Here's the end of the first fight, with Burninsun. Some songs are active, so the stats aren't 100% accurate, but looking through all of the pictures should give a good idea of my unbuffed BotB stats (which are, incidentally, lower than my normal raid stats, due to the poor stats on PBT).
When I knew I was going to win I would often give up defense in favor of a bit more offense, just to make things go faster. Even so I tended to win by a larger margin than my hp advantage would indicate:
Second fight, vs. Shadoz:
The next fight was fun. This was Fasol, from a PvP server. He had good PvP technique, however, he kept changing tactics. I talked to him after the fight, and he said he realized right off that standard tactics wouldn't work (equal skill but unequal equipment), so he was trying non-standard techniques, that with luck, would pay off. His tactic was to proc tash, use occlusion, and DoT me up. Not a bad tactic, especially if under the assumption that high hp = low resists. However, in my case, that isn't true. What's more, he didn't proc until the last half of the fight, at which point it was too late to try something else. Despite the end stats, he was a challenging opponent. Certainly the cleanest technique of anyone I fought (pics from here on are cropped to speed loading time):
Ahh, now this next fight was interesting, and fun. Right off the bat, Tikkon used puretone. I was curious: could I defeat puretone, without using it myself? My first instinct was "no", but with a good equipment advantage, I figured I had some leeway to play with it. He developed a large lead while puretone was going, however once his wore off I was catching up fast. Still, it was too close, so I popped puretone myself. By my log, my puretone wore off 1:49 after the fight ended, so I used about 1/3 of a puretone to defeat him. End fight stats:
I didn't take a pic after the first Lohengrin fight, but it was similar to the first two. This is a pic after the second fight, where he used puretone, and I did not. Apparently, it IS possible to win vs. puretone, in the right situation! The right situation in this case being a huge equipment advantage. Going by his posted hp, he did more damage to me than I did to him, due to puretone. I lived due to equipment. This isn't surprising, since puretone is a massive advantage. Since this was the second fight of finals, it wasn't a high stress fight, and the winner didn't matter much. I could have done this fight a bit better, but towards the end, I knew I was going to win, and took a few extra risks. It was a fun fight:
I'm glad I won, but realistically, I had little to gain, and everything to lose. Puretone is a major advantage, one that in my opinion should have been disallowed from the start. If luck had placed me fighting two top notch bards in a row, both of which used puretone, the second would beat me. Even though in a straight up fight with that same bard, I would win. The idea that the use of puretone is a strategic element is a poor one, because it all depends on the order one fights. If the fights happen in a different order, the winner changes. Since the fight order is determined by /random, the winner is determined the same way.
The equipment I wear is the end result of years of preparation. Some people are of the opinion that good equipment is unfair in some way. I will attempt to explain how equipment figures in in Everquest, when it doesn't in other sports.
Many things in EQ are totally random. If I slash someone, how hard I hit them isn't based on skill, it's based on equipment and a random roll of the die. In a real life situation, there would be no randomness. The chance to hit, and the strength of the hit, would all be based on the skill of the two combatants. That skill is a result of time spent practicing, and some genetic ability.
In Everquest, no amount of practice will allow me hit harder with a sword, or better resist damage songs. However, equipment will. So instead of long hours of training to increase strength or resistance, in Everquest, it's long hours spent obtaining equipment. Equipment, in Everquest, IS increased strength and resistance, the same things that any athlete builds over time.
Either way, through training or through equipment, the combatant that spends the most time preparing has an advantage. Is it unfair to practice more than others? I'm sure there are people out there with enough skill to play in professional football...but they don't have the physical characteristics needed: superior strength and speed. Is this unfair? Assuming genetics doesn't prevent it, of course not. It takes a great deal of time to build the strength and speed necessary for professional football. If those skilled but untrained athletes spent time training their speed and strength, then they could participate in professional football, on an even footing with others. They can try to compete without the strength and speed, but their skill will have to be greater to compensate. Everquest is the same way.
The randomness concept was most obvious at the cleric BotB. Arele fought another cleric, and both were hitting the other during CH to interrupt. Every time Arele hit, the other channelled. Every time the other hit, Arele didn't. Chance to channel is completely random. There is no skill involved. Chance to hit with a weapon is again, completely random. The only thing that helps in this case is time spent obtaining equipment, since there is no way to practice channeling (beyond gaining levels and in game skill points, which I assume are all at max for every participant). Without equipment to somehow differentiate those that prepared for years and those that prepared for months, it would come down to who gets the best die rolls. Even with an equipment advantage, sometimes it does anyway.
So, the final question: is it unfair to have an equipment advantage? Of course not, the same way it isn't unfair for one heavyweight boxer to be stronger and faster than another. The stronger/faster boxer spent more time training for the event. I spent a great deal of time and effort to get the equipment I wear. I get no special equipment deals from being Guildleader, I use the same point system as everyone else. I have better equipment because I spent more time preparing. Want to see every raid I've been on in the past 1.5 years? Go to my DKP page.
One thing I would like to see though, in regards to Everquest BotB style competitions, is different weight classes, exactly like my boxing comparison above. Currently, we ONLY have heavyweight combat. Where do the lighter equipped players go to compete? They don't. How about lower level players? They don't either. To get this going, Verant would need to have volunteer referees, set rules, and weekly events...but it could be done.