Vault of Glass, the original Destiny raid, made its debut in Destiny 2 on Saturday. Bungie gave the old raid a new coat of paint, and many teams — including my own — dove in to conquer the challenge within the first 24 hours. But even though we all knew the fights from the original game, it didn’t stop me and a host of my peers from participating in my favorite Destiny raid-race experience: chart-making.
Destiny raids are like a cooperative puzzle. Players normally need to communicate information about something that only they can see to someone else who has to apply that information. Shouting “the thing to your left” doesn’t usually cut it, especially in a day-one scenario, when Bungie pumps the difficulty up to 11.
The best way to communicate between six people simultaneously is to create a common language. And that’s been my job for the past two Destiny raid races, Vault of Glass included.
This chart is my creation for the first encounter in the Deep Stone Crypt raid from last fall. I created it while my team took a five-minute break. The specifics aren’t important here; all you need to know is that five players have to communicate with one player, and then that one player has to communicate to the five.
I divided the encounter into a black side and a white side. In this scenario, I was the solo basement player — spending my time under the map — and two of my teammates were sending me the information I needed. We’d keep the chart on our second monitors or phones. They’d call B2, B5 (the circles on the side) and I’d go to those numbers on the black side of the basement. We did the same on the white side with calls like W1 and W4. Then I’d tell them B1, B3, W2, B2, W1, W3 so they could shoot the boxes in the middle of the room in a specific order.
For Deep Stone Crypt, building that chart empowered us to finish the encounter much faster. We didn’t have to worry about communication anymore, just execution. If someone got confused, they had a reference point to help them focus up.
When we dived into the Vault of Glass on Saturday, I expected we’d see a raid that hadn’t changed much. I was wrong. So when we got to Atheon, I broke out the MS Paint once again and built a new chart in about 60 seconds.
This chart isn’t as pretty, but it was just as effective. After 30 minutes or so with the new chart, the team decided we needed a second, inverted chart. I inverted it, labeled both charts, and then my oldest raid pal welded the two together. We built a chart that worked for us and solved for our needs.
Atheon — the final boss in Vault of Glass — sends half the raid into a different timeline (that’s the “In” team on the chart) and leaves the rest of the players in the main arena (the “Vault” team). It then shows the Vault players a specific order of Oracles in the main timeline, almost like Simon Says. The Vault players then need to communicate the order to the In players, who have to quickly destroy the Oracles in the called order in their timeline.
The problem here is that both teams are staring at the objects from a different direction. Rather than invert the calls — something we tried, which did not go well — we came up with a universal number system. Teams on the Vault side could reference the chart to figure out the call, and people on the In team could check the chart to make sure they were destroying the right Oracles.
The fun thing about joint languages like this is that they’re unique. Below are a host of other Atheon charts created by other raid groups, all different from our own in some slight way.
Each of these charts convey the same kind of information to their respective teams, and each player has agreed on what to call each Oracle Atheon spawns. I think our numbers and charts make the most sense. But I created them, so of course I do.
Every time we play a Destiny raid on day one, I get to invent a new kind of language with my friends. As the raid ages and we all do it with more people, we let more Guardians into our little club, sharing the chart. When we mix with other groups, we discuss competing charts and decide on one. The language expands, changes, and improves in the process.
But while teaching other players your group’s way of doing things is its own reward, nothing quite beats the schoolyard-esque secret languages I’ve built with my friends on raid day.