Saturday, December 10, 2011

Game Over

Yep, I quit, and it's pretty definitive as far as I'm concerned. This won't be a sad goodbye, but sort of a game review that's been over 6 years in the making.

The Visuals
FFXI was my first and is at this point the only MMORPG I've played. Though I've read about and seen a lot of other ones, I was never tempted to pick them up due to the commitment/addiction to FFXI. I picked this game over other based purely on its visuals. To this day I haven't seen an MMO that could match its art-direction. The models are simplistic but look good. The pallette is limited but the colours are so well matched that the game can offer many different moods and atmospheres. The skill of the modellers and designers improved as you can tell by comparing old zones to newer ones. I especially enjoy Porgonorgo Isle and the Shadowrealm zones which showed off some very nice improvements in many aspects, and especially plant/shrub models. Animations aren't amazingly well done, but I haven't seen better special effects for spells and job abilities in other MMO's.

Not sound effects, which aren't anything special, but the music. Square games have always had great scores, and FFXI is no exception. The fact that there is a group that can tour the world exclusively playing the game's songs says a lot.

Learning Curve
A lot of the game's improvements to low level play came very late in the life of FFXI. Early on I found the Valkurm Dunes to be very unforgiving. There were hardly any high level players around that area. Rarely there'd be one powerleveling a party and you could beg them to run across the zone to raise you at Selbina zone-line, because you got killed by a Goblin Smithy for the 10th time and didn't want to walk back from San d'Oria. Though it gave a sense of adventure, there was a lot of frustration and time spent GETTING to the fun and very little time having the actual fun. Transportation got better and a lot had to do with leveling up past a certain point. So, it was just the first time going up that was really hard, the second time you had an easier time.

As expansions were released teleports were added and slowly traveling was no longer a huge chore. The game became much more enjoyable as these things were introduced, which made you wonder what the point was of not having htem before.

Early End-game
I didn't experience much of this becauss of leveling slowly while also joining the game later than most. Navigating Sky was an important skill, I was told, and I made it a point to get the maps and learn my way around soon after getting access. However, I was one of the few. So what ended up happening was people dying and needing help getting to the rest of the group. This cost a lot of time and when you finally got to the trigger mobs, it was a matter of fighting for claims. Let's just say... it sucked.

Dynamis runs I did early on weren't that good, and later on when I ran them myself I understood why. Too much coordination is needed and very few people take direction well. The system isn't bad, in fact, it's a nice challenge. However, the majority of the player-base wasn't fit for it. It was technical, certain jobs and roles were ESSENTIAL, which meant anyone going afk in the 2+ hours of the event could potentially ruin everything.

Sea had all the navigational issues of Sky (and then some) with worse drop rates and overall less appealing rewards. Limbus on the other hand was a sign of good things to come. Once you knew what to do, a small balanced group could clear any zone and you could get your hands on some very nice drops off Omega/Ultima while having fun trying to clear the zone in record time.

Aht-Urghan and HNM's
AU expansion brought assault which IMHO is one of the best events in the game. The missions were very diverse and not all combat-related. It required teamwork and knowledge without having a ridiculous time-investment. Salvage was a good event after they introduced the starting crates. After that the only reason I didn't do it because of the notoriously bad drop rates, cost of Imperial Wootz, but most importantly: lack of enough skilled friendly players to reliably beat the bosses. The EU playtimes weren't the best and after I finished college I couldn't play with NA's anymore. Also Kujata and later Valefor were pretty crappy servers.

Having camped some Fafnirs (and fought it twice, omg!) I had enough of HNM's in no-time. Camping Aspid was arguably worse, but I didn't do much of that. I didn't get to fight Hydra until I did the tier10 assaults, but my LS did get Cerberus a few times. Being on Stun duty for GoH was pretty exciting, I'll admit. I never fought Tiamat, but... killing Jormungand with Dreamcatchers was a very proud day for me. Somehow that undesirable monster was considered one of the toughest fights after Vrrtra. AV was still considered unkillable at the time.

Wings of the Goddess
Campaign gave me hope of leveling jobs other than THF, RDM and PLD. It was a good event at the time, and made a lot of solo play possible that wasn't before. However, the mistake in that system was its complexity and unpredictability. You had to stay in town to know when battles were going to take place, but then you'd be a half hour early. If you only moved out when you saw battles on your map, you'd often be too late to get a meaningful reward. Ops were unrewarding (not at first, but the nerfed them). The complexity was in how players could affect influence and nation strategy. Nobody cared enough to figure it out. All in all it was a good expansion, but a bit disappointing after ToAU.

I liked it. Let me start by saying that. Fights became about knowing HOW instead of bringing as many people as possible. Bards were no longer "needed". BLM's became super-useful again after a long period of zergs and SAM+WAR-onry exp parties. Moving in the direction of low-manned events was a good thing IMO. The rewards were great. Huge improvements over what was available before, but not only that... everything was attainable. Nothing seemed impossible to get. Even Empyrean weapons became a dime a dozen.

Missions and Story
The best moments in the game were doing and beating missions with friends. I had the best time clearing all assaults, finishing CoP, ToAU and WotG missions. Even clearing all Dynamises was a big achievement to me. Doing them with friends was the biggest reason for enjoying them. I don't regret the hours I spent doing those, as opposed to the many lost hours LFP, camping NM's or walking from place to place.

Why I stopped
So many people quiting and playing less and less tends to make the game less enjoyable. I still had things I wanted to do, but I I'm ok with leaving them undone. It's just a matter of silly principle. It's a good but flawed game. I'm glad I played it, I'm just sad I played it SO MUCH.

I'm not going to say good-bye or thanks, that's too cheesy. I'm still around, I'm just doing other things now. I DO want to say thanks to anyone that read this blog. Keeping this blog was one of the funnest things about FFXI. Going all into theory and actually being asked for advice about equipment and strategy made me feel less guilty about nerding out on the game.

Awesome Music Tip: FINAL

Friday, October 14, 2011


Since I called some of my older entries "weekend update" I thought I'd continue that trend. So I've kept up my almost daily ~2 to 3 hour playtimes and got a couple of old goals done over a longer period of time. For one..

I haven't used it much outside of the initial "omg I need to try the WS out right away" testing. I pulled a bunch of mobs for Shield Mastery to feed me TP and wailed on Cuijatender. The WS didn't do much damage and the light SC was reduced as well. I ondly managed to get it between 60 and 70% before dying. Wanted to give it a go in Attohwa, but couldn't find a free NM to try it on. It's a little bit anti-climactic, but I'm still very happy I have that ridicularge sword. Almace on RDM could be pretty good, but I can't get the most out of it that way. Leveling BLU is such a chore though...

I've been doing WoE off and on since the last version update. I'm up to 66 Devious Die for upgrading my Daka (dagger). I only obtained 6 of them myself, the rest were all bought for 100k or less. They're common from Flux 11, but fewer and fewer people do WoE, which means people rarely have the confidence they'll beat Flux 11. They still do 9 quite frequenbtly, but I've been focussing on 7 to get more coins. I got enough for a g.axe, but I'd really like to make a gun for access to Wildfire.

I leveled DNC to 95 to make better use of this Rudra's Storm and because I wanted to stop complaining about how DNC is a better soloist and DD than THF and just jump on the train instead. The DNC train. It's a smooth ride. Soloing a darkness skillchain with two crit hit Rudra's is a thing of beauty. I now understand much better why people say mobs don't have enough HP for it to be worthwhile, usually. NM's on the other hand, I love stabbing those. I have 3 AF3 pieces left to +2, but other than that I got all other pieces I need for TP and WS. A lot was inherited from THF. I can recommend anyone that enjoys THF to pick up DNC unless their principles won't allow it.

I have to say Ochain still seems years away at the rate I'm going. Competition for VNM's is usually pretty high during my normal playtimes. At the very least SE can make T3's repop in 10 min instead of 20. Once someone's worked their way up to a T3 abyssite, why the hell would you need to limit them AGAIN? Also, the rate at which T2 abyssites convert is low enough that you can go on some pretty bad streaks. I was 0/8 two abyssites ago, of which 5 were Gamayun solos. That's a long enough fight to make you really pissed when it doesn't change color. I found someone to team up with, but that means halving your droprate (due to splitting 50/50) and it's not like being with two people doubles your efficiency.

I'm currently without an LS, but still playing and somewhat enjoying the game thanks to some friends. We did some Dynamis which turns out to be fun!! I hadn't done it since they changed cities and northlands. I read about the changes and never thought it'd be fun, but it kind of is.

Awesome music tip #7

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chione NIN solo

Chione is a popular mob due to the higher drop rate of Colorless Souls off Ogopogo. It's often camped and due to the random nature of T2 to T3 conversion you could be out there a while camping against multiple people. On Valefor it doesn't seem as bad as other servers, from what I've heard.

I blogged about trying it on THF/DNC before. It went pretty badly. I used a ton of meds but couldn't overcome the frequent nukes at low HP. After that I did it a few more times with other people and I learned more about the mob. Running backwards in first person, for one, was my favorite way of dealing with Ice spikes. When duo it's really not necessary and just slows you down, but it was something I was determined to use in any future solo attempt.

I saw a BLU do this evasion tanking. It was a pretty smart move to rely on spells to damage it when one of its own spells is incoming. You can Head Butt and interrupt its casting early on when the casting time is not as fast (at around 10% HP its spells start reaching the unstunnable). So at low HP a BLU could make a big light SC to avoid stretching out the last bit.

So, yesterday I gave it a shot on NIN/DNC with Razed Ruins, Mounted Champion and Future Fabulous Atmas. Kiting it backwards meant I only got hit by Ice Spikes once or twice due to running into terrain or being locked from Curing Waltz. It took about 3 Waltzes to recover from Heavenly Strike and about two from Blizzaga3. Freeze2 never hit, but it could have happened. later on while recasting. I saved TP for the last 50% of the fight so I could recover more easily, but I sat at 300% TP for quite a bit, so it doesn't seem very necessary. I tried to make one set of shadows last for all melee between its spells. If I recasted more than that I'd spend a lot of time standing still and not damaging it. I needed to melee in an evasion set for that to work most of the time. For future attempts I'll try to mix and match to make a compromise DD/evasion set.

It starts to cast much more frequently at low HP. So it's not just casting time, but also recast time that is shortened. Unless it starts to very heavily favor Blizzaga3, you should be ok. The amount of damage is easily recovered from through Waltzes and you always have meds to back you up. Paralyze from spikes did proc somewhere late on, but I was so busy recasting shadows and maneuvering that by the time I got around to Healing Waltz, it had already worn off.

During backwards kiting I stumbled upon a few possible pinning spots. Unfortunately they were in high traffic areas so I wouldn't attempt to use them. Especially with all the competition. It took about 18 minutes start to finish, which I don't think is all that bad. Since all three T2 Heroes VNM seem soloable (though Koios being by FAR the easiest) I'm a little but more hopeful about gathering Colorless Souls. Since I could get away with only bothering people for the T3 and gather up to 3 different pops on my own. I'd be completely independent with a second account, but that's not happening.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Job Adjustment Wishlist

Shut up. It's my blog.

THF aka Ranger wannabe
I want:
  • higher damage bolts for ranged DD'ing
  • TH upgrades to be able to proc on ranged attacks
  • Trick Attack to work on ranged attacks
  • more debuff bolts like stun and paralyze additional effects
  • better bloody bolts for recovering HP when soloing
  • critical hit guaranteed from any direction with Sneak Attack sacrificing the DEX modifier when not behind a mob
  • Mug to work for cruor
  • Gilfinder to work for cruor
  • Steal to obtain temporary items (always) instead of regular items, making it no threat to game economy and much more useful.
  • Despoil to take the place of steal for those few places where getting an item is still preferrable
  • Perfect Parry/Evasion or something like Third Eye to 100% evade a single physical attack
RDM aka don't hate the player
I want:
  • Haste II (approx 20% Haste)
  • an enfeebling spell to lower a mob's Magic Attack
  • water-based spikes spell (bubble spikes/armor?) with strong attack-down or STR down effect
  • a Magic Accuracy bonus from Saboteur
  • native access to drain and aspir
  • a job ability that mimics accession/manifestation
  • rebalancing Phalanx II to comensate for above adjustment
  • enfeebling spell to lower damage resistance (PDT/MDT/DT) kind of like what Tomahawk does
  • BLINK!!!! Improve the spell by reducing casting time and get more shadows depending on enhancing skill. At least make it somewhat similar to Occulation
SAM aka I want to be invincible!
I want:
Seigan tanking to be somehow improved (perhaps gaining TP from counters or anticipated attacks)
... that's it. Seriously, the job is really strong just not desirable.

PLD aka I don't have an Ochain or Aegis
I want:
  • not to be made/broken as a viable tank by having/lacking an Empyrean or Relic shield
  • not to feed mobs way more TP by getting hit than any other job does evading
  • Flash's effect and accuracy to be improved
  • damage dealing potential to be improved while single wielding a sword/shield combo (occasional counter when blocking an attack?)
  • more Shield Mastery
  • way better Defense Bonus traits. Though this may be broken for normal mobs, NM's usually hit many times harder.
  • new divine magic nukes
  • better Magic Attack gear or give us traits for the above item
  • reduce Divine Emblem recast
  • Cover to be self targeted and anyone standing behind me gets covered
  • A shield-block stance. At sacrifice of offense and healing abilities (Slow +100%?) a 100% block rate for a short duration. I'm thinking as a countermeasure for Hundred Fists or a predictable TP attack, filling up the gap between Reprisals and making Tower-size shields more useful.
So there. Now I can go back to being disappointed by the actual adjustments.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Leveling Ninja and Gamayun solo

The journey I took to leveling ninja involved getting it up from 48 leeching. Pulling in an Altepa party at level ~70 (which went surprisingly well with some random evasion gear). Pulling in a BLU burn leech party from lv 85 to 88. That last one was pretty awesome as I got to use Danzo sune-ate and some more THF-inherited evasion gear to pull all the Tauri in Vunkerl comfortably with only 2 regen Atmas. At 88 I took a break and recently I started skilling up my Katana and Ninjutsu which got me enough exp to break 89, which is where I'm still at right now.

I got me Ninja Chainmail, because it's still very good to TP in and got me Iga legs +2 thanks to some stones I had stored up form many Sobeks. I finished off Iga feet thanks to Argonar and soon after the +2 thanks to Cyrille and Kingcem. My TP set is pretty decent with the exception of still missing Iga head. Lots of other pieces are leftover from other jobs. Yesterday I even got me Iga Erimaki (the neck piece) which makes it look like everything is coming along nicely. However, there is a huge gaping hole in my TP gear where a main-hand Katana should be. I'm thinking about an evasion Sekka+2. Other than there's Oriandori and the new Katana from Dynamis Windurst. that I have a Kamome and Hiwa until I ding 90 at which point I have a Kogara. As cool as two black kunai models looks and as awesome as low-delay weapons are, I will still feel really gimp doing Blade: Jin in a 40 DMG weapon.

Speaking of Blade: Jin. That is quite a disappointment coming down from Evisceration. I almost want to main-hand Twilight Knife at this point. With capped dagger merits and no Blade: Hi, it might not be so bad. An amazing piece of gear if you don't have Blade: Hi is Iga Ningi +2. Stats galore for WS, and so much so that it's sometimes better than Ninja Chainmail to TP in, though I'd have to run the numbers to exactly when and by how much. Right now the numbers are very variable and I've WS'd as low as 400 and as high as 1.8k while skilling up (only had RR for damage at the time). The WS set is thrown together like most other stuff, but I wouldn't call it "bad". Some notables: Aias Bonnet, which carries over. I've also been using Rager Leggings cus they seem intuitively better than anything else I have thanks to uncapped Katana skill. Necklace is Asagaya's, though it should be Breeze Gorget, which is in storage. Pants are Tumbler Trunks. Back is Atheling. Belt is Anguinus. Body is (don't laugh) Byrnie+1. It's a crappy piece for Jin, but I'm really looking to save inventory and I don't have anything better at the moment. Ninja Tekko +1 seem really nice for Jin, but no way I'm going to spend time on that! Gimping it up!

The biggest reason for leveling NIN was wishing I could sub NIN and DNC at the same time while playing THF. It sounds strange, but a lot of THF's want to play like DNC and NIN. SE won't really let them, by giving them no (native access to) Stun, reasonable means of recovering HP, debuffs and damage increasing abilities that apply to solo or tanking situations. I honestly think they could all be solved by giving THF exclusive access to a new set of strong X-Bow ammunition, but that's just because I'm nostalgic for the days when X-Bows were a THF staple and very useful. Acid bolts are still very useful when pulling but that hasn't been relevant for me in a long time. A guaranteed critical hit from any direction that also works on WS sounds like something THF should have had a long time ago and now DNC and soon WAR will be able to do this. I'm digressing. My NIN was meant to solo stuff I couldn't on THF and where TH didn't matter as much. To put it plainly: VNM's.

Gamayun Solo
After all this talk about NIN you might expect me to talk about how I used my freshly leveled/geared NIN to take down Gamayun. However, I used THF. I decided that my THF is so much better geared than NIN at this point that it's still the better choice. Assuming debuffs wouldn't land on NIN and that meds would cover damage taken from Aerial Blast I went out last night to give it a shot.

There was no competition for it. It was hanging out around its endpoint among the Sinister Siedels. The first fight I had most filters on so I couldn't count shadows using log messages. I played it safe for the most part. I recast shadows when I hit 1 shadow despite the frequent double attacks. Gamayun seems to have normal old-world attack speed (240 delay) unlike a lot of new NM's. Evasion from two Kila's was enough to seemingly cap evasion and tanking was comfortable. The few times I did take melee damage it was around 250 per hit with a bit of enaero damage on top. Mounted Champion made up for that comfortably.

Gamayun took very low damage from melee. Crits (with only RR for damage) were averaging around 50 and WS around 500. I used some drinks the first fight to speed it up and they made a big difference, but didn't last all that long. I don't know if it's just piercing damage or all physical damage in general, but the defense/resistance seems higher than Koios or Chione.

Aerial Blast did 1609 damage exactly each time. I had Future Fabulous Atma and was fulltiming Twiligh Torque and Defending Ring. Accounting for those the unmodified damage is upwards of 2800. Which was more than my HP pool at the time. Damage taken from AB could have been regenned. However, to be safe you'd have to stop feeding it TP until you could survive a second AB. Instead of doing that I used meds. Both fights it only used AB three times and Whispering Wind once. With bad luck it could really drag out and become an epically long fight.

NIN would be better at this if it was equally skilled/geared, but right now it's not. I'm still assuming that NIN is needed to solo Chione and that THF can't do it reliably. I might have to go out and try again before making up my mind.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Empyreans Ease and Popularity

The 10th Vana'diel Census confirmed what we all already knew, that Empyrean weapons are far more numerous than Relic weapons and of course the disproportionately difficult Mythic weapons (I hate it when people call them Mystics...). They take so much less time to bring to a usable level than relics and mythics that it's hardly a surprise.

On top of the overall faster acquisition is the fact that Abyssea time was not and certainly is not a limiting factor anymore. That means that you're almost always able to work on your Empyrean for as long as and as frequently as you're able to play FFXI. Technically if you consider farming gil to buy currency equal to working on your relic/mythic then the same could be said for those types. However, one of the most efficient ways of obtaining gil IS farming currency, so it's not exactly in the same league.

The seperate paths of Empyreans have notably differing levels of difficulty. For the weapons the trophy stages are:
Glavoid - Itzpapalotl - Orthrus (Dagger, Great Axe)
Chloris - Ulhuadshi - Dragua (H2H, Polearm, Scythe)
Briareus - Sobek - Apademak (Sword, Katana)
Fistule - Bukhis - Alfard (Axe, Bow, Club)
Carabosse - Cirein Croin - Isgebind (Great Katana, Gun, Great Sword)
Kukulkan - Sedna - Azdaja (Staff)

Since the instrument and shield don't have NM and VNM stages their difficulty is different, but for those:

Iron Plates - Colorless Souls - Azdaja/Apademak (Shield/Harp)

For weapons the La Theine path is generally considered the easiest overall path and Tahrongi the hardest. I agree with that consensus and would add that both Carabosse and Cirein require few people to kill and can both be solo'd. Carabosse would take a long time, but it can be done. For shield/harp I'd consider them overall to be harder despite having fewer trials, because of the VNM system which artificially creates more competition and forces a longer time to completion unless you get a lot of help/extra T3 pops.

Yes, you could buy trophies from groups that don't need them, but with the exception of Fistule, Cirein and Briareus there are no easy ways to get Empyreans solo (if that even counts as solo) unless you brew everything. If you have trouble getting help then your best bet is farming the popset yourself and trying to trade upgrade items for help. I don't know if the "[NM] farm. Trophy: X. 1/?" shouts really work. I imagine you'll have a hard time getting competent helpers since most dedicated players will have the majority of their AF3 upgraded.

As for brewing. Cruor farming is pretty fast with 2 or 3 people. Enough that you could get 100k+ in a short evening of play. Some NM's are easier to brew than others, but if you really had to you could manage doing it all completely solo. It'd take you a long time of hardcore cruor and popset farming, but the fact that the Abyssea system makes it possible to be 100% independent if you had to, makes a big difference.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Walk of Echoes changes and FFXI rewards systems

From the Official Forums:

Q. If you fail to clear the area will you receive any reward at all? Will it be like campaign union where even though time runs out you will still get a treasure chest after you have been evaluated?
A. There will be no reward if you fail to clear the area.

Q. I’d like to know whether the brown treasure casket that everyone can lot on upon clearing an area will be removed or if they will remain.
A. It will be removed. Think of it as all the items up till now will be either added or taken away from each player’s rewards.

As far as I know there currently hasn't been a definitive decision about making WoE a closed area or keep it open like it is now. Initially they wanted to close it off, but due to the amount of feedback on the Official Forums they decided to have a vote. Regardless of that point they will be making it so that NOT clearing an area won't give you any rewards. Forcing people to clear the area will probably mean forcing some type of cooperation/planning/strategy.

I'm all for strategy and planning, but I'm not eager to have to gather people against their will to do this event. There is nothing in it for anyone except a few rare situational pieces of gear and of course coins right now. So you'd think the obvious route would be to make WoE appeal to a larger audience. I think it's only natural that they add new and interesting drops to draw more people to the event than just those after upgrading their knock-off Empyrean. I can only hope that they do a better job at it than Dynamis. Although the new weapons and accessories that drop off the Arch bosses are good. The main draw of Dynamis is still the currency. I'm sure that I am not alone in thinking that the drops are not enough to get someone in there if they don't care about currency/gil.

A personal reward at the end of the battle sounds like voidwatch, and we all know how happy poeple are about THAT system. That was sarcasm. Getting something you don't want isn't so bad. Seeing someone ELSE getting something they don't need and you DO (desperately) want is quite a bit more painful. FFXI and other MMO's have the bad habit of giving you a chance at something after you've completed a challenge. If you win a race/challenge in the real world, you generally know beforehand what the prize is. It might not be why you're competing, but it's not a gamble. The winning team of any sport at the end of the season gets a bonus in their paycheck, not a Powerball lottery ticket (maybe as an extra!). I understand that developer don't want the very best rewards to be too easy to obtain, but they seem to re-forget the lessons they learned in the past.

Remember Assault Points? You had to do a bunch of assaults before having enough points to get your reward with varying prices. Ichor from Einherjar worked the same way. These were great systems because they allowed you to save up points to be spent on the EXACT thing you wanted, not a random thing. Although there are problems with the Empyrean trials (mostly just the large differences in difficulty and the crappy VNM system), they are essentially the same slow progression of saving up trophy items like they were points. Over the course of 50 items the relatively high droprate evens out. If you made each stage a single trophy that had a 1 in 50 chance of dropping, you'd see a much larger variation of streaks in the playerbase. Some people would go 1 for 1, while others could take 100+ turns. Where is the sense/logic in that? That is in essence what a large part of FFXI's reward system STILL is. I got a defending ring recently. Yay me, but what's the point of making such a strong and desirable item so varyingly difficult to obtain? Depending on your "luck" a relic is more attainable. Mog Bonanza rank1 seems to agree. The same varying results applies to the conversion of NQ to HQ pops.

To top it all off, SE's random number generator seems very prone to streaks and "favoratism". I'm not knowledgable enough on statistics to know if you could even prove such a theory, but it does seem like more than just an anecdotal claim. Tiny probability combined with large time investments per iteration do not a good rewards system make. Please developers, let me save up for my rewards. I don't expect it NOT to be a grind, it's an MMORPG after all. I just want some light at the end of these tunnels.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Defending Ring Get!

Last week Thursday I had planned with 3 other people to do a few KSNM 99 battlefields. I personally did not want to do Turtle or Behemoth because the chance at HQ is so low and the drops off the NQ Kings were of no interest to me. Since I still want a Hecatomb Cap and a Ridill is still a fun toy I wanted to do the Wyrm. However, Korhil needed tongue and egg for Black Belt and a minuscule chance at a Defending Ring is better than no chance at all.

The setup was WHM (Cyrille), SMN (Korhil), BRD (Jesseblue) and a THF tank (me). Without having used the Scherzo + Earthern Armor before, all I knew about it was how well it worked on the tougher Voidwatch NM's.

I hadn't done this KS99 before at all, so knew very little about it. It casts pretty frequently and so keeping the Scherzo/EA up was pretty important. Sometimes they'd go down just as Meteor hit, but usually at least one of them was up. At just under 1.4k HP I was dropped as low as 200 HP on regular Meteors. I wasn't at max HP at the time as I believe the highest damage for regular Meteors I saw was around 800. Only one of the "final" Meteors killed me and. The others were long gone and EA wore off a second or two before the spell connected and so it was really flukey.

The battlefield clear times were around 11 minutes. I used Red Curry Buns and Aura Stole its warcry for some nice Attack numbers. I was a bit surprised to see a 1.8k Dancing Edge outside Abyssea. I used two evasion Kila's and evasion seemed capped, I don't know how much less I could have done with, but as it stood one cast of Utsu: Ni would almsot always las until the next Meteor hit.

NQ Behemoth
I loved blazing through it at max speed. Everyone joined in and meleed as it was really easy. I tried getting TH upgrades but iirc never ended up with more than TH7. I knew the droprate on HQ pop was low so I was really happy to see one Savory Shank drop.

King Behemoth
It seemed to cast less frequently than the KS99 version and did perhaps a little bit more damage per spell. We fought it the same way as the KSNM version and the results were the same as well. It had a bit more defense and HP and the fight took about 17 minutes (I used Mug timer as an indication).

Then the unexpected happened and a Defending Ring dropped! Since it was Korhil's pop we kind of waited for him to make a decision. We hadn't discussed item distribution at all beforehand since we never expected this. Korhil was the only one there for the BB item so he got it naturally. He suggested we freelot the ring (he's a hero) and I won the lot.

Defending Ring
What it means for my RDM PDT set is that I get up to 50% without using hands, legs (were already obsolete), head and feet slots. My HQ darksteel pieces for those can probably go into storage now as I don't use them on other jobs. That means I get to keep movement speed and two tics of refresh while running away or some melee gear while face tanking. Not to mention I obviously replaced the Dark Ring in my idle set with it, which makes my idle set 41% to 47% PDT (at night) and all I need to do to hit the 50% cap is swap in a Darksteel Harness and augmented Dark Ring. Since I dont'use spellcast I don't think it's worth making a different set for nighttime.

For THF it means 23% MDT (crappy thrown together set) and for PLD it's pretty much fulltime piece. My macros are still pretty incomplete for PLD since 90% of what I use it for is AoE farming.

I don't know if the drop rate was adjusted and you can imagine that at this point I don't really care. I hope it's still rare as hell so that I can feel special! Still: good luck to anyone trying.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Apademak trio

I finally got the chance to use up the Apademak pop I had been holding on to for months. Since Kingcem has his Kannagi now and could use the horns, we went out there trying to "prove a point". Namely that Apademak is not hard.

The setup was RDM/DRK + NIN/DNC + WHM. Why DRK sub when you can get stun from /BLM? I've cast stun by mistake before, reacting to something I'm not supposed to, so I was thinking of using Weapon Bash from DRK sub in case that happened. The damage from a single NIN took about 15 min to kill it IIRC. However, I'm not sure if evasion gear was used. I should probably find out. Kingcem's NIN is pretty well geared and I'm not sure an average NIN could do the same. Why is that important? Because Apa builds stun resistance and towards the end of the 15 min I would start to see resists. I used both Future Fabulous and some Haste gear to lower my Stun recast. I could have done with less and can switch to something like Ultimate to increase my magic accuracy. The second fight I nuked a bit to help take it down faster. I had my damage filters on so I wouldn't miss Apa's spells in chat spam. Because of that I can't really see how hard my nukes hit. I'd cast Haste and Addle between stuns when needed, other debuffs don't seem to stick to the point that I just gave up.

With only Tenebrous Mist and Dreadstorm (beause it was tanked from the side) the WHM didn't have much to do either. So there's some freedom there for if you want grellow weakness. A second melee kills it faster and so Stun resistance would be even less of an issue. I'm thinking a Duo is very possible but enmity cap might become an issue.

During the last fight I tried letting Thundaga3 go unstunned towards the end to postpone resistance build-up, thinking that AoE's couldn't be self-targetted. To my surprise it was and it DID level up. So even though I expect that you could fiddle around with your chat filters (making only self-targetted spells show up) to make sure you only stun the necessary spells, I'll personally stick to stunning everything and killing faster.

A few weeks later
We did another 5 Apademaks and we had some extra help this time. With the damage from a BLM and THF the fights did seem shorter, but again I didn't time it precisely. On the last one I would estimate it took 8 minutes because when it was at 20% my composure timer (which I used at start) was just reaching zero.

This time I didn't have my own damage filtered and with Ultimate on the Bliz4's were doing a respectable 1.2k damage. Towards the end of one of the fights I pulled hate with a nuke which could be disastrous if you get hit with Dreadstorm and it nukes right after. So I toned it down and limited my nukes to about 4 or 5 per fight.

This time I used Ultimate for the extra magic accuracy, MM because always... and Future Fabulous for recasts again. It seemed to happen at least once per pop that it would start casting before my timer was up. Sometimes as much as 5 seconds were left on the recast. Fortunately with Addle on it takes long enough to cast that no spell got through. I would consider equiping AF2 body and Goading Belt for the recast reduction next time, but all in all a single stunner seems a safe bet. Not a single Stun was resisted this time around.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Briareus solo & Brulo duo

Nothing special about Briareus solo, you say? Give it a minute. At the time of this writing I've solo'd this mob as THF/NIN 4 or 5 times. Each went down without a hitch thanks in great part to temp item meds.

With the huge evasion double EVA daggers give you on top of THF skill + traits, the only challenge in this fight is regaining HP in between Mercurial Strikes enough to be safe from the next one. Since 1111 is the most damage they can do, you'll want at least that much. However, to cover myself from bad luck I always took a wider margin. To do this I didn't use meds exclusively, but also used Mounted Champion (20HP regen) as one of my Atmas. Colossal Slam can only be done outside of Meikyo Shisui when Mercurial hits for 888 and 999 damage. When that happens you can wait a few attack round until it's close to being able to TP and start running backwards while in first person. This means you'll still be able to land melee hits, but will already be moving away when it starts charging the tp move. Unless you encounter an obstacle while running back, you will be out of the AOE range of Colossal Slam when it goes off, just like when you SHOULD be running when it 2hr's after a 1111 damage Mercurial. This means Colossal Slam can be completely neutralized and the regaining HP, as said before, remains the only challenge. Trebuchet and Mercurial damage will add up. You could easily turn around and hold Bria while you let Regen do all the work, but that will really slow you down.

Limiting TP moves in this fight also greatly reduces the need to wait for regen or the number of meds required. This would go for all solos, so using Subtle Blow and AGI where possible is more of a general advice. I have the following sources of Subtle Blow in my gearset: Asagaya's Collar, Nusku's Sash, Heed Ring and Dragon Harness. That's right, I melee in Dragon Harness. The sacrifice in speed, which leads to longer fights, is worth it when it's not a magic casting mob, and longer doesn't necessarily mean riskier. Plus 10 Subtle Blow is pretty rare in a single slot. There is also AGI on it, which since a recent patch also affect TP fed per attack. For this same reason the AGI on the evasion daggers are extra useful. TP feed is severely reduced thanks to all these factors.

Having some close calls while trio'ing this it seemed like a tough fight to duo. The hate cap was reached about 3 quarters into the fight the first time around. This lead to a nasty cycle of the tank needing to melee to get hate while at the same time taking considerable damage from spikes that he would require healing and the mages would pull hate again. With this enmity bouncing it wasn't a big surprise that mages got hit with Inferno. We made several mistakes. No reliable way of dealing with spikes. No way for the mages to avoid capping hate. Not enough defense against Inferno. These three problems only needed two solutions. Using Accession Phalanx a large portion of the spikes damage was nullified, leaving Regen2 to take part of almost all the other damage taken (form spikes). This reduces healing needed and enmity cap becomes much less of an issue as long as you don't cast unnecessarily. The second thing we did was using Future Fabulous Atma which made Inferno do about 50% of the tank's HP (don't remember exactly how much it was). FF on top of no other MDB reduces magic damage by 33%, so taking that into account it should be survivable either way with a decent HP pool and an MDT set.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I think Paladin is a pretty cool guy... tanks trains of mobs and doesn't afraid of anything. When I took PLD up from 75 to 90 I didn't expect to use it much nor bother to gear it. Someone posted a video of their Ochain PLD tanking a train of Mandragoras while taking 0 damage and I was impressed. I decided to give it a try and it turns out any 'ol PLD can do the exact same thing. I was using Mounted Champion at the time as the only defensive Atma.

I put some more effort into my PDT set and tried different mob types. It works on most melee-oriented mobs as long as their level is below yours. PLD builds TP rather fast through Shield Mastery. Especially when using a small buckler type (size 1) shield with in combination with Reprisal, the TP starts building fast enough to self-SC (requires roughly 10+ mobs). PLD gets access to Aeolian Edge depending on its sub-job. Since I only need Mounted Champion that leaves two Atma slots for boosting AE damage (Gales + Ultimate). I generally stick to RDM sub for the extra MAB and without Ascetic's Tonic I usually do around 1.1k damage per WS. It takes about 5 WS to kill most trains completely.

Easy Prey mobs will often hit for 0 damage when their attacks get blocked, even by a small shield. This means that thanks to Phalanx there is no benefit to a larger shield in this particular application. It's sometimes hard to find a mob family that isn't being killed so you can pull trains uncontested without the mobs leveling up after each wave.

Being able to AoE farm solo has made it possible for me to get my lv90 Masamune done much faster and now work on the La Theine phase of my Almace without bothering other people for help whatsoever. PLD can tank Pantagruel while taking 0 damage on blocks and for some reason I've yet to understand, USUALLY stops its Ice Spikes form showing up when it hits you with Ice Roar. When that happens, the NM doesn't use Moribound Hack. PLD has a decent number of red procs so that's a nice plus. I managed to solo Grandgousier with some meds on PLD, but after changing atmas I found out WAR/NIN can solo Grandgousier just as well (Cloak&Dagger/Siren Shadow/MountedChampion + assorted EVA gear) and with more WS procs available than any other single job. Adamastor is a joke and Briareus is an easy solo on THF/NIN. That takes care of LTP. Thanks to Guku KI form chests my AoE farming on PLD will be useful in the second leg as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How was this stuff ever hard

All the while I wasn't making new entries I was still playing FFXI. I find it hard to think of everything I've done in that time as it's not like I write stuff down, take regular screenshots or parse everything. Also, I may be getting old, because my memory is failing me. Since there have been no more LS events in such a long time I've spent time doing stuff on my own or with very small groups. Revisiting old NM's we had done in larger groups and dispatching them with ease prompts me to ask "How was this stuff ever hard?".

Eccentric Eve wasn't hard when we did it as a group. However, people did fail to Stun the breaths at one point. Loads of people hit the floor because of charm and EBB. Getting pops while farming for Dark Rings (still yet to see 6% anything) is a natural side-effect so it's a very acessible NM. It turned out to be a simple duo NIN+RDM. Relying on Violent Flourish is kinda wonky. Subbing BLM on RDM removes status cures form the arsenal which can be a hassle for the tank, but /DNC will take care of that eventually.

Kukulkan was a bit tougher. The terror gaze attack REALLY slows down what is otherwise a very simple fight. The unremovable poison is painful, but at 90 NIN evades most of it and RDM can cure through it. There are some trees that make it really easy to kite if you have to. I believe we duo'd it 4 times. The last one I nuked through the gazes to speed up the fight. Knowing how to kite around the trees means you can go all out.

Isgebind seemed really rough when we first fought it. While getting hearts for Masamune we trio'd it twice, once using the "healer outside of party" trick (avoiding Spike Flail) and tanking it on its tail.

There's loads of stuff like Ironclad Smiter (3 ppl), Ansherekh (solo), Titlauacan (trio/duo), Lusca (duo), Amhuluk (duo) and many more that really seem easy the 'second' time around. However, the biggest difference in difficulty for me personally was doing Glavoid recently. It's clear now that with a tank a healer and a stunner you can trio it very reliably. Each time you fight something you can learn from it to get better at it, but it feels like you learn MUCH faster when you're either soloing or low-manning things. Probably because it's less chaotic and/or you're more focussed. It's fun to see things get easier as you figure them out. Too bad we have to do a ton more of them for empyreans and it gets less fun each time. However, for me there's still a bunch of things left to try.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekend update 17

This has little to nothing to do with the passed weekend, but I've started naming these entries this way and I am nothing if not committed to naming schemes! This is just a round-up of random things.

I was playing around with MNK sub-job, seeing if I could get any decent counter rate going. Unfortunately with Gnarled Horn and Counterstance I only got up to 60~65%. It's probably a bit higher. I believe I wasn't always facing all targets. This screenshot is to show the difference between damage taken with and without Counterstance. It's worth noting that Phalanx was on and that against mobs with high attack, the difference wouldn't be as pronounced.

Random picture of Chloris. He's a big boy.

This was the EXP alliance I was in when I was taking PLD up. There was no cleaving/aoe'ing so the number of TE's was a bit surprising. Rocking Vorpal Blade was a lot of fun once I was able to equip that Hannibal sword. It's surprising to see how you can go from basically leeching at 75, to leading the pack at 90.

I've had renewed interest in Salvage because of Dark Depths Atma. I'm not very keen on getting any pieces completed, since that would likely mean a bit of a grind despite the improved drop-rates. It also seemed like fun to go back at lv90 and see how the mobs that gave us a hard time would measure up now. I didn't have as strong a DD class as I do now in SAM, so it's not just the levels that are different. I'm aslo convinced that the group we went in with the last two times was more competent/versed than before. You live and you learn...

Here's parse data of Long-bowed Chariot:

That was two weeks ago. Last weekend we did Zhayolm Remnants. Made some poor decisions on the way up, because I suck at Salvage and don't even remember doing this zone ever. I ended up fighting Battleclad Chariot wearing just AF3 head and body because we went up on the wrong side on the first floor. A lot of HP, but otherwise a very simple fight. Going by the number of times I got hit and that the Long-bowed parse shows a low evasion rate, I don't see why we couldn't have done it at lv75. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

Awesome Music Tip #6 (oldie)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review of NM on Masamune path

This is perhaps a bit premature, seeing as how I've yet to finish the current set of GK Empyrean trials. However, I can always tag another entry on at the end when I have more experience with Isgebind. Out of the 10 or so times I've killed it I was in a group of at least 6 people. What I've learned about all the previous NM's is that it's easier to notice certain mob patterns/behavior once you've fought it at a slower pace with fewer people.

I've posted about soloing Urd on SAM/DNC. If you can't get help this seems like a reasonable option. Thankfully I only needed to do it once. A BST can solo it despite the hate reset. Since Trance is a good warning for its triple WS, any DD+Mage duo should be able to take it out at level 90. The most annoying part is popping Skuld instead and trying to lose her. They fly pretty fast.

Lamprey Lord is a bit annoying. You'll want a "proper" evasion tank for it. Either that or get a bunch of melee to kill it quick. One of the pickup groups I did it with had a DNC and about 3 SAM spamming Violent Flourish, Tachi: Hobaku and Blade Bash. It was a short fight with very little damage taken as it was obviously stun-locked for a large portion of the fights. I'd recommend bringing a bunch of antidotes. They're not expensive at npc's and it's much easier to use it on yourself than to rely on a mage, whose first reaction is probably to cast cure before poisona. Antidotes can make the difference, but tanks should also try and blink tank like it's an HNM. Recast shadows as soon as possible, because evasion is random and it has a very high rate of triple and double attacks.

SAM can probably tank it in a duo due to decent evasion skill rating, but it's more prone to mistakes and bad luck than a NIN or a DNC. The hate reset on the Acid Mist ability is a bit of an issue. I don't recall if everyone hit by Acid Mist gets their hate reset, but it's a good idea to have the mage in range anwyay. Once Acid mist goes off the tank should try and get a spike in enmity to get it off the mage asap or avoid it going after the mage at all. Kiting just prolongs the time it's on the healer. If TP feed can be limited a duo is ok, but at least a trio would be my advice.

Chesma is a step down from Lamprey and can be duo'd without any issues. Losing hate in this fight means very little if the healer is prepared, because its damage output is much less threatening than LL. Just cast stona as soon as you see it charging up. As long as you haven't had to spam cure4 up to this point, the melee should be able to get it off quickly. Chesma and Tammuz were hard to find up when I did them. Japanese groups cycled through them continuously and yet I very rarely saw any shouts for them.

Farming pops for Carabosse solo is very simple if you have something with half-decent evasion and DNC sub or a crit hit WS. I'll tell you why in a sec. Baba Yaga only casts spells and throws arrows. The arrows have very low accuracy, but if they land the Amnesia will slow you down a bit (not dangerous) so some evasion here helps. Since it doesn't attack normally and casts mostly harmless spells like silencega, it doesn't really matter what job you're on. The key is to have some meds to cure if you don't have other sources of healing and a job with a lot of red WS to save time. The fly NM (La Theine Lieje) doesn't do TP abilities unless it successfully casts Aeroga3. In which case it will spam Venom 3 to 7 times in a row. A strong multi-hit crititical WS will interrupt its casting reliably. Moreso than Violent Flourish. However, if you're solo you may not manage 100TP more than once per spellcast. So if you want to try your red WS you need another way to interrupt its casting. Even if it does land the spell, you can outrun the 2nd+ Venom and recover with meds. I did both mobs on THF for the most part. Usually subbing NIN and equiping Mounted Champion Atma.

Carabosse itself has the potential to nuke very hard. However, once you learn that it can only do this under Winter Breeze, then you can forget about it until is changes seasons and then easily swap in some MDT gear if shadows are down or if it's Aeroga3. If you're lagging or not confident you'll be fast enough you can just keep it on until it changes seasons again, which shouldn't take long. You need to do something for each season so just make sure you have your chat-filters off and pay attention.
  • Winter Breeze: Stun nukes and/or swap in MDT
  • Spring Breeze: casts aoe debuffs. Remove debuffs and keep on trucking. Can wait to cast shadows until it changes out if you want to.
  • Summer Breeze: Dispel Regain (or Aura Steal it!!! really nice to have 10 TP/tic). Ride out the the Mute off Torrent and reapply all buffs after Turmoil.
  • Autumn Breeze: Dispel Regen. I guess you could stun cures as well, but she's fast.
Maybe not worth its own section once you know how to do it, but I guess it can't hurt going over it. Bring some meds. I usually made sure to have Lucid potions 1, 2 and 3. You can get potion3 from Bastion Prefect for 50 credits. Occasionally doing some bastion between pops will keep your credits up. Another thing to get off the prefect is a Fool's Powder. It's not NEEDED, but it casts spells in pairs below 25% and it's nice to just kill it asap at low HP and not risk two Waterjas killing you.

Pulling it requires you to deaggro the train unless you get lucky with where it pops. I didn't bother pulling it when there was competition around. However, it IS possible to get it before it deaggro's and still have Squibs deaggro. Either it takes longer for Heqet to deaggro or it has longer detection range. Also, I can recommend engaging, hitting it once then fleeing away (sprinter's/powder boots/job ability). You'll then stop to put away your weapons as you get out of range. This does NOT always make its name go yellow. If someone steals it at this point, you'll still be the first person to act on it since the last time it was idle and so will get the KI if they kill it. After doing this once or twice you'll know how far you need to run before stopping. It's hard to explain the distance so I won't try. Again, I did this on THF because it has evasion and so will take very little damage from anything but spells. Take it down while doing red weakness WS if you have any. Use your meds. If there's no competition you could repeatedly deaggro it, since it stops to cast. I did not do this because I didn't want to risk running out of meds. SMN's, DNC/NIN's and NIN/DNC's have very little trouble soloing this without meds. I believe BST can too, but have no personal experience with it. I'm just trying to show that with meds other jobs can too.

It pays to kill Ephmeral Murexes (potion2) and Jala (potion3 and fool's) for temp items, it'll save you some cruor and credits. All in all soloing Heqet is just a matter of killing it fast and staying alive. With enough meds you could potentially do a lot of red WS. Something with evasion and a lot of weapon skills like NIN/WAR would probably be the best use of your time. Nobody wants to go 0/8 on the KI like I did. It's not a solo you'll tell your friends about, but it makes lv85 Masamune much more attainable, especially since Cep is soloable too.

Cep Camuy
Yea, why not? I think the reason why I want to talk about Cep is because I bought a Frenzy Sallet especially for this NM. Not having to take a 200-300 damage hit to wake yourself up, which could take a long time, and almost instantly continuing the fight is a big plus. It only cost me 400k and I'm not selling it back. Being able to wake up from sleep independantly is just great.

Seaspray and Leeching current are both annoying. So there's a 50/50 chance that its TP ability will be annoying. However, using some subtle blow (or if you're a Ninja) will make things a lot easier. I've come to appreciate Dragon Harness much more, thanks to its +10 Subtle Blow. It also helps me kill Ancient Orobon (decent amount of HP) for cheekmeat without them doing any TP abilities.

Does the same annoying TP abilities as all Orobon with the addition of Mayhem Lantern under 50% HP. It uses TP abilities back to back. Always in pairs.

In all the fights I've done it NEVER used Mayhem lantern as the first ability. So under 50% HP you can run away after the first TP ability and avoid Mayhem Lantern's charm. However, while this is worth doing, if the first ability is Hypnic Lamp and you get slept, then it's pretty much impossible to avoid the charm unless you're constantly DoT'ed and can wake up form sleep asap. I suppose you could use pachira fruits for this as long as you start running each time it TP's. In that case, even if you get slept, you'll have already taken a few steps and be far enough away that you COULD outrunt he charm. Having Treasure Hunter is nice, so a THF+mage duo could use this strategy. If the mage can land gravity and/or the THF wears some dusk pieces to slow them down, charm can be dealt with relatively simply. RDM/SCH or SCH/RDM can save Manifestation Gravity/Bind for this purpose. Don't try to sleep charmed people, the charm is accompanied by drown effect (DoT). Just make sure you realise that if the last person who took action on CC gets charmed it may go unclaimed.

I almost forgot, it also does Deathgnash, which could be dangerous if shadows are down. A follow-up hit would kill you. I'd recommend a DD + THF + healer trio, where one of the melee stays out of range to avoid charm. Going in only for a few hits in between TP abilities. This gives you both TH and a decently fast killspeed. A kite+nuke strategy is just as good, but I expect it to be a bit slower.

So far I haven't really started on this one yet. The same Flail tanking technique as used on Azdaja (and perhaps other wyrms as well) can be applied here. A healer outside the party with claim won't get hit with it. However, it can still use the Wing ability, unlike Azdaja. The main benefit of this is that it won't use any Roar abilities (nor Terror), which is a hate reset and would make it hard to duo otherwise.

Fighting it normally (on paws) is a matter of survival. A pair of evasion tanks with some decent magic defense kits (Atma of a Future Fabulous is exactly that... fabulous) will not be in great danger of getting killed. The paralyze effect + aura will make it a longer fight, but that's pretty much it. Heroes NM's generally have a ton of HP, so it's gonna be long anyway.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tachi: Fudo - day 2

I had a chance to test drive Fudo some more yesterday. I was sure that given my gear I should be able to crank out some more impressive numbers. So this time I subbed WAR and headed out to Misareaux to assist on some Cirein's and Heqets. I didn't bring food yet gain. I tossed out some kabobs the day before to make room for lanterns and forgot to buy some more.

I only started parsing a bit later on. If I filter out all mobs but Squibs I get the following:

Pretty good average Fudo damage, no? I admit, I cheated a bit by using Atma of the Griffon's Claw. That gives a 20% boost to WS damage, which is something you may use if you're planning on killing mobs with no concern for ruby lights or zerging NM's with 2hr and Sekkanokki. Otherwise RR or A&O will be better choices.

The next one is my latest record for Fudo damage.

The nice thing about this is that it's with Berzerk and Hasso, but not at full TP, without food and without BRD or COR. Guessing my PDIF to be at around 1.4, going to capped PDIF (2.25) would mean a 60% increase in damage. If my estimation of my own PDIF isn't too conservative. A similar Fudo would have the potential to do around 8k damage under more ideal circumstances.

Awesome Music Tip #5

Masamune 85!

I still can't hardly believe it, but last night I finished my lv85 Masamune. First an foremost I'd like to thank Lordapm, Kaidaa, Alexos, Doks, Appare and Oyasumi for getting me those 35 lanterns. Thanks to Auriban for setting me up. I would be short-changing some good people if I didn't mention those that helped on previous trials. So special thanks to Kingcem, Cyrille, Chaess and Xores for the VNM's and Carabosse.

It was a long night, but getting offered to finish the Masa seemed like a rare, maybe twice-in-a-lifetime offer! Being wednesday evening on Valefor, there wasn't much competition for Heqet. Mostly we just ran over and found it up unclaimed. We spread out and multi-tasked farming cheekmeat, popping Cep and camping Heqet. Doing it this way I can much better understand how people have been finishing Empyrean weapons so fast. Cirein died in about 5 minutes each time, and for whatever reason getting TH upgrades in that time was MUCH easier than a ~15 minute Carabosse fight. Admittedly, we did have two thieves.

So, I immediately go out to test the weapon. I have to say, the damage could have sucked and I'd probably still be happy. However, the damage didn't suck. I've seen what Fudo can do when properly buffed and geared, so if I metally compensate for not having attack buffs or food and BLM sub that I had forgotten to change due to excitement, then I expected to see what I did. This is my gear. Note that it's all the exact same gear I used for Gekko. As far as I know and with the exception of Kirin's Osode and STR ring, my WS set is very strong. Hachiryu Haidate is an upgrade, but the store TP on AF3 is usually necessary.

Ignore the Merman's ring, I didn't notice I had it on when I took the SS. That should obviously be a Rajas. This was the best one I could churn out in about 15 WS

Seeing as how Triple Attack is an important factor in getting big numbers out of SAM weaponskills, I am considering using Alpha and Omega instead of Razed Ruins. Alpha and Omega also has Attack, something that I will want to stack for Fudo. Unlike Gekko Fudo doesn't get a PDIF bonus, which means a big difference between high and low defense/level mobs. I didn't upload a screenshot, but I did manage a 836 damage critical hit.

I'll have to find excuses to play SAM now. Since I have RDM, THF and WAR with all red WS and WSNM's done, it may be difficult. Isgebind is an easy mob to pop and not all that hard to kill. However, for now I will go back and help others get their lv85 Empyereans done and upgrade some +2's.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekend update 16

I've experienced a renewed appreciation for THF recently. I've spent a lot of time on it while killing Carabosse and farming pops, so it seems natural that I'd want to gear it better. One of the three big upgradeable slots for my WS set was the head slot. I took care of that while in Attohwa recently.

Aias is likely better all-round than Hecatomb cap, though I'd still take the latter if some good upgrades become possible in the future. Special thanks to Anthx and Kingcem for tanking and blue'ing Yaanei.

Not wanting to risk bad luck I brewed Yaanei after we got blue weakness. I wasn't near a flux or martello so I lost some brew time. We looked desperately for stuff to kill, but in the end only managed a Whiro and Ironclad.

Before Yaanei we finished my Titlacuan popset which is what I needed to finish this thing:

I'm finally sitting at 24~25.5% Haste in my TP set on SAM.

We did some Misareaux Abyssea and got me 1 lantern (yay...) and some Coins off Amhuluk. That got me Raider's Culottes +2 which is met 5th +2 AF3.

I gave Shinryu another go, but I'm starting to get annoyed with that dragon. Those two bodies are pretty high in demand, so getting people to share loot with while being very greedy is kind of hard. I want to save the cruor for other Abyssea zones where you can kill more mobs with one brew. That'd mean killing Shinryu without brewing. Several stacks of Holy waters, WAR or MNK tank, a THF and at least two healers should be enough to get blue and kill it several times in one sitting. I've got more Traverser Stones than I know what to do with. Cruor on the other hand...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Samurai 4-hit: What you do when you don't have a Masamune

My Samurai's been steadily getting good gear and it really needs to get Fudo so that all of that gear matters. Until then, however, I'll have to make due with my Kikugosaku. The last bit of gear I got for SAM that's worth noting is Tactical Mantle. It brings me very close to being able to 4-hit the Kiku due to its relatively high 480 delay.

The initial impression of the mantle is one of "Holy hell, I need to sacrifice 35 Attack for that Store TP". The 35 based on the assumption that you'd normally wear an Atheling Mantle in that slot. Although PDIF is more complex than Attack/Defense, like I've said before, it's a fairly good approximation. So assuming something along the lines of 560 Attack, giving up that slot is a pretty big 6.25% of your melee damage and it doesn't end there. I'd have to give up a ring slot for Hoard Ring as well as swapping out Sword Strap for Rose.

This blog entry is me trying to figure out if it's worth the sacrifices. To achieve the needed 58 Store TP in gear (minimum). I can't even get that realistically yet, so all of this is purely academic. I'm missing +2 AF3 body and head pieces before this becomes possible. The following numbers are just meant to be an argument to inform certain gear choices. They're not intended to be precise performance indicators. Enough moping, to the chalkboard!

Going from 5 to 4 hits
This will always be a difficult thing to calculate because of Meditate and other forms of Regain. Your WS rate would theoretically be 1:4 with a 5-hit. That is one WS for every 4 melee hits. This gets lowered by Meditate and Regain, which in turn give you a bigger benefit if you're taking breaks between fights. I've parsed a 4.3 WS rate with a 6-hit build and 3.7 with a 5-hit so it's not an exact science.

Once we assume a certain WS-rate it doesn't say anything about our damage over time yet. To guage the impact over time we need to calculate "WS DPS". I quoted that because the term DPS usually applies to melee hits. Damage over time may be a better term depending on who you ask. The 1 WS hit has a static delay of 2 seconds and the rest of the melee swings have a duration that is affected by Haste and other delay reduction. Only counting gear Haste I'd be at 24% using a 5-hit set and 3% from sword strap. At perfect accuracy that's

120 delay (=2 seconds) + 4 * 480 * 0.76 * 0.97 = 1535 delay (=25.6 seconds)

Using my intended TP set for the 4-hit I'd have the same Haste, but no sword strap:

120 delay (=2 seconds) + 3 * 480 * 0.76 = 1214 delay (=20.2 seconds)

That's a 26.5% increase in WS DPS under one big assumptions that we KNOW is wrong. Namely: equal WS damage. I know that concessions need to be made in a WS set as well as the melee set. Let's forget about that for now and run the same numbers as above for a capped Haste (delay reduction) scenario to see what the difference is.

1/(120+3*480*0.2) / 1/(120+4*480*0.2) = 1.235

So there you see a 23.5% increase in WS DPS. Generalize it by averaging out the two scenarios to 25%.

WS damage sacrifices
Now think about how much weaker your melee hits and WS would have to be to not see a benefit from this. Your melee DPS will be lower from the lowered Attack and the lack of sword strap (unless capped delay reduction). Your WS DPS will be lowered by not being able to swap out the slots dedicated to Store TP: head, body, ring, back and feet. That really adds up. In STR alone it's a difference of 12, 15, 11, 5 and 8 for those slots respectively. For attack it's 24, -24, 0, 35, 15 in those same slots. Totaling 51 STR and 50 attack. The biggest sacrifice in a single slot is likely to be Snow Gorget in favor of Unkai Nodowa. Gekko base damage inside Abyssea would be something along the lines of this:

(Weapon DMG + WSC + fSTR) * fTP * cRatio =
(111 + (~250*0.83) + 19) * 1.66 * 2.25 = 1260
going down to
(111 + (~202*0.83) + 19) * 1.57 * 2.25 = 1044

That's a 17% decrease in WS damage on average (as well as over time). Not factored in is the amount of average WS damage that 3% Double Attack form Atheling adds. Each time DA procs it'll add about 64% to your WS damage, because additional hits of a WS have a PDIF of 1. 64% damage 3% of the time (not taking into account the decreasing returns of Double Attack) is about 2% damage. Lower it a bit and you'll be closer to the truth. It's enough to matter, so let's up the WS damage loss to 18.5%

Melee damage sacrifices
This is pretty straight forward. Atheling, Sword Strap and Ulthalam's ring are the sacrifices which adds up to 39 attack, 4 STR and 3% delay. Last time I checked my attack inside Abyssea was somewhere around 620 attack, though I could be wrong. I can't check since the servers are down. STR is gonna be pretty insignificant. 3% more delay is about 3% less DPS. So less damage 6.4% from attack and 3% less damage over time from extra delay is 0.937 * 0.97 = ~0.91. That's about 9% total loss of melee DPS.

Adding up the two forms of DPS or averaging them (it doesn't matter in this case since we're just multiplying) would be enough to compare the two situations. If I take a damage split of 65:35 for WS:Melee I can use those numbers for "damage".

1.25 * 0.83 * 0.65 + 0.91 * 0.35 = 0.99
= about the same if not weaker
= not worth your trouble
= what a waste of time!

Do we really need a conclusion after that last sentence? I believe so. One thing worth mentioning is that for some odd reason I decided to ignore the regain from VV while doing the WS damage calculations for inside Abyssea where you'd almost certainly use VV for SAM. The Regain isn't as clean as a true 5-hit, but if you drop the Tactical mantle you'll get 97 TP from 4 hits which is definitely enough for 2 tics of VV to put you over the top. That means you already HAVE a 4 hit inside Abyssea without much effort. On the other hand anywhere else you would still want the true 4-hit for which this calculation is a decent guideline. In fact, you can be quite certain that if the 4-hit is not worth it inside Abyssea then it most definitely is not worth it outside (where the sacrifices are more pronounced).

The hidden benefit of a 4-hit build is the possiblity to self-SC each time you get a Triple Attack. With Apocalpyse and Alpha&Omega atmas this can be very frequently. Since using Kiku implies not having Fudo, the best you can do is Gekko > Rana which in turn means that you'd usually need less Store TP after Rana. Food for thought, I suppose.

Awesome Music Tip #4

Monday, March 14, 2011

Solo brewing Shinryu

People have been brewing Shinryu solo for a while, but for a lack anything better to post about I'll try to convince everyone how easy it is so everyone can get their drops (eventually).

1x Primeval Brew
1x Doom screen
1x Samurai sub-job: Sekkanoki
several HP-recovery meds
equal amounts Atma of Apocalypse, Voracious Violet*, Mounted Champion**
copious amounts of cruor
*possible replacement: Sea Daughter
**possible replacement: anything to deal more damage

One of the most important things is to go early to regain enough TP to WS twice at the start of your chosen "Blue" weakness time-frame. I try to get there a bit after midnight game-time and I enter at 7:00 for piercing weakness.

Timing your WS is obviously important here. Don't forget to Sekkanoki. When you engage and run in it'll aggro and swing at you from pretty far away. I tried waiting for it to get to me so I could run back a bit and fight+die outside of its aggro range, but you'll get drawn in and it'll make things last much longer than necessary. Besides, it isn't really needed.

Just run into range and WS after the first swing is over, and another time after the second. If you got no weakness Hint-message for a weapon you can proc on then I just die and try again. The reason why I don't try for a 3rd WS is because you need to use some of the better meds for it. I'd rather save those up for when I really need them. The Shinryu fight's cost is negligable when you have a healthy stock of stones. Also, you can try up to 4 times in one fight. You could probably survive long enough to get enough TP from Meditate and melee swings if you used a Fool's powder/drink. The tier4 AoE spells can really hurt.

If you die within aggro range (very likely), it's important to be able to survive 1 attack from Shinryu. You won't be able to move (annoyingly slow raise animation) until after the first attack. I can imagine that as a Taru on a low-HP job this could be an issue. THF doesn' t have much defense and I usually got hit for a bit over 300 damage. I use a regen Atma so I don't have to spend precious cruor on potions between attempts. If you don't go too often, you'll liekly recover those meds slowly from fighting other NM's and regular mobs in Abyssea.

Of course, when you do get a good hint or actually proc the Blue weakness, use your Brew asap. You could macro it, but I'd like to avoid any "accidents". Way too many times have I said "Crap, used Convert by mistake". Brew then screen and go through your Blue WS. After a proc it stops attacking. It may take you by surprise. Iron Giants and Shinryu have regular attacks that count as "special" attacks, much like TP abilities. That's why Amnesia stops them from attacking.

I've never had much problems healing it for excessive amounts. Unlike Rani, it doesn't heal for more than it takes damage due to damage resistance. Shinryu has none, so it'll take full damage from your WS, which makes it a pretty short fight.

Some final notes
I do this on THF which gives me both Blue and Treasure Hunter. Personally I think this is one of the best jobs to do this on, given the low drop rates. Get used to seeing no gear drops and some Apkallu Eggs. So far, of all the armor drops, I've only gotten a Twilight Helm out of 5 fights. Actually, a Helm dropped twice but the second time it went to someone tagging along for the win.

Cruor is your bottleneck. Nobody cares about merits anymore these days, I'm sure. Farming cruor in an EXP alliance sounds like it makes sense, but I recently found out that cruor drops work the opposite way of EXP chains. For exp you want to keep killing the same family of mob, but for cruor you want to alternate mob families. It may be due to Abyssites, but after about 8 fights I capped out at around 480 cruor per mob, while alternating between Sandsweepers and Fear Dearg in Altepa. Ladybugs and Mandies seem to give the most cruor in that zone. EXP alliances should kill really fast so that it evens out, but let's be honest... they usually don't.

Awesome Music Tip #3

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pantrokrator and Apademak revisited

I noticed a lot of people ended up on this blog looking for Apademak and Pantokrator info (mostly Apademak) and I'm sure most of them were disappointed at the amount of actually useful advice. For this reason (but mostly because we recently did another pair of these) I'll go over the mobs once more and try to compress some of the info I've found more than just relaying what we did or didn't do.

The first thing that comes up when you look for advice on this mob is stopping it from leveling up. Taking lightning damage causes it to level up and supposedly so does it killing someone. I used to think it casting any spell caused the level up, but on our second fight I stuck around more and saw several single target spells going off on the tanks that weren't followed by level-ups. So stunning self-targeted spells is what you want to do. Self targeted spells could be missed if you have certain filters on, so you should check that out beforehand. It's easiest to just Stun all its spells.

Does it build Stun resistance? According to several accounts it does. However, with two BLM's alternating stuns they continued to land long into the fight and the only resist I remember seeing (I wasn't looking at all of them, admittedly) was of a WHM/BLM casting. I'm estimating 20 Stuns in, the BLM's were still able to land it.

Unfortunately we ended up missing a stun and I can't vouch for it not using Fulmination until after it levels up at least once. From what I read, it is a very tame and simple mob before it levels up. Dedicated stunners being as important as they are, it's worth using some haste and fast-cast to reduce the Stun recast timer as much as possible. At maximum reduction you're still looking at a 22 seconds recast. This looks like it would be short enough in for most spells, but it's not a guarantee.

When it levels up it follows up with a TP ability. Usually Fulmination, but also Lithic breath. Lithic breath inflicts a weakness. A second tank should be standing out of breath cone to take hate off the weakened tank. I read something interesting on BG about avoiding the breath attack. Apparently, despite the ability being instant and unstunnable (on reaction), as long as you're strafing around the mob (moving sideways while locked on to the target) you'll avoid the breath attack. Credit to Arthars for figuring that out and posting it. Someone added that the same thing can be done with Tyrannic Tusk on Sobek, which afaik is also conal.

In my personal opinion, gearing for lightning resistance doesn't pay off. Tanks will take too much of a hit with regards to damage output that it'll make the fight noticeably longer. Also, with barspell and lightning resist atma, the tanks still took considerable damage. I can't be exactly sure if they were 1/2 resists or full damage. In any case, the magic accuracy of Fulmination seems rather high.

Its evasion and defense go up very noticeably as it levels up. So if you plan on doing this with a small group and without a brew, then stopping it from leveling up is not only important, it's THE most important aspect of the fight. Evasion tanking it works fine. Both NIN and DNC at the last fight were doing well holding it. Damaging it became the biggest challenge at that point and we ended up brewing it after we got Blue weakness on it. No dagger drop though.

Pantokrator's 2hr's are the most annoying part about the mob. After learning that (much like the tiger NM in Uleg) the "chance" of it 2hr'ing is influenced by how much you heal it. While it TP's and casts. The 3 or 4 times it 2hr'd this last fight were all triggered by WS'ing during or otherwise doing a lot of damage while it's in "damage absorption" mode. It doesn't "prove" that that's how it worked, but it definitely seems consistent. If you fail to limit 2hr's, Fool's drink is fantastic for neutralizing Chainspell, and Fanatic's for Hundred Fists. If you have neither, throw in some stuns and don't try to kite it is all I can think of.

Towards the end Colossal Blow can make things rough if you currently only have one tank on it. It looks like its defense does go down as its HP goes down. I managed a 'normal' 2.5k Raging Rush on it when it was nearly dead, while early on I couldn't break 1k. DD's should limit their interaction with Panto to WS only. If you're using NIN tanks and its HP isn't below 25% then you have enough room for error to WS after a TP ability has gone off. As long as its magic casting timer isn't up. Tanks can take it down fast enough, so it's not an essential part of the strategy.

Of these two mobs, Panto is the easier one. It fits the pop-pattern of Caturae in Uleguerand (since there's no Caturae in that zone) and with Triturators different class compared to Smiter and Sunderer, you'd expect a much harder fight. However imho, Apademak takes the cake for most annoying mob in Heroes zones. Even Azdaja has become unimpressive since we tried and succeeded (after a shaky start) at tanking it from behind. I'm positive that making Apademak smooth is also a matter of getting the hang of it. The difference is that Apademak's leveling up and its increase in defense and strength are irreversible and so there's no forgiveness for mistakes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gearing Thief for Speed (Haste and Dual Wield)

Raider's Bonnet +2 versus Zelus Tiara
It's not always fair to make a straight comparisson like this without taking into account the context. In this case I'll try to consider the extreme situations. The haste difference is 2% between the two. The benefit of Zelus if you got the full benefit of that 2% at the highest possible Haste values (going from 78% to 80%) you'd see a benefit of 10% to your melee DoT. However, this situation is unrealistic because you have DW that will guarantee that you reach the delay reduction cap before 78% haste. If you assume 33% DW (I'll get back to that later) then you'd cap at 70% haste so we'd need to consider going from 68% to 70%.

(1/0.3) / (1/0.32) = ~1.07

So roughly a 7% melee DoT increase. Now I don't know about you, but I'm not Dboxing my own mage and BRD nor do I have the support to get to that 70% haste. With only haste spell the 2% haste scales down to only 3% DoT increase. So from 10% in an unrealistic situation all the way down to 3% depending on my own personal common situation. That just goes to show how your playstyle and assumptions factor in to how good any one stat is.

AF3's 3% Triple Attack would almost immediately seem like the winner. To be sure, let's assume a very high multi-attack rate with 3% quad attack, 33% triple (traits, Apoc atma, triplus) and 15% double (VV, Brutal). Now adding 3% triple attack to a setup that has an average of 1.9 attacks per swing is

1.96/1.9 = 1.03

So 3% versus 3% in a situation that greatly reduces Triple Attack's value. Outside of Abyssea this would be less of a contest and AF3 seems like the better overall piece.

Nusku's Sash versus Twilight Belt
This question actually has a context for me. I'm namely comparing these two setups.

It's hard to see because Nusku's and Twilight have the same Icon, but the first setup is capped haste using Loki's and Twilight Belt, and the second setup is 23% haste using AF3+2 body With Nusku's Sash.

Now these setups boil down to a rather subtle difference of:
Dagger skill +5 and Dual Wield +5
DEX+1, Store TP +7, Haste +3, Dbl. Atk +2, Crit hit damage +5%

Time to make some assumptions. Let's scrap 1 DEX. Let's assume Haste spell only. Assuming the 25% haste cap and going from 23% to 26% in gear is a 5% increase in melee DoT. The small extra step need to truly cap haste which you wouldn't with just 25% in gear is explained in Kirschy's post on BG which I linked to in the right side of this Blog's layout. Double attack varies a lot, but I'd like to put it at 1.5% DoT increase to keep things simple.

Now Critical hit-rate will influence Loki's boost to your Crit damage. A critical hit's contribution to your melee damage is greatly influenced by how high your p-dif is. If you were low in atk/def ratio and p-dif was around 0.5 then a critical hit would be a whopping 300% boost to that hit's damage. Again, an assumption is needed. Let's stick to p-dif = 1 because this makes things easy and it's not that far removed from common situations. Given my SAM's p-dif on Abyssea mobs, I think it's fair to say THF's would be a tad lower around 1. With this assumption your boost to melee DoT (without damage boost) would be approximated with 1 + crit-rate * 1. Easy, yes? Add to this damage boost of RR and you're looking at crit-rate * 1.3 . Now the 5% is starting to look a bit "meh". Crit-rate parses around 65% for me usually, so that'd make my 5% damage boost stacked on top of 30% from RR and 5% from job trait (possibly 8%) contribute this much:

(1 + 0.65 * 1.40) / (1 + 0.65 * 1.35) = 1.017

So less than a 2% damage boost. Since they're all seperate and multiplicative, setup with Loki's would be a 1.05 * 1.015 * 1.017 = 1.08 boost to melee DoT. Store TP factors in to WS frequency, but this is dragging out enough already!

Now setup with AF3+2 body has 5 ATK (assuming the skill does nothing for Acc) which would do anywhere from 1.2% to 0.9% extra damage assuming my low ATK on THF.

The big thing is of course "Is Nusku's worth it?". Well, I'm currently at 33% DW before Nusku's from Suppa, Raider's Boomerang and /NIN traits at 90. This means Nusku's alone will boost my damage by 8%. The great thing about this is that the two setups turn out to be very close given my assumptions. When is one better than the other? Well the variables such as which atmas you're using (if any) and how much Haste you're getting from Samba and spells will influence things in too many ways for me to want to redo the calculations.

The Verdict
Go for the 23% haste + Nusku's setup when you're often solo or otherwise low on buffs. Why? Because if you're soloing the Subtle Blow and evasion matter. Not only that, but due to not having a lot of haste, your DoT is also higher with this setup. When you're highly buffed you'll most likley be delay reduction capped anyway while Crit dmg boost as well as Dbl. Atk. will keep their value. In a situation like this, you'll end up getting more out of the Loki's setup.

Awesome music tip #2