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.


Yoteo said...

"Unfortunately, Erase is not affected."

Mistake. It is effected. I do AOE erase regularly. The catch is erase is still only party target, so you have to target someone in the party. That said, I don't think I've done it since they added Esuna, so I guess it's possible they changed it? But I'd be a bit surprised if they did. Anyone else ever do this?

Omoikitte said...

Lol, oh dear.

I am afraid I'm adding into this one as well, no-one's haste can overwrite spider's web. It is a move that has to be erased before you can apply haste. MOST slows can be overwritten, but there are one or two others, I think the slow from Slugs also has to be erased before you can apply haste.

Anonymous said...

Omoi, I believe the Spider Web thing was a joke. In the preview notes for that particular update, there was a picture of a SMN using Hastega while the party was fighting a spider.

rob said...

ill be homem at 8:30 for salvage

Evilpaul said...

"In Temenos, a Korin Obi means Potency +20%."

This is incorrect, double weather is a 25% bonus.

Ringthree said...

LOL Rob, this isn't your messaging service. Just send me an AIM or e-mail.

Omoikitte said...

Anonymous, lol people see the ridiculous in a completely innocuous situation.

If the party member has haste up before the spider uses Spider Web, it will have no effect.

Araelus said...

This week: I lose all my credibility because of a few errors but find out more people read these posts than expected! (Also it seems my editors trust me too~oo much?)

Thanks to you folks for pointing out the problems - they have been fixed and credit given as it is due.

...But yes, the Slow thing was a joke. I had that very picture of SMN fighting a spider in mind. /sigh/ Perhaps I should have stuck with the original sentence, which simply read: "Stupid Square Moment: Summoner."

I thought that was a bit too harsh. :)

nariiko said...

"This means the maximum Cure Potency +% values for everyday use with the best possible gear is +57%."

Confused? When you say everyday use I would think you mean "at all times"

Templar Mace - 10%
Asklepios - 5%
Roundels Earring- 5%
Aristocrat's Coat - 12%
Medicine's Ring(at this point you would need convert or -HP gear as well) - 10%

Putting you at 42% potency. Now I'm /assuming/ your including the Healing Feather- Which would put you at 57% BUT would not put you as how you say "everyday use" unless you consider 3mins per every 30mins "every day use". (Or if you did sit there and spam it per a day you would end up getting 1 hour of +15% potency over a 10 hour time span)

Thus I really don't see this as being "every day use". It really is best to just save this for when you are planning to be healing while your party / alliance is zergging a mob and thus recast on the enchantment not being an issue.

-Also Korin Obi is not /only/ limited to Temenos. Lightsday is included as well all over Vana'diel. (If using while Dark weather is present it may be possible to not see the effect take place. Also s negative effect is possible on lightsday with Korin Obi in such places as Dynamis, where double dark weather is present)

Anonymous said...

"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."

I'll ignore the rest of the comments about a job you know very little about, but I will correct this statement since it seems to be one of the main arguments against DNC. Yes the job's base dagger skill is B+, but a fully merited DNC has more natural acc (8 dagger merits, 5/5 Closed Position 2 acc bonus traits = 311 total acc) compared to a fully merited THF (8/8 dagger merits 5/5 Ambush = 291 total acc). So in saying that DNCs can't hit high level mobs and tp feed, you'd better be at least including THFs in that category too if not more so...

Araelus said...

Re: nariiko

By "everyday" I meant that total is the most a WHM could get whenever they so chose, not relying on day of the week, weather, or zone, using all available gear (which includes the Healing Feather). WHMs cannot activate the Obi when it is not Lightsday or outside of Temenos, but they can drop their HP for Medicine Ring at any time and use the Feather whenever its charges are ready. Arguably, the Feather's use is not commonplace, but it is available.

Actually, the best "every single day" loadout is WHM/SCH, so perhaps my entire listing of the maximum possible returns was silly for including the Asklepios, etc.

I'm not going to keep editing this article for perfect clarity, but in the future I will keep this particular point of "everyday or any day" confusion in mind. Perhaps "at any time, given the charges" is more accurate? Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

Araelus said...

Re: Anonymous (part 1)

Unfortunately, the latest data on Group 2 merits show Ambush and Closed Position are the least popular available. For perhaps 90% of Thieves and 80% of Dancers, a fully merited player lacks either trait. But since both would include the same boost, +15 accuracy, we can include them if you insist.

Compare THF vs DNC capped base skill (269 A- vs 256 B+) plus capped Dagger merits (285 vs 272).

Converting these to accuracy totals gives us (decimals adjusted)
THF: 276 accuracy
DNC: 264 accuracy

Both jobs gain Acc+15 from Group 2 merits. Dancer also has Accuracy Bonus II (Acc +22).

THF: 291 accuracy
DNC: 301 (you claimed 311 but Acc Bonus traits do not work that way)

Ceteris paribus means we can leave out DEX variations across races, because the grounds for your comparison here is, roughly, "if player A can hit X mob on the THF, then player A can on DNC, since THF has lower accuracy totals". Of course, THF/NIN will have a few more DEX than DNC/NIN, at least enough for Acc+2.

THF: 293 accuracy
DNC: 301 accuracy

Does including equipment differences put THF back on top? Both jobs can equip Acc+ gear such as Scorpion Harness, Optical Hat, Cuchulain's Mantle. But is that what they actually wear? Let's take a sample THF TP setup:

X's Knife / Blau Dolch / Fire Bomblet
Walmart Turban / Love Torque / Suppa / Brutal
Mirke (10 acc 3 DW) / Homam Manopolas / Sniper's +1 / Rajas
Cuchu / Swift / Skadi's Chausses / Homam Gambieras

DNC might wear, in those spots it can't mimic THF:

Azoth / Jambiya +1 / Black Tathlum
Dusk Gloves
Cobra Subligar / Enkidu's Leggings

So now we have
THF: 357 accuracy (Haste +17, DW+8)
DNC: 355 accuracy (Haste +14, DW+8)

Araelus said...

Re: Anonymous (part 2)

If DNC had the same skill rating as THF, it would come out with 367 accuracy, partially making up for the Haste equipment gap. I included DNC's B+ skill ranking in my "Stupid Square Moment" because Dagger is the job's main weapon. All other melee-heavy jobs sans PUP have at least an A- in their main weapon. In a game where people nearly kill each other over DEX+1, I think I am justified in saying that initial lack of 13 skill points is "severe".

Note my wording, which you quoted: I did not say that Dancer could not build TP, or land Steps (esp. since their job-specific gear aids in that task), just that a B+ rank hinders the job. If they had a C rank, as PUP does, I would have said, "do not play this job". Thankfully PUP is not very TP-reliant, and this is not a discussion of PUP, which remains an interestingly powerful and overlooked job.

I will maintain that DNC having to hit often for low TP amounts is a problem, and in the future this column will approach some solutions besides Subtle Blow. Besides, my Accuracy consideration ignores Attack totals, how the job deals with Enmity management, tanking, use of TP for damage, healing, or support, and even invite rate and the associated reasons.

After all, I didn't mention that Waltzes have a group recast, shutting off cures for 15 seconds if a DNC chooses to erase. I left aside the absence of DNC on excellent endgame gear such as Abjurations, Homam, and Skadi, which as you can see weigh more heavily than the A- and B+ rankings. Of course, neither THF nor DNC have access to the Shijin set. The question of whether or when DNC can use Joyeuse (at least 40 accuracy less than Dagger) was not raised.

DNC is not just hampered by a lower starting skill grade than we might expect for a job's main weapon, Accuracy Bonus and Subtle Blow traits aside. For that matter, it does not typically compete with THF for a party slot to begin with.

Quite frankly, I think I let DNC off pretty easy.

As to whether or not Dancer is a job I "know very little about" please keep in mind this article deals only with party multipliers. I discussed the two obvious party-affecting abilities Dancer has, and that they are useful. I also tried to take a fresh look at how a seemingly solo ability helps the party. No mention was made of Steps, which were described as unique and important in an earlier article. No mention was made of DNC's incredible use for blood tanking, which will be detailed later on.

If you need ad hominem grounds to dispel your argumentum ad hominem, I've taken DNC to 37, used it as a subjob in a variety of events from solo work to Nyzul boss runs to experimental meriting. I know at least three excellent 75 DNC from my linkshell. They have complained about skill level, gear selection, and almost always attend events on other jobs.

DNC is a remarkable puller in Dynamis-Bastok, if that's worth something to you.

Qtipus said... just wrote your article for next week replying that Araelus...COPYPASTA