However, for a select few the challenge posted by UCoB simply wasn’t enough to sate their desire. Gathering eight expert players, Rin Karigani of the Aether datacenter organized an unfathomable challenge: Can UCoB be cleared by eight tanks?
The answer would be determined in just over two short weeks, running three hours a day and five days a week, coming in just under 50 hours.
Throughout the early progression days of TankCoB, the group tested the waters wtih a few different tank compositions for their roster. Making easy party choices, Gunbreaker is known to scale extremely well damage-wise at level 70, and Paladin boasts having the direct potency heal
Quickly Marching Through Hurdles
UCoB comes packed with obstacles already too steep for most of the player base, but the standard hurdles often were not the tripping blocks for the TankCoB group. Instead, their unique circumstances often required creative out-of-the-box solutions. The fight’s five main phases each offer new challenges standard groups wouldn’t have to consider.
The first phase of the fight is generally not one that gives expert players much trouble. The DPS check is lenient, players quickly learn to react to twister mechanic timings, and the outgoing damage on to players isn’t all that horrific. Under normal circumstances, Twintania’s fireball mechanic will target a random player outside of a preset range. Generally, a party will designated a single player to stand out far enough to take this bait and remove the random factor. If no player is out far enough, the fireball will target any one of your eight party members at random.
For TankCoB with all eight party members wanting to stay in close melee range, there isn’t an obvious single party member choice to be the master baiter. Instead, the well coordinated group stacked tightly together and dropped the puddles in short succession around Twintania, allowing them to maintain precious melee uptime.
Nael deus Darnus
The random order of the Nael Phase’s mechanics often pose one of the biggest challenges of the fight for new progression parties to overcome. While the mechanics of this phase may seem to have posed little challenge to the experienced team, the most difficult component likely came from an unexpected source: the healing requirement. Recovering from the initial major damage hit at the start of the phase, and then maintaining the party’s health through the many AOE damage bursts all but exhausted the Paladin healers’ MP. Careful planning of mitigation, expert coordination, and calculated
The transition into this phase is normally handled with a tank cast of Limit Break to mitigate the Seventh Umbral Era damage. However, with eight tanks in the party, Limit Break generation is notably slowed. To circumvent this, the Warriors players turned to a cheeky trick employed at the very start of the fight. By commencing the fight in extremely low leveled gear, quickly swapping to their proper gearsets, and popping well timed
The other truly significant challenge TankCoB faced was from a trio that generally isn’t too difficult for most players to master. The Quickmarch Trio set of mechanics normally assigns tasks to players based on their role. Both Healers and a single DPS are targeted with Earth Shakers, the remaining three DPS have a Megaflare they need to share, and the traditionally just two tanks normally have Tempest Wing tank buster tethers to pick up and mitigate through. Without the standard roles present, executing this particular trio required a heavy amount of group coordination, “using your eyeballs,” heavy group synergy, and expert raid awareness.
"Adds" (Twintania & Nael)
The phase where many dissenters thought TankCoB would meet their match is colloquially known as Adds Phase. The DPS check here is extremely tight compared to the rest of the fight, and on top of needing to kill these two targets, there’s a resurgence of previously seen mechanics often happening all at once. The phase would provide the next notable wall for the group, as they saw a smattering of phase enrage wipes. The scattered nature of the phase required even more intense mitigation and healing coordination than before, and often a member went down before the phase completed.
But the tenacity of the group isn’t one to give up so easily. A few days after their first dip into the phase, they had successfully passed the DPS check and were on to Bahamut’s final form.
In no other phase could the benefits of taking eight tanks into this fight shine more than in the Golden Bahamut phase. Standard groups meticulously plan their mitigation strategies for the multiple shared tank buster hits, and shared group AOEs. For TankCoB though? Their invulnerability skills laugh in the face of the damage! The DPS check still loomed, just like those pesky exaflares. Just 16 short days after their journey began, TankCoB felled the golden dragon.
What made it possible?
Since the fight’s release nearly three years ago, the game, the jobs within, and the fight itself have gone through a few notable changes making this challenge even feasible. The fight was originally tuned for players wearing ilvl 340 gear despite the 345 item level cap. An expansion later there’s a wide array of above synced gear and at-345 dungeon gear allowing parties an overall item level boost, including their main stats, vit, defense, etc.
The fight was also adjusted slightly with the onset of the Shadowbringers expansion; the removal of Protect from a healer’s kit, and the removal of the ability to meld Vitality, which was in turn placed on gear, required adjustments to these fights. While this change doesn’t heavily impact the scale of difficulty of the fight, it does change how some things are handled. And as a final notable point, though there are many more that can be made, the introduction of the Gunbreaker class certainly had a huge impact on the feasibility of clearing.
Of course the biggest reason this was at all possible lies the skill and expertise of the eight party members. The team included world prog racers and hardcore players of unparalleled skill.
What's Next for TankCoB?
The design of the other two ultimate fights don’t allow for any feasible tank-only party composition clears; each has certain role-specific mechanics than no amount of talent can circumvent. However, many of the team are active and prominent community members across Primal and Aether datacenters. Be sure to follow them for their next great feat! And check out Rin and Momo’s YouTube channels linked below for the full videos of their progression runs!