Every raid has a rallying cry. A simultaneous burst of exuberance that inspires and bolsters its members. For some it may come rarely, saved for that moment late in a night of progression work, when spirits are shattered and failure hangs heavy. For others it’s a constant, a trigger that snaps the players into place. Snarling and bold, the raid leader stands before his accumulated men, barking out orders and reiterating commands long since committed to memory. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the players scoot back in their seats, tongues shifting in mouths. They pound their keybinds like shields, the steady rhythm of a conquering horde that sends peasants scurrying into crude huts. With each moment the tension builds, rising to a crescendo of gritting teeth and squeaking office chairs.
Then the dam bursts. The plates shift. The balloon, stretched to its limit, finally pops.
The tank pulls the boss.
Once XXR fell to our accumulated might, we forged forward into the depths of Belsavis and the Eternity Vault. Gharj, the mighty beat born of lava and flame, was barely a challenge. Having studied in the school of Sartherion, we all were prepared for much more than simply jumping from platform to platform. Riding the high of victory, we burst out into the innermost chambers of the massive underground complex, shocked to discover that the next boss, the Pylon Puzzle, was nigh unchanged from Story Mode.
Deeper we strove, all the way down to the chambers of the Infernal Council, a malicious grouping of those who sought to bolster the burgeoning power of the Rakata empire. It was here we faced our first real challenge of the night. Each of us was to deal with our own member of the group based on our differing aptitudes. There was no room for failure, as any assistance beyond a SINGLE action was barred.
By this point in the evening, our progress having been so surprising, the overall attitude of the raid had become scattered and manic. Unsure when the other shoe would drop, we had approached each encounter with trepidation. Was this the one that would lay us low? Each pull, my cry had become slightly less impassioned, beginning with a triumphant roar on XXR and ending with a middling “Let’s just kill these guys I guess?” as we rushed in to battle the Council.
In we went, unsure and untested. Health bars fluctuated wildly as the encounter went on. Each player was fully focused on their own individual encounter, the sound of silence heavy in our ears. One by one came the meek reports. “Target down.”, “Killed my guy.”, “Woop there it is…er was.”.
All but one. Our most recent addition to the group, a Commando whose gear wasn’t quite at the level of the content we were at. Until this moment, he had managed to bear his share of the load despite this handicap, but now his knees sagged desperately. Unable to receive any support from us, we could do nothing but stand around and watch as he struggled for his life. Then, it was over. As the final sliver of his health drained away, so did the youthful exuberance of our streak. For only a brief moment we mourned its loss, our endless dreams of a night of effortless success dashed. The walk back, one we would make so many times in the future, was this time a bruise proudly worn. “Yes, he got me, but this just means I’m not afraid to fight.”
Once again before the Council we redoubled our efforts. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the war table was opened to discussion about the finer points of shooting a thing with a giant cannon, various enhancements were passed around, and we all selected our most useful single ability for use in bolstering our friend in his moment of need. As final preparations were made, a deathly silence fell upon the group, replaced only by the minute sounds of readiness. Clicks and sighs, muttered phrases and reminders, all the noises of the battlefield on the eve of combat.
I readied myself for some climactic speech, a stirring diatribe on the nature of success and the importance of defeat. For the first time that night, I honestly knew the need for a battle cry. As I took in a final, sharp breath, I suddenly blurted out: “Kardos, where are your damn pants?”
Silence. Nobody moved.
In the back, two members, a Sentinel and a Sage, had stripped down to hat, gloves, and boots. They were dancing. Kardos, the Sentinel, was viciously gyrating against the floating form of his target. The raid erupted in laughter. Point made, the two put their clothes back on and we pulled.
We didn’t get the boss that attempt, nor the one after that, but we did get them that night. Kardos? He got some boots, but to this day, he still hasn’t gotten pants. We did get a battle cry though. To this day, the pants-less visage of our Jedi Sentinel inspires us to greater levels of success, spurred on by that heroic question: “Does Kardos have his pants on?”