Monday, May 17, 2010

Furthering the grind - Dark Knight

My DRK is sitting at 69 at the time of this post. The last two parties I was part of netted me close to 60k EXP. Needless to say, I'm making progress. I've watched my Scythe skill go up and my Guillotine damage approaching 1k without Souleater. The following is my highest so far.

I made the last two parties myself. This is the best way to avoid the frustration of mistakes and problems that aren't caused by yourself. Notice how I didn't say I don't make mistakes. It's just easier to deal with when it's yourself and it does seem to produce better parties from my own experience. In those parties I teamed up with Enigmas, who is also leveling DRK. The first 30 minutes she made me deeply regret gimping myself. I didn't have capped skills, ate the lowest form of accuracy food (crab sushi) since I was expecting to do Colibri when I passed by AH. Add to that her 5/5 DEX merits and my accuracy was lagging significantly behind hers. I bummed a Marinara Pizza off her for the rest of the exp and I did my best to catch up in the parse.

What that taught me was that if I opened the fight with Absorb-ACC and I timed Absorb-TP to the limits and doing my utmost to get two WS in one SE I could close the gap and even overtake her. However, this was only possible when we had a RDM. Also, sometimes I saw the healer running low on MP and I would cancel SE after the first WS. Even without riding SE, I could get off a lot more WS if I got high TP absorbs. I started using stun before Absorb-TP to lengthen the time the mob would build up TP and also to prevent it using Cocoon right when it was too late to cancel my casting (Cocoon has the shortest charge time of all Crawler abilities). Here is one of the highest ones, though I believe I got 100+ at some point.

Before ~25% HP mobs don't use TP as frequently and you can wait a bit longer to Absorb-TP. I would usually try to finish my TP from the previous fight, WS and then Stun > Absorb-TP. This was very effective until I told Engimas what I was doing and we started competing for the big Absorbs.

Both PT's consisted of 3 DD's. Two DRK's at all times and a third DD which always, except in one case, fell a pretty far third in the parse (one WAR and one DRG). The one exception was a Galka SAM that showed us why SAM is still top DD. I'm glad both Enigmas and I have that leveled too or we might have felt inadequate!

Now that I've brushed the topic of party setup I'd like to touch a bit more on what I think makes a good party excluding things like gear and food.

Killing power:
  • Accuracy (Madrigal, Hunter's Roll, Quick step, Gravity, Ecliptic Howl)
  • Damage dealt (Minuet, Chaos Roll, Dia, Drain samba, AoE Enspells)
  • Speed, a.k.a. Haste (March, Haste spell, Hastega bloodpact, Haste samba)
  • HP recovery (Cures, Waltzes)
  • Damage reduction (Ninja subjob, Haste spell and March for recast reduction)
  • MP recovery (Refresh, Convert, Ballad, Sublimation, Elemental Siphon)
I believe strongly in setting up your party with 3 DD's, 2 Support jobs and 1 Healer. I'm afraid it's purely a question of feeling right. With 3 DD's you have enough Utsusemi shadows to go around and truly minimize the amount of damage taken. So why not 4 DD? Well, as I mentioned in another post, Bards and other support jobs add a lot to party's killing power (moreso than an additional DD would) while at the same time adding to the party's Survival and/or Longevity. Especially since the effects are multiplicative. At some point you could drop the dedicated healer for a hybrid role or in case of a powerleveler, but that's a less common/realistic scenario for most parties. Some jobs can fulfil multiple roles so you have quite some freedom to mix and match jobs.

If you take a look at the buffs and debuffs I list I also consider Dancer, Summoner and Scholar to be support jobs in addition to the obvious Bard and Corsair. I especially fancy Dancer for its ability to back up the healer and allow the DD's to be a tad bit more reckless. I suppose a DD oriented Corsair would be great addition to any party, but I haven't had the pleasure to party with any of those yet. Dancers, Bards and Corsairs used to being asked to pull. Pulling is still mostly a thankless job (as I remember from my days leveling THF), but very important nontheless. Speaking of which, the fourth and final factor in making a good party is...

Kill speed and EXP chains:
  • a good puller

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