A frost giant. Huh. What’s so scary about that?
Last night we accidentally had five Halfling Commandos online at the same time, a rarity these days, and so decided to do something en masse. Something epic. Something with XP. Something … Storm Horns-y.
My Gamer Girl makes a statement that maybe we can do this on Elite. If I said that there would be snark, I am notoriously over-optimistic on these things. But she is not, everyone takes her seriously, and so we are in on Elite.
It starts well. We use appropriate caution when drawing monstrous attention and manage to keep the melees down to a manageable size. I am on Knicker, an Evasion DPS barbarian, Steiner-Davion is on his tank dwarf. We have an Assassin rogue, a Mechanic rogue (no shortage of rogues in the Halfling Commandos), an excellent healer, and my Gamer Girl on her outstanding Freezer Burn druid Kitalea.
I thought the lack of arcane casting might be a problem but it wasn’t, this was pretty close to the perfect mix for this quest. Enough melee to keep the fight out in front, enough crowd control to keep the fight damage down, enough sneak attack DPS to vanquish the bad guys before they could escape the crowd control. A nice mix.
But then suddenly two Stone Giants materialize out of nowhere, with area-of-effect melee attacks that each do 400+ points. The entire front line of our formation is decimated in a single surprise attack, and in a moment we are down to a single survivor, fleeing at maximum footspeed.
It looks so pretty! And plays so deadly!
We recover. But this will not be the only time that our party dangles over the precipice of wiping, hanging on by a fingernail. We are well into the quest by now, but it is dawning on all of us; we might not be able to do this. It might just be too big of a bite to chew.
Only one of us is capped. Only one of us has any past lives at all. Some of us are level 24. And yet here we are, on one of the very highest-level quests in the game, on Epic Elite. We consider bailing and restarting on Hard, but no, it is too late into the evening to start over. Nothing for it but to soldier on.
And so we do.
We play strategically. We use terrain, and choke points, and we fight in our crowd control. We draw attention carefully. We stay close enough together to be easy to heal, but far enough apart to avoid the area of effect attacks. In other words, we play well. And we have to.
There are deaths, of course, but more important is the imminent and very real threat of failure. At any second, someone could screw up in a way that will cause us all to die. It might not even take a screw up; the quest is just really, really hard. It is all we can do to maintain forward momentum, scrabbling and scratching to stay alive, to avoid the party wipe that is looming over us constantly.
But we do. We reach the end fight. We face the red-named caster and his ridiculous 259,000 hit points, and his killer snow elemental allies, and his (slightly easier) air elemental allies. Somehow, some way, we defeat them all. After all that, the frost giant is practically a footnote; there’s nothing he can do to us except hit us with a sword and by now we are way beyond that.
We are a team, a good team, playing as well as I’ve ever seen us play.
And we win. One of the harder quests in the game, on the hardest difficulty, with a ragtag bunch of mainly first-life under-leveled characters. We won. It was glorious.
This is DDO at it’s best. This. Hanging on for dear life, desperately playing your ass off, right at the very edge of disaster, pulling out the victory.
This is why I play this game.