Friday, December 31, 2010

Shinryu and more

After getting access to the Shinryu fight it took a day before I got to fight the actual thing. With a group of 6 we rotated using brews attempting for red and then blue weaknesses. We got the Atma during the second fight and a blue proc only once for the only 'big' pool. Several belts dropped, a dagger, a few capes and a scythe. I ended up with the scythe which I couldn't equip yet.

Twilight Scythe
On saturday evening I leveled DRK for the sole purpose of trying out Twilight Scythe. The last time I played DRK was in the exp alliance that took me to 85. Now I played around with endark and I was parsing equally to a NIN for the top DD's in the group using Magnus Scythe. I still had a stack of magnus stones left when I hit 90, but of course I immediately switch to Twilight. It took me a while of trying, but apparently Death can not proc with Endark up. That alone was a big disappointment. Without endark it would fire off rarely and although it's eyeballing, it certainly doesn't look like it's anywhere near 10% which was previously reported. If I had to guess, I'd say it would fire every 5th mob. That doesn't say much about the actual proc-rate though.

It's going to be very hard to determine the contribution of Death procs on an alliance's performance. That's why I'm not going to bother saying how good I think it is compared to other options, but I will say it's a good weapon for farming and EXP. However, since AoE farming is more efficient whenever it's applicable, the niche seems pretty small. A thread on FFXIAH forums showed Twilight Scythe bypassing the PDT on elementals as well as going through a PLD mob's Invincible, leading some to believe it hits like Formless Strikes. I can't imagine this being a glitch, so as a hidden effect it seems very useful. Someone else claimed it never proc'd during a Dynamis run, which seems a bit odd.

SAM progress
I've set up some goals for gearing my Samurai. There's a lot left to do, but I'll slowly get there. For example, last week Thursday I got this:

As you can see the STR text on still hasn't been fixed. Truly a glorious day, as it was the same day I got the Twilight Scythe and Apocalypse Atma. A special thanks to Kingcem and Cyrille for helping me out. I've seen it drop once out of 6 fights, but 1/1 with blue proc. Immediately after we killed Chukwa and of course PLD AF3 neck drops without any weakness proc.

With the recently finished Unkai Haidate +2, Unkai Sugemino and Ace's Sabatons, I've made some decent strides in the last two weeks. My WS set is missing 5 key pieces and a few lesser upgrades that I didn't list in this image:

Everything is what it looks like. The Moonshade earring will have Attack and TP Bonus augments, of course. The TP set looks like it'll be harder to finish although it could be done in a short time with some dedicated farming.

The cape in there is Atheling Mantle, which has double attack on it. I didn't put Hoard ring in there (because it's buyable and cheap), but it will be needed for a 5-hit at 437 delay. My progress on Masamune is still stuck at VNM's (Lamprey Lord), but I hope to get those done soon. In the process I found out a SAM can solo Urd at 90. I will make a dedicated post about that soon, as it was a fun and interesting fight.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

6/6 Caturae

Ever since people found out how to access the Shinryu fight, we've focussed on getting people access. Some got it on their own by joining pickup groups, but many others (including myself) waited for us to do the fights as an LS. Yesterday we "finished" the needed fights, though not everyone was present for all events, so some are still missing a few kills. Overall they were pretty easy and we got Atma off most. All of them do something unique at lower health that range from annoying to deadly.

We had a previous encounter with this one that didn't end well. It's specialty is an attack that inflicts super curse. Not knowing what to expect the first time (read: unprepared) it ripped tanks and DD's to shreds one by one. This was before Heroes was released. Several abyssites and atmas later, the fight seemed a breeze. It wasn't just the brute force, but also acknowledging the danger of the last phase and using fanatic's powders on DD's to zerg it down the last phase.

This one turned out to be pretty simple. The key to winning was positioning. It did knock tanks around a bit, so you have to reposition regularly, which not everyone was doing. On a related note: a big pet peeve of mine is tanks that don't stand between the mob and mages or even to the side. Rather they love to stand on the far side of mobs, forcing healers to move into a mob's AoE range in order to buff and cure them. Especially on large mobs the difference in positioning is huge. For the love of god, don't make me have to cut through or run in a large circle around a mob's AoE area to the back side just so I can safely cure you. So yea, Royal Decree is not big deal with a NIN tank, so that worked out well combined with 3 BST's and 2 SMN's for damage. There's some more details about the fight in my previous entry.

The day before our Misareaux run we farmed pops with a small group and checked for Kutharei before calling it quits. It was up and we killed it using the same strategy as Yaanei, which was zerging the last 25%. We got red that time for Atma, which we didn't manage to do during the actual LS event. It's a pitty because the regen is pretty crazy on it.

I honestly don't know what this one's "special" ability is at low HP, because it was over before I knew what happened. It seemed to take a long time to spawn, a problem we didn't have with any other of the freespawn Caturae. I would classify this one as being the easiest one we did, based on that single experience.

This thing was actually camped when we got to Tahrongi. None of the other ones were when we did them, so it was a bit of a surprise. We hade wide-scanners, but it ended up popping in my field of vision and I got claim. Both tanks died to a 1.9k Shadow Wreck which I thought was a bit of a disappointment. By now we should know how important it is to keep tank HP high and using a HP+ Atma on things with strong attacks. When both tanks hit the floor DD's engaged and we soon proc'd Red weakness which made things pretty smooth for the last phase and got os the Atma. Not particularly useful, but could be fun once our mages can get a hold of the Twilight Cloak and Impact.

Our last Altepa run had us losing a Rani pop. We had wasted a lot of time trying to fight it around the dolls and getting magic aggro. By the time we could put tanks on it full-time, the PDT had built up considerably and we just gave up on it.

This time around the plan was a bit different. We used pets like we did on Raja. We proc'd red and blue by the time it was reaching 50% HP. It was a bit bumpy since it wasn't exactly clear who was doing which WS. However, 3 BST's and a single SMN took it to 50% in about 15 to 20 minutes. At that point we had two people to use Primeval Brew. Vashs took it from 50% to 10% before getting charmed and Magi took it down the rest of the way. It does seem like we could have done it without brews if we deaggro'd it to reset the PDT at 50%. Since it uses meteor at that point 2 or 3 more pet jobs may have been necessary. At this point there's no real reason to worry about it. Soon we'll either have people with cheap brews to kill it from 100% or auto-reraise from Apocalypse Atma to hold it while people zone out to reset PDT. Not that we couldn't already do that now. You could reset PDT as many times as needed to take it down with the same amount of BST's/SMN's. The risk of somebody stealing it is present, but it's cheaper than using two brews per kill.

While we were there, we also killed this:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

9/9 Abyssea wins + Raja

No battle screenshots, because fraps was being stupid and all the while I wasn't taking pictures while I thought I was. It's a shame cus Cutarae mobs look pretty cool. The Uragnite zone boss was a pain and I don't know exactly why tanks died so easily, because it didn't seem to hit all that hard at all. I'll chalk it down to rustyness and too few BLM.

We went in with 3 BST's and 2 SMN's intended for Raja. I got a zone boss pop while doing Dominion ops outside of LS while Rayearl got the Ironclad key-item outside of LS as well. In the end that meant quick pops and very little running around. Assailer Chariot gave us Sojourn Abyssite from proc'ing red, so that was nice. After the chariot we re-upped our visitant time to be safe. However, Raja "only" took 40 minutes to down, which I think is pretty decent.

Royal Decree took out the WHM's several times. The NM moved too much and the tanks where being knocked back a lot as well so keeping ideal distance was not always easy. However, it shouldn't hit mages in theory, because at max casting distance from the mob you don't get hit. I had to kite it a few times, but with Allure atma and some -enmity in gear pets were able to get it off me quite easily. Usually helped along by the hate reduction from eating a tier4 -aga. NIN tank works well on this, since subjob removal doesn't affect its hate maintaining skill or its defense. BST pets were rotated so they didn't all die to AoE simultaneously. All in all a good showing from our side. While knowing that Rani is harder, it does give me a bit more confidence that we can manage it with a repeat performance of last Saturday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Heroes and more

Heroes came out and soon everyone wanted to know where the 3rd Lunar Abyssite came from. It turned out to be from the 7th zone quest boss win, so that instantly became top priority. We pulled off several kills of the Tier1 NM Diremite followed by a rather simple kill of Resheph.

Tarsal Slam (?) sets your HP to 1 and sheds a great deal of hate. Thinking two tanks would be enough to make sure no mages/support got any unwanted attention, we had them stand on opposite sides and take it down after going for Red and Yellow weaknesses. Perhaps it was the excessive TP feeding, but two back to back Meikyo Shisui's made hate unstable but it was near death, and the last bit wasn't all that difficult to cut off.

The next Abyssea LS event was in Altepa. Here we tried to down Rani for quick access to the coveted Shinryu fight. The trigger fights up to that point were smooth and so I was optimistic. However, we soon had to give up on Rani since we were unable to put a dent in it. We went in unprepared and paid the price. We did manage to proc Red weakness which just made it worse. I'm considering a pet burn next time or perhaps having someone use a brew. Fortunately the Ironclad Smiter has a pretty nice atma, so it wasn't all in vain.

We let Rani depoop and went for the zone boss Bennu. We already had a trigger but we got a second one while we were there. Hands and AF3 bodies seem less of a problem to get to +2 than the other pieces, considering how easy it is to get Tier2 pops. Bennu numer1 was a bit of a pain after the AoE hit a few too many people and the dark elemetnal I pulled for TP slept a few others. The second one convinced me it was just bad luck as it was much simpler.

The Sunday before Abyssea Altepa we killed Dynamis Lord. It was a very bumpy fight and I have to ask forgiveness for my noobness in there. I should have known it could cast sleepga and that its AoE knockback + Gravity could spell the end of a zerg. Fortunately we bounced back and had enough lv90 DD to take it down. Not before it resummoned Ying and Yang and killed a few ppl. It was close, but a win is a win. Now I can cross that one off my bucket list.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Version Update

It's been less than 48 hours after the update and I can't honestly say that I've explored much. I haven't been able to get much playtime in yet, which is regretful. However, that won't stop me from posting my first impressions!

The first thing I did when I finally managed to complete the file-check was try to finish my 5 merits (I had 2). To my great disappointment, Bastion just wouldn't happen. Misareaux was empty except for me and 2 other people. Also, Ephmerals weren't up anywhere. Giving up on that I decided to look at my STR Great Katana trials, which requires 15 Fire Geodes. They're not common without weather effects, combined with the rarity of fire weather they're going to be harder to come by than the rest. However, they're auctionable, which should make it less of a pain... I hope. While at the Magian moogle I decided to get some job emotes! I completed the DRK and THF emotes after a short trip to Tahrongi.

The next thing I did was get my Mog Sack. Not having a token/satchel made this my first big 'inventory' increase. The free daily Instant Warp is a very nice bonus. After that I stored some Assault, Dynamis and Limbus gear. All in all it's a huge imporvement in what I can and cannot carry with me. That was the end of day1.

Day2 involved me getting the 3 new maws and finishing the limit break quest. While inside the new areas I got the new Abyssites, maps and synthetic atmas. I took screenshots of them:

So far the "Atma of the Ultimate" seems the most promising. I'm not sure how big the MP penalty is, but as someone pointed out, it's good for NIN's experimenting with their new and improved nuking power. I'm very disappointed that I don't have "Atma of the Master Crafter" because it has movement speed, and I don't have Atma of Ambition either. Apparently having a craft at 100 is NOT the trigger, not that I have anything above 94 cooking, but people have reported not having it while being at 100 on a skill. Moglification key-item may have something to do with it. A lot of these are either conditional, have a negative stat or have low values of several spread-out different types of stats. So all-in-all Synthetic atmas still lag behind the regular ones. All except the movement speed ones, neither of which I have. I supposed atma of Dread (MKD) is worth it too, since it's been shown to stack with other Treasure Hunter stats now that we have a text message announcing TH levels.

That TH change is really amazing. It means a lot for THF's that have been wondering for ages how or when their TH gear is applied. We now know that you don't need to keep your TH gear equiped for it to have effect. This means being able to swap them out for better DD options without fear/supersticion of losing TH. The ability to increase your TH "modification" also makes THF's more valuable now. It's unfortunate that this means letting them melee. On the up side, AGI lowers the amount of TP fed to mobs now. How exactly this is calculated isn't completely known, but I read a report on BG of it being 1% of TP fed per 2 points of AGI. A good buff for THF and RNG alike.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend update 13

It's been a while since my last update, so I haven't posted about a very sweet achievement yet. Namely...

6/6 Abyssea wins
Now, of course some people missed out on a few wins, but for a handfull of us that have shown up for all the zone bosses the zone quests are finished. Just in time for the Heroes of Abyssea add-on too. Cirein-croin was the last one we needed and it was accompanied by a second Cirein-croin and two Amhuluks. We got yellow weakness on all 4 of them which lead to a ton of upgrade items as well as the faux relic axe (Cleofun) and club (Molva).

Cirein is a pretty simple kited fight, though that makes getting weaponskills off a bit of a problem. We still managed blue and red, but it was chaotic. Especially when Cyclone tagged some flytraps. As some people may or may not know, when you attack a mob for the first time (it was idle before) it detects alliance members by its normal means (sights, sound) and puts them on its hate list. So that meant we had to kill the adds, since they wouldn't go idle after killing the person that attacked them with AoE.

Amhuluk is a pretty fun fight. AoE Tornados look very cool and it's got a bunch of other really flashy abilities. Using height difference to avoid the AoE's made it very straight-forward. It's still a high level mob that will hit very hard when given the chance, so you still have to top up your tanks asap. The need/desire to get more upgrade items by proc'ing yellow !! is the only thing that makes this fight drag out. If that was not an issue you could have 4+ melee all whacking it (as long as you have the healing power to back it up) and take it down in under 10 minutes.

Having gotten some experience with AoE farming in La Theine, our Vunkerl farming run was going to be our first 'real' try at Cleave burning. I subbed BLU this time for safer pulling. We used bats, which are IMO the best cleave targets in Vunkerl. Harlecin was on WAR/PLD and we had a single WHM to curebomb. With Mighty Strikes two Fell Cleaves took out a large percentage of the train. That was fast enough to wipe 20-some mobs before Sentinel was low enough for there to be any real danger. However, without Mighty Strikes it takes up to 4 Cleaves before you start seeing any greyed out names of "felled" mobs (pun intended). We found out that a single WHM is not enough to keep the WAR alive during this. We got a second WHM later on, but most of the pulls we had at least 1 restore box or revitalizer in chests. The three people cleaving were seperated from the rest after we built up pearl lights. The rest of the group started getting quite a few ruby kills which noticably lowered the efficiency of our cleaving endeavors. I don't really see a way around that other than more discipline on kills. Although Fell Cleave takes mobs out much faster and requires fewer people, I like the added survivability of BLU's and the azure kills they get too.

At the end of the Vunkerl Farming run we didn't manage to get key items off all the NM's we claimed, so it was a bit disappointing. However, we did get a Pluviale to drop.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Farming Abyssea: Blue Mages

After the last entry about abyssea farming I was anxious to try it out. Last Saturday I got my chance and it turned into a very good farming run. Building lights on VNM didn't work out so well. We couldn't find enough of them up, so we just built them the old fashioned way. We had two BLU's and two BLM's to start with. I pulled on RDM then did Accession Phalanx when mobs were slept at camp. I had the BLU's both sub PLD for Sentinel. It did help but later on when Cyrille was the only BLU left, we managed to keep him alive with curespam in between sleepgas after Sentinel wore off. Even though it's not necessary, I'm not sure what other sub would have helped more.

BLM's occasionally threw in nukes, but since we were on frogs they did measly damage. Whirl of rage was the big winner doing some very impressive numbers when buffed with drinks and the like. Tail Slap, despite its description of "area attack", turned out to be a conal attack. So it should be ignored in my previous post on the subject. I wonder how Battle Dance would have done. Some magic AoE BLU spells could work in other situations when your target doesn't resist them as much.

Pulling on RDM I used a setup of 43% physical damage reduction (daytime) with Phalanx and Stoneskin. Had I subbed BLU and left the Accession Phalanx to someone else it would have been much more comfortable. Still, due to them not pathing efficiently around the lake or when the train is large, I didn't have to constantly take hits, which ranged roughly from 10-50 on non-critical hits during daytime (when Umbra Cape's hidden effect was not up). It could have been the frogs themselves being weak, but is seems like any number of jobs could manage pulling the train. Even if you're lacking some gear you could send a healer along for building the train. Since only the initial claimed mob has the puller on hate list, the puller can supertank the rest of the train while being curebombed.

I'm afraid I don't have the parse with me right now, but I'm convinced we were killing mobs faster than any other 'traditional' EXP alliance I've been part of so far. Now maybe that doesn't say much about our speed and more about the general gimpness of pick-up alliances, I still think this can be a much better way to EXP when you're providing it for a bunch of low level jobs that can't contribute beyond opening chests. Especially because we essentially never needed more than 4 people and could lower that number further with some optimizations.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trouble at the Inlet

"What's that girl? There's a tuarus wreaking havoc at the inlet? Scythes for hands, you say? Eep!"

Popped two of these babies yesterday for a total of 6 stones as we proc'd yellow weakness on both. The second pool actually look like a full drop. Having tanks HP and come back was a good idea. Both fights tanks did go down, despite having Earthern Armor up and huge HP. The max HP down debuff, the cruor buffs dispel combined with the occasionally missed stun meant we couldn't guarantee tanks' survival. However, BST and SMN pets as well as Harl on DRK and Till on THF managed to keep it occupied until the tanks got back. Mages did well with removing paralyze, petrify and doooooom! Magi died to doom about a second after Bukhis went down and got exp but no Atma. Pretty silly that something like that is not instantaneous.

Right, we also did Lacovie and Glavoid. Personally I'm now 5/6 on zone wins and still missing Misareaux.

It took the first 80% of Glavoid before we REALLY buckled down and had melee only WS while it was casting long/slow spells. The fear of messing up a second pop is what pulled us through, I think.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Farming Abyssea

By now most people must have heard about Fell Cleave burn parties. It was only a matter of time, really. Like Cyclone, Aeolian Edge, Earth Crusher and other AoE weaponskills, the damage or accuracy of Fell Cleave does not scale depending on the number of mobs affected. This is similar to how Astral Burns worked, because Astral Flow bloodpacts share this property. In fact, it seems like BLM AoE nukes are more of an exception than the rule. So, looking at how popular Astral Burns were before Abyssea came along and the similar underlying principles, it seems less surprising that such a method would arise after SE introduced the strongest physical AoE weaponskill yet.

It's not just Fell Cleave itself that makes Cleave Burning efficient. There's the surviving all the mobs hitting you as well as being able to kill them within a reasonable time. Retaliation makes it so that getting TP for more weaponskills is a non-issue. Restore boxes allow you to have Mighty Strikes up for many if not all of the pulls, making the time actually fighting the mobs very short. With 2hr up, a pair of good Atmas and a decent WS build 2.000 damage is quite achievable and would kill the majority of mobs in 3 weaponskills. The more mobs hitting the warrior, the quicker he'll get TP from retaliation procs. However, the more mobs the more defensive measures are needed.

For defense I've heard mention of Perfect Defense. I don't have any experience with the buff, so I can't say how effective it actually is. Apparently it gives a lot of breathing room, but there's still a small chance of not getting a restore chest and having to farm for one (or Revitalizer). Albeit a small chance with large enough pulls and only capped Amber and Azure lights, it's something to consider.

Cleave burning without a SMN
What are the alternatives for surviving the train? A "solution" that requires you to sacrifice some efficiency would be to do smaller pulls and cure-bomb the warrior. There is some room for the WAR to use some defensive gear while not requiring a larger number of WS to kill. However, with a smaller number of mobs per pull, you'll have slightly more down time per killed mob and less of a guarantee at restore chests. Without Mighty Strikes up the pull takes longer and that means a greater risk of failure.

Something I haven't seen mentioned before, but seems like a strong alternative: WAR/PLD using Sentinel. If three to four weaponskills is enough to kill the train of mobs and getting 100% TP almost instantly, the effect of Sentinel could be less than half-way over by the time all mobs are dead.

Accessioned Phalanx and Phalanx2, food and other buffs all help you along and there are a lot of options available. At this time I think the most minimalist way of doing a Cleave Burn without depending on restore boxes or meds is a duo of a WAR/PLD and a RDM/SCH.

The mob you're targeting obviously influences your efficiency. The ideal Cleave mob:
  1. Aggros sound and/or links
  2. Has weak or no TP abilities at all
  3. Does not cast magic spells
  4. Has low HP
  5. Has weak normal attacks
  6. Does not give ruby lights
Non-Cleave methods
BLM's have Stoneja and Waterja with the promise of stronger AoE spells come next update. Combine this with one whopper of a defensive ability in Mana Wall, BLM's can down large pulls as easily, though slightly slower than warriors. Mana Wall has an innate 50% PDT. When casting Stoneja the BLM's can be wearing Terra's Staff which boosts their damage while at the same time keeping them alive longer. A RDM puller can sleepga the train in between spells and it shouldn't take more than 6 unresisted nukes to down the train. With two BLM's that's 3 casts a piece. With Phalanx and Stoneskin BLM's can tank extremely well for the duration of Mana Wall and its MP pool. A big benefit of using BLM's is not risking Ruby lights.

With a fantastic selection of PDT gear as well an assortment of defensive spells, BLU can pull and kill its own train. They also have a good assortment of AoE spells like Body Slam, Tail Slap, Frypan and Whirl of Rage. They all cast quickly (1 second) and have a normal recast of approximately 30 seconds. There are some slower casting spells you can use to bridge the gap between these 4. With full TP and Atmas these all deal a good chunk of damage while 3 of them inflict Stun. As with Black magic, Blue magic doesn't risk ruby lights when this is undesirable. At this point my lack of personal experience makes this hearsay and theory. That means I can't give any specifics about subjob, gear choices and buffs needed for the BLU to survive without sleepga and still getting its spells off. Not without it being called into question, anyway.

If you're not necessarily looking to minimize the number of players needed to farm, the more people you have that are able to AoE while surviving the onslaught of angry mobs the more workable combinations you can make. Aeolian Edge by a THF that's using Perfect Dodge fullfills the basic requirements, but needs MANY repetitions to kill a train. Unless you have a way to feed the THF(s) for 10+ Weaponskills this isn't going to work. SAM can do 6 weaponskills in a row with 2hr, Meditate and Sekkanoki, but Sonic Thrust is directional and missing mobs is not really an option. Also, it's not as strong as Fell Cleave.

I've personally tested using RDM/BLM solo and using Fanatic's Drink + Ascetic's Tonic + Chainspell + Stonega2 to down a train of 9 Chigoes with success. With some Bastion Credits in reserve and a Scars' zone you can repeat this as many times as your credits and restore boxes allow. During the three repetitions I did I got a restore everytime and left with more time than when I started even though there's a short walk between confluxes and the Chigoe camp. Physical Shield lasts about as long as Chainspell and I had 5 to 7 seconds left on both after the train died. With Waterga2 incoming after next level raise, many possible imporvements to my nuking setup and better nuking Atmas there's always room for improvement.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weekend Update 12

Lot of stuff to talk about, but not much to say about them individually. One of the things on my FFXI bucket list was doing Odin. We killed it without all that much time to spare and the tanks going down made it a bit wonky. Kiting the fomor proved a bit challenging and keeping people alive was very MP intensive. Me and Magnumm ran low on MP towards 40%. Having to cure a SAM/THF that tanked after the tanks went down sponged a lot of it. When I got hate, Odin didn't seem to hit all that hard at all. Eating the Blizzaga in my MDT set made me think I could have easily tanked on RDM if I had some way to hold hate.

This was supposed to be a fun and positive achievement for me, but some problems with item distribution kinda blemished the whole thing.

Sunday we had a good Dynamis Jeuno run where we cleared everything before the boss. Post-boss we could have done at least 2 pulls if it wasn't for the fact that people left. I hope we can either start earlier or keep going longer. Monday finished a Glavoid set and popped it. Seemed to go very well with proc'ing red and blue weaknesses. Then around 20% people got reckless and healed it up to 60%. Had been fighting for an hour. It raged and we gave up on it. I hope we all learned a lesson, cus it was quite a waste of a pop and time.

Afterwards we did Briareus which put many of us at 4/6 Abyssea zone quest boss wins. After the fight, which was a total breeze compaired to Glavoid, we called it a night.

Tuesday I logged on to some people holding Sandworm. Killed KA for the first time. I had only ever fought sandworm's doomvoid mob once before (Serket) so it was kind of exciting. Took it out rather easily with 7 people. No drop though. On anything. Zero items.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Refresh prince

Abyssea Vunkerl smells of feet. Camping Div-e Sepid while killing some skulls for Dvalinn pop items turned out to take much longer than I had wanted. We popped two Dvalinn and were missing the imp's key item. Not only did an ugly galka (is there any other kind) just barely beat me on claim (because an aggro'd imp decided to cast Stun of all spells), but we were unable to proc the red weakness on the second pop. Still, we got lucky and got the key item anyway. Before the Imp we also did Lord Varney to finish a second Bukhis pop set and Iktomi who dropped Destiny Abyssite without proc'ing red weakness.

Then came Durinn himself. He was truly non-threatening until way later down the line. Spent a lot of time trying to get the elemental WS done. We need to start keeping better track because we didn't know how many times each one was attempted. It turned out to be Sunburst. Once that was done with we got yellow really fast and had very few blunt weaponskills available to try for blue. So we didn't get that, but it was still a good fight. This mob's Atma is amazing and we are now pretty much set for the mages. Sure, you could use Hadal Satiator's Atma or Baying moon on BLM, but -30 enmity on Allure let's you nuke more before pulling hate. Durinn became a bit of a a-hole at low HP. Thundris Shriek is bad when DD's pull hate and run around with it. Also, its nuke hit unbuffed DD's pretty hard. I left the DD's pretty unprotected choosing to focus on the tank's survival. The tanking wasn't hard, which left us with some surplus healing in the main party. It was partly geared towards killing Bukhis.

We didn't get to Bukhis because of time constraints and our overall performance didn't inspire much confidence that we'd pull it off. Now that we have two pop sets, it's slightly less worrying to potentially lose one. Other than Bukhis this week's goals were achieved without too much hassle. Many of us have the VV/RR and Allure/MM combos, which means we may not have to spend so much time on atma farming anymore and we could focus on getting AF3 upgrade items instead. However, shouldn't forget that the visions zones still offer great rewards and we should aim to balance it out between the areas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Abyyyysseaaaaa... F*CK YEA!

Another successful Abyssea run ended in the killing of Ironclad Pulverizer and obtaining of its atma. We started out with BLM's killing Ephmeral mobs and a DD party killing colibri for TE's while the third party farmed spheroid plates. After getting a pair of plates I saw Abyssic Cluster up and we got a second "blazing cluster soul" key item. We killed Ironclad Severer for some JSE. Other than a massive DC that saw 6-7 people red dotting, it was a pretty boring fight. Proc'ing blue!! didn't work out and I started dreading our chances at proc'ing red!! on Pulverizer. Heqet and Asanbosam dropped triggers too, which gives us a Cirein-croin and Amhuluk pop set.

It started getting late and so we took out Ironclad Observer. Poc'ing red never took more than 10 minutes on each mob, but with ICP's swings blocking the weakness procs there was no guarantee that we'd pull it off. All my worries about not getting the weakness and having it depop (which multiple groups have had issues with) were unnecessary as we it all went very smoothly. ICP has an ability that weakens everyone within a certain AoE radius. It brought me down to about 350 HP. It lasts about a minute and isn't that huge of an issue as long as it doesn't hit too many people. There were some problems with firegate birds (the area we kited it in), but everyone did a good job sleeping and killing them one by one. It was pretty funny to see ICP fall down and dismantel while its head flew off high into the air. It went through changes between body and head forms before it finally dying and giving us our hard earned reward.

Abyssea is really popular now and I hope we don't have to stop people from joining because of a full alliance. Good job to everyone for a speedy light build-up, gettingt 3-5 TE's, proc'ing weaknesses and general badassery.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

La Theine Picnic

Before we got to any serious mobs we needed to finish our pop sets by killing Adamastor and La Theine Liege. Even the pop items for said mobs needed farming as there werent' any on AH at the time. Fortunately neither took long to drop and using the Red!! weakness we got the key item triggers without needing any extra pops. At this point I have yet to see a key item trigger not drop after exploiting the elemental WS weakness. However, I've heard that triggers and atma are not guaranteed after the weakness. Still, the chances are much better WITH weakness, so it's always worth going for.

After the fly we had a Carabosse pop. The fight itself took longer than I expected. It did benediction around 70%. Even with three people on it, it took about 20 minutes. Some deaths caused by Tornado2, but other than that it wasn't hard with the heigh difference taking care of the AoE's. I dropped the ball on dispelling Regain and so we had a rough patch near 30%. After it was dispelled and re-enfeebled it went back to being timid. We proc'd Red!! and got Atma + trigger.

Dozing Dorian
After Carabosse, the Hadhayosh pop was complete. However, I wanted Ebon Hoof atma to make that fight easier. Tanks would have much less trouble surviving its abilities with 30% extra HP. It took 2 pops to find the Red!! weakness. It had a tendency to do Sheep Charge several times in a row and people TP'ing on it made it hard to proc. There is a distance where you can WS but are still out of melee range. I hope people start using that range or start waiting for mob tp abilities/spells before WS'ing. We're kind of wasting time trying to reproc all the WS.

We popped it and pulled it near a wall to the east to try and get some height difference. It worked a few times but the mob kept moving around and maintaining the position wasn't possible. Quite some time went by before it was decided to move it towards the valley north of the pop area. We fought it on the cliff there. In the future we should move it closer to the ramp that players can take to go back up. We got the Red!! pretty early on and the rest of the fight was a bit slow. The Accursed Armor was a bit scary, dropping tanks down to 600 HP with its curse. The rest of the abilities weren't a big deal, including the meteor TP ability. The paralyze on it wasn't even that strong. Using the height difference really takes the punch out of its most annoying TP abilities: Thunderbolt. Since it can't be outrun and people were reporting getting hit even beyond 30 yalms (34 reported), which is the range of that ability on other behemoth mobs. Some mistakes were made and a tank did go down. Each of them once, I believe. We had a MNK and PLD. When Lordapm gets more merit abyssites his Galka MNK should be able to withstand a lot more damage. Combined with Atma of Allure, it lets mages spam cures more frequently without getting hate and the majority of fights should become easier.

I had intended to do Briarieus after the behemoth, but there was a lot of interest in the LS to do Ovni, so we did that instead. Nothing notable happened and nothing notable dropped. Aside from the Atma and Abyssite! Both of which help our LS as a whole.

Here's a summary of the rewards.

And here is a fashion shot of my new gloves.

Looking at my DRK's melee gear it's missing some big things like a better Haste belt and AF3. Timarli does boost me up a bit over NQ Dusk, but I have a ways to go. Unfortunately, I was back down to 0 stones last night and spamming quests for seals will eat into some valuable visitant time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Joyful joyful!

Christmas came early this year. Yesterday's Abyssea raid went better than expected. Admittedly my expectations are generally low. The Konschtat key item farming I mentioned in another post netted us a Kukulkan pop set and missing that same NM's key item for an Eve set. Going in I knew there was no guarantee that we'd get an Eve set. My fallback plan was to take out Bloodeye Vileberry and Turul. However, we managed to get the key item, kill Eve AND Bloodeye. The reason why this entry is titled the way it is should be obvious. If it's not, here's a hint:

The nicest one is obviously Eve's Atma. It's considered one of the best melee DD Atma's in the game. I wasn't the only one that was excited. Most people immediately equiped it and marveled at the regain even before engaging anything.

This fight was not very eventful. When kited it really doesn't do much of anything. Our obstacle was the big rock at the north encampment. Where Helga hangs out. Because the rock is so huge. It was sometimes hard to cure tanks and DD's who ran out of range while kiting. Some Wivre's aggro'd, but other than that it was straightforward. Explaining how to time the elemental WS while we're actually fighting doesn't work very well. I thought it'd be clear once we moved on to Eve, but it was the same story.

Eccentric Eve
It actually deaggrod during the long pull. I had used powder boots. Luckily it was in visual range and the tanks got it right away. Paralyze stuck and prc'd often. I was very surprised. It's VERY timid with paralyze on it. Stunners did a very good job on this fight. Not a single Tainted Breath or Extremely Bad Breath got through. It only started using them at lower HP, but Shyara was focussed on stun for the whole fight and did a really well. I was a slight bit worried about stun resist building up, but it wasn't an issue. I understand that if you're at an LS event you WANT to contribute and standing around while two tanks and a melee kill a NM is boring and difficult, but if it works better that way people should be able to deal with it. Everyone listened to instructions, which I'm very pleased with. I think I may come across as bossy and/or pushy when shouting commands (one time in caps) and repeating it multiple times so nobody misses it. I appologize to my LS if that's how it seems, but I believe it's partly necessary.

Lieje and Bloodeye Vileberry
Lieje was very straightforward and barely worth a mention. It's probably duoable by a melee and a mage. I don't see a reason atm why a SMN couldn't solo it either.

Vileberry, on the other hand, was a huge pain. I stressed limiting TP to it. People did seem to hold back but with avatars hitting it at times and it getting melee hits on the tanks it eventaully pulled a rancor and killed each of them several times. The trick to not letting things get out of hand was the avatars and multiple "bodies" to throat stab. With enough people present it just bounces and teleports around and only "nearly" kills people unless they get hit by an -aga3 while weakened or after just having eaten a throat stab. Since it moves around so much, does a lot of TP abilities AND casts, it's hard to get a clean WS on it. Eventually we DID manage to proc the red weakness after some debate over who was doing which. Then we tried to take it down asap cus Harlecin was timing out soon. Made use of Chainspell, revitalizer and mega elixir. Harl didn't make it and Magi was dead when it went down. Other than that it was a good fight. Exciting and challenging, but we still ended it successfully.

What about drops? Here's the summary:

What's next?
Tomorrow is La Theine Plateau time. Hoping to get Carabosse and Dozing Dorian plus their atmas. There's a chance at Hadhayosh and/or Briarieus, but I still have to consider which of those we need most since time is the limiting factor here. There's always a chance we'll do Ovni.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hey! Itzawamoura!

Popped this beauty last night. First mob Atma for myself. Until I get Baying Moon, I'll use this on RDM together with Heavens Atma. Seraph blade terrorized it and made the Atma drop. Boots went to Rayearl. Ray has a ton of weapons skilled up on his WAR which makes it great for trying to proc Red!!. No luck on Blue!! or Yellow!!.

The fight was pretty simple. We started out straight tanking it. I intended to have it kited from the start, but I suppose this made doing weaponskills easier for people that don't know how to range them. The kiting area was a large rock south of the chigoes. Once we started kiting nobody was ever really in danger of dying except the DD's that weren't being cured properly. The tank party was more than capable of kiting/holding it indefinitely. Had Sedna been closer to a rock like this it would have been a lot less chaotic. However, Sedna actually runs faster than normal player running speed. This Wamoura does not.

We killed Tunga and Warbler after Itza[tab], but no luck on key item trigger or abyssite. We should start having someone check Yanei when we next do something in Attohwa.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend update 11

Duelist's Chapeau +1 in the making. I hope I remember to trade the items and coins in on Sunday before JP midnight. Got Valkurm Dynamis win for some folks and fairly decent number of AF drops. It's almost like Treasure Hunter has a level correction! I'm kidding, of course. So that was a good Sunday after a GREAT Saturday. Why great?

First of all, after getting 10 merits in an AF3 farming alliance (that ended in 2 pieces only) I decided to get some people from LS to farm gold boxes in Konschat Highlands. We started out with 4 and a got a fifth for about an hour before he had to leave. Kingcem and I on DD's made short work of bugards. Jinpu is a piece of crap, but it still didn't take too long to cap amber lamps. At one point I managed a 800+ Jinpu, but this was obviously an outlier. The only negative of that farming session was that I wasted 44k EXP from being capped after getting another 10 merits. Aside from that, it was all win. We managed 4/5 on an Eve pop and 3/3 on Kukulkan, which is the only other key item I need for the full Eve set. It's a shame we only managed to get 4 people out there. We could have gotten a lot more pops with two or three more parties. I think people have more confidence in our ability to get things done as a group now that we've merged with another shell. After finally popping a zone boss last week, finishing a pop set for the Attohwa and now this I'm pretty confident myself.

On the last mega gold pyxis Kingcem won the /random for a 5% PDT Dark Ring that obviously should have been mine! After the farming I begged the guys to go check if Khalamari was up and help me kill it if it was. I still needed the helm. Unfortunately it was claimed and nearly dead. I asked if the people killing it if they needed the helm or were going for the necklace (they were 2 DNC's). I didn't get an answer right away, but then this happened:

Now my WS set is a little more awesome. The helm is not hard to get, so it's not an "OMG DROP" item, but I didn't get Abyssea add-ons until Scars came out. There's quite a few more items/mobs I need to "catch up" with.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Einherjar Zweiherjar...

First of what I hope will be many Einherjar runs. I'm hopeful about getting to do Odin again. I've never had the chance to fight it and I would consider it a milestone if we managed to take it down.

It started out with a very long wait. I did a headcount of potential feather mules and we have 3 of them. This is very good if the people they belong to keep showing up. Looking at who has the most feathers, two people now have 6. I'm assuming we'll need to go through all tiers to get everyone access to the Odin fight. I believe we could (in theory) get everyone access plus finish a 9 feather set in 5 runs. After that with the feather mules it will hopefully be faster.

The event itself was smooth. No deaths and an easy boss (Psycheflayer). We cut it close towards the end because the second wave was bats and slimes. Slimes took a bit longer to kill and there were a lot of them. I made the mistake of running deep into the center of the zone after the first wave died. All mobs popped on top of me, but fortunately the regular mobs can't aggro you right away. They have the same passive period that mobs outside of Einherjar have. The boss, however, does not have that passive timeframe which meant it immediately aggro'd and we had to kill it before taking out the second wave. This is similar to how mobs in Dynamis and Walk of Echoes behave.

After Einherjar I helped Pezerton do the final CoP mission. It was nice to fight in Empyreal Paradox again, as that zone is gorgeous. I'm sorry to say it took us 3 tries to get it right with 4 people. The long lasting Mute and Amnesia combined with the physical shield took us by surprise as it seemed none of us read up on the fight beforehand. We all probably thought "at 85 this should be a breeze". Once we started kiting when WHM was silenced or it had physcal shield up, it was notably easier.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Abyssea to-do list

Obviously there's a TON of things to do inside Abyssea zones. I was a bit late to the party and had some catching up to do.

My first priority was to get Celerity abyssites. The first one was achieved by dragging 3-4 people to tonberries after a long LS EXP Alliance. It took us about 20 pulls each to get the Abyssite. Since these are soloable it's not really that big a deal to get these as long as you have the time. So a Konschat EXP Alliance may not be as common as the newer zones, but people still want the key item triggers so I'm sure you can find one. Or... start your own. It's a real pain making a decent alliance.

Second Celerity comes from a quest in Vunkerl. Getting fame high enough for this quest took me 15 trades in the "A ward to end all wards" quest. The pop items that work became cheaper after about 2 weeks of people buying them all up. The supplies quest works too, but takes longer. This is by far the easiest one to get. Since repeating is so fast, you don't need a lot of time to get it done. It'll cost you a bit of gil, but it's worth it.

Second priority is getting Abyssites of Merit. I've only gotten one so far, but this will become a huge help. NM fights are a lot simpler when they simply CANNOT one/two-shot you. Getting all Merit Abyssites and Black Merino Atma will boost your HP by 90%, almost doubling it. Yaanei and Bukhis Atma are a bit harder to and I wonder if the HP boost is capped.

I got the one from "Wanted: Medical Supplies", a quest in Misareaux. I got it without conciously trying. A blue pyxis dropped off the iron giant and I opened it manually because I didn't happen to have any keys on me. It was a pyxis with 400 EXP in it, but it was apparently enough to qualify for the quest.

The Merit from "Playing Paparazzi" will take an evening of work. There is a decently long series prerequisite quests and you need max fame to flag it. However, I'm motivated to get it done now, so I'll give it a go.

Bhumi should be an easy kill. Finding them may be the tricky part. I don't know if subbing RNG on RDM is going to cut it for the fight. It's supposedly very weak so I may as well try.

Warbler is probably the toughest one to get. I hate that it's not 100% because I don't want to fight that thing too often. Since it benefits the whole alliance and it also drops seals, we may as well camp out the Gnats durign an LS event.

This will raise your stats by 10 on top of the nominal Cruor boost. I don't think I need to explain why this is good.

Probably THE most game-changing element of Abyssea. The strong Atmas turn melees into destroyers of worlds. The difference between a melee with Voracious Violet and Razed Ruin Atmas and one that has neither is night and day. The focus has been on the melee orientated Atmas, however there are a pair of Superior INT atmas as well as one with Refresh+10. Something for everyone. Getting the Atmas may prove a bit more difficult than Abyssites, but with the number of players we have now, we should have a good shot at covering the majority of elemental WS.

Sedna #1

Optimistically titled, suggesting we'll be doing many more of these, this entry is all about yesterday's Abyssea Vunkerl. WoA and FcUK teamed up to form a new shell called Facepalm. After a relatively successful Dynamis Buburimu on Sunday I have no regrets about the collaboration. Shyara had the Sea Monk key item and so we only needed the pugil to pop the zone quest boss.

After I saw a lone RDM inching towards Hrosshvalur, I decided to do an emergency sac pull. Total chaos ensued. DD tanks were not able to hold hate off healers and aoe damage started taking people out. It took a second try to get it right, but at least we didn't lose the claim to another group. Key item drops and we get ready for Sedna.

The fight would be similar. Both spam water based attack. Barspell and Carol helped a lot. Not having Carol2 was disappointing. Both have knockback attacks. For the pugil it's his normal attack, while it's a TP ability for the ruszor. However it spams it enough that it doesn't matter. It has potent regain and at low HP would hardly ever melee and just back to back aqua blast. It has silence aura and is immune to magic when it has the bubbles animation up, which is almost full-time at low HP. Magic damage doesn't seem too helpful and melees did well. Due to knockback the whole tank party would regularly have to eat a Waterja, which wasn't too dangerous, but the curing needed did let healers overtake tanks in hate at some point. Better positioning and more plentiful and faster cures would make a world of difference in both this and the pugil fight. The tanks should never have to go down. With high HP and keeping them topped up (and not dwindling at 90%) only the most unlucky sequence of events should be able to take them out. I think I'll bring more healing power next time and assign one to each tank. Drops were not as important to me as getting my first zone quest win and second Lunar Abyssite.

Afterwards we did another Hrosshvalur, Iktomi and Lord Varney. Varney dropped key item which completed Shyara's Bukhis pop set. Since all accounts of Bukhis make it sound like an absolute beast, I've decided to let it wait until this new group gets more comfortable/confident. I need to remember to take pictures of the fights themselves and not just the drops/kills.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walk of Echoes: chamber 2 wins

After attempting chambers 1 and 3 before the last version update and losing, yesterday's two runs at chamber 2 (which was already the easiest of the first 3) seemed like a walk in the park. The WoE adjustments made mobs easier, as did the 5 extra levels. Also, the longer 45 min time limit makes it much more forgiving. The slimes are the most popular area because they require the least number of mobs to be killed. Also, the mobs themselves don't have any quircky or annoying abilities. Nothing like a hate reset, stripga or extreme poison to deal with.

During the first run we used the vast majority of the 45 minutes we got. I got about 8k EXP and ranked 3rd doing quite a bit of curing and nuking. Our group consisted of a tank party (MNK,WAR,COR,RDM,SMN,WHM) and some assorted DD's (SMN,BLM,DRK). Tillaert and Tipira took care of the sac pulling of bosses. Lordapm (MNK) and Rayearl (WAR) did the vast majority of the damage according to the parse. Second loot pool looked like this:

It's too bad the prices of the items are dropping fast, now that the zone is being cleared regularly.

The strategy was to have the WHM focus on cures while the SMN and RDM took care of erasing slow and hasting one of the DD's each. With meds and refresh2 on the WHM, durability was not an issue. Slow and Paralyze landed easily and Paralyze proc'd regularly. Damage was steady, except for the very first boss where hate was being pulled off melee. People held back longer during the rest of the run and it became more stable. Only melee stand within range, as bosses cast sleepga and also, you don't want to get hit by the AoE abilities. The bosses seemed a bit spammy with their TP abilities.

Runner behavior
The mobs in the crab and antlion areas used to run towards the spot where one of their buddies died at. I haven't been in either area 1 or 3 since the update, but a video I've seen of 3 seems to suggest they still do that. However, the slimes didn't do this. Not exactly, anway. When a mob dies another random mob or two start moving to another random location in the zone. So it COULD come across someone and aggro, but it could also just end up at its destination where it will hang out. In the same way as runners in the Crab zone (pre-patch anyway) they'll stay at their destination until the aggro someone. If that person dies, they will move back to their original starting position.

During our second run, after killing the first boss, a second boss came running towards our location. No other mob was with him, and so it was a clean pull and it sped things up nicely. I'm assuming it was headed for the starting plateau and just happened to find us on the way there. At the end of the first run I went to the SW corner looking for the final boss, but it wasn't there, while 2 of it's little helpers (Grenade Syrups) were. It had moved around and ended up way down at the bottom on the north side of the map, where we had already pulled the third boss from. So, it seems their destination is random and it is just one giant shuffle that can cause you to aggro if you're not camped together with a sac'er watching your back.

I somehow managed to deaggro one of the Morbid Molasses while pulling it off the SMN sac'er. I'm not sure how that's possible since they're supposed to have alliance-wide aggro. I would expect it to at least have one more target after deaggroing me. The fact that it can deaggro at all is also surprising. The explanation I think is most likely is that upon initial aggro, it will 'detect' alliance members in the zone, but if pulled off the sac'er without it going idle/passive it won't do this 'detect' mechanism again. I can't think of a useful application of the deaggro at the moment, but it's semi-interesting. Compared it to regular mob behaviour, it's very similar. The biggest difference is that regular mobs don't detect across an entire zone. The 'detect' range for Dynamis mobs is bigger than regular mobs', but still limited to a certain distance.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend update 10

I was home sick the last two days, which made it a particularly long weekend. I thought I'd use my time to do all kinds of things on FFXI, but I ended up watching movies while chocobo digging and doing the regular LS events. It was relaxing.

I made it a point to finally put together a magic defense set. I had several pieces already, but not an actual macro. I sacrificed my Cure3 macro for it, which is no big deal since I use Cure4 almost exclusively nowadays anyway. It's still unfinished but it's already enough to survive Citadel Buster, which I found out during last night's Ultima. I died anyway, because after the second one I got hit with a Holy2. I was riding out the hate assuming a PLD would pull it off me. They did, but only a fraction of a second too late. Below is what the set looks like now. It carries over my PDT pieces in slots where I haven't got any magic defense pieces yet.

I know Limbus mobs are now DC with the level 85 cap and that any damage on them isn't going to 'wow' or impress most people. However, it was still a shock to me to break 4000 on a Weaponskill. The blobs in SE Appolyon are weak to piercing and so Penta Thrust was always going to do well [Correction: They're not weak to piercing. The crabs are though]. Be that as it may, it was the highest damage I've ever done in a single action on any mob on any job ever. Also, I beat Kingcem's MNK! Hahahaha, I know you're reading this! Woo!

The Gekko damage was also quite pleasing. I sacrificed 2 haste and tp'd in Perle hands and feet. I believe these are pretty reasonable trade-offs with only Haste spell backing you up, but I could be wrong.

On that topic, I recently thought of how Haste often doesn't produce ANY extra benefit. Take the 2% Haste trade-off I was talking about. Let's say in pushed me from 35% down to 33% Haste, which is about a 3% DoT increase. That means that in 97% of fights I will NOT see an extra attack. If you have a single long fight, the 3% means that I'll get an extra swing every 33 hits which is guaranteed. In contrast, the STR and Attack that I gain from wearing Perle hands and feet affect my damage on EVERY melee hit. It's guaranteed benefit versus benefit in the long run. When I look at it that way I'm more willing to sacrifice small amounts of haste when we're not swimming in it. Some would call such a situation suboptimal and that it shouldn't be considered anyway. I think it's me being realistic. Yes, that does mean that Ace's helm does not universally suck.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Enmity Kings

So, if you could choose any job to build hate on something without beating up on it which would you choose? Forget about gear for a second and only look at what enmity generators each job has. Spells that generate hate are usually rated by how much enmity they generate per MP and what type of enmity it is. What I hardly ever see is a comparisson of how much enmity they generate per second.

The recast of magic spells can be halved with enough haste which doubles the enmity generation per second. Paladin, the classic tank, has very limited choice when it comes to enmity spells. We can talk about how enmity gear is more plentiful for Paladins than say Blue mages, and how Sentinel affects enmity over time, but to keep it simple I'll ignore those for the time-being.

Flash and Stun are very similar and rate extremely high in both MP efficiency and Enmity over time. They are the main enmity spells. Compared to Utsusemi, which will be used frequently when blink tanking, as a baseline some spells are very lackluster. They're still used as enmity generators because of the rarity of CE in spells. Much CE is generated through damage dealt to a mob. Absorb spells when spammed (since you have 8 of them) will close the gap between Stun casts. Assuming floored recast times on DRK and PLD, you'll have about 23 seconds to bridge after Stun/Flash. Let's say you cast each Utsusemi once during that gap. That leaves about 15 seconds for other spells. Assume you idle 1/3rd of your time away and you got 10 seconds to build hate some other way. Occasionally that means Job abilities and Weaponskills, but in the case of DRK you have Absorb spells to close the gap. They are not huge enmity generators, nor are they very MP efficient, but use 3 of them and all of a sudden it's like you had a second Stun worth of enmity during that cycle.

BLU is not as easily compared to DRK and PLD, because it has so many different enmity generators. The spell cycles are a bit longer and more complex, but it can still be split up into groups. Put Jettatura, Actinic Burst and Temporal Shift together and you have a "big" enmity spell every 30 seconds (before reductions). The total enmity of these "big" spells and their efficiency are below that of Stun/Flash, but at a lower recast. The big benefit of BLU's gap-filling spells is that the majority of those are beneficial buffs. Things like Battery Charge and Regeneration are useful while tanking, so it's a dual function. The casting time influences how many you can use to fill the gap. Since the gap is smaller it could look something like BIG>BUFF>UTSU>BUFF>BIG. BLU tanks have said they require more support since they run through their MP faster than normal tanks, but looking at the Enmity per MP column it looks like it's worth it.

All these tank classes work with damage: PLD has Atonement, DRK has regular melee and WS, BLU has big damage spells and self SC's. All these classes also have abilities that complement their tanking. PLD has the mother of all enmity abilities in Sentinel as well as Shield Bash. DRK has Souleater, Last Resort and Weapon Bash. BLU has Diffusion which can make them take a gigantic leap in enmity when combined with Exuviation. With some enmity gear and a full party they can nearly reach half of the enmity cap in one spell. It may defeat the purpose of having a second tank, but when that's not a problem, it's an excellent tool.

Quantifying all of this is kind of hard, but to be completely honest, I think BLU wins the contest. It not only has better diversity and choices of enmity spells that have positive effects, they also have a tendency to have better CE generating potential. When a DD tank is appropriate, I personally believe that MNK, SAM and WAR may be better choices. On the topic of durability, BLU has an excellent choice of PDT gear and access to Cocoon and Saline Coat to cover both physical and magical damage. However, that's just my personal opinion, don't take it too seriously.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend update 9

Homam Gambieras:
No screenshot with me, but there's no need, is there? Did Omega with 9 people. New toys like Saboteur and level 85 make it even easier than it was before. I'm confident we can take it out with 6, but I guess there's no harm in being cautious. My magic accuracy while Chainspell nuking the last phase was pretty good. I think once my elemental skill is capped I should be able to out-damage the BLM's in the final stretch. I'm not sure that I don't already, because I didn't parse.

Last saturday it was my intention to farm mega Gold Pyxis for key items in Abyssea Konschat highlands. However, there were two groups at bugards and I didn't know any other mobs that dropped all lights that we could exp on. Since I was kind of stressing with building the alliance in the first place, I had no energy left to look for an alternative and we just defaulted to Shadow Lizards. To my surprise we got a single mega Gold Pyxis despite never having had more than 6 Amber lights built up. It contained the Fistule key item which I suppose we accomplished PART of what we set out to do. In the end it was just a simple EXP party, which isn't a bad thing. I got my DRK to 85. Still have scythe and magic skills to cap and merits to sort out, but I'm getting there. Monday I got this in a Misareaux Colibri EXP group:

Didn't know Dark Magic skill was a possible augment on these. During the rest of the session we got and acc+8 version, but no other ones with dark magic on them. So it's probably rare. The DPS on the scythe isn't horrible. It's higher than Perdu Sickle with latent effect triggered 11.25 vs 11.14. The base damage is low, but so is the delay. While I lack any better scythe options I'm going to be using this. The accuracy is nice until I cap and get merits and the dark skill is a cute little boost. I really want something I can tank with that will enhance the effectiveness of Absorbs, Drains and Aspirs without having to swap out for Pluto's Staff. Until I've figured out what I want, I'm going to use this. It's probably going to end up being one of the elemental Magian scythe paths. The nice thing about the 480 delay on the Zaghnal is that a 6-hit without SAM sub is so far out of reach that I don't have to worry about it and a 7-hit comes rather easily.

The session where I got that scythe also netted me some nice EXP on my THF that jumped from halfway into 75 to 80. I learned Aeolian Edge at 290 dagger skill. No use in trying it out on Colibri, but this morning I did this on Red mage:

That 800 damage was done at 300 TP and at 104 TP I managed 570 damage. Around 100 TP it's much stronger than Cyclone which did 249 with the same gear. Around 200 TP Aeolian did 705 damage which isn't much less than at the full 300. It's better than Cyclone all around, but it gets less of a boost from extra TP than Cyclone does. Martial Knife would be a good option if you were trying to max Aeolian on a regular basis. While NOWHERE near the damage Fell Cleave is able to do, it's still unscaled AOE damage that you can use to mow down large groups of mobs. If you recall my PDT tanking test on mandies in Boyahda Tree, this could even be done solo without support if you find a target worth farming in large enough numbers. Ok fine, I'll admit I can't think of a good application yet, but it's not a worthless WS for RDM's. For a THF... it's pretty crappy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Popular ways to fight NM's

I remember seeing a decision-tree once that detailed different ways you could fight NM's in FFXI depending on what properties they posessed. All the way at the bottom of the tree, given a certain sequence of answers to the questions posed in the chart, was the ominous conclusion that "You're fighting AV, run!". It was funny, but also a useful reminder of what parameters you need to take into consideration when devising a strategy.

I asked myself the same type of question: In which situation will you use what strategy to fight an NM? There are several types of fights when I consider all the info I've read over the years. I believe the following list covers most (if not all) of these.
  1. Zergs
  2. Unengaged tank
  3. Kited
  4. Straight tank
  5. Pet burn
Named after the Starcraft race popular for an early mass-numbers attack called the "Zergling rush", the idea is simple: Kill it before it kills you. That means do as much damage as you can as fast as you can before the NM is able to take you out. The typical way is to have a full alliance of melee damage dealers and some support, rotate bards/corsairs/summoners to buff them with offensive and defensive status effects and engage simultaneously while weakening the target mob (Feint, Angon, Dia etc.) and trying to immobilize it with stuns if possible.

So when is this a good idea? As with any other strategy: whenever it works. Still, there's more things to consider when making a strategic decision. Sometimes you want to be optimal, other times you need to fight multiple targets and you want to be flexible. The positives things about a zerg that I can think of are:
  • It's relatively simple to execute
  • The fights are quick
  • It's fun (for the DD's anyway)
Down sides:
  • It's all or nothing (it's usually hard to recover from a failure)
  • Not always repeatable (if 2-hour abilities are needed)
  • High numbers requirement
Obviously it's only attractive when you "know" you can pull it off. However, what if you don't know if it can be done? What if there's little to no info about an NM you're about to fight or if nobody's zerged it before? Ask yourself:
  • Is Mob_HP / #Players * Average_DPS less than Maximum_fight_time? If you really want to know if it's doable to the second, you need to have an idea of how much HP an NM has and how much damage you can do to it per second. It'd require some research and estimates, I reckon. Parses help.
  • Can it wipe the alliance? With AoE magic and TP abilities, the typical melee is usually in danger of dying to an NM when left unbuffed. Can you prevent the deaths for the duration of the fight? Defensive options include things like: Stun-locking the NM, Chainspell Curaga, Benediction, Perfect Defense and the new Earthern Armor and PDT bard song.
Unengaged tank
You could say this is the polar opposite of a zerg. The idea is to have one or more tanks building hate without feeding a mob TP through melee and using high damage single attacks to get an NM down slowly. This limits the number of offensive abilities a mob will be able to use during the fight. This defensive type of fight is particularly useful when you're not in a hurry and could risk healers running out of MP or stealing hate if you damaged it any faster. Limiting TP to a mob can be achieved by:
  • Not meleeing
  • Using only high-damage low-TP attacks (Nukes, SATA+Cannonball/WS, Rangers)
  • Absorb-TP, Feather Tickle (?)
  • Not getting hit (Utsusemi, Evasion tanking, bouncing hate, Slow/Elegy/Paralyze)
With Absorb-TP in the mix you can not just limit TP feed, but also remove TP. This leads to some extreme situations where a mob without strong Regain will not use a single TP ability. This is the main reason I think DRK is a strong tank and why I first started leveling it. When will this strategy work out?
  • When enmity can be maintained by tanks. If an Enmity reset can occur, then it's a question of having enough tanks to keep at least one of them above the mages on the hate-list. If the enmity reset is a TP ability and you can prevent it, then you shouldn't need more than two.
  • When a mob doesn't have a strong regain. Low regain is manageable most of the time, especially if TP reduction is being used. However, as with the last phase of the Proto-Omega fight, a quick kill may be necessary once the mob reaches low HP. As far as I know, all mobs start using their TP as soon as they reach 100% once their HP falls below ~25%.
  • When a mob is dangerous regardless of TP. Magic casting mobs that can't be stunned and those that use abilities regardless of TP (HP% or post draw-in) are going to give you trouble if fought this way.
It's a safe way of fighting if you have the proper tank classes. I praise DRK in being ideal for this, but NIN's, PLD's, BLU's, WHM's and even RDM's (still) can achieve this using Cure cheats and other hate building tools. With some help from Trick Attack almost any class with Utsusemi can pull this off.

This includes normal kites and pinning. The idea is to limit the amount of damage a mob is able to do by outrunning it. This limits its damage output (barring mistakes) to:
  • Magic spells
  • Long range TP abilities
  • Moments where it changes targets
Some popular kite fights used to be Kirin and Vrrtra. They were considered too dangerous to straight tank. After it was shown that they were zergable, that became the preferred method of dealing with them. However, mobs like Meteor casting Behemoths have some anti-zerg TP abilities and a high resistance/imunity to Stun. These are still kited for the most part. It's all a matter of being able to outrun the enemy. Which depends on things like how fast they move, Gravity and Bind landing, having movement speed enhancing gear, whether the mob can hinder your movement and whether or not the mob casts magic spells. Spellcasting mobs are generally easy to kite. Still, even when it can be outrun, certain things can put an end to your kited efforts:
  • Draw-in
  • Unfavourable terrain/environment
While kiting you can deal damage through ranged attacks, magic spells, pets and avatars. If anyone is able to outrun the mob, then you don't need any specialized jobs and could just bounce hate around the damage dealers.

Straight tank
This is almost a catch-all category. It's, from my experience, the most used "strategy" in FFXI. It's a simple matter of: toss people on it that can keep hate of mages and keep them alive, a.k.a. put some tanks on it and deal with damage and debuffs as they come along. It's different from a zerg, because you're not intending to make the fight as short as possible. It's not like an unengaged tank, because you're still feeding it a reasonable amount of TP by hitting it. It's obviously not like kiting. It's a middle of the road strategy where success isn't based on some unique advantage you're exploiting, but on a simple heavy-weight slugfest. It's a compromise between safety and a fast kill and for that reason it's effective on the vast majority of NM's in the game.

I don't see a strategic difference between using a Paladin and a DD tank, so I lump it all together. The traditional tank may have more survivability and hate tools that don't depend as much on level difference, but I don't consider the difference in means to maintain hate as something very fundamental. Your defense lies primarily in not having too many people feeding TP and taking damage as well as keeping your healers' MP pool sufficiently full.

When using DD tanks, I assume the target is easily meleed. In that case you don't necessarily need additional sources of damage. However, if you're using Paladins or another class that doesn't deal lot of damage, the fight could drag out. Hitting the enmity cap could make things a bit sticky and a healer could get pummeled. It shouldn't make the fight impossible, but adding BLM's, SMN's or RNG's would help speed it up.

Pet burn
Not very popular due to the jobs required to pull it off, pet burning can be a very effective strategy. When death of a tank is part of the plan, a mob's offense suddenly becomes less threatning. The greatest risks involved in pet burning lies in the speed at which pets can be replenished and the balance of hate between pets and masters. The replenishment can be compensated by enhancing the pets' durability (through gear) adding more players and mixing up BST's (timer based) and SMN's (MP based). The balance of hate can be compensated by layering the pets so that they don't all die at once. The short periods where a mob doesn't have the attention of a pet form the only real risk. Even so, when weakened Beastmasters can employ the same strategy as their pets are not affected by their master's weakness.

What's best?
It depends on the mob, but also on what's available to you. A fact that is frequently overlooked by people fortunate enough to have a Linkshell with a huge job selection. I think if you CAN zerg, you should zerg. It's fast, easy and a fun pissing contest for the DD's. If you can't, you should just straight tank it. It's still reasonably fast and it's exciting because there's still danger. If your mob is too dangerous to go head-to-head with and additional defensive measures can't compensate, then my third option is to kite it. Kiting is easy when it works and a very strong tactic. It makes certain solos possible that wouldn't be possible if the mob couldn't be outrun. SE recognises this as is evidenced by a lot of new mobs posessing extremely fast movement speed. If you can't kite it then a very safe unengaged fight is an option. This order is just my personal preference based on safety, speed and fun.