Monday, June 28, 2010

Xarcabard: Dynamis review

I went into last night's Dynamis run expecting to do better that we ended up doing. Because of that I left with a feeling of disappointment which apprently the rest of the Linkshell shared.

We started with what has become our standard Dynamis setup of two Melee DD parties with a healer and a Bard each in addition to a BLM party with a Red mage and a Bard or (in this case) a Corsair. The last Xarcabard run we did was actually the first one I lead. It's been quite a few weeks since that run and looking back you could have seen this as a sort of test to see how far the group and I as raid leader have come. I'm glad I didn't see it that way going in...

Strategically it was different than last time. First off we had a Ranger one-shot the first time extension. I asked Skinwalker to come Ranger for this purpose, but Argonar ended up doing it, as he too was on Ranger. The second time extension requires you to kill two eyes at the first tower. The last time this pull was messed up because the eyes don't immediately link because they are actually too far apart. The person pulling the far eye got the whole group (original + 3 pops) as a result. I've found multiple groups seem to opt for one-shotting each eye with synched nukes and so decided we would do it that way. Sync AM2 one eye, then the next then the statue from behind the tower, that was the idea. However, what I did not know is that the eye on the left pops 3 eyes on the right, and the eye on the right pops 3 eyes on the left. So, if you nuke the left one first you can't reach the right eye for synched nukes without getting aggro. At least, not when you try to nuke it from the south. It may be possible to nuke it from the north, but you'd be inside aggro range of the eyes that pop after it dies. There was a pretty bad call on my side and I made BLM's nuke the wrong eye. Even though they didn't all nuke the same eye, it wouldn't have changed much as I had them nuking the wrong one. So BLM's eat it and so do I. I believe it's possible to nuke the south eye from behind the tower. Possbily all three of them. The testemonies I read had people nuking from the front, so I just did what they did. What ended up happening was an attempted sac pull. However, I stuck grav on the eye and it was casting a long spell which meant it didn't get very close to the waiting BLM's. They didn't manage to take it out before the other eyes returned, but Argonar killed it off.

So about 15 minutes in we hadn't even pulled a set of mobs yet. The main ally was waiting behind the RDM NM tower. Though they only had Bard sleepers, the three eyes behind the tower that lead to the third time extension can all be pulled seperately. So I asked the main ally to take care of those as we still had to take care of the second time extension, or so I thought. The unsung hero of last night's raid was Argonar who took out the second eye needed for the TE statue with Eagle Eye Shot where the BLM's didn't manage. Afterwards he one-shotted it with barrage after recovering. Me and the BLM's rejoined the main alliance who at this time were killing the last statue and third TE.

We were left with a reasonable amount of time to farm. I asked Requia on THF to pull the 4 eyes SE of the RDM NM tower. From then on he became the puller on his own volition and even started moving the ally around. I willingly took the back seat and let him decide the pull order. We decided to kill the eye wall (the one leading to castle Zvahl) for an extra time extension. Another strategic tip from the interwebs was synch nuking the eyes in two sets making the pull smuch easier. They seem far apart, but a Thundaga3 will actually hit the eyes on the sides if you aim for the second eye from the top. Unfortunately 4 BLM's took the eyes down to 10%. A 5th BLM or perhaps a Wizard's Roll could have made the difference there. I slept a group of demons away form the rest while the BLM's and I all bit the dust. Those demons could have been pulled as they were far away from the rest of the mobs when they woke up, but weren't. In the end it maye have been for the best.

After this initial failure Requia decided to sac pull the wall while 4 other people pulled eyes and demons off the train. The first time this went wrong because of how the pull was executed. However, I learned something from this. Normally when you pull a mob with an attack, it detects party and alliance members that are within its detection range and puts them on its hate list. When that happens, even if the original puller dies, the mobs will not go passive but target the next player on the hate list. This is something I've tested personally and though not widely known I can attest to it working this way. What I learned from that pull was that the detection range of Vanguard Eyes is larger than their aggro range and that it does not matter whether or not the puller is in a party or alliance. This is the strange linking behavior that I've been seeing over the course of the Dynamis runs I've pulled. I can explain all the 'strange' things I've seen so far with this new knowledge. Previously I found aggro pulling to be the most reliable way of sac pulling as well as having the benefit of not giving healers hate when they cure you after a messy pull. So, Requia pulled a second time with aggro only and things went much smoother.

Up to this point the BLM's died 3 times and the rest of the alliance once. Soon after we pulled another 5-8 demon train which caused a second wipe. We recover and I sac pull it. However, I soon realize they will path across where the main ally was fighting instead of what I thought was the logical path. This didn't turn out to be a problem as the alliance had killed most mobs before the rest of the group returned. Sleepers did a great job handling the incoming group. With not much time left we took one more pull which unfortunately lead to a similar situation only with less time before the returning group and more mobs overall.

So, all in all it wasn't a very good raid. Thief relic hands dropped which I suppose is one of the better drops, but still we could have killed a lot more if we hadn't screwed up several pulls and probably gotten more than the two pieces of relic armor we got. I clearly remember my conclusion about sac pulling in Xarcabard after the previous run and how it makes things much simpler if done correctly. This was the whole reason for me to level WHM to 70 and yet I seem to have forgotten the lessons I learned.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weapon of choice

The recent 'epic' update that raised the level cap also introduced new weapons up to level 80. My first impression after parsing the list of new items is that armor pieces aren't being eclipsed as much as weapons are. I like the idea of working for a strong weapon through the Magian trials. SE tried to make half-decent craftable alternatives through Synergy as well as numerous RA/EX weapons with unique stats. We don't know where all these come from yet, so only time will tell how realistic obtaining them is.

I personally am still only persuing one Magian trial path. That of the PDT sword. Some of the requirements were lowered and the path itself extends all the way up to a 8% PDT Samshir at level 80. Since PDT is a stat that scales so well I'll keep at it. Thanks to an extremely long sandstorm a pair of friendly Monks that I could level synch to, I managed to make some good progress after putting the trial on the backburner for a while.

However, this sword is purely for my own personal obsession with PDT. It probably won't see much application outside of unimportant melee solos. What about Samurai? People say Hagun at level 80 compared to other weapons comes up short. By how much? It's hard to quantify these things without making certain assumptions about your stats and the mob you're fighting. I wanted to compare Hagun to Masamune to see how big the gap was. When I reached the important component of weaponskill damage I made the following equation:

Hagun WS = Masamune WS
75+fSTR+WSC * 1.875 * P-Dif = 97+fSTR+WSC * 1.5625 * P-Dif

So basically asking: "when are the WS damages of Hagun and Masamune equal?"

p-dif is the same on both sides and the difference in fTP can be represented simpler. So you get:

75+fSTR+WSC * 1.2 = 97+fSTR+WSC
90 + 1.2 fSTR + 1.2 WSC = 97+fSTR+WSC
0.2 fSTR + 0.2 WSC = 7
fSTR+WSC = 35

Masamune and Hagun WS damage will be the same when fSTR together with secondary modifiers add up to 35. The moment it adds up to MORE than 35, hagun actually wins. So, when stacking fSTR you're always going to have at least +4 fSTR when you're at the same STR as mob VIT. So in a worst case scenario you need WSC to add up to 31.

With level correction you get 0.83 x mods = 31 => mods = 37.3 STR

With a 75% STR mod, you only need around 50 STR to reach this goal. Considering you can do a Sneak Attack+Gekko to a Sky god for over 1K damage, that means that even on high level mobs (assuming p-dif of 3) fSTR+WSC can add up to more than 100. Base damage on a weapon seems to play a much smaller part in a Samurai's weaponskill damage than I expected.

Yesterday I obtained this beauty:

Its effect on fTP makes Hagun's WS boost slightly smaller relative to that of any other weapon at 100 TP (18.7% instead of 20%), but still puts Hagun's WS damage higher than that of Masamune's when you can stack a lot of STR. In turn Masamune's damage on regular melee hits as well as its lower delay makes up for its 'likely' lower WS damage.

Hagun will eventually be fully eclipsed, but until the next update it's still a strong competitor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Secret technique to multiple 2hrs

Did that title grab your attention? If it didn't: I wasn't kidding. Interested now? No? Damn, what's with kids these days? The truth of the matter is that a few months ago I found a way to use Chainspell twice within the 30 minutes given to me to try and solo the Requiem of Sin battlefield. I never got around to actually try the 'trick' because it requires me to invest time that I didn't have or WANT to spend. My playtimes aren't what they used to be and my interest in trying to solo that battlefield has waned. I post this now because I thought it was an interesting trick and thought other people might come up with interesting ways of applying it.

So, how is it done? I'm sure many players know that cutscenes and dialogues can be used to your advantage. It used to be that a player stuck in a cutscene could still be on a mob's hate list, but that the mob could not damage the player essentially making them an invincible tank. This trick worked for the Goblin Footprint dialogue as well as the Mammet CoP mission until they patched it. Probably as a consequence of that patch, you could use dialogues to make mobs lose aggro. This could be used in Double Agent Assault mission and is useful when examining lamps in Nyzul Isle investigation.

What also happens during most dialogues and cutscenes is that the in-game time related to status effects is frozen. If you're afflicted with Bio, you can enter a cutscene or dialogue and the DoT effect will stop. Leave that dialogue and the DoT effect will resume for the unchanged duration. The astute reader will already see where I'm going with this. The 2hour ability of many jobs is nothing more than a status effect, which can be frozen by entering certain types of dialogues as well as the battlefield choice dialogues at BC's like Boneyard Gully. Stay in that dialogue for two hours and your 2hour ability timer (which was not frozen) will be up again to use as soon as the previous 2hour status wears off. I tested this with Elemental Seal on the battlefield dialogue and with Chainspell in the Temple Knight Signet dialogue in south sandy.

For battlefields like Requiem of Sin this would require you to fully buff and pop a Hermes' Quencher, Elemental Seal, then Chainspell and enter the dialogue as soon as possible. After the 1:30-2:00 wait you can enter and zip towards the mobs and still have more than 30 seconds of Chainspell effect left to take down the first mithra. A second Chainspell after killing the Wyvern (and dying and recovering again) would take care of a second mithra leaving only one to be kited and DoT'ed. This only works because this battlefield allows you to keep your buffs from outside.

This is useful for ANY ability that has a reasonably long status effect duration and a long recast timer. As in the previous example, it makes two consecutive Elemental Seals possible and that only requires a 10 minute preparation period. The applications depend on whether or not you can get into a cutscene or dialogue and to your target quickly enough for your ability status to still be useful/active. Hundred Fists, Blood Weapon and Mighty Strikes are short enough that it'd only really be worth it if you could immidiately engage your mob after exiting the dialogue. Mage 2 hours tend to be longer (1 minute for many of them) and can be more easily abused. Ranger can use two Barrages. Dragoon, 6 Spirit Surged Jumps. Samurai with 300 TP and two Sekanokki's can do 7 weaponskills along with their 2hr and takes much less preparation time than 'freezing' their 2hr. Thief can use multiple Feints in a single Zerg. A more far-fetched but very funny application would be a Monk freezing Boost recasts and in so-doing stack more of them on top of eachother. More practical would be formless strikes. I'm sure there a lot of good applications that I haven't thought of. However,...

This is probably considered cheating even though it stays inside the FFXI engine. I wouldn't have posted this technique if I thought anyone could get banned or jailed for it. However, that doesn't preclude it from happening. Only SE's GMs opinions matter.

P.S. Sorry if you thought this was a secret to killing AV type thing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How weak is "Too Weak"?

In my never-ending quest to test the limits of my character... I'm only kidding. I hardly ever do anything solo or exciting low-man stuff. I kind of wish I did, but I don't like failing. Maybe that's why I did this middle of the road thing I'm about to tell you about.

In the past year, but especially in the last few months, Astral Burn parties have risen in popularity. On some servers Korolloka Tunnel is apparently as competitive as Dragon's Aery back in the day. These are the main reasons why AB parties work:
  1. A high level character can pull mobs without affecting exp and hold them indefinitely.
  2. Damage and accuracy of AoE bloodpacts is not affected by the number of mobs hit.
Add to that the number of mobs that die in a short amount of time producing a high EXP chain and it's easy to see how AB can be a fast/efficient way of gaining EXP. So far AB is limited to the number of zones where you can effectively pull a large number of mobs. In Korroloka a lot of mob families link and are agressive (and thus aggro a healing character regardless of level). The latter is essential. If SE changed that aggro mechanic and made mobs not link if the target is high level (which is the case in Moblin Maze Mongers) AB's would be ruined as pulling would become very risky and time-consuming.

Picking the right zone matters for numbers, how low the mobs' HP is (if it takes too many Bloodpacts it might become too inefficient) but also how safely the assisting player can hold all the mobs. This is where defensive measures come into play. A topic which, if you've read previous entries of my blog, you know interests me a lot. I secretly also wanted to see if I could hold a train of EXP yielding mobs indefinitely, because there is another ability that I can use on RDM whose damage and accuracy is not affected by the number of mobs: AoE weaponskills.

This means things like Earth Crusher and Cyclone. Circle Blade is notriously weak, but it would also work. The magical versions benefit from RDM's Magic Attack Bonus trait and the lack of native staff skill leaves Cyclone as the best option. I purchased a Martial Knife for this as well. The fTP modifier at 200 TP (which Martial Knife accomplishes) is more than twice the value at 100 TP, more than doubling the damage I would do with another knife. In my actual attempt I could do about 395 damage with Cyclone while wearing some extra MAB and INT gear. The total actual damage scales up with the number of mobs in the train.

I decided to go with WAR subjob for the single defense job trait and Defender. I picked this over Blue Mage because I was afraid I would not be able to put Cocoon back up after it wore off. In the end spell interruption is an issue and with too many mobs you will die if you need to recast something in order to survive. I ate a taco and wore all the defensive gear I had while using a dagger (-40 PDT during the day and -45% at night). I chose The Boyahda Tree for its large supply of mandragoras. Mandies were my target mob because they're monks and thus have a lower damage rating per hit. This increases the effectiveness of Phalanx. The Mourioche in Boyahda range from level 62 to 68. Quite a bit higher than the minimum needed to get EXP from them (mobs as low as level 56 still give EXP). Also, these actually link, making pulling easier. The most annoying TP ability they possess is Wild Oats (VIT down effect).

The initial train was 10 mobs strong and regen under Composure effect was all I needed to recoup the damage I took. I started out with Ice Spikes, but soon realized the Paralyze wasn't necessary so switched to Blaze Spikes for the slightly higher damage. It took about 6 or 7 Cyclones to kill the train. The next train was similar but this time I left some time in between reapplying Defender. The difference was notable as I took a crit for 12 damage and even regular hits started surpassing Phalanx. My Phalanx was at 271 skill which translates to 25 damage absorbed. However, I saw a risk in trying to reapply Phalanx mid fight. If I have to unequip my leg slot to apply Phalanx (only an equal or stronger Phalanx effect will overwrite) I have a bigger chance of being interrupted so I settled for a 23 damage Phalanx instead.

The final train was 18 mobs strong. Things soon started to look grim as I saw my HP going down steadily. I managed to get cures off, surprisingly. Also Ice Spikes which seemed necessary this time around. I soon realized the difference was the time of day. The hidden effect of +5% PDT on my Cheviot Cape was dearly missed. Even with Ice Spikes my HP kept dropping slowly. After many attempts to put Stoneskin on I decided it wasn't worth it and I should build TP to kill the train as quickly as possible. I was pretty nervous, I'll admit, but in the end took them down for a over 1500 EXP in under 10 minutes. The parser I had running showed over 7k EXP per hour.

I'm not promoting this as a way to solo EXP. The time it takes to gather the train an the down-time in between pulls as well as the risks involved make equally or less efficient than simply doing Campaign Battle. The fun part is that it's actually possible to hold a train of level 68 mobs. This means you could easily Astral Burn at higher levels if you had to, as long as the mob holder/tank is geared and buffed well enough. With minne's and a more potent phalanx and regen, the level and job/strength of mobs can be scaled up further. Other improvements I could make if I did this again solo:
  1. Bring my capped Spell Interruption set for reapplying a higher tier Phalanx, Stoneskin and possibly Cocoon.
  2. Buy an Umbra Cape (HQ Cheviot)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Improving Buburimu runs

Last night we had another very smooth Dynamis raid in the same vein as Beaucedine, Valkurm and a less smooth but still very successful San d'Oria. Most of it comes from experience of having done them before, but I believe it's also a matter being more patient with pulls.

Pre-boss we took our time (40 minutes more or less) getting Aivtaras, WHM quad, Stollenworm, and finally Tarasca. Tarasca pull was interesting as I used Powder Boots and was a bit scared its pathing would cause links. Fortunately it ended up sticking to the wall past Goblins. After Tarasca I asked 3 people to help me look for Apocalyptic Beast. Only after we found it did I remember "Oh yea, I want bards to buff both DD pt's. I asked Lacrima to set it up. In the meantime we watched AB get further away from camp which would make the pull longer and cost more time. About 10 seconds before SV rotation started (only 2 bards this time, 1 was AFK for most of the raid) I had Nis (THF) pull AB. It was a fairly good estimate of pull length as both pt's were fully buffed by the time we got to camp. It was a faster kill than last time. Improvements for next time:
  1. Setup BRD rotation sooner
  2. Have someone stick to AB the moment we find it
  3. Have a WHM know where I'm sac'ing Quadav train to so I can get to Aivtaras faster while Stollenworm is killed. Either that or just have someone else pull it.
The farming period was filled by Crabs, Ravens, Dhalmel, Efts and finally Cockatrice. I believe we killed almost all pops of the listed families/groups. That's up to 112 mobs, but we probably missed 1 crab set, 1 raven set and 2 dhalmels sets making 100 mobs a better estimate. To kill 100 mobs in about 70 minutes means on average 42 seconds per kill. Considering the time it took moving between camps and the initial waiting before we started on Efts, that means we killed extremely fast. Not only that, it means there was hardly any down time between pulls. I made an extra effort to pull without or with small links. This is the patience I was talking about before. I decided rushing things at the cost of deaths and the following downtime would, in the end, cost more time than simply waiting for better pulling oppertunities. With the exception of a single crab pull, I believe there were always mobs ready to be killed. This means the patient pulling came at no extra cost. Some nifty drops rewarded our teamwork. Notably Valor and Abyss Capes, both of which I hope to someday own myself. Improvements on farming phase:

...I can't think of any. We did pretty awesome. I'd like to commend everyone on doing a great job.
  • Muze did a great job sleeping.
  • BLM's and BRD's helped out when needed.
  • PLD's kept mobs off mages.
  • DD's killed things really well!
  • Amoklauf pulled his ass off!
Good job, everyone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The sky's the limit

As you can see from the image, I've upgraded from Byakko pants to actually wearing Byakko AS pants. We did some sky gods with WoA and I got myself a pair of Suzy Sune-ate and Seiryu's Kote, but more importantly W.hands. I've been wanting these for drains and a new tier of Bio damage since I haven't bothered getting any dark skill gear other than Glamor Jupon. For when I finally finish DRK these will be part of a relatively strong dark magic build along with a torque, AF head and relic legs.

I got to go SAM/THF to sky. Along with 3 other melee DD's of which 2 others were SAM we did the vast majority of damage with BLM's not coming very close at all. Of all the pops there were only two fights where I was competitive. One fight I died and on one Byakko I was paralyzed for quite some time. The fights were very short and I believe none lasted more than 5 minutes. It was a race to fire off as many WS's as we could before the damned NM's were dead. I think the most I got off on any fight was 4 and that's WITH sekkanoki opening and a fresh meditate. With a melee accuracy of usually 70%+ that should give you a good indication of how fast they were dying. Here's a parse of a Seiryu.

I was quite annoyed at my WS damage being low. Since the fights were mostly around 4 minutes I could have waited for the SA timer to be up for about 3 WS. I didn't do this since the mob's were turning to and fro leaving a lot of chances for screwing up. Instead I split TA and SA and even Solo WS'd a few. I think it would have improved my overall damage if I had waited for SA timer more often. In this fight Fuurinpuu got pretty high with his damage on BLM, but most of the other parses show BLM's at around 5-7% total damage. I was using Kasha for the Paralyze, but looking back that may not have been the best decision. According to some testing Gekko gets a higher Attack boost than Kasha.

I still have some things to finish on SAM to improve my WS damage:
  • Snow Gorget
  • Alky's for Great Katana
  • Triumph Earring
  • Kirin's Osode
  • Balm Sachet
  • Smilodon+1 for Great Katana
  • Overwhelm upgrade 4 and 5
I expect a HQ Haubergeon will benefit me more overall, so I'm not sure about all of these yet. I don't own any of the add-ons so I don't have the augmented gear pieces. If I did I would probably make a nice WS headpiece to add to the above list of upgrades.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paladin: the truth is out there

A recent 'heated' argument in LS and now this post on Bluegartr forum prompted me to make this entry. There are always debates about gear sets on any job, but somehow playstyle and gear on Paladin is a much more touchy subject. It might be because there are more factors determining how well a Paladin performs than there would be for other jobs/roles. Perhaps there are also more ways to achieve their goals than for other jobs. Or maybe it's because players that choose tank classes are generally more arrogant, stubborn and/or egotistical than the average player. I can't decide which it is and it's probably a bit of everything.

So why post about the debate? Am I going to weigh in on the views expressed in the BG thread? No you. "Yes" there is such a thing as being optimal, but also "Yes" there are usually trade-offs made and more than one way of doing something. I think these two points of view are often on the clashing ends of Paladin debates. Both sides make valid points. If you want to discuss Blue Mage subjob versus Red Mage subjob on Khimaira you're going to factor in stuff like MDB traits, Phalanx, hate from Blind and Sleep spells and of course physical defense. You leave out things like different playstyles because you're assuming your own playstyle. Whether you think you're optimal or not doesn't change that if you put two players in the exact same situation their actions will quickly diverge. How would you compare the performance of two setups if you can't compare them under the exact same circumstances? You fall back to calculations or parses/data of situations that you deem close enough to compare. More often than not players rely on their gut feeling and support it with data/math instead of using data/math to form their opinion. So, what's the point I'm trying to make? I guess it's "Stop being en evangelist on Paladin matters". Whatever happened to reason?

Step back a bit and look at the big picture. Ask yourself how fast can your group kill something and how safe/reliable is your method. That's all that matters in the end. If you consider it from this level, increasing kill speed as well as reliability turns into macro management and low level discussions like I.R. Hauberk versus Avalon Breastplate, while still relevant, lose a lot of their significance. So, to reiterate: Yes, gear and sj choices matter, just not as much as people think they do. Both the ignorant as well as the well-informed hold on to their opinions with way too much ferver.

While on the subject. When I leveled Paladin I bought DD gear pieces once I hit mid 50's. Exped mostly on birds until I moved to the mire. Due to Feather Tickle I didn't often have TP, however I felt like the party was doing better than if I didn't attempt to deal damage. Unfortunately, the average DD player is of low enough quality that my damage output actually mattered. In the mire I felt like my utility went through the roof as I was able to eat food while WS'ing as frequently if not MORE frequently than the rest of my party. The idea behind DD'ing on Paladin was "if you can't hold hate against your DD's in such short fights, help the party in a different way". It turned out that with my DD numbers I was actually able to hold hate better than a pure turtle setup. Looking back it makes a lot of sense. In such a short fight, with nobody holding back, the rate of increase of everyone's volatile enmity is going to be very high. Considering for each point of damage dealt provides more VE than CE the largest part of your enmity is going to be VE for the duration of the fight. If you tried to turtle tank with Paladin you'd have pretty much only VE with the exception of cures. With gear swaps you can still max out enmity on Flashes, Provokes and cures. While you take more damage and thus lose more CE than a turtle tank, you also produce more CE beacause of your damage output. So CE may be somewhat similar in the two situations but more likely still in favor of the DD setup. VE on the other hand will be much higher when you attempt to DD. Since VE is the largest part of your total enmity in short fights against mobs with low HP, the setup with the highest total enmity is the DD setup. With more damage taken comes higher stress on the healer. However, being able to kill faster balances this out to a certain extent. Not to mention the more kills and thus more EXP you'll be able to get during the course of the party.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend update 4

Get ready for another image-less recounting of FFXI related things. Since the last entry we've done some Sea with WoA. We popped 3 Jailers of Justice and 1 torque dropped. From what I understand we have several Love pops now. It will be interesting to see how that fight goes. I was in BLM party pulling the summons off the main alliance. I noticed on very annoying fact. Claim block! I hardly ever camp anything where I need to outclaim people. One time at Charybdis I had my ranged attack canceled because I was apparently too fast. It works on all mob pops and apparently JoJ's summons as well. I had to purposefully delay casting on them or risk getting blocked and suffer a cooldown period before being able to act again. On the up side, I got good exp and refilled my buffer.

Friday was time for Ultima and it was again a very smooth fight. The final bit of the fight is always a bit chaotic. This time it went Energy Screen crazy, but fortunately we had a large enough group with both melee and magic damage. I don't care much for the two Ultima pieces that I don't yet have. The body piece would be great for drains, but I hardly get to use those.

After Ultima I went back to help WoA with Jailer of Prudence. We took it down easy after a shakey start. Afterwards it was a bit late to do JoL, so LS raid time was ended. I quickly asked if anyone wanted to kill Yovra before the BLM's warped. Several people still need those organs so I started looking for an Om'Yovra near JoP spawn. I found one and got 4 or 5 BLM's to come kill it. It took way too long and its sleep resistance was beyond my Magic Accuracy by the time it hit 50%. So, it got a bit rough with sync nukes no longer being realistic. I 2hrd to take it down and was surprised to see that only 1 of my 5 nukes was resisted. Three people lotted and I won. Now I still need 4 Aern organs for a Snow Gorget. Got my eyes set on Snow because it covers Gekko and Rana and Guillotine for my future DRK. Speaking of which, I better finish that soon. I'm still in doubt, because of how well Penta Thrust has been doing on SAM recently. However, Shadow Gorget for Penta requires 2 Yovra organs and that's just silly.

Saturday Kingcem and I went out to FoV in Valley of Sorrows after a MMM experience party disbanded prematurely leaving me with an Allied Ring charge to blow. Started out with Soboro with /DNC. The TP overflow makes it easy to spam Waltzes on yourself. Switched to Hagun for a while and according to Kingcem my dps went up noticably. However, when I switched to Tomoe because of the Perytons I noticed that even on Manticores and Raptors my WS damage was outclassing Kasha/Gekko by a lot. Those mobs are all DC at level 75 and my accuracy and attack ratio were high enough for polearm to be the better weapon. We also popped some FoV turtle NM's. After a close call when it popped with enpetrify and barely killing it, I am now the proud owner of an Errant Houppelande with +2 water resist.

After FoV my Nyzul group raided floor 20 for the zillion Goliard Clogs we need and went 0 for 3 on ANY gear drops. We went in with 5 people and even when we wasted some time on a lamp floor I think we did pretty well. Didn't join for Salvage, cus... well... I didn't feel like it.

Sunday morning Kingcem and I tried to help take over Northlands but after a while of making very little progress in Xarcabard I decided to abandon it. The few Frozen Flame ops I did made up for the death caused by someone else's bad pull. That op is effective at dropping the fortification rating which unfortunately keeps going back up. In the end we didn't even retain Beaucedine Glacier. It's been quite some time since we had Fiat Lux and I think it's going to stay that way unless SE introduces some changes in the next update to raise the incentive.

The weekend ended with Dynamis - San d'Oria which was meant to fatten the LS bank for a better payout at the end of the month. Since we'll have some off time after the update and several Dreamlands Dynamis at the end of this month it was one of our last chances to get some cash revenue. We started out slow, and a bad pull of East Gate which I tried to sac got slept and caused a pretty bad situation. Everything went fine and even West gate was no problem. I didn't get a Raise3 after the sac which was fairly annoying since I had already eaten too many R1's for my liking recently. After west gate we got a pretty massive link and since I was still weakened from the sac pull I couldn't do my usual crowd control routine. So more deaths there and I was actually pretty pissed off at the time. Not directed towards anyone, just a general "omg, I can't stand this crap" type of emotional state. I almost handed the raid over, but I came to my senses and kept going. Pulled the NIN NM to stables. Unfortunately, the otherwise smooth handling of NIN mobs was set aside for this pull and there were no stuns towards the last percentages of HP allowing pretty much each of the NIN mobs get a Mijin Gakure off. Needless to say, people died again. We press on and clear Watchdog Alley and rode out the timer on some left-over statues in Pikeman's Way. It wasn't til after the NIN NM was killed that we saw a Montiont Silver Piece drop. Somewhere during Watchdog Alley a second one dropped making this a pretty decent run. Gear drops... meh who even cares? Nothing's going to compare to city drops in dreamlands.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dynamis - Valkurm: "Moar Stuns!"

Cirrate Christelle, or whatever its name is, downed the good old fashioned zerg way. After 2 losses due to TP abilities getting through CS Stun, I can say this boss handed our asses to us twice since WoA was revived. This being our third attempt and the first one I lead, I can say "third time's the charm".

It was obvious from what I was told and what I've seen that our kill speed was high enough. The issue was people dying. Having gone to many an event as RDM/DRK I know from experience that CS stunning is not perfect. There are two ways you can approach it:
  1. balls to the wall
  2. measured dosage
If you spam stuns you are guaranteed to overlap with the previous one most of the time. However, you'll be covered those times that Stun wears off early or gets resisted. If you slow down your casting you're estimating the Stun duration and trying to get as few overlaps while keeping the Stun holes small. The second method takes some experience. You can't rely on the chat log AT ALL. It's way too slow and delayed to use as a cue for casting the next Stun. That being said, when Stun wears off early you're screwed since you don't have time to react.

In the case of a single TP ability being able to KO the vast majority of your alliance (like Valkurm megaboss), you have got to maximize the Stun "coverage". Add a second CS Stunner and you're half way there. Now all you need to do is make sure the Stunners are casting in the gap of the other Stunner's casts. Now you're all the way there. The delay between casts is about 2 seconds if you're spamming. On average, once the rhythm is set, there's a stun landing every 1 second. You won't delay perfectly, but almost all TP charge times will be too long to get through if you're even remotely good at alternating your Stuns.

We did this on Qufim megaboss too, only I wasn't a RDM/DRK for that run, but Argonar and Darkflare did very well. When we did Bahamut recently I wasn't leading the raid and Ewenn was told to start CS Stun when Bahamut was at 50%. Once he popped his CS I adjusted my timing to cast in the gaps of his. Last night in Valkurm I told Darkflare to start at the same time as me and just spam the spell. I also told him that I'd be the one to adjust to his rhythm. I noticed that it took 2 or 3 stuns before we were alternating properly. Now, add that to the fact that I didn't call a start time and just started stunning arbitrarily. You may see that there was still the potential for a loss there. So yes, we improved our odds greatly, but there is still room for improvement. The next time I want to call a time on the game-clock to start the zerg and give one Stunner the instruction to go first. That way we can pop CS at the exact same time as the melee's engage and in so doing optimize the overlap of 2hr's, damage and stun-lock phase.

In addition to the win, which some needed for Tavnazia access, we got quite a few drops. Including, but not limited to: BLU cape, WHM belt x2, WHM hat -1 x2, SAM belt, SCH hat -1. Grats all on drops and win.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Money matters

The last few days I haven't done as much in-game as I usually do. Popped a Wulgaru for Xaya which we took down much faster due to Kingcem's expert kiting and Xaya and Magireauphielle both on RNG adding a substantial amount of damage. Other than that the normal friday Limbus run and I also spent some time trying to retain my Medal of Altana while upping my buffer on RDM some. I also did something else that I normally wouldn't consider making an entry about: Reselling items for profit.

I can imagine people not approving of this, because, to be completely honest, I think there are some valid ethical objections to be made. In these times of economic uncertainty (in real life) I'm sure many people have a deep seeded hate and loathing towards the investment bankers and the greed of people in the financial sector. When I buy something without the intention of using it but solely because I consider it to be a "good deal" I'm exhibiting a certain amount of greed. When I resell it for more than the purchase price I turn a profit for "being at the right place at the right time and having access to the means to make the initial purchase". Investers justify this by arguing that they take "risks" and that the money they earn is proportional to that risk and thus justifying their high reward to effort ratio. You can debate it or choose not to. The fact remains that there is a lot more money to be gotten from investing than there is doing 'normal' work.

The same is true in FFXI's game economy. People that do the 'real' work are farmers and crafters. There are also those who try to scam you out of your money. For example the people selling single Dynamis currency for slightly less than the going rate for a 100 piece, or bazaar items at stack prices hoping buyers will make a mistake. Then in the middle of the ethics scale there are people who just work the system by buying when prices are low and selling when they are high. You could monopolize a certain item or just buy and sell based on natural variations in supply. The more capital you have to invest, the more risks you can afford and the more leverage you have.

Before FFXIAH was introduced, doing research on which items to buy could take you more than an hour of scouring the slow auction house system. Nowadays anyone can find candidate items in a minute. To show you how easy it can be done. I'll Orichalcum Ingots as an example. The price of these seems variable between 210,000 and 220,000 on Valefor at this moment. That means a possible 10k profit with a sell rate higher than FFXIAH's scanner can keep up with. Obviously you won't always get as much as that and you need to consider the 2,250 gil auction tax. Perhaps not the best profit, but considering the rate at which they sell still a pretty safe bet. I suspect sales during the weekends go up considerably and buying for low prices is best done on weekdays when there are fewer people online during peak hours.

Some of the items I bought still haven't sold and I'm sure I'll have to cut my losses on some of them. The profit margin has to be pretty wide for me to want to sacrifice the AH slots I could be filling with logs and other small ticket items I get from digging. If the next update introduces items that blow the ones I'm sitting on out of the water, I'd be extremely disappointed though unsurprised. Looking back I've bought way too many things during the height of inflation and too few when prices were finally down. My 6 million gil Blau Dolch can attest to that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dynamis - Qufim: Win

Same title, different subtitle. Yesterday's Dynamis - Qufim was the last win I personally needed for Tavnazia access. However, it wasn't just my personal vested interest in getting the win that made me anxious to kill that damned Gigas. The needs of the many outweigh the etc. etc. WoA's been having a decent streak of successes and it felt good to get this one under our belt too.

Before the boss and right after a lot of city relic armor dropped. Giving us pleasant sights like this:
Soon after I got my very own pair of SAM gloves, which was nice. The pulls before the boss were nothing special and Nightly found the subjob target before Manta NM. Water elemental aggro'd which meant we had an unnecessary kill. Considering we were pretty tight on time the last time, this kind of worried me. To make things worse, after the quadav's going north we got aggro from a goblin statue and a Nightmare Snoll. I'm sure that had this happened the previous Qufim run, things would not have gone as smoothly. Sleepers were on point. Bards helped out well and it was over before we knew it. Ice elemental aggro'd which didn't count as a slow-down, since we would have to kill that coming back from the cave anyway. However, it was a nice last mob to build TP on for the boss fight, which we now no longer had. I actually got a bit carried away with how well sleepers were handling the large groups of mobs that I didn't even bother to pull the goblin statues on the way to Suttung seperately. I believe 1 or 2 people got K.O.'d during that pull, but nothing to worry about. Pulled and cleared Suttung (Golem NM) and headed back with 30 minutes left on the clock. We were clearly faster than the last time and gave us some time to relax, practice the Bard rotation and give a bit more detailed instructions for the boss zerg.

If you've read my post about the previous run, where we lost, you may remember me mentioning the most important changes needed.
  • A second CS stunner for better coverage.
  • A puller with movement speed so that Trebuchet doesn't hit the waiting alliance.
  • Alliance waits to gain hate when the boss is on top of them and avoids getting hate from a distance.
We did all these things and it almost worked perfectly. The only mistake was me dying before taking the goblin links away from the group. I used powder boots for the pull, but the 30 second duration did not turn out to be enough. I believe the reason was mainly because I ran into the boss area from the east. It seemed like a short distance to run, but seeing as how my Flee wore off only about 5-10 seconds too soon, I might go in from the north hugging the castle wall the next time we do this. A second pair of boots may be a tiny bit too risky since it didn't take much from the goblins to kill me. Hermes Quencher really solves this problem completely, as it lasts a full minute, but those cost a lot more than they should and I'm a cheap bastard. Adds were killed after boss and I have to commend the mages and sleepers on their work there. I'm glad that my personal mistakes don't have to lead to a loss or wipe.

Quadavs near the weapon wall popped a large number of mobs which eventually wiped the alliance. Our post post-win farming suffered because of this. It's a pull I've never seen or done, so I know now to treat those with care or simply avoid them and go for the weapons on the west end of that area. We killed most weapons and all Kraken and stuck it out til the server kicked us out. Most drops were city pieces with the exception of a PUP cape that someone actually wanted, so that was nice. Good job everyone!

Weekend update 3

Amazingly no post following last Dynamis - Beaucedine! Reason: too easy! Really now, I don't mean to brag, but we did very well. No wipes, lots of mob kills and drops to boot. No RDM bodies, which was disappointing. Going to stop subbing BLU from now on and just go /BLM to help sleep. When I bother to tank trains it's when there are more than 3 mobs, fewer than that and I just head out to get the next statue. When there's a giant train of 7+ mobs and assorted statues, I'll just sac it. I finished my 102% spell interruption set, which is another reason to go /BLM. BLU sub and eating tacos seems overkill for regular mobs and since I try to avoid getting meleed by statues in the first place, BLM offers more utility.

We did our first Bahamut since the new WoA and it was very smooth. Three DRK's zerging with Mercurial Krisses really made short work of him. Had two CS stunners, something I think we should always have when fighting the more dangerous AoE mobs (Valkurm and Qufim Dynamis bosses and... Dynamis Lord). After Ewenn popped CS I made sure to cast in intervals with him so that we get maximum coverage of stuns and Bahamut was truly locked. Even with DRK's accuracy at 50-60% it was a very short fight where my Chainspell never wore off. No Feint, cus no THF, which also meant no Treasure Hunter. I guess we were a bit low on people, but Feint more than makes up for a DD and TH helps for the money drops. The guaranteed item slots supposedly don't benefit from TH.

Limbus runs have been business as usual as we work Temenos for an Ultima set. In our latest raid the paired mobs of Central Temenos 1st floor were killed together and it was a very short raid because of this. In the past we just killed them in order, but we got into trouble one time with the Temenos Cleaner doing a ton of damage with AoE's. The previous time we had 2 melees on each bringing them down at the same pace. This time, however, time we had all melee's on one, then Bio and Poison to compensate for their auto-regen, then switch targets and kill the other one and back again. Both methods work and I don't think there's any real need to do it one way or the other.

Though I've given up on Salvage for being too big of a timesink to fit my playtimes and ambitions, I still want to help out when I can because I've still not seen everything there is to see in those ruins and boss battles are a fun challenge. Last saturday BR boss (Long-bowed Chariot) was our target. Got there with plenty of time though we gave up on killing the HM gears since two of them warped due to time. We were better off, I'm sure, since weather popped soon after we killed the western Chariot (reduces boss attack power) and I doubt I could have pulled the rest of the gears perfectly. We lost the fight because of MP issues didn't let us keep up with the damage taken by the tanks. This obviously means "reduce the amount of damage the tanks take". This means better debuffing (ie. no lv71 Bard) and better and much faster removal of bind and paralyze. If I help the next time the Salvage group runs BR boss, I might sub WHM for that reason. If me and the RDM take care of status effects WHM can focus purely on curing and perhaps allow for better MP efficiency (like regens and smart/more Cure5's). Homing Missle wasn't even that much of an issue, though it didn't help. It got off twice due to bind being on and tanks not being able to move to the side (iirc). I wonder if an ice resist setup could work since both Paralyze and Bind status effects are ice-based. Not that it's hard to focus better on Erase and Paralyna.

Yesterday I popped a Wulgaru. I had 3 people helping me so I assumed it'd be a quick fight. Wulgaru is soloable by RDM without movement speed gear because it's an Acrolith and moves slower than players run. That takes more than the 60 minutes it takes to rage. With its 30.000 HP you'd need to do an average of 25 damage per game DoT tick if you want to kill it within the hour. Corsairs have a much easier time killing it solo. When it has its large arm it uses a TP ability Dire Straight that can do a lot of damage and goes through shadows. The worst part is the range. Even though he won't attempt to do it until he's in melee range, you can't outrun it at regular running speed once he's charging it. So the goal is to stay out of melee range at all times and since we started out kiting it around the room it pops in, that wasn't always possible. When everyone else went down I started kiting it around the teleporters. I was able to get Bio2, Poison2 and Drown on without it doing Dire Straight. That tells me that I COULD solo it if I had to. Not that I'd want to. It raged at some point and we reset its rage before taking it down the rest of the way.