Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Morning in Vana'diel: Too Much for Too Many.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, what are we supposed to do when we can pick our own stats?

Ok, seriously, I can't decide. This isn't like ACP where I can look at those stats and say, hey I am going to get gear that good eventually, or I just can't justify getting that gear for a job I don't play all that often. Or I just can't be bothered to even do the missions because the reviews were so bad. Either way, I don't think I am going to pass up this expansion, for the simple reason that so many of my jobs can use this hat as a full upgrade. The real problem is that I only get one hat and I have so many jobs that could use it.

Do I get it for WHM? Just to start off the mage hat has 20 MP and a little bit of Conserve MP too. But then I can get 3% Cure Potency a little bit of Fast Cast and 6 MND. That pretty much beats anything I can get for my WHM right now. What about BLM? 6 INT with a little Magic Accuracy and Fast Cast? That's better than anything I have right now. RNG? I could get the Sidewinder-Never-Misses-Again Helm: +4 STR, +15 Weapon Skill Accuracy added with the +10 Ranged Accuracy and +5 Ranged Attack. Hell, I could just use that for TP build because I still use a Wyvern Helm because I don't have a Zha'Go's Barbut yet.

I do have to say that these items are very good, but also very well designed. Even when two complimentary augments are selection they usually won't overcome the absolutely best gear for the slot. For example, even the highest STR and Accuracy combinations aren't going to be better than a Hecatomb Cap, but it is still very good and better than Shura Kabuto, but there is a large difference between Shura Kabuto and Hecatomb Cap. These new head pieces seem to favor straight stats more than the body pieces did while the skill bonuses seem to be quite a bit lower. So I think these head pieces actually act as a better alternative to normal "best-in-slot" pieces than most commonly accepted alternatives. This makes them ideal for jobs that are not your main focus, but ones that you know you need to gear up better.

So what is a guy supposed to do? How do I decide? The ones that I want are all mutually exclusive, and for alternative jobs. How are you going to decide? Do you have a job in mind already? Should SE even be giving us these choices instead of controlling the aspects of the gear we get? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

POL News: The Second Coming

So SE have unveiled the next in their sequence of small "bite-sized" expansions to be directly downloaded from them. In true Japanese cuisine style, these really are mini snippets of storylines to be followed and finished in a relatively short space of time, love them or hate them they are definately a topic of conversation for all. While it seems as though the storyline is thin on content currently, with hints of undead and ghosts and a very haunted feel to the whole affair, A Moogle Kupo d'Etat is causing more of a stir due to the augmentable gear that is provided as the reward for completing this tale. The designs are definately a bold strike out and are again polarizing opinion but you can't deny the flexibility and scope of potential that the augments offer for each of the classes available, the question is, which are you going to chose?

Critical Break: Volume Selling

Critical Break is our crafting and economics column written by Qtipus. Q is an experienced crafter and also well versed in using the Auction House to turn a decent profit. Enough so that he was able to fund his own relic, Gungnir. Every Tuesday you will find Q's rants, raves and good crafting practices here. This week, Qtipus is the guy that goes to Sam's Club and buys 6 pallets of generic spaghetti sauce and 100 rolls of toilet paper.

I've alluded to this in previous posts, but haven't really gone into a lot of detail about what you'll need and what timings to look for.

Volume selling applies to the low profit, consumable synths that are generally necessary for anyone who is serious about making a lot of money. Items like sneak and inviz tools. Popular foods. Reraise items. Shihei. These things all tend to move fast, but the biggest problem is that they're generally over saturated by people with no idea how to relate money to time. They generally aren't dumb enough to sell things below their cost, but they are dumb enough to sell things for 1 gil above their cost and not realize they're losing money anyway behaving like this.

So with that said and hopefully with that understood, here is what you'll need.

  • A second account. If you expect to keep up with the pace of the sales through one account and you're hoping to be doing other things in game (like crafting more...), you'll be sore to find out that you'll be left behind almost as soon as you post your items. There are a lot of people out there set up this way who likely have less of a life than you do and will constantly screw up profit margins in the name of having their names up there in the sale history as much as possible.

  • A second way to utilize this second account. You don't need anything super powered since this second account is going to be parked at the AH. An old beat up laptop with a celeron processor or better should be fine as long as you don't mind 3 fps running from the AH to the MH.

  • Access to Tavnazian Safehold or Nashmau. Jeuno and Whitegate are super high traffic areas. This generally will cause AH items to be updated slower in terms of quantity and sales history. You can guess how much fun it will be trying to compete for synthesis materials that are generally sold the second they reach the AH.

  • This isn't required, but it helps a ton. The second account needs to have your most common sub-craft leveled to 70+. Why? A lot of the volume selling items have sub items that are part of the synth which require you to either level it on a mule, find someone with it leveled, or just buy off the AH at super inflated prices. In the case of RR items for example, the ability to synth animas comes into play.

Now that you're set up, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Never list more than 3-4 of your volume items at a time. Why? AH fees will eat you alive if you're constantly having to list and relist your items. Once you get to know your competition and how they tend to list things, you can build your strat around that. Find the low point and keep cycling your items through the sales.

  • Likewise, if you're not going to be around your computer for a long period of time, flood the AH with as many mules as you can. You can elect to put your stuff up at a higher price and hope it sells or you can put it up at a much lower price to ensure it sells and to cap your competition's ability to make money (since they love to return that favor in kind).

  • Spend some time to get to know your competition. This doesn't mean sending "Hi2u" tells to them. You can generally get to know them by looking at the sales history of the various parts of your item. Pay close attention to the times they generally buy things.

  • Likewise, spend some time getting to know your suppliers. You can sometimes work up deals with them that eliminates the AH for them altogether. This can be beneficial to everyone involved as it takes supplies out of your competition's hand and saves your suppliers a little gil through avoiding the AH fees.

  • Do not be afraid of listing at ####1 gil. Your competition is likely stupid. You can't change that. This isn't an "I can't beat 'em so might as well join 'em" train of thought so much as it is "I'll sit on my damn inventory for a long time if I don't" train of thought. Part of the process of getting to know your competition is getting to know how they list things.

    • Competition for RR pins had one person habitually listing their pins at ##,##1 (X) and had another that habitually listed them between ##,150-##,200 (Y). X pretty much only used their main character for selling while Y had an entire clusterfuck of mules to spam any consumable item they could (wrecking most markets in the process because they're obviously the only one trying to make money in this game). Y could be beaten by watching where they were logged in and anticipating some form of relisting if they saw they weren't selling. This is why you don't list more than 3-4 at once, so that you have those extra slots to play with when (not if) you do get undercut. X could be beaten obviously by just listing at ##,000.

  • Find the busy times for your item. You can generally put a time frame of "prime time" on most of the busy runs, but there are windows there that are busier than others. If it's a necessary item like an RR pin/gorget, you can often times talk to LS leaders who are planning large events (like AV) and potentially sell your stuff to them at a bit of a discount to them. NA prime time will generally see consumable sales spike between 5-7PM est. There will also be runs on consumables around the beginning of EU prime time and around JP prime time (5-6AM est). Again the sales history is key here. Generally try to ignore one buyer buying up 4-5 of a consumable unless they have a pattern of doing so and try to focus on when most of the sales actually happen.

  • Try to avoid buying materials at jacked up prices. This just sets you up for losses. Unless you're 100% sure that your competition is out of mats (can generally keep track by watching buying and selling history), you'll only set yourself up for far less wiggle room if you buy your mats off people trying to jack up the prices. Patience is key here. Wait for more mats to show up on the AH if some are listed jacked up or wait for someone else to buy the inflated prices, then cause them to lose money. Even buying things less than 5k above the last sale prices will only encourage more inflation.

  • Lastly, make absolutely sure that everyone you know in your various linkshells knows you are selling this particular consumable and sell it to them at a discounted rate. This alone will help you clear your stock relatively fast when the AH is in it's slow periods. Keeping your stock rotating is a very important key to gaining significant control of a market. Especially since material costs fluctuate quite a bit on a near daily basis.

In closing, the volume sales market is a vicious, yet necessary way for people to make money if you're wanting to make it in large volumes. I've said it repeatedly in this post and elsewhere that most of the time, you'll be dealing with some really stupid people when it comes to making money. Do not put all your eggs in this basket though. Find other items you can sell as well as these to supplement your income. After a rough starting period and once you get to know your competition, you should be able to cycle volume items pretty consistently and see a nice flow coming in.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sir IronWill's Wisdom: Anyone Wanna Merit?

Sir Iron Will's Wisdomis here to bring you everything you ever wanted to know about tanking, and probably some things you never wanted to know and now wish to blot out of your memory, whether you like it or not, Izman is here with the do's and don'ts of tanking, in general, solo or end game. This week Iz tells you what and what not to merit for PLD.

Hello my Paladin people! Today I wanted to talk about merits for Paladin. What these new abilities are and what they can do.

Okay lets with the group one merits for Paladin.

All right the first choice you have is Shield Bash recast merits. This knocks off 10 seconds of Shield Bash every time you put merits in it. Most people merit this if they are going for Aegis so they can do awesome Shield Bash damage every 5 minutes or 4 minutes and 10 seconds with merits. This is a great option if you're aiming for Aegis some day or even if you just like to be on the safe side of eating a magic spell.

Holy Circle... If you merited this or was thinking about it congratulations you're dumb.
Please for the love of Altana don't merit this.

Sentinel Recast is awesome. Most Paladins max this one out. Sentinel is a 5 minute job ability that decreases 90% physical damage you take and generates a ton of emnity as well as making everything else you do while Sentinel is up to generate more emnity than usual! This is one of the best job abilities Paladins get I highly recommend meriting this one.

Cover is next and this one is pretty good but I went a different path. Cover is a great choice. Cover is another great job ability that I will have to admit I don't use as much as I should. It's a 3 minute recast job ability that last 15 to 30 seconds and when you merit it you can add 4 seconds to each tier of merits you put in to it. With AF hat and Relic body Cover becomes a really cool and fun ability to use that can and will save players HP and lives.

Rampart, a 5 min recast ability that last 30 seconds that used to be total trash with sentinel a couple years ago is now also pretty cool and great to have. Each tier of merits also knocks off 10 seconds of the recast just like Sentinel. Rampart is a AoE magic Stoneskin that give defense to the party members in range. Very awesome for -GA spells. With Valor head you get another 15 seconds of this sweetness.

Okay that finishes up the group one merits that you can think about and decide what you think is best for you and your play style. So now on to group two merits that enhance the group one abilties and also give you new whole new abilites to use.

The first choice we have here is Fealty. Fealty is a 20 minute recast ability that give you 100% resist to enfeebling magic effects, status effects of tp moves from mobs, and even reduces dammage from some nasty moves like Meteor! This ability last a whole minute and can be merited down to a 10 minute recast. I wish I could go in to more detail about this ability but I'm slacking on Paladin merits still lol.

Ahhh Chivalry the Paladins convert. This is also a 20 minute ability that can be merited down to 10 minutes. It instantly converts current TP to MP using this formula that I totally did not steal from the Wiki. MP recovered = TP * (0.5 + 0.015 * MND)... Okay I stole it so sue me. Please put at least one merit in this and use it as a emergency only ability like you would any 2 hour.

All righty Iron Will the one no one merits lol. Iron Will is a job trait like undead killer. It is all ways active when you use Rampart. It adds a 19% spell interruption rate down when you use Rampart. I don't know why people see this as a bad thing. Now that you can put 5 tiers of merits in to the group two category that makes it pretty good I think. Lets so some math class 19 * 5 = what? No not 11 Ring you old man. 95% AoE spell interruption rate down.

Pretty awesome if you ask me seeing as I'm all ways nin subbed. I have this one maxed all the way giving me the name Iron Will Izman the ladies man... I added the ladies part lol. Don't merit it unless you plan on maxing it out.

The last thing you can put merits in to to custamize your job. Guardian is another job trait that is active when you use Sentinel. It reduces emnity loss by 19% for each tier of merits you put into this. That means when your getting smacked in the face you lose less emnity than you normally would. And since you can put 5 merits in it and it works the same as Iron Will, that means that 95% emnity lose with full merits for 30 seconds make it keep you at the hate cap long enough
to stack another Provoke or Flash on a mob to make sure you don't lose hate.

Well that's it for job specific merits for Paladin but lets talk about the other merits you can spend to customize your character.

HP/MP. This is something you can't have some one say you're wrong since it effects all your jobs. I personally went half and half cause I'm lazy and really could not decide which I wanted more of. Other jobs should be factored in when meriting this of course.

Attributes, well all I can say is spend the merits on STR INT or MND for whatever your main job class may be. If its Paladin still merit STR it will help with your lolDD build.

Combat skills shield shield shield skill max it! Sword is a choice too if you plan on making a DD build.

Skip magic skills for the last thing you ever merit.

The other category my favorite. Emnity increase max it and do the same to critical hit rate unless you never plan on leveling a melee job and are only serous about tanking. If that's the case don't let me decide for you.

Okay well this is my view and advice on how I have merited Paladin but its not perfect and it is not for everyone. But remember not everyone plays this job the same so the combinations can vary from person to person and its hard to go wrong unless you maxed out Holy Circle so remember this is my personal view on how I merited this job.

Morning in Vana'diel: Retro Chique.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, Ring wonders what is up with this new gear from previous Final Fantasy remakes? Is this like retro because it comes from older games, or is this futuristic because the design was from the remakes after FFXI was launched? OH MY GOD! GEAR PARADOX!

We will have our full coverage of the new expansion, the gear and the stats a little later today, but for now lets have a little look at the look of this new stuff! Right off the bat the new "mage" hat not only looks great and well detailed, but it pays a great homage to the design style of older Final Fantasy games. Now, I know that I will be punished for this but I haven't played all of the Final Fantasy games. You can forward your death threats to Omoikitte. That being said I have seen the design trends for the games and especially the remakes, and I have always appreciated how FFXI has integrated the older games themes into itself. I especially liked that FFXI did this in it's own way, because no Final Fantasy was ever been a true sequel to the previous numbered editions (yes, there have been sequels, but not a numbered sequel). There are themes that run through all of the games like the job system, the summons and even the crystals. These do a lot to provide a structure that is familiar to the player while at the same time allowing the developers to create their own unique world.

The homages to older Final Fantasy games should be rife in a game like FFXI because they provide the consistency and the nostalgia that gets people to play FFXI and love it, without having to worry about world and story consistency over 11+ iterations of a game let alone hundreds of developers, writers and artists. FFXI is large enough in and of itself to potential require an amount of retcon depending on who you ask about the lore. For every Final Fantasy they can create the world anew without fear of massive inconsistency or the past shirking the present. WoW runs into this problem because of the developers need to follow the storylines of the Warcraft games. The areas that you can potentially explore are already written and it becomes a choose-your-own-adventure when it comes to potential expansions. Final Fantasy has the same themes, trappings and similarities through out it's existence, and these do a great job to give you a familiar understanding in a whole new world.

Do you like the themes that flow throughout the Final Fantasy series? Is it time for SE to stop recycling the same ideas over and over? Do you think the new gear is neat? Or do you think that SE has just run out of new ideas? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Firesday to Darksday: The Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Edition.

Firesday to Darksday is weekly wrap-up column on O's Kote and it will be covering the week that was in FFXI, going over good blogs you should check out, interesting threads on any forums we might notice or anything else that might have slipped by in the night. We are always on the look out for FFXI information for you!

An interesting week for forum-goers that is for sure, especially for those internet lawyers out there! Do you have a forum account? Then you to can be an internet lawyer!

The headline news? SE is being sued by someone that doesn't really understand how an MMO works. Blue Gartr seems to keep a level head about the situation with only a few people complaining about completely different issues. But several other places picked up on this story in much the same way that they did when some kid couldn't figure out how to cancel their account.

A rather interesting interview with Producer Tanaka in the Japanese Playstation magazine on the ZAM site translated by Elmer the Pointy (and Awesome it should be added). Tanaka assures the fearful that FFXI is going to continue and far past the "years worth of content" that he previously mentioned and some brilliant people misconstrued to mean only a year. (Insider tip here: Video game companies often work on more than one game at a time! Shocking, I know.) A ton of information about the July Update and future ones in this article.

Finally, we have some interesting speculation on FFXIV that was actually picked up by some other video game sites. Eorzeapedia perused one of SE's job pages and found some jobs requiring familiarity with FFXI needed to be filled by September. While I can't necessarily dispute their speculation that it means that a FFXIV beta might be closer than we think the evidence they give is a little specious. There is nothing in the Job Descriptions to indicate anything more than SE needing some more French and German GM's. Remember, this is the European division not Japanese or US, I wouldn't be surprised if they just needed more people to cover for both games.

If you find anything interesting about FFXI or FFXIV for that matter let us know!

Morning in Vana'diel: Rethinking the Unthinkable.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, we follow up yesterdays consideration with another more blasphemous notion: Is it time to bring back dual-wielding?

The two-handed update was a real tectonic shift for melee game play. It shifted the focus from Dual Wield based jobs and MNK over to the rest of the DD. I complete agree that something needed to be done because there was an imbalance and a strong imbalance two Dual Wield because the buff from it was so strong even for those that subbed NIN that the damage had to be increased for those that didn't have access. My guess is that Store TP and Dual Wield were introduced with the same intention; both were to be used to decrease the delay of each kind of weapon type. Sadly, it still did not work to equalize the total damage output. The damage from the weapons that Dual Wielders could use was very high and had good stats compared to what the two-handers could use.

In one fell swoop, SE radically altered the situation and after a couple of quick adjustments we got what we have today. But is that situation ideal? NIN, MNK and WAR/NIN went from being the top notch DD's to being afterthoughts. SAM, DRK and DRG went from being also-rans or complete jokes to absolute parse domination. While WAR was able to maintain it's position as a top DD, and other didn't have to try to adapt to a Dual Wield world (dual axe DRK *shudder*) the change only worked to flip flop the position of these DD's. I didn't feel much for NIN at the time because they were still effective tanks, but with the continual buffing of PLD they have been pushed out of that role also. MNK has maintained some of it's strengths but still has to work hard to keep up. Why can't they be closer?

When the two-handed update was introduced there were two major changes. The damage formula for two-handed weapons was separated from dual-wielders and received a significant buff. Also, the STR/Attack and DEX/Accuracy formulas were changed to favor two-handers. I think that the change in the damage formula was well enough to straighten things out between the two kinds of weapons, and the new stat formulas was another great buff, but was it too much? Since no one likes a nerf, is it time to give dual-wielders the stat buff too? Give them a chance to increase their gear selection, and let them get closer to the accuracy cap without having to use Sushi? The change in the damage formula was necessary and sufficient to correct for the problem with weapon damage not scaling enough. Did SE go too far?

Is it time that a Ridill WAR was again a top-notch DD no matter the situation or player comparison? And what about THF and RNG? Is it time to give them some kind of AGI based damage buff?

Should SE roll back some of the two-handed changes? Should SE buff dual-wielders stats bonuses to be in line with two-handers? Are players getting too strong compared to the mobs they are fighting? What would you do to rebalance the situation? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

POL News: Moblins Take Up Heart Surgery

Another day, another MMM update note that most people don't care about. Seriously, MMM update notes are turning into Event update notes for me. They probably require a lot of the development team's time and they contain almost nothing of interest to the greater number of players. So it is basically time wasted by the development team, that could be spent on other things like say giving ZNM gear unique models or at least recolored ones from 2004.

Enough of the MMM hate, lets get to the interesting bits. It looks like you will be able to have a Moblin buddy in much the same way that you have an NPC buddy. Don't get me started on how little interest I have in the NPC buddies. A new Maze Voucher is being added that will set up the Moblin buddy for you. Then you will need to take him through a maze with mobs that you will kill and help to level up your Moblin buddy. Your Moblin buddy will start off as a middle of the road job then after a while you will be able to pick what kind of specific job you want it to take up, tank, ranger or caster. Sounds like they kinda slapped the NPC and Puppetmaster AI onto this Moblin.

I guess there is some redeeming quality here because the rewards are Augmented items which could be very good, but it's hard to predict at this point.

Well, I guess that will be of interest to a ton of players because I know that they love their NPC's and they love doing MMM. For me, I guess I will be waiting until next week for more update notes. Check below the break to see the full update notes and don't forget to leave a comment and tell us what you think of MMM and this new upgrade!

Here are the full update notes from the POL website. I am sure that this will not be as bad as I make it out to be, and for those that love doing MMM this is probably pretty awesome. And for the rest of us, it's still early so we have a while to go before SE starts dropping the juicy update notes for the rest of us.

Not content to rest on their laurels as the foremost—and only—purveyors of custom dungeons in Vana'diel, the Moblin Maze Mongers have been working overtime on their latest Maze Voucher that will usher in a whole new subterranean adventure in the upcoming version update!

My Gobbie and I

With the new Maze Voucher, players will be able to participate in a new challenge in which they and a Goblin companion must maneuver their way through a maze teeming with fiendish foes. In order for your operation to be deemed a success, your comrade must survive the journey intact.

The Power of Gob

Have no fear, for this Goblin is no defenseless dunce! By defeating enemies that lurk in the maze, your companion will gain strength and grow into a formidable ally. Defend him from harm, but take care not to be overprotective—slay too many foes yourself, and you will find your Gobbie's growth as an adventurer stunted.

Gob of All Trades

Your Goblin companion will begin the quest with the "All-Rounder" job—well-balanced in a variety of skills, but master of none. By reaching Level 5 and fulfilling certain conditions, he will be eligible to switch to a more specialized position.

The career choices available to your Gobbie include the close-combat specialist "Walloper," the ranged attack marksman "Barrager," and the magic-wielding "Spellslinger." Each specialized job also comes with unique abilities, which your Goblin will unleash when the requisite conditions are met.

If you and your Goblin apprentice succeed in your mission, you can expect a whole slew of lavish rewards, including MMM's inaugural augmented items, special maze runes to customize your Gobbie's abilities, and much, much more!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Math of Sword and Spell: Party Multipliers part two

Every Thursday Araelus is bringing the science to FFXI. 

The Math of Sword and Spell will be a column dedicated not only to the hardcore calculations and statistics of FFXI, but more importantly he will help you use that math without confusing you. You may not know why you are playing better, but rest assured you will be playing better. This week's edition focuses on how White Mage and Scholar can enhance your party's effectiveness, and mentions the abandoned Dancer and Summoner jobs.

This week's article contained a few mistakes that have thankfully been fixed due to reader support and commentary. Thank you to Evilpaul for pointing out that Double Weather is +25%, which I should have remembered from Enspell math, hmm hmm, and I like pie too, by the way. Thank you to Yoteo for pointing out an error regarding Erase. I suppose I meant that Erase cannot be cast outside the party. -Araelus, 25 June 11:33pm

Last week, we discussed some of the ways Red Mages and Bards can benefit a party, but those are only the most stressed-out of the backline. What about some of the other support roles FFXI has to offer? This week we consider the dedicated White Mage healer, the bookworm Scholar, even two forgotten jobs: Dancer and Summoner.

White Mages have had their ups and downs, but are currently the best healers in Vana’diel. Powerhouse instant HP restoration abilities don’t stop them from casting certain enfeebles, top-tier protective magic, and even reducing the enemy’s TP gain.

Cure – the amount of HP restored first depends on MND, then Healing Magic skill, then VIT. But since multipliers do more than expected, it becomes clear Cure Potency +% is the best available stat. It increases the amount of HP cured after all other statistics are taken into account. Divine Seal doubles a Cure, or +100%, and equipment can boost this factor all the time.

Under normal circumstances, for the average White Mage, this would mean a Templar Mace and Noble’s Tunic for a +20% bonus. The use of a mace instead of a staff allows for the Muse Tariqah (MND+7, interrupt down 10%) or Legion Scutum (Enmity -2) as desired.

Going beyond the standard equipment, a Roundel Earring (Potency +5%) is from the Plucking Wings Yagudo Op, and the BCNM50 reward Medicine Ring (Potency +10%) works when HP is at or below 75% and TP is below 100. In Temenos, a Korin Obi means Potency
+25%. In Salvage, the Lambda Sash provides Potency +3%, but this is a rare reward from Assault.

The solo ENM “Pulling the Strings” might produce a Healing Feather, which gives twenty charges of Potency +15%, each for three minutes. Wealthy White Mages can get another Potency +2% from the HQ Aristocrat’s Coat, and if they are subbing NIN for Dual Wield should sub an Asklepios for Potency +5%.

This means the maximum Cure Potency +% values for everyday use with the best possible gear is +57%. In Salvage, 60%, and in Temenos, +82%. Just remember that the more HP restored, the more Enmity gained. Don’t forget to have Afflatus Solace active, which further increases each Cure’s HP return through a 25-second duration Stoneskin buffer effect.

Haste – no less powerful than when cast by a Red Mage, although no better, either. If both mages are present in one party, courtesy dictates they settle on a Haste pattern. For example, if the tank is getting Refresh and Phalanx II, usually the White Mage will pick up that Haste.

Bar-spells – in addition to having access to every Bar-ra spell, White Mages can cast more powerful elemental bar-spells than any other job. While Red Mages have an 11.3% higher base Enhancing skill cap, and cap out 18.3% higher sans merits, White Mages can directly boost their Bar-spells’ effect and add in a Magic Defense Bonus.

The number next to the elemental icon in the equipment screen after a Bar-spell is cast is equal to Enhancing Magic skill times 0.2, plus 40, rounded down. A capped RDM gets 100, a capped WHM gets 91. But then the WHM should be wearing Cleric's Pantaloons (Bar+20, HQ is Bar+22) and that immediately surpasses RDM’s best. Add in a Blessed Briault and Afflatus Solace and Red Mage can no longer compete. This doesn’t even take into account a possible bonus from White Mage Bar-spell Effect merits.

Regen – White Mages have the option of Regen’s 8.33 HP/MP (125HP in 75 seconds), Regen II’s 6.67 HP/MP (240HP in 60 seconds), or Regen III’s 6.25 HP/MP (400HP in 60 seconds) and that is without any effort on their part. Bothering to equip a Cleric’s Briault when casting adds one, two, or three more HP per three seconds to each spell respectively, and maxed Regen Merits adds 5HP/tick to each spell.

At most, Regen gives 18.3 HP/MP (275HP in 75 seconds), Regen II gives 10.56 HP/MP (380HP in 60 seconds), and Regen III gives 8.75 HP/MP (560HP in 60 seconds). It should be easy to see why Regen Merits are the second most popular merits for White Mages, after Cure Cast Time.

Auspice – a recent addition to the arsenal, this spell grants Subtle Blow to all party members for 48 MP and lasts three minutes.

Devotion – this ranged Convert JA transforms 25% of a White Mage’s HP to another party member’s MP. It cannot be used solo. Meriting Devotion takes away from possible Protectra and Shellra V tiers, but around 22% of White Mages have at least unlocked the ability, making it twice as popular as Martyr, the HP to 2xHP equivalent. The secret to Devotion (and Martyr) is using Stoneskin, which reduces HP loss but does not lower the MP or HP restored.

Divine Veil – unless Yagrush is available, this can only be used by spending Divine Seal on a status removal spell such as Poisona or Paralyna. Interestingly, Divine Veil does not change who can be targeted by these spells (although Erase remains party-only) so if diligent White Mages keep track of other parties’ status effects, Divine Veil can come in handy for anyone in range.

Erase, Esuna, Sacrifice – Erase removes one negative magical effect from one party member, Esuna removes at least the same, and Sacrifice basically enables the use of Esuna. These spells are necessary for the healing of effects that otherwise cannot be fixed, such as Bio and Evasion Down. While Erase can remove any such debilitating status, Esuna will only heal an effect the caster is also afflicted by. Thus Sacrifice transferring effects from other party members to the White Mage allows for Esuna to then remove that from the rest of the party.

Casting Erase six times would take 108MP. Casting Sacrifice and Esuna would take 42MP. If Afflatus Solace is active, Sacrifice will siphon more than one effect, up to seven, and if Afflatus Misery is active then Esuna can remove up to two effects at once, making that MP go even further. The only weakness of Esuna is that it will not remove most status effects without Afflatus Misery, the stance which is not usually active.

Scholars started out as a relatively broken job, outshined by the other mages. Arguably they are still broken, but in a powerful way. With too many Job Abilities to handle and an accompanying slew of spells, these casters are called upon to apply spells to the party no-one else can dish out, in addition to their crowd-control duties.

Past level 70, Scholars can store up to four Stratagem charges, and get one back every minute. This allows for the continual use of powerful effects, especially the White Grimore’s Accession, which boosts the range of one healing or enhancing spell to the entire party.

Phalanx – a generally agreeable subjob for Scholar is RDM, which provides access to this powerful damage reduction spell in addition to native Sleep and Dispel. Because Scholar will be casting Phalanx while in Light Arts, their Enhancing Skill should be at least 285, resulting in 26 damage reduction, only two below a Red Mage’s cap for Phalanx II. And Scholar’s skill cap without merits is 293, providing 27 dmg down, or only one point less than a Red Mage’s party-targeted spell, and this affects the whole party at once for only 21MP.

Enspells – damage is currently calculated based on the caster’s Enhancing Skill, plus if the attacker has any relevant Enspell+ gear. This damage can be resisted, and usually is to some extent.
It should not be cast if Stratagem charges are in short supply, or if another additional effect is more powerful, such as if players prefer to have a Samba active or if Soul Weapon is being used.

Stoneskin – much better than Summoner’s paltry 200HP, 92MP Earthen Ward, this should provide a 350HP buffer to the whole party for only 29MP. If any party members are wearing a Stone Gorget or Mufflers, they will get an additional 30 or 60 HP buffer, but these items only benefit the wearer. Even in the usual case of no-one wearing these items, one party-wide Stoneskin provides a bonus 2100HP, which equates to 72.4 HP/MP, the highest such ratio available in the game.

Storm Spells – this unique line provides the appropriate single weather effect to party members regardless of the current area weather. However, if the area weather is the same element as the Storm, then a double effect will be gained. This works best when party members have an appropriate Elemental Obi, increasing the weather spell boost change to 100%. Meriting Stormsurge means party members also gain a stat bonus corresponding to the element: Fire is STR, Ice is INT, etc. This starts at +3 and goes up to +7, which is considerable.

All the scrolls for Storm spells can be acquired from Professor Layton in the Eldieme Necropolis [S], where he is taking a break from his famous puzzle-solving adventures.

Dancers are not often included in FFXI activities for a number of reasons, most importantly their dependence on TP generation. While a boon in solo work, as a support job ability, and in lower level parties, having to hit a monster continually generally means the Dancer ends up damaging their friends more than helping them. Nevertheless, this job has three powerful abilities to consider having on your side, even if a main-job Dancer isn’t included. And it’s absolutely invaluable for Campaign parties, if those even exist.

Sambas – the third-tier makes fighting through WotG missions a breeze, since undead aren’t involved. During more relaxed events, a Soboro Samurai can throw on DNC as a sub, and keep up either tier-one Samba.

Waltzes – Converting TP into HP is another unique Dancer ability, and just like Sambas it can benefit only party members. While this limitation is one of Dancer’s serious flaws in high risk events, considering that in order to gain TP to cure, the enemy monsters have to be given TP which they use to damage the party, lower level players fighting for experience points usually attack monsters with weak TP moves. If those same monsters are weak to piercing attacks, including a Dancer could be the right decision, especially during off-peak hours when the familiar party jobs are not available.

Spectral Jig – with a recast of 30 seconds and a maximum duration of 90 seconds, this allows a Dancer to gain Sneak and Invisible without using items, without casting magic, and without dropping Invisible. Simply click off Sneak and re-apply. And it works well from a DNC subjob, at or above main job level 50.

How can a self-only ability benefit the whole party? Am I reaching too far here for the inclusion of Dancer? In any situation where the party is split up and moving around in a dangerous environment, the ability to self-sufficiently avoid aggro is crucial. Lamp floors in Nyzul Isle especially come to mind, or certain parts of Salvage, but the same is true for mission runs and getting to distant camps such as the far areas of Castle Oztroja [S].

Sometimes the little benefits go a long way, and Dancer is a job made up of small benefits.

Summoners may be more populous than Rangers (strange yet true) but they remain the red-headed stepchildren of FFXI.

With Summoner at 72, leveled the old fashioned way over a long, long time, I may or may not be qualified to write this job off as a loss for general party endeavors, but that’s my verdict based on experience and feedback. Six-Summoner parties can be a lot of fun for some NM fights, or messing around by the Moongate, if you enjoy that kind of thing, but for standard events the job is sadly lacking.

While Summoners can still do consistent damage to any mob for zero Enmity, gone are the days of requiring that tactic on Wyrms to succeed, not to mention ye olde Aerial Armor rotations. (Interesting how those zero Enmity blood pacts still work well on Odin, huh?) Even the separation of Rage and Ward was not really enough, because all casters are limited by MP and time to begin with. Restricted more than any other caster, SMN simply could not do any single task efficiently, and thus their role could be bettered by a combination of other jobs. Then Scholar took a nail gun to Summoner's coffin.

At least Summoner is the namesake of a great Final Fantasy cocktail invented by the folks at the IT University of Copenhagen.

This week's...

Most Valuable: Afflatus Solace adding Stoneskin to all Cures, for everyone, means it probably should have been included in the article on universal force multipliers. But then it wouldn’t have won this category over Dia III and Angon. Then again, Bar-ra spells and Sacrifice are party-only targeted.

Ignored Ability: If they can keep up initial TP generation and land Steps, Dancer’s No Foot Rise combined with Reverse Flourish can maintain quite a bit of TP and keep them running with less mob attacks generated.

Hazard Symbol: When Scholars run out of Stratagem charges, access to all those special powers goes away until the next minute mark. Watch out for which Addendum is needed when, so necessary spells aren’t removed from the casting list.

Overworked and Underpaid Job: Scholar has a lot to do, and just as many JAs as tasks. Without a lot of planning and practice at it can be too much to handle. Decide whether or not you want to use equipment swaps to skip animations, amongst other tricks.

Stupid Square Moment: Summoner’s Hastega still doesn’t overwrite Spider Web! But more seriously, capped melee skill levels are much lower than magic skills to begin with, and this lack of accuracy compounded with Dancer’s base Dagger ranking of B+ hinders the job. This severely hurts their ability to build TP and land Steps on high level enemies, not to mention problems with TP feeding when maintaining a Samba. Even a Corsair’s Loaded Deck won’t help Dancers recover from that bad deal.

Notes: Job population and merit popularity is sourced from the 9th Vana’diel Census at

We’ve taken a look at how many jobs can help everyone in the battle and also their own parties. But are you wondering about the percentage effects of Slow vs. Hojo? Interested in why Blind and Flash stack? Tired of not hearing about whether you should merit Sentinel or Rampart? Think all those guys are Paladrones and Ninjerks and they should let your SAM/DRG or RDM/BLU be in charge? Next week, we'll take a look at force multiplication for the tanks.

Until then, keep your graphing calculators handy!

Questions? Concerns? Did I take a logarithm when I should have used the antiderivative? Please leave a comment.

Morning in Vana'diel: Not an Option.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, we look at all that gear that would be awesome if we could actually just use it and why we have to use something else.

The Organics has to be one of the coolest looking swords in the game, and yet you almost never see it. It isn't because the mob drops it is that hard to get to or kill. It is because the job that would most like to use it, BLU, can't. They are the DD with sword skill, but SE has limited that to those curvy blades of the near east and not a totally bad-ass looking serrated sword. Now the question is this? Why even make this weapon if you can't show it off? The storyline reasoning is nice and all, but I mean the only job left that could use it is PLD, and they don't want it because of the big chunk of negative HP. Now is this a problem with job allocation on weapons or a problem with the weaponskill system itself?

The stats on the Organics are very good. And if you didn't have to worry about how much weapon skill effected not only attack but also accuracy it would be something that any job could be interested. Beyond that you have to consider that single-handed weapons now fall behind two-handed weapons when calculating damage too. I know that SE tried very hard to come up with a fun and complex weapon skill system that encouraged people to use a variety of weapons, but like many other things in this game, they became trapped by their own designs. People will always min-max and because of that the weapon system needs open and flexible, either locking some weapons out of some jobs or making some jobs better at some weapons but not both.

Shouldn't a Warrior be able to use a large variety of weapons? Why do some jobs have inherent difference in the way they learn to use weapons? Should SE reevaluate the weapon skill system and maybe decrease the difference in skill between some of the weapons? Was the system better before the level cap was raised to 75? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't Break the Shadowbind: People management.

Don't Break the Shadowbind! is our Wednesday column brought to you by Omoikitte. Endgame isn't just killing mobs and splitting up the drops, that is the easy part. Omoikitte will provide her insight on how to do the hard part: the administration and planning of events, deciding on how to divvy up the drops, and how to deal with that one whiny LS member that just won't shut up about their abjuration. Today, we look at the complicated issue of people management in the linkshell.

Whether you like it or not at the end of the day, your linkshell needs people in it to function as its intended purpose. Otherwise you just wasted 8k to not look like an RMT. In an endgame linkshell you need a large pool of raw material to pull from to effectively achieve anything. The raw material being the players of FFXI.

These are your team to back you up on your grand schemes and plans, in the constant effort to strive for better gear, monitary rewards, new titles or just for the simple pleasure of a fight and kill well done in an accomplished manner, there are many many reasons people join linkshells at end game.

Understanding the moods and currents of opinion in your linkshell is vital for an effective leader to be able to predict how far you can push your membership and when to slack off, as a leader your duty is to balance both the stern and authorative figure as well as knowing when is the best time to bend like a reed and sublimate your own personal opinions and give way to the popular opinion.

Knowing that you can't force anyone to do something is paramount, you can only be a guide, what your linkshell ends up being is a collection of individuals who are willing to be guided by you and trust your judgement or tactics to win the day. There is of course frictions and undercurrents of opinion that you will not always be aware of, the disgruntled few, but in a solid linkshell, those few dissenters have a way of working themselves out of the linkshell and on to other things reasonably quickly and you have a strong core still with you.

Flexibility is extremely important in any situation when dealing with people, regardless of your personal opinions, you shouldn't be letting that cloud your judgement or you end up undermining your own position of authority and it is extremely difficult to come back from that.

You need to be able to remain objective and clear-minded, accepting that your linkshell is a melting pot of personalities and opinions, not all these opinions will be parallel to your own, nor will you be joined at the hip with every single member in your shell, but that is not a good reason to ignore or neglect the other members, making sure they still feel appreciated or a part of things is just as important as them showing up to events. Without them, your linkshell isn't going to be doing anything except soloing rarabs outside Windurst, and you want to be reaching for the sky and tearing down AV instead!

Inevitably, you will run into problems with people, over time this is just the nature of what happens, simple misunderstandings that are easily resolved in person are more likely to be blown out of proportion online where a whole facet of human communication is missing, the minute interpretations of body language, tone, pitch, eye contact and non-verbal signals are no longer there as a safety net, so as a leader it is important to be prepared to overcompensate for that lack and be slightly more sympathetic, it is your job to look at the whole picture and not mire yourself down in irrelevant detail that at the end of the day is only preventing you from doing an effective job more than it is assisting you in directing the linkshell forward.

Open lines of communication with your linkshell and keep them open, the membership will feel cut off and ignored if they have no-one to talk to and that will result in a lack of interest in events and participation. Even if that means that they will talk to your sub-leaders rather than you, you still have the responsiblity to deal with the issue in a delicate fashion, charging in there guns blazing is more than likely to inflame the situation than fix it if there is an issue, look at your options and consider the best way to move forward, plan ahead if need be but don't ignore it or you will have a far bigger problem on your hands over time.

If you as a leader are going to do something controversial, make sure you have a good reason to do it, one that is justifiable, not just "because I said so". That will never be good enough and lead people to desert your linkshell. Even if they don't like the reason, it is still an authentic and verifiable reason and most of the time that will be enough. You will inevitably come up against the 1 member who really insists on making an issue out of it, but as long as you keep a clear head and a cool tone and don't allow things to escalate it should never become an issue.

We are all in the end, doing the same thing for very similar reasons, part of the excitement of being in a linkshell is that you ARE a part of a smogsboard of cultures, attitudes and opinions, as a leader, accept and control the situation rather than trying to force people into an unnatural method and you will end up with a far healthier linkshell, at the end of the day it is another person behind the pc, with real feelings and real emotions, and while we are limited to communicating over "a game" what you say still has the power to cause delight or pain. Effective leadership recognises the time and the place for each of these and when you should, and should not abuse the situation.

You are going to get critisized, you are the leader, as silly as it sounds if something goes wrong YOU are responsible, there can be varying reasons as to why you ended up at that point, but you are the person who is struggling to get to a goal and taking everyone else with you, the longer your linkshell exists the less likely you are to get people who say happy things about the linkshell and more likely to complain about why something hasn't happened for them yet, it is just an effect of human nature, what is key to surviving this is to not make it personal, remain objective and above all, don't let it break your spirit. More often than not it is more likely to be some unexpessed frustration and you just happen to be in the way at that time, the worst thing you could do is get frustrated back. Try and reason, hold your ground and remember that it is never a bad thing to make an ls member feel important, treasured and vital to the cause, every single member in your linkshell is important.

Mr. QQ Says: More LM-17 Mistakes?

Mr. QQ Says is a column detailing information on FFXI technical issues, server issues and other minor SE issues.

Looks like SE is having a few more billing issues, as a thread over on BG points out. Looks like some of the people that were having issues last month with getting accidentally banned because of CC errors on SE ends are getting banned again. After a few costumer service issues it seems that the issues are working themselves out, but only after a call into SE to get things straightened out. SE is claiming a 48 hour turn around but it looks like the accounts are getting unbanned faster than that.

Interestingly enough, it looked like the SE community rep was on BG and checking out the thread, so that may be one of the reasons the customer service people got their heads out of their asses on this one. So maybe this costumer contact thing is working out after all?

Morning in Vana'diel: Real FFXIV Questions.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, Ringthree is still sick, but he is struggling through adversity to post today so that he doesn't have to hear it from Omoikitte again.

Ok, so we have seen the original set of generic questions for FFXIV, and SE's typical non-responsive answers. But outside of the those questions are the real questions, the meat and potatoes questions. I want to know if they will be using a controller for FFXIV. I mean it is going to be on PS3, but the PS3 is a lot more "computer-like" than the PS2, and in general MMO's have been moving to the ASWD-mouse for movement. Will ASWD-mouse movement even an option in FFXIV? If you want to pull people back from WoW that would be a good option. I love using the controller for FFXI and I hope they bring it back for FFXIV, but I hope they adjust the keyboard and mouse set-up to be a little better for those that use that.

Is there going to be a macro system in FFXIV? Are we even going to need a macro system? And most importantly are they going to finally allow 3rd party development for the UI and add-ons. The Windower community is a vibrant and useful group that is self-regulating to prevent real hacks and doesn't even allow the program to go open source to prevent abuse. If you compare this with most other MMOs you will fine that if allowed most people will work within the system. Of course there will always be abuse but if you look at how well the Windower community works and how well regulated they are, then you have to be able to see that it is a good idea to let the positive forces work for you instead of turning almost all of your PC players into "cheaters".

The economy is another important aspect of the game that is always thought of as "neat" but only as an after thought. The economy in FFXI is super screwed up. While I don't think that farming should be eliminated, I don't think that farming for money on-line should be so time consuming that it eliminates the ability to go to other events or turns making money into a luck game. There are many ways to make money in FFXI, but many of them are based on luck. Which brings me to my next point, can they do something to even out the drop rates on items, or at least have everything in the game have an alternative point/token system for the same gear or at least part of the same gear and if there are going to be alternative collected items to make things (a la Salvage) then have those tokens from that event used to purchase those items. And you could sell the items for money if you don't need them and want the money for other things.

Finally, can we get some community contact? Seriously, they got off to a good start with the podcast series, but if it never goes farther than that then SE really hasn't learned anything at all. You need to have official forums and you need to have daily contact with players, and those contacts need to have some idea of what is happening on the development teams. Even if it's just in Japanese, that is better than nothing. No more of this fly-by-night contact.

So what do you think that SE needs to fix with FFXIV that is currently a problem with FFXI? They said they are learning from FFXI, but the proof is in the pudding. Leave us a comment and tell us what you really want to know about FFXIV!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Critical Break: Time is Money

Critical Break is our crafting and economics column written by Qtipus. Q is an experienced crafter and also well versed in using the Auction House to turn a decent profit. Enough so that he was able to fund his own relic, Gungnir. Every Tuesday you will find Q's rants, raves and good crafting practices here. This week, Q waxes lyrical on time and effort versus stalking the AH for profit.

One of the most rhetorical questions that's asked in regards to crafting is:

"Am I better off farming up materials for synths or just buying off the AH?"

With so many synths out there, that question is very subjective. One thing that most fail to understand is while farming up materials for a particular synth may not take any money out of your wallet initially, it doesn't directly increase the amount of money you make per hour unless you're farming things with a nice drop rate.

With that said, here are some guidelines to follow in the Farming vs. AH Buying debate:

  • Check profit on end result. This is a no-brainer. If end result sells for a loss from buying off AH, as most NQ cursed items do for example, farming items up as best you can is generally the way to go if you're intent on making money off said item.

  • Keep a stock of the highly farmable synth ingredients. A lot of lower level gear will use various skins, hides, and leathers. All of these things generally have some critter somewhere with a 1/2 drop rate from just subbing THF. Odds are, if you're trying to make money off these items, you're competing against people who are just buying stacks of these things off the AH. Lowering your cost through farming these ends up giving you the most bang for your buck. Sure you can buy these things off the AH and save some time, but in that hour you spent crafting say...Beetle Armor+1 at a 1k profit margin, you could have farmed the lizard skins up and doubled it.

    The perfect time to do this is when you're already stocked up with inventory that you're waiting on to sell.

  • Level your fishing. This is something that's become a bit of a new revelation to me. There are a number of items across many crafts that use something coming from various fish in this game. RR Pins have pearls/black pearls. Shihei has black ink. God knows how many items in Smithing and Alchemy use Mercury. I initially overlooked this aspect in favor of relying on the AH for the fish to appear. While there's certainly more time involved in fishing up what you need, there are other things you can fish up while targeting specific things that will net you some money as well and, more often times than not, will be at a higher gil/hour clip than just simply buying off AH and crafting. Which brings me to the last point...

  • Pay attention to the other things that are around the area you're farming in. A long while ago before I took on the crafting market, I farmed tons of Hakutaku eyeballs for gil. While in the various spots farming, I made a specific point of killing the fluff monsters around if time permitted or if there actually were any. Farming behind the Sahagin Door in SSG meant I could farm up a lot of scrolls that I could AH for a decent chunk or NPC for instant gil along with various bat parts and the occasional dragon blood.

    While Hakutaku parts aren't exactly something you can buy off the AH, it's a rather good example of what I'm trying to illustrate. In the Beetle Armor example listed before, farming up lizard skins in Crawler's Nest not only will eliminate most of your cost, but it will mean you're going to have a few minutes down time to go kill off some Exorays, Bees or Crawlers...all of which have synth items of some sort you can NPC or AH.

So yes, time is money. It's not always the most apparent when choosing your particular market niche, but choosing between the rapid, quick buck and the more deliberate bang for the buck is essential to maximizing your profit.

Deal of the day:

Demon Arrowheads.

For you Bonecrafters out there, this is a T2-able synth. Even NQ'ing everything at current AH prices means a profit of approx 10-15k/stack you sell. Jump on the fast track by using key item Filing and some shagren files, but be warned...you cut yourself the number of chances to HQ. Woodworkers will eat these arrowheads up. This is definitely a synth to camp the AH for horns over as drop rates are rather horrendous. Pass on it if a douche bag drops the 99 stacks to 100k or less unless you're confident in your ability to HQ the piss out of them.

Morning in Vana'diel: Sick days.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, Omoikitte is covering for Ringthree as he is DYING dramatically from a seasonal cold.

Yes, yes to all you hecklers, I am aware that I didn't post yesterday, but to be perfectly honest, illness sneaks up on you and I was very busy at work with no time to offer some entertaining or lucid comments on FFXI. So sue me ^.^

Since the topic of today is sickness, I thought I might expand a little on this as it is fairly pertinant at the present. Most of us have been playing FFXI for some time now, but do you ever get those days where you sign on.. and just don't know what to do with yourself.

A sort of strange fractious restlessness that infects everything you do, you can't settle to a single task and suddenly in the blink of an eye you have somehow wasted an entire day and accomplished nothing at all? You can get these spells irl as well as online, or are you far too busy and productively driven to ever be afflicted by that kind of vacuous ocillation of intent.

If you sit down and genuinely think about it, I never understand how people can say "I'm bored" when online, there is always always something to do. The problem is, can you be bothered to do it, not the fact that there is nothing to do. I know personally I usually have a long list of wants, needs and goals, ranging from crafting and farming to more merits or pieces of gear I need to camp, campaign medals to refresh after rather a lot of demotions, preparations for the next Versus event, quests that I have not yet completed or missions I need to do. Not everything in FFXI requires a party to do something, infact with the influx of new content from SE, a considerable amount of what is available to the low man or solo playing style has vastly increased.

Is this a sypmtom of idleness or something a bit more deep rooted? How do YOU fill your FFXI days? Post a comment, let us know! *grin*

POL News: Wings takes flight.

I don't know how many of you have been following the Wings of the Goddess storyline, it is certainly a lot more convoluted in its presentation than previous expansions incarnations. Personally I rather like the broad arching missions, with the quest driven city specific storylines intertwining about that both co-existing and dependant on the other to be pushed forward. You can select to only follow 1 path, or take all three. The stories are exciting, and you really do get quite an interesting mix, from the rather romantic San d'Orian story, to the political thriller of the Bastokan storyline and the all out action packed Windurstian tale.

With the July update we see more of this story unfurling, while the bc's haven't always been hard to progress this, and nothing on the scale of CoP, I am enjoying the new direction in storytelling that has come out with each progressive expansion (although I have NOT done Crystaline Prophecy and don't really consider that in the same league as these full expansions) and found this one particularly inovative in its presentation. There are NO excuses for not doing these! Stop being a slouch and go enjoy some entertaining diversion.

He Who Shall Not Be Named: The Paladin and the Subjob.

He Who Shall Not Be Named is here to bring you everything you ever wanted to know about tanking, and probably some things you never wanted to know and now wish to blot out of your memory, whether you like it or not, Izman is here with the do's and don'ts of tanking, in general, solo or end game.

Hey guys Iz here! And I'm here to give you guys the reader some advice about Paladin tanking. I will be talking about gear, subjobs, parties, merits, and all kinds of other stuff that I can't think of at the moment!

Okay the first topic I want to talk about is subjobs. The most popular sub for Paladin at end game is Ninja. I know 4 years ago if you were to sub Ninja you would be a traiter to all Paladins for even unlocking the job. Another great sub for soloing and tanking a few things like Jailer of Love is Red Mage. The last sub is of course Warrior.

Each of these subs has their strength and weakness. Lets see what each one can and can't do.

Ninja sub. This is the sub that I know I'm always on for events. The strength of Ninja is of course casting shadows. This makes it easier for your healers to keep their mp as high as possible for longer periods of time. The down side of subbing Ninja is that it can hurt your wallet if you don't make gil. Another downside to subbing Ninja is that on weaker mobs is melee can tear hate off you so easily and vise versa on the more defensive mobs.

Red mage sub. This sub is the newest one I have leveled and I wish I got it sooner. Red mage sub is great for soloing Nms, campaign, and tanking a few end game NMs. This sub can make a Paladin invincible on weaker mobs making Paladin just fun to play around on. The strength of this sub is mainly the spell Phalanx. This spell cuts down the physical damage you take by a crazy amount depending on your enhancing magic skill. Add Stoneskin, Blink, and Bar spells this sub makes Paladin an all round hard target to take down. The down side to this is mp consumption. When you sub Red mage you're spamming enfeebling magic like bind, sleep and blind to keep hate. After so long you will run out of mp. Another down side to this sub is that on big nasty NMs that hit hard will still make Phalanx seem like it is not even there. I will have to go into more detail on this sub in another post; since it is so awesome and fun to play.

Okay Warrior sub. This is the sub you and I used when taking this job form 1 to 75 or 74. This is a good sub for the classic style of exp parties that most people do not do anymore. This sub offers Defender wich raises your defense and lowers your attack. Since Paladin can't hit a target and when they do its not for much the lower attack is not a issue. Provoke of course the main hate grabbing and keeping tool for this sub. No need to tell you what it does. And the last thing that lets this sub job keep hate is Warcry. An AoE which raises your party members attack. The down side to this sub is strong mobs will hit you for lots of dammage even with Defender up. Add magic damage casting mobs and you are one dead guy. This sub is the least I use for end game events and tanking.

I know some of you are going what about dancer sub? Well I have not unlocked it and to be honest I'm not going too.

Next Monday I will go over where and when to sub these subs and possibly the gear sets you will want to use. We will see about gear though. In my head it seems like a long post. Until then I hope you enjoy the section on the Tanking portion of this blog. If you did not enjoy it then please E-mail me your feelings at idontcarewhatyouthink@Gmail.com :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Thin Black Line: From afar.

The Thin Black Line is here to protect you! Tuufless, our resident cute Taru (every site needs one!) is here to tell you all there is about magic and mages of all colors, especially Black. So much potency in such as small body, delivered to you every Friday! Today, Tuufless tries to get as far away from his subject as possible.

Previously, I briefly touched upon mana as one of the defining characteristics of a mage and talked about being wise with your mana consumption. The next basic trait of a traditional mage that I would like to bring up is that the vast majority of mage contributions to a fight come from a range (again, with exceptions like BLU).

Like last week, everything here will be very basic, since these are still fundamental concepts that we are dealing with.

For the uninformed, a player-controlled mage's casting range lies somewhere around 21.5" although this varies depending on the size of your target mob.

To start, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not going to win any prize or anything for saying that a mage’s casting range is much greater than melee range.

However, this gives mages a sense of flexibility. When fighting a mob, a melee job has to run up close to attack and a tank generally has the mob plastered against him or her. A mage on the other hand, can stand anywhere within 21.5" from the mob and still be able to contribute. Another way of looking at this is that your frontline is free to take the battle anywhere they want, as long as they stay within that 21.5” circle from the mages.

Because the area a mage can affect is much greater, mages don’t have to compensate as much for changes in a mob’s location. If a mob shifts from its location midfight, the entire frontline has to adjust to compensate for this, but the backline can usually just stay put, with maybe a couple of minor adjustments.

A mage's flexibility due to range is not just based on position- a mage is able to affect any targets within his or her casting range, and as such, all that is needed is effective targetting. One reason why one White Mage can provide effective healing for an entire party is because all the party members are easily accessible from the White Mage's location. Imagine if your White Mage had to physically run up to each party member that needed healing before being able to Cure the player, and how much harder things would be.

Ranged actions also largely negate the “squishiness” of mages, since one of a mage’s best forms of defense is simply not to get hit in the first place.

However, in the event that a mage does move to the top of an enemy’s hate list, range means that there will be a little bit of time available for appropriate measures to be taken. This little bit of time is significant- if you’ve seen a Black Mage solo Operation Desert Swarm, the very fact that mobs takes time to cover the distance in between you and the mob is critical in letting you to fire off that Sleepga.

While it is true that several mobs have abilities that affect a much larger radius than just melee, there will oftentimes still be that narrow band where mages can still contribute to the fight while staying safe. An example of this would be The Wyrmking Descends, where many of Bahamut’s crippling moves only affect players within 20.0”. Thus, standing anything between 20.1” and 21.5” from Bahamut allows mages to still contribute to the fight, while avoiding Bahamut’s moves.

Some other fights involve mob attacks that extend beyond casting range, like Khimaira’s Fulmination (30”). Fortunately, mages still have other options available to them, such as using the terrain to their advantage.

Mages are in greater position to take advantage of any terrain features that may dot the surrounding area because of range.

Range allows mages to take advantage of terrain to further protect themselves by putting favourable terrain obstacles in between the mage and the mob. Sometimes, as in the above Khimaira example, differences in terrain height can be used to keep the mage safe from Fulmination. The key point here is that the mage is still in a position to contribute towards the fight.

Actual terrain obstacles also serve to increase the effective distance between the mages and the mob because even though the mob may be within casting range, it is forced to sidetrack in order to get to you. Good examples of this are the ramps that surround the Ix’DRG Aerns or the cliffs just before the dragons in Dynamis-Xarcabard.

Both these examples use a difference in height from keeping the backline safe, but in the event that a mage takes hate, the mob will have to cover much more distance to reach the mages, even though the mob stays within casting range throughout.

With that, I'll wrap up this aspect of understanding how mages play. There is one final small thing that I would like to cover before moving onto more practical parts of playing a mage, as opposed to sticking with basic theory, so please stay tuned for that!

POL News: The Moogly Census.

They promised this, it definately took a while to delivery, but for those amongst us who are stat hungry for all that goes on in the world of Final Fantasy, SE have finally released the Server wide 9th Vana'diel Census that accompanies the Moogle Adventure Appreciation week census for your own personal delectation and delight. I personally take a great delight in pouring over these stats, I do find it quite interesting to see which races are the most popular, or what the log on trends are. Take a gander or pass it by, but in the end you know your a stat geek, or you wouldn't be playing FFXI ^.^ Its all about the stats.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Firesday to Darksday: The Round-up!

Firesday to Darksday is our newest column on O's Kote and it will be covering the week that was in FFXI, going over good blogs you should check out, interesting threads on any forums we might notice or anything else that might have slipped by in the night. We are always on the look out for FFXI information for you!

This week was a little bit of hype with very little follow through from SE. Hopefully next week we will be seeing a little bit more information about the July update. In the mean time here is what you might have missed this week.

First of all the newest episode of Limit Break Radio is now available covering Einherjar for the most part.

Corinth has a great post on JP Button how SE managed to tune down some of the potential racism associated with RMT.

We also have a rather interesting blog post by Etrigan on how to Call for Help in interesting and actually helpful ways.

If you see anything interesting, thoughtful or juicy posted throughout the week then let us know by leaving a comment! Help spread the word!

Morning in Vana'diel: Too Many Blogs.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today, Ring wonders if there are too many blogs about FFXI or not even about FFXI. Ring is even feeling a little ranty today.

As I have mentioned before the Tarutaru Times Online is a great source of blog information about FFXI. You can get updates on what people are doing, how they are playing and just random tidbits about people that play FFXI. It does have problems though, but they aren't really problems with TTO itself and more with some of the people that post on it. There are lots of good posts that are interesting recaps of FFXI game lives, and such and that is what blogs are for. The problem is when attention whores use blogs. There is the classic "I'm quitting" post. That's great, but the internet is not your high school year book, and we are not BFF. One "I'm quitting" post isn't even that bad, but when you have more than one blog post ever that states you are quitting and "never coming back" then it's time to give up on blogging. More recently, there have been a flood of "I didn't win the Mog Bonanza so I'm quitting" blog posts. Two problems with this. One, what kind of sad person banks continuing to play on winning an in-game lottery? Two, what kind of sad person thinks that we care? The only way they get clicks for these short and boring posts is by using a deceptive title on TTO.

The nature of MMO's is that you play them for a long time and this can lead to waxing and waning of interest in the game, and you can also pick up other games and MMO's during the time you are playing. I will fully admit to playing WoW on occasion, and it's a really good game, just not the game for me. I do like using it as a measuring stick against FFXI and other games because it kind of serves that purpose for all MMO's right now. The thing is that I would never blog about playing WoW or any other MMO that I have tested out on my FFXI site. I do understand that they are personal blogs and that you can post about whatever you like. "It's a free country" is fine, no one is stopping you but before you bust out your best Cartman voice and start yelling "It's my blog, I do what I want" let me just remind you that you did sign up for a Final Fantasy XI blog roll site and you don't have to report all of your posts if you want to talk about something else.

So maybe there are too many blogs, but maybe people just don't know how to blog right. TTO isn't MySpace, it's a place to put your thoughts about FFXI. Try to respect that like a good majority of the TTO posters do. A huge portion of the blogs on TTO are great and I encourage everyone to use TTO or even make your own blog about FFXI, but keep what I said in mind and have a like dignity.

So what is your favorite FFXI blog? Do you have your own? Which ones do you hate? Do you want to hear about people playing other games? Am I just a whiny bitch? :) Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

POL News: Talladega Days and Celestial Nights.

SE has posted on the POL website about the next in-game event, Celestial Nights. It's a story of star-crossed love and stuff and blah... and there is an event with dancing and crying and stuff and blah... I know that people like this stuff because I always see people doing it but I just don't get it. Now for saying this Omoi is probably going to drag me out to do the event. It sounds like this is just a rehash of last year's event too, which makes it even a little more dull. I can't wait for the summer festival, I love the music for that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Math of Sword and Spell: Party Multipliers part one (RDM & BRD)

Every Thursday Araelus is bringing the science to FFXI. 

The Math of Sword and Spell will be a column dedicated not only to the hardcore calculations and statistics of FFXI, but more importantly he will help you use that math without confusing you. You may not know why you are playing better, but rest assured you will be playing better. This week's edition focuses on how Bard and Red Mage can enhance your party's effectiveness.

Last week, we discussed the ways that one player can help everyone participating in a battle. But many job abilities and spells can only target members of your party, especially songs. This week and next: what are the most useful ways to make a party stronger? From the Colibri Killing Fields to the depths of Valgrind and Dynamis, we’ll take a closer look at party force multipliers.

In addition to the same boosts universal multipliers offer, such as Attack and Accuracy, party-specific buffs can increase attack speed (Haste, March), restore MP (Refresh, Ballad, Devotion), and even directly increase experience point gain with Corsair’s Roll.

The key to party force multiplication is that these spells, songs, and abilities directly increase other players’ statistics. Dia can be said to raise your Attack by lowering the opponent’s Defense, whereas Minuet actually raises the displayed Attack value. Most every enfeeble the party can cast can be used, but only a few of the available buffs can be applied to the party at once.

Just as you have to choose one type of Threnody to use, most parties can only benefit from two songs at a time. A similar limitation of use is true of Bar-spells, Rolls, and Sambas. Even the number of active Blood Pact Wards is limited, due to the durations involved, although these generally mimic other spells.

Consider also that the relative difficulty of maintaining every possible buff on every player in the party compared to keeping every possible enfeeble on a single enemy varies depending on how fast mobs are defeated and what jobs the party contains. A merit party with one Bard will need Carnage Elegy on every monster, but probably never five different Etudes for the other party members, yet against HNM would only be casting that same Elegy after it wears off. White Mages battling Cerberus can easily reapply Barfira and then run slightly out of Ululation range for Paralyna, whereas a Red Mage fighting Ouryu may need to keep two elementals slept or utsu-tanked, Refresh or Haste on up to five other players, Paralyze II on the dragon, and so on.

As a result, in every situation you should pick the most efficient jobs, and then buffs, for the party. Among other things, we have to consider: MP cost and recast time – do the buffs need to be maintained indefinitely? Danger level – are you fighting Colibri or low-manning Sarameya? Current player statistics – is Accuracy capped, how much Haste is available, and is anyone using a six-hit setup? Unusual party balance – is this a Black Mage party in Dynamis, Einherjar, or Mount Z? Special circumstances – waiting on three other Bards to rotate before taking down King Vinegarroon?

If this seems a little overwhelming, and not in the good Samurai WS% way, let’s take a step back and consider each support job’s possible roles within the party.

This week, we take a look at the two most demanded support jobs: Red Mage and Bard.

Red Mages should maintain a full range of enhancing magic in addition to their enfeebling duties. Don’t count out seemingly weak spells such as Regen, or forget Bar-spells and Cures.

Refresh – provides at most 410 MP net to the caster, over 7.5 minutes. There is no reason not to Composure this spell, considering that doing so nearly quadruples net MP return. 1 With yourself removed from the Refresh cycle for two rounds, the +25% recast time on one cast shouldn’t matter.

Applied to other members of your party, the straight 150 MP boost, one per second, stacks with Ballad, Evoker’s Roll, and Auto-Refresh effects. This is the spell that made Red Mage invaluable, their Enfeebling skills aside. Please note that Refresh cannot be cast on a Scholar who is charging or holding Sublimation, and it does not stack with juices that give the Refresh-icon.

Haste – this speed effect becomes more powerful the more Haste effect its target already has. In most situations, Red Mages can simply cycle both Refresh and Haste on applicable party members, since they have a duration of 2.5 and 3 minutes, respectively. If MP conservation is critical, they should be cycled separately, to not lose 30 seconds of Haste per round.

Regen – in the absence of a White Mage or Scholar, the first tier of this spell restores 8.33 HP/MP on any party member in 75 seconds. If subbing SCH, Regen II restores 6.67 HP/MP in one minute. Although the total HP restored is low, only 125 and 240 HP, compare this to Cure IV’s approx. 4.5 HP/MP.

Using Regen over a long period of time is an excellent means of maintaining the party’s HP. The only drawback is a 12 second base recast timer.

Phalanx II – usually overshadowed by Scholar’s Accession Phalanx, this merit spell is still strictly better if fully merited, although it can never be as MP efficient because of its single-target 42 MP cost. The damage reduction cap may be achievable with gear alone. This is a highly situational but potentially excellent spell, for when Scholar is not available or JAs are locked.

Bards always seem to be in high demand and short supply, because no-one wants to fight without March and Minuet. Linkshells may hand you a relic for Ballad, but don’t forget a Carol to reduce elemental damage.

Ballad – relatively straightforward, with Ballad I providing 1 MP per 3 seconds and Ballad II providing 2 MP. Unless using the Storm Fife or Gjallarhorn, each lasts 120 seconds.2 Since songs have no MP cost, in a party of six MP-users (assuming the Bard does cast), basic dual Ballads will produce a total of 720 MP per cycle, or 6 MP per second. This effect is obviously equivalent to a party-wide Refresh. 3

March – despite the song’s help text, this decreases recast timers as well as speeding up melee attacks. The more Haste you have, the better each additional point of Haste gets.

Madrigal versus Minuet – Madrigal increases Accuracy, and Minuet increases Attack. But which do your melees need?

The answer is complicated and involves WS damage percentages, Store TP totals, and even marginal returns to monster level variation. (Hint: melees, get a Cuchulain's Mantle if you can.) Despite all these factors, since cheap Sushi can provide twice the Accuracy of Madrigal (when it’s required) and Minuet affects both Attack and Ranged Attack, March+Minuet is a safe bet.

Also keep in mind that melees should already have paid careful attention to their gear and may specifically ask for songs. In some cases, double March will overpower the other options.

This week's...

Most Valuable: Haste and March are incredible. The boost to attack speed and spell recast timers, along with making strong players even better, make these indispensable. No amount of Haste will make Provoke reset at 27 seconds, though.

Ignored Ability: Bards get Pianissimo at level 45, and they’d better use it.

Hazard Symbol: Even with Composure boosting self-Refresh and Haste, Red Mages can get overwhelmed trying to do everything. Make sure that you don’t burn out when the chips (and Convert) are down.

Overworked and Underpaid Job: Both Red Mage and Bard, really, except both jobs also have their bad examples of Princess Syndrome.

Stupid Square Moment: It’s a pity Phalanx II has such a high MP cost.

All this and we’ve barely scratched the surface of available force multipliers for your party! Next week, it’s time for the newly super-powered White Mage to shine, as well as the versatile Scholar. What about Dancer? Summoner?! You may be surprised at what these jobs can do.

Until then, keep your graphing calculators handy!

1) Going from 110 MP net to 410 MP net is a 272.7% gain.

2) In Dynamis, the Millennium Horn is equivalent to a Gjallarhorn for “All Songs +2”.3) If the RDM's first party-wide cycle includes a Composured self-Refresh, then these six Refresh casts will cost nothing, and the RDM will gain 210 MP net. Including two more cycles of five Refresh casts, the RDM will end up having lost 190 MP net. These three Refresh cycles will have restored 2700 MP total. In the same time, a Bard will have had to sing both Ballads four times, and will have restored 2700 MP as well. A Gjallarhorn would have restored 6300 MP total.

Questions? Concerns? Did I take a logarithm when I should have used the antiderivative? Please leave a comment.