Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Now I'm back on the chain gang...

No post yesterday since all I did on Monday was Dynamis which is an LS only activity. We lost, I ranted there, ‘nuff said on that.

So I hit 50 on thief Sunday. Means I have a bunch of stuff to do now. I have not done the gear swap to my crow set yet because I’m trying to save the inventory. I’m working on getting all my thief AF knocked out before I start leveling again. The annoying thing is I just did this like 2 months ago on Shdwatch, one of the characters I abandoned when all the announcements about all the new content came out. So I have to do this quest again. The good news is it looks like I only have to be on thief to trigger quests, but can use any job to finish them.

Well, I do my running around to trigger the 2 AF quests I can have active at 1st, then I switch to my beast/dancer at 75/37 respectively, my favorite way to solo beastmaster. Incidentally, I was wearing all of my gear from the expansions… I’m ugly. The pants make me look like some MC Hammer wanna-be, and I can’t stand Hammer.

Now thief AF quests are one of the most annoying of the bunch, at least among the original jobs. You have to successfully gamble on multiple occasions, starting the whole leg over if you lose at any stage, very annoying. It would make more sense for thief to get the “hold a knife to someone’s throat” option if you choose not to gamble, but that’s just me thinking. Anyway, I head out to Sauromugue Champaign and make short work of the goblin. Head back to Jeuno, do my gambling with that goblin, and now I’m off to Dangruff. Won on 3rd try against Saltvix, farmed a Gausebit Grass, won on 1st try and same on the Egg-guy, kinda lucky. So I head to Gambilox. She actually goes down easier than Climbpix; it’s so unfair fighting either as a 75 beast, neither has a chance.

I hold off on finishing off the quest for inventory reasons. Now it’s time to go do my coffers. I decide to farm keys on beast/dancer as well. Yes, I know thief can try to pick the locks, but thief is 50 and wouldn’t last more than 30 seconds if I get agro. In addition, it’s highly likely that I would get a bad result from the coffer. So I check my inventory before I head out. Unfortunately, the only key I already have is for Castle Zvahl. I take that and head for Davoi. Long story short, no luck on key after 35 kills, but I still need supper, and I want a break. So I log to make chili-cheese dogs, pop open a beer and watch Gran Torino, there’s a downer. Thank god I have a truckload of Family Guy episodes in the DVR.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I don't like mondays...

Long weekend. Left work after half a day Friday for a dental appointment. They had told me they were going to sedate me, but they didn’t, so I actually could have gone back. Pulled muscles in my upper back (they feel like intercostals) were making me miserable so it was just as well I didn’t go.

I got home and fired up the game to finish off getting thief to 45 before Dynamis. It worked, so I’m happy going in. Return to Sandy to change over to bard for Dynamis. Weird run… First off, I’m put in a damage dealer party, where I’m NEVER put. AFTER I enter I’m told I’ll be pulling. Wish I’d known that going in, because I’m set-up as bard/white mage. Ordinarily, when you pull on bard you sub ninja, although thief could work too, ninja for shadows or thief for flee, both give substantial evasion. The white mage sub was actually decent though, blink and stoneskin before pull and I was usually ok. The problem was that I couldn’t do all the bard goodies for my party the way I normally do as I had to prep for the next pull, reapplying buffs and doing ballad to fuel myself and the healer.

Now I’ve never been main puller in any Dynamis zone, although I do a few specific pulls in Windy and have had some instruction in Bastok, and of course I do pay attention to as much as I can follow during runs so I’m fairly familiar with what our pattern is. All things being equal, I think I did a pretty good job. Only 2 dirty pulls, which is actually about average, and I think the wipes had more to do with our low attendance than the pulls. We did get some aggro through carelessness on a sneak move. And I ate a couple deaths that I shouldn’t because we were short on sleeps. Luckily, I keep a good XP buffer on my 75 jobs—old habit from leveling beast. Had an incident with a latecomer running through and popping half the zone, cost us a couple safe pulls and a 10 minute time extension that we would have gotten. Most important thing was that even makeshift, we got our win.

The next day I got lucky. Ran into Mousie and got to duo with her dragoon in a level sync to me. We were able to get 2 levels before I had to log for the day, even made some money with all the bird bits in East Ronafure (S). Treasure Hunter 2 is a definite moneymaker, but it does have an annoying tendency to fill your inventory with crap too, so it requires some housekeeping.

Sunday I break my rule about syncing downwards for an all LS party—about the only time I will sync down is for a friend—all the way to 16 for a Dunes party. Well, by the time I left, we had gotten Krazytrane from 16-22, which was enough to take me from 47 to 50 on thief. Yes, the required XP/level rises as the levels rise. I’m getting a hell of a lot of practice pulling though, and I really haven’t partied much in the past, being such a soloist. This is a good thing I think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Do the walk of life...

Ok, last night I went back to Misreaux Coast to work on recapping my range attack skills to level 44 now. As I’ve gained a level it should be easier now right? Well sort of...

As I’ve mentioned before, to skill-up to your level’s cap you have to fight Even Match or stronger enemies. Now I like to skill-up and XP on beastmen whenever possible for the gil drops. Misreaux has beastmen that top out at my current level. Unfortunately, that’s a 5 level range terminating at 44. The Orcish Warmachines (kind of like the FFXI version of a tank) actually go to 46. What is also important to note is that just because something checks as an Even Match doesn’t tie exactly into how easy or hard it is to beat.

Now considering the level range of my prey I have to go hunting for the EMs, possibly pulling them through the Decent Challenge slop back to my camp. At least I’m getting to keep my pulling skills sharp. Martial Master is still active, so luckily I manage to recap Marksmanship in about 5 kills. Unfortunately, the repops are coming in DC, and that doesn’t work for my needs as I still have throwing to cap. So it’s time to go on a killing spree. The problem is a dagger doesn’t really do a lot of damage to really perform a spree, and my tanking NPC is using a staff, another slow damage weapon. So we power through-sorta- until the EMs start to pop, and I spam throws on those. This is a bit slower for whatever reason, it took about 10 EMs to cap throwing.

I need to discuss NPCs now. The actual term is “adventuring fellow”, but everyone I know calls them NPCs. Now when I created mine I only contemplated taking 2 jobs to 75 on Glam-beastmaster and bard- and so I built my NPC along healer lines. There wasn’t a lot of information available-I got my NPC within 3 days of their addition to the game-so I made some mistakes in the creation. I chose a tarutaru female to max MP. I gave her a staff thinking I could get more defense with parrying from a 2-handed weapon than a club and shield, especially since you can only do upgrades on weapon OR shield, not both, and I also wanted her to eventually have access to spirit taker weapon skill. Knowing what I’ve learned since, I would either have gone with a club/shield or left her sword/shield.

I chose to build thinking she would always be healer, since I never contemplated her in either a tank or damage dealer role. Unfortunately, despite NPCs having an A+ rating in all weapons and shields staff is just not a tanking weapon. It’s slow and it doesn’t particularly do a lot of damage in comparison to the other 2-handed weapons melees can use. This means that my thief is pulling hate fairly often, even without SATA. Luckily, it takes almost all the cool down time for Provoke for me to take hate so her provoke can usually take it back. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a lot of HP or MP as stalwart shield and my dancer sub doesn’t heal for huge amounts at this level. For whatever reason the game makers don’t have NPCs benefit from Sambas either.

Tonight I get to try out my new Bard cuffs +1 in Dynamis. I don’t think the effect will be huge, but it should at least be felt...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everybody do the mess arround...

Gotta love Ray...

Didn't really get much done last night. I logged on when I got home and my thief was already on site to finish off my level. I lost my patience with the slow XP off the underpowerred giants on 9th floor of Delfkutt's, stupid since I'm picking on them because they have the highest gil drops of any beastmen and I have gilfinder on thief and I need the money. Whatever. So I pop my XP bonus band and proceed to carry out my mass slaughter of big green guys in rageddy loin cloths...

Since there really was no danger of death from these guys (leave on Drain Samba and I can just let Glam Auto-fight) I talked a bit with peeps on LS chat and spent a bit of time looking up stuff about the new avatars for summoner. Good gear available for tanks, nuker-type DD and any DD that frequently does dark skill chains. I need to look up some stuff about the synergy recipies for beast jugs, note to self...

People were recruiting for missions that (perhaps luckily) I don't have pre-reqisites for, so I didn't have to change jobs (yay me!) My friend Mousie (and Dynamis shell leader) got on. We shot the breeze for a bit and she made me an offer, she has a job she's leveling that isn't that far ahead of my thief that she is willing to sync to me and static. So now I just need to see what compatible times we got. Leveling will definately be faster because of the increased survivability. Of course, those times when she is not available I can work on closing the level gap, decreasing her skill lag (if any, I don't know what her skills are at) when we duo. Plus, she is more popular than I am in parties so we might get tanks/support. Not that I'm not liked, I just have a reputation for soloing so quite frankly people don't think of asking for me when they are forming XP/skill-up parties. So I'm happy...

In any event, very early I logged for supper. I fully intended to return after supper, but Monty Python's Meaning of Life was playing on TV and I passed out watching it. By the time I came to, it was about 12:30 my time so I just went to bed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Terrible Lie!

So when last I left you I was thinking of running my computer through a dishwasher in hopes that THAT might do a virus clean. Well, ok, maybe not that… Now after 3 days I still can’t get my scanner to work so it’s time to hit the net. Well guess what I find out… I NEVER HAD A VIRUS!!! No… Bitdefender released an update that detected a 64-bit system as a virus, anyone on a Vista premium or Windows 7 account had a virus scanner quarantine all of their system files that tried to run. What the fuck?! Don’t you test compatibility before you roll out an automatic update? Talk about a customer service fuck-up of epic proportions.

There is a fix, which I have attempted to use. Think I finally got it working this morning, problem with a scheduler conflict (I hope).

So last night I finally get to take the thief back out. Same place, same plan—NPC set to tank, me thief/dancer. I actually manage to cap marksmanship and throwing to their level 43 cap. Now I need to XP to 44. Well, I switch LS to my Dynamis group social shell and get to see a friend I haven’t seen in a bit. She and I get to talk for hours (at my typing speed, we actually probably had a 10 minute conversation all told), just personal matters since we are friends. Made me happy anyway, which is a good thing since I’m considering how to aerosolize Mercury and spread it through the bitdefender building.

Well, for whatever reason last night was a night for a lot of personal real life stuff for a lot of people. Not going into the details, those are for other people to share if they so choose. This isn’t a bad thing, we are all friends, just unusual since normally we are talking “shop” in the game. So I’m doing laps around the 9th floor of Delfkutt’s for 50-60 XP/kill, talking to a bunch of folks in tell and LS chat, and trying to remember to Mug on time to maximize my cash. Trying to follow all this stuff is making me feel schizophrenic since every conversation is in a different direction. Eventually I just start getting a headache and need a break so I log to watch Dogma. Still funny.

So I’ll get back to it and hopefully I have more to discuss tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I called the witch doctor…

Sometimes nothing goes right.

Friday night was Dynamis, we landed in Windurst. Fine with me. We had to low-man the zone again, having major problems getting people to show up consistently, or letting people know (through the LS forum) that they won’t. I actually had to post a possible as I was on baby watch—my sister being in labor with my latest (as it turned out) nephew. Never got the call tho’ so I stayed for the whole run. Things went well until all the NMs after the House of Death. Think it was just a matter of bad luck coupled with a shortage of thieves for pulling. I do back-up pull on bard, but without flee, shadows and perfect dodge there are limits to what I can do and my thief has a LONG way to go yet. In any event, we ran out of time so no win on zone.

So Saturday I fire up the thief to finish the level, no problem. Time to log to go see the nephew, so I try to print the email from my sister with her room number and my computer says there are no printers installed and my virus scanner says things are trying to do bad and evil things. Naturally, I try to run an update and a scan with my scanner, neither work. I start trying to open other programs randomly, I’m told I have no compatible video drivers, it can’t find whatever.dll (although doing a search shows the file right where it’s supposed to be) and all sorts of other problems. I end up going to Microsoft and find some virus sweep thing while searching on the conficker worm (which it claims is not an issue and hasn’t been since 2008). Well that gets rid of it, but nothing I have can restore my damaged registry keys, so nothing works.

Naturally, I have to reinstall everything that doesn’t have a repair option, including FFXI (I’m still not finished with that by the way). Now Final Fantasy is supposed to have a Macro recovery tool but I’ve used it before and it works for shit. Do some net searches and find that I can delve into the hard drive and copy the mcr.sys and all the mcr#.dat files and just paste them back in after the reinstall. Note that SE will never tell you this. What makes the process fun is that the file names for your various characters have no relation to the name of your character, so you have to try to remember the last time you modified macros for each so you know which set is for which character, not fun when you have 16 slots used. In addition, I bought my program almost 7 years ago and all the expansions when each 1st came out. So after the 6 hours it took to stabilize my system to the point where I could perform the uninstall/reinstall, I now had to wait for 6.5 hours (with a cable modem) of updates before I could attempt the restore. It worked, so now I just need to take down the bogus file names for future reference so I know what to back up in the future.

I logged in just long enough to set things in motion for my bard cuffs +1 which means I need to get them in before Japanese midnight so I can pick them up after. Pick them up Sunday morning and so I now own my 1st relic +1, yay! Switch to thief and decide to go level off EM/T’s with my NPC, Yufafa set to tank mode. It does not go well. Tank dies twice in 10 kills so I decide to log and rethink what I’m doing, as skill-ups are really going well, and thief/dancer we should be able to stay alive, but we can’t. I try again later, the results are a bit better (I think 15 kills before I lose tank) but I pull a tough and for whatever reason cannot hit at all except for Sneak Attacks (which are a guaranteed critical hit). At this point I call it a day since the random number generators obviously have it in for me and Yufafa.

No Dynamis tonight, probably no play at all due to the maintainance from hell SE is doing today, coupled with their refusal to bring in mirror servers to accommodate the update load. I mean, they are taking a third of the hosting servers off-line; they could at least retask them to perform the updates or something. Oh well, I’ll chat when there is something new to discuss.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I don’t wanna come back down from this cloud

I’m on the thief last night looking for a party. I had in my search comment “no level sync, need to skill ranged attack”. Seems fairly straight-forward to me. So I get several invites, all asking me to level sync to Dunes or Qufim levels.

Like last post here’s a crash course. Level sync is a feature SE added awhile back to help people form parties. It used to be to make an XP party you had to find people close to your current job level; in fact, you took a penalty if the difference in levels was more than 3 for the whole party. Level sync allows people of higher level to temporarily drop to a lower level, adjusts gear stats down as well (which generally makes your gear crap), and prevents the XP penalties from being applied.

However, it has its downsides too. Your skill is capped at whatever level you sync to, meaning if you are a higher level syncing to a lower level you are just widening the skill gap from what you should be at for your real level to what you are at. It also means that because you can’t really do anything at your real level--your skills being too low for any effective use--that you will actually hurt any party you are invited to. The wider the gap, the more of a liability you are.

Now here’s the problem, if you won’t sync down to help the other guys you are seen as a selfish prick, but if you join a party at your real level without your skills being up to par you are an XP leech since you add nothing to the party and they are just carrying you. And the only level ranges where XP parties seem to exist these days are below 25 or above 68. You may be lucky enough to find a static party that is willing to XP together, but that isn’t easy since everyone has to have the same availability, and you need to be ready with gear, supplies, etc. If you have a lot of time commitments already it’s difficult to do, since you need to make game money, do your shopping and crafting and such on your own time.

In any event, one of the inviters actually decides to argue with me about the “no level sync” part of my comment. I have a few responses for him:
1. Thief/dancer I can XP solo, and make a lot of gil while doing so.
2. If he read the part about needing to skill up he should know that level syncing would make the problem worse.
3. I was probably already aware that the no sync would hurt my chances for a party when I wrote it, and yet I didn’t care.
4. You can’t find skill-up parties for ranged weapon skills, and with Martial Master active I probably am hoping to take advantage of it.
5. You can earn XP in a skill-up party--in fact, if the mob doesn’t give XP you can’t really cap, unless the other party members are much higher than you and thus you are fighting tough or higher monsters.

So at any rate, I decide to go kill some level 37-40 monsters for gil. I must be approaching my range skill caps because I’m not getting any skill-ups off of them. I pick up about 2.5k xp and 3.5k gil before I get bored and log out for the night.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Have you heard about the lonesome loser?...

I had to call in sick to work yesterday (nosebleeds, plural, you don’t wanna know) and I can’t really do anything because every time I do here comes the gusher. Well, noone ever described FFXI as strenuous (well, unless it was sarcastically) so why not?

I had just reshuffled my Noct gear over, not really needing my Mercenaries Captain stuff since my melee skills are already capped, probably until at least level 50 defensively and 70ish offensively, excepting ranged skills. For those who don’t play I’ll give you a crash course. In addition to having a job level and a sub-job level you also get skill levels in various things and the combat/magic skills have a cap at each job level. Different jobs are better at different skills (a warrior will be better at swinging a sword than a mage but will have no real skill at any type of magic, etc.) so the cap varies a bit, but you get the general idea. When you hear me referencing skilling-up something you do that by using the skill in question, successfully.

In any event, my dagger and evasion are capped as a 75 bard which I think is about the same as a 70-71 thief’s skill cap. On the other hand, my throwing is at 109 (fairly close to level) and my marksmanship is at level 40 starting the day, suffice it to say, a bit off the cap. I head out to skill-up and XP. Continuing the crash course, when you skill-up a combat skill—done by fighting a hostile whatever—you can only skill as high as the cap for that level monster. So, if I’m a 37 thief fighting a 37 goblin that’s an even match and I can skill all the way to the level 37 skill cap of let’s say 110. However, if I’m a 42 thief fighting a level 37 goblin I can’t get better than a 37 thief. The problem is as levels rise even match monsters are increasingly capable of kicking your ass, especially if your skills aren’t up to par.

Now I can hear the masses out there yelling at their screen telling me to sub ninja. My reply is “ARE YOU NUTS?!”. A thief/ninja has 2 choices for healing, potions and bloody bolts. Potions aren’t really viable, they don’t stack, they really don’t heal very much, and they cost money. Conversely, I can’t hit my target more than 1 time in 15 with a crossbow. Hello? That’s why I’m out here? Is anyone paying attention? So I sub dancer. This works fairly well.

The problem is, when you are so far below your level you miss… a lot. In addition, you do NOT skill-up on every successful attempt. There are 99 bolts in a quiver. It took me 11 quivers to get to level 113 on cross-bow, and I still haven’t capped it. That’s 1098 bolts fired. I may be crafting sooner than I think. And these things are NOT free. At least I can craft most of the bolt heads (the exception being bloody bolt heads, the most expensive of the bunch), and if I can pick the right days I can HQ (meaning getting extra) fairly often.

Now as I approach getting marksmanship to match my current job level I need to fight harder monsters, making survival an issue. So I try my NPC set to tanking mode. It might have worked, but one of the monsters on the FoV page I decided to do is a doll-type. Well, its 1st special move was of course Meltdown. By the time I notice he’s started the move I have no real chance of running away and my NPC won’t run away so I switch to sleep bolts in hopes of interrupting the special. Of course I miss, boom, dead. I seek a party for awhile, but I’m actually fairly tired of the game for today, so I decide to log for the day.

Now bloodloss, especially when you end up swallowing it leaves you nauseous, meaning St. Patty’s day or not, no stout or corn beef for me. Nothing decent on the tv either, certainly nothing Irish for the holiday unless I want to watch HGTV or the Fashion channel or something and I haven’t lost THAT much blood. Lovely…

Slonshall you lucky bastards!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Bitch is Back

Can't believe I actually managed an Elton John reference, I'm so ashamed...

Banner night for the Glamthing…

Ok, computers don’t care about daylight saving time. Truth be told, neither do I, I’m a night owl. That being said, we entered the better part of 1 hour late on Friday. Dynamis requires a 72 hour elapsed time since your last entry. Between the late entry and the time change (for most of us) we would have been almost 2 hours late starting. So the leaders wisely cancelled the run.

So what do you do? I after all consider this to be New Dawn time; it’s allocated that way at least. Well, we decided to try for mine and Usul’s win on ASA final. So we gather the troops; Woochekitty, Darthstoner, Yanxia and Blonda on summoner, Usul on paladin/ninja and me as bard/white mage. We did all right on the 1st run, but we died with weakness too close to the time limit to really have a chance on the win.

So now we have to re-gather the hexes to trigger fight. This involves A LOT of sneaking around unless you get a group that wants to fight their way through. Well they didn’t want to fight, so I had to sneak around, which takes a lot longer. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m good at this, but the monster layout practically guarantees that you will get attacked at least a few times, for me it was 4 out of the 10 where you could get attacked. Now bard/ninja is a decent (not sought after, but decent) melee, bard/white mage not so much. So all of these fights took forever it seemed. All in all I spent almost 2 hours getting hexes back but I managed it with 0 deaths, so that’s cool.

Now in the mean-time it’s past Blonda’s bed-time so she has to bail. Enter Doncado on his red mage. He was already there having helped with the lamp lighting needed to open the door to the fight. So we sacrifice a bit of attack power in favor of increased healing, probably a good thing since bard/ white mage really isn’t that good as a healer. Truth be told, on a fight like this I’m little more than a glorified gas station for the caster types and a bit of back-up healing assist. The enemies are largely immune to what I can dish out. Strangely enough, several of the guides suggest using bard to hold one of the enemies, but I actually think a bard/ninja with double paeon and shadows could probably manage it, even doing some damage with our Damage Over Time spell, Foe Requiem VI, slow with elegy and some decent damage with daggers, and Hymnus (reraise song) after 1st death.

Well, the epic battle ensues. This time we all do a better job of avoiding the Area of Effect damage from the bosses, which is really the key to victory in a summoner-based strategy, excepting Usul whose job it is to eat those attacks. Don mostly, but myself a little bit work on Usul’s status effects and we help with slow and DoT on his target. But mostly I just kept the summoners and Don up on their MP (magic fuel) so they could keep going. We had some hairy moments, but a look at the clock is very reassuring so we kept plugging away.

We won, so I’m now 1/7 on this fight. I was so afraid I was going to end up 1/20 like I did on the A Crystalline Prophecy fight, so massive sigh of relief from me. Now I get to view the longest cut-scene I think in the entire series and it’s set up so you can’t just spam through it. At least it was decent. So now I go to Windurst to get my final cut-scene and it’s off to the Tenshodo to claim my prizes. I got a crappy Hi-potion +3 with my level 75 key—blech—but I have the advantage of the other guys who’ve done this in that I have already decided to go beastmaster build on all 3 pieces. Actually, this is the only piece where I seriously considered doing something for my bard because the song recast delay augment is very sexy; however, that’s like conceding that I will never get my relic pants for bard (which I think are the best, most versatile choice for bard in currently available equipment), something I will not do. In addition, other than assisting other players on stuff or recapping my XP, I’m really never on bard, so why not invest in attack gear for my main job?

With the time change and such I’m now tired and starving at the same time, so I had to log without getting to test this stuff out. I’m concentrating on leveling thief too, so it might be awhile before I get to evaluate this stuff. Rest assured, I will be giving it a workout soon…

Monday, March 15, 2010

Been dazed and confused for so long...

So, no posts over the weekend, sorry about that.

Been a busy time. We had a difficult night in Dynamis Bastok on Friday, although I did get an assassin’s vest which will see use eventually. Not really sure what was going wrong, we just worked our way through and ran out of time. Although we did have issues with the summoner NMs and sleeps. I personally believe it was related to AFK people, but again that’s just my opinion. At any rate, I logged for the night after the run in disgust.

Saturday began with me working on leveling my thief, which I got to level 40. I worked on getting my AF knife (one of the few useful AF weapons in the game) and helped a friend in SK get access to Aht Urgan. Shifted a bunch of gear, and then it was time to take another stab at ASA final fight. I had to sit out the 1st 2 attempts because there are limits on how many can go at a time. The lost 1 and won one so congrats to them. Some of them stuck around to help me with my attempt and we subbed in 2 other people needing the fight. Unfortunately, we had another loss on my run. At this point it was just too late and we had to call it a night.

Lost a friend on Saturday though. Grifter, a long-time member of SK called it quits, he simply doesn’t have the time the game requires anymore. Now I didn’t know him as well as the longer-tenured members of SK, but he was still a bud. He will be missed.

Sunday was the start of daylight saving time. This always screws me up—cant get to sleep, can’t wake up, my whole body rhythms seem to get shot to hell. So I didn’t log in until the afternoon. I spent some time getting hexes and trying to get the pop item for Death From Above, a notorious monster that drops a dagger I want for my thief and is in the same area as the hexes I needed. However, I had to break off to run to the office to fax a document to one of our idiot clients who claims he never received some pages (despite our now having 3 confirmations of successfully sending them), so I was naturally in a foul mood. Got back and eventually did get the item and my dagger, joy.

Died twice to the Temple Guardian (a monster you have to kill to open a door that’s in your way) because I wasn’t paying attention. Eventually I made it into the Den to get the other 10 hexes I need for ASA, or should I say try to. There was another NM in my way that was too tough for me to handle alone. So I called in the cavalry again—enter Doncado and Woochekitty from earlier posts. They help me out, but I’m really off my game from not feeling right—my reflexes were all off. We did kill the NM, although we didn’t get his best drops, ok since we weren’t actually after it. We work through and eventually get all my hexes; I say work because the way I was feeling it’s like I forgot how to sneak around. So we had to fight our way through for the most part. At least I’m good in a fight.

Well Don and Woo leave to go do Nyzul (a repeatable mission with some great end-game rewards that I’ll probably go into when I get into it a bit more regular) although they ask me to be on stand-by as they frequently have attendance issues, to which I of course agree. I head back to town to dump some inventory and then to craft some Acid Bolts as I can now go about leveling my marksmanship up on my thief, but not if I run out of ammunition. I ended up making 15 stacks (I had 1 already) using all my available supplies up. Regardless, that makes 1,584 bolts, plus over 1,000 of each of the other types I use so I think I’m good for awhile.

Change jobs to thief and head out to do some FoV, skill up my Marksmanship, and get a bit of XP. But it’s late and I log after a couple thousand XP. I’ll finish off my NPC when I get home from work before tonite’s Dynamis Windurst run.

See you soon all…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Running up that hill...

Leveling thief is always a pain, parties are few and far between because there are just so many people leveling thief at any time. Virtually every player wants thief for farming purposes so we almost all take a stab at it at some point.

While the folks at SE (the makers of the game) generally are pretty high on player's shit lists a while ago they saw this trend and decided to have mercy. Enter Fields of Valor at lower levels, Beseiged and Campaign for higher levels. Fields is what I'm currently working with.

Essentially, in FoV you pick a list for a scavenger hunt (kill this many of this specific mob) and you get bonus XP, $, and points that can be used for bonuses/services in the field. They can really add up. When you couple that with using an XP bonus ring your leveling rate rivals what you get in a good XP party, although nothing beats a top-flight XP party. In addition, in FoV you still skill-up as normal, not the case in Campaign. However, it can get boring like any other activity in game that you do alone.

Now I'm a guy who firmly believes in picking your battles, choosing prey that plays to your strengths. When I solo on thief my sub-job is dancer. For those who don't know, a sub-job lets you use the skills of a 2nd job in a support capacity at reduced strength. Most people sub ninja for everything melee and even a fair number of casters sub it solo. Not I. Dancer brings a couple of moves to the table, a drain effect on all melee attacks-excepting undead-, the ability to cure yourself or party members, and eventually the ability to specifically weaken enemies and to remove status ailments from yourself or your party, as long as you are hitting or at least getting hit. Of course, you don't want to sub dancer for everything, for example it's fairly useless to sub for casters until after 50 and even then only if they melee and only if the mob has MP. Too many "ifs" for me...

In any event, the great enemy of anyone depending on /dnc to keep them alive solo is paralysis, an unfortunately fairly common status effect from enemies. About the only thing that can stop a dancer from using one of its moves is paralysis or stun. So I find 1st, a level appropriate page, and then find one with mobs that don't have the ability to paralyze me. Pretty good XP all told, get about 800 from kils and 725 for the completion bonus. The problem with pages is that you can only do 1 per game day (57minutes, 40 seconds real life if I remember correctly) so the key is what time you start. If you time it right, you should be able to do 3 pages in a row before you have to wait for the clock. Granted, you can pick harder pages so that there is always a page up everytime you finish one, but the XP is actually slower that way, not to mention the greater risk.

Of course you could use the field support Reraise to accomodate the harder page, but if you die in game you lose XP, meaning you have to earn it again. Despite all my time on beast-and thus dead-I'm not a proponent of doing the same thing again, so I think I'll pass. About the only field support I routinely use is either refresh or regen (depending on the job and if any mobs have Dispell) and the food. Oh, and repatriation if I'm in a hurry when I finish up.

I'm holding off on skilling up marksmanship until 40 because I have a level 40 crossbow with some bonuses that should make it easier. Throwing I will use until I pause thief at 50. When I hit 50 I'm going to switch to leveling white mage, ninja and dancer to 50 to accomodate the new 99 level cap that will be coming soon. Both ninja and dancer use throwing (I think both are better at it than thief iirc), so that should get it capped to 50. After that, it'll just skill-up as it can, skill-ups are very fast in Dynamis. I put about 16 levels of string on in 2 runs with my bard.

Just gotta keep grinding away between all my end-game stuff.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

That's what I say!

So I choose to solo XP a bit differently than other players. For almost everyone in the game it's all about the chain; people see that larger number and think that you get XP faster. I disagree. I go after EM or lower so chains are few and far between. I also usually do my XPing off beastmen because they drop gil (game money) and I tend to need it.

My reasoning is simple, I believe that lower level mobs leave me with more resources at the end of the fight, meaning I can go again more often without a rest, and I get more drops for sale since I kill slightly more mobs. We both need the same 6,000 XP for our next level, the other guy gets his by killing 50 monsters while I kill 80. However, he needs to rest to full after every 2nd or rarely 3rd mob, I rest after every 6th or 7th, even less often if I don't need to accomodate my NPC's MP. And my kills are faster since I do more damage to their lower defense.

I also walk out of there with more gil. Assume I'm getting 50 gil/kill on average, I'm going to go home with 4,000 gil. The guy killing higher-level mobs is averaging 53 gil/kill (the gil drop rises with the monster level increase, although not by much), he's gonna walk out with 2,650. Assume every 20th mob results in a salable drop worth 1,000, I'll get 4, he'll get 2. So I net 8,000 while the other player walks away with 4,650.

The only time to change this is when you need to skill something. The harder the monster, the greater your potential skill gain. You can't get a potential skill capped against anything less than EM

Working for a Living

Last night I set out to do some work on leveling my thief job. picked up about 1200 XP when Doncado says he wants to take another stab at the ASA final fight. Well, that's what all this work has been for so I head back to town, switch to my uber-fruity bard duds--we're talking full-on Clay Aiken gay here, forest fires don't flame this much, I described it as "I'm running around with a purple muffin on my head and bling on my ass", I could go on but you get the picture. So I head on out.

Maps pay off, as does the recent experience and I make it to the sacrificial chamber solo. At this point I notice that I forgot my unlit lantern (required to open the door) back in my Mog safe. Being rare/exclusive means I can only own one, so I can't just farm a new one. Luckily, a few of the others bring theirs so we are good to go.

Well, this time we managed to kill D. Shantotto, unfortunately her equally evil twin survived, so we'll be back. Run all over and get my 16 hexes again, so we are ready, will try tonight, not sure when.

Of course, fights like this consist in large part of waiting for the other people in your group who will "be right there" to show up--generally that means 15-45 minutes, over an hour when dealing with a real asshole--so we've got some time to kill. How do you kill time in a video game? Naturally you kill bad guys! Well, you could craft or do a quest or 3 but in the middle of nowhere you only have what you brought with you, and I haven't triggerred anything quest wise despite having a tonberrry board.

So we killed a few things and got the pop item for the Thief's knife NM. Those of us who stuck around got our hexes agin so we'll be ready for the next ASA go around, then we got the thief's knife, a must have item in end game since it boosts treasure hunter. Now, my thief is nowhere near ready to use it, but I am actively working on it so it's now proudly collecting dust in my mog house. The nice thing about bringing other jobs up to 75 is that you have your skills cappped for a significant portion of the way. I don't think I'll have to skill anything but ranged attack until 71ish on my thief. So I'm happy...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So it ain’t Sisyphus, it still sucks…

When I decided to abandon my other characters to play solely on Glamdring I knew there was a task coming that I’ve been dreading for a long time—the Great Inventory Shuffle of 2010. You see, in addition to Glam, I had 6 other characters that I play and 9 mules-characters who’s purpose is to hold inventory for those who don’t play (they also allow me to shop in a town without having to go there with Glam).

FFXI has a service in the cities called a delivery box. This allows you to send up to 8 items (or stackable groups) to whoever, excluding rare/exclusive items and a couple of just odd-ball things. The problem is with all the chars I’m dealing with literally thousands of slots and so shifting this crap 8 items at a time takes awhile as you can imagine. Since each character only has a finite amount of space to hold things you need, inventory needs to be shifted to accommodate whatever you are doing.

Now I’m leveling thief on Glamdring so I can pull (if needed) in Dynamis better than I can as bard/whitemage (normally bard is a good pulling job, but flee is often required in Dynamis). However, thief is only level 37, so I need some gear that is level/job appropriate and space to put it when I have to change to bard or beast. That means I need a fair amount of space accessable from any moogle. So I’m moving a lot of stuff. In addition, I need room for crafting (currently working on capping bone at 60) and that also needs space. Last, but not least, with treasure hunter my inventory is going to get cluttered until I can get to a store to sell the drops off. More space please…

So I need to organize storage on my mules and consolidate all of item x on mule y. Of course, there are bits and pieces spread over all of the characters/mules and I’m too lazy to make a spreadsheet or database of every item I’m holding. Not to mention the stuff that is on NPC storage people made by the game operators. Any rare/exclusive stuff can’t be moved so space has to be found on Glam. This is just fun…

So I spent about 90 minutes moving stuff around and getting thief gear to Glam. The job is far from done but I’m tired and I need to actually do something, so it’s time to schlep out to Davoi and work my thief. Guess who forgot to charge his Emporer’s band? And only has 1 charge left on his Tactics pearl for that matter? I think annoying tasks just somehow turn off my brain. An hour netted me 1800 XP and about 2500 gil, and virtually no drops or steals, maybe my treasure hunter is off? Oh well, we’ll see what happens tonite.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What a Long Strange Trip…

Dynamis. The name says danger, fast action, and sudden reversal of fortune, epic highs and vicious lows. What it doesn’t say is expense, frustration and a load of hard work for little or no reward. So why do we do it? Chicks and beer! Oh wait, that’s sports. Well everyone is different, me I like to strategize and see the results, I like a group depending on me and being able to come thru’, I like seeing the dynamic of a group effort and the rare rewards are nice, too. Oh, let’s please not forget sheer, perverse bloody-mindedness.

So we’ve done 2 Dynamis runs since I started this thing, with very different results. On Friday we did Windhurst with less than stellar results. The run was destroyed by a dead battery of all things. Of course, sloppy play in general didn’t really help either. Dynamis is won or lost by the effectiveness of the dog-pile approach. If you can pile enough bodies on a single target at once hopefully you can cause enough damage to get a kill before your target gets to inflict his much higher damage on you. Everyone else is busy keeping people alive and the other monsters occupied. This is possibly an over-simplification, but people who’ve done it will get the gist of my explanation.

Because of this strategy, people have designated roles and there are rules that are made to deal with especially difficult monsters, like sacrifice pulls or monsters that are only hit with ranged attacks and the like. Even 1 person screwing up can sometimes be enough to kill the entire alliance on one of those monsters, and Friday we had several of those types of screw-ups. Now we have a policy in NewDawn (the Dynamis shell I run with) that only leaders specifically deal with problem players (a good policy actually, keeping discipline and order where they belong), because the difference between a good and a bad player is how they deal with mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made plenty, I just hope that my solutions work for the group.

The past is the past tho’ and we ran again last night, this time in Buburimbu. Now Buburimbu is a Dreamlands zone, with unique problems and a MUCH more difficult boss than regular zones. Last night we showed off our true mettle, winning on character and determination as much as skill. I was proud of the entire group in getting what has recently been a very difficult win. I even got my 1st drop in 9 months last night. We need to be able to stand and deliver like last night more often, because if we do I think more of the harder victories will be in our grasp.

So that’s it for today, hopefully next update will be a Shantotto victory ;)

Monday, March 8, 2010

... a Little Help From My Friends...

As I think I've mentioned, I've been working on getting to the A Shantotto Ascension final fight. Although they are never mentioned, there are alot of pre-reqs for this. Maybe guide writers just assume if you are lvl 75 everything is done. Let's face it, if you've been playing the game for going on 7 years, it's a big fucking game. So I hit several road blocks on my way.

1st needed to do almost the entire mission line for a rhinostery certificate on Friday before Dynamis. So i'm quite literally watching the clock tick because I need to get the quest at night. How annoying is that? I finish that quest and eventually get to the Blue Ribbon Blues quest. The monster you have to beat is easy, getting someone to open the door however... You see, there are a large number of players that simply pretend not to understand questions, even when you use the auto-translate function. Talk about rude. So I have to call in the linkshell to turn a fucking doorknob-I mean a doorknob?!!!

So I got past all that and into Toramai Canal finally. I get lucky, because it turns out I got the map for this place years ago, not always the case. I managed to knock-out 3 quests at once, one of which I've been on for 2+years! Btw, drop rates are not good, even on quest items. I did manage to recap my beastmaster's XP and pick up a merit point, all in all a good day I think. Especially when you consider that later that evening we beat the penultimate fight.

Of course that means I have more work to do... sigh. Time to get my 16 hexes, but I have no paintbrush, nor do I have a map for the Den of Rancor. I solo the paintbrush, key only took 2 hours to drop. I can finally open the door to part 2 of the hexes tho'. Since I've suddenly gotten big on completion I decide I need this map-for those who don't play this means I need to get a key to drop, then I have to find the locked coffer to get the damn thing.

Having just finished a 2 hour key hunt I know it's going to be a bad day for getting keys, so I call for reinforcements. The thief job increases drop rates significantly, so I ask the Suicidekings-one of the linkshells I am in-for help. Now Doncado and Woochekitty have helpped me many times over the years, starting when I was underlevel with a less than desireable job for the end-game things they were doing. I do not ask them, I ask the shell, but guess who just foregoes whatever they were planning to do to come help me? In addition, Chrispy-who I've probably worked with twice in 2-3 years-also comes out. I don't recall earning this kind of karma, so I think they're just good people.

Even with Don's thief it still takes about 2 hours for the stupid key. They guide me through, getting all the hexes I need, and now the fucking coffer decides to be shy. They appear in random places, generally all inconvenient. I think we took over an hour finding this thing, but everyone still stuck around. The only real regret we had was there was a lower level player needing help and we were all occupied with my needs.

So find a good group people, and pay it forward. You can't beat this game alone, and we know how hard it is to find good people in real life. So you go to a game and decent people just show up... Anyone looking for Chains of Promathia help is encouraged to contact me in game, I run a dedicated shell to help people finish up what is generally the most hated storyline in the game.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gimme something to do...

thank you depeche mode

so, not really all that long ago I'm sitting at home thinking I should really work on something, maybe in game. Not having a convenient boil to lance I decide it's time to farm.

You know, I used to really enjoy farming. With the way prices have fallen off tho' it's getting to be a pain. So I decide to go farm scorp shells to make rings to bridge my bonecrafting until I start on Demon arrowheads-a nice, convoluted chain of logic if I do say so myself. 1st off, where to go? Well, I need to recap/earn some merits with the beastie so I need XP to a 75, narrows it down. I end up with Attowah Chasm.

Schlep my way out there at the cost of 400 gil for OP warp, then remember I coulda tele mea and changed jobs in Mhaura-sign number 1 that I might need some more coffee. Reach my hunting grounds and fire up wide scan, no map-sign two. Charm an antlion and go to town, no drops for 45 minutes-was I supposed to /thf instead of dnc?-sign 3.

So stuff eventually starts to drop and I craft on site, fail-fest has now begun. Now I'm close enough to cap that I should get skill-ups even on fails, but no joy. Eventually I do walk out of there with a profit (scorps have nothing to do with it), 7 hours burned and 4k closer to XP cap.

So what have we learned from this little jaunt? Well, check your sub, supplies, etc before you go. Crafting in the 50s sux. A bst/dnc CAN solo an Arch-Corse. When you ask for help farming the silence is so clear you can hear a pin drop. Maps are your friend, especially when you don't have Warp, Tele or a convenient outpost. Make sure you have inventory space. I gotta start doing BCNMS, seals are piling up. Raffelesia suck. Don't forget to sneak when running over antlion ambush spawn points, they bite. Log before you go to the bathroom. If you do have to craft crap, farm your own materials-paying jacked-up prices and losing money just somehow makes the pain worse. When you already have 20 stacks of wind crystals/clusters sitting on a mule don't buy any because you are too lazy to log to your mule and back.

one of those working on a whatever nights

If you know me in game you know that of late I've been working on the A Shantotto Ascension expansion. Got to the point of the Toraimai canal fight and it seemed an appropriate time to get off my dead ass and get my rhinostery certificate. Lo and behold I'm way behind on this mission line. So I got to spend a positively delightful time watching seconds click by on the game clock so I can trigger mission events, joy...

Finishing up the run back from Mhaura for overnight delivery (I did say I was way behind) when I get hit up by Usul to see if I wanna fill a spot in Nyzul. With all the new game content coming I have just recently abandonned my other 6 characters since Glam is gonna be a full-time job again; I've been putting off some stuff as I work on other chars, but I'm free now so I figure "what the hell" and say yes. Now my jaw drops through the floor when I'm told they actually want my beast, but I love my beast so I saddle-up and I'm omw...

Now I have only done Nyzul once about 9 months ago (epic fail) and I have no idea what I'm doing but I figure I'll learn as I go. 1st lesson, no map, so no wide-scan. None the less, I actually did fairly well, 2 tags ending in boss fights which we won, and now comes the 3rd tag. We ran into a orderred lamp floor ("what the fuck is that?" you may ask, I know I should have) and ate up a bunch of clock, get to floor 2nd to boss and get a kill all, my favorite. So we are grinding thru mobs and who shows up but aquarius. Goodbye clock. So we fail.

In a preview of coming attractions for me, I'm helping a game buddy with the ASA final fight. I'm hoping to catch-up, but it takes awhile. So we decide to go for our 2nd attempt. I go brd/whm (went brd/nin the 1st go round) because maybe my cures will do some good and the guides say bard is good on this fight. Well, we got further than our 1st attempt, but still failed to get either wench down (we did get D. Shantotto to 1%). I dunno, we need to think over strats/gear, our 1 whm main is stupid busy and I'm singing until my voice is gone and curing when I get a free moment, in other words not much...

so it's 11:15 pm, I haven't eaten in over 24 hours, log, andouille & shrimp ettouffe' ready for the pot and I'm out.

next stop, tonite's Dynamis:whereever

Who the flock are u?!

Heya. I'm a long-time player of FFXI on the Caitsith server. If you are on the server you have probably run into me at some point. I currently have 2 jobs at level 75, beastmaster and bard. My other levels are thief, ninja, whitemage and dancer at 37, warrior at 31 and all the rest below 10. I am an Elvaan.

Been through alot in this game and I have some fairly unique views on how to get things done in the game. Note that any advice I give is not on how to do things best or easy or the "accepted" way, just my way. As an example, I soloed 1-75 on my beast with a bard sub, which everyone said can't be done. Well, I did it, but I don't reccomend it for anyone else, it was damn hard, and there are better options today.

Feel free to look me up if you are of a mind, I ain't shy. Just know I keep my /blist on a hairtrigger for asshats.