Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend update 6

Had time to level SAM to 80 this past weekend. Got a half decent party in Misareaux Coast to finish it off. However, this camp, as good as it is, still falls behind Greater Colibri. How so? Well, the party I had in Thickets (before the one that got me 80) netted more than double the exp per hour. Granted, the setup was better and pulls were faster. What makes it that much better is the EXP bonus from Sanction and the lower HP of the target mobs. The Colibri party broke my previous record of EXP Chain 101 with...

I didn't want to post results of a parse that I won because that would seem like bragging. Trust me though, it's not hard to beat the majority of DD's on Valefor. This can be seen in the following damage graph where a DRG/SAM performed terribly. In this graph you can see me being out-damaged by a polearm WAR/SAM. After a break (the horizontal middle part of the graph) I switched to polearm (Tomoe) and was able to catch up somewhat. Towards the end you can see my damage taking a dive. This was because I ran out of Crab Sushi.

My WS damage is pretty good, but I've seen much higher WS damage in screenshots on the internet, so I'm going to curb my enthusiasm.

With level 80 comes the chance to work on the WS Magian weapon path. I'm going for the 10% Kasha damage one. Without Usukane I don't feel a 5-hit is worth the sacrifice in accuracy, haste and STR during WS. Instead I'm going for a 6-hit Keitonotachi with a Pole Grip and two accuracy rings. Still not capped on accuracy in Misareaux Coast at 76 I feel like I can definitely use some more.

The second Einherjar run with WoA went better than the first. We beat it relatively comfortably. The boss was the Marid with the Djiggas (chigoes) popping and pretty much impossible to recover from. The first run we wiped because I didn't know it had exceptional aggro range and despite regular mobs having normal hate mechanics, the boss had zone/alliance aggro. I pulled on RDM/BLU both times, but the mobs are actually pretty weak so I'll go RDM/DRK in future runs for extra utility. Holding them is no big deal and gaining hate on the group isn't an issue either. With two BLM's -aga2'ing the chigoes they were left at 5-10% HP. This was annoying enough to take a BLM out and it would have been a problem if the boss was up for much longer. Fortunately the zerg was relatively short (perhaps 2 minutes). It pops them three at a time iirc, and was able to pop 3 or 4 sets before it died.

Valkurm loss
Sunday was Dynamis - Valkurm time. We relied on double CS Stunners, but guess what... a charm still got through. The timing of the stun exchange started out well, but quickly got out of sync and at about the first simultaneous casting a charm went off. That was extremely unlucky and despite the charm we got it down to 20% before Extremely Bad Breath went off. The fact that I got poisoned and took some damage meant that I was slowly ticking away to death while trying to keep the boss stunlocked. As soon as the stunners were down people went down very fast, as would be expected. We were a bit short on people and some healing power to keep stunners and DD's alive a tad bit longer could have made the difference. Even so I'm looking forward to the time we DO beat this with ~16 people.

Magian progress
I used this weekend to get closer to my oh-so-precious PDT sword. I finished the Sabotender trials thanks to two Japanese groups in Kuftal Tunnel. Both times we killed 3 or 4 pop cycles on an earthday. The rest of it was done solo on Sabotender Bailaor in Quicksand Caves. There are a lot of Bailaor in the caves, however only the ones found after dropping through quicksand holes con as Easy Prey. I found this to be the best spot for them.

There are 5 of them there and using BST subjob (Beetle pet) and my Fellow NPC 1000 needles was not a problem. You have quite some time in between repops so even when weather comes along, it's a race against time.

I got another pair of groups in Kuftal Tunnel for trial No. 1228 (200 Lizards during earth day/weather). 60+ kills during both which puts me further along than I could have hoped for. I've seen people zoom through Kuftal on those same trials and I hope some of them will still be on Rafflesia's by the time I'm done. Teaming up really makes life easier.

Tanking Omega
As my previous attempt at tanking Proto-Omega with my current Limbus group ended in a loss, I was a bit nervous. Not because I don't think my tanking skills are sufficient (I believe they are), it's because I was afraid that without me on RDM to buff tanks, nuke pods and debuff Omega the backline would suffer. I was partly right. Pods tooke a bit longer to die and without refresh on me I soon ran out of MP and had to use Chivalry and eat a Devotion in order to keep up. Not sure about debuffs, but attack speed wasn't an issue. I'm gonna sound like a broken record, but it is so painfully obvious that if you don't finish the fight quickly after the last pod/form change you have got to kite it. No sense of urgency whatsoever after the last shape change. Just sitting there going at the same pace 4 Colossal Blows went off and things got messy. I used invincible after I ate the first and was able to regain hate after Stellina ate the second CB. After I ate a third I said "no more hate left, kite and stun". Stellina regained hate only to get another CB thrown at her I spammed cures on alliance members and was actually able to get hate after only a short time. This leads me to think the hate reset isn't complete or perhaps it's only a CE hate reset. I don't know. All I know is we won and I'm glad. Got 2 legs and 1 body. Been getting a lot of legs and no hands or feet, which are the two pieces I want the most. I'll eventually want to get the body piece too, but the bidding system makes it so you only get to pick the items you want the most, or risk getting outbid on everything.

Respect the stubbornness
I thought it was funny someone said they respected me for getting exp the old-fashioned way. It's hard to go back to regular EXP once you've exped in Abyssea, they said. No shit. However, there's no respecting my stubbornness. The reason I didn't buy Abyssea was because they finally got the EXP effort/reward ratio in order, but put it in the add-on. I don't buy add-on's because they shouldn't be essential to your playstyle. That's what an expansion is. Abyssea does not seem optional when you consider the large number of game-changing elements (both equipment and EXP). It's not expensive and the money has nothign to do with it. I don't like being forced to do anything, even if I'll enjoy it. I'm just weird like that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend update 5

This past weekend was mostly Friday Limbus and Sunday Dynamis. Saturday I spent playing Street Fighter because I had very little motivation to log on to FFXI. I did however solo the Kraken Club BCNM which I covered in the previous entry and I also joined for 4 Nyzul Isle runs.

Limbus was a canceled Omega run which turned into a Temenos farming run. We'll eventually have to learn to do Omega with fewer people because I know at least two people won't be around for much longer. Without the confidence that we can manage a solo tank or that I could go any other job than RDM I'm a little worried about it. Might as well give it a go, I'm a known pessimist and I might be pleasantly surprised. Still, even with our current successes there's a lot of room for improvement. I regularly miss debuffs wearing off because I'm busy keeping refresh+haste on tanks, backup healing and nuking pods. I'm not sure how well Elegy is kept on it, but I recall seeing some resists. Two BLM's and a DRK are our only damage sources, so I think we may need a bit more killing power to blast through the final phase.

Nyzul was relatively generous (given our track record) and we got Goliard Cuffs and Askar Korazin. Grats on the drops guys. Also Roc's item appraised to Dryad Staff which I suppose is noteworthy due to the rarity of HQ appraisals.

Also, Sunday morning I saw earthday approaching and decided to get some Sabotender kills for my sword trial 200. I was surprised to find a group of people with Soulsabers equipped. I didn't need to check them to know what they were there for. We teamed up and cleared Sabotender Sediendo really quickly.
Afterwards I got a few more kills in Quicksand Caves during sand storm weather before I had to go prep for Dyna.

Dynamis Buburimu got us some capes and junk I don't really recall. I decided not to put anything on my /seacom since the only thing I wanted would be Valor Cape (for PLD which I never play) and Abyss Cape (for a DRK that can't even equip it yet). So I'd rather not grab those over people that will get more and better use out of them. Lessons learned from the previous run were applied well. I asked THF scouter to keep tabs on AB for when we killed Tarasca. Tarasca itself played hide-and-seek for a short while but all-in-all we got the win pretty fast. While pulling Aivtaras Gravity got resisted. I don't know if it's immune, but either way, not wearing any pdt gear I got one-shotted with a 1k+ critical hit. Not a problem really, didn't slow us down. It did make me a bit anxious for the next sac pull of the WHM Quadav, which I did weakened. Still, there's plenty of time between the mobs popping and them starting to run or cast for me to get away. The extra time was noticable as we had time to kill all rabbits after cockatrice as well as the Orcs in front of Outpost. A bit chaotic towards the end, but we managed. Jens did an excellent job sleeping, overwriting sleepga with sleepga2 keeping mobs out of the running for long stretches. I did some enmity generation to get mobs on me after waking up, but noticed Jens had perfect timing on sleeps on several occasions. Resleeping them within a second of them waking up.

Making this post a I realise I did quite a few things, which is surprising for a game I'm seriously considering quiting soon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Soloing Up in Arms

One of the things I've always wanted to try before I quit this game is to solo this BCNM. I hadn't considered doing this before because I don't enjoy the travel time and preparation time it takes just for a single attempt. I just love to procrastinate. Not only that, but in order to practice so I don't throw away any Beastmen Seals I wanted to do a few runs with assistance. Due to me feeling increasingly bored by FFXI and my refusal to purchase the Abyssea add-on I was looking for something to keep me active and interested.

Thankfully I succeeded on my first attempt, but only just. I cut it close, REALLY close.

I pop the chest and get the message that time has run out. Also, I get teleported to the Waughroon Shrine entrance, which is what happens when you fail a BCNM. So technically I did fail the run but I ended up with the rewards anyway. A total of 50k in NPC'able stuffs and an Altepa Ring and Black Pearl which I'll toss on auction. Now for the meat of this blog entry.

I went RDM/SCH into this 60 cap BCNM. The increased MP efficiency made this solo a success. Every little bit helped, considering the 15 minute time limit. I went in, popped Light Arts and buffed, ate food and reste 2 tics. After this preparation the opening sequence was
  1. Chainspell
  2. Gravity and run towards entrance
  3. Thunder II several times
  4. Bind
  5. Convert
  6. Drain several times
  7. Bind at entrance and run around it
  8. Drain one more time before Chainspell ran out
Soon after this I had to reapply Gravity. I nuked a few more times before I ran out of MP and then used Sleep2. I was able to rest to over 200 MP before it woke up. Looking back I could have just re-slept and rested some more. Instead I used Gravity again and didn't manage much damage before I had to rest again. After the second rest I had only a little time left before convert so I nuked twice, drained and slept it again so I could ride out the 10 seconds to convert. I used Alacrity randomly to lower recasts, but I should have limited it to Drain usage since it was very effective and efficient. Not that my nukes were doing badly. They were doing quite well actually.

I didn't have a macro for light arts and Cure with Light Staff so I had to do it manually. That cost some unnecessary time. I had brought a Vile Elixir +1 jsut in case, but didn't see the urgency of using it even though I was somewhat aware of how much, or how LITTLE time I had left. In the end I had to resort to Bio2 for the last bit of damage. I was unsure whether opening with Bio2 would be smart. I was afraid I'd mess up and try to sleep it while forgetting that it was still on.

There are several obvious improvements like more macros, including Cure and Dispel (for Regeneration). Also, there was a sequence of 3 spell interruptions due to not waiting enough after moving. So, that's something to watch out for too. Save Alacrity for Drain.

For anyone else wanting to try this I can't give you any special or new advice as I'm not sure what the minimum requirements are to do this successfully. All I can say is what I personally used. I had a Glamor Jupon, mostly HQ staves (except wind and light) 8 enfeebling skill upgrades and 6 in elemental skill. Hands and feet slots were level synched Yigit pieces. Also, I ate a Cream Puff and have a Moldavite Earring.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grinding the new level cap

I'm now a happy lv. 80 Redmage. I'm not sure how many parties it took, but regardless it wasn't as bad as I expected. I think RDM gets a lot from hitting 80 as SCH sub becomes interesting and also the added Enhancing Magic Skill makes Phalanx stronger. I haven't played around much with Stone and Water4 nukes, but I'm looking forward to finally breaking 1.000 damage with a nuke on RDM.

Also, I leveled my SAM up to 77 and was glad to do very well in all parties I joined. I'm using a regular 6-hit build with Hagun and it was amazing to see me leading so many of the parses. I don't know if it's players skill or knowledge, but never seeing myself as a DD player I was pleasantly surprised. The last party on SAM was a record setter. Previously the highest chain I ever got in an EXP pt was ~83. That party had a single Ridill Warrior doing almost all the damage. I was on RDM at the time. All other parties just didn't kill fast enough or sponged up so much MP that the healer had to rest and the chain broke. In this party we had 3 DD's all doing their fair share of damage. We also had a Dancer with fully meritted Haste Samba which made for some pretty fast swinging stacked with Hasso and Marches. A Scholar and a Bard rounded out the party. I can only imagine the speed at which we'd be killing if we had Haste spell on us. I'm sure the Monks would have torn things up even more. And of course, I would have too. I lead that parse of that party with 31% of total damage with the only other DD that was there for the same duration (a MNK) doing 24%.

I noticed I'm still approximately 5% below accuracy cap while fighting birds in Misareaux at level 76 eating Marinara Pizza. The true acc gap is larger due to Zanshin. I bought a Fowling Earring and am considering other pieces to make up for this. However, the most obvious improvements would be a HQ Haubergeon and Usukane feet. I'm gonna postpone both of those things for the time being as I don't see myself playing SAM a lot despite really enjoying it.

An interesting bit from the parser was my WS rate. I did a WS for every 4,37 melee hits. The usage of Meditate is what puts this number below the 5 you would expect from a 6-hit build. The two gear pieces that enhance Meditate have been a great improvement in my opinion. I can usually get 2 weaponskills off before Meditate wears off which results in 3 weaponskills in quick succession. Samurai is a very strong job. I realise this more and more the more I play it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My first Astral Burn

It would feel a bit silly posting this if all I wanted to say was that I finally got to Astral Burn successfully. It'd be especially silly because I was the puller and so got no exp and some guy Diaga'd our pull for no apparent reason. I had two things I wanted to find out and it was those two things that really made me want to pull for some WoA members to Astral Flow on.
  1. Is lowered framerate the key to overcoming immobility due to lag and clipping.
  2. Do the number of mobs in the train affect /heal aggro.
The answer to the first question is "yes". From forum posts on the topic of Astral Burning I learned that if you shake the FFXI window you can stand up from /heal and in so doing avoid dying due to lag. Shaking the window sounded as arcane as whacking a television that's on static, but apparently it worked. Some things like blink-casting are helped by lowering your game's frame rate. There are tools to raise your CPU load which will lower your frame rate, but these slow everything else down as well. One day, completely by accident, I discovered that if you open the context menu on FFXI's taskbar item (in windowed-mode obviously) by right-clicking it, you'll severely lower your game's frame rate. I used this during the pull to great effect. Even in the camp when all mobs were gathered in a tiny circle around me, I was able to stand up and reapply Phalanx and then continue resting. It also reduces the amount of clipping checks done while running "through" mobs and players which means you can move around faster. This only works because opening the context menu doesn't stop your keyboard input from being sent to the game. I don't know if this method works for the unofficial Windower, because I don't use that myself. Also, I'm not sure if this method depends on things like your OS version, CPU type/speed and graphics card/drivers.

As for the second question. It arose when discussion of Astral Burning in MMM took place in a BG-forum thread. Some suggested that putting distance between you and the train would solve the problem of some mobs simply not aggroing the puller. This seemed to suggest that too many mobs in close vicinity would hamper eachothers detecting and aggro abilities. They definitely path much much worse with all their buddies around, but as far as I could tell last night, the /heal aggro kept working on jellies which I pulled when I already had a large train. So I don't know why those mobs in MMM would refuse to aggro sometimes or if being far from the rest of the train actually helps.

On Aggro
One thing I accuse people of often is not knowing how aggro and enmity work. While fighting a ZNM I suggested people log off and let the kiter die to reset the rage timer. They then proceeded to log back on immediately before the kiter could die and were taken aback by the fact that they still had hate on the mob. Gaining and losing aggro are not very complex mechanics, but even the basics about it haven't become common knowledge quite yet. I have to admit there are still a few things I need to figure out myself. I've written down some things I'd like to test so that I can better understand some of the seemingly abnormal occurrances.

A long time ago (January 2008) I did some testing solo and in party with Cyrille and Stellina (special thanks to those two) and found out some things for myself. I made a thread about it on BG forum, but it didn't get much attention and only started a discussion about Darters in Dragon's Aery. Here is a link to that thread. Most of what I wrote is still accurate. However, the deaggro timer seems to reset not when an action is taken on you, but when they are able to detect you. I had mentioned both as if they were both a requirement, but it seems only detection plays a part. Also, it seems that water triggering deaggro may still be tied to the timer unlike what I said in that thread. Also, since detection plays a role, the deaggro timer is probably a bit shorter than the 25 seconds I first assumed. You should definitely ignore some of my early replies as I apparently can't read and it's painful to look back on (except that one pwnage post where I disputed what Rena said with proof). I can't truly take credit for discovering anything, but as far as I can tell I was the first person to do such testing and I don't believe the party aggro mechanic was known or understood. I hope I'll be able to continue this line of testing after postponing it for so long.