Monday, October 3, 2011

Tanking: in which I poke things I shouldn't

So here's a thing.

Tonight my linkshell event got canceled, leaving me at loose ends for the night.

Now being the whimsical and somewhat haphazard Red Mage that I am, I figured tonight would be a perfect opportunity to attempt to copy someone else's success. I headed out to Abyssea Attohwa and began climbing Parradamo Tor.

Parradamo Tor is a particularly obnoxious mountain with ledges two feet wide and obstacles littered all across the path to the summit. I've only climbed it twice before and heartily detest it. Seriously, it's one of the more obnoxious level designs in FFXI, which is saying something.

When I finally dragged myself up to the top of the mountain I could see Yaanei drifting along in the distance. I quickly buffed myself and crossed the plateau in search of Yaanei. After some running back and forth I managed to locate the aberration.

As I fought, I found it interesting that this creature which is essentially a second zone boss was susceptible to all of the standard enfeebles. These days most NMs are immune to a bunch if not all of our enfeebling magic. Being able to use my enfeebling magic unhindered makes just about any fight go a lot smoother.

The beginning of the fight was fairly simple. Yaanei swings a little faster than most big monsters, but it's not enough to make shadows useless. The only concerning threat is the tier IV AoE spells he casts, but with Addle and their native cast time you should have plenty of time to switch into a MDT(magic damage taken -%) set even if you aren't able to run out of range. I found my nukes were either getting horribly resisted or that Yaanei is packing some mad magic defenses. My tier IV nukes weren't even breaking 1,000 damage and my nuking set isn't exactly terrible. So this was looking to be a long and drawn out fight.

As I was shaving off the first quarter of Yaanei's health I almost tripped over something low to the ground and a tad beligerent. There was a Tarutaru Black Mage who had scaled the mountain as well and we was offering to assist me. Somewhat disheartened by my uninspiring damage output and the ticking clock, I agreed to accept his offer. For the most part my play didn't change. I had built up a ton of hate and Yaanei was very intent on trying to clobber me and didn't care too much about the Tarutaru that was dropping stuns and additional nukes. Kill speed had gone up considerably, though it was still a slow and arduous process to be sure. At some point the Tarutaru asked for me to pass him party lead. Turns out he had two friends on the way to help as well.

When the White Mage and Warrior Tarutarus finally arrived, a curious thing happened. I found myself receiving Hastes and -na spells for the nasty status effects Yaanei was now doling out. It seemed that no one really wanted to pry the beast's attention away from me so I was going to be allowed to tank. No one actually said it, but there's an old saying that still holds true: "Actions speak louder than words", and the party's actions spoke volumes. I'm sure both the Black Mage and the Warrior could have taken hate if they'd cared to, but with our rag-tag band I was best suited to holding the monster's attention while simultaneously Not Dying. It was fun, it was amazing, it was something I thought I'd never get to do after the update that nerfed all of Red Mage's enmity tools. But hey, if I can cap hate early and not fall over it's all good, right?

As the Caturae was on its last legs, they asked me to slow down on killing it as they were still trying to proc red for the atma. An odd request given our slow and steady approach thus far, but ok. I slowed nuking almost to a halt. Spellcasting became slower as I mainly cycled shadows and tried to recall which spells in my arsenal still gave me cumulative enmity, because I knew the shadows were slowly eroding my hold on hate. I knew enspells gave some CE, and renewing enfeebles seemed to provide enough volatile enmity to hold out long enough to proc red. Afterwards, at about 10% health, Yaanei decided to get really mean and began unleashing nasty AoEs that inflicted horrible status effects like terror and also swatted some of the Tarutarus after hate reset. There were enough targets that we were able to survive while the monster induldged a serious case of ADD. Eventually I regained hate and was able to hold Yaanei as the rest of the party tore down the last few shreds of its HP.

We won. I got a spiffy new cape. Congratulations and fireworks were had by all.

And people say Red Mage tanking is dead...Ha!


Celebrating our victory.

This is what happens when my linkshell is waiting on people to get to Voidwatch.

I've been having an absolute blast in Nyzul Isle lately.

Ah bunny punching, it never gets old.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Look Pimpin'

Oh this has been a long time coming. I can finally wear my pimp hat in my idle set again and it goes well with my new pimp coat. Life is good and I am stylish once again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh Hello Endgame

Spending a month floating through empty social linkshells has been less than fulfilling. Oh let's not mince words, it was terrible. Without a core group of people to run with you're left trying to accomplish everything either through pickup groups filled with incompetent people, or you end up soloing a lot.

Not being a social butterfly I chose the latter.

As a Red Mage there's a fairly large portion of the game you can realistically get through on your own. However, that doesn't mean it's always fun to go it alone.

That's why I jumped at the opportunity to apply to my first real endgame shell, Ouch.

My only experience with endgame thus far has been with a terrible dynamis shell and the ocassional event with a nice social shell that no longer exists. I figured it would be nice to finally experience events while running with some folks who actually know what they're doing.

So far it's worked out pretty well. The folks themselves seem pretty laid back, the rules are straight forward, fair and pretty sensible. Everyone seems to be competent at the jobs they bring to events, and there are plenty of events throughout the week to keep me busy. It's a sharp contrast to what things have been like in the past when there was never a clear plan for each night and events were pulled together on a whim rather than a schedule people could plan around. I'm really enjoying it.

It's still an endgame shell though, so unless it's event time it's fairly empty. But while it is about events and getting stuff done, it goes about it with an air of business casual rather than a suit and tie operation. Folks chatter enough that I don't feel like a nameless cog in a giant machine, although on reflection that might be because they gave me a nickname the first night I joined the shell.

Since the whole game is currently still revolving around Abyssea that's what a lot of the stuff we do is, but there's a good mix of other stuff in there as well. Every Monday we do Voidwatch, and I have to say it's probably one of the more enjoyable events I've participated in so far. The rewards are pretty lackluster and the drop rates are terrible, but the event itself is something I find a lot of fun. Tackling huge monsters with as many people as we can wrangle up in a night appeals to me. Unlike Abyssea it isn't everyone but the tank and the White Mage sitting around until procs are taken care of, instead it feels like an actual fight with a threatening foe. Sure you can't have the DDs feeding the NM TP the whole time, but it always feels like there's something for everyone to contribute to the fight.

I don't think I'm alone in this either. Last night we were short a few hands, but it wasn't because people didn't want to come. Quite the contrary we had a number of members who were disheartened that they couldn't make it to the event due to personal schedules and whatnot. Voidwatch is fun.

An endgame shell is never going to be a replacement for a good social shell, but right now I'm pretty content to enjoy what they have to offer.


I need to get out of Abyssea more often. The rest of the world is so beautiful.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Generic update

My brain is all melty so it's generic rambling today.

It's been a month since I updated last. Mostly it's because I've been trying to keep busy.

Lately I've been spending a lot of time working on Dragoon. It's quite a fun job and offers a stark contrast to Red Mage. It took me some time but I finally got it to cap. Looking back I feel a tad silly for buying top of the line gear for it on the way up rather than just slumming it since it always got stuck in some god-awful sync. Then again, it's a lot of fun to do roughly 40% of a party's damage, and the thought of my wyvern outdamaging people is both hilarious and depressing at the same time.

I feel like leveling Dragoon has opened a few doors to me. Before all I had to offer at events or pickup groups was Red Mage. What with the metagame being the way it is, Red Mage doesn't bring much to the table unless there aren't other options available. Sad but true. Now I can at least offer up the other half of the job spectrum (Magic vs Stabbing) so things are a tad more flexible now. Unfortunately I still feel like my Dragoon is woefully unprepared for prime-time. I've done what I can to start gearing it properly, but it's still miles behind my Red Mage. Just means I have more shinies to chase I suppose.


How to put it.

The Linkshell I came to Valefor to join has since broken. The leader burned out and I can't really blame him. The guy worked weird hours and was putting in a lot of effort running the shell and trying to keep it accessible for everyone. Just too much stress I suppose. It's a shame, because I think it was honestly the best shell I've been in.

So when he stepped down from being the leader the shell split and people went in different directions. Some folks built a new shell designed for continuing to support new players while other folks drifted off into another social shell that was a bit more geared toward veteran players. I ended up following the folks to the social shell. It didn't have quite the same feel, but at least it had some friendly faces...I guess.

Something about it just didn't feel right. The atmosphere was a tad less friendly and jovial. The leader, who had done some events with the DiV shell previously, was a lot more talkative in their own shell.

How do I put this?

She was a bit cold, and sometimes her sarcasm bordered on just being mean to other shell members. The other night a few of us voiced some concerns. She did not take well to being told to stop repeatedly abusing a specific shell member. People got told off in an extremely aggressive and hurtful manner.

You want to run your shell that way? Fine.
I want nothing to do with a leader who thinks it's funny to pick on people and just generally be a raging bitch. It's such a shame too, I liked some of the other folks in the shell, but I just can't be happy in a situation where the management is like that.

So now I return to my eternal quest to find a good linkshell. Until then, I'll be aimlessly floating through Vanadiel.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So a little over two weeks ago I decided to switch servers. The good folks over at Dreams in Vanadiel have been egging me on to make the jump for a while now and the way things were going on Quetzalcoatl it just seemed like a good time to do it.

In many ways I find myself realizing that yes, I was quite unhappy in my old linkshell. Sure I knew the folks in there and we all got along fairly well, but it was always so empty and devoid of activity. We could barely ever accomplish anything in that shell. Don't get me wrong, they're good people, but they weren't terribly skilled and there weren't many of us to begin with so a lot of the time I had to fend for myself to get anywhere and that gets old after a while. Also the LS leader was a tad clingy in ways that made me uncomfortable, though I was always too polite to let him know.

But now I've moved to Valefor. It's a very different culture I think. After spending a few years on one server you become familiar with its quirks and the personalities on it. I think I prefer those of my old server, but the bigger and better linkshell I'm with now more than makes up for it. No longer must I sit in my mog house thinking: darn, I wish I could get together enough friendly faces to go do event X. Now people are dragging me off to go do events or I can just ask and find a handful of people actually interested in doing the event, rather than realizing the only other people in the shell are afk bazaaring again.

I feel like I've accomplished more in the two weeks since I've landed here than in the past several months on Quetz. It's a good feeling.

However, there's always the flipside. While I'm getting more accomplished, I don't quite feel settled in. There's still a bit of that social awkwardness that comes from being the new guy. It will pass in time.

I'd always wondered what it was that possessed people to pick up and leave an entire server full of familiar faces behind, but it doesn't seem so odd now that I've done it. I guess it's just one of those things that's part of the FFXI experience.

One thing that I'm really hating about Valefor: the fish market.
It's so flooded and over-saturated that I haven't even bothered to go fishing once since I've moved here. It makes me sad because I really do enjoy fishing, but it just isn't worth it in this market.

I've been spending some time moonlighting as a mercenary. I like my boss.

Just some fun shots I took in Ro'Maeve

I've been spending more time in Abyssea lately, for better or worse I'm not sure yet.

I cannot tell you just how tempted I was to pick that option.

I've rebooted project Level Dragoon.

Living dangerously as a Red Mage.

I've said it before and I'll say it until the day the servers shut down, the attention to detail in this game is absolutely incredible.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Failure is a good thing

The more you fail, the more opportunities you have to improve yourself. It is only when a player refuses to learn from their mistakes that we ought to ruthlessly and shamelessly make fun of them.

Today I had a wonderful failure in Abyssea, Vunkerl Inlet to be precise.

One of our Linkshell members had expressed interest in obtaining a Pluviale during today's scheduled romp through Abyssea. Due to some attendance issues the event was postponed a bit.

Being the reckless Red Mage that I am, I figured I would make use of the down time to scout out the Notorious Monster that dropped the frilly prize we'd be after. Turns out we'd be fighting a hulking behemoth made up of scrap metal and spare garbage cans.

I found the beast wandering around when I got there and decided I may as well poke it and see how hard it hits. The verdict: not as bad as I feared, but still enough that I'm not keen to stay within punching distance. Quickly I turned on my heel and ran, trying to dodge some tigers along the way. Sadly they were far more alert than I gave them credit for and one of them followed me out of the valley, joining the Executioner's quest to pound me flat. The tag-teaming worked and I found myself face down in the dirt.

After dusting myself off and resting up I realized I needed a new approach, or at least a different escape route. There's another valley to the south that proved to be much more suited to my task, even if it meant dragging the Ironclad Executioner on top of all those Bastion combatants. It was fairly empty, but had plenty of rocks and trees to put between me and the overgrown dumpster. I tried kiting to the end of the valley and back to the initial spawn area, and that worked for a while but ultimately it ended up being a little too risky. The spawn area isn't really suited to kiting and a number of times I ended up within punching range over there. Eventually that proved to be my undoing as I got caught in a stun-lock and was beaten into a fine paste while a Tarutaru watched on the sidelines cheering me on.

This time around I had managed to wear down the beast's hp to well under 50% so one more try wasn't so unrealistic. However, before continuing I decided to take some time off. If you tackle NMs too fast and too often you end up burning yourself out. Sometimes it's good to just take a break and reflect on what you've learned. In this case, I'd learned that the goal of soloing the NM was well within sight and that the southern valley had proven to be a safer location for pulling it off. In particular, there is one tree at the end of the valley that works well as a pivot point, letting you slingshot yourself back north while the NM crawls around after you (instead of making a bee line straight for you). It's not a lot, but it slows him down enough that you can put a little distance between you. On the northen end of the valley, there's a couple of rock formations that can provide a similar reaction, although they seemed to be less reliable.

It's not just during downtime that you learn though. During my next attempt I began to pick up on other things that were important, such as how dropping a tier IV nuke always seemed to leave me open to swatting due to the slow cast time. Actually a lot of spells were long enough that I had to time it just so, or I'd end up getting swiped at. Luckily the wonderfulness that is /SCH offers a solution: Alacrity and Celerity. When your primary concern is keeping yourself out of harm's way, mp efficiency becomes secondary to getting your spells off fast enough to let you get back to running. When stratagems are down your options tend to shift a bit. Instead of dropping high tier nukes you drop lower tier nukes. With buffs you end up having to just pull far enough ahead of the mob that you can hopefully finish casting before it catches up with you. Poison II and Bio II cast fast enough that you don't really need to waste stratagems on them.

In case I was being too subtle, /SCH is really what makes the whole operation work, but not just because of the stratagems.

No, what makes /SCH work so damn well is Sandstorm and Desert Boots.
For those of us who aren't fortunate enough to have spent years in a Sky linkshell getting Crimson Cuisses, /SCH offers the unparalleled boon of increased movement speed at a very affordable price. It's not as noticeable as the boost given by bard songs or the super Kupowers, but it's enough that you can realistically outrun the NM without applying Gravity. You just need a long enough corridor in which to do it.

So yes, on my third attempt I managed to take what I'd learned along the way and annoy the iron giant to death. Failure is a good thing kids, it's how we learn to kick more ass.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If You Want to Rock and Roll

It's taken me nearly two years but I've finally reached the level cap.

This morning I got up with the intention of heading out to Attohwa Chasm in Abyssea to see about finding myself some stylish new shoes. On a whim I joined a shout for an exp alliance there and figured I could use it to do some of the legwork before I started up a farming session solo. Before I knew it four hours had passed and I was suddenly sitting at level 90 with a full exp buffer. I had also managed to get the footwear I set out to acquire. All was well in the world.

Level caps are a funny thing. You spend a lot of time grinding to reach them, but even after you get there you'll still have plenty of things to chase after. The closer I've come to the level cap the more I've come to realize that there's no shame in racing toward it as fast as possible. In the game everyone's always going to be at different places in terms of game progression, whether it be by level, by gear or simply varying interest in content. The level cap offers an equalized playing field for folks. It's where you can stop playing "catch up" and start playing the game with the rest of the population. Without that stopping point there's no way to really get everyone together. Before you hit the cap you're likely to be relying on help from people higher level than you, but you can't really repay the favor by helping them with their content because you're too low level. Once everyone hits the level cap you can all help each other, which is part of FFXI's core even if it's been muddled as the years roll by.

I wish I'd figured this all out sooner. I remember discussing this all with one of my shellmates many months ago when he finally caved and zoomed to the cap. He told me how much better the game became once you stopped goofing around in zones like Dangruf Wadi and actually got to the level cap. He was right, but it still took me a while to get around to finally doing it.

Some of my reluctance was based on my desire to see if I could pull off some of the amazing feats others had done with all the level 75 content over the years. There isn't a Red Mage out there who hasn't heard of some of the crazy solos that were possible. We all think at some point or other, "Hey, I'd like to try pulling that off". But at some point I realized I would be better off just getting myself up to speed with the current game than trying to live in the bygone era. I am a little disappointed that now all my solos of old content can just be chalked up to level advantage, but overall it's gonna be more fun this way.

Now I just wish I could get some of the lowbies in our shell to make the jump so we can all hang out and do stuff together.

It's all about style.