Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reflections on recent Dynamis

Yesterday WoA had a go at Windurst. I got my first chance to put my money where my mouth is. Setting up the alliance was a bit rough. It went well but it took a while and made some mistakes. I'm not used to it yet. It will help to get to know everyone and their jobs better.

Crowd tanking
Surivere had PLD/BLU with all the necessary spells. Daifei brought Scholar and kept him buffed. Looking back there were only a few pulls where it was really necessary. The first section on the east past AH before the MNK NM has a stat with a bunch of DRG's and BST's making it a large number of total mobs. Here it worked splendidly. I think Surivere will be working on a cure cheat soon, which will make it even better. The down side is that sleeps were lacking in quantity and timing. We had two RDM/BLM's, but one of them was lagging badly and the other was dual tasking RL stuff with refreshing the tank pt. BLM's usually have multiple statues to take care of so one can't really rely on them for sleeps.

There was a bit of chaos at SMN house. I wasn't clear enough about letting me sac IF the whole roof links, which it did. Again, lacking familiarity with the zone is what cost me here. Had we gone for actually taking on the whole train, then things migh have actually worked out. I believe the whole SMN house consists of 7 Summoners a White Mage and 3 statues for a total whopping 18 mobs. Now, assuming everyone was on top of their game (sleepers, tank and tank support) this is not an impossible task with the setup we had. However, someone slept part of the train, nobody slept the rest, the NM wasn't seperated, everyone died.

Reattempt was very nice. I aggro'd, used Perfect Dodge, people grabbed the NM plus 2 SMN's (to make it easier to clear the rest afterwards). Still, an AF got off and wiped us a second time in 10 minutes.

Yes, there was a third wipe not too long after... The final timer pops stats UNDER the bridge not on top as I had expected (one less detail to learn). Not only that, but its mob pops are at the top and the run around linking the stats under the bridge behind the group. Obviously next time we will nuke the stat from the top. I got aggro from the mobs at the top when I was raised. I had considered this could happen, so I pop flee and run past the bridge so that the links don't kill people trying to get up. The same thing happened to someone else shortly after, but they either didn't see the aggro happening or didn't know what to do about it. This time the mobs do kill the recovering mages and it turns out nobody had RR. A rather disappointing end of the raid.

Final verdict
~230 currency, 1 BST helm and a bazillion relic weapons. I tried telling everyone that we did a good job as a group and I really hope that got through to them. The wipes and lack of AF are a very stubborn stain on the raid, but I believe we killed fast and handled crowds reasonably well (all things considered). So I'm happy about the performance of the alliance and hope everyone else is too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meet WoA's Dyna-officer

That's right! I've been given the (dubious?) honor of leading Dynamis runs for WoA (Whisper of Abaddon). In previous incarnations of the LS we had more players and a fair share of leader-types. Some better than others, but we did well. Kawas and Boostuning used to lead Dynamis, and recently it's been up to Helly for the most part. Before the recent Dynamis - Xarcabard I must have done something right to inspire such confidence!

It must have been because of how awesome I am that I was picked. You know, my rugged manliness and all. Though it's probably because Tipira trusts me. Thanks Tipi!

We now have a pretty accurate list of everyone's jobs. I color coded it to make several categories of jobs and then rearranged the columns so the job types are grouped. It gives a very good overview of who will likely be coming on which job. I don't mind leading the actual run, but setting up the alliance seems like a hell of a chore. I can never again complain about it not being optimal since I will (in all likelihood) be calling everyone's jobs. Something I'd like to try:

RDM and BRD in DD pt focussed purely on buffing
Using this awesome spread sheet you can give a pretty accurate estimate of your melee damage output. When I put in my SAM's gear and target Greater Colibri (Lv 82) I come out to about 34,37 damage per second. Now add Haste, Victory March and Minuet4 and let it recalculate..*beep* *boop* *bleep* 58,84 DPS! That's more than a 70% improvement. Now, in a party with 4 DD's this is like adding 2,8 DD's. Check again and you can reach even more DPS if you replace the Minuet4 with a Madrigal2. Now I don't know where the typical accuracy of our DD's is in Dynamis, but I'm willing to bet they don't always use food and so Madrigal will probably help more.

A while ago (no more than a few months) I believed that a single bard in a merit or exp PT was like adding a pimped DD to the group but with the added benefit of refresh for the healer and a chain puller. This damage calculator sheet has shown me how dramatic a single Bard can improve a group's killing potential. One shouldn't forget how important hasting the DD's is here. A RDM in a DD party would be less likely to slack off if they realized how much extra damage they were providing.

Crowd tank
I've mentioned this before. I believe that improving our killing speed and crowd management will let us "beat Dynamis". For crowd management the sleepers play the most important role. However, if left to their own devices, they will kick the bucket eventually. (I just used two idioms in one sentence!) Introduce someone to take all the damage and attention from the crowd and all of a sudden sleepers need only press a macro when they see something move. Did they waste their AoE sleep on a single woken up mob? No problem, then next few that wake up won't be coming after them anyway. Tarutaru are so fragile.

There are several ways to do this. Two things are key:
  1. Building hate on multiple targets.
  2. Survive multiple targets stomping you in the face.
Hate-wise you can choose to cure the Sleeper so you get on all the mobs' hate lists. From there you can spam hate generating spells on yourself (barspells and cure cheats). AoE sleeps have surprisingly low Enmity values. This means a crowd tank only needs to cure himself for 250 HP to overcome the cumulative enmity form a single Sleepga(1 or 2). Of course he should gain and maintain certain amount of VE so that he doesn't lose his small CE margin in one hit. Still, it doesn't take a large amount of MP to accomplish this. Blue Mage has AoE spells that don't wake up targets, even as a sub (Sheep Song). This is an easier way of getting on the crowd's hate list. However, the range of most of these spells is pretty limited.

In order to survive, the crowd tank needs to go all out "turtle". PLD seems a good choice for their cure spells, high HP and high defense. They can sub RDM for barspells, Phalanx and Stoneskin. WAR sub works fine with defender. BLU sub works better IMO because of Cocoon and it's the obvious choice if you have a SCH to Accession Phalanx/Stoneskin you. They should probably use an Earth/Terra Staff and not skimp on defense food. RDM/BLU or BLU/WAR could do this too. Blue mage has an amazing access to defensive measures. They can wear all the good PDT gear that RDM can and they have native access to Cocoon which leaves their subjob open for something like Defender or Sentinel.

I'm not naive enough to believe these things are magic pills that will fix everything. It still requires a certain amount of player skill and for everyone to play their part. More importantly, it requires the right people with the right jobs to be available. *catious optimism*

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Soloing the Myochin Kabuto quest

For the longest time I've been gimping myself on SAM by not having the most useful piece of AF: the headpiece. I was always planning on soloing the battle since the discussion page on FFXIclopedia had people in much worse gear than I doing it. So, of COURSE I should be able to, right? Hah! The battle is against 3 Demon NM's (SMN, BLM, DRK) in the mid 60's that can each 2hr.

Well I did beat it, but not in any stylish fashion. I actually died after the SMN went down and had to recover to retry. Let me give you the run down:
  1. Was wearing full PDT set except Jelly Ring.
  2. RDM/BLU with Cocoon and Wild Carrot set.
  3. Buffed inside, cus "it's cake" right? Who needs the time or MP.
  4. Forgot to eat Tav. Taco.
  5. Sleep elemental, then bind DRK.
  6. Kill SMN, no problemo.
  7. Target BLM. Starting to run low on MP.
  8. Didn't realise til a few minutes in that the damage from Ice Spikes was causing the DRK to become unbound very soon after casting.
  9. Spent a lot of MP on topping myself off without noticing Refresh wearing of.
  10. Can't cast bind again cus I'm at 3 MP and I have no V.cloak with me, cus "the fight is easy", right?
  11. Spend 1 minute looking at the screen watching myself die slowly, thinking "do I really suck this much?"
  12. Reraise, unweaken, rebuff, DO REMEMBER TO EAT FOOD!
  13. Target DRK first so I don't have to keep binding and grav'ing it.
  14. Keep an eye out to outrun BLM Demon's Ancient Magic when I see it casting.
  15. DRK hits me for 0-15 instead of 10-50 the first time. Tav. Tacos are great. I sat at 630 defense with Cocoon up.
  16. DRK dies and BLM hit for 0's mostly.
  17. Turns out the fight IS easy after all.
I totally underestimated the fight and paid for it. Looking back targeting the DRK after the SMN was the smartest thing to do. SMN first did make the most sense since you get rid of the annoying elemental and shorten the time you need to tank all mobs (SMN has the lowest HP). Also, I didn't have to wipe the first time. I was using Blau Dolch and I could have used Energy Drain > Bind > Stoneskin > Convert. Didn't think of it at the time, obviously. I still have a long way to go to being a good soloer. Forgetting to eat food is a mistake I've made before and I still haven't learned my lesson. The clear time was 27 minutes which was cutting it pretty close. So much can be said about this attempt, most of it negative. Still I'm glad I didn't need more than one try.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dynamis - Xarcabard

Last night I pulled/lead my first Dynamis Xarcabard run. My experience with this zone was limited to ONE previous run where I joined for the last 15 minutes of a run a long time ago where I didn't pay attention to the zone mechanics much, because there was (arguably) no need at the time. That's right, without joking around, my first-hand knowledge of this zone was pretty much ZERO. I was leading people into it that had more experience than myself. I was reluctant to say this out loud, of course. As that may have put doubt into the minds people present and reinforce the feeling that it was a doomed run. At least, that was the vibe I got form some folks as we gathered. People's mentality and mood are so important in these kinds of situations as anyone who has to work in teams for their job knows. You'd like to think that it's all rational team mechanics. However, if someone's very pessimistic, it rubs off and/or influences the results. There is just no getting around that and so many other personality issues that influence teamwork. There's also a "need" for managing (read: lowering) expectations so that any setback is seen as a normal occurrence.

Stepping away form the psycho babble, the run itself was mediocre when it comes to loot. No AF drops at all. A 100 byne bill dropped which immediately alleviated any worries that this would be a gil sink for the LS bank. I counted 3 clear wipes, but there were many more instances of individuals going down during pulls. All in all, way too many deaths for my taste. I was supposed to be the only one going down so frequently, but it ended up being rough on everyone's buffer. Especially the sleepers.

So, what info DID I have? Well I used the Dynamisbums website for maps and zone mechanics info. There was a thread with some info and second, more accurate map. I also pretty much followed their standard route. It was infinitely useful, but certain things you have to experience yourself before really understanding. Things like: the position of demon pops, where to pull from, positions to die/sac to and linking behavior of NM's. That last bit turned out to be the big surprise. I pulled the RDM/WAR/BRD NM trio telling people to kill the eyes asap so we could then kill the NM's individually. The NM's do not walk back to spawn after sac dies. They run back to the alliance. More notably, one of the demon NM's actually DID walk back to spawn slowly. Was it because its respective Vanguard Eye was already dead? I'm not exactly sure why it happened, but I have some theories:
  • They assist whoever their eye is fighting after the sac dies, like a Wyvern pop from a DRG mob.
  • Actions on the eyes while NM's are within a certain range, generates enmity on the NM.
  • Them going passive or aggroing depends on the distance between eyes or alliance when sac dies.
I'm not sure yet because the second NM tower we tried the same thing as the first thinking that the pullers were pulling too soon and that they need to be given time to properly aggro. It doesn't sound very logical now, but at the time... Not surprisingly, in hindsight anyway, the same thing happened. On the third NM tower we tried time was running out. I had the group kill the THF NM while I sac'd the 3 eyes and 2 other NM's to the zone entrance. The THF went down and not the eyes nor the NM's aggro'd alliance. So, it could be any of the three things I listed, or something entirely different. Either way, the next time we'll either sync -aga3 the eyes, or sac the eyes and fight only the NM's.

There aren't many eyes you can pull without links, I think with a small group like this and without crowd tanks, sac'ing is pretty necessary. I might suggest a crowd tank for future runs to see how it goes. It would certainly make life easier on the sleepers, who wouldn't need to put so much distance between themselves and the crowd or depend on their fellow sleepers to save their asses.

I thought it was interesting that RNG and NIN demons use Hecatomb Wave as their ranged attack. As opposed to Trolls, which shoot their cannon which shows up as an ability in the chat logs, the demons actually have TP ability charge animation. Even though Hecatomb Wave is an AoE attack that ignores shadows, because of the charge animation, you can keep running out of its range. This makes kiting the RNG mob very easy, though I suppose this has always been true.

Other things I learned:
  • We need a THF present in the DD party, because while pulling I'm frequently out of range or dead.
  • In the end sac'ing regular eyes is more necessary with a small group than sac'ing the NM eyes. This is the converse of what I expected to be true going in.
I can totally see how people would duo/trio the RDM NM for their Chapeau. However, I don't see myself throwing gil at that for a 10% chance. Besides, I have a Dynamis group now.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fishy pizza

In the previous entry I talked about my anger towards fishing and in the end briefly touched upon the cost/benefits of crafting Marinara Pizza. Yesterday I crafted some after 2 hours of trecking around Vana'diel for ingredients. It was more of an experiment to see if I would want to do it again in the future. The conclusion: I would.

Ended up with 5 HQ's and 7 NQ's, no breaks. Had 3 breaks making Marinara Sauce which really pissed me off. I have a ton of Pizza Dough left and 2.5 stacks of sauce, so I pretty much HAVE to do this again. Not sure how secretive I need to be about the following information, but it's nothing anyone else can't do in 30 minutes. I made a spreadsheet where I can update and calculate ingredient prices to see how much the synths actually end up costing. I can make my decision based on this whether or not to proceed. This works like the FFXIAH crafting calculations except that I use the actual common price of items I would pay at NPC's. Only fish need to be bought from AH.

As you can see they cost about 2k to make without factoring in HQ's from butter and dough or money lost from breaks. True cost will be more around 1700 gil.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fishing woes: quest for anchovies

I had set my mind on trying to make a few Marinara Pizzas to see how much money can be made off it. Unfortunately I started making Pizza Dough before I realized I couldn't buy any Icefish or Sandfish on auction. So I decide to mule my fishing pole to try my hand at catching them myself. It's been a long time since I've fished.

I don't bot fishing but, for god's sake, I wish I did. I had mistaken my carbon rod for my composite rod and it broke on a Giant Donko in Rabao. I lose the rod and the Sabiki Rig for an immediate 5k loss. I get the composite off my mule and proceed. I find out that the HP depletion rate of the composite is absolute crap and my 10 skill difference from the fish's cap is apparently too much to manage. The rod wiggles way too much and won't stay in any position long enough. It's the fish though, not just the skill. I've caught Bhefel Marlin which cap at 61 before with much less problems than this. To add to the insult the bite rate on Sabiki Rig is utter crap. In about an hour I got 5 bites, 2 of which I caught before the carbon rod broke and the other 3 I lost because I couldn't get them down with the composite rod. I owned a Lu Shang's at some pont, but I sold it because the me of two years ago figured it was not worth his time. Oh, how smart I was two years ago.

How can such a tedious system that doesn't deliver exceptional profits still survive? Botting, obviously. I'm positive most fish on AH are there thanks to botters. Do I condone it? No. I just think of the alternative as being much worse. If SE was able to detect fishbots, then they wouldn't exist, but then neither would the fish supply we depend on now. Prices would skyrocket or some fish would just disappear for a long time as a great deal of the people that fish for profit just NPC all their fish to avoid the hassle of the AH and undercutters. I've capped Chocobo Digging and even though I couldn't find the deserts or jungles empty if my life depended on it, it's still more gil/hour than I could get fishing with less mental strain. Unless I AFK fish (i.e. bot), there is no way I could bare the time invested. Fishing actually requires SOME concentration which means even if I try to watch TV or whatever while I'm doing it, I have to focus on the fishing mini-game whenever something bites.

SE would have to change the fishing process to counter botters, but honestly I don't care enough to worry about it. I just know I'm not going to be fishing again for a long time. I have an alternative way to make gil, but I can't help but utter my frustration over the fishing system. It's MADE for botters and, at the same time, plays a big part in the consumables economy. I wonder how people that don't bot manage to do this. Admittedly, the way I went about it wasn't the best. I didn't use live bait, which would have increased the bite-rate and I also tried to target a single fish, which reduces the bite rates again. If you use a more blanket live bait you'll catch all sorts of things that you can sell or NPC which increases the profitability of fishing.

I just checked FFXIAH and there are sandfish on AH right now. So maybe there's hope for making pizzas. While I'm at it, I ran the numbers for Marinara Pizza and costs can depend greatly on the price of Holy Basil and Chalaimbille and to a much lesser extent Sandfish, Black Pepper and Semolina. If you can minimize those you could make more than 1k profit on NQ's, but still nothing spectacular. I should have done this before setting my mind on trying to craft them regardless of costs. BTW, I realize that in this post I might be short changing some of the very dedicated players that don't mind the time it takes to gather raw materials or fish for hours on end without assistance. I respect that you can play that game within the game and still have time and interest in doing the more mainstream activities. Props!

Weekend update

What started off as a great weekend in FFXI-land took a turn for the worse. Let's start with the bad so I can end on an good note.

Salvage took us into the crappy cell drops dungeon Arrapago Remnants. We recently took on a new member who still seems to need some acclimatization to our group. Two people got killed going the wrong way in low HP. I have to say, I thought Qutrub did not aggro to low HP. Either the distance is smaller or I was not in line of sight, because last time I remember being low and not getting aggro. Anywho, it took a lot of time to kill mobs we weren't planning to and IMO we spent a bit too much time on the second floor killing the mobs near the porter we came up on. Our MNK was still without weapon on floor 3, which was noticeable in his damage output. We did get two QQA and two QQTH, but had we not lost the time we did we could have tried the Archaic Chariot. We're still pretty slow. I can't really tell, but I hope we're improving.

Dynamis San d'Oria should really be easy by now. I've let LS leader know how I feel about pulling Dyna. Sleepers have been doing a good job recently, though I can only speak of results not that I pay attention to exactly what they do. After all, I've got my own role to fill. Regardless, it seems to me quite silly to risk a gigantic train of all of East or West gate wiping the alliance or even killing a pair of BLM to slow down the entire run. Three linked statues with 6 pops should be np for any decent sized alliance, but anything above that starts to become less and less manageable. We have single target tanks in Dyna, they try to keep hate on whatever is being fought, which obviously only works if no DD has TP or their sentinel is up. They've been saving up sentinel for MNK's too, so I think there's a better way to do it. Namely, we use a crowd tank to get on all mob's hate list and, spam Cure cheat or bar-spells or whatever and makes sure they are the top person on hate list when mobs wake up, that way all mobs are gathered up and sleepers have a much easier task. The key is still to resleep mobs ASAP, but all in all I think this is a better method. BLM's can take care of MNK's 2hr by triggering it and sleeping. Anyway, my main point was... Sac pulling. If you get gates to link big (and who can really blame you, it's pretty hard to pull them seperately) someone should be able to spot it, tanks (or anyone pull some mobs off train, and puller dies in a safe spot. The whole situation is so much safer and probably faster since sleepers can help as opposed to panic to the huge crowd they need to control.

So, what were the good things this past weekend? Valefor got all 4 northlands and has access to Fiat Lux (Shadowlord BCNM/campaign op). Yippee, right?? Well I only know 2 people with Medal of Altana rank, so I doubt I'll even get to try it. "I hope for your sake that wasn't the only positive thing" you might say. Thankfully it's not:

Nashira Turban and Seraweels. I can sell my Wise Cap and I finally have the best enfeebling pants in the game. Duelist's Chapau, Crimson Cuisses and Goliard Clogs are on my RDM to-do list. After those I don't think there's much else I want for my RDM.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Physical damage reduction and Soulsaber

I started a sword trial (of the Magians) because I wanted to eventually get my hands on the -5% physical damage taken (pdt) Soulsaber. Between work and events I don't see myself having time to finish this any time soon, but I'll get there eventually. I was convinced this sword would add a lot to my style of play. However, I started doubting my decision yesterday as I finally finished the first trial (164) killing leeches under weather effects outside Nashmau. What does 5% pdt mean in the grand scheme of things, and what does it mean for my personalized style of play?

For PLD there is disagreement as to how useful it is. How much is 1% pdt worth? That depends on how much you get hit for and how much pdt you had before adding that 1%. PLD's these days seem to go for Ninja sub in most situations where there is only one target to be tanked. Of course it varies, but I'd say you can assume you get hit with physical hits at least half as often as you would without shadows. If the difference is smaller then I'd wager Ninja sub isn't the optimal sub for that situation. So, 5% really becomes ~2%. Add to that the fact that on anything you can melee, you're giving up damage and enmity from more frequent Atonement usage if you own a Joyeuse. However, if you're on Paladin tanking multiple mobs it becomes way more interesting. Like negative enmity, magic damage taken and haste, every point you add is worth slightly more than the previous. So, pdt Soulsaber's optimal usage would be shadowless tanking (think campaign, or fast hitting mobs) with an already decent pdt set. My Paladin can't really get a lot of pdt outside Campaign Battle (only Jelly Ring and no Valhalla or Defending Ring), so I wouldn't get much use out of it as I also prefer to go to Campaign on Red Mage. Which brings me to what the sword would add for me personally.

I LOVE pdt. Currently it only plays a part in how I play Red Mage. I find it comforting to know I can swap it in for emergencies or when kiting. The main thing that attracted me to the pdt Soulsaber is the fact that it can be equipped by a RDM, while the only comparable sword (Hauteclaire) can not. I see it as a way to put away my Terra's Staff in exchange for melee damage and shield procs while at the same time only giving up 5% pdt (Genbu's Shield = 10% pdt). What does this change? For damage taken overall there are several things to consider besides the 5% pdt. Shield proc's mitigate damage and 2 handed weapons supposedly get a parry proc rate boost. For damage dealt there is just too much to consider, most of which has to do with the target mob and your party's setup.

As I try to justify these time consuming trials I realize "blood" tanking has become quite better over time with additions to gear and after the introduction of Blue Mage (Cocoon). There's an extreme example of a PLD/RDM soloing Voluptuous Vivian, a level 80 NM. A slightly less pimped out Paladin could solo Operation Desert Swarm (KSNM30 with 6 scorpions). I'm sure if you spent some time in Campaign Battles you've seen a Paladin tanking a whole train of mobs indefinitely. If you are impressed by these things (some will immidiately aggro such a topic with arguments as "it's all gear, no skill") you realize it's not something any job can do "out of the box". Since I've already spent the time and gil on a pdt set for Red Mage, I'm willing to go that extra bit further to open up new possibilities in how I play this game.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Requiem of Sin solo pt.4

All in all this will be quite a disappointing entry. I've come to a tentative conclusion that this BCNM is extremely difficult to solo without movement speed GEAR. Difficult enough that unless I discover a way to substantially increase the effectiveness of my kiting path, I'm going to give up trying until I get my hands on a pair of Crimson Cuisses (which might be a very long time). Let me explain how I came to this conclusion and some possible alternatives to try before definitively putting this attempt on hold.

My last attempt was very controlled and I was hardly nervous at all, which was something I couldn't have said about my first try. Shikaree X cast Utsu this time after the first nuke which it hadn't the previous two times. No problems, as I was calm and reacted appropriately. I had redone my macros somewhat to allow for more nuking power but I was unable to get even close to the magic 780 damage. I'm sure a Novio, Morrigan's Coat or some combination of Thunder3 instead of Blizzard would push me close enough. I call it the 'magic 780' because reaching that means you can:
  1. Kill a Mithra in 5 nukes (instead of 6) which,
  2. gives you time to convert and attempt to kill the Wyvern during CS, which
  3. will only take 3 nukes with 780 damage (as opposed to 4).
So, killing the Wyvern before the going down means you can start nuking Y right away from the 2nd ES Sleepga. This means you shorten the amount of time you have to kite two mobs, which makes things a bit simpler.

Other things of note were: Wyvern used Healing Breath as I was killing it, which made me have to nuke it one extra time. I guess it was just bad luck that it had enough TP to do so. Bind didn't last long at all this time, which would have been a problem if I was going to try and convert. However, since I was going for a 6 nuke kill, I knew I didn't have enough time to try and kill the Wyvern during CS. I might try Thunder3 next time, but not having the skill on staff or the Ice Accuracy I have from group1 merits will probably put my above resist floor.

I kited a bit differently than last time. There are some bushes and bones back to the right of where the mithra spawn. I tried using it, but even though it DID fuck up their pathing, it screwed up mine as well. There are some bones to the left which I might try to use next time. I kited in full damage reduction gear. My set is pretty decent and I noticed a big difference in the damage I took and how long my stoneskin lasted while kiting. I recorded the attempt this time and it made it very obvious that I got hit way too often. Since I can't put distance between me and the mobs until they decide to WS or cast, I get hit as many as 5 times in a row. Once they stop I'm in desperate need of a cure and don't have enough time for a stoneskin, so when is there time for a Bio or a Poison? The second thing that bothered me is not having a mob radar. I have no idea how far they are unless I do finger gymnastics to turn the camera around. I did do this, but it's not always possible due to how the camera works and it makes your own kiting path very unoptimal due to either relying on autorun or making jagged turns. So I found myself trying to cast on them when I saw they were both busy, only to find out they were also both out of casting range. I don't use windower, so no distance plug-in. After kiting for about 8 minutes I was out of MP (had already converted once) and near to death. I decided to die somewhere safe so I didn't have to HP.

Getting hit as often as I did and getting so few chances to cast offensive spells is what makes this phase the hardest of the whole attempt. Both can be ascribed to the fact that I can't put enough distance between me and the mobs. Solutions?

Kiting better
Find a way to mess up their pathing enough using a patch of terrain that you can reliably run away and get hit once at the most. The problem with this is I will have to experiment a lot to find something that might not even exist.

Hermes Quencher/Powder Boots
For 60 seconds kiting becomes a non-issue. Problems with this are
  1. 60 seconds is nothing compared to the whole duration and translates to 3 nukes if you even manage to get them off. Unless you use many powder boots, which has its own problems...
  2. I need to find time to use the item, which is relatively long (for boots), as well as deal with the cooldown period before you can cast.
Don't stop running ever
What? I considered it might be possible to just go for survival. I managed to kite for 8 to 9 minutes while trying to attack the mobs. If I didn't bother with that (for the most part) and just tried to live, I could survive unil ES was up again. I could then attempt to kill one of the mithra with gravity on. Since I know it takes 6 optimized nukes, I know I can't kill it with less that 7 or 8 non-optimal different elemental nukes. That's not going to happen with my previously stated limited MP pool unless I do manage to somehow safely land some dot's. Also, I'd have less than 10 minutes to kill Z and X's rabbit.

Before I make this epicly long, let me conclude by just saying this: I believe this is possible without movement boost from gear. I also believe that to do it, I'd need one or more of the above changes to my strategy. The first costs a lot of time for trying things out, the second costs gil (which I disapprove of since I want to make this easily repeatable) and the third puts me very close to the time limit of the BC.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back into the grind

I decided to level Dark Knight not too long ago. The reason was my sudden interest in DD tanking. Even though I have SAM, the recent examples of people tanking on DRK using Absorb TP to limit mobs' TP usage got me very excited. The thought of holding hate with damage and Job Abilities and spells that would normally get you killed if your intention was NOT to get hate, putting shadows back up with the help of Stun spell and Weapon Bash, these all attracted me to the job. Unfortunately, as I am leveling the job I'm starting to doubt my decision.

What situations does a DRK tank shine in? First of all I'd say a DD tank is only really necessary or smart if you're trying to optimize a setup to lower numbers. You put two tasks on one player, freeing up a spot for another. Secondly and more specific to DRK itself, even if fully debuffed for slow attack speed, DRK will probably need a co-tank for when it takes damage and needs to put shadows back up. What's the preferred co-tank? Another DRK I would say. Only very frequent usage of Absorb TP will produce the result you're looking for when it comes to TP ability restriction. Everytime you hit the mob with a scythe you're going to give it your TP + 3 which for a scythe is a pretty big chunk per hit (though still better than low delay weapons). Even though it'll take about 20-30 seconds for the mob to get more than 100 TP, you won't be able to spam Absorb TP as soon as it's up everytime. Since you can't absorb more than 50% of the target's TP you're looking at a decrease in totale time to 100 TP. Assuming 2 melees which spend some time casting spells, I think an average of 20 seconds per 50 TP gained is pretty decent estimate. So that means two well buffed (haste) DRK's or you're not getting the full benefit. Thirdly, DRK tank only works on something that doesn't need high survivability and can me meleed reliably. The fact that I don't know any other DRK that would like to undertake this challenge/experiment coupled with the fact that the groups I do things with generally have the same people tanking each time makes me think I jumped the gun on deciding to level this job. Overall I've enjoyed playing DRK though.

The grind itselt is a pain and I wish it would be over faster. I'm sitting at 61 now and the last party I had didn't break 8k per hour. Fighting Colibri or with a RDM lets me use spells a lot which makes DRK a lot more enjoyable and exp'ing a LOT less boring. Mobs usually get 2 TP moves off before 25% where they spam TP moves as soon as they have enough TP. It's a risk to wait but if you get Absorb TP off right before they think of using it can get you 50-70 TP which totally makes up for the melee time lost using spells. Stun when healer gets hate and weapon bash to put up Ichi. All these things keep you busy in ways that spamming WS macro can not.

I know that making an LS party or making your own party is always better than LFP'ing for an eternity. I know this and yet I still do the latter purely out of laziness. The last random invite I got had a pt disbanding as I got there and after using my EXP band. Needless to say I was pissed. Made my own pt with a SCH from my LS and salvaged what would have otherwise been a shitty afternoon. Also, I pt'd with several Japanese this weekend and even though I had a very hard time communicating when we were looking for a camp, it all worked out. Japanese players have always kind of intimidated me because I hate those awkward situations where you have no idea how to use Auto-translate to say what you want to say. In the end unless something out of the ordinary happens, everyone knows what to do (you hope) so there's no real reason to be scared of inviting them to join your party. If you can't handle the occasional screw-up then you shouldn't be leading. More importantly, if you can't control your own playtimes or ask how long people are staying before getting a replacement, you should never ever make exp parties.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gotoh Zha the Redolent

At long last I completed my Tinnin pop set. It could have been done last week, but we managed to... yes, lose a Tier3. You have to face up to the failures in order to learn and all that jazz. So, "what happened?", you may ask. A just question.

We started out with 7-8 people and a single tank. We had 3 stunners (including myself and 2 BLM's), a PLD/NIN, a bard and me on RDM, WHM and a BLU and maybe someone else, but I don't remember. The PLD tanked it straight up. Didn't have Atonement. NM benedictioned at about 50%. Tank bit the dust after a spell followed by a Firespit. We proceeded to kite it. Raged when it was at 20%. We tried to have everyone log but the kiter and let that person die in order to reset it. Problem was we didn't have Vent or any other way of communicating outside the game. Also, some people got back on too soon and died because they didn't seem to understand how resetting your hate works. So it regenned a lot (maybe to full, I don't remember). We take a long ass time to bring it down again. At about 15% he uses Benediction again. So yes, we had been at it for more than 2 hours, which is why it could 2hr again. I decided to call it quits for everyone else's benefit. When evaluating the fight I had concluded we should have returned to straight tanking it. I made the wrong call on that because I saw I was really high on the hate list with all the dispels and such. Also, failing to stun Groundburst and aoe spells in BLM mode cost unnecessary MP and hate issues.

Last night we approached it differently. First I decided we'd pull to Aydeewha zone south from the tower. The Treants on the way to zone were slept by a BLM and RDM as I pulled without worrying about aggro. Also, I was a co-tank on RDM/NIN to a (different) PLD/NIN. Had 4 BLM's who I tried to imprint the importance of stunning on. To no avail I would later find out. It wasn't their fault I was told, because Xbox players (which they all were) have more lag than us PC players in general. So yea, I only remember counting 2 stunned Groundbursts. Looking back, tanking on RDM/NIN added to my survivability but going PLD would have been much more effective. We did have a wipe. I was thinking "not again" as the 7k zeni I had wasted on the previous pop was traumatic enough. Thank goodness we were next to zone, it made recovering pretty simple without everyone having to die. Though, some did die multiple times for keeping NM right next to zone as opposed to letting it move away before dot'ing it again. So, because of that it regenned to 100% again. The main party recovered, buffed up and went at it again. This time I said "screw this" at relying on the BLM's stuns, and ran off out of range everytime I saw Warm Up. I didn't get hit by it once, which gives me a pretty good idea of what we need to do the next time. BLM's didn't pull hate much. Was pretty stable and contrary to before the wipe, it was elegy'd and slowed for a great deal of the fight, making tanking a lot better. I got a Naglering.

  1. Pulling to zone is a good idea in case you need to recover or BLM's pull hate.
  2. Outrunning Groundburst is very doable unless you just started casting Ichi when he used Warm Up. Keep track of where the treant is so you don't run straight into it.
  3. Don't rely on stunners that have a bad connection!
  4. RDM tank has very little added value in WHM phase and if you manage to neutralize Groundburst.
  5. Emphasize the importance of keeping debuffs up close to 100% of the time.